Saturday, May 05, 2012

Anderson Cooper takes on Move-on says House Republicans are cutting funding for women's health care to keep student loan rates from increasing, but the numbers don't support the claim. Anderson Cooper is Keeping Them Honest. This is great! “You only seem to be targeting Republicans because it meets your political agenda,” Cooper accuses.

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Actually reading Agenda 21, Part 2.

This is a pretty boring post because I am reporting on a really boring report. If you have absolutely no interest in Agenda 21, skip this post.

 After seeing some really scary but stupid-sounding, conspiracy-type stuff and after learning the force behind the anti-Agenda 21 movement was the wing nuts of the John Birch Society, I decided to actually read Agenda 21 for myself. I would not have even bothered reading it, but not only were the JBS warning of Agenda 21, but the Republican National Committee warned about the danger of Agenda 21 and our state legislature passed a Joint House Resolution warning of the dangers of it. I started actually reading Agenda 21 about two week few ago. To see my report on the first chapters I read, see Actually reading Agenda 21, Part 1.
I am trying to withhold judgment on Agenda 21 until I have actually read it.  When everything from reintroduction of  wolves, to sidewalks, to smart meters, to traffic roundabouts, and community policing are being denounced as part of the Agenda 21 conspiracy, it is hard to not conclude the critics are just nuts, but I am trying to read it objectively and withhold judgment to the end.

So far, I see nothing very alarming. I see a document that pleases me in many ways when it calls for free trade and end of agriculture price supports. When it calls for using labor intensive construction methods, I think it was written by idiots. I will update every time something new is added to this review with a new post. The next post in this summary will be "Actually reading Agenda 21, Part 3."

The scary stuff I am labeling "bad" and other parts I may label as "good" or "suspect" or "stupid" as the case may be. If you want to just skim my boring report, this may help you find the more interesting parts. Also, I will be using some underlining and bolding to help those who want to find the best parts. In the report, actual quotes will be in black type and my comments and summary in colored type. You can go hereand find the text and then go to the numbered section if you want to read my quotes or summaries in the document itself to make sure I am not misrepresenting it. If you are really interested in Agenda 21, I urge you to actually read the document as I am doing.

Reading Agenda 21, Part 2.

Chapter 3

This chapter makes the argument that an environmental policy that focuses mainly on the conservation and protection of resources must consider those who depend on the resources for their livelihoods. Productivity dependent upon natural resources must be "sustainable," says the report or sooner, or later those poor nations depending on their natural resources will run into declining productivity.  Somehow those on the right who on a campaign against Agenda 21 have come to think of "sustainability" as a code word for something else. I find nothing to object to in advocating sustainability. Advocating sustainability seems like a rational position to me.  

In 3.1 the report says, "The eradication of poverty and hunger, greater equity in income distribution and human resource development remain major challenges everywhere."  I know some people's antenna will go up when they read "greater equity in income distribution" is a major challenge.  There is nothing frightening in that statement. More capitalism and free markets bring about greater income equality. To recognize that income inequality is a challenge is not a call for confiscatory income distribution.  I do not find this a disturbing statement. 

In 3.2 the report says, "An effective strategy for tackling the problems of poverty, development and environment simultaneously should begin by focusing on resources, production and people and should cover demographic issues, enhanced health care and education, the rights of women, the role of youth and of indigenous people and local communities and a democratic participation process in association with improved governance." Again I do not see this as disturbing. Advocating "enhanced health care" is not a call for government nationalization. The report just says it is needed; not how it is delivered.

(Suspect)  3.8.(e) says, "Governments, with the assistance of and in cooperation with appropriate international, non-governmental and local community organizations, should establish measures that will directly or indirectly" .. "Set up an effective primary health care and maternal health care system accessible to all." While "accessible to all," may sound like a call to provide a socialist health care system, if you read the qualifies underlined above it is not that strong of a statement. There is a lot of wiggle room. I would have liked it better had they added "and the private sector" as a qualifier but the sentence is not that alarming.

(Good)  3.8 (n) says, "actively seek to recognize and integrate informal-sector activities into the economy by removing regulations and hindrances that discriminate against activities in those sectors." I am not really sure what that means, but "removing regulations and hindrances" sounds good to me.

The report says "Governments, with the assistance of and in cooperation with appropriate international, non-governmental and local community organizations, should "(p) Provide the poor with access to fresh water and sanitation;" and "(q)  Provide the poor with access to primary education." Again with the qualifiers, I do not have a problem with this. I think providing the poor with water and sanitation and primary education is a good goal. I am not alarmed.

3.11 says there is a cost to doing these things. A cost estimate is not a bill; nothing to get alarmed about.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 says the rich countries are consuming too much while the poor countries are not having basic needs met. However, the report does not call for a specific action and says "a better understanding of the role of consumption and how to bring about more sustainable consumption patterns" is needed. That does not sound that radical. A "better understanding" is not a bad thing.
This chapter calls for "encouraging," "reducing the amount of energy and materials used per unit in the production of goods and services." That sounds reasonable. It also calls for recycling, reducing wasteful excess packaging and other similar things, none of which sound unreasonable.

4.8 says "(a)  All countries should strive to promote sustainable consumption patterns;" and," (b)  Developed countries should take the lead in achieving sustainable consumption patterns." Again, it is not a radical call for action.

(Suspect) 4.11. "Consideration should also be given to the present concepts of economic growth and the need for new concepts of wealth and prosperity which allow higher standards of living through changed lifestyles and are less dependent on the Earth's finite resources and more in harmony with the Earth's carrying capacity." While I am labeling that as "suspect," it is only saying "consideration should be given to."  I do not think it unreasonable to "give consideration". 
 (Very Very Good)  "Moving towards environmentally sound pricing."  "4.24. Without the stimulus of prices and market signals that make clear to producers and consumers the environmental costs of the consumption of energy, materials and natural resources and the generation of wastes, significant changes in consumption and production patterns seem unlikely to occur in the near future."  I am convinced that misallocation of resources occurs when government interferes in the market place such as subsidizing wasteful consumption. If companies could dump their waste into streams untreated, products would cost less. We know that , but we do not allow it. The cost of the product includes the cost of cleaning up the mess of production. If people can use water unmetered they use more. This a basic recognition of sound economics. We should celebrate this.

Chapter 5 Demographic Dynamics & Sustainability

This chapter is basically calling for more research and "Collaboration and exchange of information." Nothing alarming there.

A noticeable thing in this chapter is numerous references to "empowerment of women."  In the US we often hear complaints about the unequal treatment of women. This concern with "women" is used to advance a liberal agenda and used as identity politics to create a victim mentality and create wedge issuess. In much of the world however, especially the Muslim world, women are not much more than chattel and are terribly treated and  "empowerment of women" is genuinely needed.  The concern for the status of women worldwide should not be colored by how organization such as NOW and the Democratic party cynically use women for a political advantage in this country.

5.3. "The growth of world population and production combined with unsustainable consumption patterns places increasingly severe stress on the life-supporting capacities of our planet."  I am not alarmed by that statement. I think it is true. 

As population of the planet grows, we cannot do things the way we have always done them. I have a lot of faith in freedom and markets and technology, however, and do not think we have to give up our lifestyle to survive. As we progress, many problems will take care of themselves. With proper market signals people will voluntarily make the right choice as the market determines the price of various choice. Also, as a free market economy lifts people out of poverty, they will choose to have fewer children and population growth will level off. One can agree with the statement above with advocating a totalitarian system of government.

5.49.  says, "Reproductive health programmes and services, should, as appropriate, be developed and enhanced to reduce maternal and infant mortality from all causes and enable women and men to fulfill their personal aspirations in terms of family size, in a way in keeping with their freedom and dignity and personally held values." This is not a call for abortion or forced sterilization or a one child policy. Stay calm. Elsewhere in this chapter is calls for, "personally held values taking into account ethical and cultural considerations."

Chapter 6 Protecting & Promoting Human Health

This chapter calls for safe water and improved sanitation and control of communicable diseases and control of food contamination and the goals are established for the eradication of various diseases by certain dates. Goals are established for having solid waste systems, water pollution control systems and air pollution systems in place in major cities  There are few concrete calls for action. Things should be done "where appropriate" and policies should be "encouraged" and "promoted" and done with "respect for cultural, religious and social aspects, in keeping with freedom, dignity and personally held values and taking into account ethical and cultural considerations." How things are to be done is not spelled out. There is nothing too alarming in this chapter.

(Good) 6.3  says "it is the very lack of development that adversely affects the health condition of many people, which can be alleviated only through development." This is not an anti development document! Look, it recognized the positive contribution of development.

Chapter 7. Promoting Sustainable Human Settlement

(Suspect) This chapter observes that in industrialized countries we use a lot of resource and in the non-industrialized countries they do not.  And, "the environmental implications of urban development should be recognized and addressed in an integrated fashion by all countries, with high priority being given to the needs of the urban and rural poor, the unemployed and the growing number of people without any source of income."  OK, I don't like that, I would say, mind your own business. However it is just a report.

(Suspect) This chapter goes on to say that there should be "human settlement objectives" and then it list them, including "shelter for all."  I don't like the tone of this chapter. Leaving human settlement to be guided by an invisible hand of the marketplace can do more to provide shelter than the best planning.  I think this segment is based on a faulty premise but is nothing to be alarmed about. It is just a report based on a believe than planning is superior to market forces. Wrong? yes. Dangerous? I don't think so.

(Bad) 7.6 "The right to adequate housing as a basic human right is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights."  Saying shelter or healthcare or food is "right" is simply a different concept of what is a right. A right is a gift from God that extends from our basic humanity. It is not a claim against another. Freedom of Religion is a right; Adequate Housing is a claim against another.  There is a basic difference between rights and entitlements. 
This chapter observes that soon over half the world's population will be living in cities and that there is a need to "address urban management issues." It calls for "Adopting and applying urban management guidelines in the areas of land management, urban environmental management, infrastructure management and municipal finance and administration."  It calls for, " improvement and maintenance of urban infrastructure and services," for "the creation of social infrastructure in order to reduce hunger and homelessness," and some other similar things. It calls for "Strengthening urban data systems."  It calls for  "Encouraging intermediate city development" which means developing services in rural areas rather than encouraging everyone to move to the big city. And, cities should be developed along a "sustainable path."  It calls for promoting "the formulation of environmentally sound and culturally sensitive tourism programmes" among other things. 

Maybe this should be labeled "suspect." Big cities in themselves are not evil. Hong Kong and New York City accommodate nicely a large number of people. However, it is just an opinion with which I may disagree. It is not an order. 

It calls for cities to cooperate: "7.21. Cities of all countries should reinforce cooperation among themselves and cities of the developed countries, under the aegis of non-governmental organizations active in this field, such as the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA), the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and the World Federation of Twin Cities."

"7.29. All countries should consider, as appropriate, undertaking a comprehensive national inventory of their land resources in order to establish a land information system in which land resources will be classified according to their most appropriate uses and environmentally fragile or disaster-prone areas will be identified for special protection measures."  I know many find this frightening. I do not. As population grows we must be concerned about protection of sensitive habitat and water resources. We must be aware that unwise development at the headwater of a drainage basin can have consequences downstream. I also do not want to see the habitat of endangered species destroyed. A natural habitat and balance of nature has practical benefits to mankind, in addition to the aesthetics of wanting to see God's creation preserved. I think to slow the rate of species disappeared is a good thing. This is not a new concept. Just because an Eagle or Deer is on your property we do not accept that you have the right to kill it. We already accept limits on our property rights in this regard. I do not support confiscation of property and repealing of private property rights but a good understanding of land resources can be important to proper management of resources. 

"(c) Develop fiscal incentives and land-use control measures, including land-use planning solutions for a more rational and environmentally sound use of limited land resources." This is calling for fiscal incentives; not confiscation. I support this.

The plan advises that we seek greater energy efficiency and renewable and alternate sources of energy. I do not think that objectionable but think markets will naturally lead to alternatives as fossil fuel becomes more scarce and expensive. I think nuclear energy use should be expanded. This study does not address that.

"Integrate land-use and transportation planning to encourage development patterns that reduce transport demand."  Some will be alarmed at this, but if the, soon to be, 9 billion people of the world all get automobiles and urban sprawl continues unabated, we cannot have highways large enough to accommodate them.  I do not think this requires draconian measures however. As population grows and reaches a critical mass people will choose mass transit and development nodes will naturally occur around mass transit station.  A little planning to anticipate the transition is not a bad thing.

"(c) Encourage non-motorized modes of transport by providing safe cycleways and footways in urban and suburban centres in countries, as appropriate."  Only if you are scared of sidewalks should this scare you.

There is also a call for promoting a "culture of safety" to better handle natural and man-made disasters and to do "Pre-disaster planning" and " post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation."

(Stupid) The plan calls for promoting,  "the use of labour-intensive construction and maintenance technologies which generate employment in the construction sector for the underemployed labour force found in most large cities."  In my view, that is not dangerous but just stupid and shows ignorance of basic economics. Society does not advance by doing things in a labor intensive fashion. Would they have us make brick by hand so we could employ lots of people? Do they want us to mix concrete by hand instead of concrete mixers? There are some other equally silly things in this report. A lot of this segment sounds like it was written by an idealistic but not very bright college intern. It is not so much dangerous as just silly.

Chapter 8.   A. Integrating environment and development at the policy, planning and management levels

This chapter calls for, "better integration among national and local government, industry, science, environmental groups and the public in the process of developing effective approaches to environment and development."  "To support a more integrated approach to decision-making, the data systems and analytical methods used to support such decision-making processes may need to be improved."
It suggest that laws may need to be changed to encourage sustainable development. An example is the "polluter-pays principle."  It says, "market-oriented approaches can in many cases enhance capacity to deal with the issues of environment and development. This would be achieved by providing cost-effective solutions, applying integrated pollution prevention control, promoting technological innovation and influencing environmental behaviour, as well as providing financial resources to meet sustainable development objectives.
It says we need to "reverse the tendency to treat the environment as a 'free good' and to pass these costs on to other parts of society, other countries, or to future generations." I agree with that.

This concludes my part 2 of my report on Agenda 21. I have covered 8 of the 40 chapters. If  you believe we should pollute without reservation  and use up the world's resource as fast as we can, then you will not like this report. If you are convinced "sustainability" is a code word for socialism and government control of our lives you will not like it. I am not yet frightened. So far, I see very little that alarms me. Some of it I think is misguided, but on balance I think it makes sense. 

I am going to continue reading and reporting, however, reporting in this much detail is time consuming and I am not sure anyone is even reading. So, unless I get some feedback that says this is beneficial to someone, I will do a much more limited analysis in future reports. 

If you have been to workshops that alarmed you about Agenda 21, I urge you to read it and judge for yourself.

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Friday, May 04, 2012

Agenda 21 spotted again: Alert number 4 (art in public spaces)

Most of my spotting of  Agenda 21 policies has been a result of reporting what alert citizens have denounced as part of Agenda 21.  In many parts of the world however, Agenda 21 is not something that is exposed and denounced but is something that is openly identified and celebrated. Such is the case with this spotting.

This comes to us from our neighbor to the North. According to this story, the walls of the Portage mother-and-child centre, a home for recovering drug addicts and their young children in southwest Montreal, used to be bare. Now they are decorated with photographs, paintings, etchings, watercolours, sketches, and reproductions.

According to this report, "artists and private collectors donate their work and get a tax writeoff for its appraised value. The hospital, clinic or social-service agency spruces up its decor. And patients get a little sunshine in their life."

According to this story, the art has brightened the lives of the downtrodden in public institutions. Not only has art helped in healing those who are recovering but art improves the quality of life "as they lie dying."

How is this part of Agenda 21? Because it is openly called part of Agenda 21:

Getting art into public institutions isn’t just a charity affair. It’s official Quebec government policy, part of a new cultural push called Agenda 21 that grew out of UNESCO’s 2005 treaty on cultural diversity. (read more
Now you know. Art in public spaces is part of Agenda 21. First it is art in public spaces, then it is off to the gulag. I am adding "Art in public spaces" to my growing list of Agenda 21 programs. Below is the list to date.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. 

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Support Charles Williamson

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last smelly reminder that Occupy Nashville once occupied Memorial Plaza is going away

The last smelly reminder that Occupy Nashville once occupied Memorial Plaza is about to be history. Occupy Nashville is losing their porta pottie. They still meet on the plaza four times a week for general assembly according to their website. A topic of the next general assembly will be what to do about the city removing the porta pottie. They will meet and wiggle their little fingers until they have reached consensus. (read more)

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Update: What happend at the May 1 Council Meeting

Here is the video. This was a very short and boring meeting coming in at 24 minutes. There is no point in watching it. About the only thing of interest is the Council's taking a position urging the Governor to veto a bill that would take the State Fair away from Nashville.  

Here are the items of interest (but not much interest).

All of the mayors appointments to boards and commission were approved without dissent in committee and on the floor of the Council. The reappointment of Ms. Remzlya Suleyman to the Human Relations Board was withdrawn. Why? I think when a name is withdrawn we should be given some explanation. Did the Mayor withdraw the name? Did the nominated person decline to serve or is there some other explanation. For those not familiar with the Human Relations Commission, it is a Metro Board whose function is to promote a liberal agenda and political correctness. Read more about it here.

The reappointment of Mr. Brian Winfrey to the Transportation Licensing Commission was deferred one meeting. I would like to know why. I hope this indicates some legislative oversight by the Council, but don't know if that is the case. The TLC is the agency that is charged with enforcing Metro's limo price fixing ordinance and has come under fire from the Chief of Police because their inspectors have been impersonating police officers and harassing the public. To read more about this troubled agency and Metro's price-fixing ordinance, click here.

The Sign Bills: ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-107 an ordinance that requires replacement panels in multi-tenant signs to be consistent with the other signage on the property was substituted to clarify a minor point and then passed without discussion. ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-109 would require applications for the conversion of a nonconforming billboard to a tri-face billboard to be submitted to the board of zoning appeals (BZA) for a determination as to whether the conversion would result in a greater negative impact to adjacent property owners. This was deferred indefinitely. Why? I don't know. No explanation was given. A lot of people are passionate about sign ordinances. What is behind this indefinite deferral?

ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-113 which would amend the Metro zoning code to require private roads and drives within certain multi-family developments to be constructed in accordance with the Metro standards for public streets was deferred indefinitely, again with no explanation. I really think when a bill is deferred we are due an explanation, especially if it is withdrawn or deferred indefinitely.

Councilman Maynard introduced a late resolution (see 20:32) which urges the Governor to veto HB3208, the bill that would create a state agency to govern the State Fair, including its location.  Since this was a late resolution, it could have been stopped by a single vote.  Thankfully, no one objected. The Metro Fair Board had asked the Council to pass this resolution. Councilman Dominy who has been the Council Member who has led the fight to save the fairgrounds speaks in favor of the bill (see 32:51). Dominy explains that this bill passed without any input from Metro or the Fair Board or the Council. The bill passes by voice vote. To learn more about the effort to save the fairgrounds, click here.

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Closing Parks and Libraries

I got the below letter from the Mayor today.  From  watching the various departmental budget hearings and from news reports, I, as I think most observers, was expecting a tax increase proposal. However, from watching the budget hearings, I did not get the impression that libraries or parks would close without a tax increase. (Watch the libraries budget hearing here. They made no plea for more money.)
I do think that without a tax increase the city would have to lay off some firemen and some policemen and some needed road work would not get done. The city will have to make a hard choice between more funding for services or cutting services. Perhaps what the mayor is saying is that without a tax increase, that in order to keep the firemen and policemen that were hired with one-time federal stimulus money, he would close libraries and parks and use that money to keep the police and firemen.

I think every time any Mayor has ever wanted a tax increase in the city of Nashville, they have used closing parks and libraries as a threat to get their tax increase. 
The Council passes a budget that appropriates money to each department. If the Council wants to pass a no-tax-increase budget and keep parks and libraries open they can do so. 

I can tell the Council where to find a quarter million easy dollars: Abolish the Department of Human Relations, a department that ought to be abolished anyway. That would fund about three or four policemen.
Dear Rod:

This week, I delivered my annual State of Metro Address at our city’s new Cumberland Park. I offered an optimistic vision for our future and I outlined a plan for moving Nashville forward – especially in our shared priorities of K-12 education and public safety. Now, I need your help communicating the importance of this plan and investing in our future. 
As you have heard or read by now, my 2012-13 budget proposal for Metro Government includes increasing the local property tax rate. For a typical household, this will mean an extra $16 per month, or $192 per year. Arriving at this decision was difficult, but I believe the alternative is simply not an option.

Without additional tax revenue in the upcoming budget year, we would have to take drastic measures, including but not limited to: laying off police officers, closing parks and libraries, and forgoing much-needed repairs to roads and sidewalks. As important, the city would not be able to maintain and increase its investments in K-12 education, including long-deferred repairs to public school buildings and a long-overdue increase for starting teacher pay – an area where we are seriously behind relative to school districts across Tennessee. Without action, I believe our city would suffer from these setbacks for decades to come.

How can you help? Talk to your neighbors and your representatives on the Metro Council and let them know that you support the plan to move Nashville forward. And help me explain why it’s necessary.

The reality is: Since I took office in 2007, Metro agencies and services – except for our police and schools – have been cut year after year due to lack of revenue growth. Overall, Metro departments’ budgets have been reduced by $59.2 million. During my first term, I chose to avoid raising property taxes in the midst of a recession, and instead called on our agencies and departments to do more with less. And they responded.

The result is: Our government is leaner and more efficient than ever. But after four consecutive years of cuts, there is little fat left to trim. A tax rate adjustment is needed. As proposed, the adjustment essentially would restore the property tax rate to its previous level in 2007.

To recap: I believe our city must keep going forward, not backward. Through a combination of strong management and budget cuts over the past four years, Metro Government has become leaner and more efficient. But without additional revenue, we would be forced to undertake drastic measures, including layoffs of vital public employees and significant reductions to basic public services. Instead, we need to invest in these things to keep our city on the right track, which helps ensure safety and a good quality of life for all of our citizens.

Help me continue our city’s success. Let your council member know that you support the plan to move Nashville forward. And if you have any questions, feel free to contact my office at

Thank you for your friendship and support. And thanks, especially, for your commitment to keep Nashville moving forward.

Karl Dean

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Mayor's State of Metro Tax-hike request speach

Here is the video of the State of Metro address by Mayor Karl Dean in which he makes the case for a property tax hike.

First Property Tax Rate Adjustment in Mayor’s Tenure Proposed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 1, 2012), Mayor's Office Statement - In his fifth State of Metro address, Mayor Karl Dean today announced a fiscal year 2012-2013 operating budget that moves the city forward by investing in schools and public safety, while also reducing the overall budget for other Metro departments by $3 million.

Additionally, Dean is proposing to adjust the property tax rate upward for the first time during his tenure, saying a 53 cent increase would generate about $100 million in new annual revenue. The impact on a typical Nashville homeowner would be approximately $16 a month, or $192 a year, using the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors’ median home price of $145,400.

“I refuse to be the mayor who turns back the clock on public safety and education,” Dean said. “I choose to continue our forward momentum.”

In Dean’s proposed $1.71 billion budget, the new revenue would allow the city to continue to invest in education and hire up to 100 new teachers, increase the starting salary of new hires from $35,000 to $40,000 and add two new non-traditional schools.

When it comes to public safety, the new revenue would allow the city to retain 50 police officers first hired with a federal COPS grant, provide staff and equipment to operate a new DNA crime lab and fund two new positions in the District Attorney’s office to specifically handle domestic violence cases.

“No mayor wants to stand up and talk about raising taxes,” Dean said. “But we’re not Washington. We can’t run a deficit, and we can’t print money. The easy answer, the political answer to our situation, would be to let the city go backwards, make Draconian cuts and frame the consequences with some anti-tax mantra.”
The tax rate adjustment also would allow the city to invest in employees by giving nearly all Metro workers – about 95 percent of them – a 4 percent salary increase. Department heads and some senior managers would get a lower 2 percent increase.

Without the property tax increase, “We could lay off 200 police officers, 200 firefighters, 200 teachers, close all four regional community centers, all five regional libraries – and still not come close to making up even half of what the tax rate adjustment will generate,” Dean said.

Dean is proposing to protect Nashville’s most vulnerable residents by extending the Property Tax Relief program. The proposed budget includes increasing Metro’s contribution to the program in order to double the match that the state of Tennessee provides. The proposal also would double the number of tax relief recipients who have their tax bills paid in full based on the appraised value of their home.

“By doing this, the more than 6,400 elderly, disabled and disabled veterans in our community who participate in this program will be greatly protected from the property tax adjustment,” Dean said.
During today’s speech, Dean announced elements of a new capital spending plan, the city’s first since 2010. He will propose approximately $300 million in strategic investments in the city’s infrastructure, including $100 million for schools and $200 million for the general government, in a plan to be submitted to the Metro Council later this month.

The capital spending plan for schools is the largest since the 1990s. It will include more than $20 million for improvements to Stratford High School, funding to build a new gymnasium for Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, expansion and renovations at seven elementary and middle schools and funds to purchase land for a new elementary and middle school in Southeast Davidson County, as well as to purchase land for a future expansion of Julia Green Elementary.

The capital spending plan also will propose additional investments in sidewalks, paving and bikeways; continuing work on riverfront redevelopment; acquiring additional property for the Open Space plan; and continued expansion of greenways and improvements of parks, including Centennial Park and Shelby Park. It will also propose construction of a new Bellevue library and expansion of Bus Rapid Transit services to Murfreesboro Road.

Dean gave his State of Metro address at the new Cumberland Park on the East Bank of the river. Nashville singer-songwriter Chuck Mead was the special musical guest.

Since taking office, Dean managed the city through the Great Recession and historic flooding at a time when city revenues grew by a mere 2 percent, compared to the four years prior when revenues grew by 20 percent. Nevertheless, he fully funded education and maintained funding for public safety. He reduced the government workforce by 668 full-time employees as he decreased department budgets by 10 percent to 15 percent, resulting in some $59.2 million in cuts.

“Today I can confidently say that the State of Metro is strong, and our prospects for the future are even better,” Dean said, “Not by chance, not by luck, but because of the strategic decisions we’ve made to cut where we needed to cut, invest where we needed to invest and not let financial pressures sway our commitment to the things that matter most – the three things I talk about all the time – education, public safety and economic development.”

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Gov. Haslam made right decision in veto of Vandy bill

Gov. Haslam has vetoed the bill that tried to force Vanderbilt University to exempt student religious groups from its "all-comers" nondiscrimination policy.  That policy prohibits discrimination on the part of any student group except for sororities and fraternities. If an avowed atheist wants to join a Christian group, the Christian group would have to admit him.

In vetoing HB 3576/SB 3597, the Governor said, "It is counter-intuitive to make campus organizations open their membership and leadership positions to anyone and everyone, even when potential members philosophically disagree with the core values and beliefs of the organization. I don't agree with Vanderbilt's policy, I think it's wrong. But I just also don't think the state, in this case, should tell a private institution what it should do."

I agree with the Governor. I have been a supporter of the Students fighting for religious liberty at Vanderbilt. I have posted on this blog the video urging alumni to withhold funds to Vanderbilt.  I think Vanderbilt s policy of prohibiting organization from restricting membership to people who adhere to their values and beliefs is simply wrong.  I do not, however, think that everything that is wrong should be illegal. If Vanderbilt wants to deny students on their campus the right to practice their faith, Vanderbilt should have that right. I believe private institutions should be free to discriminate.

I know that many who have followed this issue and many on the religious right are going to be upset with the governor. My morning email is full of denunciations of the Governor's decision.

Below is the email sent out by Kevin Kookogey Chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party:

It is purely a political decision that a school that receives $24 million in taxpayer dollars can be deemed "private."

In the Grove City case (which also included Hillsdale College), the  SCOTUS held that a college which received even INDIRECT funding from the federal government was bound by all federal laws.  In that case, Grove City College and Hillsdale were not recipients of any federal funds, but they admitted some students whose loans were federally guaranteed, like Stafford loans. Even that was enough, in the opinion of the SCOTUS, to deem those colleges "public" and thus bound by all federal regs.  Of course, in order to maintain their independent educational missions, Grove City and Hillsdale wisely determined to no longer admit students who were paying tuition with any federally guaranteed loans.

It seems to me that in the long run this issue with Vandy is better addressed head on by the legislature deeming any school that receives ANY state funding, directly or indirectly, "public" for proposes of compliance with the laws. This would then obviate the need for making special amendments which give the Governor an excuse to veto under specious claims of wanting to limit government, a claim undermined by the Governor's own press release this morning boasting of taxpayer goodies and grants about which he was proud. 
 I think that is dangerous logic. This is an argument for unlimited government. This is big government conservatism.  As conservatives who profess to believe in limited government, we should not be working to expand government control. We should not be advocating dictating to private institutions. Believing in limited government should not just be something we profess to believe when liberals want to expand government to advance a liberal agenda but something we abandon when we wish to advance a conservative agenda. The conservative agenda should be limited government. Governor Haslam showed courage and made the right decision.

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Gaylord bribes NES with lavish perks, while little old ladies get electicity cut off.

By Phil Williams,Chief Investigative Reporter,Channel 5, NASHVILLE, Tenn. - If you go to Nashville Electric Service, they'll expect you to pay your electric bill in full. But for years, the folks at Gaylord Opryland have been getting a bit of a break on the bill for their big Country Christmas spectacular -- in exchange for tickets to the big shows and other perks that have gone to some of NES's top brass. "Why don't they just pay what they owe like everybody else?" asked NES customer Ken Jakes.(read more)

This is nothing short of bribery. Someone ought to go to jail! The Council should hold hearings. The DA should investigate and bring charges!

Look at what is revealed:
 In 2010 alone, a Gaylord summary shows that it gave NES:
  • 120 tickets to the ICE! show -- valued at $24 dollars each
  • 25 tickets to Louise Mandrell's dinner show -- $70 each
  • 30 tickets to the Rockettes -- $84 each
  • 25 certificates for rooms and parking at the resort hotel -- each worth almost $300

How could anyone with a conscience countenance a system that lets Gaylord give free tickets to expensive shows to NES executives and in turn get a break on their electric bill, while at the same time elderly little old ladies get their electricity off for non-payment?

Ken Jakes had to do Freedom of information request and spend hours pouring over NES emails to discover this outrage. It is now exposed, something should be done about it!

Ken Jakes is to be applauded for discovering and exposing this outrage. 

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mayor Wants Tax Collections Taken From Arriola

By Phil Williams, Chief Investigative Reporter, Channel 5, NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As Nashville Mayor Karl Dean asks the Metro Council for a property tax increase, his office is also taking aim at Davidson County Clerk John Arriola. In a dramatic move, the Dean administration will ask the Council to strip Arriola of his power to collect some $40 million in Metro taxes.(read more)
Please watch. This is unreal.  The clerk's office will not deposit Metro taxes into Metro accounts. Arriola has got to go!

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Agenda 21 For Dummies

What do you think?

The New World order ushered in by George H. W. Bush is part of the Agenda 21 conspiracy according to this video. The dumbing down of students, especially in math skills, is deliberate. To transfer loyalty from the family to the government is a deliberate plan that is underway now.

Please watch this and judge for your self. Am I the only Republican that thinks this is wing nut paranoid crazy stuff? Maybe my tinfoil hat is not properly fitted?

For more information on Agenda 21, click here.

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Mayor's presentation of the budget and tax hike request to the Metro Council

Below is the video of the Mayor's presentation of the budget and tax hike request to the Metro Council.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Mayor Dean’s Property Tax Increase Won’t Raise More Money

05/01/2012 By Blue Collar Muse

Today was Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s 5th annual State of Metro address. Mayor Dean assured us the state of Metro Nashville was “strong.” He then proposed a $0.53 increase in property taxes. Tax activist Ben Cunningham of Tennessee Tax Revolt and Nashville Tea Party noted if this wasn’t the largest tax increase ever on Nashville taxpayers, it was close. Which begs the question, just how “strong” is Metro Nashville if we need draconian tax increases just to keep up with basic services? (read more)

I  would disagree with the assertion that this tax increase will not raise additional tax revenue. Blue Collar Muse says, "Yet the general truth of taxation is that you get less of what you tax. When taxes go up, consumption goes down. In the case of “vice” or “sin” taxes, you get fewer adult businesses or alcohol sales. In this case, it’s fewer property owners paying property taxes." 

While I agree that, that it is generally true that increasing the cost of something reduces the consumption of that something, it depends on the elasticity of demand and the shape of the curve. You do get less of what you tax, but how much less? There is a point at which raising taxes produces less revenue, but prior to that point, raising taxes does raise revenue. We cannot know where that point is until it is experienced. Also, the loss may be so gradual that in the short-term, a tax increase raises tax and only in the long-term does it result in a lost.

I do agree with Blue Collar Muse that "new residents moving here, even to work at Nashville companies, don’t have to live in Nashville." However, I will not move out of the county if this tax increase passes.  There are plenty of other reasons why I will stay in Davidson County. Nevertheless, I oppose this tax increase and think it is detrimental to the growth of Nashville.

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Report the police impersonators

Anyone, taxicab, wrecker, horse-drawn carriage or other vehicle-for-hire operators who has information about the Nashville Transportation Inspectors use of blue lights displayed from the front of their vehicles or the display of police badges, weapons or handcuffs may contact the Metropolitan Police Department Investigators Deb Webster or Robert Morris at (615) 782-3301.

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Mayor Dean proposes tax increase, 53-cents

Mayor Karl Dean has proposed raising the property tax by 53 cents to fund his proposed $1.71 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year. That increase would raise the tax rate to $4.66 per $100 of assessed value and would generate approximately $100 million. Dean said the average homeowner would pay about $200 a year more in property taxes.

Below were live tweets from Nashville's esteemed press corp as they happened .

The mayor is delivering his State of Metro address. 

tweets, "Mayor is proposing to raise starting salary for Metro school teachers to $40,000 (currently 35k)."

  tweets, "Dean says city has faced some of most difficult possible economic and natural circumstances but is growing

tweets, "Dean cites budgetary challenges. The Great Recession, the May 2010 flood."

 Dean says it's no secret he's using this speech to discuss budget. He says it's a choice between keeping city strong or falling backwards
: "If the recession wasn't enough," city had to recover from $2B in flood damage, mayor says

  "Due to "extraordinary circumstances," Dean points out Metro's budget has decreased by $59.2M since he took office."

MIchael Cass: "Dean says city chose not to raise taxes when hurting in 2010, "but we weren't in the clear yet" "

"We are a more efficient, more streamlined government than we were in 2007," Dean says.

Though he hasn't gotten to this in speech, Dean's budget would almost fully-fund schools, coming $2.5M short of Register's $49.8M request.

Dean says water has been biggest capital investment by city

WZTVJohnDunn:  Mayor: City has collected $11.4 million more than expected to build Music City Center from tourism taxes.

 Now talking up changes to schools, like Teach for America, free afterschool program for at-risk students, attendance ctr.

 Dean's capital spending plan includes the long-awaited new gym at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet HS and $20M for Stratford HS upgrades.

  Dean says the tax increase allows Metro to "invest in our kids."

Dean says the tax hike will allow Metro to invest in its employees: 95% of employees will get a 4 percent pay increase.

 "I refuse to be the mayor who turns back the clock on public safety and education." Asks CMs for their help.

Speech over after about 49 minutes

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