Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stephen Siao of Vanderbilt College Republicans on Fox

Outgoing VCR president Stephen Siao and incoming president Abby Sutton will be on Fox & Friends at 6:50 AM EST/5:50 AM CST tomorrow morning to discuss the hypocrisies of Vanderbilt's "all-comers" policy and the pending bill/amendment in the legislature. I will not be up at 5:30 but if this is tuned into a YouTube video, I will watch it and post it.

Congratulations Stephen for making the big time and God bless you for fighting for liberty.

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Dinesh D'Souza at Vanderbilt on “How Christianity Shaped America: Religious Liberty and Liberal Intolerance.”

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing Mr.  D’Souza speak at Vanderbilt University on the topic, “How Christianity Shaped America: Religious Liberty and Liberal Intolerance.”

 Mr. D’Souza is an American immigrant from India. He is the author of several best-selling books and regularly appears on TV news cast and talk shows. He has been called one of the "top young public-policy makers in the country" by Investor’s Business Daily and The New York Times Magazine named him one of America's most influential conservative thinkers. He is a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and is the President of The King's College in New York City.

In his speech he defended Christianity and discussed the challenge of modern atheism and secularism. He spoke for a good 45 minutes and engaged in questions and answers for at least another 45 minutes. He was brilliant! He was thought-provoking, humorous at times, motivational and inspirational. Unlike many political speakers who preach and appeal to the emotions, D’Souza teaches, explains and reasons.

He made the point that Christianity changed the world and that our concepts of human rights and the worth of the individual are Christian concepts. He said that when there is a natural disaster somewhere in the world, that it is America and European countries of the world that send aid. China, Saudi Arabia and other countries have wealth but it is people in the Christianized world that feel they are their brother’s keepers. This concept of having a responsibility for the well being of others is not a Roman or Greek idea, but a Christian idea. In ancient Greece it was common practice to put an unwanted child out on a hillside to freeze to death. We do not have a record of the great philosophers on ancient Greece condemning this practice.

He said that in India, there is a saying that, “the tears of a stranger are as water.” In most of the history of the world, family or tribe was important, and compassion for others was unknown.

He answered the critics of religion and critics of Christianity who point out that horrible things have been done in the name of religion. Much of what is described as wars over religion are really not, he said. The battle between Israel and the Arabs is not over weather Abraham or Mohamed was the better prophet but is a battle over land. He said the war in Northern Ireland was not a war over religious doctrine but was a battle over political control.

To critics who bring up the worst of Christianity such as the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem witch trials, he pointed out that, while these things were terrible, the Spanish Inquisition lasted 400 years and a total of about 2000 people lost their lives or about five a year. In the Salem witch trials, a total of 19 people were killed. He said if you developed a balance sheet and compared those who were killed in the name of Christianity, compared to those killed in the name of atheism, on the atheist side you have the dead of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro and Pol Pot which adds up to many, many millions. The number killed in the name of Christianity cannot compare.

In the question and answer period one young man asked a question that has bother me, and I think many people who have ever examined their faith. The questioner asked how do you reconcile the horrors and genocide and partiality of God as reported in the Old Testament, to the gentle teachings of Jesus which teaches compassion and the value of the individual in the New Testament. D’Souza said that in his view, it is a mistake to view the Bible as a single book but it is rather a collection of books that cover generations. The Bible reveals an evolution of our concept of God as time progresses. God is “revealed” in the Bible over time, he said. He elaborated at length on this and I cannot recall the fine points of this theological argument, but I found it persuasive. Coming from a fundamentalist background, I have heard explanations that failed to satisfy or I have, more often than not, just seen this conflict between the nature of the early God and the nature of Jesus just ignored. I am sure D’sousa’s explanation would not be satisfactory to the more fundamentalist Christians who preach the Bible’s inerrant infallibility.
I asked Mr D’Douza about his thoughts about the current situation regarding Muslims in our community. I explained that in Murfreesboro, where a Muslim congregation is seeking to build a mosque, that there has been vocal and widespread opposition. Many of the opponents of the mosque, I explained, argue that Muslims should not have the right to build the mosque and are not entitled to freedom of religion. Those who take this position, I said, argue that Islam is not really a religion but a cult or a way of life or a political systems. Also I told him that there is widespread opposition to any workplace accommodations to Muslim and outrage whenever there is any accommodations.

Mr. D’Souza said that clearly Islam is a religion and a religion with a rich and long history. Islam helped improve the lot of mankind he said. He gave the example of the Bedouin and their practices before and after converting to Islam. He said clearly Muslims should have the rights of any other Americans. We should not make accommodations to practices that compromise our laws, such as we cannot excuse honor killings as an acceptable practice, but if one wants to bow and pray five times a day to Mecca that is a practice that hurts no one else.

A questioner asked Mr. D’Sousa his thoughts about the current situation on Vanderbilt campus which has adopted a policy that prohibits religious organization from discriminating. Under this new policy, a religious organization cannot require that students seeking to join the organization or become a leader of the organization agree with the principles of the organization. A Christian organization, under this new policy, cannot require that their members live what they see as a moral lifestyle or subscribe to the values and tenants of the organization.

The questioner pointed out that sororities and fraternities openly and unabashedly discriminate. These Greek organizations have selection committees and may fail to select someone because of their looks or because they are insufficiently wealthy or just because they don’t think the person would be a good “fit.” How, asked the questioner, can Vanderbilt allow these organizations to be selective and not allow religious organization?

 It is about power, said D’Sousa. Sororities and Fraternities have long established histories and alumni who contribute to the university. The University would not dare try to prohibit this type of discrimination. Vanderbilt being a private university, he said, has the right to establish whatever policy they want. This issue is not about Vanderbilt doing something illegal, but doing something that is wrong.

Of course, liberal academics do not see discriminating against Christians as wrong. Liberals delude themselves into thinking that their discrimination is moral and right and that the discrimination of others is wrong. Universities claim they seek diversity, but it is a certain type of diversity. They really don’t want diversity that includes conservatives or Christians. These people make them feel uncomfortable. They find them embarrassing.

Rod Williams, Dinesh D’Souza, and Gene Wisdom
Another reason this kind of discrimination is occurring is because Christians are not demanding enough. There is too much "turning the other cheek." He said that recently he was to have a debate at a college with an atheist and the Christian group sponsoring the debate said they would prefer that the event be billed as a “dialogue” rather than a debate. The difference, said Mr. D’Souza, between dialogue and a debate is that a dialogue is a debate where no one is allowed to win. It is this attitude of not wanting to appear pushy that puts Christians at a disadvantage. Christians are too meek and mild.

I am so glad I got to see Mr. D’Sousa speak and to meet him. He is a brilliant man and immensely likeable and he makes a strong defense of Christianity and Christianity’s contribution to the world. To learn more about Mr. D’Sousa follow this and this link.

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Robert Duvall Announces for State House 59

 I will never vote against my constituents.

Robert Duvall, photo by Randy Foster
Robert Duvall this morning officially announced his candidacy for the State House of Representatives. He made the announcement to a packed room at the Southeast Davidson County Conservatives’ Breakfast Group at the Shoney's on Bell Road in Antioch. His announcement was greeted with enthusiastic applause.

"It is an honor to take this endeavor on", said Duvall. "We have an incumbent in a totally new district who has not represented the people," he said.  "I represent the people.  I have not voted for the people but I have voted with the people." 

He explained how in his current position as a councilman, he had stood with his constituents to work to save the fairgrounds when the Mayor and other interest wanted to close it and sell off the property. He told of  how he had represented the will of his constituent is opposing the new convention center despite pressure from the administration.
Robert Duvall, photo by Randy Foster
"My job," said Duvall "is to do what the people want. Understand, I will never vote against my constituents. This state house race is really about community: who is going to represent you, who is going to work in the community and  get the job done. As far as the work I have done over the last few years, my record speaks for itself."
He said this race is winnable. He explained that 70% of the new state house district falls into his current or previous council district. He promised to work hard to get to know the people who he doesn't know and to get those who he does know to turn them out and vote. While he said he thinks the race is winnable and he is committed to working hard to win, he said his opponent is very well funded. He asked for people to help him, to contribute to his campaign, and to volunteer to go door to door for him and help campaign.
He explained that Republican were within two seats of having a super majority. With a super majority, he explained, the Democrats could not sabotage the will of the people by walking out and denying the House a quorum. "Let's take this house," he said.

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Art Break: A little girl picking flowers

A little girl picking flowers by Ouida Williams

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Friday, April 20, 2012

TN. Alliance of TEA Party & Liberty Groups Town Hall & Summit event on April 20 & 21, 2012

Venue Location: Goodlettsville Church of the Nazarene
 400 Loretta Drive
 Goodlettsville, TN 37072-3550

Link to Color Agenda in Excel spreadsheet format:

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Southeast Davidson County Conservatives’ Breakfast Meeting

Saturday, April 21
8:30 am:  breakfast & social time
9:00 - 10:30 am:  Meeting
Bell Road @ Cane Ridge Rd (I-24E)
Breakfast Buffet or order from menu - $5.00 minimum purchase required.

Meet our Republican candidates for State House.  Each candidate will speak for 5 minutes and then will answer your questions.  (These 3 Districts most directly impact Southeast Nashville)

House District 53:  Ben Claybaker
                     Tonya Miller
House District 59:   Robert Duvall
House District 60:   Jim Gotto

PLEASE RSVP TO PAT CARL OR ROBERT DUVALL, as this will be a full house event

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

What happended at the April 17th Council Meeting

This is a really, really boring meeting, Thankfully it is short at only 26 minutes. There is nothing worth watching in this meeting, however, if you are a glutton for punishment the video of the meeting is below. 

The Council voted 31-2 without discussion to approve on final reading the 60% property tax break over 12 years to Gaylord/Dollywood for a new Snow-Splash park. Only Council Members Dominy and Stites voted against the tax giveaway bill. CM Duvall arrived late due to traffic tie-up on the interstate and missed the vote.

The Council voted to defer CM Stanley's resolution that would request the mayor's capital-spending plan include money for a new Hermitage high school.

The Council votes to set Mayor Karl Dean's "State of Metro" address for May 1 at 10 a.m. at the newly opened Cumberland Park on the east bank.

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Proposal to require interest disclosure by planning commissioners met with resistance in House | The Republic

Rep. Jim Gotto speaks about his bill seeking to require ethics disclosures from planning commissioners during a meeting of the House Calendar Committee in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, April 19, 2012. The Nashville Republican agreed to put off a vote on his bill after committee members raised cost concerns. Raising their hands to seek recognition are House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville, left, and Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill seeking to require local and regional planning commissioners to file interest disclosures with the Tennessee Ethics Commission was met with last-minute resistance in the House on Thursday. 
The bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Gotto, R-Nashville,would subject the state's estimated 3,000 planning commissioners to the same disclosure requirements as elected officials. The companion bill unanimously passed the Senate last month. read more
This is a bi-partisan "good government" bill that should pass. It had the support of House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville who spoke in favor of it. 

Planning commissioners often have more control over how a community develops and what gets build than does an elected council member.  Here in Nashville, if the Planning Commission votes to recommend a bill it only requires a simple majority to pass. If the planning commission votes to not recommend, then it takes a two-thirds vote of all members of the Council.  It can be very hard to get a disapproved bill passed. The planning commissioners have a lot power.

I want to know how the planning commissioners earn their living and who is wining and dining them. Planning Commission member know where the growth is planned to occur.  They are in a position to benefit from the decisions they make, probably more so than any one in government.  Their life and their financial dealings and financial interest should be an open book. Their ethics should be above reproach. 

The opposition to this bill centered on the argument that planning commissioners are volunteers and full disclosure is too much to expect of a volunteer. I don't think so. The move to send the bill back to committee was defeated and the bill was put off for one week. 

Please contract your legislator and urge them to support HB3697.  To contact your legislator, follow this link and click on "house members."  If you are unsure who is your representative use the "Find my Legislator" feature. 

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Tell them you won't give Vanderbilt another dime

Why is Vanderbilt University forcing student groups to abandon their beliefs -- calling bigoted those who want their leaders to subscribe to their principles. Vanderbilt now demands these groups adopt a code of political correctness or be forced off campus. Now it's up to alumni to use their leverage. Call Board of Trust Members John Ingram and Orrin Ingram now. Tell them you won't give Vanderbilt another dime, until they respect religious freedom. Not another dime. Call the Ingram's now at 615.298.8200 and make voices heard.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dinesh D’Souza Coming to Vanderbilt

Reposted from The Vanderbilt Torch 

On Thursday, April 19, renowned Conservative thinker and Christian apologist Dinesh D’Souza will be presenting a lecture titled “How Christianity Shaped America: Religious Liberty and Liberal Intolerance” at Vanderbilt University.

The lecture be held at 7 o’clock in Sarratt Cinema and will be over before Rites events kick off on Alumni Lawn that evening.

In the fall of 2010, Dinesh D’Souza was named the President of The King’s College in New York City. D’Souza brings to King’s a distinguished 25 year career as a writer, scholar and intellectual. A former policy analyst in the Reagan White House, D’Souza also served as an Olin Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute as well as a Rishwain Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford.
Called one of the “top young public-policy makers in the country” by Investor’s Business Daily, D’Souza quickly became a major influence on public policy through his writings.

Illiberal Education, his first book publicized the phenomenon of political correctness in America’s colleges and universities and was on the best seller list for 15 weeks. Subsequent bestsellers include Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader, The Virtue of Prosperity, What’s So Great About America, Letters to a Young Conservative and What’s So Great About Christianity, and The Roots of Obama’s Rage. His latest work, Godforsaken, responds to the problem of evil.

A prolific, writer, persuasive debater, and sought after speaker on college campuses as well as many other venues, D’Souza has been named one of America’s most influential conservative thinkers by the New York Times.

The lecture is open to the public and free of charge and is sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and The Vanderbilt Torch.

Join the Facebook event here:

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Liberty on the Rocks: Post Tax Day IRS Bash!

Join us for this Post Tax Day versions of 
Liberty on the Rocks

The IRS won't give you a 2 for 1 deal but our great hosts at Mafiaoza's will happily serve you 2 for 1 beer all evening!

Date: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Time: 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: Mafiaoza's, 2400 12th Avenue South
A splendid mix of grass roots activism, libations, and good conversation. No prayer, no pledge, no treasurers report, no speaker, no program. Just a bunch conservatives and libertarians who get together to argue, network, share and drink. Happy hour prices and O'devours on the house. These events are a lot of fun.

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Such government waste at GSA, even Democrats are outraged.

 Last night I spend about two hours watching a House committee hearing on CSPAN on the topic of the GSA’s waste and extravagant spending. It was fascinating! I couldn't quit watching.  I know it takes a lot to get Democrats outraged over government waste; even Democrats were outraged.

What was revealed in the hearings was unbelievable! About 300 GSA employees went to a conference in Las Vegas at a cost of over $800,000! They enjoyed lavish food and still got to pocket their meal per diem. There were some 2200 square foot suites with hot tubs for some of the participants. Some employees brought their wives.

They got around rules against providing free food for employees at conferences because food can be served if it is part of an awards ceremony, so they had lots of awards ceremonies. The use of ceremonies to get around the prohibition against the food orgies turned into a joke. Employees gave their bosses awards.  They gave awards for things unrelated to their job. Conference participants were given blackjack dealer vest with the conference logo on them and commemorative coins and goody bags.

 The Las Vegas conference was only one of several similar conferences. The western region of GSA sent some employees to Guam for a 17 day conference and GSA often has off-site meetings, including one meeting in the Napa Valley wine region. There was a culture of waste, and extravagance and employees who questioned the appropriateness of the spending would be “squashed like a bug” according to one employees testimony to the Inspector General.

This cultural of entitlement and waste and corruption extends beyond lavish conferences. It was reported that Apple Ipads were taken from a storehouse by GSA employees and dozens, or maybe hundreds, were missing. People took them for their children. There was such lose controls that no one knows who took them.

 If you missed this news about the GSA scandal, bring yourself up to date. This is unbelievable. These people are partying and living an extravagant decadent lifestyle on taxpayers’ money. If that is the culture of the Western Region of the GSA, how widespread is that culture in government?

Every American should be outraged. This should not be acceptable. Not only do some people need to lose their job over this, some people need to go to jail. We should demand a change in the culture. We need a cultural where people are so afraid of being accused of waste that they bring their own ink pens to work.

Federal Government employees should be government servants, not the ruling elite.  The public should demand, a reduction in the size of government, a cut in all bonus and a freeze in salaries. Government employees are overpaid, have more days off than people in the private sector and great job security. It should not be that way. Government service should not be a preferred place to work. Government workers should not have a better deal than people in the private sector.

 The only area in which I would support an increase in government staff is in  a larger staff for IG.  The government needs to hire  the meanest accountants they can find and every expenditure needs to be examined. People should be seeking to leave government service because it is no longer a fun place to work.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Victoria Jackson is not happy with Channel 5

Open Letter to Channel 5′s Reporter Jon Smith from Victoria Jackson

Written on April 17, 2012 by Victoria Jackson

You edited out my whole interview.  For 20 minutes I told you facts about Islam and why I was doing a story on it, and all you put on the air at 10 pm last night was a horrible picture, some “ditz” references, and a video of “controversial” me tromping around with a sensationalized edited voice over.  What happened to that 20 minute face to face interview we had where I told you that:
Islam is not just a religion.  It is a political and military system.
Islam is controlled by Shariah Law which cannot co exist with The Constitution.
Islam encourages men to beat their wives, behead them, marry children and kill homosexuals.  Look it up.
Mohammed, the leader they are supposed to emulate had many wives, one of which was named Aisha and she was 6 years old when he married her and eight years old when he had sex with her. (read more)

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Budget Limo's Lost the last round but ruling hints at future victory.

We who have been following the Metro limo price-fixing saga have reason to be encouraged, despite the Court's most recent ruling that failed to grant the plaintiffs an injunction against enforcement of the $45 minimum fare. The below article which appeared recently in City Paper explains why.

The reason Metro, the defendant, won the last round is that the bar for winning was very low. All Metro had to show was that the minimum fare had a "rational basis." When the actual merits of the price fixing scheme are litigated, Metro will have to meet a much more difficult standard to prevail. The plaintiff will use the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause as a basis to convince the Court that the $45 minimum fare is unconstitutional. Metro will have to defend against that argument.

This article does a good job of explaining what happened in the last court ruling. Below are a couple excepts:

Budget limo companies hit snag in case against minimum fare, may be on right track

Sunday, April 15, 2012, By Pierce Greenberg, City Paper

And even though the ruling wasn’t in the liveries’ favor, Sharpe’s decision scoffs at the ordinance, points a finger at the Metro Council, and could lay out a path for the overturning of the bill. As part of the challenge, the defense will have to prove a “rational basis” for the ordinance. Rational basis is a broad term — and Sharp acknowledged that “even foolish and misdirected provisions are generally valid” under the rational basis standard of review.

Sharp also took a shot at the ordinance, noting that lower fares would “undoubtedly” benefit Nashville citizens and tourists, but that it’s up to the Metro Council to make those determinations.

“Judge Sharp emphasized that this is a preliminary ruling and indicated that if there were more evidence available to him that he might be willing to strike down the minimum fare,” Hottot said. Read the full article.

In 2010, to protect the well-connected, long-established luxury limo companies from competition and innovation,  the Council unanimously passed a price fixing bill that established a $45 minimum fee for non-taxi livery services. In addition to the minimum fare the bill did other things designed to make the business model of the new livery services unworkable. What prompted this was that a new service had appeared in Nashville that operated like a limousine but instead of using the stretched body type that is a limousine, they used black sedans and the typical fare was not much more than a taxi fare but considerable less than a limo fare.  Many people who had used taxis or limo's liked the new service. The ride was a nicer ride than a taxi but was less ostentatious than a limo. This new type of livery service was cutting into the limo business and the city responded with an ordinance and regulations designed to destroy the new competition. Not only did the city pass legislation and rules to drive the competition out of business, the Metro Transportation Licensing Commission used intimidation and harassment to try to drive the competitors out of business.

To learn more about this topic, follow this link.

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Victoria Jackson of SNL joins the anti-Muslim crusade

Victoria Jackson is cute. I like her dim-witted, squeaky-voice, dizzy-blonde persona.  Last summer I saw her  perform at one of the Tea Party events which took place out in the Opryland area in the parking lot of  a sports bar. She sang a song that had a refrain in the chorus where she whispered the words, "there is a Communist in the White House."

I think calling President Obama a Communist is over the top. I never do it. "Communist" has a definite meaning. I know President Obama appointed self identified Communist Van Jones to a czarship and I  know that President Obama has close ties to extreme leftist terrorist Dohrn and Ayers.  Nevertheless, I would not myself call President Obama a Communist. Since he does have these close Communist ties however, and since the song was humorous, I did not feel offended by the song and I enjoyed Victoria Jackson's performance.

Now, Victoria Jackson has jumped on the anti-First Amendment bandwagon which wishes to deny Freedom of Religion to followers of the Islamic faith. I am not naive and I think radical Islam is a threat. However, the response to this threat of people who cherish American values should not be to take the position that American's who follow the Islamic faith should be denied their rights as Americans. If Mosques are in-fact breading grounds for terrorist then that is a law enforcement problem.

There are some dark blemishes on America's historic treatment of minorities: the trail of tears removed culturally assimilated peaceful Indians to the west because white settlers wanted their land; in the Jim Crow south, all-white juries acquitted guilty Klansman for lynchings of Black Americans; and in World War II, we imprisoned 120,000 Japanese without trial because we suspected their loyalty.

In all of these events many good people stood by and said nothing.  I fear that some of the more rabid anti-Muslim activist, if they had their way would destroy all Mosque, force Muslims to convert to Christianity and imprison those who did not. Good people should not stand by and let bigotry grow to a dangerous levels. I am very disappointed when I see people who I otherwise think of as good people advocate denying Muslims their Constitutional rights. I am disappointing when I see people who I otherwise think of as intelligent take the view that all Muslims are Islamic radicals.

This anti-Muslim campaign has unfortunately gained a foothold in the conservative movement. Many self-proclaimed Islamic experts are on the speaking circuit spreading fear and ignorance and on the internet preaching hate and there are no shortage of politicians who are willing to pander to the worst in people. This should not grow unchecked.

In reading the comments that accompanied this story, I think Mark Rogers made a couple good observation:
Victoria Jackson as a spokesman for anything is a better joke than any from her years on SNL
 Mrs. Zelnick as an expert on Islam? Does she read or speak Arabic? Has she read the Koran or any learned commentaries on it? Is she familiar with any histories of Islam not written by people who want to abolish the religion?
Well said Mark.

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What to look for at the 4/17/2012 Metro Council Meeting

You can get your own copy of the Metro council meeting agenda at this link:Metro Council Agenda.
From the agenda you can link to the analysis. Council meetings can be really, really boring if you don't know what the Council is voting on. With an agenda and analysis, they are just really boring.

I read the analysis and agenda for you so you don't have to. Below are the things that I think are worth being aware of that are on this agenda. None of them, however, are likely to create much discussion or debate. The only really controversial issue is the Gayloard-Dollywood tax giveaway and on second reading it passed by voice vote. I doubt their will be any serious effort mounted to derail it.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-210  sets the date for the 2012 State of Metro Address. as  May 1, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. at The Cumberland Park. This will not be a controversial resolution, I am only pointing this out because if you are waiting to hear the Mayor say he is going to propose a tax increase and by how much, it will probably happen at the State of Metro event. At that time he will most likely make the case for raising taxes. The Cumberland Club is located at Nashville City Center, 511 Union St, 26th Floor. I am not sure who all is invited to this event or how to get tickets but stayed tuned and I will try to find that information. 

RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-220 approves an application for a COPS hiring recovery grant from the federal government of $3,125,000. COPS is a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund extra policemen for community policing efforts. The grant pays a portion of the salary of a certain number of new police officers for a two or three year period and the local government is required to retain the officers and pay their full salaries and benefits for at least one year following the end of the grant term. If awarded, this grant will  require local match of $2,028,500. I am not saying we could not use the extra money or the extra policemen, but this is the way budgets creep up. When we accept this money, that commits us to continue the funding for at least one year. Once we have included that in our budget and been accustomed to having those extra policemen, then no one wants to lay them off. Sometime free money is really expensive. I wish some council member would make this point and vote against the application. Unfortunately, I don't expect that to happen.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-129 on second reading approves a deal between Metro and Ecotality North America, for the installation and maintenance of eight electric vehicle charging stations on Metro property. This eight stations are scattered around town, most of them in parks. Just so you know, this is not going to cost the city anything. The US government borrowed the money from China to pay for this. Ecotality received a federal stimulus grant for this project. I wonder how many jobs this project is going to create? And how much if cost us, not as Metro tax payers but as Federal tax payers?

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-130 on second reading is a routine ordinance that readopts the Metropolitan Code prepared by Municipal Code Corporation to include all ordinances enacted on or before January 17, 2012. Municipal Code Corporation has the contract with Metro to codify all ordinances enacted by the council, as well as to update and maintain the on-line version of the code. The council periodically readopts the code to make sure the printed and online versions are kept up to date. Yes this is routine. However, if the council adopts an ordinance that the administration does not like, they may very well just leave it out of the adopted code. The requirement that schools be tested for deadly radon was left out of the code and ignored for twenty years. How that happened has never been explained. There needs to be checks in place to make sure that what should be in the code makes it into the code.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-118 on third reading is the Gaylord-Dollywood snow-splash park tax give away bill. This was debated on second reading. To understand the issue, watch that debate.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-226 is a memorializing resolution requesting the Mayor and the School Board to include the construction of a new high school in the Hermitage area as part of the Capital Spending Plan for  2012-2013. If one is going to ask for a new high school, then it is hard to turn around and oppose a tax increase.  It should not be. The council can express their priority preferences without being committed to raising taxes.  This may lead to some good discussion.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Budget Hearing: Troubled Farmers Market ask for $400K increase.

watch video
Summary: Jeff Themm, Director of Farmers Market makes the presentation. One of our major goals has always been to be financially independent, says Themm, but we have not done as well as we had hoped. He tells what they have accomplished, what services the market provides, and what they are planning to do in the future. The market is contemplating charging for parking.

The mayor gushes with praise for farmers market. The Mayor says he likes the night market and thinks it has great potential and encourages its expansion. The farmers market is asking for a $400,000 increase in subsidy. (The 2011-2012 subsidy for the Farmers Market is $536,000.) Rich Reibling, Finance Director, ask what plan there is to grow revenue to reduce the subsidy and Themm does not have  a clear and convincing answer. Ms. Tana Comer, the Chair of the Farmers Board says they are in the process of doing a strategic plan and they are waiting for the financial review to come out so they will know what they are dealing with.  Mr. Themm says one to the things in the budget request is $25K for an outside study advised them of what they should do. 

The date of this budget hearing was March 26. On Friday April 12 Mr. Themm announced his retirement. He said he has been thinking about retirement for six months. Everyone has known the farmers market has had serious problems for some time. On April 4th the audit of the farmers market was released.The review listed numerous problems and reported that some tenants were overcharged more than $5,000, while others were undercharged more than $10,000. To address the problems, a complete rewriting of the governing rules and regulations governing Farmers Market was recommended. To view the audit follow this link.

I like Farmers Market and think it adds to the quality of life for our city, but if I were in the Council I would be hard pressed to support almost doubling the subsidy of the farmers market. Maybe new management will correct the problems but I would not support increasing the subsidy. There must be a limit. We should be moving toward making the market self sufficient not moving toward greater subsidy.

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Vanderbilt Christian Groups, Citing Religious Freedom, Follow Catholics Off Campus

By Annalisa Musarra, Religion News Service

(RNS) A coalition of 11 Christian student groups at Vanderbilt University are insisting their leaders should be chosen based on shared faith -- the newest front in a growing battle over "religious freedom."

The campus groups, who call themselves Vanderbilt Solidarity, joined together to oppose the university's "all-comers" policy, which says student groups must be open to all students, including in leadership, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. (link)
The alumni association needs to follow suit and take the endowment with them.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Councilman asks Dean to end 'media noise' on property tax hike

By Joey Garrison,Thursday, April 12, 2012, City Paper

Conservative Metro Councilman Robert Duvall wants Mayor Karl Dean to end the suspense and reveal whether he plans to propose a property tax increase in next year’s budget or not. Councilman asks Dean to end 'media noise' on property tax hike

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