Saturday, February 27, 2021

The danger of an Article V convention and why term limits are a bad idea.

by Rod Williams - There is a bill introduced in the Tennessee House that makes application to Congress to call an Article V convention to propose an amendment to the U. S. Constitution setting term limits for members of Congress. This is something that some on the right brings up from time to time.  I oppose both and Article V convention and term limits for Congress.  

My primary objection to term limits is that it would empower and strengthen the bureaucracy at the expense of the voice of the people.  We already have a problem with unelected bureaucrats having too much power. I wish we had a smaller government with less authority, but that is not the reality.  For any member of Congress to become an expert on all of federal governance is simply too much to expect.  For new congressmen there is a demanding steep learning curve.  

The staff on an agency of government who understands all of the nuances of a policy can "snow" a new member of congress. We need members of congress who have institutional knowledge and know how policies came about and why things are done the way they are done.  Fewer members of Congress with time on the job means a greater reliance on bureaucrats and a greater reliance on lobbyist. Also, where tried, as an example at the local level with our own Metro Council, I do not think term limits has resulted in better governance. 

The below analysis and suggested reading on this topic come from Tennessee Eagle Forum. Many of you may know Bobbie Patra the long-term president of the organization.  Tennessee Eagle Forum is a source I look to for trusted information and analysis of what is going on in the State legislature. They are an organization deserving of one's support. To subscribe to the Tennessee Eagle Forum newsletter or make a contribution follow this link


 ARTICLE V CONVENTION FOR TERM LIMITS:


HJR 0008 by *Todd ,  Eldridge, Mannis, Garrett, Zachary, Doggett, Calfee, Williams, Ogles, Bricken, Hurt 
Constitutional Conventions - Makes application to Congress for the purpose of calling an Article V convention to propose an amendment to the United States Constitution to set a limit on the number of terms to which a person may be elected as a member of the Congress of the United States.

Looking around at the world in which we are living today, this sounds like a great idea. But.....an Article V convention is completely  uncharted territory and there really are important things to know about:

 THREE CONSIDERATIONS:
1. In today’s political climate, with the way this election cycle played out, with Sen, Chuck Schumer and Cong. Nancy Pelosi in charge of the US Senate and the US House and the main stream media being their allies, do we really think it is a good idea for Congress to ‘call’ for a Constitutional Convention and think they can be controlled beyond what they want to see happen???
2.  Problems with calling an Article V Constitutional Convention
3. Problems with Term Limits - we have Term Limits - they are called elections, every two, four and six years.

Eagle Forum has long opposed taking this risky action in spite of the assurances that everything would be all right - that is speculation since we have never had one since the convention to amend the Articles of Confederation. This is a very important subject with significant consequences.  Please look at the articles linked below to learn the details. 

States Likely Could Not Control Constitutional Convention on Balanced Budget Amendment or Other Issues

Don’t Be Fooled by Article V Conventions

TWENTY QUESTIONS ABOUT A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

The Problems with ARTIFICIAL Term Limits

Five reasons to oppose congressional term limits


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Friday, February 26, 2021

Bellevue Breakfast club meets March 6. Special guest speaker State Senate Majority Leader, Jack Johnson

Greetings Breakfast Club Members, 


We have another pandemic month behind us as we inch closer to normalcy in the great state of Tennessee. 

We have a great guest speaker this month, as State Senate Majority Leader, Jack Johnson, has agreed to join us this month. We will be meeting back at River Art Studio, at 8329 Sawyer Brown Rd., in River Plantation, next to Plantation Pub. Unfortunately we will not have refreshments, and we will be following CDC protocols. 

Please join us. March 6, at 830 am. as we welcome Spring and Senator Jack Johnson.  

See you then, 
Lonnie

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Bill to ban gender-confused boys from competing as girls in high school sports advances.

.. Or, as the Tennessean puts it, "Tennessee's bill targeting transgender teen athletes clears committees, heads toward final votes." 


Some Democrats, such as Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, thinks that if boys who identify as girls are prohibited from competing as girls in sports then that is  "codifying hatred against a certain group of people." 

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Star-Spangled Banner

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Republican Senators warn State schools against student athletes disrespecting the flag; Dems say students need a "safe place."

by Rod Williams - Republican Legislators have warned state universities and colleges that they should take action to prevent student athletes from kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.  Below is an exempt from the Feb. 22 letter.

To address this issue, we encourage each of you to adopt policies within your respective athletic departments to prohibit any such actions moving forward. We view this as a teachable moment in which administrators may listen to concerns from students but also exercise leadership in stating unequivocally what the national anthem means to this nation and explain proper times, places and manners for expressing protest.

This followed a February 16 event at East Tennessee State University when the men's basketball team who was playing a game against the University of  Tennessee Chattanooga "took a knee," during the playing of the national album.  This is not the fist time this has been an issue.  On Jan. 7, all but one member of the Tennessee women's basketball team knelt during the national anthem. Since that event, The Lady Vols have remained in the locker room for the national anthem. 

All twenty-seven Republican senators signed a letter addressed to all state college and university presidents warning them not to allow this to occur again.  None of the State Democrat senators singed the letter. In fact Tennessee's six Democrat senators issued a statement stating: 

Our public colleges and universities should be a safe place for students to express themselves and advocate peacefully for change in our country without interference from the legislature or university administrators. In fact, student organizing on college campuses is a perfect reflection of the American values embedded in our First Amendment. Rather than silencing the voices of students who are peacefully bringing attention to injustice in our country, we should all be working together to address the inequities that brought them to a knee.

"The First Amendment is sacrosanct," said Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma. "I would never resist anything that’s going to allow them to exercise their First Amendment on their own time, absolutely." 

"They're representing the school and the school represents Tennessee and Tennessee shows preference to our time-honored people and institutions who went before us. We respect our heritage and our history," said  Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City. 

Sen. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, said he was concerned that student athletes would engage in an act of protest while "they're taking state money, they're in our state schools, in our state uniforms."

I support the position of the our stat's Republican Senators.  I would hope our governor would take a similar frim stand.  In my view, any state institution that allows student athletes  to disrespect our flag should have the athletic program defunded. 

For more on this story see link, link

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

After a testy debate in Nashville, vice-mayor says next Fair Board nominee will be a person of "diverse background" "no matter what."

Qualifications to take a back seat to "diversity."

Vice mayor
Jim Shulman
Nashville Outlook -
Nashville Metro Vice-Mayor Jim Shulman committed to selecting a “person of diversity” to sit on the Metro Fair Board following a heated Metro City Council meeting February 16th.

During Monday night’s meeting councilmembers considered two appointees to the Hospital Authority board, including Pastor Frank Stevenson and St. Thomas COO Michelle Robertson. Robertson was initially selected for nomination by Nashville Major John Cooper, but after several deferrals by the council her nomination would have been automatic without a vote, according to Shulman and Metro Council policy. Vice-Mayor Shulman said he knew councilmembers had questions and concerns about her appointment, so he asked the mayor to withdraw, then made the nomination himself so the council could take a vote and have a discussion. After about two hours of heated debate, Robertson’s nomination to the board passed by 21 votes, the bare minimum.
 ... 
Shulman said there are currently three options for Fair Board nominees; he could nominate the mayor’s pick, his own pick, or the pick submitted via letter by the Minority Caucus. He has not made a determination yet but expects to soon, and has committed to choosing a person of “diverse background” no matter what. He said learning the Fair Board is all-white was concerning, and said he listened closely to the debate over Robertson’s nomination. 
...
Stand Up Nashville is working to make sure all Metro boards are increasingly diverse, and not just in ethnicity or race. Executive Director Odessa Kelly said the organization wants more socioeconomic and LGBTQ representation, too. (read more)

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Nashville is labeled a "sinkhole city," one of 5 worst financially managed city in the country, according to Truth in Accounting.

by Rod Williams - Truth in Accounting has released its fifth annual Financial State of the Cities report. This comprehensive analysis surveys the fiscal health of the 75 most populated US cities prior to the coronavirus pandemic.  Nashville does not fare so well.  Nashville is labeled as a "sinkhole city," one of the five worst fiscally managed cities in the nation. 


The report finds that 62 cities did not have enough money to pay all of their bills. Most of the cities were ill-prepared for any crisis, much less one as serious as what we are currently facing. Total debt among the 75 cities amounted to $333.5 billion at the end of the fiscal year 2019, which will only worsen as the cities face varying and unpredictable effects from the global pandemic, says the report.

Here is a page from the report listing the top five and worst five cities studied. 
A few days ago I wrote a post titled Nashville ranked as 8th best-performing city.  some asked how could this possibly be so and Nashville be broke.  Two things can be true at the same time and they do not contradict each other. The report that ranked Nashville as the 8th best performing city, ranked our economic vitality and economic growth and job growth.  This study ranks cities for the financial management of the city.  The fact that we are the 8th best performing city in the nation makes it even more of an outrage that we are the fifth worst financially managed city. 

Here are the details of the report on Nashville's financial status.  Please read this.  As many of us have been saying for years, Nashville's unfunded retiree health care benefits are a serious problem.  Not only do we need to adequately account for this obligation but we need better day to day management. 



To read the full report, follow this link

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Rush Limbaugh, RIP.

by Rod Williams - In the early days, I loved Rush Limbaugh. I had a job that required long hours in the car and I listened every day. For the first time I felt like someone was saying what I was thinking. He gave voice to people who were excluded from the conversation. He was unapologetically politically incorrect. And, he was outrageous and funny. He was entertaining and I at times I thought he was brilliant. His love for this country was something he was not ashamed to proclaim and I felt the same way.  He was refreshing.  I felt a kinship with Rush Limbaugh. I was glad he was on the scene.  He reached people who would never read an issue of National Review or read a serious book.  He was converting people who may have been only moderately interested in politics and may have been nominal Democrats out of habit, or may have been Republicans but didn't know why, and turning them into passionate conservatives.  


There were times when I disagreed with Rush. There were times when I tired of him. I found it hard to believe some one could wake up so mad everyday. Sometimes, I just didn't want to be mad. His stick got old. The manufactured outrage got old. The lack of nuance and shallowness of analysis got old. I disagreed with demonizing those who compromised.  Sometimes half a loaf is better than nothing and in politics you never get all you want.  Often instead of appealing to reason, he appealed to emotions.  I tired of the bombastic delivery.  As the years wore on, I also thought he was simply less clever and entertaining. 

Of course by then, the airways were full of other conservative talk show host, some more outrageous than Rush. Rush paved the way for G. Gordon Liddy and Shawn Hannity, and Mark Levin and Glen Beck. Rush might have been the first but he was not unique anymore. It is hard to believe Rush lasted so long. Even popular TV dramas do not last that long. Seinfield was only on TV for ten years and Bonaza was only on 14 years.  Rush developed an undeniable connection with his listeners. 

I did not listen in later years as often as I did the first few years but I still tuned in a couple times a week and caught part of a show.  There were things he said that sometimes made me cringe. However, he was on 15 hours a week for 30 something years. Filling that many hours, one is bound to say some stupid things. I make allowances simply for that reason.  I was disappointed that he was such a Trump loyalist. 

I don't know if Rush deserves the blame (or credit) for Donald Trump, but without Rush energizing conservatives our country would probably be further down the road to socialism and America would be a worse place. I was pleased to see Rush awarded the Metal of Freedom at Trump's last State of the Union address. He earned it.  

With the passing of Rush Limbaugh, I feel like I have lost a relative; a relative who I sometimes disagreed with and at times who I thought was a blowhard but someone who was a good person and believed in the right things and loved his country.  RIP Rush Limbaugh.

Their are many tributes one can find to Rush Limbaugh.  The following is from a liberal commentator on CNN.  I thing this is a fair and balanced tribute.  Click here to view. 


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Friday, February 19, 2021

Metro Council to revisit the practice of raising taxes by hiding it in your water bill.

by Rod Williams -  In 2019 Mayor Briley did not want to raise taxes and then face the voters for reelection but neither was he ready to make the hard choice of cutting expenditures so he engaged in a little shell game of hiding a tax increase. Instead of raising taxes, the city entered into a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with the water department and the city increased the water rate and then the water department paid the city $10 million a year.  

Usually PILOT agreements apply to independent utilities, not departments of government.  Departments of government have no choice when it come to "agreements" with the city; they are part of the city.  The head of the Department answers to the mayor.  Having a metro department raise their rates and then increase their payments to the city coffers is about like the city reasoning that since the police department uses city streets, they should pay the city a PILOT and the fines imposed on speeders should be increased to get the money to pay the money charged the police department.

How about codes and planning?  Those departments use government building and city streets.  They could pay a fee to the city and increase the fees charged for reviewing plans or issuing building permits.

The Schools get a lot of money from the State.  Why not charge the Schools a PILOT? They use a lot of city services. It is asinine of course but that is the game they played with raising water rates in 2019 to hide a tax increase. 

I am pleased to see the Council revisiting this issue. Legislation has been introduced to roll back the PILOT agreement.  For more on this story follow this link


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Nashville Chamber defends city's property tax hike amid new petition challenge

 The Tennessean, Feb.18. 2021 -The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is speaking out against a new petition drive to reverse the county's 34% property tax increase, which has faced criticism from struggling business owners. Petitions seeking to delay the onset of the tax for two years were mailed out to 200,000 addresses recently.  ... 

 Chamber President Ralph Schulz said revoking the tax change would do more harm than good. "It’s a waste of resources and time regarding issues affecting our city and a distraction from our city’s recovery efforts," Schulz said in the chamber's weekly mass email distribution. "The Chamber has conducted an independent study of the city's budget in which it was discovered that the city’s expenses were largely in line with peer cities, while the city’s revenue was insufficient. This has been further exacerbated by COVID-19." (read more)

Rod's Comment:  The chamber has every right to opine on a issue of public importance and the Camber provides valuable services to the city.  However, the city should not be paying the chamber if they are then going to attempt to influence public debate.  When the Council considers the next Metro budget, those council members opposed to the massive 32% tax increase imposed on Nashville, should vote to cut the city's support for the Chamber. 

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Nashville ranked as 8th best-performing city.

By Rod Williams - Nashville’s economy is the eights best-performing in the United States according to a new analysis from the Milken Institute. The ranking comes from Milken’s annual Best-Performing Cities Index, a comparison of the 200 largest metro areas that the economic think tank has released annually since 1999. All of these 200 cities have a populations greater than 300,000.  


Milken uses its index to track which parts of the country are creating the best economic opportunities. The analysis places a heavy emphasis on job creation and wage growth as well as concentration of high-tech industries and for the first time it included housing affordability, and household broadband access.  Accorded the the report:
The pandemic and the inclusion of the housing affordability factor and broadband access has cause quire a bit of change in the index from previous years. San Francisco, last year’s top-ranked city, fell to No. 24 in 2021, while San Jose fell to No. 22 from No. 5 in 2020. Prior to the pandemic, living in the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and other coastal metros (including Los Angeles and San Diego in Southern California) was becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive, as shown in Figure 9. Shifts to remote work during the pandemic have thus led to out-migration from these cities among many higher-wage workers in high-tech industries,

Last year Nashville was number 14 on the list and this year we are number 8. The top 13 cities on the list are considered "tier 1" cities.   Below is the page from the report describing Nashville: 


This list show the Tier 1 cities:


Austin, Texas and Raleigh, North Carolina with which we are sometimes compared as in the same competitive class also make the Tier 1 list at position 3 and 5 respectively. Other cities with which we sometimes are compared include Charlotte at position 26.

Chattanooga makes the list as a tier 3 large city ranked at number 62.   Memphis is a tier 4 large city ranked 166. Kingsport, TN comes in as tier 5 large city ranked 181. Knoxville does not make the list.

Atlanta, Georgia is ranked at 21.

New Orleans is ranked at 195. The only reason I am calling attention to New Orleans is because my daughter and her family lived there until recently and I visited often and know the city.

The Milkin study also ranks 201 small cities.  Cleveland, TN makes the cut as a Tier 3 small city at position 58 and Jackson, TN makes comes in as a Tier 4 small city with a rank of 132. No other Tennessee small cities make the list. 

While I am proud of Nashville and Tennessee and always pleased to see either my city or state ranked high on some list, this list ranks economic vitality; it does not rank quality of life.   I do not share the passion to grow just for the sake of growth.  In my view, I would have been pleased if we would have stopped growing a few years ago.  Along with more growth can come more traffic congestion, less affordable housing, higher taxes, more crime, more social problems, a faster pace of life, and a loss of local character. 

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Governor Bill Lee gives the State of the State address.


by Rod Williams - On Feb. 6th Tennessee Governor Bill Lee delivered his third State of the State address and presented budget and legislative priorities to a joint session of the General Assembly. In addition to outlining budget and legislative priorities, the governor provided an accounting of Tennessee’s COVID-19 response and continued economic recovery. 

Budget Breakdown:  An overview of the proposed budget can be found here in addition to a video explaining key budget highlights and a video of the Tennessee state budget process. 

Below is the text of Gov. Lee’s remarks. The highlighting and underlining is mine to call attention to what I deem the most significant portions of the speech. 

State of the Stated address, 2021

Thank you very much. 

 Lieutenant Governor McNally, Speaker Sexton, Speaker Pro Tem Haile, Speaker Pro Tem Marsh, Members of the 112th General Assembly, Justices, Constitutional Officers, fellow Tennesseans: 

I would also like to acknowledge the First Lady who is in the audience. Maria serves our state with genuine compassion and is my partner in every aspect of this role. I love you and am proud that you are ours. 

 I also share my gratitude to members of my Cabinet and staff who are here tonight. Each of these men and women have committed to lives of service and honor. They are battle-tested and I am proud of their work and their friendship. 

Members of the General Assembly, let me say that it’s good to be here in person. Last year, we stood together at the starting line of 2020 ready for a challenge and even more ready to leave our mark on what was sure to be a historic year for our state. The events that would take place just a few weeks after, would set the tone for our year. An unimaginable one for us that included the rise of a global pandemic, devastating tornadoes, flooding, violence, unrest, economic collapse, a downtown explosion and witnessing our nation undergo painful turmoil at the highest levels of government. 

 There have been heartbreaking losses. We mourn the more than 10,000 Tennesseans we have lost in those deadly events this year. In many respects, what was optimism has become a tempered feeling of resolve, and perhaps even cautiousness about what lies ahead in 2021 as we move forward but work to make sense of it all. 

Scripture has a lot to say about that crossroads and what to do on the heels of suffering. Where do we find the promise in this season? The promise is found in perseverance, which produces character that leads to hope. Tennesseans will know tonight that tragedy has no hold on who we are or where we are headed. Tragedy will not define us and will not rob us of the opportunity that 2021 holds. In fact, this year holds its own unique place for our state as we celebrate 225 years of statehood. 

Since 1796, our state has been the portrait of perseverance, character and hope because of everyday heroes. Ordinary Tennesseans are more than constituents - they are the strength of our state and the lifeblood of our country. From early settlers, the farmers and factory workers, teachers and tradesmen, doctors and pastors. We will celebrate that since 1796 the ordinary has made us extraordinary and remember that generations before us have not just weathered but excelled in the cycle of perseverance, character and hope. 

I will once again travel to all 95 counties to reach the unsung people and places that make our state who she is. We will do events in every county in Tennessee and to celebrate the 225th anniversary I hope every Tennessean can join us at one of them. We will kick off that yearlong celebration in June, but in the meantime we have a lot of work to do. Starting with acknowledging this place in time and where we are with COVID. It will soon be part of our 225 year history and I want you to know where our response stands and how Tennessee can beat this thing once and for all. 

Across the world this pandemic has exposed that when the government feels unprepared, it’s a natural temptation to think growing the size of government and reaching for the nearest mandate will save everything. But not in Tennessee. The worldwide data on government’s success is mixed, but Tennessee’s approach has been consistent: maintain local control whenever possible, rely on people more than the government, and keep a primary focus on what we can directly impact. We chose a prudent structure in our Unified-Command Group that merged the role of public health, the National Guard and our emergency management response. We built a strong infrastructure to deliver tests and vaccines directly into communities and we worked in lock step with our hospital partners. 

One of our first decisions was to double down on testing capacity, and we were consistently one of the early testing leaders across the country. We were one of the first to make free testing available to every resident, regardless of symptoms and regardless of insurance status. We were the first to purchase masks for every citizen. As we watched disastrous outcomes at nursing homes in other states, we were one of the first states to test every nursing home resident and staff member well ahead of the federal requirement. This decision paid off, as Tennessee has had a much lower fatality rate than the country as a whole in long term care facilities. And that fatality rate is not just a statistic - it equates to hundreds of lives saved thanks to the swift actions of state and local government and the nursing homes and long term care facilities across our state. 

Protecting the vulnerable has enabled us to continue the most critical functions of society, including educating our kids. I’m proud of our schools, and our collective decision to follow the science when it comes to getting our kids back in the classroom. As of today, 146 of our 147 districts have an in-person option for students - and that choice is so critical for our kids. We were the first state to send monthly deliveries of PPE to teachers and staff. Most importantly of all, two months after the commencement of vaccine distribution in America, Tennessee is leading again. We have consistently been in the top ten for vaccine distribution nationally and we expect that to continue in the weeks and months ahead. 

Good news doesn’t always get noticed, but our vaccine distribution plan is recognized by the Former CDC Director Redfield the most medically sound and practical plan in the country. We’re getting shots in the arms of the Tennesseans who need it most. Despite the challenges associated with COVID-19, we have managed these with very limited restrictions on Tennessee business and citizens, and when they have been required they were targeted and temporary. 

You may remember that the last time I addressed Tennesseans was the week before Christmas. A post-Thanksgiving surge threatened to push our hospitals over the brink, and at that time, Tennessee had a greater number of new COVID cases per capita than anywhere in the world. There was more pressure than ever to implement lockdowns and mandates and stay at home orders - but we trusted our people. We encouraged people to gather differently in their homes for holidays. Tennesseans responded, and helped us blunt a post-holiday surge. Our cases counts have plummeted, down more than two thirds since our peak six weeks ago. More important than that, our hospitalization numbers have sharply declined as COVID cases in hospitals have dropped more than 60% since our peak. We have had this success thanks to the people of our state and the brave service of our health care workers. So I want to say directly to them: thank you.

The successes we are seeing now are because of your diligence and sacrifice. I also want to thank the team of public health professionals, and members of Unified-Command Group who have been common sense partners despite very harsh critics. I also want to thank members of the Tennessee National Guard. Soldiers and airmen have been the face of service through natural disasters and this pandemic. We are so grateful to these men and women who stand at the ready for our state. 

Deregulation has been one of the single most important functions in our pandemic response. One critical role of our executive orders has been to make it easier to do business amid the pandemic. Increasing the availability of telemedicine services, delaying driver license renewals, and allowing for transparent virtual meetings of local governments are a few examples of this. Our ability to deregulate and pivot quickly has saved lives. 

Another critical role of our executive orders has been to access needed federal funds - hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency funding relying on state of emergency declaration. And one last thing on this subject that’s important to me: our executive orders explicitly protected houses of worship from being regulated or shut down in any way. Our response has been effective, and as cases have dropped, many sectors of our economy are roaring. In fact, many segments of our economy are more prosperous than this time last year. In the worst economic phase of the pandemic, our unemployment rate climbed to 15.5 percent, but now it is 6.4 percent. We created the Tennessee Talent Exchange which connected unemployed workers with jobs. Our workforce participation rate has improved drastically during the last year. It’s better today than it was before the pandemic, and we have now exceeded the national average for the first time in 25 years. But some of our industries are struggling, and we have spent long hours and hundreds of millions of dollars to help Tennesseans keep their businesses. 

 In June 2020, the Tennessee Business Relief Program was launched. A total of 200 million dollars in business relief payments has been distributed to over 27,000 small businesses in Tennessee. In October 2020, the Supplemental Employer Recovery Grant (SERG) program was established. 125 million dollars of the coronavirus relief funds has been reserved for this program. To date, 30 million dollars has been distributed in grant funding to over 1,300 businesses. 

 A strong economy means many things for Tennesseans, and one of them is low taxes and fiscal stability for their government. A recent report shows Tennessee is one of only seven states to have positive economic growth since April 2020 when much of our economy was shut down. One of seven. We’ve cut a number of taxes since taking office two years ago, and we are recognized as the third least taxed state in the nation. So let me thank and congratulate the General Assembly and the constitutional officers for that accomplishment. Comptroller Wilson and Treasurer Lillard have been fierce guardians of our strong fiscal position. I thank Justin Wilson for his service and welcome you, Comptroller Mumpower to build upon that legacy. 

Likewise, our fiscal stability and management have again won high praise even this year, when many states are dealing with budget crises on top of other challenges. We have worked with members of the General Assembly to create the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group, which has ensured good stewardship of federal dollars that have come our way. This group has been both a bi-partisan effort and a fully transparent effort to ensure that it is open to the press and the public. I thank Lt. Gov McNally, Speaker Sexton, Sen. Watson, Sen. Akbari, Rep. Marsh and Rep. Love who each served on this committee, for your partnership in this endeavor. 

We have taken a fiscally conservative approach throughout this past year, maintaining strong reserves and budgeting for conservative growth rates. Indeed, our budget is strong, and the differences are stark when you compare our state’s conservative budget to states with very different approaches. But a strong budget isn’t just about bragging rights. A strong budget allows us to be good stewards of what the taxpayers have entrusted to us. Those of us who run businesses know that deferring maintenance is a bad idea and therefore we have ignored the temptation to put off these projects amid economic uncertainty. In this year’s budget I’m proposing the largest capital maintenance budget in our state’s history - more than 900 million dollars in capital improvements and maintenance on both state buildings and higher education campuses. We are also eliminating the backlog of deferred maintenance at state parks with a 30 million dollar investment. Addressing maintenance is the fiscally responsible thing to do. 

We are also meeting other important obligations in our budget. We will fully fund the BEP funding formula and the THEC outcomes-based formula, ensuring our students are put in the best possible position to recover from the pandemic. And when the dust settles on this year, our combined Rainy Day and TennCare reserve funds will be 2 billion dollars - the largest in the state’s history. We proactively used our state’s federal relief dollars to ensure the solvency of our unemployment trust fund, minimize the tax burden on employers, and encourage hiring. As a result, while over half of states have lost more than 75% of their trust fund value, Tennessee is entering 2021 fully solvent, at the lowest employer tax rate. Let me put this in practical terms: prudent management of the Unemployment Trust Fund staved off a projected 300% tax increase on Tennessee employers for unemployment insurance. Now more than ever, we can look at our economic forecast and say: it matters who governs, and conservative principles work. 

Our budget situation allows us to stand up here after a very challenging year and recommend a number of bold proposals for your consideration. But before I do that, let me say a word about the recent special legislative session. We met here two weeks ago for a historic special session. It was bold. And it will change the lives of our children. I won’t reiterate our accomplishments there but will add that the work continues for teacher pay raises. During the special session we allocated almost $43 million dollars for teacher pay raises. This was a step in the right direction, and the budget I’m submitting for your consideration this week recommends an additional $120 million dollars be set aside for teacher compensation in the 21-22 budget. 

This year has already brought other historic successes as well. After a year and a half of negotiating, Tennessee recently became the first state in history to receive a Medicaid block grant waiver from the federal government. This waiver will allow those in our Medicaid population to reap the benefit from our state’s strong fiscal management of the TennCare program. It will also require us to meet a number of quality metrics, so we ensure that savings will not be accrued by cutting back on the number of people we serve or compromising the services that we currently provide in any way. Furthermore, I am committing today that we will use the shared savings to do important work like shortening the waiting list for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities who need services. Let me be clear: if partisan attacks that call for this block grant to be rescinded prevail, the state will not get these shared savings dollars that we plan to use to improve healthcare for vulnerable Tennesseans. 

This block grant is a big deal and I’m proud of it, but it’s not all we’re doing to improve health care in Tennessee. My budget proposal includes $6.5 million dollars to extend postpartum coverage to all women receiving TennCare benefits from 60 days to 12 months to increase access to care for new moms. We’re making a $2 million dollar investment in our health care safety net so that those without health insurance have a place to go when they need it. And we’re also adding $6.5 million in our mental health safety net which will be focused on providing services for school-aged children struggling with mental health issues. 

I mentioned partisanship earlier and I want to address the recent election. There was no greater stage for partisan politics than the final months of 2020 with partisan divides impacting almost every aspect of American life. I have great concerns about our country’s faith in the integrity of our election process. Thankfully, our state has stayed well above that controversy. If every state ran their election process like Tennessee, we’d have no delays and no scandal. I credit you, Secretary Hargett, for your leadership to ensure Tennessee elections have integrity and that we do our part to protect the democratic process.

With elections behind us, we will watch with patriotic skepticism to see if politicians in Washington try to force more government on the states than the Tenth Amendment allows. Why? Because Tennessee knows what we need a lot better than the federal government. Perhaps one of the most important lessons that has come out of this season is that Americans need to understand how their government works. 

Two years ago we created the Governor’s Civics Seal to ensure we raise a generation of young people who are knowledgeable in American history and confident in navigating their civic responsibilities. This year, we are expanding this initiative. Using federal dollars, we’re doubling the number of schools participating in the Civics Seal Initiative which will ensure that thousands more students get a better civics education. Going forward we are developing a set of instructional materials that will be free to districts, so that ultimately every school can earn the Governor’s Civics Seal at no cost. 

 As we look to the regular session that you will begin tomorrow, we have conservative proposals for your consideration that will reduce crime, support strong families, and get our economy back up to speed, especially in rural Tennessee. Our proposals honor the individual yet benefit the state as a whole, and they will leave us well-positioned for the recovery that has already begun across our state. 

As you all know, rural Tennessee is close to my heart and making it stronger is a major priority for my administration. Revitalization starts with economic development, and quality economic development is about investing directly into communities. We’ve proposed $21 million dollars to invest in rural communities and distressed counties to directly support rural infrastructure, industrial site development, small business development and revitalizing small town main streets. Whether it’s running a small business, accessing virtual learning, or accessing health care via telemedicine, slow internet speeds have many in rural Tennessee left at a disadvantage. 

I have proposed record investments in broadband since becoming Governor, and I am grateful for the legislature’s support on this issue. But - I am ready for us to solve this issue once and for all. A significant, one-time investment, combined with significant private investment, will get broadband to just about every community in Tennessee, and tonight, that’s exactly what I’m proposing. To help us achieve our goal of every Tennessean having access to high speed broadband, my budget recommends an investment of 200 million dollars. One major reason broadband expansion is important is to improve educational outcomes in rural areas. 

 We are doing that in other ways as well. As you know, I have strongly advocated for the expanded use of public private and non-profit partnerships that empowers the private sector to help us achieve important objectives without being hampered by red tape and bureaucracy. This year, we are proposing a new partnership with the Ayers Family Foundation to create a first of its kind rural education partnership that will improve both the college-going and college success rate of students in our rural communities. This is a proven program that is already serving thousands of students, and I know they can do even more with our support. 

Even as we launch new programs like this, programs we have launched in the last two years are already paying off for our kids. We funded 28 projects in 18 at-risk counties through the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education also known as the GIVE Act. These projects created a new template for vocational education in this state, and we owe it to our students to keep the momentum going, despite the pandemic. This year, I’m proposing an additional 10 million dollars to create ten new GIVE sites, with a priority on distressed and at-risk communities with the greatest need of workforce revitalization. 

Last year, the Future Workforce Initiative that I proposed and you enacted trained more than 200 teachers in STEM CTE programs and expanded access to AP computer science courses by 75%. Apprenticeship Tennessee is our statewide initiative to advance apprenticeship opportunities for employers in every part of the state. It’s working - we have the highest number of Tennessee apprentices in a decade. This is grassroots workforce development and it’s starting in our classrooms. 

While we have strengthened specific aspects of rural education, we have invested in our urban centers, too: More than $20 million in federal grants will largely support added tutoring and technology for students in our urban areas. The reason we place so much focus on education is because students should be prepared for productive lives, not just the latest standardized test. I recently had a conversation with Commissioner Schwinn that the mission of the Department of Education should be simple: Students should be prepared for life beyond the classroom. 

Our education policy impacts our kids today. Our other policies dictate what sort of state our children will inherit tomorrow and that starts with how we approach families in our state. You know that I am strongly pro-life and I will continue to defend this position. Last year I stood before you and presented one of the most aggressive pro-life bills in the country. That bill passed and it was an important day for our state, and a memorable one for me. But being pro-life isn’t just about defending the unborn and we must also think about how to use our passion for this issue to improve the lives of struggling families.

 My administration is preparing a number of new initiatives that we’ll announce throughout the year that will make Tennessee a national leader in foster care and adoption. We are partnering the Department of Children's Services, our faith-based office, and several third party stakeholders to create partnerships with families and churches across our state that will move us toward a goal of every child in Tennessee having a loving home. No doubt one of our goals must be fewer broken families, but there are things we can do to make the foster and adoption system work better when families do break up. 

We are proposing a TennCare coverage extension for adopted youth that will allow them to retain their TennCare eligibility until age 18 regardless of federal or state adoption assistance eligibility. This extension will allow them to have a seamless transition into their new families, retaining existing physical, mental, and behavioral health services and reducing the fiscal burden of adoption on their new family. 

 Another key part of our efforts to support children and families is within the Governor's Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. Among other successes in the last year, the Faith-Based Office played an important role in engaging our local faith communities to help connect people with employment services. As we’ve seen over the last year, there are times when Tennessee families need an extra hand to make ends meet. We have an opportunity to deploy resources and help those families by modernizing more than 700 million dollars in our Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding. Between the efforts of the TANF working group and our new Human Services Commissioner, Clarence Carter, I believe we have a transformational solution to modernize TANF. 

Our proposals provide families a pathway to prosperity, while enhancing protections against fraud, waste, and abuse by incentivizing education and apprenticeships, increasing the allotment amount for working families, and improving stakeholder engagement - all while strengthening program integrity. 

Tennessee families deserve safe neighborhoods and I will again bring forward legislation this year that accomplishes that. You’ve heard me say many times that we have to be tough on crime, and smart on crime. The legislation will look familiar to you - it was moving through committee last year when we had to set it aside to focus on our COVID-19 response. In addition, my budget includes 4.7 million dollars for additional day reporting centers and evidenced-based programming for community supervision. This approach ensures that re-entry to society is done in the most safe and effective way possible for those who were formerly incarcerated

Safe neighborhoods require law enforcement that is well-supported and well-trained, and we have made a number of important strides for criminal justice reform and police training this year. We know that law enforcement is a calling, and the men and women who take an oath to serve and protect deserve the best and most comprehensive training to benefit themselves and the communities they interact with. We’ve improved training standards and paid for almost 100 cadets to attend improved law enforcement training at no cost to their local communities. We also added a new class of State Troopers and 20 new TBI Field Agents. I think we can all agree that our law enforcement officials in our state have done an incredible job in protecting and serving the people of Tennessee. 

Now, more than ever, Tennesseans want a strong commitment to the Second Amendment and the right to protect themselves. And as such, I will be reintroducing Constitutional Carry legislation this year.

Besides all of these legislative proposals, I’d like to mention a few additional budget priorities before I close. I said at the start how proud I am of my staff and cabinet, and I am just as proud of all of our fellow co-workers, the best state employees in all of America. As with teachers, my budget recommends a 4 percent raise for state employees as well. 

To help local governments and communities recover from COVID faster, we are proposing 200 million dollar investment in local government infrastructure grants. This funding will assist local governments with public safety projects, upgrades to utility systems and IT services, capital maintenance projects such as road improvements, new school construction, and school renovations. We have worked for months to develop a budget for your consideration. One that is fiscally conservative and developed with a responsible attitude of stewardship of the hard-earned dollars of Tennessee taxpayers. 

This has been a very long and challenging year for our nation and our state. There has been a tragic loss of life, loss of incomes, loss of learning for our kids. In many respects, one of our most difficult years in recent history. But I’ve learned over my 61 years of life that God is a Redeemer. 

He takes what is tragic and makes it transformational. There are things that we never would have known, insights we never would have been awakened to. Through times of trial we become more purposeful and more resolute. We see things more clearly, we act with more intention and we have a greater opportunity more than ever to seize the moment and shape the future. To see the needs of our neighbors around us, every single one of them and to commit to serving them. Tennesseans, transformation will define us. Not tragedy. 

The state of our state is indeed hopeful. I thank you for the honor I have been given to serve alongside each of you, this state and her people. I still believe and I always will believe in Tennessee. 

May God bless each of you and may God bless our state.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Carol Swain: Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

 


What is the key to racial reconciliation in our nation? Dr. Carol Swain joins Michael Knowles on this month’s episode of The Book Club to examine the life of Booker T. Washington, a former slave turned educator, as seen through the lens of his autobiography Up From Slavery.

Booker T. Washington was born into slavery and after emancipation became the Black leader of his era.  He was celebrated in his life time but has since been marginalized by academia and popular culture and has been denounced as an accommodationist. During his era and up through the 1950's we actually did have systemic racism says Dr. Swain. Now however, the problems of the Black community are mostly self imposed.  "You can't blame slavery for the disfunction you see in Black communities," points out Carol Swain.  The message of Booker T. Washington is still relevant for Whites and Blacks. 

Dr. Swain was born into poverty as one of twelve children and was raised in a shack without running water. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee and has served on the Tennessee Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She received a B.A. from Roanoke College, M.A. from Virginia Polytechnic & State University, Ph.D. from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and M.S.L. from Yale. She is an award-winning political scientist, a former professor of political science and professor of law at Vanderbilt University. For more on Carol Swain, follow this link
To watch the video follow this link. 

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Monday, February 15, 2021

Former Davidson County Sheriff Hank Hillin, RIP

Hank Hillin
by Rod Williams - Former Davidson County Sheriff Hank Hillin has passed away, at the age of 90 years old.  He served as Davidson County Sheriff from 1990-1994.  

Hank Hillin beat incumbent sheriff Fate Thomas to win that office. Thomas had served as sheriff for 17 years and was extremely powerful but he was a crook and eventually his criminal activity caught up with him and the voters chose Hillin over Thomas.  Thomas later pleaded guilty to mail fraud, theft of government property and tax conspiracy in federal court. He spent four years in federal prison and was fined $80,000. 

Fate Thomas was an old-style corrupt party boss politician.  No one could get elected to political office in Nashville at that time without the support or at least the indulgence of Fate Thomas. Even candidates for federal office sought his support.  He could deliver Davidson County and had influence beyond the county.  He  was loved by many, however, as corrupt politicians often are, because his political machine provided lots of constituent services and helped those in need.  Fate's barbeque service, with the labor provided by jail inmates, was on hand for many a fund raisers for everything from charities and school fund raisers to politicians he was supporting for office.  In his white suits and white hat and large physical presence he was a real life copy of Boss Hogg from Dukes of Hazard. This was the same era that also saw the corruption and embarrassment of Bill Boner as mayor. 

When Hank Hillin challenged Fate Thomas for office, he was a breath of fresh air.  He brought professionalism and respect to the office of Sheriff.  He was retired from the FBI with 27 years of service and was the primary FBI investigator that brought down the corrupt Blanton administration. 

To read the WSMV obituary of Hank Hillin follow this link

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Thursday, February 11, 2021

Why Education Savings Accounts are the great equalizer for school children | Opinion

Justin Owens
by Shaka Mitchell and Justin Owens,
Shaka Mitchell 
The Tennessee
- On Thursday, the Tennessee Supreme Court accepted the widely publicized Education Savings Accounts—or ESA—case. 

In 2019, the state legislature offered a lifeline to families in our worst-performing school districts. They passed the ESA program, which would allow parents to take a portion of the dollars we already spend on their child’s education and use those dollars to send their child to a school of their choice. Almost immediately, the city of Nashville and Shelby County sued the state to stop parents from utilizing this important program. 

... Unlike families with means, lower-income families can’t just pick up and move to a better school district, nor can they afford private school tuition to send their child to a school of their choice. They are completely stuck. We must do better. While lower courts sided with these local governments, we are optimistic that the Supreme Court will reverse those lower courts and allow the program to launch this fall. 

...The ESA program would be the great equalizer for these families. Regardless of their ZIP code or how much money they make, parents in Memphis and Nashville would finally have options. They could get their children into the school that best serves their needs by simply allowing the money to follow them to the school of their choice. 

 ... research shows that these local governments would actually save money under the ESA program. When a child leaves with an ESA, the public school district no longer has the expense of educating that child, but the program would still let the district keep a portion of the funding. (read more)

Shaka Mitchell is the Tennessee state director of American Federation for Children. Justin Owen is president & CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee.

 

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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Anti-tax ballot measure returns to Nashville

Jim Roberts
Tennessee Lookout - An anti-tax group with opaque funding is taking another swing at completely overhauling how Metro sets its tax rate just a few months after its first charter amendment proposal was deemed illegal by a Nashville judge. 

The group 4GoodGovernment sent out mail pieces late last week seeking the approximately 32,000 signatures it would need to trigger a voter referendum on six proposed changes to the Metro charter. The group is led by attorney Jim Roberts, who has been at the center of political and professional controversy.

Roberts’ attempt at appealing last year’s 34% property tax increase and giving voters the ability to approve many city government bond issuances failed when Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled in November that the referendum proposal was “facially unconstitutional.”

So, Roberts went back to the drawing board, drafting six changes to the charter amendment. Most notably, 4GoodGovernment wants to revert the property tax rate to its 2019 levels before the 34 percent increase. The tax cut would take effect in the upcoming fiscal year beginning June 30. 

The charter amendment proposal would also: (continue reading)

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New 2021 Nashville Taxpayers Protection Act Petitions are in the Mail!

by Rod Williams - Last year the effort led by local attorney Jim Robert to roll back the 34% tax increase got more than enough signatures to get on the ballot but a judge ruled it could be kept off the ballot because of some technical deficiencies in the language of the proposed charter amendment.  

Now, the proposed charter amendment has been redesigned to satisfy the Court's objections and the petitions drive starts again.  The last effort generated over 21,000 signatures, which was more signatures than needed.  This time, the bar is higher.  More than 50,000 signatures are needed.  All petitions must be returned by March 5th. 

In addition to rolling back the 34% tax increase, the proposal protects park lands and greenways from being given away to developers, holds property tax increases to 3% per year, abolishes life-time benefits for future former Council members, makes it easier to recall elected officials and some other desirable reforms.  You can read and download the petition at this link

 


To follow this effort on Facebook, follow this link.

To download the petition, to contribute to the cause, or to learn more visit 4 Good Government.Com.

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Sunday, February 7, 2021

New Education and Transportation Spending Front and Center in Capital Plan. Last year's 34% tax increase and refinancing of debt to fund increased capital spending

Mayor John Cooper Makes City’s Largest-Ever Education "Investment "
Despite declining enrollment, the plan proposes the most funded ever for schools by any Nashville mayor 

Metro press release, 2/5/2021 - Education and transportation take center stage in Mayor John Cooper’s capital spending plan (CSP), which includes Nashville’s largest-ever investment for schools and advances transportation improvements without additional tax increases. 

Two-thirds of the $474.6 million plan go to education and transportation needs. 

After Mayor Cooper’s first capital spending plan addressed only emergency projects due to acute fiscal constraints, this year’s CSP brings overdue investment in the needs of a growing city. As a result of revenue increases, budget savings and a recent debt refinancing, Nashville is now in position to invest in its future. 

“We are a growing city with growing needs,” Mayor Cooper said. “This plan helps us catch up on maintenance needs while prioritizing our students’ schools more than ever before. These critical investments in our city’s future are possible because we’re now financially stable as a city for the first time in years.” 

Metro Finance Director Kevin Crumbo added, “We have achieved financial stability despite daunting challenges.” A record $191 million for education - the most in Nashville’s history - will fund much-needed school construction, expansion and repairs across Davidson County. Included in this historic investment are funds to build the long-awaited new Hillwood High School in Bellevue, HVAC upgrades made even more critical by the pandemic and major funding toward two schools in Cane Ridge. 

The CSP also includes $122 million in transportation investments, delivering on the first phase of the Metro Transportation Plan. 

Mayor Cooper’s administration released the Metro Transportation Plan at the end of his first year in office, consistent with the mayor’s campaign commitment. In December 2020, Metro Council adopted the plan to bring greater transportation investment across the county. This CSP provides for transportation improvements without the sales tax increase proposed in previous plans. Mayor Cooper’s CSP includes other essential community projects, such as replacing Fire Station #2 and building a new police precinct in Southeast Nashville. The plan also commits funding to critical building maintenance, park lighting and repairs, new greenways, and fleet and radio upgrades for first responders. 

The plan also includes high-impact down payments on Nashville’s future, in the form of environmental sustainability, affordable housing and a first-of-its-kind North Nashville infrastructure fund to be allocated via participatory budgeting. Three New Schools $191 million for Metro Schools – the most funded by any Nashville mayor – includes $100 million for a long-anticipated, new high school in Bellevue. 

“The long-delayed high school is a project of huge importance to my constituents and families throughout Nashville,” said Metro Councilmember Dave Rosenberg. “No capital spending plan in our city’s history has provided this much for our schools, nor has a plan been so focused on education. I’m grateful to Mayor Cooper for his desire to invest in the public schools that serve every corner of Nashville.” 

The new high school will replace the current facility which is more than 60 years old and ranks among Metro Schools’ lowest for facility quality. The new high school in a community of 75,000 residents will serve a diverse student population from 34 of Nashville’s 35 Council districts. The new high school on the 274-acre former Hope Park Church site will serve 1,600 students in a three-story building, with technology-rich classrooms and a new sports complex. 

“I live in Bellevue. I teach at Bellevue. And all three of my children attend schools in Bellevue and will attend their local, zoned public high school - which will now also be in Bellevue,” said Eli Foster, a fifth-grade Blue Ribbon teacher at Bellevue Middle School. “The school is the center and hub of a community,” Foster added. “I can’t wait to see all my middle school students, and my own children, touring the halls of a new high school.” 

Cooper’s plan also includes $4.2 million investment toward phase one of a new Cane Ridge Middle School. A new, 600-student Cane Ridge Middle would relieve pressure at Antioch Middle. That school is operating at 121 percent capacity, with students squeezed into buildings and portables. The new Cane Ridge Middle will also be a future home to students from Eagle View and Cane Ridge elementary schools. The plan also includes $18.8 million for a 24-classroom expansion at Cane Ridge High School. Without it, Cane Ridge High School’s capacity – now at 104 percent – could balloon to 132 percent by 2026. 

Repairs and Upkeep at 45 Schools District-wide 
The average Metro Schools building is 50 years old. Some school heating and cooling systems have been patched up so many times, they’re now beyond repair and won’t be fixable if they break again. Cooper’s plan includes $67.8 million for maintenance and repairs in 45 schools across Nashville. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown, more than ever, the importance of HVAC upgrades. These investments by Metro Government allow MNPS to focus its federal stimulus funds on learning recovery to catch students up as a result of the pandemic. “These capital investments in our schools are ultimately investments in our students, families, staff, and communities,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle, Metro Schools director. 

Practical Transportation Investments in Nashville’s Neighborhoods 
The Metro Nashville Transportation Plan calls for 1,961 improvements across 300-plus neighborhoods – everything from safer pedestrian crossings to smarter traffic signals. The Metro Nashville Transportation Plan is also a platform to unlock state and federal funding to pay for up to 60% of its projects. Cooper’s CSP makes early strides in implementing the plan: $21 million to repair 31,500 feet of sidewalk and build more than 2,500 feet of new sidewalk $2 million to build an estimated 16 new bus shelters in 12 districts $30 million to pave more than 180 “lane miles” across the city $2.5 million for traffic calming projects in 24 neighborhoods $7.5 million for smart traffic management projects to shorten commutes on some of Nashville’s busiest roads The sidewalk, paving and traffic management improvements will also include life-saving improvements to some of Nashville’s most dangerous pedestrian crossings. 

“I’m pleased to see this administration investing in a comprehensive transportation plan,” said Metro Councilmember Freddie O’Connell. “Reducing pedestrian fatalities and offering safe, equitable access to all users of our public rights of way will take investment and execution.” 

A State of Good Repair – Maintaining and Upgrading City Essentials Mayor Cooper’s plan funds overdue repairs and upgrades to the buildings and equipment Nashville needs to run, including: 
  • Nearly $20 million to mitigate stormwater flooding in neighborhoods 
  • $25 million for the city’s fleet 
  • $15 million for essentials like aerial ladder and pump trucks to fight fires in high-rise structures and remote areas 
  • $10 million for other heavy fleet, like landscaping vehicles for Metro Parks 
  • $6.5 million for upgrades to the city’s emergency radio system. The Christmas Day bombing demonstrated the critical nature of this system. 
  • $8 million for heating and roofing repairs to aging city buildings 
  • More than $1 million for classroom flooring, sprinklers and other repairs at Head Start early education facilities 
  • $7.5 million to upgrade Metro Police technology, like automated fingerprint identification and crime lab tools 
Delivering Long-Awaited Community Investments 
  • Fire Station #2 - $14 million Fire Station #2 was built in 1974 and closed in 2019. Had the station been open on Christmas Day 2020, its 15-member crew would have been among the first to respond to the downtown Nashville blast. Bringing this crew back to a new Fire Station #2 will boost morale and give residents another safe haven if they’re fleeing domestic violence or need medical help. 
“There is always a lot of conversation and thought that comes into play to when deciding where we locate a fire station,” said Director Chief William Swann. 
“We know because of run volume, the growth and the potential growth in the downtown area it will be a great benefit to have station 2 back at home. This will also benefit Germantown And North Nashville residents.” 
  • Southeast Police Precinct - $15 million The new police precinct – the city’s ninth – will serve the Antioch community. Officers at South and Hermitage precincts, who now respond to the entire southeast area, will be able to better focus on their zones - which already total 160 square miles. “A new Southeast Precinct will greatly complement the police department’s mission to work closely and collaboratively with neighborhoods to address specific problems and concerns,” said police chief John Drake. 
Greener, More Livable Neighborhoods 
  • A record $17+ million will go to greenways and bikeways, including the Charlotte Corridor Rail & Trail greenway prioritized in Nashville’s Plan to Play strategy. 
“As an avid supporter of walking and biking, I am pleased that the proposed capital spending plan allocates over $17 million toward greenways, bikeways, and active transportation,” said Metro Councilmember Burkley Allen. “If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that infrastructure that promotes healthy activity and connectivity is crucial to our quality of life.” 
  • Meanwhile, $2 million go toward finalizing a parks acquisition in Bell’s Bend, setting the stage for large matching philanthropic contributions. 
  • Five million dollars will finish a complete-streets project on Madison Station Boulevard. “I’m so grateful to see a spending plan focused on neighborhood priorities and quality of life,” said Metro Councilmember Nancy VanReece. 
  • “Madison Station Boulevard has been on the drawing board for nearly three decades and promised by two prior administrations. Mayor Cooper’s delivers on long-ago promised improvements.” 
  • This CSP also includes $3.4 million for the first phase of repairs to the Old Hickory Community Center and $1 million to restore historic Fort Negley. 
Innovation and Investment in Nashville’s Future: 
  • First-of-their-kind funds Affordable Housing - $2 million 
This CSP introduces infrastructure participation agreements as a new tool for bringing more affordable housing to Nashville. For years, Nashville has used participation agreements to help facilitate large office developments, such as Nashville Yards. With a $2 million investment, Nashville is now poised to use participation agreements to help construct needed infrastructure for affordable housing developments. Metro’s participation in building infrastructure will lower costs for affordable housing developers, thus spurring the creation of more units. 
  • Participatory Budgeting Pilot for North Nashville Infrastructure - $2 million 
As the Metro Council’s 37208 special committee examined, North Nashville is a historically underserved area in need of infrastructure investment. This plan includes a first-of-its-kind $2 million allocation for neighborhood infrastructure improvements in North Nashville. Funds will be allocated through piloting a participatory budgeting process, an approach new to Nashville. 
I’m excited about Mayor Cooper’s plan to inject $2 million dollars of capital investments. North Nashville has endured disinvestment for too long,” said Metro Councilmember Brandon Taylor. “As a candidate, I promised to address complaints about neglected infrastructure. The Mayor’s Participatory Budgeting program is an innovative way to listen, shift power to North Nashville residents and begin repairing historic harm.” 

Sustainability Innovation - $2 million 
  • The CSP includes a $1 million sustainability revolving fund to monitor and reduce building utility costs with savings re-invested into retrofits to reduce carbon emissions. An additional $1 million will go to an innovation fund for sustainability programs that include conversion of Metro streetlights to LED lighting.
Rod's Comment: While there is always things the city could spend money on, my view is that the city should pass an austerity budget that includes a roll back of last years 34% tax hike. Also, there is still in the works a plan to put a referendum on the ballot to amend the Charter which would have the effect of rolling back the recent tax hike. I hope the Council will take a hard look at the budget and look at ways to roll back some of these expenditures. 

Councilman Steve Glover's Comment on a Facebook Post - Here’s a simple question. If we add another precinct but we are still 200 officers short in our total police unit; then did we really solve anything? My answer is no. We need more police and fire to accommodate the massive growth we have seen in Nashville. Plus here we go again spending lots of money. The mayor says with no tax increase; I say for how long until the next 34% jump!

Michael Dioguardi's  Comment on Facebook - The police precinct is not only a waste, it will exacerbate the shortage of officers to fill newly created positions in the administration of the precinct. Nine is way too many precincts anyway and unjustified. The only reason it is being added is because the members of the Metro Council cannot respond to voters with facts about the issue: It will not increase response time, it will not increase the officers working that area of the city, it will not change anything for the better. It is placating a perception among voters which is not only wrong but will in fact have the opposite effect. It may not sound like much, but opening a precinct will probably result in the promotion of at least seven officers to the rank of sergeant when exiting sergeants are promoted to become lieutenants to fill the administration of a new precinct. That means the limited number of officers in the Patrol Division becomes that much smaller, payroll expenses increase with more “brass” (higher ranks=higher pay). Council members from that area no doubt campaigned on the issue. And as usual, the candidates who promise the most goodies wins. Unfortunately, those Council members will be long gone when the bond payments for that debt comes due and the city raises taxes again to prevent a Comptroller takeover.

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Bold Patriot Institute present The Revolution, Monday Feb. 8th. Drink beer and learn. Bold Patriot Brewery, 410 39th Ave. North

Beginning Monday, February 8th, we will start our journey through the History Channel special series called - "The Revolution." This is a great video presentation with excellent narration and reenactment that delivers a very exciting learning experience. Twenty great beers on tap plus wine, cider and seltzer. The series begins in Boston in 1765... 

Click here to view the trailer for Monday's class: The Revolution


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Saturday, February 6, 2021

Keep the Nashville flag.

 by Rod Williams - I like our Nashville flag and see no reason to change it but there is a move afoot to do so. No bill to do so has been introduced yet but the idea is being floated by Councilman Colby 
Sledge.  He tweeted the following below tweets recently.  The first shows the proposed design and the second explains the symbolism of the design.


Our current flag is here: 


The seal shown in the center of the flag was adopted as the city seal as the first bill passed by the new Metropolitan Council in 1963 following the establishment of Metro government. It was bill 63-1.  The flag was adopted in December 1963. In an official ceremony, it was reigned in as the new flag on August 4, 1964, at the Metropolitan Courthouse. According to the resolution adopting the flag, the blue stands for the courage and conviction of the city's leaders throughout history, while the gold denotes the richness of city's land and resources.  

The seal displays a Native American holding a skull standing by a tobacco plant, an eagle, and a badge-

shaped shield decorated in a style similar to the American flag. The Native is said to be a representative of the "Woodland" culture contemplating the skull of a member of an earlier Native culture such as the Mound Builders. (link)

While the proposed flag is a nod to the political correctness of diversity and immigration and the civil rights movement, I assume those who favor the change, also find having a Native American on our flag holding a skull to be chauvinistic and embarrassing.  Just as the left loves to tear down monuments and even strip the name "Washington," and "Jefferson," from schools and place names, they want to destroy anything that honors and recalls our history.

Say no!  Keep our current Nashville flag! 

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