Saturday, April 30, 2022

Candidate for U.S. Congress Andy Ogles, Guest Speaker at MAY 7 Tennessee Republican Assembly Meeting

9:15 am Meet & Greet | Program 9:30-10:30 am

Bold Patriot Brewing 410 39th Ave N. 37209 

Andy Ogles
Mayor of Maury County Andy Ogles is a candidate for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District which now consists of parts of Davidson, Williamson, and Wilson counties; and all of Maury, Marshall, and Lewis counties.  Up against as many as 10 opponents at Wilson and Marshall County recent events, Ogles won straw polls by wide margins. 

Mayor Ogles told those audiences, “Maury County is one of the counties that led through COVID. We refused to bow to the mandates. We stayed open. We protected liberty and freedom. I don’t see in this field of candidates someone who has that track record – who is willing to stand on those principles and fight back against the government.  I had an obligation to defend state law, the state constitution, and the U.S. Constitution. I never wavered from that.” 

Before becoming Mayor of Maury County in 2018, Ogles lead the conservative grassroots Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity. During his tenure as the state director, the grassroots army defeated Obamacare expansion twice, led the fight against Common Core, and prevented multiple attempts to inflict Washington DC values on Tennesseans. The volunteer organization worked to hold politicians accountable for bad votes, regardless of party affiliation.

“It has become increasingly clear that too many of our elected officials in Washington are failing our country, failing to fulfill their promises, and failing our future,” Ogles said. “Sadly, Republicans who promised to govern as conservatives are letting us down the most. We will not change what we are seeing IN Washington until we send new, strong conservative representatives TO Washington.”

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Gov. Lee Passes Full ‘America At Its Best’ Agenda

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
Office of the Governor, Nashville, TN, April 29, 2022 -– Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee marked the close of the 2022 legislative session, which includes the passage of his $52.8 billion budget and full agenda as outlined during his State of the State address in February.

“Tennessee is America at Its Best, and we’ve made strategic investments to cut taxes, strengthen infrastructure and invest in education at every level to prepare our state for future growth,” said Gov. Lee. “I thank Leader Johnson and Leader Lamberth for carrying key legislation, and commend the General Assembly for passing measures that will benefit Tennesseans and continue our state’s reputation for conservative fiscal management.”

Lee’s agenda included the most substantive reform to education funding in more than 30 years, the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA).

The student-centered plan dedicates an historic $1 billion in additional recurring funding to improve public education for every child in Tennessee, including a modernized approach that funds each student based on their individual needs.

The slate of budget and legislative priorities also included significant investments in higher education, proven crime prevention and improving transportation infrastructure. Notably, Lee led a 30-day grocery tax suspension proposal that will provide direct financial relief to Tennesseans this August amid surging inflation nationwide.

Highlights from Gov. Lee’s agenda include the following:

K-12 Education

  • $1 billion investment in new, annual recurring education funding
  • Through the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA), replaced the 30-year-old BEP funding formula with a student-centered approach to public education
  • $500 million to make CTE improvements in all middle and high schools
  • Ensures parents know what materials are available to students in their libraries
  • Makes computer science and coding available to every high school student in Tennessee
  • $124.7 million to provide a well-deserved increase into the teacher salary pool
  • $16 million recurring and $16 million nonrecurring to the Charter Schools Facility Fund to support the operation of high-quality charter schools

Higher Education

  • $88.6 million in dedicated lottery funds to increase the 4-year HOPE Award to $4,500—5,700 per student, per year, and the 2-year HOPE Award to $3,200 per student, per year
  • $90 million to fully fund the higher education outcomes-based formula
  • $200 million for TCAT infrastructure investments to help double the skilled workforce by 2026
  • $6 million to establish the Institute of American Civics at the University of Tennessee

Safe and Secure Tennessee

  • Adds 100 Highway Patrol Troopers 100% funded by the state
  • Creation of a Multi-Agency Law Enforcement Training Academy
  • Creation of a $100 million Violent Crime Intervention Fund for law enforcement agencies across the state to invest in evidence-based programming and resources
  • Expansion of state funding for law enforcement basic training and increasing the frequency of training for new recruits
  • Directs the Department of Safety and Homeland Security to create a plan so every house of worship in Tennessee can receive high-quality safety training
  • Strengthens laws around human trafficking

Supporting Tennessee Families

  • Expanding funding for relative caregiver placements for children in foster care
  • Establishing a childcare support program for all foster families, regardless of their DHS eligibility
  • Expanding TennCare’s Health Starts Initiative to support maternal health and holistic care for mothers and children

Modernizing Tennessee Infrastructure

  • Additional $100 million for the IMPROVE Act to ensure progress on key projects
  • $519 million toward road infrastructure projects to support economic development projects, as well as mobility in our fastest-growing counties.

Good Government

  • Rainy-Day Fund increased to $1.8 billion, up from $1.55 billion
  • 30-day suspension of state and local grocery sales tax to provide direct financial relief to Tennesseans
  • Cuts CDL licensing red tape to ease supply chain and transportation challenges

Rural Tennessee

  • $83 million to reimburse public hospitals for uncompensated care, primarily in rural communities
  • $55 million to increase access to home and community-based services via the Medicaid Pathways to Independence program

Healthy Tennessee

  • $25.5 million to provide adult dental benefits for 610,000 Tennesseans eligible for TennCare
  • $11.8 million toward a multiyear commitment to recruit and retain dental providers, as well as provide much-needed dental care for prosthodontic services
  • $10 million toward the goal of attracting over 150 new primary care residents
  • $7 million for substance abuse clinical treatment and addiction recovery programs

Beautiful Tennessee

  • $40 million to invest in environmental cleanup, including National Priority List sites
  • $28 million to eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog at State Parks
  • $25 million for West TN River Basin projects

Asset Management

  • $2.541 billion for higher education and general government capital improvements over the next several years
  • $214.8 million for capital maintenance, ensuring deferred maintenance is addressed within current capital assets
Rod's Comment: Congratulations on a successful year and a job well done. 

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Friday, April 29, 2022

It is time to purge the Republican Party of pro-Putin, Q-annon, nut jobs and restore sanity to the Republican Party. Support Jennifer Stahan for Congress and send Marjorie Taylor Greene home.

Jennifer Stahan
by Rod Williams, April 29, 2022- In Georgia's 14th Congressional District, I am supporting Jennifer Stahan.  I just sent a contribution. While I regularly contribute to conservative causes and Republican candidates,  I normally do not get involved in out-of-state primaries. The Georgia 14th, however, is important.  It is a fight for the soul of the Republican Party.  What kind of party are we going to be? 

Jennifer is a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and conservative who grew up in a family that was focused on four things: God, family, hard work, and education. She worked her way through college, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences and eventually a doctorate in Healthcare Leadership. She went on to work with hospitals and health systems of varying sizes, helping build efficient and effective solutions to drive better patient care and system sustainability.

Jennifer eventually opened her own national advisory firm, J. Osley & Co. Under her leadership, the company has trained more than 3,000 individuals and delivered a bottom-line impact of more than $20 million – while improving patient experience and overall clinical care.

Jennifer and her husband, who met in high school, live in Georgia with their five-year-old son. They are active in the community and attend Atlanta West Pentecostal Church.

Most importantly, she is not Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of just eight House lawmakers to vote against seizing assets from Russian oligarchs. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a Q-anon supporter.  She was a regular contributor to a conspiracy website. She has supported almost every right-wing conspiracy theory circulating. She touts the Pizzagate theory, the Clinton Kill-list, mass shootings as a false flag theory, and 9-11 as an inside job theory.  She has advocated executing Democrat politicians.  She has equated the Democrat Party with Nazies. She has likened NATO to Nazies. She continues to claim Trump won the election in a landslide and that the election was stolen.  Her Covid-19 theory is that Dr. Fauci is criminally liable for helping create the virus as a bio-weapon. She says 2018 California wildfires were ignited by some kind of “space laser."

Face it. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a certifiable dingbat, nut-job. She is an embarrassment. Please join me in supporting her primary opponent. 

To learn more about Jennifer Strahan, follow this link.  If like me, you believe almost anyone would be preferable to Marjorie Taylor Greene and she must be defeated, go right to the Jennifer Strahan donation page at this link

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School Teacher Confirms On Camera That CRT Is Still Being Taught In Tennessee Schools

To watch the video, follow this link.

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn], April 29, 2022 – In a video posted by Kelli Phillips, who is running for Metro Nashville School Board District 4, a school teacher came forward to express that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is still being taught in Tennessee Schools.

Phillips said, “CRT is very very involved in our school system, yet we hear time and time again that it’s not. CRT comes in many forms.”

Phillips introduced a school teacher, only identified as ‘Mandy’ to express the “reality of what really is going on in our schools, because it’s more than you think.”

Mandy said, “So, when they (the General Assembly) passed the original bill (banning the teaching of critical race theory in May 2021), they were not specific and they were not specific for a particular reason. They would not call out a specific curriculum. ”

House Bill 0580, sponsored by Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge-District 33) and Senate Bill 0623, sponsored by Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville-District 9) in summary, deleted several obsolete provisions and made various substantive changes to education laws; and established parameters for the teaching of certain concepts related to race and sex.

The accepted curriculum being taught in Metro Nashville Public Schools is called Wit & Wisdom.

Mandy said that prior to the Wit & Wisdom curriculum being accepted, books were sent home to parents for review.  However, many of the books were sent back to the school because parents found them offensive.  One cited complaint was that one of the books pushed biases against one of our Nation’s founding fathers, George Washington, placing an extreme emphasis on the color of his skin and hair.

“It (CRT) is there.  It’s very subtle.  I have described it as an insidious creep.  And that’s what it’s doing, it’s creeping in little by little,”  Mandy said. (read the rest)

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Tennessee Republican Assembly announces endorsements for school board, other races.

 




To view the questionnaire, follow this link

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How conservative Christians in Tennessee are working to elect allies to school boards

by Liam Adams, The Tennessean, April 29, 2022-  William “Doc” Holladay felt he could no longer sit on the sidelines while Williamson County Schools implemented a curriculum he saw as misaligned with his political and religious values.

So the Franklin resident joined in protest starting in 2020 alongside other residents, such as Robin Steenman and Gary Humble. 

Humble launched an advocacy group after leading an unsuccessful recall campaign against school board members over a mask mandate. Steenman and her Moms for Liberty allies pushed to revise a district English language arts curriculum, claiming it was teaching critical race theory.

“I don’t think the stakes can be higher,” Holladay said in an interview, citing concerns about critical race theory and “age-inappropriate material.” (read more. For an article published in The Tennessean, this is informative and balanced, absent the usual obvious anti-Christain and anti-conservative bias.)

Local PAC Williamson Families endorsed 19 candidates for the upcoming county election cycle.
Several made one-minute statements at the PAC's election kickoff event on Tuesday, March 8, 2022,
at The Factory in Franklin, Tenn.


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Council member Freddie O'Connell announces 2023 bid for Nashville mayor

The TennesseanCouncilmember Freddie O'Connell announces 2023 bid for Nashville mayor

Rod's Comment: He will not get my vote. 

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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Mayor Cooper thinks 3.78 miles of new sidewalk a year is something to brag about. If you live on Timmons Ave, expect sidewalks in 2122.

by Rod Williams, April 27, 2022 - In Mayor John Cooper's State of Metro address yesterday he said, "Nashville needs more sidewalks." We can all agree with that. We have been adding sidewalks at a snail's pass. 

Mayor Cooper seems to think we are doing a good job.  "This fiscal year, NDOT has added over 20,000 linear feet of new sidewalk," he said. "Total sidewalk completions are up over 10%. And costs are down. Brick Church, Cane Ridge, Maplewood, Herman, West Hamilton, and Andrew Jackson are projects getting done in the next 7 months. And we are adding a new crew to repair broken sidewalks and curbs faster."

"20,000 linear feet of new sidewalks?" One mile equals 5280 feet, 20,000 feet/5280 = 3.78 miles. Is that something to brag about? So, how many miles of sidewalks does Nashville need. I don't know. For the areas with really big lots, in areas that were rural and built without a subdivision plan, I assume they will just never get sidewalks. That still leaves a lot of areas needing sidewalks. Look at a map of Nashville and you will see very few sidewalks outside of the areas build after the era of streetcars. 

I don't know how many miles are needed, but I am guessing that if you live on Sutton Hill Avenue, or Grandview Drive, or Kline Ave, or Mcalpine Ave, or Timmons Ave, I wouldn't look for sidewalks before the year 2122. These areas are streets with pretty small lots and not that far from downtown.  If you live further out, for each mile further away add about a hundred years. I may be exaggerating but people should know what year, if ever, they can expect a sidewalk. 

This is ridiculous. We do not have to build sidewalks the way we do. When Nashville builds sidewalks, we build the best sidewalks possible with curbs and gutters and new drainage. A city must take into consideration the drainage and that is a major cost of new sidewalks. The city should not cause flooding to occur where it does not now occur.  So doing this requires some engineering. However one can build sidewalks that meet this requirement without new curbs and cutters. My daughter has been living in a nice neighborhood in Franklin while renovating the home they purchased in Woodbine. The street she is on has curbs and cutters with the sidewalks. When I visit her, we often take a walk. On the side streets in her neighborhood, there are streets with sidewalks but without the expensive curbs and gutters. It can be done.

Also, in Nashville, we make sure all of our sidewalks conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act. We are supposed to but I suspect we are too meticulous about our compliance. Sometimes it is better to get forgiveness than permission. Build it and if we failed to get a curb-cut right, fix it later. If we build it where the steepness of the slope did not allow compliance, then there surely must be exemptions from compliance. 

I am not an expert on the ADA compliance or the curbs and gutter issue, but I have seen sidewalks in other cities where they were many sidewalks that were obviously built to less exacting standards than our sidewalks. 

Also, we tear up and replace barely used sidewalks.  I walk. In my neighborhood of Woodland-in- Waverly and in the neighborhood west of 8th Ave, between 8th and 12th, I know of sidewalks that had very little wear and tear, sidewalks that were perfectly serviceable with only the occasional hairline cracks, that were replaced with new sidewalks. I walk these sidewalks. Why were they replaced with new sidewalks? Why? 

Another thing I would look at is who is getting the money. Metro has engineers. Are we paying outside subcontractors for engineering to design our sidewalks? We have lawyers. Are we paying outside legal firms to acquire the construction easements? I don't know, but these are questions to ask. Having observed Metro in action for many years, I know that we sometimes pad projects to help local professionals. I know it used to occur. I doubt things have changed. All of the lawyers and engineers who make campaign contributions are probably expecting a return. I don't know this, but it is something to investigate. 

Building 3.78 miles of new sidewalks a year is nothing to brag about. We can do better.

For more of my reporting on the failure of our sidewalk expansion program, see the following: 

Only an idiot would require a sidewalk to be build like this. Why can we not sanely build sidewalks?

Perfectly Serviceable Sidewalks being Ripped up and Replaced with New Sidewalks!

Why are they tearing up perfectly good sidewalks?

Replacing good sidewalks with new sidewalks; no wonder we are broke.




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Mayor John Cooper's 2022 State of Metro Address. 59th State of Metro Remarks

 John Cooper,  Mayor, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

Preamble

Vice Mayor Shulman, Deputy Pro Tem Withers, council members, my fellow Nashvillians…I’m honored to join you today at the Southeast Community Center for the 59th annual State of Metro.

Getting through Crisis

In my first State of Metro address, delivered to an empty Council chamber two years ago, you and I faced a “crisis budget” as we dealt with the first wave of the pandemic…on the heels of a tornado that ripped through neighborhoods from North Nashville to Hermitage.

Already on shaky financial footing thanks to years of spending down reserves, the pandemic threatened to bring Nashville to its knees. We were facing the greatest set of challenges in Nashville’s history. We believed we would get through them and be a stronger city on the other side. We did. And we are.

Twelve months later, at our second State of Metro, we gathered in the Music City Center, with an “investment budget” signaling Nashville’s economic rebound. Our convention center doubled as our largest vaccination site, shouldering our recovery one shot…one arm…at a time. In Nashville, we recognized that the vaccine was the turning point; we ended all COVID capacity restrictions a year ago…once the vaccine was available to every adult.

Creating a Successful Recovery

Our economic recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. Davidson County’s unemployment rate has fallen from 16.9% two years ago to 3% today. We have the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the country among all major metros. And we still have the lowest property tax rate of all our peer cities in Tennessee, including Knoxville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, and Memphis.

Wells Fargo Economics recently credited Nashville’s “pragmatic approach to managing the pandemic” for our “return to pre-COVID form” and prevention of the economic damage seen elsewhere. That pragmatic management also saved lives. As Vanderbilt predicted, Nashville was able to save a thousand lives.

Nashville thanks Dr. James Hildreth for his steady counsel and the entire Meharry Medical College for partnering with Metro to operate our large-scale free testing and vaccination sites, including one at HCA’s campus. Thank you to Dr. Tama VanDecar of TriStar and Vanderbilt’s Dr. William Schaffner for your expertise. And to Dr. Alex Jahangir for chairing our task force and guiding us through the pandemic. And most of all we are grateful for Nashville’s nurses and health care staff – the frontline heroes of the past two years.

Today, it is our honor to be here in Nashville’s fastest growing neighborhood…the perfect backdrop to tell you about my agenda for Nashville Neighborhoods and Families, which is the heart of our work in the year ahead.

Budget Overview

This budget addresses the most critical issues facing our city. We need smart investments. We need innovation to help us meet new challenges we face. We need effective management in the time of rapid inflation. Yet another challenge we have to face.

My Agenda for Neighborhoods and Families has six core items:

  • Investing in our children’s future through education
  • Keeping our neighborhoods safe
  • Building and preserving affordable housing
  • Addressing homelessness
  • Improving our city’s fundamental services and transportation infrastructure, and
  • Creating a greener, more sustainable city

That is our vision of a city that works…and works for everyone.

What better place to lay out this new agenda than here in Southeast Nashville, where our investments in Mill Ridge Park and a new park off Tusculum Road, a new ninth police precinct, a new Cane Ridge Middle School, and even additional staff at this community center are pieces of what can be a model for live, work, play communities across Davidson County.

This is a budget for full recovery. To take us to the next level. And really deal with city problems. We are going to invest in fundamentals. Fix what has been broken. Underfunded. Not maintained. Not picked up. This is our moment to fix a generation of problems that have been handed down.

Now, thanks to careful financial management, we are in the position to make much-needed investments in our future.

I’m now going to walk you through my ambitious agenda for our neighborhoods. I’ll go over a lot of investments. New projects. Innovative approaches. Improve the many ways government needs to deliver for you and your family.

Education

Now let’s talk about education, the first part of my agenda. Our schools are Nashville’s great engine of opportunity, and also the physical foundation of our neighborhoods. Great public schools require consistent prioritization.

Two years ago, we provided laptops and internet for every student to bridge the digital divide during COVID.

Last year, we made the largest-ever new investment in our schools – $83 million — and it made Nashville’s teachers the best-paid in Tennessee.

The average Metro teacher saw a salary increase of just under seven thousand dollars, helping retain our talented teachers. This past year, 35% fewer teachers left the district than in the year before I took office.

Another Year of Record Investment

One year later, we’re back with even more support for the district -- $91.2 million of new funding. A new record. Consistent prioritization. Sustained commitment for our kids.

Supporting our Support Staff

This unprecedented investment will fund salary step increases and a 4% cost-of-living adjustment. It allows us to bring bus drivers up to competitive wages…fill the more than 150 bus driver vacancies…and get every child to their seat by the morning bell for a full day of learning. Now for every parent who has had your morning disrupted by a late bus, this will help you!

We are also proposing a pay increase for cafeteria workers. And for the para-professionals who support our students with exceptional needs.

Family Medical Leave

We are also delivering something that is, frankly, overdue – paid family medical leave for ALL MNPS employees. I remember meeting with teachers at McGavock High School during my campaign and hearing from them just how much they needed paid family leave.

Teachers and support staff should no longer have to choose between taking care of their own child and a career educating someone else’s. This is a landmark commitment towards elevating and respecting educators in Nashville.

Fixing our finances made this investment possible.

Investment in the Learning Environment

With our investment, supplemented by President Biden’s COVID relief package, the district has provided additional social-emotional support to facilitate learning.

Advocacy centers in every elementary school. Restorative practice programs in middle and high schools to de-escalate conflicts. Mental health counseling, more social workers, and an expanded Community Achieves program to provide wrap-around services to students and their families. Deputy Mayor Haywood, I know this is something you’re deeply passionate about, as a former teacher.

Better School Facilities

And over the past two years, we made the largest capital investments ever in our school facilities across the county…$397 million…including the new James Lawson High School in Bellevue and $115 million in chronically underfunded electrical, roofing and HVAC repairs, including air quality improvements at 75 schools last year. We are upgrading classrooms across the district, from a new middle school in Cane Ridge to a new elementary school in Goodlettsville.

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished with the largest investments in education in the history of our city. Our commitment to you is that we will keep providing our principals, teachers and support staff with the tools and resources they need to make the next generation of Nashvillians the most successful one yet.

Community Safety

In addition to great schools, kids need safe homes and safe neighborhoods to learn and play. Studies show that growing up in a neighborhood that experiences a homicide reduces kids’ test scores.

Chief Drake has re-created the central homicide division with 28 detectives and their supervisors working to bring the most serious offenders to justice. Last year, we funded a new precinct. This year we added 400 new vehicles and equipped 1,400 officers with the newest technology to keep our officers safe and reduce the use of deadly force.

Today, we’re proposing: 

  • the hiring of 157 additional emergency response personnel to meet the community safety needs of a growing city.
  • 40 more 9-1-1 dispatchers to meet national standards for respond times while handling half a million emergency calls per year.
  • 46 more police officers to staff our new ninth precinct, which will break ground here in Southeast next Spring.
  • 8 new positions for crime analysis, expanding the Evidence Processing Unit’s capacity.
  • Another 31 firefighters, helping us progress toward the national standard of 5 firefighters per company.
  • And 36 more EMS staff, including three new Medic Units with ambulances to handle an 18% increase in medical calls year-over-year.

National Model for Crime Prevention

Here in Nashville, we are innovating to prevent crime. Last year, Council approved our proposal to create a $2 million Community Safety Partnership Fund led by Ron Johnson, Metro’s first Community Safety Coordinator. Ron has brought together more than 40 community groups, mainly grassroots nonprofits led by people of color such as Cintoria Franklin, founder of Pass the Beauty. I also want to thank Dawn Stone for her partnership in this work through the Center for Nonprofit Management.

15 groups have received grants, and the Community Safety Advisory Board is now considering 17 applications for grants designed to serve the Napier-Sudekum neighborhood. And on Friday, the application will close for a $1.75 million Violence Interruption pilot. 39 groups have requested the application through the Hub, so Ron you and Public Health have your work cut out for you.

The nation is noticing our work. A few hours from now, in Los Angeles, the US Department of Justice is announcing a new Knowledge Lab, to support cutting edge law enforcement. Nashville was the first city invited to join the program.

Leading the Way in Mental Health Response

Nashville is also on the nation’s leading edge in how we respond to those experiencing a mental health crisis by prioritizing treatment, not criminalization. Last year, we created Partners in Care, an innovative co-response program that pairs police officers with mental health providers. It’s working. In the first 9 months, Partners in Care teams responded to 1,135 calls but made just 43 arrests. That’s an arrest rate of just 3.8%. Instead of taking people to jail, officers and mental health professionals are working together to connect people to the care they need.

And we are doubling the Partners in Care pilot from North and Hermitage Precincts to Central and South Precinct, in coordination with our partners at the Mental Health Co-op.

Two months ago, the US Department of Health and Human Services recognized Nashville as an emerging national model in this area. HHS will provide technical assistance to develop non-law enforcement responses to behavioral health calls that do not require police. Working with Judge Melissa Blackburn, District Attorney Glenn Funk, Public Defender Martesha Johnson and many others, we are also launching a new Mental Health Court effort to care for repeat misdemeanor offenders who have been deemed incompetent to stand trial.

We’ve made a generation of progress in just two-year’s time. And we are just getting started. This is Nashville at its best: smart, compassionate, and effective.

Homicides Down, Property Crimes Up

Last year, other peer cities saw increases in homicide. Memphis, Louisville, Austin, Indianapolis, and many more – record homicides. Not here. In 2021, homicides in Nashville fell by 9 percent.

Despite our progress, we still face real problems. Gun violence has risen significantly over the past five years. Property crimes are up 17.5% this year. But we are responding with additional resources and new approaches.

Using Technology to Extend our Safety Efforts

Earlier this year, Council approved a 6-month pilot of License Plate Reader cameras. This technology will give Nashville a valuable tool to combat hard-to-solve crimes like auto thefts, kidnappings and hit-and-run crashes – not traffic violations. With auto thefts up 22% year-over-year, this new tool will help make our streets safer.

Our approach strikes an appropriate balance by protecting privacy. License Plate Reader cameras have raised some concerns, but we are taking a common-sense approach that begins with a 6-month trial assessment. If shown to be effective and equitable, we will join our surrounding communities and peer cities that are already using LPRs effectively.

Through investment, more first responders, and new approaches, we are making Nashville a safer community.

Affordable Housing

The third part of my agenda is affordable housing. Others so value what we have in Nashville that our property values are climbing. But Nashville is our city. We must get housing right. Nashvillians must be able to afford to live and work here. To raise their children here. And have their children find opportunity here.

My agenda’s approach to creating and preserving affordable housing is threefold: invest in what works, increase staffing to meet the challenge, and innovate through new approaches.

Record Investment (5x) in Affordable Housing

In my time as Mayor, we have taken major steps to address Nashville’s affordable housing need…including directing FIVE TIMES the rate of investment to building and preserving affordable housing. Let me say that again. Five times the rate of investment.

Delivering on Task Force Recommendations

Our Affordable Housing Task Force, co-chaired by Ed Henley and Mick Nelson, made 9 key recommendations in June to be accomplished over the next 3 years…we are delivering on 7 of those 9 recommendations.

Professional Division of Housing

For the first time, Metro has a dedicated Division of Housing – a professional office embedded within the Planning Department. We are making housing central to land use and development.

I committed to “bringing real expertise to housing policy.” We have that expertise in our new Housing Director, Angela Hubbard. And we are expanding our division of housing staff to coordinate development and response. Our Division of Housing is guiding the greatest era of affordable housing investment in Metro’s history.

When you combine all of our housing efforts: our previous operating budgets, American Rescue Plan funds, our capital spending plan, use of a grant from Governor Lee, and donations we secured from private developers, we have invested over $100 million in the past two years.

Today, I am proposing increasing our operating budget funding for housing to over $20 million annually and supplementing that with another $30 million from the American Rescue Plan, bringing our total affordable housing investment in three years to over $150 million. Remember, previous funding for affordable housing was roughly $10 million per year.

Delivering a Long-Standing Goal: A Dedicated Revenue Stream

We are increasing the Barnes Fund to $15 million in this budget, 50% higher than when I took office. One key recommendation of the task force, and a commitment I made as a candidate, was to dedicate recurring revenue streams for affordable housing.

Today, I’m excited to announce that I’ll work with Metro Council Affordable Housing Chair Sean Parker on legislation to designate, in perpetuity, the Convention Center’s $14.3 million payment in lieu of taxes as the primary dedicated source of funding for the Barnes Fund. This helps answer the long-standing community request for dedicated revenue for affordable housing.

In addition to our greater investment of public funds, private developers have committed their first-ever donations to the Barnes Fund. And we are implementing new approaches to creating and preserving affordable housing.

Expanding the Affordable Housing Toolkit

Over the past two years, we have also significantly grown our housing policy toolkit. This spring we are launching our new participation agreement initiative that incentivizes private market builders to create more affordable units. And Metro Council soon will vote on a new tax incentive program to promote mixed-income developments, which will generate an estimated 300 units of affordable housing. I want to thank lead sponsor Councilwoman Burkley Allen for her partnership in this effort.

Market Pipeline Can Serve the City

This new approach uses private sector housing construction as an engine of affordable housing creation. There are 21,000 apartments currently under construction in Nashville, which represents 13% of our total current inventory – this rate of unit creation is the highest in the country. This new supply will help meet overall housing demand, but we need new tools, incentives, and resolve to harness this production to create affordable units for Nashvillians.

Partner with MDHA

And, finally, our Division of Housing will create a central database with every income-restricted unit in Nashville – including MDHA’s units. Our renewed partnership with MDHA is paying off, thanks to its deeply knowledgeable new leader, Dr. Troy White. Earlier this year, we used $15 million in ARP dollars to accelerate the construction of 1,100 units at Envision Cayce. This investment is part of collaborating to create sound financial plans to finally fulfill long-standing redevelopment promises.

Homelessness

The fourth pillar of my agenda for families and neighborhoods is helping our unhoused neighbors get back on their feet. Individuals and families experiencing homelessness are facing a crisis all across the country, with chronic homelessness up 20% nationwide over last year. The broken national safety net has not been properly addressed for a long time.

$50 Million Commitment

Councilmembers, we will bring for your approval a bold $50 million plan – unprecedented in Nashville’s history – to use American Rescue Plan funds to help our most vulnerable residents get off the streets and into housing.

Housing First

Today, I am committing us to being a “Housing First” city. An array of safe permanent housing options with wrap-around support services will act as the foundation for people to rebuild their lives.

“Housing First” …because each of us needs a safe place to sleep before it is possible to focus on getting a job, addressing substance use issues, or receiving mental health services

In the past year, we housed about 2,000 Nashvillians living on the street or in shelters. Next month, we break ground on a 90-unit Permanent Supportive Housing complex. We are working with national experts on comprehensive, client-centered, low-barrier solutions that focuses on individual needs.

To address homelessness, again we are taking a three-pronged approach: invest, increase staff, and innovate with new solutions. Our $50 million plan to address homelessness will be Nashville’s largest-ever improvement to our safety net.

Permanent Supportive Housing

Half of the funds will purchase permanent supportive housing units and deeply affordable housing inventory in mixed-income developments over a three-year period. In order to support choice and meet need where it exists, we will take a “scattered site” approach, with units built in multiple areas of the city.

Success Requires Enhanced Programmatic Help

Nine million dollars will fund “Housing First” supportive services including case management, outreach, and improving access to disability and health care benefits. Another nine million dollars will supply low-barrier gap housing for individuals and families on their path to permanent housing. We will deploy housing incentives, landlord engagement and housing navigators to increase landlord participation.

More Homeless Impact Division Staff

My proposed budget includes more Homeless Impact Division staff, which we have increased 92% over our past two budgets. More field staff will coordinate increased outreach efforts and service delivery across four quadrants of the city.

Fixing Fundamentals and Improving Transportation

The next part of my agenda is improving core city services like trash and transportation to make Nashville a more beautiful, livable city.

Core City Services

Trash: One of the biggest quality of life challenges in our city in the past few months has been trash collection, a service complicated by COVID-induced supply chain issues. We are allocating $10 million in this year’s budget to increase reliability and make sure that we take care of this fundamental service.

Our Waste Services division took extraordinary measures to stabilize operations despite the bankruptcy of Red River, Metro’s primary trash collection vendor since 2004. Metro Waste Services crews worked 12-hour shifts to cover for Red River’s failures. We aggressively fought Red River in bankruptcy court and hired two new emergency vendors to take on routes and address delays. We have turned the corner. Missed collection complaints to HubNashville are now back to pre-crisis levels.

Pothole Repairs in 72 Hours:  On our roads, we are adding a fifth crew to repair potholes – in driving lanes, crosswalks, and bike ways. We are investing in infrared patching technology for permanent repairs. N-DOT crews have patched 15,400 potholes already this year. The time between your report of a pothole to HubNashville and NDOT patching it is less than 72 hours. We are also in constant contact with TDOT to report potholes on the state roads they oversee.

Cleaner Streets:  It’s also time to make Nashville’s streets and alleyways cleaner. My budget includes $3 million to clean up our roads, bikeways, and our alleyways – sweeping streets, clearing brush, and keeping trash out of storm drains and groundwater. We are adding a fourth and fifth litter crew and an alley maintenance crew to boost NDOT’s already remarkable work. NDOT is on pace to collect more litter this year than in the past four years combined.

Traffic and Transportation: Traffic and transportation can make or break a fast-growing city like ours. Instead of allowing growth to determine our destiny, we must keep improving our streets, intersections, and transportation system to keep up with our growing needs.

Transportation Plan: Two years ago, we came together as a community to create and adopt the Metro Transportation Plan. Our people-first plan for traffic and multi-modal transit is as practical as it is ambitious. We finally have a strategy for solving our infrastructure problems, in neighborhoods and along busy corridors.

And our planning has paid off. Since Council adopted the Transportation Plan, Nashville has secured nearly $44 million in additional state and federal transportation grants. Including full funding for a Traffic Management Center.

WeGo / MTA: 92% of Nashvillians live within a half mile of a Nashville Transportation Plan project. And thanks to over four million of new funding in 2021, WeGo has installed 19 bus stop shelters since last summer and 13 more are in process, including four on Buchanan Street.

As part of our initial round of Nashville’s first-ever participatory budgeting program in North Nashville and Bordeaux, WeGo is adding bus shelters at six different intersections this summer: Jefferson & DB Todd; Alameda & Albion; County Hospital & Hospital Lane; Revels & Whites Creek; Buena Vista & Kirk; and 10th at Ponder Place.

WeGo is back to 107 percent of pre-pandemic service levels thanks to greater investment. This includes a new crosstown route and frequency upgrades to several routes.

Properly Staffing our Department of Transportation: My budget includes 45 new positions at our new Nashville Department of Transportation, to improve maintenance, safety, and engineering – all functions that have been chronically understaffed since the great recession.

Sidewalks: Nashville needs more sidewalks. This fiscal year, NDOT has added over 20,000 linear feet of new sidewalk. Total sidewalk completions are up over 10%. And costs are down. Brick Church, Cane Ridge, Maplewood, Herman, West Hamilton, and Andrew Jackson are projects getting done in the next 7 months. And we are adding a new crew to repair broken sidewalks and curbs faster.

Vision Zero: We are also adding capacity to implement NDOT’s Vision Zero Plan. Safety projects across Nashville will save pedestrian lives. We have scaled up traffic calming. NDOT began working with 49 additional neighborhoods late last year. And Westchester Drive, O’Brien Avenue, and 23rd Avenue North are traffic calming projects being completed in the next few months. As a result of participatory budgeting, Bordeaux Hills will get new speed bumps in May.

A city on the move keeps her people on the move – safely and efficiently. We’re working to help Nashvillians get to work, to school, or to one of our 184 parks more safely and easily than ever before.

A Greener, More Sustainable City

Which brings me to the final part of my agenda, making sure we leave behind a greener and more sustainable city. When I ran for mayor, I committed to increasing access to parks in neighborhoods across Nashville. For years we’ve had undermaintained public parks. Now, we are catching up on a generation of need through long overdue investments.

Parks and Greenways; 

Investing in Green Spaces as We Grow:  Our 2021 Capital Spending Plan included a record $85 million for Metro Parks. We funded major projects at sites like Lockeland Springs, historic Fort Negley, Trinity Hills, and along the Cumberland riverfront. We also worked with Councilwoman Sandra Sepulveda to acquire 10 acres for a new park off Tusculum Road in Southeast Nashville, the first Metro Park in District 30.

Finally Maintaining Our Parks: A better park experience enhances quality of life for families all across Davidson County. My budget includes 46 new Metro Parks positions to maintain our green spaces, staff our community centers, and expand our greenways while keeping them safe.

New aquatics staff at the Napier Community Center will finally provide neighborhood residents with a year-round community pool, which will reopen this fall.

Our community centers will increase programming for differently-abled adults – with eight new instructors. Here at Southeast Community Center, three new employees will expand teen programs, outdoor sports, and transportation.

And again, thanks to participatory budgeting, the Looby Community Center is getting a much-needed air conditioning system. Hartman Park will have outdoor bathroom facilities and a new playground. And a new playground and pavilion are coming to Bordeaux Gardens.

Our new 600-acre Mill Ridge Park and 800-acre Ravenwood Park need maintenance. And in this budget, we’re delivering. Great parks require weekly mowing and daily service for bathrooms and trash collection. We’re making that happen.

Greenways: We are investing in our neighborhood greenways throughout Davidson County, including along the Cumberland River. Five new professionals will acquire the necessary rights-of-way and acreage and expand out our county-wide greenways at a pace that matches Nashville’s growth.

We are also making our parks and greenways even safer for Nashville families. Following best practices, we are creating a Nashville-first, 14-person dedicated bike unit of the Park Police.

Sustainability: From green spaces to going green, we must rise to the challenge of climate change and do our part to minimize our carbon footprint. In February we formally adopted an ambitious 2050 goal: reduce community greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 2014 levels. And we have the tools to get it done. 

We are greening our power supply with 100 megawatts of solar-generated power. That’s enough to power 1/3rd of Metro government’s energy needs. And we are adding solar installations at Metro Water Services sites.

We established a first-of-its-kind dedicated revenue source for tree canopy restoration across the city – supporting the Root Nashville campaign to plant 500,000 trees by 2050.

But we aren’t stopping there. We are pursuing fleet electrification, energy efficiency programs in Metro facilities, sustainable solutions to solid waste management, and building sustainability and resilience strategies into all new developments.

Working together, we can do our part to leave our planet, and our city, better for the next generation.

Stronger, more Inclusive Community

In addition to delivering historic investments in our classrooms, our streets, our parks, and in core services like trash collection, we are also hard at work making Nashville a stronger community by making it a more inclusive community. Let me give you a few examples.

We are making Metro Government more accessible for immigrants by hiring Spanish and Kurdish speakers at HubNashville – part of a broader language access initiative to provide better services at our 9-1-1 call center, State Trial Courts, the Office of Family Safety, and the Woodbine Health Clinic.

Thanks to Council Member Rutherford’s advocacy, we are adding a social worker focused on Veterans Services. Furthermore, we will appoint a veteran to the Social Services Commission.

We are pushing for gender-affirming health coverage for Metro employees.

We are funding two new investigators for the Community Oversight Board.

We are hiring a city architect to incorporate community feedback and quality design into major projects.

We are hiring a city archeologist to provide in-house assessments of historic sites, including those associated with Native Americans, the Civil War, and early African American neighborhoods.

The Library’s NAZA summer program will serve 1,100 kids.

And for the first time, the Arts Commission will have a full-time equity position.

Finally, we’re working with Councilmembers Jeff Syracuse and Joy Styles to create an Office of Music, Film and Entertainment, housed in the Mayor’s Office, to better support our creative class and protect Music City’s future.

Conclusion

We are the envy of cities around the world. We’re becoming a more dynamic and diverse community. And we’ve bounced back from the pandemic. But we can’t become the victim of our own success.

We’re here today at the Southeast Nashville Community Center because the Nashville we know and love…the Nashville we serve – and want to preserve – is a city rooted in our neighborhoods…in our families.

Good schools, clean streets, safe neighborhoods, reliable city services and sound city finances, affordable housing, world-class parks…live-work-play communities to raise a family in. That is Nashville.

As we grow, we must do so in a way that works for every neighborhood, and make sure no one gets left behind. That requires investing alongside our growth and innovating to keep pace with the challenges presented by our growth.

That is our vision. And that is why I’m so excited to implement my Agenda for Neighborhoods and Families – the guide for our work in the year ahead.

This isn’t easy work, and there’s a lot to do. But I know we’re up for the challenge. Now, let’s get to work.

Thank you.

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Questions remain with financing of new Tennessee Titans domed stadium

By Jon Styf,| The Center Square, April 27, 2022 - After $500 million in funding for a new
Tennessee Titans stadium passed Tennessee’s Legislature last week, the next step in the public funding portion of the deal will be funding from Metro Nashville.

Metro Nashville officials will need to approve a proposed 1 percentage point increase in a Davidson County hotel tax if it is signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee. The tax bill is set to be discussed by the Tennessee House on Wednesday.

The tax proposal, brought by Nashville’s hotel owners, is estimated to raise $10 million annually that Metro Nashville could use toward a $700 million commitment to a new stadium. Cost estimates for the new facility range from $1.9 billion to $2.2 billion.

Titans Chief Executive Officer Burke Nihill gave several interviews on April 22, including with radio station 104-5 The Zone where he said that the full estimated costs of a new stadium are not determined and "there is a lot of work ahead" with Nashville with hopes that a deal can be reached by the fall.

Nihill also said that estimates of a $700 million investment from Titans ownership is a "fair" estimate.

"As we sit here today, we have a lease that was drawn in the late '90s and the lease is very unfavorable for the taxpayers of Davidson County," Nihill said. "What we have been trying to do is to find an elegant solution, a lease that does the opposite of the current lease.

"That actually takes the taxpayers out of that position and puts the Titans in that position where we ultimately are responsible for the go-forward maintenance and capital efforts with the stadium."

Nihill is referencing stipulations in the current lease where upkeep and repair costs at the stadium come from Metro Nashville’s general fund, along with a stipulation that the city has a "first-class" stadium. Instead, like the state will do, Nashville is expected to utilize bonds to pay for its $700 million investment with the hotel and other taxes used as collateral.

Another financing question still unanswered is whether a $200 million loan from the National Football League referenced by Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, will be part of Titans’ ownership’s share of the stadium funding.

Also undecided is whether Metro Nashville or the Titans will receive the sales tax revenue at Nissan Stadium and surrounding area and whether it will be used to pay off the Metro bonds or given to the team for their portion of stadium expenses.

The sales tax deal includes a 5.5% sales tax from tickets and sales at Nissan Stadium along with half of the 5.5% sales tax from a planned development on the 130 acres surrounding a potential new stadium, estimated in a fiscal note to be worth $10 million annually once the development is completed.

"In looking around for solutions that are more sustainable, that are not going to result in a lease that is a taxpayer burden long-term, we looked at the real estate with the city and recognized that it’s not really generating any sales tax, it’s not generating any property tax and this is an attractive part of town," Nihill said. "And, increasingly so now that Oracle is moving in and there is a lot of interest in the rest of East Bank.

"So, if that property can be fired up and it can be creating sales tax and be creating property tax that doesn’t exist today, some of that property tax and some of that sales tax can be used to fund a stadium or to keep it maintained."

That, however, has not been what sports economists have found when studying new stadiums and surrounding neighborhoods or entertainment districts.

"This is like a three-card monte game on Broadway, and taxpayers are the mark," said sports economist J.C. Bradbury from Kennesaw (Ga.) State University. "To move the tax burden to an area around the development doesn’t remove the burden from taxpayers at all. It’s just a gimmick that shifts it and makes it less transparent.

"Local spending is local spending, whether it happens around the stadium or at other local businesses."

Bradbury and others have found that spending at new stadiums isn’t new but diverted from elsewhere in a city, meaning the sales tax conceded at the new venue is sales tax lost from elsewhere in the city, leaving a hole in the budgets for Metro Nashville and the state.

The stadium is expected to take 31 months to build, once approved, and is expected to be ready for the 2026 season. But Nihill told the Tennessean that the stadium could be ready for a 2026 World Cup if the city earns a bid for the soccer event.

Nihill told 104-5 that details such as whether the stadium would be a dome or have a retractable roof, which he notes are open just 3% of the time at current stadiums, have yet to be decided as well as whether it will have grass or an artificial surface or what will be done with seat licenses held by season-ticket holders.

Tennessee State University football would still be able to play home games at the stadium, like it did in 2021 at Nissan Stadium under head coach Eddie George, a former Titans running back.

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Tennessee Legislature passes bill requiring some defendants to serve 100% of sentence

 By Jon Styf, The Center Square, Apr 22, 2022 -  — The Tennessee House and Senate approved a truth-in-sentencing bill that would require defendants who are convicted of eight categories of crime to serve 100% of their sentences.

Those convicted of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree murder, vehicular homicide with driver intoxication, aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated kidnapping, robbery and burglary and carjacking will all have to serve 100% of their original sentence if the bill becomes law.

The bill then identifies 20 categories of crime that would require at least 85% of the sentence to be served before eligibility for release. 

"You have to set a line that some crimes are not permitted in our state," said House Speaker Cameron Sexton, who used an analogy about disciplining children for violence against their mother while explaining the bill, saying that children would be punished for crossing that line.

"When you cross that line, there is a severe and swift punishment," Sexton said. "For far too long, we have had lines that are made in chalk."

Senate Bill 2248 passed the Senate 20-6 and then the House 86-9 on Thursday. Since one amendment from the House fixed a "drafting error" according to Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, the amendment will need to be concurred by the Senate before heading to Gov. Bill Lee's desk.

This week, the American Conservative Union (ACU) came out against the legislation in a letter, saying "It would be one thing to spend massive sums on prisons if the proposal was based on evidence that requiring criminals to serve 100% of their sentences would increase public safety. However, there is no such data."

The bill had a fiscal note that it would eventually cost the state $25.4 million annually in additional incarceration costs. That's down from the original $40.6 million note on the bill, which originally listed 14 categories of offenses that would require 100% of sentences served but that list was later lowered.

The bill is estimated to cost the state $11,600 in its first year, $752,900 in Year 2, then $12 million in Year 3 and $17 million in Year 5 before growing to its final cost in fiscal year 2031-32. If signed into law, it would go into effect on July 1.

"Adding to the concerns around the public safety impact of this bill is the tremendous uncertainty around its true fiscal impact," the ACU letter said. "While the fiscal note indicates this bill will create $27.7 million in increased expenditures, TDOC (Tennessee Department of Corrections) data reflects costs much closer to $90 million.

"One report reflects that increasing aggravated burglary offenses alone to 100 percent will cost taxpayers $38.7 million per year, including $8.7 million of that absorbed locally."

Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless assault with a deadly weapon or involving strangulation or attempted strangulation or that results in serious bodily injury or death all would require 85% of a sentence to be served before credits apply.

That category also includes aggravated assault against a first responder or nurse for all of the above categories.

Voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, aggravated kidnapping, involuntary labor servitude, trafficking persons for forced labor or services and aggravated robbery, burglary and arson would require 85% to be served. The list also includes the manufacture, delivery or sale of a controlled substance after two or more convictions, criminally negligent homicide and vehicular homicide causing the risk of death or serious bodily injury from drag racing or within a posted construction zone where a worker is killed.

Rod's Comment: I have mixed thoughts about this bill. On the one hand, it is appalling when one reads of someone who commits a horrible crime only serving a small portion of their sentence.  However, the argument offered by ACU above I find compelling. Also, I think a prisoner who takes advantage of the rehabilitative services such as counseling, getting an education, and learning a skill while in prison and who has a strong support system on the outside and has exemplified good behavior should not have to serve the same amount of time as someone who has shown none of those positive developments and who has a weak support system. Maybe it is overused, but I think there is role for early release and parole. 

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Report: Tennessee makes top ten in annual economic performance rankings

By Jon Styf, The Center Square, Apr 25, 2022 - Tennessee ranked 10th in terms of economic performance and 13th in economic outlook in a new report.

The Rich State, Poor States ranking from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ranked Utah, North Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma and Idaho atop the list for economic outlook, while New York, New Jersey, California, Vermont and Minnesota were at the bottom of the list.

The ranking weighed 15 different policy variables.

In the economic performance rankings, Tennessee was eighth in absolute domestic migration, eighth in non-farm payroll and 14th in state gross domestic product.

Tennessee was tied for the top spot in the country with no state income tax, lowest state minimum wage ($7.25, equal to the federal minimum) and being a right-to-work state and not collecting estate and inheritance taxes.

"The Economic Outlook Ranking is a forecast based on a state’s current standing in 15 state policy variables," the authors said. "Each of these factors is influenced directly by state lawmakers through the legislative process. Generally speaking, states that spend less — especially on income transfer programs — and states that tax less — particularly on productive activities such as working or investing — experience higher growth rates than states that tax and spend more."

Tennessee’s lowest rankings came while ranking 50th in recently legislated tax changes and ranking 45th in debt service as a share of tax revenue. The state's sales tax burden ranked 40th at $29.34 per $1,000. Generally, the state has a 7% tax on retail sales.

Tennessee ranked second-best for having no progressive income tax and for its low property tax burden at $17.34 per $1,000 of assessed value. 

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

American Conservative Union rates Senators and Congressman. 2021 scores released.

 



by Rod Williams, 04/26/2022 - The Center for Legislative Accountability (CLA), an initiative of the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF), has just released its 2021 scorecard for U.S Senators and Congressmen. The ACU ratings is the longest-running conservative congressional scorecard. 

The American Conservative Union (ACU) was founded in 1964 and is the oldest ongoing conservative lobbying organization in the U.S.  The ACU is the organization that puts on CPAC, (American Conservative Union Conservative Political Action Conference), the largest gathering of conservatives in the world. 

I have been a long-time supporter and member of ACU but since the organization has gone Trumpinista-populist, I have let my membership lapse. ACU is no longer part of my annual giving.  

I have attended two CPAC's, 20212 and 2015. You can read of CPAC experiences here, and here.  At those events, I was impressed by the speakers and the panel discussion, and the general tenor of the event.  Not only did one hear from the popular conservative politicians of the day, but from conservative authors and intellectuals and from advocates of various causes who had booths in the exhibition hall. While there was a range of opinions and people advocating for many causes, there were no crazies that I could see. There were no conspiracy theorist booths or what a  sane conservative would call "hate groups."   At this year's event, CPAC became pretty much a Trump rally and one of the featured speakers was Marjorie Taylor Green. I have no desire to attend CPAC with its current perspective.  I wonder if the John Birch Society or Q-Anon had a CPAC booth?  I don't know, but with Marjorie Taylor Green a featured speaker, I wouldn't be surprised. 

Despite my becoming disappointed in the direction of CPAC, ACU's scorecard is first-class work. The score is based on how members voted. ACU publishes the list of bills that went into compiling the scores. To view the ACU site where one may read the bills and may filter the data in various ways follow this link

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Sunday, April 24, 2022

Delusional Democrats Still Believe Russia Changed the Outcome of the 2016 Election resulting in Trump's win.

by Rod Williams, April 24, 2022 - It is a shameful fact that lacking any evidence, many Republican continue to believe Democrats stole the election in 2020. Lawsuits challenging the elections have gone nowhere. Recounts confirm the vote count was right.  Crazy social media reports of fraud have been debunked. Republican state Secretaries of State or other officials responsible for conducting elections have said the election in their state was a clean election. Republican governors and congressional leaders have said the 2020 election was a fair election and that Joe Biden legitimately won. While there has been the occasional incident of fraudulent voting, as there is always, there has been no evidence of widespread election fraud.  Yet, Trumpinistas continue to claim the election was stolen. They are simply dilutional. 

Unfortunately, they are not the only ones who believe a lie and are delusional.  Democrats believe if not for Russian efforts on behalf of Trump, Hillery Clinton would be president.  

How did Russia change the election? No one even claims Russia changed any votes that were cast. They did not harvest absentee ballots. They didn't control the voting machines from Moscow and change the results. They didn't have election officials counting ballots who put the Trump ballots through the counting machine twice. There was no late unloading of a truckload of ballots that favored Trump that had just been discovered. 

So, how did Russia steal the election? They illegally spend some money on targeted advertisements on behalf of Trump on social media and robots gave anti-Hillary memes lots of "likes."  That is about it.  We are subjected to advertising all day long.  Hopefully, we are not mindless victims who are incapable of thinking for ourselves because we saw some lame ad. I agree we do not want Russia spending money in our elections but that level of activity hardly amounts to stealing an election. If American democracy is so fragile that juvenile amateurish Facebook memes by an unknown poster can change the outcome of an election, then the dumbing down of the American people is the problem, not Russian interference. 

According to a recent Rasmussen poll,  Democratic voters overwhelmingly agree with Hillary Clinton that Russia is to blame for her defeat in 2016. In a July 2020 interview with Joy Reid on MSNBC, Clinton said, “It's very clear that Russia succeeded. They believe that they were able to influence the minds and even votes of Americans, so why would they stop?” 

Seventy-two percent (72%) of Democrats believe it’s likely the 2016 election outcome was changed by Russian interference, but that opinion is shared by only 30% of Republicans and 39% of voters not affiliated with either major party. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Republicans who claim the 2020 election was stolen and Democrats who claim the 2016 election was stolen, are delusional. Unfortunately, it seems most people believe what they want to believe and facts are irrelevant. The mantra of many of both parties is, "my mind is made up; don't confuse me with facts." 



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Saturday, April 23, 2022

Lies and basic nonsense is being spread by critics of the TN GOP SEC decisions to remove Ortagus and Starbuck and Lee.

Mark Rogers
By Mark Rogers, originally appearing on a Facebook post, 4-22-202-  Lots of lies and basic nonsense is being spread by critics of the TN GOP SEC decisions to remove Ortagus and Starbuck and Lee. 

1) The SEC is dominated by people who were MAGA when Trump was only grifting business associates. Sadly too few true old-school Rs left.

2) The requirement that candidates vote in 3 of 4 primaries was a far-right move when they couldn't get legislative support for closing primaries. Regardless of what some people are saying, it wasn't moderates who are responsible for removing Starbuck and Ortagus.

3) Having someone vouch for a candidate isn't a silver bullet. SEC members are free to reject a candidate if they don’t think the person has been active in the party. Neither Ortagus or Starbuck had done anything for local Republicans in any of the 6 counties before running for a seat in Congress. There was no conspiracy of moderates or rules violation by the SEC. 

Personally, I think Baxter Lee got hosed but Ortagus and Starbuck are as 'Middle Tennessee' as the topless bachelorettes projectile vomiting from a party bus on Broadway. It isn't the newness, it is the lack of any involvement before wanting to represent us.

Rod's Comment:  Mark Rogers has long been active in Republican Party politics and is an astute observer of political trends and events and Republican politics. 

I think his observations on the issue of the SEC's removal of Ortagus and Starbuck and Lee is absolutely correct. I disagree with the decision to remove these three candidates but it was It was not RINO's, thugs, insiders, moderates, or the swam who removed these three candidates from the ballot. 

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Millennials are quickly coming to the conclusion that they may never be able to afford a home.

By Rod Williams, April 21, 2022- I spent my career as a housing counselor serving as Director of Housing Services for the Woodbine Community Organization and had the pleasure of helping hundreds of low to modest income people become homeowners.  It was rewarding work.  

The majority of those we helped were not in need of much help.  They were only low-income because they were young and starting their careers. They may have needed some advice on repairing their credit or building credit, they needed some education on mortgage programs and the home buying process, and some help with the downpayment.  Tennessee, like all states, has a program to help first-time homebuyers with downpayment assistance or with programs that reduce mortgage interest rates.  One can learn about these programs at this link

In addition to helping the first-time homeowner who only needed a little help, the agency I worked for helped hundreds of hardcore low-income people become homeowners.  Not all low-income people have the same challenges. There are low-income people with middle-class values who are only low-income because they are young or working jobs that don't pay much.  Then, there are those trapped in the cycle of poverty and the welfare system who have circumstances and values that make homeownership hard to achieve. 

To help these people was challenging and took a minimum of a solid year of monthly classes and numerous one-on-one counseling sessions.  For some, it took years before they were ready to buy a house. Almost all of these people would become the first in their families to ever own a home. Many came out of public housing.  For these people, it required that they change their values and habits. They had to change their way of thinking. Most of the people who joined what we called "homebuyers clubs," could not or would not make the changes necessary to become homeowners, but many did.  It was rewarding when you could see the light go off and habits start to change. 

There were various grants and mechanisms to help the hardcore poor but in the end, the client had to have an acceptable credit score, reportable income sufficient to finance the majority of the sale price of the home, and some savings. When these people got into a house, they were ready for homeownership. Sadly, hardcore low-income people will never be able to buy a home the way things are today. When I was a housing counselor, I could encourage the single mother on welfare living in public housing, that if she was willing to make hard changes and put in the effort, homeownership was possible.  Today, I could not hold out that hope. The dream of homeownership would have to remain a dream. Most of the people I served in this category of the hardcore generation poor were African Americans. Unfortunately, the rate of homeownership among African Americans is lower now than in 1994.  All of the talk about "equity," and social justice, and the building of resentment does nothing to lift people out of poverty. All of the pious talk about "affordable housing," will put very few poor people into a home.



Unfortunately, not only for the generationally hardcore poor, is homeownership likely to remain a dream, but it is more and more likely to remain a dream for many middle-class people also.  Recently my daughter and her husband became homeowners.  I was able to help them.  For many people without parents who are able to substantially help them, they will never be able to realize the dream of homeownership. That is a sad fact of life.

Home prices and interest rates continue to skyrocket with no end in sight putting homeownership out of the reach of many working people. 

An organization called Apartment List which does research on housing issues and tracks trends in home and rental prices recently conducted a survey of people and found that many Millennials told them they are quickly coming to the conclusion that they may never be able to afford a home, and most who do want to be homeowners don’t have any money saved for a down payment. 

Here are some key findings from that report:

  • According to the most recent Census data, the Millennial homeownership rate stands at 48.6 percent, more than 20 percentage points lower than the rate for Gen X and almost 30 percentage points lower than Baby Boomers.
  • Millennial homeownership lags even after adjusting for age. Among older Millennials who have hit age 40, 60 percent own homes. At that same point in life, 64 percent of Gen Xers, 68 percent of Baby Boomers and 73 percent of Silents owned homes.
  • With each passing year – and accelerated by the pandemic – an increasing share of Millennial renters say they will never own a home. 22 percent of Millennial renters view themselves as “always renters” in 2021, and preliminary data from 2022 shows that share increasing.
  • As Millennials age, affordability becomes increasingly important to their housing choices. Other factors in the “rent or buy” decision (e.g., lifestyle flexibility) have become less important to Millennials as they age.
  • Down payment savings rates remain shockingly low for Millennials who want to buy homes. In 2021, nearly two-thirds say they have no savings whatsoever, and only 16 percent have saved more than $10,000. The average savings of just over $12,000 represents just a 4 percent down payment on a median-priced condo today.

 
This is discouraging. Homeownership is good for society as well as the individual. For most people, if they never own a home they will never accumulate wealth. Crime rates, fertility rates, out-of-wedlock birth rates, and other measures of a society's well-being are reflective of homeownership rates.  It stands to reason that homeownership leads to generational improvements. The next generation will have a better standard of living than the previous.  Never owning a home will most likely lead to the next generation being less well off than the previous. While I can state no study to support this, I suspect that homeowners feel more invested in their communities than renters. I suspect they are more grounded.  I suspect they have less resentment toward society and are less inclined to support wealth redistribution schemes. I don't know this, but I suspect homeowners will generally be more conservative, or at least less radical than if they had remained renters. 

Several things need to happen to reverse this trend toward lower homeownership. Governments at all levels need to stop doing the things that cause housing to become less and less affordable. We need to tinker with the tax code to encourage savings and homeownership. We need to stop focusing on "equity" and programs that make people think they are victims and focus on programs that provide opportunities for economic advancement.

You can find the full report from Apartment List at this link.

For more of my views regarding the issue of affordable housing, see the following:

Antiquated Zoning Laws Are Worsening the Housing Crisis

The dream of homeownership is becoming more elusive by the day

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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

 


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Bastiat Society of Nashville event, April 21st: "Our Increasingly Politicized Fed" with Bryan Cutsinger.

 


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More stupidity from Frank Nicely and Ortagus responds condemning his apparent anti-Semitism.

by Mark Moore, The New York Post, April 20, 2022 - ... “I don’t think Trump cares one way or the other,” Niceley told NBC News last month about the possibility of Ortagus being removed from the ballot. “I think Jared Kushner — he’s Jewish, she’s Jewish — I think Jared will be upset. Ivanka [Trump] will be upset. I don’t think Trump cares.” ....

“Anti-Semitism is the oldest and one of the most vile forms of hatred on this earth, and Senator Niceley should be ashamed of his repeated anti-Semitic rhetoric,” Ortagus tweeted Tuesday. “I am incredibly proud to call myself a part of the Jewish people.” (read it all)

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