Monday, January 18, 2021

Louella T Ballenger Williams, A remembrance of the woman I loved and of our life together.

Louella Ballenger
by Rod Williams - My dear wife, Louella passed away on December 21st.  She passed peacefully as I held her hand. She was in Brighton Garden's nursing home and due to lockdowns and quarantine I had last seen her on December 4th.   Fortunately, I did get to be with her when she passed. Her eyes were open most of the time and I got one faint smile.  I had about three hours with her.  I told her everything I wanted to say and held and kissed her and petted her and then told her that if she was ready to go, she could go at any time. About 20 minutes later at 12:40PM she took her last breath.

Louella is survived by me, Rod Williams her husband; two brothers, Ben Dillingham and Bruce Dillingham; a sister, Linda Eppard; and her two children, Lee and Dana. 

For those who only knew Louella after she was sick, I wish you would have known the Louella I knew. She was smart, well educated, cultured, adventurous, kind and had a easy smile and boundless curiosity.  She had formal education but never stopped learning and knew so much about so many things. She knew philosophy and art and history and was a ferocious reader.  She could name by the pattern numerous oriental rugs and loved fabrics and tapestries and especially oriental rugs.  She knew classical music.  She broadened my knowledge and we explored and learned things together. 

Louella was born at home in Barnardsville, North Carolina on May 5, 1941.  I have visited the community.  It is an unincorporated community isolated in the mountains.  Louella lived there until she was twelve years old. Part of that time she and her family lived with her grandparents on a farm and Louella shared fond memories of that period.  She told me of them keeping a goat and how when you got too close it, it would butt you.  She told me of playing in the attic and hiding and making scary noises and scaring her younger siblings, and the one time she left a gate open and the cows got out and how she got a real scolding from her granddaddy. 

When she was twelve her family moved to Engleside, Virginia where her father went to work with his brother at a market he owned.  Shortly after that move, her father died in a tragic accident. Sometime after that her mother remarried and they  moved to Alexandria where Louella graduated from high school.

Upon graduation from high school, Louella's aunt, Aunt T, encouraged Louella to go to college and invited her to come live with her and so she could, and Louella did.  Louella often told me how much she loved her Aunt T, and if not for her she would not have gotten to go to college and her life might have turned out much differently.  She lived with Aunt T in Winston-Salem and attended Wake Forrest where she graduated with a degree in Economics.

After college she move back to Northern Virginia, worked for a while then got married and had two children. She stayed home until her children were in their early teens and then worked part time for the Federal Government, working as a field representative, compiling data for the Consumer Price Index.  

Knowing she wanted to work full time as her children got older, she said she knew she needed more education to get the good Federal jobs. She enrolled in George Mason University and got a masters in Economics.  She said one of the high points of this college experience was sitting in a class taught by Walter Williams. She also studied Spanish and went on a several week study-vacation to Spain. 

Upon graduation, and after her children were grown, she went to work full time and then sometime after that her marriage ended in divorce.  During her career she worked for the IRS, some other agency a short while, and the CIA, but most of the time she worked for the Department of Labor.  She returned to the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statics, working again on the Consumer Price Index but in a full-time higher paying position. She told me that to advance with the Federal government one had to be willing to move within the government as job openings became available. After landing the job with the CPI, she said she reached a point where she did not care to advance higher, and stopped seeking advancement. She was content and enjoyed her job.

Fascinated that she had worked for the CIA, I asked her one time what she did.  She looked at me without cracking a smile and sweetly said, "I could tell you, but I would have to kill you."  She then told me she was an analysist in the Mexico division but it did not involve cloak and dagger. Actually she did not like working for the CIA. A funny thing I recall is that she told me she failed her lie detector test for getting the position.  Even failing when they asked her, her name.  She over analyzed each question. She said she thought about her name and asked herself if her real name was her married name or her maiden name and did the initial constitute her middle name, or is her full middle name called for to be considered her name.  After being coached to just answer honestly and not think about it too much, she passed and got the job.  She did not like the CIA however.  She would go to training session and was not even to tell anyone where she was, and she said you were not to discuss normal chit-chat stuff about your job with family or friends. 

I met Louella in May 1992. I was underemployed at the time doing whatever I could to earn a living.  I got a part-time job with the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, working as a field rep on the Consumer Price Index.  I had to go to a several-day training session in Annapolis, Virginia and it is there that I met Louella. She was one of the trainers. We connected due to an ice breaker game that this type training sessions often start with.  This one involved naming one's favorite broadcaster, beverage, and book.  We both named Atlas Shrugged. At break, I sought her out. I did not expect to find a fan of Ayn Rand at a federal government training session and I wanted to meet this person. As it turns out, neither of us were libertarians and were both pretty much mainstream pragmatic conservative Republicans but like a lot of people, Ayn Rand was somewhat of an introduction to purist thoughts on the nature of individualism, liberty and free markets.  

That brief introduction at break led to going with a group of about eight or so to a popular sea food restaurant where we got to know each other better.  Then the next night she and I met for drinks in the hotel lounge after the day's training. The drinks turned into a meal and we stayed late into the evening.  I had never talked with anyone so easily and had so much to talk about.  She was passionate about ideas, especially economics and political philosophy.  We knew so much on the same topics and had read so many of the same books.  Besides political conversation and current events however, we shared our life stories, and talked about family and she told me of her trip to Spain.  We got to know each other and immediately liked each other and had a lot in common. 

I was smitten. She was pretty, smart, curious and a good person and shared my views and values and was passionate about ideas.  When I talked about something, she knew what I was talking about. We kept in contact by letters, and email, and phone conversations, after that week.  A few weeks later I went for another, more advanced training session, this time in Baltimore, and we picked up where we left off and began a romantic relationship. 

We had a long-distance relationship that lasted until she moved to Nashville in 2001.  Long distance relationships seldom work out but ours did.  We saw each other frequently. The airline schedule worked to our advantage.  Louella's office was right next to the Union Station, across from a side street.  She had flex time and would leave work a little early on Friday, walk across the street, catch a train to the airport, and get a direct flight to Nashville, and I would pick her up at the airport at the curb and we would be home having dinner by 7PM, while some of her co-workers were still heading home on the interstate.  On Monday morning, I dropped her off at the airport about 7AM for a flight to Washington where she would again catch the train to Union Station and be at her desk by about 9:30.  On three-day weekends I went to visit her.  We saw each other at least twice a month.  

We enjoyed life.  We took up serious Asian cooking and would learn new recipes and shop for ingredients and cook together.  We had both been casual occasional wine drinkers; we became knowledgeable wine drinkers and went to wine tastings and read about wines, enjoyed shopping for wine and discovering new taste. 

Louella taught me to dance. I had been limited to swaying to a slow song, Louella taught me dance steps and to hear the beat of the music and we took a few formal dance lessons.  We went to the summer Big Band Dances in the Park and we often went out dancing to country music.  We loved going to the Broken Spoke, a bar on Trinity Lane that had a big dance floor.  I never became a great dancer but enjoyed it immensely. 

We loved art openings and the monthly art crawl.  We enjoyed annual events like Wine on the River, the Belmont Christmas program at Belmont Mansion, The Whitland Ave 4th of July, Festival of Nation, the Southern Festival of Books and others.  We went to lectures, writer's nights, free concerts at the Blair School of Music, honky-tonking on Lower Broadway, and we took hikes and long walks and enjoyed yard sales and dining out.  We were always on the go and having a good time. 

On three-day weekends, I would go to Washington and visit her where we enjoyed all there is to do in Washington.  We went to free cultural events hosted by embassies, we saw most of the Smithsonian Museums taking it in, in small doses at a time and we enjoyed eating out and exploring the city. Between visits, we talked on the phone, often for hours at a time.  

Each year we took a foreign vacation.  Travel had appealed to me but for some reason I thought it was too expensive and too daunting.  Louella convinced me it wasn't.  Our first trip was to Spain and it was wonderful.  Subsequent trips included Italy, France, Portugal, Mexico twice, Turkey, Czech Republic, and Hungary. We traveled light, without reservations.  With two good guide books we figured it out as we went. We stayed at ma and pa pensions mostly.  If we loved a place we would stay an extra day, if we had seen enough we moved on.   We had an itinerary but not a schedule. We took local trains and buses and subways. We visited the great museums of the world and explored and had adventure.  Prior to our trips, we spend a lot of time deciding where we would go and for months in advance we read about the country we would visit and its history and culture and art and what we wanted to see. We were knowledgeable travelers.  Louella was a great travel companion and we had magical moments and romance and adventure. 

The terrorist attack of 9-11 was a wake-up call for us.  We realized life is uncertain and short and if we were going to be together we ought to do it.  We bought a house together and Louella retired and moved to Nashville on Thanksgiving weekend, 2001.

Unfortunately, something was not right. Louella who had been full of life and had varied interests suddenly did not care what we did and had little enthusiasm.  We didn't fight much, but were just not happy.  In addition to quitting her job and moving away from her children, her mother died that year.  I thought Louella was experiencing depression but thought maybe also she was having regrets about our relationship and her move.  It wasn't constant, however.  We still enjoyed some things and there would be times when the dark cloud  would lift and things would seem as they were before, but something was not right. Then one day something happened that caused me to realize that there was definitely something going on beyond depression.  It took a while to get a firm diagnosis but by March 2005 she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  As it turned out it was not Alzheimer's but Hydrocephalus, which is treatable and if she had been correctly diagnosed and treated early she would have gotten well, but by the time she was correctly diagnosed the brain damage had already occurred.

After being diagnosed, and getting on medication we had the sadness of the realization of her condition, but the undefined dark cloud lifted. We enjoyed life again.  In the early stages Louella still had her knowledge and still appreciated the same things she had appreciated, she just could not do things that required reasoning.  We had one more adventurous vacation, this one to Greece. Louella could not make change or read a map, but otherwise not much was different. We had a wonderful romantic time. We decided to not stop having fun and living life until we absolutely had to.  We enjoyed our family, and still went out to dine, and to events and enjoyed the political social life. On December 4, 2005, we were married in a beautiful ceremony at our home.  

Over the following years Louella's health declined.  We still had some good times, however.  But as the years rolled by she became less and less able to do the things we had done.  I was fortunate to find a good caregiver for Louella who worked for us forty hours a week.  The rest of the time, I was her full-time caregiver.  There were trying times when Louella experienced periods of agitation, and periods of insomnia, and there were scares where she almost died.  She declined and the last five years or so of her life she was "total care."  She had to be fed and changed and was in a wheel chair.  She totally lost the ability to talk.  It was sad watching her decline.  It was trying but I loved her and was glad I could take care of her.  Despite her inability to talk, Louella still had lots of personality and would say syllables in conversational tones and would smile and laugh and love attention. Despite her condition she was jealous of my attention.  If we had a guest and I was engrossed in conversation and ignoring her, she would act out.  In many ways she was child-like.

In February of 2020 there were some changes in circumstances and I realized I could just not take care of her at home anymore.  I found a place for her and put her in Brighton Gardens of Bentwood.  There are bad nursing homes and good ones and this was a good one.  They really cared about her and treated her with dignity.  The food was good and Louella was engaged and talked to. I visited with her for hours on end almost everyday, enjoying our time together in this new setting.  Unfortunately, the next month after putting her in the nursing home, the Covid-19 virus crisis erupted and my visits were restricted and there were periods of no visits at all.  She continued her decline and passed away on December 21. 2020.

I am glad I had Louella in my life.  I wish you would have know the woman I loved. I miss her. 

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Armed soldiers to protect the inauguration are justified

Ralph Bristol
by Ralph Bristol, 1/18/21, reposted from Facebook - I’ve seen two separate posts (so far) that have said “If you need…Armed Soldiers to protect your inauguration from The People, then you probably weren’t elected by The People.” 

The 25,000 federal troops plus 10,000 police and other law enforcement are guarding the Capitol, along with a 12’ fence topped with razor wire BECAUSE hundreds of most fanatical wing of pro-Trump protesters easily overran the Capitol police force on 1/6/21 and launched a deadly attack with the stated (during the attack) intent of capturing and/or killing both the Vice President and the Speaker of the House.

They did so immediately after the President, his son and his lawyer held pep rallies for them and urged them to march to the Capitol, “fight like hell” and conduct “trial by combat.” The most fringe element took them literally and attempted exactly that. Most people know not to take Trump literally, but we’re not talking about the hottest French fries in the Happy Meal here. 

Within days, that same element encouraged what they called “armed protests” at the U.S Capitol and state Capitols on or before inauguration day. Given those facts, the troops guarding the incoming administration are justified, and the threat is not coming from “the people.” 

The people who conducted a deadly attack on the Capitol on 1/6/21 and have announced plans for “armed protests” on or before Inauguration Day represent the darkest side of the angriest half of the losing side of the election. That’s not “the people.” Their numbers are large enough to represent a clear and present danger that warrants extraordinary security measures, but they are a very small fraction of one percent of “the people.” Just so the math is clear.

Ralph Bristol is a former popular local conservative radio talk show host with Super Talk 99.7 (WTN 99.7) where he worked for 11 years. He is now semi-retired.

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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Democrats elect Remus new party chair

Hendrell Remus
Nashville Post - Members of the Tennessee Democratic Party’s executive committee on Saturday elected Hendrell Remus as the new party chair.

Remus, an assistant emergency operations officer at Tennessee State University, is said to be the first Black leader of the state party organization. He has previously run, unsuccessfully, for local and state offices in Memphis. Remus is vice chair of the Tennessee Young Democrats and in that role has served as an ex-officio member of the TNDP Executive Committee. 

Remus takes over the party from three-term chair Mary Mancini at a low point for Tennessee Democrats, who have not won a statewide election since 2006 and whose House and Senate caucuses have dwindled to super-minorities. 

The House and Senate caucuses supported Wade Munday for the chairmanship.(read more)

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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Please, No Capitol protest says local pro-Trump leader

by Rod Williams - Rick Williams, a friend of mine and well-know conservative political leader and the organizer of many Trump rallies in the middle Tennessee area, is urging his followers to abstain from any protest for the next seven days.  Without mentioning the capitol protest by name, it is assumed than any pro-Trump protest on inauguration day would take place at the capitol building.  The legislative plaza in front of the Tennessee capitol has been the scene of several pro-Trump rallies since the election. Nationwide, numerous protest are reportedly planned at state capitol buildings. I am pleased to see responsible statement from Rick.  Below is a Facebook posting from Rick Williams.

The Metro Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol have  urged "Nashvillians to enjoy the upcoming weekend and inauguration week as normal, while being mindful of the POTENTIAL for demonstrations in the area of the State Capitol Sunday thru inauguration day." Here is a message from Chief Drake and Col Matt Perry.

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Metro Budget 101 Series

Metro Nashville press release - Councilmembers Kyonztè Toombs (Chair) and Delishia Porterfield (Vice-Chair) of the Metro Budget and Finance Committee, will be hosting a virtual Metro Budget 101 Series over the next few months. The sessions, beginning at 6 p.m., will provide transparency and education for the general public concerning Metro Nashville Davidson County's revenues, finances, and the budget process. Questions from the public may be submitted to kyonzte.toombs@nashville.gov by 5 p.m. on the day before the session. All questions must be on-topic. 


How the City Gets Money 
  • November 19, 2020 - Property Taxes: Assessor of Property Vivian Wilhoite, Trustee Erica Gilmore (Join November 19 meeting) 
  • December 3, 2020 - Sales Taxes: What about Downtown Revenue? Councilmember At-Large Bob Mendes (Join December 3 meeting) 
  • December 17, 2020 - City/State Revenue: Finance Director Kevin Crumbo and State Rep. Harold Love (Join December 17 meeting) 
How the City Spends Money 
  • January 7, 2021 - Metro Nashville Public Schools (Join January 7 meeting) School Board Member Freda Player-Peters Chief Operating and Financial Officer Chris Henson 
  • January 14, 2021 - Metro Public Works and Metro Parks Departments (Join January 14 meeting) Public Works Interim Director Shanna Whitelaw Metro Parks Director Monique Odom 
  • January 21, 2021 - Nashville General Hospital (Join January 21 meeting) 
  • January 28, 2021 - Public Safety (Metro Nashville Police Department, Sheriff's Office, District Attorney's Office) (Join January 28 meeting) Community Panel Discussions 
  • February 4, 2021 - Community Panel Discussion (Join February 4 meeting) 
  • February 11, 2021 - Expert Panel Discussion (Join February 11 meeting) 
  • February 18, 2021 - How the Budget Process works (Join February 18 meeting) 
  • February 25, 2021 - Participatory Budget (Join February 25 meeting) Councilmember At-Large Zulfat Suara
This series of sessions will provide helpful information, and I hope you will participate as we work through this upcoming 2021 budget year. The schedule will be updated as speakers are confirmed. Members of the public may watch the following meetings live online at stream.nashville.gov, and Metro Nashville and Davidson County residents can view Metro Nashville Network on Comcast channel 3, AT&T U-verse channel 99, Google Fiber channel 3, and streaming on the Metro Nashville Network Roku channel.

Rod's Comment: This should be informative for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of metro's finances.  It appears to me the groundwork is being laid for another tax hike on top of last year's massive tax hike.  For anyone who wants to be able to talk intelligently about the budget, I would recommend these sessions. 

The above press release had dead-end links for joining the specific meeting.  I would assume the links will be activated closer to the dates of the meeting.  To view the press release with the links for joining the individual sessions, follow this link

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Lawmakers reelect Tennessee secretary of state Tre Hargett despite objection from some Democrats

 link

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My advice to the new Mayor Cooper appointed Affordable Housing Task Force

by Rod Williams - Mayor Cooper has appointed a new affordable housing task force to make recommendation to the mayor for the 2022 fiscal year budget.  I don't think one would be stepping out on a limb to bet that they will recommend a considerable increase in spending on affordable housing.  Unfortunately, it appears to me, the ground work is being laid for an additional tax increase on top of this year's 32% tax hike. 


From years of working in the affordable housing field, I know some of the people on the task force such as Kay Bowers, Eddie Latimer and Lethia Mann.  They are good people and have valuable insight into the difficulties faced in developing affordable housing.  Most of the task force I do not know but know of them. 

I would like to take this opportunity to offer some advice to the task force.

Realize that as a Metropolitan area is more than Davidson County. The metro area is a 13-county area. To find affordable housing one may need to go to Burns or Watertown or Bethpage.  And, that is OK. This is normal.  Nashville is a hot market with more people moving here by the day.  When the city offers incentives to entice businesses to move here or if businesses move here without incentives because we are a desirable place to be, that drives up prices.  That especially drives up prices when the businesses we entice to move hear provide good paying jobs.  People who make more money are going to pay more for housing and lower valued housing will be replaced by more expensive housing. The areas closer to the city center are going to be more valuable, so people who cannot afford the higher prices may need to move further out. Actually some people prefer the suburbs and do not mind the commute. Look at affordability of greater Nashville, not just Davidson County.

Realize that the greatest cause of the loss of affordable housing is simply supply and demand. While the city could set aside money to build some affordable housing, it will be a drop in the bucket as far as making any significant difference. What is happening in Nashville is a natural process.  When there is more demand for something the price goes up.

Acknowledge that single-family-only zoning restricts supply and drives up prices while also contributing to urban sprawl. At one time Nashville's zoning code allowed duplexes in every residential neighborhood.  At some point a new classification was created that allowed neighborhoods to be zoned to prohibit duplexes.  Almost every months, big swaths of  the county are zoned to prohibit duplexes.  Decreasing housing density decreases supply and causes increased housing prices.  New rezoning to single-family-only should end. 

Stand up to those who stop the development of affordable housing.  There is a lot of pious hypocrisy on the part of councilmembers who claim to favor affordable housing but don't want it in their district and also on the part of affordable housing advocates who won 't advocate.  Look no further than the long drawn out fight to stop an affordable housing apartment development called The Ridge at Antioch.  The property was already zoned to allow this development, but the Council person from the district and an adjoining district tried to down zone the property. Down zoning is a taking of property. Property rights are more than holding title. If the government takes away the right to develop the property that you already possess, that is a taking of your property. Eventually, the attempt was unsuccessful. The builder could not develop the property with this hanging over his head however, so for two years the project was delayed. I don't think the property was ever developed. The Council members fighting to stop this development argued they did not oppose housing development on the property but argued their part of town already had too much affordable housing. Also, neighbors filed a law suit to stop the development but were unsuccessful. This was not "the projects," it was a "tax credit" development. It was an apartment complex that no one would have known was subsidized housing. This "not in my back yard" attitude and willingness to trample property rights is one of the reasons for a shortage of affordable housing. 

Recognize that raising property taxes makes housing less affordable.  This is a simple fact.  

Look at how our sidewalk policy inhibits development of affordable housing.  If one builds a home or substantially improves a home in Davidson County one has to build a sidewalk in front of the house, even if there are no other sidewalks on the street,  or pay a fee into the sidewalk fund.  Sidewalks are extremely expensive to build in Davidson County and this policy can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a property.

We should allow mobile homes and modular homes.  It is almost impossible to build a mobile home park in Davidson County and mobile homes can greatly increase the supply of affordable housing. 

Be aware that beautifying low income neighborhoods destroys affordable housing.  The city  drives up housing prices by policies that beautify low income neighborhoods. I wish everyone could live on a beautiful street with a park-like setting, but neighborhoods with low income housing are going to look different than neighborhoods with expensive housing. Rules that restrict the type of commercial services that can be on a thoroughfare such as restricting the number of used car lots and used tire stores and requiring nice screening and disallowing payday lenders, changes the character of a neighborhood. It makes the thoroughfare more attractive to higher income people and the affordable housing gets replaced by more expensive housing.  The city has a plan to change the character of Dickerson Pike.  When that happens the mobile home parks and cheap rental housing will disappear.  Thousands of units of affordable housing will disappear. 

Below is the press release announcing the creation of the housing task force. 

Mayor John Cooper Launches Affordable Housing Task Force

Group Will Focus on Policy, Access, Financing, Land Use

Metro press release, 1/12/2021 - Mayor John Cooper today announced he’ll engage 21 housing experts in his mission to create better and more affordable housing for Nashville.

The group will meet on Thursday, January 21. Their recommendations will inform the 2022 fiscal year budget plan that Mayor John Cooper will make later this year to Metro Council.

“Nashville’s housing needs are urgent,” Mayor John Cooper said. “By working together and listening to one another, we can find solutions that work best for Nashville’s neighborhoods.”

The Task Ahead

Mayor John Cooper’s team, as well as the Metro Planning Department, the Metro Development and Housing Authority (MDHA) and other city agencies will support the task force as they focus on:

Policy

  • How can Nashville preserve and create affordable housing that benefits all residents at different income levels?
  • How can the city tie affordable housing to other community investments, such as transportation, libraries and schools?
  • How can nonprofit organizations better align their efforts and develop stronger relationships with for-profit builders?

Access

  • How can Metro make it easier for Nashvillians who need affordable housing to get it?

Financing

  • What tools are missing from Nashville’s affordable housing “tool box?”
  • What requests should Nashville make to state and federal partners? What has worked in other cities?

Land Use

  • What policies can help residents remain in their neighborhoods, even as those neighborhoods change?

“With their extensive experience and deep expertise, this group will identify creative, cost-effective financing options and policies to help Nashville meet its growing housing needs,” Mayor John Cooper said.

Doing the Work, Transparently and Inclusively

The task force will meet virtually at 5 p.m. on January 21. Recordings of all task force meetings will be posted to nashville.gov.

Mayor John Cooper has asked the group to make recommendations on how to track the creation of affordable housing units, in keeping with his commitment to transparency.

“This task force represents an important step toward meeting Nashville’s pressing housing needs,” Metro Council Member Burkley Allen said. Allen and Metro Council Member Zulfat Suara will serve on the task force.

“I look forward to working with my colleague, Council Member Suara, and with the other members of this task force to make recommendations to Mayor Cooper and the Metro Council,” Allen said.

As they hear from counterparts in peer cities, task force members will also work with residents who have lived experiences to share about what it’s like to need, seek and find affordable housing in Nashville.

“Nashvillians need help,” Kay Bowers, an MDHA board member, said. Bowers will serve on the task force.

“I’m pleased to be part of a diverse group with the skills, knowledge, and, most of all, commitment to find real solutions to our urgent housing affordability problems,” Bowers said. “I could not be more pleased that Mayor Cooper has recognized that now is the time for Nashville to act.”  

Meet Mayor John Cooper’s Affordable Housing Task Force

Mick Nelson, founder and CEO of Nelson Community Partners, and Edward Henley, III, principal and project executive at Pillars Development, LLC, will co-chair the task force.

“Nashville’s housing needs are critical. Mayor Cooper has assembled a group with the experience and the expertise to identify meaningful solutions to those challenges,” Henley said. “I am eager to get to work and excited by the impact we will make.”

Edward Henley, III
  • Founding Principal, Pillars Development
  • Board Chair, Rebuilding Together
  • Task Force Co-Chair

Mr. Henley is the Founding Principal of Pillars Development, a Nashville- based real estate planning, development, and management firm. His passion is development that brings housing and commercial uses to fruition that better serve communities. His areas of focus currently are in furthering civic and cultural projects, increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in real estate development, and creating resources of information, networking and capital for new and nontraditional investors and developers.

Mick Nelson
  • Founder and CEO, Nelson Community Partners
  • Task Force Co-Chair

Dr. Nelson is founder of Nelson Community Partners, a firm that develops, preserves, and manages affordable housing throughout the southeast. He earned his doctorate from Vanderbilt University, where he focused on affordable housing policy, real estate analysis, and urban development patterns. Mick has been an integral member of the Nashville housing community for more than 15 years, assisting in establishing the Barnes Fund and working at the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency in research, strategy, and asset management. 

Edubina Arce

Agent, Realty of America

Ms. Arce has a long history of an involvement in real estate and civic engagement with the Latinx community. A trained attorney with a Master in Conflict Management, Ms. Arce has worked as a realtor for the past 18 years. From 2010 to 2016, she served as the Bilingual Mediation Program Director for the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center, where among other responsibilities she managed the group´s relationship with Catholic Charities and the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. She holds degrees from the Catholic University of Bogotá, Colombia, Externado University in Bogotá, and Lipscomb University. 

Burkley Allen

At-Large Member and Former Affordable Housing Committee Chair, Metro Council

Ms. Allen is a senior mechanical engineer at IC Thomasson Associates, where she assists with the design of LEED-certified buildings and infrastructure planning. A nine-year veteran of Metro government, Ms. Allen has sponsored legislation to improve stormwater regulations in neighborhoods, protect sidewalk and bikeway access in construction zones, and provide solutions to our housing affordability challenges.

Emel Alexander

Director of Community Development, MDHA

Mr. Alexander is the Director of Community Development at the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency. In this role, Mr. Alexander is responsible for overseeing HUD federal funding appropriated to alleviate homelessness, revitalize neighborhoods and develop high-quality, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families living in Nashville-Davidson County. Mr. Alexander oversees the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, HOME Investment Partnerships program, Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA). Additionally, Mr. Alexander oversees CDBG Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding and HUD funding allocated through the CARES Act legislation to respond to the COVID-dway19 pandemic. Before joining MDHA, Mr. Alexander was the President and CEO of an awarded housing and community development agency in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he led the production of new affordable housing, community development programming, and vital public and private partnerships. Mr. Alexander has 20 years of additional professional experience working within government and nonprofit sectors.

Dwayne Barrett

Managing Member, Reno & Cavanaugh, PLLC

Mr. Barrett is the Managing Member of Reno & Cavanaugh. In his role as Managing Member, Dwayne leads the firm's management committee in strategic planning, firm administration, and practice development. Dwayne has a broad range of transactional experience on issues relating to affordable housing and federal and state tax issues, including: low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) developments, TN community investment tax credits (CITC), tax-exempt bond financing, tax increment financing, Affordable Housing Program (AHP) Funds, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, HOME funds, and mixed-finance transactions. His experience also includes drafting state legislation, structuring numerous joint ventures, and appeals of property tax matters.

Kay Bowers
  • Former Director at New Level CDC
  • Board Member, MDHA

Ms. Bowers has more than 25 years of executive experience with affordable housing organizations. She previously served as the executive director of New Level Community Development Corp., an affordable housing organization affiliated with Mount Zion Baptist Church that builds, sells, and rents affordable homes, as well as providing comprehensive housing services.  

Greg Claxton

Metro Planning Department

Mr. Claxton joined the Planning Department in 2012 as a Community Planner working on NashvilleNext. In 2016, he began leading the department’s Capital Planning and Grants team, focusing on aligning Nashville’s capital improvements and implementation efforts with the General Plan. In addition to serving as a Commission member, Claxton will help support the task force’s data needs.

Dr. Paulette Coleman
  • Board Member, MDHA
  • Member, NOAH

Dr. Coleman is one of Nashville’s leading social justice activists, a certified mediator, and an experienced urban planner. From 2014 to 2019, she chaired the Affordable Housing Task Force of Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, a multi-racial, interdenominational, and faith-based coalition that works for solutions to Nashville’s growing affordable housing crisis.

Marshall Crawford

President and CEO, The Housing Fund

Mr. Crawford is an experienced nonprofit executive and shares THF’s commitment to help individuals and communities create and maintain affordable and healthy places to live and work. As the President and CEO, his responsibilities include organization leadership and management, strategic planning, resource development, management of loan portfolio and lending operations and community external relations. Prior to The Housing Fund, Crawford served as the president of the housing and multifamily development division of  Community Ventures Corp. in Lexington, Kentucky.

John Deane

Entrepreneur

Mr. Deane is a healthcare-entrepreneur-turned-resort/marina owner. In 1998, he established Southwind Health Partners, a health consulting firm, out of his home in Nashville. Over the course of the following 20 years, it grew into one of the country’s foremost health consulting companies. Today, John divides his time between managing Wildwood Resort & Marina in Granville, Tenn., and being active in a number of civic and social justice organizations, including Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH).  

Gina Emmanuel
  • Principal, Centric Architecture
  • Chair, Housing Trust Fund Commission

Ms. Emmanuel is a principal at Centric Architecture, one of the oldest architecture firms in Middle Tennessee. She serves on the NAIOP and Catholic Charities boards and chairs the Housing Trust Fund Commission. An (almost) lifelong Nashvillian (she moved here at an early age from South Africa), Ms. Emmanuel is involved in affordable housing design and advocacy, as well as neighborhood investment.

Jeremy Heidt

Director of Industry and Governmental Affairs, THDA

Mr. Heidt serves as the primary point of contact between the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and the Tennessee Legislature, the state’s nine U.S. representatives, and Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators. He also works with public housing entities, private developers and financing entities involved in Housing Tax Credit developments. In 2020, he worked with the state legislature to raise the THDA’s debt limit to $4 billion.

Angela Hubbard

Director of Economic and Community Development, Greater Nashville Regional Council

Ms. Hubbard joined the Greater Nashville Regional Council in 2018 and oversees the economic development sector of northern Middle Tennessee. Hubbard has more than 20 years’ experience working with state and local government, previously working at MDHA, serving as the director of community development, and working for the State of Tennessee as a Legislative Performance Auditor. She serves as the lead coordinator for the 13-county Greater National region as it develops a  regional housing assessment.

Kia Jarmon

Founder and CEO, MEPR Agency

Ms. Jarmon is the Agency Director for MEPR Agency, a communications and community engagement firm that specializes in guiding high-capacity leaders, organizations, and systems through the process of designing more resilient programs, processes, and policies. Ms. Jarmon serves on the Metropolitan Beer Permit board, Neighbor to Neighbor board, is a Pathways to Inclusion fellow with the Urban Land Institute Nashville and is co-chair for Give Black, Give Back with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. She is also a consultant with the Center for Nonprofit Management.

Eddie Latimer

CEO, Affordable Housing Resources

A 30-year veteran of the nonprofit housing development industry, Mr. Latimer oversees the development of AHR’s single-family homeownership programs, construction, lending, education and foreclosure. He represents AHR and the need for affordable housing to political organizations and to trade and government affiliates at the local, state and national levels.

Lethia Mann

Vice President and Community Development Manager for Middle and East Tennessee and North Carolina, Regions Bank

Ms. Mann brings more than 18 years of banking, community development, and nonprofit management experience to the task force. Prior to joining Regions, Mann was Vice President and Community Development Manager with First Tennessee Bank. She also served as Vice President with the Nashville Minority Loan Fund for 12 years. A native of Nashville, Mann earned a bachelor of arts degree in Economics from Vanderbilt University. She is a graduate of Whites Creek High School. She is actively engaged in the community, currently serving as board chair of Residential Resources, Inc., and as a board member with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville. Mann is also a commissioner for Metropolitan Nashville and part of the Davidson County Human Relations Commission, as well as an advisory board member of Dismas, Inc., and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Hunter Nelson

Partner, Elmington Capital Group

Mr. Nelson leads the affordable housing portfolio at Elmington Capital, which focuses on creating affordable and workforce housing opportunities to provide much-needed housing in emerging urban neighborhoods. With an expertise in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) development, Hunter oversees Elmington’s 4% bond financed and 9% competitive tax credit development portfolio, as well as day-to-day operations, including sourcing new construction and rehabilitation deals, project management, financial analysis, government relations, syndication, and due diligence activities. 

Kelsey Oesmann

Design Initiatives Manager, Urban Housing Solutions

Ms. Oesmann is a licensed architect and the Design Initiatives Manager for Urban Housing Solutions, a leading nonprofit provider of affordable housing. She is the author of the Civic Design Center’s Affordable Housing 101 Toolkit and creator of The Game of Rent.

Zulfat Suara

At-Large Member and Affordable Housing Committee Chair, Metro Council

Ms. Suara has been active in community service and leadership since the late 1990s, even as she continued to work full-time as a certified public accountant. The accounting firm founded by Ms. Suara has worked with county governments in Hardeman, Haywood, Lake, and McNairy counties. She is currently the Executive Director of Grants and Contracts at Meharry Medical College.

Emily Thaden
  • Director of National Policy + Sector Strategy, Grounded Solutions Network
  • Vice Chair for Housing, MDHA

Dr. Thaden is a national affordable housing expert who works in communities across the United States to advance equitable land use and permanently affordable housing solutions. Locally, she has been deeply involved in setting up the Community Land Trust and serving on the MDHA board. She is also the Chair of the Board of Directors for Shelterforce Media and serves on the Public Policy Taskforce for Habitat for Humanity International’s Cost of Home campaign. She advocates on the federal level for affordable housing programs and financing.

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Monday, January 11, 2021

DON’T GIVE UP …by refusing to move on

Ralph Bristol
by Ralph Bristol, 1/11/21 - In response to my latest column about 1/6/21, another date that will live in infamy and produce criminal charges against hundreds of former American patriots for attacking and defiling the Capitol and the Constitution, Facebook friend Dennis Painter wrote, “Ralph-in my humble opinion, just because crooked politicians certify the electoral college votes, doesn't mean that We The People have to just accept it and move on. I wasn't raised that way. I was taught to fight for what I believe in and I believe in this country…” 

His was one of several comments along the same vein. 

YES DENNIS, YOU SHOULD MOVE ON 

If you are the patriot you sincerely believe you are and I believe you want to be, you do have to “accept it and move on” after you have exhausted every constitutional appeal of the outcome you don’t like, regardless of how strongly you might believe the outcome was rigged. You can’t preach the rule of law, as conservatives do and should, unless you are willing to accept the rule of law when it produces outcomes with which you disagree. 

I lost count at 60 the number of recounts and court challenges President Trump initiated and lost. His attorneys made their best arguments and presented their best evidence of alleged voting improprieties in multiple lower courts and when all of the lower courts found the evidence lacking, he exhausted every appeal of their decisions, with three appeals making it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejected every appeal. Then, some members of the House and Senate objected to the vote of several states and their objections were voted down by huge majorities in the House and Senate. At that point, you do in fact have to “accept it and move on.” 

This is the same answer I have consistently given to Black Lives Matters when multi-layered investigations by constitutionally authorized officers of the court exonerate a white cop who kills a black man or teen while attempting to make an arrest. That same system finds some of the cops guilty of abusing their power, and we have to accept that too. This doesn’t mean that we have to trust any politician, bureaucrat, or judge. It does mean we have to accept the final decisions made by our multi-layered system of determining the actual truth, with all of its redundancies and appeals, even as we never quit working to improve the efficiency of the system to deliver the objective truth. 

A PROBLEM MUCH LARGER… 
…than the inefficiencies of our multi-layered system of determining the objective truth is the growing reluctance of the population, from childhood through adulthood, to accept outcomes that displease them, and the growing tendency of the population to reject those outcomes with violent temper tantrums that produce mass murderers and turn “peaceful protests” into violent and destructive riots.

Yes, if you are a Patriot, you do have to accept the outcome of the 2020 election and move on. If you really believe in this country, as you say you do, you can’t believe that accepting defeat in this election is the same as accepting defeat in the never-ending battle to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. The battle to defend the Constitution is not over. 

Neither President Trump nor President-elect Biden are the right leaders to protect it, so I’m looking past both of them. More recently, I have begun to suspect that we will also have to look outside their respective political parties to find a leader who fully understands the purpose and promise of the Constitution. Until you are willing to move on from a battle lost, you can’t contribute your best to future battles. Ask any coach of any sport. 

The hard truth for many to accept, maybe including you, is that they were backing a losing hand from the beginning. Anyone who believed President Trump was a defender of the Constitution and an enemy of socialism was mistaken or misled or both. Trump embraced government redistribution of wealth as much or more than nearly any president before him, and he used his executive and political power as a whip to keep other political and business leaders in line with his every unpredictable whim, arguably denigrating the Constitutional limits on executive power in the process. 

Trump lost to Trump and the spoils went to Democrats with one of the most ambitious socialist agendas in history. So, the America I love is still down, but not even close to being out. Most of our constitutional rights and our opportunities for independence remain in place. The next four years are bound to be a further setback. They will also be a time for America to search for an honorable defender of the Constitution and a true opponent of socialism to lead the opposition to Democrats in the next election by convincing the population how and why they can and should seek independence for themselves. I hope that person shows up in the Republican Party, since it already has the nationwide infrastructure to spread a message, but the GOP has been somewhat of a disappointment as of late, so voters may have to look elsewhere. I’ll spend some of my time in the next four years helping patriots find the right message for the right leader, regardless of his or her party affiliation. 

The really hard truth I have to accept is this. It’s harder to convince people they should want independence than it is to teach them how to achieve it. 

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want independence. From childhood through adulthood, I’ve never been happy bending to the will of others, from my parents to my bosses, for even part of the day. So, I learned from trial and error, as I have learned all valuable lessons in life, how to achieve maximum independence. It takes a lot of different sacrifices over many years, but it’s worth it when you get there. I’m as close to “there” as anyone on earth, and I think I’ll spend the next year or more telling others why they should want to be here too. With luck, I might even help future leaders find the right message. 

Moving on can be very invigorating. I urge you to try it. 

Ralph Bristol is a former popular local conservative radio talk show host with Super Talk 99.7 (WTN 99.7) where he worked for 11 years. He is now semi-retired.




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Sunday, January 10, 2021

How Rudy Giuliani, Lin Wood, and Sydney Powell caused untold damage to the political landscape of the United States.

Daniel Turklay 
by Daniel Turklay - Rudy Giuliani, Lin Wood, and Sydney Powell, collectively and individually, have done untold damage to the political landscape of the United States. They have preyed upon well-meaning, right-wing leaning individuals in this country and provided them hope of a different outcome to this election than what was ever possible especially after the Electoral College itself voted on 12/14. These misunderstandings are almost certainly going to carry over into the next election and the damage to our collective civics knowledge base may very well be impossible to reverse at this point. 

Powell, for example, promised us a 'Kraken' that she, for completely unexplained and legally unjustifiable reasons, intentionally concealed the contents of until 'releasing' said Kraken in a completely incompetent and mostly incoherent court filing. Anybody still grounded in legal and factual reality knew that, given the extremely tight timelines involved in challenging the results of an American election, any delay, especially an intentional delay, meant that the credibility of what was going to eventually be presented was severely compromised. The kraken was barely a whimper and I, unfortunately, was not surprised. 

Wood and Giuliani have continually thrust endless conspiracy theories and just flat-out Constitutional untruths into a vulnerable group of conservatives desperate to believe those particular lies. No, Mike Pence never had the unilateral authority to overthrow the election. No, he was not the 'head MF'er-in-charge' that could just decide to not count the votes of a slate of electors. Thank God all of that wasn't true seeing as it will decidedly NOT be Mike Pence counting the next set of Electoral Votes. Of course, that only matters assuming that the Electoral College ever gets the opportunity to participate in another election. 

The people fooled by these three clowns had the best of intentions and just wanted to believe and hang onto any shred of hope that this country was not being turned over to extreme leftists. Yes, their foundation in American civics should have been stronger so that they would not have been capable of falling for some of these lies, but shame on these three who, in my opinion, exploited their unearned positions of trust to incompetently and maliciously mislead those who looked up to them. I have spoken to many of these patriots and it's unbelievably frustrating to try to communicate with people that want the same things as you and to tell them that we're simply not going to get it in the way that they think they can. Shame on those three for causing that. 

To be clear, there were absolutely shenanigans in this election to a degree that this country has likely never seen before. Mail-in ballots were objectively stupid except that to describe them as 'stupid' would be to imply that we didn't already know exactly what the problems with them would be before it happened. The mail-in ballots were malicious, not stupid. The election probably was stolen or, more accurately, there was likely so much cheating that we'll never actually know what the true result would have been. Perhaps Biden would have won without the shenanigans. We'll never know.....BUT..... 

By and large, almost exclusively, the proper method for addressing these irregularities were proper challenges brought in the courts to challenge the results and get the remedies. The lawsuits were filed in the states and the ones that were actually heard on the merits were thrown out for a lack of evidence. Just because something happened doesn't mean it can be proven and, due to both incompetence on behalf of the above-named trio and what was likely just a dearth of actual evidence, the case simply could not be proven to the extent required to overturn the results of the individual state elections. 

It is going to be up to the state legislatures to change their state statutes to set certain regulations in stone and to fix the holes in methods and security of their elections. It will be up to those same legislatures to give those regulations teeth as to ensure that only legally and properly cast votes are counted. I have no idea if they will take those actions, but if they do not, the next election will be as sloppy and illegitimate as this one...and we'll be stuck with the results. As has been true since AT LEAST December 14th when the Electoral College met, this election is and has been over. Biden may or may not have won fairly, but he won nonetheless. The only remedies at this point are impeachment (obv not gonna happen) or repudiation at the ballot box in '22 and '24 (likely to happen). The only other option begins with the words 'When in the Course of Human Events....", but that option is binary and there are unambiguous winners and losers and the cost of losing is.....harsh. Until some group is ready to pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, we all have to operate under the Constitution that we have and, under that Constitution, Joseph Biden will be sworn in on January 20th. 

God Bless America. May we survive this and not repeat the same mistakes going forward.

Daniel Turlay is a criminal defense trial attorney practicing in Nashville. 

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Friday, January 8, 2021

HELP ME GOD – The Sequel

Ralph Bristol
by Ralph Bristol, reposted from Facebook 1/8/2021 - In keeping with my promise to respond to some of the more pervasive reaction my 1-7-21 column, “HELP ME GOD,” I’ll start with… 

…THE ‘ANTIFA’ EXCUSE 
Many Trump supporters are trying to deflect the blame for Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol to Antifa, a political protest movement whose members have previously been blamed for the violence in what started as peaceful protests orchestrated by Black Lives Matters and their partner groups. Most of the video and photos of the participants of the attack look more like the same people I see in the crowds at Trump rallies than they do like the alleged members of Anfita that I have seen in other protests that turned into riots. In fact, most of them look no different that the people I have seen at Tea Party rallies or at my Second Amendment IS Homeland Security rallies. 

Authorities have arrested more than 50 people already and are looking for hundreds more. Yesterday, authorities identified some of the participants as adherents to the QAnon conspiracy theory, but none so far have been identified as Antifa members. If it’s true that Antifa members and not Trump supporters are responsible for storming the capitol, overwhelming the Capitol Police force, and occupying and vandalizing House and Senate chambers and offices, it’s also true that the hordes of Trump supporters present for the rally and protest did nothing to stop them, after providing them the Trojan Horse in which to hide. 

I did hear from Trump supporters who say they and others left the protest when others began to storm the Capitol, wanting to disassociate from that group. I hope you will eventually take that disassociation farther and come to regret your support for Trump’s efforts that crossed the line between constitutional and unconstitutional challenges to the certified results of an election. When the future unveils the history of 1/6/21, I believe it will conclude that millions of patriotic Americans evolved into enemies of the Constitution by pledging loyalty to a president they mistook for a defender of the values of the Constitution against the onslaught of a socialist political and cultural tide, when in fact he was one of the Constitution’s biggest offenders, and did nothing to stop that socialist tide, but was instead its biggest enabler. 

WHICH BRINGS ME TO the second most common criticism of my post. #2 was a combination of “You’re no longer a conservative,” and “this is why you’re no longer on the radio.” I’ll take them in reverse order. Readers who actually listened to my last day on the radio before I was fired remember that I was fired for releasing internal communications discussing my latest request that the station get rid of the “must run” recorded commentary by a CNN medical doctor who was propagating the claim that President Trump suffered from “heart disease” because he took a pill daily to control his cholesterol level. The irony never escapes me that I was fired for defending President Trump, but as I have learned repeatedly, ironies are frequently blessings in disguise. Although getting fired lowered my personal annual income from $200,000 a year to near poverty levels, it has blessed me with retirement, which had delivered many more rewards than even I imagined. 

My brother Ray told me it would happen, and I was nearly ready to test his advice when I finally got fired on my fourth challenge to the station management’s rules, and decided to retire rather than looking for another job. I have no regrets for defending Trump when the attacks against him were without merit, and I have no regrets for condemning his actions when I believe they deserve it. If I had remained on the radio for the duration of the Trump presidency, it is very possible that I might have been fired for a different reason, because the last two years of history suggests my ratings would have fallen significantly if I had continued to tell the truth, whether or not the truth was on Trump’s side. I would have either had to sacrifice my honor or my ratings, and I can only hope that I would have sacrificed my ratings, which would likely have led to being fired. Fortunately, I was fired for defending Trump when he deserved it, so God spared me that test, and the reward was retirement, which is far more glorious than I imagined. 

AS TO THE CHARGE that I’m no longer a conservative, I plead ignorance. I no longer know what “conservative” even means these days. I’m happy to tell you what I believe in, and it’s something that has not changed and never will. I believe in small government, low taxes and personal freedom coupled with personal responsibility. I believe in paying your bills with your own labor because when you cannot, you subject yourself to the will of others, which denies you the freedom that my American soul seeks. I want every human on earth to experience the glory of the level of the independence I know. Most important, I believe the U.S. Constitution is a divinely inspired plan for achieving independence, not in a year, or even a century or three, but over time, with changes in the design allowed only after years or decades of debate, to eventually create a society that gives every American the unmatched glory of true independence. 

While socialism is one enemy of the U.S. Constitution and the independence it seeks, it is but one of many. All actions against the Constitution constitute a threat to its promise, no matter how well intended. Unfortunately, even independence does not shield individuals from disaster, natural or political. Any number of natural or political events may threaten even the most independent person, but that person will also be more capable of surviving the threat. Eventually, the end will come, for all of us, but until then, I plan to live as independently as possible and preach the glory of independence to anyone who cares to listen. I don’t really care whether that makes me, in the eyes of the public, a conservative or something else. 

FINALLY… …to the occasional charge that my wife is responsible for my alleged political evolution, I have to plead “no contest.” I don't believe I'm guilty, but I can’t deny that her contributions to my civic education and her critique of my public statements over the past 25 years have influenced my opinion, as have many others whom I consider defenders of the constitution. I will leave it to history to judge whether those contributions have drawn me closer or farther from my reverence for the divinely inspired U.S. Constitution. I personally have no fear that both God and history will judge both Marianna and me with favor on that particular score.

Ralph Bristol is a former popular local conservative radio talk show host with Super Talk 99.7 (WTN 99.7) where he worked for 11 years. He is now semi-retired.

Rod's Comment: Thank you Ralph Bristol.  Like Bristol I have been accused of no longer being a conservative and have been called a "traitor." My views have not changed.  I still believe is small government, personal responsibility, rule of law, fiscal responsibility, and fidelity to the Constitution.  The definition of "conservative," among enthusiastic Trump supporters has changed.  It means one can embrace a war on free trade, big deficits, governing by executive order, reallocation of money contrary to Congress's intent and can argue a $600 handout to every American is insufficient and it should be $2000. President Trump has achieved some impressive conservative achievements but essentially Trumpism is not conservatism but a form of populism. It is a movement that appeals to peoples emotions rather than their reasoning. It has to stir up anger and have enemies to flourish.  It thrives on resentment. 

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How Tennessee's legislators voted in challenging the Electoral College votes.

Going into the Wednesday night vote to confirm the results of the Electoral College, both Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Haggerty had said they would support objections to accepting the votes from some states where President Trump claimed the election was rigged.  Both changed their mind and voted against the objections. Below is how the Tennessee delegation voted:

Senator Marsha Blackburn voted against objections.
Senator Bill Haggerty voted against objections.

Congressman Diana Harshbarger, District 1, voted in favor of the objections. 
Congressman Tim Burchett, District 2, voted in favor of the objections.
Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, District 3, voted in favor of the objections.
Congressman Scott Desjarlais, District 4, voted in favor of the objections. 
Congressman Jim Cooper, District 5, voted against the objections. 
Congressman John Rose, District 6, voted in favor of the objections. 
Congressman Mark Green, District 7, voted in favor of the objections. 
Congressman Dave Kustoff, District 8, Against the objection to Arizona, but in favor of the objection to Pennsylvania. 
Congressman Steve Cohen, District 9, Against the objections. 
For more information, follow this link.

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Thursday, January 7, 2021

Lt. Governor Randy McNally congratulates President-elect Joe Biden extents well-wishes.

 


Rod's Comment: I am pleased to see our Lieutenant Governor make this statement. I share the sentiment.  Unfortunately, his Facebook post is getting lots of angry faces and sad faces and some really mean comments.  It is still hard for me to believe how mean-spirited Trumpinistas can be.  I gave him a thumbs up. 

It is time for all Republican leaders across the country to issue a similar statement. This used to be routine. It is simply good manners.  It is sportsmanship. It is what people do in a civil society.  Is there a certain amount of hypocrisy in wishing well someone you just tried to defeat? Yes, I guess so. But manners are often a form of hypocrisy. When you meet the new spouse of your ex-spouse at your child's school function or at some other pubic function, you may be polite and smile, when you do not feel like smiling. Being polite keeps us from killing each other. 

I do wish Biden well as he leads this nation.  I certainly wish him good health.  I wish him wisdom to make the right decisions in dealing with our adversaries.  I wish him courage and resolve in resisting those who would pull him further to the left. I hope he utterly fails at advancing his party's agenda, however.  

I hope he fails at packing the supreme court, at passing the Green New Deal, at defunding police, at abolishing the electoral college, at statehood for D.C and Puerto Rico, at raising taxes, at opening the borders to illegal immigration, at destroying America's energy independence, at socializing health care, at infringing on the Second Amendment and other Democrat policy objectives. 

Disagreeing with his agenda and hoping he fails to achieve these policy objectives however, does not mean we have to be disagreeable personably.  We can be the loyal opposition without being jerks.

Congratulations Mr. Biden on your victory and I wish you well. 

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HELP ME GOD

Ralph Bristol
by Ralph Bristol, reposted from Facebook 1/7/2021 - I wonder how many people in the mob at the Capitol yesterday have ever taken an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. 

The attack on the capitol that disrupted Congress’ constitutional duty to count and confirm the votes of the electoral college was not an attack on “democracy” as it has been described repeatedly, but something much more serious. It was an attack on the Constitution. 

It was an attack launched for the expressed purpose of preventing a constitutionally-mandated action. If a citizen of the U.S. attacks the Constitution, that by definition makes him or her a domestic enemy of the constitution.

The only gray area is determining who has self-defined themselves as enemies of the constitution by their actions leading to the actual storming of the capitol for the purpose of preventing a process mandated by the Constitution. One could argue reasonably that any attempt to coerce the vice-president to shirk his constitutional duty would also represent at least an attempt to attack the constitution, even if it failed, just as an attempted robbery that fails is still illegal.

That argument would certainly include President Trump, who held a rally just as Congress was meeting to perform said constitutionally mandated duty, urging his vice-president to show the “courage” to violate his constitutionally mandated duties. It might also include those who attended the rally and those who supported the effort on social media.

In short, it can be reasonably argued that January 6th, 2021 is a date that will live in infamy as the date that tens of millions of Americans either participated in or supported a failed attack on the Constitution. I would personally not include in that group any of the House and Senate members who agreed to object to the Electoral College votes, however misguided they may have been. That is allowed for by the Constitution. To the best of my knowledge, none of them sanctioned any attempt to disrupt the constitutionally mandated proceedings or the encouragement of Vice-President Pence to shirk his duties.

The oath I took freely when I joined the Air Force ended with the words, “so help me God.” If you take it as a solemn oath, as I did and do, you appreciate the last four words even more than the others when the rubber meets the road.

Even the most dormant believers sing God’s praises after surviving an ultimate test of the oath. Unfortunately, surviving one test does not preclude another, and another, and another, and it never gets easy.

I don’t know yet what to do with the fact that 1/6/21 exposed so many of my Facebook friends and maybe even a few actual friends, as enemies of the Constitution that I have solemnly sworn to defend. So…please help me God. 

Ralph Bristol is a former popular local conservative radio talk show host with Super Talk 99.7 (WTN 99.7) where he worked for 11 years. He is now semi-retired.

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President Trump has orchestrated a campaign to cause an insurrection

Phil Scott

06 JANUARY 2021,  Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, today issued the following statement: 

This is a very disturbing time for our nation. What we are seeing today at the U.S. Capitol is not a peaceful protest – it is an unacceptable attack on our democracy. The rioters have actively assaulted police officers, and they should immediately evacuate the Capitol building or be removed. 

Make no mistake, the President of the United States is responsible for this event. President Trump has orchestrated a campaign to cause an insurrection that overturns the results of a free, fair and legal election. The fact is the results of this election have been validated by Republican governors, conservative judges and non-partisan election officials across the country. 

There is no doubt that the President’s delusion, fabrication, self-interest, and ego have led us – step by step – to this very low, and very dangerous, moment in American history. The fabric of our democracy and the principles of our republic are under attack by the President. Enough is enough. 

President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress.

Rod's Comment:  I agree.

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Marsha Blackburn reconsiders, to vote in support of certifying the electoral college results

 Marsha Blackburn reconsiders, to vote in support of certifying the electoral college results, condemns violence. Thank you Marsha.


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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Local Trumpinistas rally before heading to Washington. Please don't go.

To watch the video of the rally, follow this link
by Rod Williams- Those still standing by Trump and who want him to hold on to power no matter what or those who believe Trump won the election and it was stolen from him and want to keep fighting are headed to Washington for a super rally on Wednesday January 6th.  Yesterday about a thousand people gathered for a rally in Franklin to support the President.  

I was not at this rally and will not be taking the bus trip to Washington.  I think it is over.  Trump lost. It is time to move on.  

Wednesday is when Congress meets in a joint session to formally count the votes of the Electoral College.  At 1 p.m. legislators from the House and Senate will gather in the House chamber.  Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, will be presiding and he will open the sealed certificates submitted by each state and hand them to clerks to read.  Normally this is a pro forma affair.  We already know the outcome and sometimes it is done in as little as 30 minutes.  This time it will take longer.  While the outcome is pretty much certain to be that Joe Biden is elected president, we can expect some drama.

There are expected to be objections from some Republican legislators to accepting the votes of the electoral college from states won by Joe Biden that President Trump claims were rigged elections. Those objections must be presented in writing and there must be an objection from a member of the House and the Senate. If that happens, then the joint session ends, the members go to their respective chambers and vote on the challenged electoral votes. In order for the votes in question to be dismissed, both chambers must vote to reject those votes.  Members can speak on the challenged vote up to five minutes but the total time allotted to deliberate over the challenged vote is two hours.  After the bodies vote, they reconvene in joint session. If this happens with multiple votes, confirming the results of the electoral college could take a long time.  

Meanwhile, thousands of protestors supporting Trump will be in the streets.  I really don't know if thousands of Trump supporters are going to change any votes as Congress counts the electoral votes, but it certainly will add to the drama and make a good visual in future Trump commercials. While none of the Republicans I know are likely to riot or even litter, some in the liberal establishment media are reporting that radical groups like the Proud Boys are planning violence.  I don't know if this is true, but as this fight over the election results have lingered, there has been a radicalization of some Trump loyalist. They are mad. 

I suspect that the Electoral College vote will be confirmed by Congress and Trump supporters will go home disappointed.  That is what I expect to happen.  However, Trump has advisors who are urging him to declare martial law.  I don't think he will do it.  I think Trump's game plan is to create a loyal fan base who feel the election was stolen and who will stick by him and support his effort to recapture the White House in 2024.  Trump has raised vast sums of money off of fighting this "rigged" election and is stockpiling it.  With a lot of PAC money and a loyal mad fan base, he can swamp any primary challenger in 2024 and in the House race of 2022 he can exact revenge on those  Republicans who, in his view, didn't sufficiently fight for him to change the election outcome.

So, while I don't expect Trump to declare martial law, he might.  If he is going to do it, the perfect time would be after Congress votes to confirm the election of Joe Biden and thousands,  maybe hundreds of thousands, of Trump loyalist are filling the Washington Mall. From my reading on Facebook and some new Trumpist media, many Trump supporters would welcome a declaration of martial law.  He would probably combine it with some promise to have a redo of the election soon and promise to then accept the results.  If he made his declaration of martial law and then made an appearance to the crowd, the crowd would go wild showing love for their leader.  It would make a good news visual and would be seen around the world.

I urge anyone reading this to not go to Washington to be a prop for Trump on January 6.  Put loyalty to your country ahead of loyalty to Donald Trump. 

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by Senator Ben Sassy: Why I will not be voting to overturn the election on Jan. 6th

Sen. Ben Sassy
by Senator Ben Sassy- In November, 160 million Americans voted. On December 14, members of the Electoral College – spread across all 50 states and the District of Columbia – assembled to cast their votes to confirm the winning candidate. And on January 6, the Congress will gather together to formally count the Electoral College’s votes and bring this process to a close. 

Some members of the House and the Senate are apparently going to object to counting the votes of some states that were won by Joe Biden. Just like the rest of Senate Republicans, I have been approached by many Nebraskans demanding that I join in this project. 

Having been in private conversation with two dozen of my colleagues over the past few weeks, it seems useful to explain in public why I will not be participating in a project to overturn the election – and why I have been urging my colleagues also to reject this dangerous ploy. 

Every public official has a responsibility to tell the truth, and here’s what I think the truth is – about our duties on January 6th, about claims of election fraud, and about what it takes to keep a republic. 

1. IS THERE A CONSTITUTIONAL BASIS FOR CONGRESS TO DISMISS ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES? 

Yes. A member of the House and the Senate can object and, in order for the vote(s) in question to be dismissed, both chambers must vote to reject those votes. 

But is it wise? Is there any real basis for it here? 

Absolutely not. Since the Electoral College Act of 1887 was passed into law in the aftermath of the Civil War, not a single electoral vote has ever been thrown out by the Congress. (One goofy senator attempted this maneuver after George W. Bush won reelection in 2004, but her anti-democratic play was struck down by her Senate colleagues in a shaming vote of 74-1.) 

2. IS THERE EVIDENCE OF VOTER FRAUD SO WIDESPREAD THAT IT COULD HAVE CHANGED THE OUTCOME OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION? 

No. For President-Elect Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory to be overturned, President Trump would need to flip multiple states. But not a single state is in legal doubt. But given that I was not a Trump voter in either 2016 or 2020 (I wrote in Mike Pence in both elections), I understand that many Trump supporters will not want to take my word for it. So, let’s look at the investigations and tireless analysis from Andy McCarthy over at National Review. McCarthy has been a strong, consistent supporter of President Trump, and he is also a highly regarded federal prosecutor. Let’s run through the main states where President Trump has claimed widespread fraud: 
  • In Pennsylvania, Team Trump is right that lots went wrong. Specifically, a highly partisan state supreme court rewrote election law in ways that are contrary to what the legislature had written about the deadline for mail-in ballots – this is wrong. But Biden won Pennsylvania by 81,000 votes – and there appear to have been only 10,000 votes received and counted after election day. So even if every one of these votes were for Biden and were thrown out, they would not come close to affecting the outcome. Notably, Stephanos Bibas (a Trump appointee) of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled against the president’s lawsuit to reverse Biden’s large victory, writing in devastating fashion: “calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.” 
  • In Michigan, which Biden won by 154,000 votes, the Trump team initially claimed generic fraud statewide – but with almost no particular claims, so courts roundly rejected suit after suit. The Trump team then objected to a handful of discrepancies in certain counties and precincts, some more reasonable than others. But for the sake of argument, let’s again assume that every single discrepancy was resolved in the president’s favor: It would potentially amount to a few thousand votes and not come anywhere close to changing the state’s result. 
  • In Arizona, a federal judge jettisoned a lawsuit explaining that “allegations that find favor in the public sphere of gossip and innuendo cannot be a substitute for earnest pleadings and procedure in federal court,” she wrote. “They most certainly cannot be the basis for upending Arizona’s 2020 General Election.” Nothing presented in court was serious, let alone providing a basis for overturning an election. (https://www.azcentral.com/.../federal-judge.../6506927002
  • In Nevada, there do appear to have been some irregularities – but the numbers appear to have been very small relative to Biden’s margin of victory. It would be useful for there to be an investigation into these irregularities, but a judge rejected the president’s suit because the president’s lawyers “did not prove under any standard of proof” that enough illegal votes were cast, or legal votes not counted, “to raise reasonable doubt as to the outcome of the election.” (https://www.8newsnow.com/.../judge-no-evidence-to.../)
  • In Wisconsin, as McCarthy has written, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against President Trump, suggesting that President-Elect Biden’s recorded margin of victory (about 20,000 votes) was probably slightly smaller in fact, but even re-calculating all of the votes in question in a generously pro-Trump way would not give the president a victory in the state. (https://www.nationalreview.com/.../biden-won-wisconsin.../)
  • In Georgia, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation complete audit of more than 15,000 votes found one irregularity – a situation where a woman illegally signed both her and her husband’s ballot envelopes.
At the end of the day, one of the President Trump’s strongest supporters, his own Attorney General, Bill Barr, was blunt: “We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” (https://apnews.com/.../barr-no-widespread-election-fraud...) 

3. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CLAIMS OF THE PRESIDENT’S LAWYERS THAT THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN? 

I started with the courts for a reason. From where I sit, the single-most telling fact is that there a giant gulf between what President Trump and his allies say in public – for example, on social media, or at press conferences outside Philadelphia landscaping companies and adult bookstores – and what President Trump’s lawyers actually say in courts of law. And that’s not a surprise. Because there are no penalties for misleading the public. But there are serious penalties for misleading a judge, and the president’s lawyers know that – and thus they have repeated almost none of the claims of grand voter fraud that the campaign spokespeople are screaming at their most zealous supporters. So, here’s the heart of this whole thing: this isn’t really a legal strategy – it’s a fundraising strategy

Since Election Day, the president and his allied organizations have raised well over half a billion (billion!) dollars from supporters who have been led to believe that they’re contributing to a ferocious legal defense. But in reality, they’re mostly just giving the president and his allies a blank check that can go to their super-PACs, their next plane trip, their next campaign or project. That’s not serious governing. It’s swampy politics – and it shows very little respect for the sincere people in my state who are writing these checks. 

4. WAIT, ARE YOU CLAIMING THERE WAS NO FRAUD OF ANY KIND THIS YEAR? 

No. 160 million people voted in this election, in a variety of formats, in a process marked by the extraordinary circumstance of a global pandemic. There is some voter fraud every election cycle – and the media flatly declaring from on high that “there is no fraud!” has made things worse. It has heightened public distrust, because there are, in fact, documented cases of voter fraud every election cycle. But the crucial questions are: (A) What evidence do we have of fraud? and (B) Does that evidence support the belief in fraud on a scale so significant that it could have changed the outcome? We have little evidence of fraud, and what evidence we do have does not come anywhere close to adding up to a different winner of the presidential election. 

5. BUT ISN’T IT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST TO INVESTIGATE THESE CLAIMS MORE THOROUGHLY? DOESN’T IT HELP GUARANTEE THE LEGITIMACY OF OUR ELECTORAL PROCESS? 

I take this argument seriously because actual voter fraud – and worries about voter fraud – are poison to self-government. So yes, we should investigate all specific claims, but we shouldn’t burn down the whole process along the way. Right now we are locked in a destructive, vicious circle: 
Step 1: Allege widespread voter fraud. 
Step 2: Fail to offer specific evidence of widespread fraud. 
Step 3: Demand investigation, on grounds that there are “allegations” of voter fraud. 

I can’t simply allege that the College Football Playoff Selection Committee is “on the take” because they didn’t send the Cornhuskers to the Rose Bowl, and then – after I fail to show evidence that anyone on the Selection Committee is corrupt – argue that we need to investigate because of these pervasive “allegations” of corruption. We have good reason to think this year’s election was fair, secure, and law-abiding. That’s not to say it was flawless. But there is no evidentiary basis for distrusting our elections altogether, or for concluding that the results do not reflect the ballots that our fellow citizens actually cast. 

6. DO ANY OF YOUR COLLEAGUES DISAGREE WITH YOU ABOUT THIS? 

When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent – not one. Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will “look” to President Trump’s most ardent supporters. 

And I get it. I hear from a lot of Nebraskans who disagree with me. Moreover, lots of them ask legitimate questions about why they should trust the mainstream media. Here’s one I got this morning: “We live in a world where thousands and thousands of stories were written about the Republican nominee’s alleged tax fraud in 2012, but then when Harry Reid admitted – after the election – that he had simply made all of this up, there were probably three media outlets that covered it for thirty seconds. Why should I believe anything they say?” As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has watched for four years as lies made up out of whole cloth are covered as legitimate “news” stories, I understand why so many of my constituents feel this in-the-belly distrust. What so much of the media doesn’t grasp is that Trump’s attacks are powerful not because he created this anti-media sentiment, but because he figured out how to tap into it. 

Nonetheless, it seems to me that the best way we can serve our constituents is to tell the truth as we see it, and explain why. And in my view, President-Elect Biden didn’t simply win the election; President Trump couldn’t persuade even his own lawyers to argue anything different than that in U.S. federal courts. …

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? 

The president and his allies are playing with fire. They have been asking – first the courts, then state legislatures, now the Congress – to overturn the results of a presidential election. They have unsuccessfully called on judges and are now calling on federal officeholders to invalidate millions and millions of votes. If you make big claims, you had better have the evidence. But the president doesn’t and neither do the institutional arsonist members of Congress who will object to the Electoral College vote. 

Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong – and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government. 

We have a deep cancer in American politics right now: Both Republicans and Democrats are growing more distrustful of the basic processes and procedures that we follow. Some people will respond to these arguments by saying: “The courts are just in the tank for Democrats!” And indeed the President has been tweeting that “the courts are bad” (and the Justice Department, and more). That’s an example of the legitimacy crisis so many of us have been worried about. Democrats spent four years pretending Trump didn’t win the election, and now (shocker) a good section of Republicans are going to spend the next four years pretending Biden didn’t win the election. 

All the clever arguments and rhetorical gymnastics in the world won’t change the fact that this January 6th effort is designed to disenfranchise millions of Americans simply because they voted for someone in a different party. We ought to be better than that. If we normalize this, we’re going to turn American politics into a Hatfields and McCoys endless blood feud – a house hopelessly divided. 

America has always been fertile soil for groupthink, conspiracy theories, and showmanship. But Americans have common sense. We know up from down, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We need that common sense if we’re going to rebuild trust. It won’t be easy, but it’s hardly beyond our reach. And it’s what self-government requires. It’s part of how, to recall Benjamin Franklin, we struggle to do right by the next generation and “keep a republic.”

Senator Sassy was elected to the Senate from Nebraska in 2014. For more information, follow this link. 

Rod's Comment: I appreciate Senator Sassy for providing this detailed explanation of why he will not be joining those, like our own two senators, who are trying or at least posturing as if they are trying to overturn the result of the election.  Form my studying of the issue, I think Sen. Sassy's analysis is exactly right.  Senator Sassy is a principled conservative who is putting loyalty to his country ahead of loyalty to Donald Trump. 

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