Tuesday, June 30, 2020

I am sick of virtue signaling and having wokeness crammed down my throat.

by Rod Williams -


I am sick of virtue signaling and having wokeness crammed down my throat.

This is what I had to see first thing this morning.  Why?

 I don't use Google because they are politically correct; I use them because they provide a good search engine.

 I am not one to rant against transexuals or homosexuals, although I do think transsexuals probably surfer from a mental disorder and think we should not be normalizing perversity and deviant lifestyles. Seeing two men hold hands does not even upset me. I would rather not see it, but the most it does is make me a little uncomfortable. Seeing two men kiss, sort of disgust me. Seeing two women kiss, I admit however, sort of turns me on. (OK, I am revealing more about me than you need to know.) I am semi tolerant and certainly no prude and have a live and let live attitute toward most things.

 I don't think a Black man confused about his sexuality, dressed as a women, who has modified his body by surgery and hormones to look more feminine, should be harmed in any way or berated or harassed. They should just be ignored. They should be tolerated and maybe even pitied. I just don't think it is something to celebrate and honor, however.  If the Google corporation does think so, why cannot it keep that opinion to itself.

I wish we could end the virtue signaling and self-righteous wokeness proselytizing.

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Monday, June 29, 2020

HONKY TONK OWNERS SUE MAYOR COOPER AND MEDICAL DIRECTOR and OTHERS OVER COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS.

In case you missed it:

Nick Beres
 NC5, June 26 at 6:31 PM · Shared with Public
BREAKING: HONKY TONK OWNERS IN DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE SUE MAYOR JOHN COOPER AND THE MEDICAL DIRECTOR FOR METRO HEALTH ALONG WITH OTHERS OVER COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS. Geoffrey Reid — owner of The Local Spot, Inc. and Steve Smith with Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk and Tootsie’s filed the federal lawsuit. Attorney for the plaintiffs Brian Lewis tells me, in a nutshell, the businesses claim that their constitutional rights have been violated and that Metro’s policy unfairly has cost them millions of dollars. There are several arguments in the lawsuit. One states that bars and restaurants were cited for violating social distancing mandates in Nashville while nothing was done to the thousands of recent protesters in the city who were also in violation. A similar case in New York recently led a court to issue an injunction after churches argued they were not treated the same as the protesters. In Nashville, the lawsuit argues, bars and restaurants are being treated unfairly at the cost of millions of dollars. This lawsuit was just filed. No response yet from Metro. WHAT DO YOU THINK?



Rod's comment: The plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation for lost revenue during local and state-mandated Stay-At-Home orders. The lawsuit alleges that the businesses have been specifically targeted by Mayor Cooper and have received unfair treatment in comparison to protestors during recent demonstrations.

The seletive enforement is the thing that most riles me about this. While I would like to see clarrified the legal authority of the city and state to order a lock down, that is not my major concern. Selective enfrocement of law is tyranny.  Rule of law is applying the law equally to everyone.  If 10,000 people can walk down Broadway screaming at the top of their voice and that is permissable, then football games and concerts should be pemissable. We have an order in place restricting out door gatherings to no more than 50 people (I believe it is. I have not reaffirmed that).  If it applies to sporting events and concerts, it should apply to demonstrations.

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Was the "Back the Badge" rally at Legislative Plaza the start of the counter revolution?

by Rod Williams - There were competing 1 PM rallies at the capitol yesterday. There was the "Back the Badge" rally and a drive by horn-honking to support the people who are "occupying" the plaza and there was the people who are occupying the plaza. Members of the "People's Plaza" group have been occupying the plaza for about two weeks now.  I am not sure if they are actually  occupying the plaza or the sidewalk. I know at one time they were removed from the plaza.  

 I did not attend the event yesterday but watched a live stream of it for maybe an hour. The groups yelled at each other or tried to out-chant each other but as far as I could tell, there was no phsical altercations. Situations like this are obviously dangerous. If I had to bet, I would bet there are armed people among both groups. If some one would have thrown a cup of water on a member of the opposite group, that could of led to pushing, a blow, and then someone could have pulled and gun and several dead people could have been the result. Thankfully, it remained peaceful. 

 It was hard to tell how many people were in attendance at the Back the Badge rally. From the live steam it looked like no more than a couple dozen, and a couple dozen on the other side with others hanging around the edges watching. After the rally, more of the protesters swarmed the Plaza. Below is a video. 

The start of the video looks like a fun jazzercise class. Protesting if fun until someone gets their head bashed in or killed in cross fire or a tragedy like Kent State happens, then it is not so fun anymore. The Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested 38 protesters charging them with misdemeanor criminal trespassing charges. Exactly what circumstances led to the arrest is not know. Information is sketchy.

The radicals or "protesters" (Back Lives Matter, Defend Black Lives, Antifa, People's Plaza group - they march under many names) have had free reign for about six weeks now with very little in the way of opposition. It has become clear that the police are not going to restore law and order. In Seattle, radicals have occupied several blocks of the city and are keeping police from entering the area. Similar things, with less success, have happened across the country. Protestors have been able to vandalize, commit arson, attack innocent people driving through areas and bash their cars with baseball bats and destroy cars and threaten lives. Statues have been toppled, businesses looted, and building burned down. White people have, at random, been subject to brutal assaults. At any time, protesters may block a street snarling traffic and disrupting commerce. 

I detect that patience is wearing thin. Many people who have just stood by and watched it happen are talking more and more about retaking public spaces and protecting lives and property. If the police won't do it; citizens will. It has happened in a few places where citizens have shown up to stop radicals from toppling statues. I fear that if the police do not restore order we will see pitched battles in the street. Authorities in some cities have allowed protesters to patrol their autonomous zones heavily armed with military-style semi-automatic weapons. Police are simply making no effort to enforce the law. When counter demonstrations grow, one can almost be certain that among the counter demonstrators there will be armed people. This could get much worse before it gets better. People will likely die. It would be wise if the government would restore order before this happens.

Below is a video of the disturbance after yesterday's rally at Legislative Plaza where 32 people were arrested. For more on yesterday's event follow this link. For Fox 17's video coverage, follow this link. Nashville Scene's coverage here

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

John Rich is one of many Nashvillians showing their support for the RECALL PETITION!


John Rich is one of many Nashvillians showing their support for the RECALL PETITION!

NoTax4Nash 

Print and sign the petitions, and get your friends and neighbors to sign, and mail back in!

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Police Militarization from a Nashville perspective

by guest blogger - One of the observations people make about the modern state of law enforcement is police are becoming more militarized. But when someone says the police are “overmilitarized” what immediately comes to mind is police using heavily armored vehicles and officers suited up in riot gear. But the reality of policing is more nuanced and personal. In truth, the riot gear almost never comes out of the trunk of the car and armored vehicles are used at events like Nashville’s Night Out about as much as in dangerous situations.

So what then are people talking about? Yes, these items contribute to the perception of a militarized police but it is my experience that the little things are what make a difference. The little things change public perceptions and they change the police mindset, both for the worse.

Metro Police uniforms are one of those little things. Until about fifteen years ago, the MNPD uniform was the standard uniform we saw Officers Reed and Malloy wearing on Adam-12: the dark blue shirt and pants with a white crew-neck shirt underneath. But that has changed, and the changes are one of those “little things”.

You will see officers still wearing the same dark blue shirt and pants but now, they have changed the color of the crew neck undershirt from white to black. You might say to yourself, “so what, white, black, who cares?” I would suggest this small change does two things:
1) It changes public perception, and
2) it represents a change in police attitude

The public may not recognize the change immediately but when we see men wearing all-black carrying guns, certain thoughts come to mind. Research by the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas supports this assertion:

The impression clothing makes is vitally important when determining what perception an agency wants to portray, police administrators must be mindful that the psychological benefits of utilizing the traditional police uniform far outweigh a military styled uniform, and this should be the preferred choice when determining what the best option is for a standard uniform. The importance of this choice has been studied in the psychological and sociological fields and should not be dismissed as unimportant or irrelevant.[1]
Among police, the change represents a change in attitude of one’s role from that of the “guardian” to that of the “warrior”. The “warrior” mentality has been well documented in research such as a Harvard study which found that mentality creates tension between the public and police and results in antagonized relations between the police and the people they servSeee. As that study concluded “[w]e can resolve that tension and improve policing, in part, by replacing the concept of the police warrior with that of the guardian officer.”[2]

Years ago, now retired East Sector Captain Danny Baker used to comment on the rise of this mentality when he saw his officers wearing black leather gloves even while sitting at roll-calls. He would mention in passing that the gloves were one of those “little things” that help form public opinion and represent the mentality of the officers as the warrior rather than the guardian. He never used those words but he was always trying to convey the concern. He understood the result of those little things that we now describe as an overmilitarization of police.

Where to go from here? I think the place to begin is with the “little things” as I call them. Police need to change how they are perceived and how they perceive themselves. We can talk about the big stuff to our legislators and change policies and procedures but we have to start with the small stuff and we can begin that today.

[1] Quill, Patrick, August 2016. The Police Uniform and Its Impact on Public Perception, The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas, https://shsu-ir.tdl.org/handle/20.500.11875/2163, [accessed 16 June 2020] 
[2] Prescott, J., Starr, S., Stoughton, S., Prescott, J. and Starr, S., 2015. Law Enforcement's 'Warrior' Problem. [online] Harvardlawreview.org. Available at: [Accessed 16 June 2020].

You can find more from this writer at Seeker of Liberty.

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Council should be utterly ashamed about vote to raise property taxes

Justin Owen
June 17, 202, a statement from Beacon Center CEO Justin Owen: “The Nashville City Council should be utterly ashamed about last night’s vote to raise property taxes. They had a chance to rebuff the mayor’s egregious tax hike proposal and stand with middle-class taxpayers, business owners who have been shut down by the government, and everyone in between. They had a chance to enact much-needed systemic reforms that could begin to right the city’s fiscal ship. Instead, they took the cowardly way out and raised taxes by 34%, an even greater amount than that proposed by the mayor, filling in the gaps with pork and special interest favors. Last night may very well be the turning point in Nashville’s growth and the day Nashville went from ‘It’ city to ‘It was’ city.”

“Years of gross fiscal mismanagement resulted in this situation. Instead of working to fix the mistakes of the past and chart a better path forward, 32 Council members took the easy way out and voted to pass the buck to Nashvillians. Last night is just another indication that many Council members want to see us become another San Francisco or Seattle. The question is, do the voters?”

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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Revolutionaries tell Councilman Withers, IF YOU are not going to support the people, WE will call YOU OUT! He gets the chalked street treatment.


Brett Withers

by Rod Williams - The revolutionaries have really got in for Brett Withers. "The people" are calling him out. Left wing revolutionaries are always "the people." Castro, Moa, Ho Chi, Lenin, Pol Pot all represented "the people."

Withers offence? He voted to fund the police department. During the deliberations over the budget there was one amendment that slashed the police budget almost in half and Withers voted against it. There was another amendment that restored in the Bendes budget, which was before the Council, the level of police funding that had been in the Cooper budget. Withers voted for it.

He tried to explain his vote in a lengthy Facebook post. I reprinted it in this blog and you can read it here. I thought he did a good job.

There was no plebiscite to determine if Brett's constituents wanted to abolish the police department or not, and Withers was duly elected by the voters of his district to represent them but we know how it works. Constituents are not "the people," voters are not "the people;" that is just bourgeois parliamentarianism. The revolutionaries discern what is the general will of the people and apply it in particular cases and if you disagree; well, you are an enemy of "the people."

 So, he has gotten the chalked street treatment. That sure is better than the firing squad or the guillotine or getting your house fire bombed; the revolution is still young. Getting chalked is pretty mild. Actually, chalking is the one form defacement of public property I would allow if I was the one in the position of discerning the will of the people. Chalk is temporary and washes off and does no permanent damage.

To show that despite that one vote that deviated from the way the revolutionaries wanted him to vote and to show he really was a bona fied progressive, he showed a collection of Communist books that he still had on his book shelf. In addition to having Communist books on his book shelf, Withers is a member of a maginalized community. Apparently that doesn't help.  Being part of a marinalized group and having commie books on your book shelf is not good enough.  Brett needs to learn that if you do not support the people then you are a counterrevolutionary and a running dog of Imperialism.

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Community Trust and Law Enforcement

Phil Roe
by Phil Roe - In the weeks since George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, our country has debated how to ensure that police officers are best serving our communities.

As I have said before, the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers are good men and women, and the actions of a few bad actors are not representative of all officers.

However, we also recognize that the actions of bad officers erode community trust and make it harder for good officers to do their jobs. We should hold officers who engage in wrongdoing accountable for their actions, while ensuring that good officers still have the resources they need to serve and protect us. That is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 7278, the JUSTICE Act, introduced by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and Representative Pete Stauber (R-MN), which will enact a number of reforms to do just that.

The JUSTICE Act would require state and local governments to report more information on police use of force and the use of no-knock warrants and would create a new grant to help jurisdictions meet these reporting requirements. This information will help law enforcement develop training and best practices on de-escalation methods.

This legislation would also take steps to hold bad actors accountable by incentivizing the use of body-worn cameras, increasing penalties for falsifying police reports, and requiring jurisdictions to limit chokeholds as a condition for receiving certain federal grants. The bill would also require police departments to keep employment and disciplinary record of officers for at least 30 years to ensure that departments know about any past incidents involving those officers they are considering hiring.

Additionally, the bill will provide training resources so that good officers can continue to do their jobs well. The JUSTICE Act requires the U.S. Department of Justice to develop training on alternatives to use of force, de-escalation techniques, and how to respond to behavioral health crises. The bill also implements steps to study the conditions and causes of racial disparities in the criminal justice system and would make lynching a federal crime. Altogether, the reforms in the JUSTICE Act will ensure that officers have the tools they need to do their jobs better and will restore community trust in the police.

Last week, President Trump issued an executive order to increase transparency and accountability in law enforcement. This executive order provides incentives to state and local law enforcement agencies to seek independent credentialing to certify that they comply with the latest standards on use of force, de-escalation, and community management. The order also directs the Department of Justice to develop a program to facilitate information sharing between departments and directs the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to identify opportunities to improve law enforcement agencies’ ability to respond to mental health crises. I applaud the president’s executive order; I believe it will ensure that officers and law enforcement agencies are well trained and equipped to serve our communities. Police officers have an incredibly difficult job.

Unfortunately, this week, the House Democrats brought to the floor a bill that will make their jobs even harder. I voted against this bill because it would drastically lower the standards for charging an officer with criminal misconduct and will weaken legal protections for police. These changes would put the police at risk of jail time or lawsuits just for doing their jobs. In addition, the bill would create a public registry of disciplinary records, lawsuits and settlements, and complaints against federal, state, and local police officers, including complaints that have not been adjudicated yet. We certainly want to hold bad actors accountable, but publicly shaming officers for unadjudicated complaints that have not yet been afforded due process is wrong. If these so-called “reforms” are enacted, then police will have an even more difficult job, and I have no doubt that many good people would no longer even consider becoming a law enforcement officer with these changes in place.

I have also heard some people call for “defunding the police” or establishing police-free “autonomous zones.” These are offensive ideas. Policy needs to be based on real reforms, not slogans, and I will oppose any efforts to defund the police.

The brave men and women in law enforcement are deserving of our constant thanks and praise for their hard work. As we consider reforms to law enforcement, we should continue to stand behind them as they serve our communities.

Phil Roe represents the First Congressional District of Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is physician and co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus and a member of the Health Caucus. Prior to serving in Congress, he served as the Mayor of Johnson City, Tennessee.

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I'm sorry, so sorry, please accept my apology for spreading hate.

by Rod Williams- The below video is provided as accompaniment to the story.

 Last Sunday The Tennessean printed a full page ad from a nut-job doomsday religious cult that said "Islam" was going to set off a nuclear devise in Nashville.  It is to happen July 18th. You can read the ad at this link.

Following the publication of the ad, the story was spread by social medial It went "viral." Not sure exactly how many shares or hits on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter something has to have to have "gone viral," but a lot of people shared it and commented on it. Of course, then the mainstream media picked it up.

The Tennessean engaged in boot licking and groveling to atone for spreading "hate." They have returned the thirty pieces of silver, they have apologized, wrung their hands, admitted they were wrong, and wondered how in the world it could have possibly happened.

The thing that makes the ad "hate" is that is says "Islam" is going to attack Nashville. That is just stupid on the face of it. "Islam" can not attack anyone. Islamist could, followers of Islam could, radical Muslims could; but "Islam?" That is a body of belief, a religion, an idea. It takes people to set off a nuclear devise, not an idea. If you substitute "Catholicism," or "Judaism" or "Protestantism' or "Buddhism" or "Communism, "the same would apply. Catholics, or Jews, or Protestants, or Buddhist, or Communist could set off a devise, but not those sets of believes.

I didn't find the ad deplorable because it was hateful; I found it amusing because it was so stupid. It was a stupid ad from start to finish. When people start quoting Biblical prophesy and offering their interpretation as the obvious right interpenetration, and are so certain that they have figured things out, I tune them out. I may read for the amusement factor but I cannot take them seriously. Everyone from Hitler, to the Pope, to Barack Obama, have been labeled the Antichrist. The mark of the beast has been everything from social security numbers to ration cards to bar codes. Obviously, Biblical prophesy is open to various interpretations. When one puts a date to a doomsday event, it is bound to get some attention. I doubt many people have packed up and fled Nashville due to this ad, however.

I find the whole thing humorous. The Tennessean which is the guardian of political correctness and has an evangelistic passion for spreading wokeness, published the stupid embarrassing ad. Apparently, they did not even discuss it- no, not that they did not discuss it- they didn't even read it, before publishing it.

When caught, the The Tennessean could have taken one of several approaches.

The We-believe-in-Free-Speech,-sorry-it-you-don't approach. You know the spiel: a high minded approach to publishing all points of view, even those we disagree with, the importance of a free press, blah, blah, blah. They could mention that back when Nashville had massage parlors and strip clubs they even sold ads to those enterprises and they certainly don't support with human trafficking, but they are a conduit for communication; not censors. And, they could point out that have often sold ads to political cause that differed from the editorial position of the newspaper, published letters to the editor which contained views to which they do not subscribe. Free expression of ideas and all points of view is almost a sacred trust. Of course they would have thrown in the Voltaire,“I wholly disagree with what you say and will contend to the death for your right to say it.”

The sorry-if-you're-offended approach. I love this one. It is so disingenuous. It is basically saying, you are an overly sensitive idiot and are shallow. I should have, however, taken that into account and not offended you. It is the non-apology, apology.

The we-made-a-misstate,-now-move-on approach. This takes some discipline to pull off but corporations, institutions, and public figures do it all of the time. It could have went something like this: Recently, the The Tennessean published a questionable ad which many found offensive and which may have violated our community standards. Upon reflection, after a careful review, we conclude we were in error in accepting that ad for publication. Keep it short and simple. If pressured, the entity may have to repeat this more than once. However, don't debate it, keep elaboration to a minimum, use bureaucratic, now-emotional phrasing, stay on message, be boring, and keep it short.

The Tennessean went for the the I'm-sorry,-so-sorry-please-accept-my-apology,-sack-cloth-and- ashes approach. This involves ass kissing, and groveling. The "victim" of your crime, may not let you off that easy. You may have to pay ransom. You may have to go to reeducation camp. You may have to walk through the street with an "I'm Sorry" sign around your neck and submit to being pelted with orange peels, egg shells and coffee grounds.

I am finding the whole thing amusing. I hope it doesn't end soon.

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Friday, June 26, 2020

Metro Board of Health votes to mandate masks to be worn in public

Metro Board of Health votes to mandate masks to be worn in public - "Mayor John cooper made the request, ..."

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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Good news for Republicans: Democrats to have a virtual political convention.

This is good news for Republicans! 

 A political convention is basically a four day infomercial and pep rally. I don't know how many people switch sides from watching a convention, but it motivates the faithful to get active, knock doors, work the phone banks, give money, work the polls, and it helps turn out the vote. 

 Ever since most states chose to pick there party's nominee by primaries, the main function of the convention has gone away. The last time there was a brokered convention was 1952. Delegates may fight over planks to a party platform, but platforms are mostly irrelevant. Almost no one except a few political junkies read the party platform and it is not binding on the candidate. There is really no need to have a convention, so the Dems can take care of business without one. 

 I have never attended a party convention and sure I would enjoy it if I were to be elected as a delegate and attend. I enjoy the televised convention. I love the rousing speeches, the music, the balloon drop and the confetti. I love the spectacle. I always watch the acceptance speech of the nominee and the acceptance speech of the Vice Presidential nominee and the nominating speeches, and catch some other parts of the convention. I watch the Republican convention, because that is my team and I am part of it. I cheer from my couch. 

I watch the Democratic convention to see if they will boo God and applaud killing babies and see just how "woke" and irresponsible and ridiculous they have become. I watch it to reinforce why I am not a Democrat. 

 I think this decision by the Democrats to not have a convention is great news! The polls may not show Trump leading, but the longer Vandals and Goths, Socialist and Anarchist, and revolutionaries and their woke progressive enablers occupy America's cities, the more public support will tilt towards the adults. With Republicans having a four day pep rally and infomercial and the Dems trying to generate enthusiasm remotely, I think the chances for a Trump reelection victory just improved drastically. This is good news for Republicans. 

The only way this may have been a wise decision for Democrats is if Joe Biden's frailty or suspected demenia has gotten worse and it is less revealed form a recording studio than at a live function. In that case, it may be wise to reduce Biden's public exposure.

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Monday, June 22, 2020

The Tennessean makes a lame attempt to atone for spreading hate. Fires one underling.

by Rod Williams - The Tennessean has announced that an advertising manager was fired over what the Tennessean is calling an "anti-Muslim advertisement."   The full-page ad appearing in Sunday's paper told of an impending nuclear devise to be exploded in Nashville  "by Islam."

The article was heavy on the reading of Biblical prophesy to discover this pending attack.  I just thought it was nutty. I really didn't see the Muslim bigotry until it was pointed out to me by the Tennessean. That just shows you how not woke I am.  I wonder if the ad would have said the devise was to be exploded by "Islamic extremist," or by "Muslim radicals," instead of  just "Islam," if it would have been acceptable. Probably not.

Money from the ad sale is being refunded to the Arkansas nonprofit Future for America, who purchased the ad. The group said it would buy billboard advertising and mail letters to thousands of Nashvillians this week. What a win for Future for America. With the money refunded, that will help fund the billboards and mailings. I don't know why the money is being refunded. Future for America certainly got their money's worth.  More people have heard of this than ever would have heard about it had the Tennessean just let the story die. I guess returning the money is kind of like Judus throwing the thirty pieces of silver into the temple.  Giving the money back is the Tennessean's way of atonement despite that doing so helps fund the spread of the organization's message.

An internal investigation revealed three Tennessean advertising staff members "had the opportunity to review the ad in its entirety" before it was published, but failed to do so, so one sacrificial lamb gets the ax.

I'm sorry but that is not good enough.  The Tennessean is supposed to be very woke.  It preaches self-righteous political correctness daily.  It lectures and informs the rest of us.  It is sort of like this:  If a church members cheats his employer that is a bad sin; if the minister is pocketing money out of the collection plate before it is counted, that is a biggr sin.  Some poor little ole citizen and amateur blogger like me can be forgiven for being un-work, but The Tennessean should not get a pass. They have got to be held to a higher standard.

I think that David Plazas should be marched through the streets with a sign around his neck that says "I sinned against political correctness" or maybe, "Guilty of spreading hate" and people should be able to hiss at him and throw orange peels and egg shells and coffee grounds. He should then spend the next six month on an apology tour confessing his sins.

The Tennessan has been trotting out this Michael A. Anastasi to take the heat for this.  He is the managing editor.  That is not going to cut it.  I never heard of the guy until this. David Plazas is the face of The Tennessean.  He is the one who always represents the Tennessean at public forums and events. He is the community engagement editor. He needs to engage the community. He ought to come out of hiding and do a cultural revolution-type mea culpa and beg, beg, forgiveness. Some crying while begging would help.



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Islamist to nuke Nashville July 18th

by Rod Williams - With rioter tearing down statues across America in the name of racial justice of just about anyone ever memorialized in a statue, it seems things can't get any weirder. A statue of Union General and President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant was toppled because apparently rioter for racial justice know so little about history they think Grant was a Confederate general, or maybe they just love destruction.

Here in Nashville they toppled the statue of obscure prohibitionist Edward W. Carmack and in California they toppled the statue of Francis Scott Key, the author of The Star Spangled Banner. Some place they toppled a statue of a prominent abolitionist. If that is not weird enough they vandalized a statue of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote.” Yep. They did. What he has to do with anything the rioters are mad about I don't know. Weird! Just weird. Equally weird is that otherwise sane sensitive woke liberals don't think it is weird. These are people who get up and go to work every day. They have enough sense to come in out of the rain, but they do not think it weird that rioters are indiscriminate in tearing down of statues.

And then, what about CHAZ? In Seattle, leftist misfits, anarchist and thugs have taken over a part of the city and are calling it an autonomous zone and the police are not responding to calls for help from people who in live in the neighborhood. They are just letting the Vandals and the Goths, the Communist and the anarchist, and the thugs have several square block of the city. You can't make this stuff up. And, liberals excuse them and are understanding.

This of course is on top of other crazy stuff. At a time when people are reeling from the economic impact of the government mandated lock-down, rather than tightening our belt, Nashville raises taxes 34%. I find it weird that most people thank that is OK.

Thousands of people march down Lower Broad, many without mask, and certainly not social distancing and set down in the street screaming revolutionary slogans at the top of their voice as they spray aerosolized spit vapor into the air. No one is arrested. The rules for social gathering are ignored. Yet, inside Kid Rock's honky tonk on Broadway a bartender serves beer at the bar and the establishment loses its beer license and yet starting today we enter phase 3 of the reopening and serving beer at the bar is permitted. Quite frankly I don't care if the protesters risk getting COVID-19. I don't care if they get it.  I tend to think everyone should evaluate the exposure risk for themselves and be free to act accordingly. What I find weird is that normal people can think that the law should apply to Kid Rock's but not the protesters outside of Kid Rock's. I find it weird that people have just accepted selective enforcement. Weird, but it gets weirder still.

Yesterday morning I was talking to my daughter who lives in New Orleans and she said, "Daddy, what is this about Nashville going to get hit by a nuclear bomb?" "What?" I asked. She said Joshua, my son in law, had received something about it on Instagram. He pulled it up on his phone as we talked and it reference a full page ad in The Tennessean on the topic.

I read the on-line version of The Tennessean and had seen nothing about it. I went to the Tennessean website and looked at the e-edition, which is a replica of the print addition and found it. I am posting it below. This has made news all across the county and is being spread on social media.


Now that is weird. Anytime someone starts reading a lot of specific events and names of current political figures into Biblical prophesy, they lose me. It doesn't get any less weird if you go to the website listed in the ad. You can visit the website at this link. Why Islamist are going to nuke Nashville rather than some other city is not explained and how they were able to figure it out from reading between the lines in the Bible is not explained.  When the Bible was written there were no Muslims, or America, or Nashville, or Donald Trump, or nuclear devises so I guess you have to be a pretty damn good Biblical scholor to figure all of that stuff out. Weird.

Now, I would just mark it up to some religious nut and ignore it but it has become a big deal. The Tennessean is engaging in hand-wringing and self-recrimination and are appalled that his could get in their news paper and are investigating "how a paid advertisement from a fringe religious group was published on Sunday in violation of the newspaper’s long-established standards." " The newspaper’s advertising standards clearly forbid hate speech," they write. “No words or actions can describe how sorry we are to the community for the advertisements that were published. We will be utilizing the advertising dollars that went toward the full-page ad placements and donating those funds to the American Muslim Advisory Council.”

The story has been picked up by news outlets all across the country. The Tennessean looks really foolish.  I find it all kind of weird and funny.

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Councilman Brett A. Withers explains the budget process, his votes and defends himself against his leftist critics.

In the below essay Councilman Brett Withers provides valuable insight into the Metro government budgeting process and defends himself against attacks by his fellow progressive social justice warrior distractors.  At over 3500 words long, this is probably one of the longest blog post I have ever posted.  However, it does not contain wasted words.  Withers uses the number of words necessary to make his points. I encourage you to read it all.  The highlighting in the below essay is mine.
Brett Withers is not one of my favorite Council members.  I have often disagreed with legislation he has sponsored and the way he has voted.  One does not have to always agree with someone however, to recognize that they work hard and that they are knowledgeable and know what they are talking about.  I can respect someone for their ability, work ethic and knowledge and still not agree with their conclusions.  The budget process is complicated and a lot of people who are opinionated are not very informed. This essay by Withers is informative for anyone wanting a better understanding of the budget process.
In the most recent budget battle, the leftist activist have turned on Withers for not supporting their attempt to defund the police.  Because he is an employee of a subsidiary of TransCor America, the left has taken the tactic of claiming Withers voted for the interest of his employer rather than standing with the people for racial justice.  TransCor is the company formerly know as CoreLogic that provides incarceration services to governments.  They own prisons, among other things. In this essay,  Withers counters that charge that he put the interest of his employer above that of his constituents. Rod Williams


Brett Withers
by Councilman Brett A Withers, reposted from Facebook - I hope that everyone is enjoying the sunny weather today. I finally got a chance to sleep in this morning and go for a drive in the country to clear my head, which I highly recommend. I also joined Council Member Zulfat Suara’s FaceBook Live meeting providing a budget vote recap at 3:00 PM. I indicated earlier that I would send out a communication as well, and so here goes.

The Metro Government budget process is always like a marathon - it lasts several months - and this year’s was the most harrowing of the five that I have been through so far. The Metro Charter is a strong-mayor/weak-council system, and the Metro Departments are part of the executive branch, not the legislative branch of government.

Metro’s operating budget is a maintenance-of-effort system which means that each Department leadership team makes a presentation to the Mayor about what staffing or other operating budgets they need to continue providing services to constituents. This could mean that some efficiencies have been found (“targeted savings”) or that new situations have emerged or new efforts are underway or are being asked that would require additional employees or recurring operating budget resources. The mayor then goes through all of these department presentations and submits a recommended budget. Then the Metro Council goes back through that process with each of the Departments and then the Budget & Finance Committee chair submits a substitute operating budget that tweaks those recommendations a little bit, and there are amendment proposals to that substitute that the Metro Council votes up or down. Then if the Budget & Finance Committee chair’s substitute does not pass with whatever amendments were approved, then by law the Mayor’s recommended operating budget goes into effect. That happened last year. This year was unusual in that there were multiple substitute budget options that came out really late in the timeline. But Budget & Finance Committee Chair Bob Mendes’s Fiscal Year 2021 Operating Budget passed with 32 votes.

I think that it is fair to say that this budget doesn’t make anyone happy. Truly. But I have always voted to fund our school system and I did support Council Member Zulfat Suara’s Amendment 8 that moves up to $8,158,500 out of the MNPS Cash & Fund Balance (savings) toward teacher compensation. I also voted for Council Member Colby Sledge’s Amendment 5 that would have moved $2.5M from the Public Health & Safety Contingency fund toward the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing, but that vote count failed.

I did not vote for Council Member Sean Parker’s Amendment 7 that would have diverted about $2.9M from the Sheriff, District Attorney and Police Departments for a contingency account for a social and emotional learning contingency fund. While the minutes have not yet posted, the Council Office’s notes appear to show that in addition to me, 24 other Council Members voted no on this amendment: Council Members Allen, Glover, Hall, Swope, VanReece, Hancock, Young, Hagar, Evans, Bradford, Rhoten, Syracuse, Cash, O’Connell, Roberts, Druffel, Murphy, Pulley, Johnston, Nash, Vercher, Rutherford, Styles and Henderson. This vote count captures a broad spectrum of Council Members. I have in the past supported efforts by NOAH and other groups by voting to fund social and emotional learning in MNPS budgets and to urge for the passage of School Board actions to address this needed instruction. But a great many of my Metro Council colleagues and I felt that this particular Amendment was well intentioned but not the appropriate way to fund this contingency fund at this time.

Council Member Welsch’s Amendment 26 that would have decreased the police department and sheriff’s office funding by about $110M and moved those funds into a number of other departments failed in a voice vote and a roll call vote was not taken. I have seen social media posts that listed perhaps ten out of forty Council Members who voted for it. There was a larger number of no votes - including mine - and a large number of abstentions. The African American Council Member vote was spread in yes/no/abstain votes.

Here are some thoughts on that.

Let’s go back to my previous indication that Metro’s operating budget is based upon departmental needs to maintain essential services to constituents. It is not clear to me that the sponsor or advocates for this amendment have thought through and accounted for how such a significant budget cut would impact services to the entire county.

Davidson County’s police staffing per capita is already lower than some other large cities, and our city is spread out over 500 square miles. The number one thing that constituents contact Council Members about is speeding cars and requesting traffic enforcement, which is mostly a police function. Noise complaints which are high in District 6 are also a police function.

Council Members also receive complaints about slow response times to police calls, and in the Southeast region which has the most traffic and some of the highest population growth, the former District 32 Council Member commented several times during our service together last term that her constituents wanted more police patrols. District 28 Council Member Tanaka Vercher served with me last term and has shared similar constituent feedback and this year has continued to advocate for opening a new Antioch police precinct on Murfreesboro Road. And so while I understand that in the last few weeks a national movement has erupted to defund police departments in large cities, and that defund movement means different things to different people, it is not clear to me that this amendment matches up with longstanding constituent calls throughout the county for additional police patrols and to create a new police precinct in Antioch led by an African American Council Member.

I would also share that I have been involved in this community for more than a dozen years and have experienced how our East Nashville neighborhood associations have worked closely with the East Precinct to address problems and make our community much safer for everyone. That effort to make our neighborhoods safer has taken a lot of working together among our neighborhood associations and with the East Precinct over the years. This longstanding positive working relationship includes neighborhood associations that have been led by African American East Nashville community members.

Several years ago as a community member I worked with the McFerrin Park neighborhood association on an event with the East Precinct to address crime concerns on North Second Street that were making residents there fearful in their homes. That community work with the East Precinct appears to have improved the quality of life and safety for neighbors in McFerrin Park over what it used to be ten or more years ago. And that event working with the East Precinct and the McFerrin Park Neighborhood Association was where I met a longtime neighbor who currently serves on the Community Oversight Board. It is good to have community members who have longstanding ties to neighborhoods that have worked on problem-solving efforts with the police department serving on the Community Oversight Board.

My own street is much safer now than when I first moved here and my family feared for my safety due to drug dealing and aggravated assaults. Later on East Nashville was experiencing rashes of home breakins and around 2010 the Eastwood neighborhood association created a yard sign that said “See Suspicious Activity? Call 862-8600.” Lots of neighbors across East Nashville bought those signs to encourage neighbors to contact the police nonemergency number to report suspicious activity, and the effort worked and the number of breakins decreased significantly, but of course there still are some.

Most if not all East Nashville neighborhood association meetings before COVID-19 continued to include police reports where an officer attends, goes over recent statistics for each neighborhood, and answers any questions or concerns that neighbors have. I have attended hundreds of those neighborhood meetings in District 6 including in Cayce Place and I have never heard neighbors say that they wanted less police officers responding to calls.

In Cayce we had a series of tragic shootings all in one year and the last one was a high school student who was caught in crossfire and tragically killed. I was present that night when Cayce neighbors gathered to mourn her death and speakers urged neighbors to communicate with the police to help bring the shootings to and end.

I was also serving as the District 6 Council Member when Jocques Clemmons was shot by a police officer. I spent a lot of time at Cayce over those days and weeks following that shooting. The Cayce residents themselves expressed to me that they wanted the matter investigated but they also remained calm. There were some social justice advocates who wanted to hold protests on the campus. But the Cayce Residents Assiciation president at the time who was also a NAACP member asked them not to do that. Some groups later held a protest and came to the Metro Council.

The Cayce residents themselves indicated to me that they wanted police protection but wanted policing to be done differently. Ultimately MDHA added more security cameras on the campus and the East Precinct worked with me, MDHA and the Cayce residents to set up foot and bike patrols that have fostered close relationships in Cayce Place. We actually pay police officers to walk children to school in the morning and play basketball in the afternoon and build positive relationships with residents in order to address potential problems before they place the community in danger.

There is a community advisory group for this team that includes Cayce residents, other neighbors and local faith leaders, and the advisory group meets monthly to talk with the East Precinct about what is working well or could be approached better or differently. This community policing model requires more personnel in the Cayce neighborhood than typical cruiser patrol ratios and it has made the Cayce community safer. But if we cut the police budget in half overnight that will go away, and instead whatever police officer staffing the county has remaining will go back to cruisers to respond to calls all across the county when they can get to the call.

So that is an example of how in some cases, having more police officers on foot or bike actually does make communities safer. It depends on the relationships that can be built. The sort of one-size-fits-all truisms of many of the calls to slash police department funding and personnel are not necessarily always true in Nashville. Nor do they necessarily reflect the views of the constituents for whom some well-meaning groups and neighbors are trying to speak. The way that I know what Cayce residents want is by asking them and listening to them.

I would also encourage folks to look more closely at how African American Council Members voted on this amendment. A couple of them voted yes, others abstained and at least two voted no. Council Member Porterfield stated on the floor that she empathized with the concerns but would be voting no. I cannot and will not speak for my colleagues but I do encourage folks to watch the video footage to discern the nuance of the deliberations.

I agree with several colleagues that I understand and appreciate the concerns raised but do not feel that simply cutting the Nashville police department’s budget by a large number and then sprinkling those funds over to other Departments is a well-thought-out plan to provide services to communities who truly need support. It is conceivable to me that Nashville can come up with a thoughtful and intentional, stakeholder-led plan to reimagine how several interrelated community support services are funded and provided in Nashville. Taking a dramatic budget cut action simply “to make a point” as one constituent wrote to me is not a thoughtful plan.

I appreciate the passion and enthusiasm of the many young people who wrote or spoke to the Metro Council on this topic.Sometimes I can agree with someone on a goal but not on the strategy for attaining that goal.

When I was in college and about 20 years old I was part of a Left-aligned group and read up on a lot of the Marxist-Leninist literature. I still have some of those books on my personal library shelf today as pictured. I had to work two jobs for a while to put myself through college but I did spend a fair amount of time traveling around the Midwest to counter-demonstrate against KuKluxKlan rallies. And while my appreciation of the Left critique of Capitalism remains, my beliefs about how to address those problems and how change occurs through government has continued to evolve with my own life experience and observation. In my zeal I did and said things to people whom I was trying to help or persuade that were not helpful, compassionate or even constructive. I am still working to make the world a better place and I continue to listen, observe and learn every day.

Sometimes individuals with Left-aligned views have a tendency to decide that a person who agrees with them on many things and actually votes with them a lot of the time is suddenly the enemy, and some of that phenomenon appears to be targeted toward me right now. That activity is understandable but unfortunate and I believe that it is misplaced.

I am the first person in my family to go to college in the traditional sense and I put myself through school, earned an undergraduate degree in liberal arts (English, with a minor in Comparative Literature and a minor in Philosophy) and then decided against incurring more student loan debt for graduate school but rather decided instead to get a “day job” to pay off those undergrad student loans.

My first job out of college was as an entry-level employee in the commercial real estate appraisal department at Price Waterhouse (now PwC). I loved that job and was working toward my commercial real estate appraise certifications. That’s how I learned so much about land use policy and zoning.

Then 9/11 happened and almost all commercial real estate transactions stopped for a while and that division was eliminated in Chicago. So I went to work as a support staff for executives at PwC. I worked for the president of a department that did business process best practices analysis and publishing and then that division was relocated to Tampa, Florida. I then went to work as the assistant to the head of PwC’s mergers and acquisitions division for the Midwest region. I left that job and moved to Nashville to help take care of my grandparents and to spend time with my family here. So when I moved to Nashville PwC did not have an office in Nashville and I worked with a staffing company on a job search and that is how I ended up at TransCor America, which is government contractor that provides transportation services. Yes, it is a company that is owned by CoreCivic. I had never even heard of that then. But at any rate, my job is as the support staff for the president and VP of TransCor America. They are both Marines (TransCor strives to hire veterans).

I am an hourly worker. I do meeting and event planning, I work on documents, reports and communications, and I work on employee relations stuff. I produce the employee newsletter. I send birthday cards. I spend a lot of time ordering flowers for funerals when an employee loses a loved one. I put a lot of work into quarterly or annual employee recognition awards events and communications. I work with a team of volunteers who send gifts to employees at the non-Nashville locations to let them know that we are thinking of them. Most TransCor employees are CDL drivers and are diverse. In 2016 TransCor was named a Top Workplace based upon external employee engagement survey responses. Right now I am also covering a switchboard.

I have held this same support staff position at TransCor for 13 years. That information has always been available. I know that a lot of people don’t like CoreCivic. I don’t make decisions for or speak for CoreCivic, or even TransCor. I punch a clock and go home at the end of the day.

While working my day job at TransCor over the years I have taken off work countless times to support our community at Planning Commission or other Metro Government meetings. I was elected the president of Eastwood Neighbors five years in a row from 2010-2014 and worked with our neighborhood on an extensive Conservation Overlay expansion and helped negotiate an adaptive reuse plan for Hobson Church at Greenwood/Chapel that is finally coming to fruition. I worked with then-Council Member Walter Hunt in 2013 and 2014 to build community support to pass the DADU bill allowing detached garage apartments, the Duplex Bill regulating the “tall-skinny” proportions of duplexes, and the Contextual Overlay enabling legislation. I was honored by the Historic East Nashville Merchants Association as their East Nashvillian of the Year for 2014. All while working this same administrative support job.

In 2015 I ran for Metro Council to represent District 6 with a campaign team of neighborhood volunteers and with support from District 6 residents and small businesses. My employer was definitely a topic of conversation at that time. I won 62% of the vote. I think that most District 6 voters at that time were able to weigh my long record of community involvement higher than their feelings about the parent company of the employer who pays me an hourly wage for a support staff position. I ran unopposed in 2019.

I know that some people are once again resorting to putting up signs and using ad-hominem attacks, but the identity of my employer has been public information for a long time and has been known to most people who have been around and paying attention. I hope that those who have been around the neighborhood and paying attention have also noticed my work to serve and support this community as best as I can.

That leads me to the concern that some have expressed that my reason for not voting for Amendment 26 is due to my employer.

No.

My voting record shows that I have always voted to fund Metro Schools as much as I can, even if it requires raising taxes to do so. Every year.

On the law enforcement and immigration topic, I even cosponsored legislation introduced by Council Member Bob Mendes that would have ended Metro funding for immigration enforcement at the jail https://www.nashville.gov/…/o…/term_2015_2019/bl2017_739.htm and ended Metro’s contract with the US Marshals Service https://www.nashville.gov/…/o…/term_2015_2019/bl2017_743.htm. My views do not reflect those of my employer.

I also introduced and passed a Resolution making Nashville one of the first cities in the Southeast to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day https://www.nashville.gov/…/r…/term_2015_2019/rs2017_907.htm. I have taken numerous other steps to support racial justice efforts in Nashville, not to mention LGBTQ equality. In terms of funding affordable housing and services, the Envision Cayce Master Plan is a $600M affordable and workforce housing plan that has also brought an additional school to the Cayce neighborhood at no cost to Metro. I did work with Mayor David Briley to fund some additional affordable housing units on top of the one-for-one affordable housing replacement units. So I support funding education and affordable housing.

I simply do not believe that the proposed Amendment 26 represented a well thought-out strategic plan to address some of the valid concerns that have been raised about policing and to provide comprehensive solutions that would be needed in order to reduce the number of police officer positions in Nashville. That is an aspirational goal. And some of my African American Metro Council colleagues appear to agree and voted similarly.

I appreciate the many kind emails or communications from District 6 neighbors that I have received over the last few days. I will continue doing what I can to support practical measures that further the Black Lives Matter movement in Nashville where I believe that our city can again lead the nation in thoughtful dialogue and positive change to make our city safer for everyone.

Thank you for reading.

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Radicals lose fight to defund police, instead Council increases police funding by $2.6 million.

Ginny Welch.
Attempt to slash police budget.
by 42% failed.
Russ Pulley.
Successfully added $2.6 million
 to fund additional police.
by Rod Williams- While I would have preferred a no-tax-increase budget, our pubic safety functions are in need of additional funding. If I were creating the budget I would have tried to modestly increase funding for these services. The police, the 911 call center, ETMs and fire fighters are all understaffed. I would have defunded, reduced or suspended funds for General Hospital, the Human Relations Commission, the Barnes Fund, non-profits, the arts, parks, MTA. the Chamber, the bike lane program, recycling, and the sidewalk program. I would have dropped the idea that no metro employee should ever lose their job. Byond these cuts, I would have cut library branches, hours or days until the budget balanced. Leadership could have sold such a budget to the public. People can understand that when you lose income, you have to cut expenses.

General Hospital can't fill its beds and poor people have other options ever since Medicaid. Not every city has a charity hospital; it is not required. Even our former progressive mayor Megan Barry proposed closing General. Most recyclables goes to the land fill anyway and the price tag of the program went up $1.5 million this year. It should be suspended until we determine the future of recycling. No one uses the bike lanes, or almost no one. We can halt expansion and no one would notice. We spend millions on sidewalks and don't get new ones. We mostly replace barely deteriorated sidewalks with new clean sidewalks. We should suspend the program until we find out why. In a time of crisis, until revenue returns we can temporarily reduce library service. We could have balanced the budget. If we had leadership who made the case, people would have accepted less services durning a time of crisis.

To his credit, Mayor Cooper in his budget at least recognized the importance of funding the police. His budget proposal included a $2.6 million increase for police. That increase in funding would fund 46 new position. As the budget process advanced, what emerged as the most likely budget to pass was the Mendes substitute budget. His budget proposal cut the $2.6 million for police and put that money into funding step increases for Metro employees. His proposal kept the police funding flat at $209 million.

Meanwhile the radial left composed of Black Lives Matter, Our Revolution, Gideon's Army and a bunch of other organizations united behind this idea of defunding the police. Now, defunding the police does not mean exactly the same thing everywhere it is proposed across the country. Some want to simply reduce police funding and put the money into social services while some want to completely abolish police departments. Nashville's radical community operating under an umbrella group called Nashville People's Budget Coalition proposed slashing the police budget by 42%. Ginny Welch carried the water for the radicals.

Ginny Welch is probably the most radical member of the Council. She is an activist who has supported all kinds of leftist causes over the years. Contributors to her Council campaign included LIUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America) among other radical groups. She received the endorsement of The Nashville Justice League and Our Revolution. Welch was a founder of the low-power, left-wing radio station, Radio Free Nashville.

Tuesday night, Welch sponsored Amendment 26 to the Mendes budget. It cut the Police by $107,670,143 and the Sheriff by $3,473,855. It got only three votes in favor, a couple abstentions and everyone else voted in opposition. Nashville has a very progressive Council, but they are not totally, completely nuts. We are not yet Seattle or San Franciso. Thank God.

The council then came to Amendment D by Councilman Russ Pulley. Pulley is Chairman of the Council's Public Safety Committee, has worked as a firefighter, paramedic, police officer and state trooper, as well as an FBI agent. He moved to amend the Mendes budget to add back the $2.6 million that had been in the mayor's budget. A lot of people abstained and the amendment got 21 votes, the minimum necessary to pass.

While I am disappointed the Council approved a huge tax increase, I am glad that we did not slash funding for public safety and that we recognized the need to increase funding for our undermanned police department. I commend Councilman Pulley for his leadership. Once the minutes of the meeting are posted, I will report on who voted to fund the police and who voted against public safety funding.

For more on this see this link and this link.

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How members voted on the budget (with commentary)

by Rod Williams - On Tuesday night the Council voted on the budget. The Mendes substitute as amended, which increased property taxes by 34%, passed the Council Tuesday night and became the city's 2021 Metro budget.  The mayor had presented to the Council a budget that raised taxes 32%. Here is how members voted.

Yes: Bob Mendes, Sharon Hurt, Burkley Allen, Zulfat Suara, Kyonzt√© Toombs, Jennifer Gamble, Sean Parker, Brett Withers, Emily Benedict, Nancy VanReece, Tonya Hancock, Zach Young, Emily Evans, Brad Bradford, Jeff Syracuse, Ginny Welsch, Colby Sledge, Tom Cash, Freddie O’Connell, Mary Carolyn Roberts, Brandon Taylor, Gloria Hauser, Kathleen Murphy, Robert Nash, Tanaka Vercher, Delishia Porterfield, Sandra Sepulveda, John Rutherford, Joy Styles, Antoinette Lee, Angie Henderson.

No: Steve Glover, Jonathan Hall, Robert Swope, Larry Hagar, Kevin Rhoten, Thom Druffle, Russ Pulley, Courtney Johnston.


I am proud of those who voted "no." Almost everyone voted how I would have predicted they would have voted, except one of the no's I would not have predicted he would have been a "no." 

Two of the "yes" votes are disappointments.  I would have predicted Robert Nash and Angie Henderson would have been "no's."  If either of those two council members would like to explain their reason for voting the way they did, I would be glad to post their explanation. There may very well be a logical defensible reason for voting the way they did. I doubt it would persuade me they voted the right way but there may be a rational reason. Budgets are complicated. The Mendes substitute as amended may have had some changes that in the mind of the Coucil members who voted for it, was worth accepting a two percent higher tax.

I would have voted "no" if I had a vote.  However, if the "no's"would have won or if by a combination the no's and abstentions, the Mendes budget would have failed, the mayors budget would have become the budget by default.  As a practical matter, this was a vote for a 34% tax increase (the Mendes budget) or a 32% increase (the Mayor's budget).  This is what the Charter says:

Section 6.06: The council shall finally adopt an operating budget for the ensuing fiscal year not later than the thirtieth day of June, and it shall be effective for the fiscal year beginning on the following July 1st. Such adoption shall take the form of an ordinance setting out the estimated revenues in detail by source and making appropriations according to fund and by organizational unit, purpose or activity as set out in the budget document. If the council shall fail to adopt a budget prior to the beginning of any fiscal year, it shall be conclusively presumed to have adopted the budget as submitted by the mayor.
The mayor's budget would have not become the budget until July 1, however, so if the Mendez budget would have failed there may have been time (probably not, but maybe) for the Council to scramble and develop an another alternative, but a no-tax budget never had a chance. One cannot say with absolute certainty that if the Mendes budget would have failed the Mayor's budget would have become the budget by default, but that is the most likely outcome.

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Groups start recall efforts after Metro Council approves property tax increase

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The council passes the Mendes substitute budget as amended, by a vote of 32 to 8.

June 17, 2020 1:30pm.- The council passes the Mendes substitute budget as amended, by a vote of 32 to 8.  That is now the Metro budget.  It increases taxes more than what was proposed by Mayor Cooper. 

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Council member Angie Henderson's Report on the Metro budget

Angie Henderson
From Council member Angie Henderson's newsletter, 6/16/2020 - The third and final reading of Metro's annual budget is on Tuesday, June 16, unless the Council defers the budget to another meeting for additional discussion. By Charter, we must pass a budget by June 30.

Monday evening I participated in the six-hour Budget & Finance Committee meeting to advocate for my amendments to the budget, one of which eliminates all economic incentives for corporations, and was narrowly recommended for approval by the committee. The other two packages of amendments were my best effort to comb the budget and get the rate as far under the proposed $1 and $1.06 rate increases that I could in a combination that the majority of the body will support.

My impression from the budget works sessions and response to my amendments in last nights meeting is the majority of the Council does not have the willingness to make significant cuts or introduce even the most modest of wheel taxes (I've proposed $12 more per car).

The Citizens' Guide to the Metro Budget provides key reference materials. You can see the various substitute budgets and amendments at the second link. My amendments are numbered 22, 23, & 24 in the analysis.

This budget season has been the most difficult of my service on Council, which is saying something after the David Briley budget of last year with a $40 million hole in it. Link to my blog from last year & another one here. Our budget process remains broken. Given the constraints placed upon the Council about discussing pending legislation, we all work in isolation to make proposed cuts around the margins when we should be working together towards certain core principles and targets so the public can see clearly the validity, or not, and impact of our various budgeting assumptions and assertions. 

The only mercy in these recent budget difficulties is that I still believe we have elected a mayor, who despite his proposed tax increase this year, truly wants and has laid the ground work in his administration to address the long-compouding structural and ethical issues, the gaming of revenues and the deferral of debt of past mayoral administrations that have converged with the reduced revenues of this Covid-19 moment.

 New yesterday, reported Metro sales tax revenue for March was only off 10% from 2019. The Safer at Home order went into effect late that month though, and we will not see April revenue till July 15 and May revenue till August 15. As such, Councilman Mendes has indicated via his substitute budget that with new reporting from Metro Finance on August 15, if the department's anticipated revenue estimate was too conservative, we will have an opportunity to amend the tax levy for a lower rate before property tax bills are mailed this fall.

Rod's comment: The above highlighting is mine.

In my view Angie Henderson is one of a handful of good council members.  She is thoughtful, smart, rational and works hard. I am pleased to see her address the difficulty caused by Sunshine legislation.  It is almost impossible to negotiate compromises and count votes if Council members can not speak to each other.  This puts at a disadvantage those who wish to develop an alternative budget that raises taxes less.  This has not often been addressed by anyone. I would not want to go back to the era of smoke-filled rooms when a handful of the most powerful met in secret and drew up a budget, which is what happened when I served in the Council in the 80's, but it appears we have gone overboard and the current rules make it hard for the Council to function.

I am very disappointed in Mayor Coopers performance as mayor.  I which he would have taken the position that now is not the time to raise taxes and would have taken the position that Metro employee lay-offs are necessary and would have called for cuts in services and suspension of some service until revenues improve.  However, I think Henderson has a point. in saying that Cooper is committed to structural changes to get our financial house in order.  I think he is also. I just wish he opposed raising taxes as much as I do.  

Angie is to be commended for offering amendments that would provide for a lesser tax increase.  I do not take much comfort in the point she makes that Councilman Mendes has indicated that if revenues are better than expected that the tax levy could be amended to lower the rate.  It is rare that government rolls back a tax increase. I'll only believe it if I see it.

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Monday, June 15, 2020

A one week deferral on the budget vote is crucial says Steve Glover. Please call or email your council member.



To watch the video, follow this link

by Rod Williams - In this Sunday morning Facebook post, Councilman Steve Glover says he needs a one-week deferral of the budget vote in order to be able to have his budget proposal presented to the Council as an alternative.  The budget must be approved by June 30th or the mayor's budget becomes the budget by default. The budget is on the agenda for tomorrow night June 16th.  There is no reason for the Council could not defer action for one week.

The reason it is difficult to develop an alternative budget is because all assumptions in savings or changes in revenue have to be verified by the Finance Director.  If an administration is so inclined they can slow-walk their responses and run out the clock.  In this Facebook post Glover says that he is exploring every options that can be explored but at every turn he gets told he cannot do something when he thinks law says we can.  It is time consuming process trying to get information from the Finance department and trying to get them to change an assumption or agree to your assumption. 

Glover does not say this in this Facebook post but another difficulty in developing an alternative budget is that the alternative must be able to get twenty-one votes or it is a wasted effort.  The sunshine law prohibits council members from negotiating legislation except in a public forum.  This makes it difficult to ask a colleague directly, "What would it take for you to support a budget that raises taxes less than the mayors?" There is some wiggle room and some of what is prohibited under the sunshine law is open to interpretation but it is a hindrance to developing an alternative budget and counting votes. 

I am unsure at this point how much Glover's alternative would raise taxes. I don't think he knows because it can not be determined without the input of the Fiance department and to garner support of colleagues he may have to keep adding funding for this or that to hit the magic number of twenty-one votes. Steve's proposal includes raising the wheel tax.  Steve says he is not happy with the amount by which his proposal would raise taxes but it is the best he can do and it is considerably less  than the mayor's 32% hike or Mendes's 34% hike. 

Unfortunately we are going to have a tax increase.  The question is how much.  Glover says a week's deferral could make a huge difference.  He says "it is getting warm in the kitchen."  He urges people to call or write their council member and ask for a one week deferral. 

To find your council member's phone number and email address follow this link. 


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