Saturday, November 24, 2012

Deadline for magnet and charter schools, Nov. 30

The deadline for applying to Nashville's optional schools, including magnet and charter schools, is Friday, November 30. You can find more information at www.mnps.org, or call 615-259-4636 to speak with an academic counselor.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Thinking about the guns in trunks issue again

GOP Leaders Seek To Avoid Repeat Of Gun Law Fight
Leaders in the Tennessee Statehouse are hoping for what they call a reasonable solution to a legislative fight over a bill seeking to guarantee employees the ability to store firearms in cars parked at work. more

GOP leaders seek to avoid repeat of gun law fight  

...Frank Niceley, a Strawberry Plains Republican who moved from the House to the Senate in this month’s elections. Niceley said he’s hesitant to go along with Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s call to quickly pass a compromise on the gun bill and move on to other issues.

“If we allow them to come in here and pass a bill right off the bat, we’re telling the other lobbyists the way to get things done is through fear and intimidation,” he said.

 Niceley said he would allow employees to store weapons in their cars if he owned a factory, but that such decisions should be left to each business.

“If a property owner tells someone you can’t bring a yo-yo on your property —much less a gun — you can’t bring it on that property,” he said.  

My Commentary

I agree with Nicely.

After the defeat of Debra Maggart at the hands of the NRA, the gun lobby has shown that no one is safe if they dare cross them. Still, the legislature should not buckle to the radical fringe on a matter of principle . At some point in the past, the NRA stood for the constitutional right to bear arms. No more. Now, they want gun owners to have rights that are not protected by the constitution. Now, they want to impose their will on others and trample the property rights of others.

The NRA is not a pro-second amendment lobby anymore; they are a gun rights lobby. There is a difference. The second amendment protects our right to bear arms from government infringement. The second amendment is a protection against government, not your neighbor who does not want guns on his property. To argue that the right to carry a gun onto your employer's property is a second amendment issue is equivalent to arguing that to compel the Tennessean to publish your letter to the editor is a first amendment issue.

Nevertheless,  It seems that there should be some way around this issue, without trampling private property rights and extending gun rights beyond those protected by the constitution. I would like to see what Ramsey's compromise looks like. If your gun is concealed in the trunk of your car, how would an employer ever know? They are not going to do a detailed search of every car entering their parking lot. It is impractical.

Does one's employer have the right to search an employee's private vehicle when it is driven onto his parking lot. As a condition of employment, if one gives his employer the right to search his car such as by initialing a policy statement, then the employer may have the right to search an employee's car.  Otherwise it is questionable. The website Findlaw says, "If it's your personal car, then probably not. If your employer believes that you have dangerous or illegal materials in your car, they should call the police rather than searching the car themselves."

If an employer has that right, should he?  Should he be permitted to force you to give up an expectation of privacy as a condition of employment? I do recognize that rights may at times be in conflict and few rights are absolute.  I do not think that an employer should be allowed to force you to surrender all of your rights as a condition's of employment. I object to a policy that says you can be subject to random drug test by your employer. Maybe for school bus drivers or airline pilots or some professions engaged in dangerous work, that may be reasonable, but not for most people. Yet, many employers, as a condition of employment, have employees agree to a policy that says they are subject to random drug test. That seems more of an invasion of my privacy than a search of my vehicle.

Rather than expanding the right of gun owners to carry a gun onto the property of another, maybe we need to examine what expectation of privacy an employee should have. What right does an employer have to determine if you are or are not storing a gun in your car?  Could an employer not maintain the right to prohibit guns on his property, yet have some sort of don't ask-don't tell policy about who has a gun in his car.  And should not an employee have a reasonable expectation that his car is not subject to search by his employer? 

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Report on the 11/20/12 Metro Council Meeting

Congratulation to Duane Dominy on his victory and leadership



This meeting is just slightly over an hour long.

The Council is usually opened by a prayer by a local minister who is the guest of one of the Council members. This opening invocation is offered by Michael Hunter Ochs who is the guest of Sherri Weiner and it is not really a prayer but a promo for a concert and the performance of a song co-written by a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian, the Christian being Michael Hunter Ochs. The singer makes a plea for tolerance and the better treatment of Muslims in the Nashville area. The performance is a little long for an opening prayer running 4 1/2 minutes.

Other awards and recognitions take up the first fifteen minutes of the council meeting, including an award to Jane Alvis, Chair of the Metro Arts Commission. This award is used as an opportunity to praise Ms Alvis and government subsidy of public art.

There are no bills on public hearings.

There are thirteen resolutions on the consent agenda. Resolutions are on the consent agenda if no one votes against them in committee. However, any council member may ask a bill be pulled off of the consent agenda. None of the bill on the consent agenda are controversial and in my view are appropriately on the consent agenda.

Two resolutions concerning the HCA deal (488 and 489) had received all positive votes from the Budget and Finance Committee but they are deferred one meeting in order to track the bill on the same topic.

All bills on first reading pass without discussion. This is usually the norm. Bills are not sent to committee until after first reading. First reading is no more than a vote to allow a bill to be considered.

Last council meeting, Council member Moore invoked a council rule that kept Duane Dominy's Bill BL2012-293 from passing so it was back on first reading this time. This bill would require the city to consider Request for Proposals from private developers to operate the fairgrounds. The establishment does not want this bill to see the light of day. I was afraid there would be further attempts to sidetrack this bill, this meeting. All who want to keep the fairgrounds should carefully follow this issue and rally around Duane Dominy. The deck is being stacked to destroy the fairgrounds. For more on this bill follow this link.

Bills on Second reading:

What I thought would be a routine bill (ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-295) establishing rules for handling the eggs and keeping chickens on school property causes several members take to the floor to speak. Charlie Tygard is riled. He says he has been called a "law breaker," apparently referring to the previous comment made by Bo Mitchell. He praises and defends Bellevue Middle School's gardening program and feels that program has been unfairly attacked. Apparently there is more going on than meets the eye regarding this issue. (see 23:18- 29:50)

Councilman Duane Dominy takes to the floor to explain his bill that would require the Council to approve the city's annual contract with the Chamber for the Partnership 2020 program (BILL NO. BL2012-241) which was deferred indefinitely, and BILL NO. BL2012-294 which would require all sole-source contracts over $250,000 be approved by the council.

Bill 294 had failed the B&F committee by a vote of 3 for, 4 against, and 5 abstaining. This bill simply brings a minimum level of accountability and oversight to the purchasing process. I do not understand the opposition except that the Chamber has an enormous amount of influence over some council members. Over the last three years, there have only been eight such contracts. In a move that surprised me, Bo Mitchell sides with Dominy on this issue. Megan Barry speaks against it. It passes by a vote of 23 "ayes," and 14 "nos!" (For the discussion see 34:02- 42:24).

Given that the bill was defeated in the B&F committee, I did not expect this bill to pass. This was a good bill and deserved to pass. Congratulations Duane Dominy! He must have been doing a lot of lobbying his fellow council members to achieve this victory. Here is how the council voted:
“Ayes” Tygard, Banks, Bennett, Pardue, Stites, Stanley, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Allen, Gilmore, Evans, Holleman, McGuire, Harmon, Blalock, Dominy, Johnson, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, Duvall, Todd, Mitchell (23).
“Noes” Barry, Steine, Garrett, Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hunt, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Pridemore, Moore, Baker, Langster (14). All other bills on second reading and all bills on third reading pass without discussion.

Memorial Resolutions:

Memorializing resolutions do not have the force of law and are often not taken very seriously and often they do nothing more than congratulate a sports team for a victory or a person for being honored or congratulate a person on their retirement. The Council staff does not even analyze memorial resolutions. However, memorializing resolutions do represent the will of the Council and when they advocate a policy position they should be taken very seriously. Last council meeting, unfortunately, some of our most conservative members of the council voted for memorializing resolutions endorsing the EPA's regulation of Co2 which is an authority the EPA was never given but just assumed and which gives the EPA enormous control over the economy, including the right to stop industrial development and dictate power plan and auto emissions. Later some council members told me their vote did not really reflect their view.

There are two memorial resolutions on this agenda both by Councilman Stanley, one urging the school system and the other urging MTA to make "a top priority program the replacement of the entire fleet of public buses powered by diesel combustion engines with hybrid-electric buses." While these bills end up passing, I am pleased that they did not sail through unopposed.

I would prefer all of our buses be electric or hybrid, but replacing buses cost money. I don't like being behind a diesel bus no more than the next person but there may be other things that may have greater priority and in my view, no bus should be replaced until it has outlived its useful life.

Duane Dominy takes to the floor and argues against the resolutions. I congratulate those Council members who took a stand and had their opposition recorded. (To see the discussion see 52:02 - 1:02:10)

Here is the vote on 459, the school bus resolution:
”Ayes:” Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Westerholm, Stanley, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Gilmore, Evans, Holleman, Harmon, Blalock, Bedne, Todd, Mitchell (17);
“Noes:” Tygard, Scott Davis, Anthony Davis, Bennett, Pridemore, Pardue, Stites, Moore, Allen, Baker, Langster, Dominy, Dowell, Duvall (14);
“Abstaining:” Garrett, Johnson, Potts (3).
Here is the vote on 460, the MTA bus resolution.
 ”Ayes:” Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Bennett, Stanley, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Baker, Langster, Evans, Holleman, Harmon, Blalock, Johnson, Potts, Bedne (24);
“Noes:” Tygard, Pridemore, Pardue, Stites, Dominy, Dowell, Duvall (7);
“Abstaining:” Garrett, Todd, Mitchell (3).

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

State Of Tennessee Purchases Virgin Falls

An iconic Tennessee waterfall now belongs to the state. ...  The 1,551-acre tract in White County that contains Virgin Falls had been privately owned since the 1970s, though the state had leased it. more

Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation  negotiated and optioned the property on the State’s behalf. If not for their effort, this natural wonder might have been lost as a park forever. My sister Kathleen Williams is the executive director of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation and is responsible for saving many Tennessee treasures. I am proud of the work she does. To learn more about Virgin Falls and the work of TPGF, follow this link

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Rock at Plymouth

This is the "Reason and Prayer" I will be sharing this evening at our family Thanksgiving dinner.  May we all return to the Rock at Plymouth. Jer Dunlap

The Rock at Plymouth
 A Reason and Prayer

According to history and legend, they first placed their foot there. They, of course, are the Pilgrims who made the daunting voyage in rickety ships of wood and tar, crossing the vast ocean for one reason - liberty. Many who began the voyage fought sickness and freezing temperatures. Sixty-five days after their voyage began; the 110 individuals finally heard the words, "land ho."

 They arrived at a place rough and wild that promised them a new start, a new way in which to conduct their lives. This was their New World. We can only imagine as they stepped onto that now infamous landing spot, they simply sighed or wept reflecting that the deep price paid during the voyage was now deeply worth those first few steps. Freedom had been found.

So here we find ourselves today, celebrating a national holiday first commissioned by President Abraham Lincoln. The same President who sometime later, dedicating a National Cemetery for the lost of war would say, "A government of the people, by the people, for the people shall never perish." While freedom today may appear to be slipping through our fingers, may we be quick to remember that the rights we have, the liberty we proclaim, derive from the ferocious Hands of God.

Those Pilgrims understood this best. For the voyage they had made, that first winter in the New World that cost them so much in terms of human life, was all for one simple reason - freedom, religious freedom. So today, we offer this prayer:
Oh God our Help in ages past, our Hope for years to come,
We bow our heads today not for simple a blessing of a feast,
We bow our heads today for a magnificent blessing - of freedom.

In these times Lord, may we focus on the simple gifts.
While the ocean of the times may seem large and our boat so small,
we know that the same God of the Pilgrims is the same God who guides our ship today.

Today as we pray, may we return to that Rock at Plymouth, remembering that all it takes for freedom to prevail, is the work of a few.

And may the Rock at Plymouth symbolize a greater Rock Whose steps have gone before us. From Him, all freedom is given. And to Him, all Thanksgiving is due.

Now like never before, our Nation that began at Plymouth needs You the Rock of Ages. Return to us that which we have forgotten, that which we shall never again take for granted - freedom. And if called upon, "be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!"*

Amen 
 
*"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" by Julia Ward Howe

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Presentation slides and audience questions from the Nov. 7 Fairgrounds Master Plan public meeting are now online

I attended the November presentation. If you missed it, you didn't miss much. As I reported at the time and prior, the skids are being greased to destroy the fairgrounds. This is the dog and pony show to show how undesirable and expensive the 'keep the fairgrounds' option is. It is all here. Rod

Consultants on Phase 1 of the Fairgrounds Master Plan presented highlights of their preliminary report at a public meeting November 7. Phase 1, the “Fair and Events Analysis,” addresses potential fairgrounds and event uses for the Fairgrounds property. The consultants’ presentation slides are posted below, along with audience questions and consultant responses.
The second and final phase of the study will determine the highest and best scenario for mixed–use redevelopment of the site, and compare that with the analysis presented in Phase 1 to generate a “Recommended Master Plan.”  The Fairgrounds Master Plan Study is being done at the Metro Council’s direction, and the Council will make the final decision on the Fairgrounds site’s future.

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Update on 11/19/12 Budget & Finance Committee Meeting

Watch the HCA discussion


This meeting is just under an hour. One learns a lot more about the important issues facing the city by watching the B&F committee meeting than they do by watching the council meeting.

The HCA discussion is the first item on the agenda and all three bills concerning the HCA deal are discussed together. Anyone wanting to know more about this deal should watch this discussion. A presentation is made explaining where the upfront money will come from (a UDAG grant fund) and why we are doing this and how it will benefit the city. This development is subsidized in two ways: property tax abatement and a payment for new employees HCA will have working at this site who do not now work in Davidson County.

Watch this and learn why the Palmer Lake is in a “pocket of poverty.” Yes, that area close to Vanderbilt University and Music Row and on West End, just down the street from multi-million dollar hotels, just a couple blocks from Union Station is a “pocket of poverty.” We will pay the developer $500 per “incremental Davidson County position.” I myself do not see how this benefits the community or the city government. Those jobs are jobs that are now in Williamson County. We do not have a payroll tax so how does having these people work in Davidson County benefit us? I doubt many of them will be moving into the county if they already have homes in Williamson County. They are not moving; their job is moving a few miles away.

If this development occurs, the site will generate considerably more property tax for the city than it does now. However, the pressure on infrastructure and the cost of providing services to new development is not calculated into the equation. There seems to be an assumption that growing the tax base is always a good thing, yet no one stops to consider that bigger cities almost always have higher tax rates than smaller cities. There seems to be almost a fetish for growth that I am not sure is well founded. 

 I am still not sure, how I would vote on this if I had a vote. I abhor this practice of enticing businesses to develop in your area by paying them to do so. Unfortunately, this is the way things are done now. If other communities are paying someone to move to their county, then if we don’t play the game, then we lose. However, I am still not convinced that growth, just for the sake of growth is a good thing. Also, eventually, something would develop to fill that hole in the ground if HCA does not build there. Assuming the economy develops and the convention center is a success, someone else would eventually want that prime piece of property for hotel or office building.

I am glad to see the council deferred these bills. This is one of those things that if I was making a decision on, I would need more time to think about.

In other committee business, Duane Dominy’s bill requiring the Chambers Partnership 2020 contract to be approved by resolution of the Council is deferred indefinitely, due to a technical reason concerning a discrepancy between the caption and the body of the bill. A new bill addressing this topic will be drafted and introduced. Dominy’ similar bill requiring all single-source contracts of over $250,000 be approved by the Council fails by a vote of 3 for, 4 against and 5 abstaining. Council Member Megan Barry and Ronnie Stein present arguments against the bill and Charlie Tygard defends the bill.

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Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission to Meet Nov. 28

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission will meet Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. CST in the Ed Jones Auditorium at Ellington Agricultural Center, located at 440 Hogan Road in Nashville.
The commission will review and approve previous meeting minutes, consider approving an operator for the 2013 Tennessee State Fair and discuss plans for developing criteria for selecting future fair operators. The meeting is open to the public.

The Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission was created by the Tennessee General Assembly earlier this year to select and supervise a Tennessee not for profit corporation for the purpose of operating a fair or exposition, and to grant exclusive use of the name “Tennessee State Fair” or “Tennessee State Exposition.”

The commission comprises nine members including the commissioners of Agriculture, Tourist Development and Economic and Community Development; the University of Tennessee Dean of Extension; the president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation; an appointee by the mayor of the host county; and, three appointees by the governor.

For more information, contact the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at 615-837-5103.

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HCA incentives take step forward, to be decided next month

The Tennessean, by Joey Garrison, Nov 20, 2012- Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed $66 million incentive package for Nashville-based HCA took a step forward Tuesday, setting up a definitive December vote on the private hospital chain’s plans to relocate its headquarters to new office towers on West End Avenue.

Without discussion, the council approved on a second of three votes an ordinance that outlines a 100 percent property tax abatement for up to 20 years, capped at $3 million per year. Meanwhile, the council delayed voting on two other elements of Dean’s proposal— a $500 incentive grant per employee over seven years and a one-time $1,000,000 relocation fee.

The council opted to consider the deals all at once at its Dec. 4 meeting.(link)

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A Thanksgiving Lesson

As we gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let’s not only remember the lessons of Plymouth — let’s commit to proclaiming the virtues of self-reliance, property rights and free markets more boldly than ever.  Otherwise we’ll have even less to be thankful about next year.
By Howard Rich — The Separatist Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in November 1620 began their new settlement utilizing overtly communist economic principles.  In addition to common ownership of the land, the Pilgrims farmed corn on a communal plot and divided their harvest evenly amongst themselves.

This is the theoretical Marxist utopia — minus indoor plumbing, NPR, MSNBC and portable electronic devices powered by Solyndra solar panels, naturally.  But did this early communist experiment work?  Did it succeed at putting food on the table?

Not according to William Bradford, an early Pilgrim governor of the colony best known today as the “Father of Thanksgiving.”

The communal arrangement initially employed by the Pilgrims was “found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort,” Bradford wrote in his journal, which was later compiled into Of Plymouth Plantation.

Why did this arrangement fail?  Because as has been the case from time immemorial, the equitable division of inequitably produced assets did not sit well with those whose labors yielded the harvest.
“For the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense,” Bradford wrote.

But enmity amongst settlers wasn’t the real problem encountered at Plymouth — it was a shortage of food.  In his book Mayflower: A Story of Courage Community and War historian Nathaniel Philbrick discusses how communal farming and common ownership produced a “disastrous harvest.”

Faced with the prospect of starvation, Bradford “decided that each household should be assigned its own plot to cultivate, with the understanding that each family kept whatever it grew,” according to Philbrick.
Not surprisingly this approach replaced infighting and starvation with harmony and industry — not to mention an abundance of food.

“This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content,” Bradford wrote.

In other words where top-down planning based on communist ideology failed — the enforcement of private property rights based on free market ideology succeeded.

“The change in attitude was stunning,” Philbrick writes. “Families were now willing to work much harder than they had ever worked before.”

“The Pilgrims had stumbled on the power of capitalism,” Philbrick added, noting that “although the fortunes of the colony still teetered precariously in the years ahead, the inhabitants never again starved.”
As the United States moves further away from its free market foundation this Thanksgiving, the example of Plymouth is worth considering.  It is a cautionary tale — a grim reminder of where the federal government’s present trajectory is going to take our nation.

Already the “fair share” policies of Barack Obama — who is making good on his stated desire to “spread the wealth” around — have failed to produce the promised economic recovery.  In fact America’s central bank is now printing money indefinitely as government’s debt and unfunded liabilities race past the threshold of sustainability.

The result of this “stimulus?”  Income levels are shrinking, joblessness remains chronically high and economic growth is anemic.  And lurking around the corner are massive tax hikes and the full implementation of Obama’s socialized medicine law — both of which will result in additional large-scale shifts from the “makers” to the “takers” in our society.

Incentivizing dependency has clearly failed to stimulate our economy.  From 2000-10, government’s cash assistance to the poor increased by 68 percent — after adjusting for inflation.  Health care assistance increased by 87 percent, housing assistance by 108 percent and food assistance by 139 percent — again, all after adjusting for inflation.  Still, poverty in America climbed from 11.3 to 15.1 percent during that time period.

Government efforts to combat poverty have produced more poverty, in other words — and based on the ongoing entitlement expansion, the worst is likely yet to come.

As we gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let’s not only remember the lessons of Plymouth — let’s commit to proclaiming the virtues of self-reliance, property rights and free markets more boldly than ever.  Otherwise we’ll have even less to be thankful about next year.

The author is chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

Reposted from NetRightDaily.com

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Tennessean on Metro Council maintains lifetime health benefits for members

Council health-care vote callous

Opinion Editorials, Nov 19, 2012-    Nashville Metro Council voted 23-14 last week to continue its lifetime access to cheap health insurance, a benefit earned after just eight years of service (two terms) on a body that meets twice a month and pays $15,000 a year.

 The vote, on a bill proposed by Councilman Phil Claiborne, illustrates the widening disconnect between elected officials and the people they serve and employ.

Metro Council's selfish vote on health care benefits isn't fooling anyone


by Gail Kerr, Nov 18, 2012- Last month, the Metro Council voted that new city employees, when they retire, will have to pay 75 percent of their health care premiums, depending on their years of service.

The council is about to vote to restrict pension benefits for city employees with less than 20 years of service. Yet, shamelessly and self-servingly last week, the council overwhelmingly reaffirmed they are eligible for health care for themselves and their families for the rest of their lives.

That’s right. You and I will pay for health care for council members and their spouses who opt in until the day they die.

Metro Council maintains lifetime health benefits for members


by Joey Garrison, Nov 13, 2012-  Heavily subsidized lifetime health care benefits for Metro Council members –– a controversial perk for earning one of the 40 elected seats –– will continue on for the city’s future representatives as well as those currently in office.

 The Metro Council voted 23-14 Tuesday to defeat legislation on a third and final reading that would have ended or significantly reduced the benefit for future council members depending on their number of years served. The vote saw council conservatives and progressives intermingled on both sides of the issue.

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Conservative Fusion to read The The Tyranny of Cliches, by Jonah Goldberg

Tuesday, November 27, 2012, 7:00 PM to



Needs a location  (I will host unless we get a better offer. Rod)
 
From Gene Wisdom, event organizer:

We earlier discussed his bestseller Liberal Fascism, which exposed liberalism's intellectual ties to fascism, a doctrine of the Left, not the Right. Goldberg has an excellent way in his books and other writings of being able to look deeply into a subject with both great wit and keen insight. It is my belief that part of making oneself a better conservative is developing a clear understanding of liberalism. Goldberg does that by showing us the liberal emperor has no clothes, and that there is very little intellectual substance to it.

Book Description from Amazon.com

May 1, 2012
The bestselling author of Liberal Fascism dismantles the progressive myths that are passed-off as wisdom in our schools, media and politics.

According to Jonah Goldberg, if the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves that they’re not ideological.

Today, “objective” journalists, academics and “moderate” politicians peddle some of the most radical arguments by hiding them in homespun aphorisms.  Barack Obama casts himself as a disciple of reason and sticks to one refrain above all others: he’s a pragmatist, opposed to the ideology and dogma of the right, solely concerned with “what works.” And today’s liberals follow his lead, spouting countless clich├ęs such as:
  • One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter: Sure, if the other man is an idiot. Was Martin Luther King Jr. a terrorist? Was Bin Laden a freedom fighter?
  • Violence never solves anything: Really? It solved our problems with the British empire and ended slavery.
  • Better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man suffer: So you won’t mind if those ten guilty men move next door to you?
  • Diversity is strength: Cool.The NBA should have a quota for midgets and one-legged point guards!
  • We need complete separation of church and state: In other words all expressions of faith should be barred from politics …except when they support liberal programs.
With humor and passion, Goldberg dismantles these and many other Trojan Horses that liberals use to cheat in the war of ideas. He shows that the grand Progressive tradition of denying an ideological agenda while pursuing it vigorously under the false-flag of reasonableness is alive and well.  And he reveals how this dangerous game may lead us further down the path of self-destruction.

There is time to order the book and join us. Please do. We chat and socialize for about thirty minutes and then get down to some serious discussion. Rod

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11/19/12 Education Committee Meeting

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Monday, November 19, 2012

S.C. Governor Haley says no to health exchanges

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Nov. 15, 2012) – On Thursday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius indicating the Palmetto State will not create a state insurance exchange under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“After several months of public meetings and external research, the committee recommended that the state not pursue a state-based exchange because operational rules were not yet defined and the limited flexibility that was offered to states,” he wrote. “President Obama’s reelection has not changed this assessment, nor has it changed my original decision: our state should not and will not set up a state-based health care exchange.”

Please contact your state legislator and Governor Haslam and tell them you do not want Tennessee to set up a health care exchange.

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The Tennessean: HCA deal is among Nashville's biggest

by Joey Garrison, Nov 19, 2012

The nation’s largest private hospital chain is close to landing Metro’s third-most-generous financial incentive package ever, totaling a projected $66 million, in exchange for filling a prominent midtown eyesore with headquarters offices and bringing 1,750 new jobs to Davidson County.
 .....
Dean has aggressively pursued direct incentives to companies during his time in his office, while his predecessor Bill Purcell never executed the strategy. The current mayor’s approach has only a handful of council skeptics.

“I feel like a broken record,” said Councilman Josh Stites, who has voted against tax breaks awarded to LifePoint Hospitals Inc. and Ryman Hospitality Properties over the past year. He intends to do the same with HCA. “You can look at downtown and there are some buildings that shaped downtown, as this would do for West End, that received zero tax abatements.

“It is a huge fallacy to say that we have to give tax abatements in order for these companies to come here.” (continue reading)

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Robert Duvall and Duane Dominy explain their pro-EPA vote

Saturday I spoke to both Councilman Robert Duvall and Councilman Duane Dominy in separate phone conversations and asked each of them why they voted for the pro-EPA bill that among other things urged the EPA to "move swiftly to fully employ and enforce the Clean Air Act."

 As you may know, Congress never intended for the EPA to regulate Co2. The EPA has assumed this authority and with it the right to arbitrarily set auto emission standards, energy plant emission limits and the authority to halt any development that would contribute to Co2 emission. I thought supporting this power grab by a federal agency seemed out of character for Duvall and Dominy, two of the more conservative members of the Metro Council.

"I just overlooked it," Duane told me. "I just did not pay attention."

He assured me that this bill did not reflect the way he believes. He said he really thought someone else would object and it would be pulled off the consent agenda. In fact, when it came to a vote, he said he did not know the EPA resolution was still on the consent agenda. He went on to tell me that he was so focused on the fairground bill, which he was sponsoring, that he let this EPA bill slip through.

The fairground bill was on first reading and while most bills on first reading pass without discussion, a parliamentary move forced his fairground bill to be deferred one meeting. Maneuvering to stop his fairground bill from being sidetracked caused him to not pay as close attention to the EPA resolution as he should have.

Robert Duvall told me that he could have objected and fought it and the vote would have still been 38 to 1. He told me he had just gotten over a bruising campaign in which he lost and he just didn't want to take on this battle. "I just thought, 'what's the point,'" he said. "To tell the truth, I did not want to lose credibility."

He told me that if he would have fought this bill he would have been accused of grandstanding. "I have other battles to fight." he said. "You have to pick your battles." He went on to say that he is often the lone voice always objecting to Council actions and that if you do that too often you are soon not taken seriously.

Robert said he now regrets not voting "no." "I admit, it was a 'loon bill,'" He said. "My vote did not reflect my values."

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Update: What's on the Council Agenda for 11/20/2012

I know the Council just met just last Tuesday but they meet again this Tuesday. These meetings are so close together because the meeting on 11/13/2012 would normally have been 11/6/2012, but because Tuesday the sixth was election day, that meeting was differed until November 13th.

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.

There are no bills on public hearing.

There are fifteen resolutions, all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution is on the consent agenda if it passed the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single voice vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. If one is present and does not asked to be recorded voting "no" then they are assumed to have voted "aye." However, any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda.

There are two resolution on the consent agenda, that I don't know if they are good bills or not, but they deserve some hard scrutiny. I hope they gets a long and hard look in committee. They are RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-488 and RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-489. They are, in essence, a $65.9 million gift to HCA to incentivize the construction of two office buildings for the corporate relocation of several HCA affiliates. They provide property tax abatement for up to 20 years, a $1 million one-time payment to cover relocation costs, and an annual payment of $500 per employee. In addition to the Metro incentives, the state will be providing an incentive grant of $2.1 million.

Are we giving away the store? This is a complex deal. While we do not want to lose HCA to some competitor city, is this deal in the city's best interest? I really don't know. If I didn't know, and I was on the Council, I would ask for a deferral and wait to be convinced. For more information, go to this link and scroll to the bottom of the analysis. 

Bills on First reading almost always pass. They are considered as a group and are seldom discussed. First reading is a formality that allows the bill to be considered. Bills are not assigned to committee or analyzed by council staff until after they have passed first reading. Here are bills of interests on first reading.
Bill BL2012-293 by Councilman Duane Dominy would require the city to consider Request for Proposals from private developers to operate the fairgrounds. This bill would have passed first reading on November 13th, but Council member Sandra Moore invoked "rule 8" and the bill had to be deferred one meeting. Rule 8 of the council says that if a bill only affects one council district and the district council member is not a sponsor of the bill, then if the district council member objects to the consideration of the bill on first reading the bill must be deferred one meeting. Since the fairgrounds is an issue that has county wide implication, I do not think rule 8 should have applied but the council staff ruled that rule 8 did apply. This is an issue that everyone who wants to keep the fairgrounds should watch carefully. The deck is being stacked to destroy the fairgrounds. For more on this bill follow this link

Bills on Second Reading. It is on Second reading, after bills have been to committee, that discussion usually takes place. Below are bills of interest on second reading. •

BILL NO. BL2012-241 by Councilman Dominy would require the annual contract for services between Metro and the Chamber of Commerce for the Partnership 2020 economic development program be approved by resolution of the council. This bill was previously deferred two meetings and rereferred to the Budget and Finance Committee. I don't know how the B&F committee voted. One can be sure that the financial and business elites will oppose this bill. I think it deserves to pass.

Partnership 2020 is a public-private partnership developed by the chamber whose purpose is to recruit new businesses to the Nashville area. Metro’s appropriation for this program in recent years has been $300,000 a year. While the program serves a ten county area, Metro funds a greater share of the program than the other nine counties combined. Many feel that Metro funds the program, yet the bulk of new relocations to the Nashville area go to surrounding counties. 
BILL NO. BL2012-294 by CM Dominy would require all sole source contracts for the purchase of goods or services in excess of $250,000 to be approved by resolution of the council receiving at least 21 affirmative votes. There are only a couple such "sole source contracts" one being the city's contract with the Chamber for Partnership 2020. This is a good bill that needs to pass. 
ORDINANCE NO. BL2012-297 by CM MATTHEWS & LANGSTER is part of the sweetheart deal with HCA. See the above resolutions and look at the analysis if you wish to know more. If the above resolutions pass, then this might as well pass; if they are deferred, this bill should also be deferred. 
Bills on Third Reading: Third Reading is the final reading. If a bill passes third reading it becomes law unless it is vetoed by the Mayor, which has only rarely happened. Below are the bills of interest on third reading.
 BILL NO. BL2012-281 is the bill that would put the Transportation Licensing Commission under the administration of the Public Works Department. This passed second reading without controversy, so it should pass third with no difficulty. It is a good move, and hopefully will end the TLC's bullying and illegal activity of harassment and impersonation of police officers but it does nothing to address the real problem, which is that Metro engages in supply and price control of private sector transportation providers. I continue to be disappointing that even our conservative members of the Council do nothing to correct this injustice and anti-free market practice.

Memorializing Resolutions:  
Caution! Caution! Councilman Standley is proposing two memorializing resolutions urging the school system and the MTA to make "a top priority program the replacement of the entire fleet of public buses powered by diesel combustion engines with hybrid-electric buses."

Wait a minute. That is pretty ambitions and pretty strongly worded. In my view, no bus should be replaced until it has outlived its useful life. If however we were under a court order to clean up our air or we would have to halt construction, then that may be a reason for such a move, but as far as I know that is not the case.

If this does not make economic sense we shouldn't do it. I hope these resolutions get serious discussion in committee. While a memorialize resolution simply expresses the will of the council and does not carry the force of law, I do not think the council should go on record with such a resolution. There are a lot of public needs. Is replacing serviceable buses with hybrid buses more important than other needs?

Memorializing resolutions do not have the force of law and are often not taken very seriously and often they do nothing but congratulate a sports team for a victory or a person for being honored or congratulate a person on their retirement. The Council staff does not even analyze them. However, they do represent the will of the Council and when they advocate a policy position they should be taken very seriously. They should not be dismissed as merely memorializing and routinely passed. If memorializing Resolution pass committee unanimously then they are incorporated into the "consent agenda."

Last week our most conservative members of the council voted for memorializing resolutions endorsing the EPA's regulation of green house gases. That resolution said the following:

• “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 392 ppm to at most 350 ppm” • ... climate change is already responsible every year for some 300,000 deaths, 325 million people seriously affected, and economic losses worldwide of $125 billion;
• the Clean Air Act has produced economic benefits valued at $2 trillion or 30 times the cost of regulation
• We, the Metropolitan County Council, on behalf of the residents of Nashville, do hereby urge the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa P. Jackson, and President Barack Obama to move swiftly to fully employ and enforce the Clean Air Act to do our part to reduce carbon in our atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million.
Several of the councilmen later said that resolution did not represented their views. Please, Council members if this resolution does not represent your views, please have yourself recorded voting "no".

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