Saturday, December 08, 2012

District Court denies Metro’s Motion for Summary Judgment in Limo price-fixing case

by Daniel Horwitz

The District Court’s order denying Metro’s Motion for Summary Judgment is obviously great news for Mr. Bokhari, since it allows his lawsuit to continue moving forward.  It’s also great news for anyone in Nashville who believes that the government shouldn’t be able to mandate a $45 minimum fare for limo rides when several companies in town are ready and willing to charge customers $25 per ride instead.  That said, however, this case is far from over, and Mr. Bokhari still has to overcome a heavy burden before he can celebrate the demise of Metro’s price-fixing ordinance. 

For anyone who hasn’t followed the case in detail, lead plaintiff Syed Bokhari – the sole owner of Metro Livery, Inc. – and two other plaintiffs who are in the “affordable limousine and sedan business” have alleged that the following four provisions of Metro’s recently-amended livery ordinance (No. BL2010–685) are unconstitutional:

(1) The “minimum fare” provision that requires that limousine and sedan service operators charge a minimum of $45.00 per trip;

(2) The “prohibition on leasing” provision that requires that limousine and sedan service operators hold title to their vehicles;

(3) The “dispatch restriction” that requires that operators dispatch vehicles only from their place of business; and

(4) The “vehicle age requirement” that requires that operators take sedans and SUVs out of service if they are more than seven years old, take limos out of service if they are more than ten years old, and refrain from placing any new vehicle in service if it is more than five years old. 

Represented by the libertarian public interest firm The Institute for Justice, the plaintiffs in this case are arguing that each of the above provisions violates their constitutional rights under the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment, the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and the Privileges or Immunities clause of the 14th Amendment.  This latter claim concerning the Privileges or Immunities clause is, unfortunately, foreclosed by a Supreme Court decision handed down in the late 1800s, but the Institute for Justice and other proponents of economic liberty remain hopeful that the current court will eventually decide to reexamine the issue.

After a year of cross-motions between the parties, last week District Court Judge Kevin Sharp issued an order denying – in somewhat terse language – Metro’s Motion for Summary Judgment on each of the plaintiffs’ claims.  Thus, unless an unlikely settlement is reached sometime in the next few weeks, Mr. Bokhari’s case against Metro Nashville will proceed to trial on January 22, 2013, where both sides are expected to call several witnesses to testify about various aspects of Nashville’s transportation industry.  Though the case is likely to be appealed to the Sixth Circuit no matter the outcome, the purpose of this trial is to get sufficient facts on the record to allow Judge Sharp to answer the following deceptively simple question: do any of the four challenged provisions of Ordinance No. BL2010–685 bear a rational relation to a conceivably legitimate government interest?

Though it’s obvious to just about everyone (including Judge Sharp, as he made clear in an April memorandum) that a legally-mandated price-fixing scheme like this one is terrible from a public policy standpoint, many people following this case have been surprised to learn that that fact is actually irrelevant for present purposes.  As the Supreme Court has repeatedly proclaimed since disavowing its infamous holding in Lochner v. New York back in 1937, it is simply not the role of courts “to judge the wisdom, fairness, or logic of legislative choices.”  Instead, “the Constitution presumes that even improvident decisions will eventually be rectified by the democratic processes.”  Thus, the reason why Mr. Bokhari still has such a long way to go before he’ll be permitted to charge his customers $25 per limo ride boils down to the frustrating fact that all industrial regulations are subject to what is known as “rational basis” review: a highly-deferential form of scrutiny that renders judicial invalidation of laws like Ordinance No. BL2010–685 virtually unheard of. 

As the Sixth Circuit has often described the “rational basis” standard, the government’s proffered justifications for a law must strike a court “with the force of a five-week-old, unrefrigerated dead fish” before the law can be invalidated under rational basis review.  Indeed, even the actual reasons why a law was enacted are wholly irrelevant under this form of scrutiny— according to the Supreme Court, for a law to survive rational basis review the government need only prove that there is a “conceivable state of facts that could provide a rational basis” for the law in question.  This legal nuance is particularly irksome in the case at bar, of course, since both parties are in agreement that Ordinance No. BL2010–685 was enacted, at least in part, to appease the trade lobbying group TennLA— a partnership of expensive limo companies that have since claimed credit for legislating more affordable competition like Metro Livery, Inc. out of business.

Because the government has asserted several conceivably legitimate interests in the instant case that it contends are advanced by its protectionist regulations, Mr. Bokhari’s path to victory remains daunting.  With respect to the price-fixing component of the livery ordinance, for example, Metro argues that having a minimum fare of $45 for limo rides (1) helps consumers differentiate between taxi companies and limousine services, (2) helps diminish confusion as to those services, (3) reduces poaching, (4) offers the city several economic benefits, and (5) may improve the ground transportation industry as a whole.  Again, the government need not prove that any of these interests will actually be furthered by the livery ordinance in order for the law to be upheld as constitutional.  It merely has to prove that one of them could be. 

Fortunately for Mr. Bokhari, and extremely helpful to his case is the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Craigmiles v. Giles, 312 F.3d 220, 224 (6th Cir. 2002): a lawsuit involving similarly absurd regulations that Tennessee had imposed upon funeral merchandise retailers in an effort to shield funeral directors from competition in the casket market.  Finding in that case that the only conceivable basis for the law in question was unfettered economic protectionism, the Sixth Circuit held that the Tennessee Funeral Directors and Embalmers Act violated the Craigmiles plaintiffs’ constitutional rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, and it enjoined the state from enforcing the law as a result.  Mr. Bokhari has asked for precisely the same relief here, and as a District Court judge within the Sixth Circuit, Judge Sharp is bound by this holding.  Since Judge Sharp has also held on several occasions that “Craigmiles is controlling” in the instant case, it is not unreasonable to expect that Mr. Bokhari will prevail at the trial level. 

Unfortunately for Mr. Bokhari, however, Judge Sharp has also properly observed that the Sixth Circuit’s holding in Craigmiles is constitutionally suspect.  As the Tenth Circuit has protested, for example, “the [Supreme Court] cases collectively cited by Craigmiles . . . do not [actually] stand for the proposition that intrastate economic protectionism, absent a violation of a specific constitutional provision or federal statute, is an illegitimate state interest.”  As such, even if he wins at the District Court level, Mr. Bokhari’s case could potentially result in the reversal of Craigmiles if it reaches the Court of Appeals.  However, cutting against this possibility, perhaps, is the fact that the Institute for Justice has been uncannily successful in litigating economic liberty cases, winning both the Craigmiles decision discussed above and a very recent case in the U.S. District Court of Utah involving the economic liberty of hairbraiders. 

In sum, although the District Court’s order denying Metro’s Motion for Summary Judgment is welcome news for those of us who oppose the kind of blatant economic protectionism that is at issue in Mr. Bokhari’s case, it remains true that the best possible result would be for Metro to acknowledge its error and repeal Ordinance No. BL2010–685 of its own accord.  Unfortunately, however – at least for the time being – that option does not appear to be on the table.  Nonetheless, as the Supreme Court has explained, the democratic process is really the proper mechanism for doing away with atrocious laws like this one, so if your Metro Councilmember is among those local legislators who supports price-fixing, you really ought to consider voting him or her out of office.  

Daniel Horwitz is a third year law student at Vanderbilt University Law School, where he is the Vice President of Law Students for Social Justice. He can be contacted at 

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Friday, December 07, 2012

Ashley Judd exploring Senate run

Ashley Judd
The Hollywood movie star and eighth-generation Kentuckian is seriously exploring a 2014 run for the Senate to take on the powerful Republican leader, four people familiar with the matter tell POLITICO.

In recent weeks, Judd has spoken with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) about the possibility of a run, has discussed a potential bid with a Democratic pollster and has begun to conduct opposition research on herself to see where she’s most vulnerable.....(link)

For more Ashley Judd nude pics and erotica, follow this link

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Thursday, December 06, 2012

The HCA Deal and the Race to the Bottom. Maybe Stites was right.

On Tuesday night when the Council voted to lavish $66 million on HCA to entice them to move their headquarters all the way from Brentwood to Nashville and to develop a prime piece of property, only one Council member voted against the give-away deal, Josh Stites.

He argued that the city had just raised property taxes and now we were turning around and giving away massive amounts of money to one of the wealthiest corporate citizens in Nashville. He also argued that by exempting so many companies from paying taxes, that our tax collections would suffer and there would be insufficient revenue to improve schools. Quality of education he said, is one of the prime factors that cause companies to choose to move to a particular city, so while we are enticing companies with massive tax abatement giveaways, we are making our community less attractive to companies by insufficiently improving schools,

Stites also argued that giving such money to big companies was simply not fair and we should also provide the same incentive to small business.

I opined that while in principle I was sympathetic to Stites argument, that if I were serving in the Council, I would have nevertheless held my nose and voted for the deal. I wish we gave no financial incentive to TV and movie production companies, sports teams or companies. The truth is, however, that if we did not we would never get a TV show or movie, we would not have professional sports teams, and would probably loose the areas biggest employers.  Giving money to one company and not another is picking winners and losers and that offends me. I don't like the way we have to do business, but I am pragmatic enough to know we are in competition with other cities. To compete, we have to compete in giveaways and tax abatements.

I don't like it that sports teams or movies or companies can hold us hostage, but they can and they do. If the Country Music Hall of Fame was to announce that they planning to move to either Knoxville, Austin, Atlanta, or Lexington and started a bidding war to go or stay, how high would the bidding go?  How much should and would we pay to keep it?  I don't know, but I would want us to compete to keep it here.

In an editorial appearing in yesterday's New York Times called Race to the Bottom, the problem of cities and states using incentives to lure businesses is explored. The editors must have been listening to Josh Stites when they say, "The Times found that state and local governments are giving out $80 billion a year in tax breaks and other subsidies in a foolhardy, shortsighted race to attract companies. That money could go a long way to improving education, transportation and other public services that would have a far better shot at promoting real economic growth."

I would like to print the whole piece but respecting Fair Use, I am only posting a couple other excerpts:

  • Though they promise that the subsidies are smart investments, far too often the jobs either don’t materialize or are short-lived, leaving the communities no better off. 

  • The fact is, numerous studies show that such incentives result in only a small increase in jobs and that any gains usually come at the expense of other cities and states. 
  • The senseless race to give away billions in subsidies is, of course, hard to stop when elected leaders think a pledge of potential jobs might help in their next election.
 You can read the whole article here. Also, the Times is doing an in depth three-part series exploring how cities lose by giving away money. Part one of that series can be found here.

Stites may be right. I just wonder how one can get off the giveaway treadmill while other cities are going full steam ahead.

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More pictures and stories from "Just Say No" rally

Tennessee Eagle Forum Newsletter

Joined by several Republican legislators, about 300 tea party activists rallied at the state capitol...(Follow this link to see several pictues and Bobbie Patray's report)

For the Fox 17 video report follow this link. This has a good sample of the music, the speaches, and interviews with members of the crowd. This give a good flavor of the event.
About 250 activists from across the state turned out Wednesday for a rally at War Memorial Plaza to oppose plans to create a state-run health insurance exchange, a key part of the health care reform. Gov. Bill Haslam has not yet decided whether to create a Tennessee version of the online insurance marketplace or leave the task to the federal government. But tea party activists, many of whom have ardently opposed the law since it was proposed more than three years ago, said the decision ought to be simple.

Tea Party rallies against health insurance exchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - "Just Say No" was the loud and clear message sent to Governor Bill Haslam Wednesday by more than 200 people protesting the state's involvement in running a mandated health insurance exchange

It is interesting to note how the different reporters estimated the crowd. Channel two says 200 and Fox 17 says 500. 

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EPA’s engine destroying gas may be coming soon and our Metro Council loves the EPA

 EPA’s engine destroying gas may be coming soon

By Rebekah Rast — Nine gas stations in the nation now have pumps with E15 gasoline.
E15 is a blend of regular gasoline mixed with 15 percent ethanol.  The pumps are recognized by their black and orange labels.

And that label is not something you want to ignore.

In an effort to curb U.S. dependency on gasoline and oil — foreign and domestic — the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of E15 gasoline for vehicle models 2001 and newer.
However controversy surrounds this new blend and whether or not it is safe for your vehicle.
Many automobile companies as well as the American Automobile Association (AAA) warn against the use of this fuel blend for anything but Flexible Fuel Vehicles, 2012 and newer General Motors vehicles, 2013 Fords and 2001 and later model Porsches. (read more)

Our Metro Council, on your behalf, recently gave a ringing endorsement of the EPA . 

They said, "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."

The next time you see your Metro Council member ask him why he voted for this.

For more on this topic, see the following: 
Josh Stites is not guilty of endorsing the EPA
The unanimous Council support for EPA CO2 regulation.
Robert Duvall and Duane Dominy explain their pro-EPA vote

Update on the 11/13/12 Council Meeting: Lifetime health care for Council members approved, EPA endorsement, fairgrounds ...


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Dear Red White and Food supporters,

It’s been a great couple of days for the Red White and Food campaign. As you may have seen in the Associated Press story that came out Sunday, Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey have expressed their support for legislation to allow the sale of wine in retail food stores.

This story has shown up, not just in many statewide articles and TV broadcasts, but in media outlets as far away as Seattle! It was even on Bloomberg Businessweek’s website.

If you haven’t already, you can read The Tennessean’s article at|head. Also be sure to check out Tuesday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial in support of wine in retail food stores:

We’re asking you to help continue this momentum: Please contact Speaker Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ramsey to thank them for their support of a bill that gives Tennesseans the opportunity to vote on wine in retail food stores. Just go to, fill in your contact information to personalize the messages and hit send.

Thanks for your continued support!

The Red White and Food Team

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Who will Chair the State Democratic Party?

Below are the candidates:

Jane Hampton Bowen 
Age: 45
Resume: political liaison for the Chattanooga Area Labor Council

Dave Garrison
Age: 33
Resume: attorney at Barrett Johnston, party treasurer

Sherry Jones
Age: 65
Resume: represents the 59th House District in Antioch

Wade Munday
Age: 30
Resume: program specialist at National Health Care for the Homeless Council; former party spokesman

Ben Smith
Age: 31
Resume: attorney with DHPM law firm

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Highlights and summary of the 12/04/2012 Council meeting

HCA gets the Deal, Private property rights advocates speak against down zoning,

This council meeting is 2 hours and 16 minutes long. I am only highlighting those bills that I deem to be of a general interest or are especially controversial. In addition to the bills I highlight, there are other zoning bills on public hearing that are of interest to the neighbors who reside in the part of town where the rezoning is proposed.

Bills on Public Hearing:
BILL NO. BL2012-292 would permit home recording studios in residential neighborhoods. This is not uncommon in Nashville. Under this proposal a recording studio could have up to ten clients, customers, musicians, or other visitors come to the property per day. Currently they are only allowed to have one visitor. The noise ordinance would still apply.

Several prominent songwriters and musician speak in favor of the bill, including Bryan Cunnings who composed the instrumental "Do the Dog" and has a distinguished career including lead guitar player with ShaNaNa, touring with everyone from Al Jarreau to K.T. Oslin and has written a slew of song.

Less Kerr, another prominent entertainer also spoke in favor of the bill. Speaking in opposition was David Pomeroy, a prominent bass player and head of the musicians union. His argument is that the restrictions would be unenforceable and that a better bill needs to be drawn. The bill is deferred and referred to committee. Council Member Barry promises to get input of the music committee and work on improving the bill. (see 14:03-26:33)
BILL NO. BL2012-301 by Council Member Karen Johnson would down zone a piece of property, allowing only a two story building, where currently the Planned Unit Development on the property would allow a four story building. (see 26:34-58:00.)

Four  people, who are members of the community, speak for the bill. Speaking against the bill is one of the owners of Vastland, the company that owns the property and the developer of Nashboro village for about the last fifteen years. He explains that a large development such as Nashboro Village cannot be developed in a short period of time, and that just because time has passed since the plan was approved is not reason to change the zoning.

Next to speak was an investor in the project who explains that without certainty that one can develop a property the way it is zoned, then one cannot secure financing. He was explaining the complexity and the steps that must be taken and the factor that go into consideration in developing a piece of property, when his time expired.

Next is Daniel Lewis (see 43:51) chairman of the Davidson County Libertarian Party. He says this is a fundamental attack on private property and quotes John Locke and gives a good history lesson. (Not that I would always agree with him, but I wish we had Daniel Lewis or someone like him in the Council. If we did, then things like the unanimous support of limo price fixing and unanimous support of giving EPA dictatorial powers and things like giving eminent domain power to other governmental agencies would not occur. We need at least one dogmatic champion of liberty in the Council.)

Engineer and former Councilman Roy Dale (54:45) is among others speaking against the bill saying this is bad for business. Saying if this passes it sends a bad message to investors.

The vote is 28-8 by machine vote. Those voting against the bill are Tygerd, Banks, Stites, Claiborne, Baker, Langster, and Weiner. Robert Duvall was absent, but some of the other councilmen who I think of as the "good councilmen" disappoint me and voted for it. If I would have been in the Council I would have voted against the bill.

Other bills of interest are BILL NO. BL2012-309 (1:02-1:18:50) would rezones a piece of property to permit a used tire store and BILL NO. BL2012-291 (1:23:09- 1:44:05)   which amends the definition of “recycling facility” to clarify that it does not include the conversion of material into a fuel product or asphalt.
There are fourteen resolutions on the consent agenda. None are pulled. 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.

There are two resolutions not on the consent agenda, RESOLUTION NO.RS2012-488.and SUBSTITUTE RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-489. These are part of the HCA deal. (see 1:48:55-2:00:27
Councilman Josh Stites takes to the floor (1:55:050) and argues against the bills saying we just raised property taxes and yet we are here giving a tax break to a wealthy company. He says he does not blame HCA for seeking the deal but says, "their obligation is to their shareholder; our obligation is to tax payers. It is a distinction we should not forget."

He makes a good argument against the bill. While I admire Stites for taking the lone stand against the bill and while I agree in principle that we should not be offering incentives for companies or movie or TV production projects or sports teams, we must compete with other cities that are offering such incentive. Unfortunately we are in an environment in which sports team, movies or companies will go somewhere else with their project unless they are bribed given an incentive. If I would have been in the Council, I think I would have had to hold my nose and reluctantly vote for the bill.

All Bills on First reading pass. Bills on first reading 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.

Bills on Second Reading all pass with little discussion. 

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. BL2012-294 by Councilman Duane Dominy simply brings a minimum level of accountability and oversight to the purchasing process. It would require all sole-source contracts over $250,000 be approved by the council. One of the few sole source contracts that come before the council is the city's contract with the Chamber of Commerce for the Partnership 2020 program.
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.
This bill fails. The vote is 18 for and 15 against, 3 abstentions and 4 members absent. The bill failed. It required 21 votes to pass. (see 2:08:24) This was a good bill. I commend Councilman Dominy for trying. It is tough to go up against the Chamber.
BILL NO. BL2012-295 establishing rules for handling the eggs and keeping chickens on school property is withdrawn. The sponsor explains that the issues necessitating this bill had been resolved administratively.
BILL NO. BL2012-297 is part of the HCA deal. Again Josh Stites takes to the floor to argue against it but again is the lone dissenting vote. (2:11:53)

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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Haslam right to defend Samar Ali from being 'unfairly maligned'

Haslam right to defend Samar Ali from being 'unfairly maligned' 

December 5, 2012,, By: David Oatney- 

 Samar Ali was born in Waverly, Tennessee-that’s Tennessee, not Tehran. She was the student body President at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt may be many things since it has adopted it’s intolerant policies about tolerance, but a center of terrorist activity it is not, nor is it some kind of universal hub of militant Islam. I don’t know how personally conservative or liberal Ms. Ali is, but I have not only known Muslims who were moral or social conservatives, but I have known more than one who have been rather vocal in their support of the Republican Party. As was said in this very column in July, it certainly seems as though the primary problem that most of the people who have been so vocal in opposing Ms. Ali’s presence in State government have with her is that she is a Muslim. None of these people have produced one single shred of evidence that Samar Ali is anything other than a fellow Tennessean who is educated, an expert in her field, and who happens to go to a mosque on Fridays. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that many of the same people who are-as the Governor rightly says-unfairly maligning Samar Ali have never even met a Muslim, let alone shook hands with one, eaten with one, spoken with one, or associated with one. The only thing most of these characters know about Muslims is that they have funny-sounding names and that some of their co-religionists are militant to the point of war in their hatred of Israel and America. The latter reality is a real concern, but suicide bombers are no more representative of all Muslims than David Koresh was representative of all evangelicals or Seventh Day Adventists, or Warren Jeffs might be representative of Mormons.
My Comment: Amen. I agree. Rod

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Hundreds rally to 'Just Say NO' to a State Obamacare exchange

Steve Gill
Dec. 5, 2012- About 300 to 400 people gathered downtown for a noon rally on the north end of Memorial plaza today to rally to urge Governor Haslam to reject sitting up an Obamacare insurance state exchange. Argument against sitting up the exchange was that it would be costly to the state , that the federal government has not issue clear guidelines as to how much flexibility the State would have in administering the exchanges, and that we should continue resistance to Obamacare.

Bobbie Patray of Tennessee Eagle Forum asked the crowd, "Have you ever been to the Pottery Barn and seen one of those signs that say, 'If you break it, you own it?'"  "Well," she said, "Obama owns it."

In addition to Bobbie Patray, speakers at the rally included radio host Steve Gill, tea party leader Ken Marrero, and anti-tax advocate Ben Cunningham.

Bobbie Patray
Three hundred people is a pretty good crowd to gather on short notice on a work day in down town Nashville. Where did they all park?  I tried parking at the downtown library but there was no available space. I ended up taking my changes and parked in a parking space designated for loading and unloaded on Deaderick St. and got a $54 fine. Ouch!

I got there late and left early so did not observe the whole rally. 

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More of Haslam at 1st Tuesday: Sharia law question.

 GOP Tennessee Governor Blasts Critics Of Muslim Adviser

By Hamed Aleaziz on Dec 5, 2012, Think Progress- Tennessee’s Republican Governor, Bill Haslam, has had it with attacks on an economic adviser, Samar Ali, a Muslim-American lawyer, who has been attacked by Republicans in the state and anti-Islam groups. Speaking at a Republican event, the governor was asked, according to the AP, whether “he was incorporating elements of Islamic law into state government” in having Ali a part of his staff. Haslam, incredulous, responded with a soaring defense of the accomplished Ali:
“Samar is somebody who quite frankly I think — and I know there are some people in this room who disagree with me — that I think has been incredibly unfairly maligned. We believe in people having the freedom in our country to exercise their religion as long as it doesn’t violate the Constitution, and that’s a big ‘as long as’.”
My Comment: The writer of the article was not there. The words quoted are accurate but I would have not described Haslam's comments as a "soaring defense."  Haslam, while serious did not appear angry and his tone of voice was calm and matter-of-fact.

After his answer to the question he got a big round of applause. 

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Today! The Obamacare Just Say NO Rally

Nashville Tea PartyPlease Join us at the
Just Say NO Rally
Wed Dec 5, 12 Noon

at the Capitol .

Click on Image for a detailed Google Map

Your help is needed to stop an Obamacare State Exchange in TN. Governor Haslam must make a decision by December 14 and reports indicate he is still undecided. Please Join Nashville Tea Party and MANY other Groups to raise our voices together and petition the Governor to Just Say NO to an Obamacare State Exchange. We will have a petition for you to sign at the Rally. PLEASE join us. Here is a map link: We will Rally on the East Side of the Tennessee State Capitol Building at 12 Noon on Wednesday, December 5.

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Report on the 12/04/12 Metro Council Meeting: HCA gets deal, oppositiion to down zoning

HCA gets the Deal, Private property rights advocates speak against down zoning,

Check back for a summary, the location in the video to see the highlights of the meeting, and my commentary. 

From the Tennessean:
HCA gets $66M tax break for midtown Nashville towers 

by Joey Garrison,12-5-2012, The Tennessean- With only one dissenting vote, the Metro Council gave final approval Tuesday for a $66 million incentive package to healthcare giant HCA, paving the way for two soaring headquarters midtown high-rises and 1,750 new jobs in Davidson County. (read more)

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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Update: Haslam at First Tuesday: Shariah, Health care, Judicial selection, humor, and more

Haslam talks Shariah, judicial appointments, health care with Nashville Republicans

December 4th, 2012 | by Chas Sisk, The Tennessean-   Gov. Bill Haslam spoke Tuesday to what used to be rock-ribbed Republicans, answering questions about Shariah law, health care reform and judicial selection in a lunchtime appearance before Davidson County Republicans.

Answering a question from the crowd, Haslam defended his decision to hire and stand by Samir Ali,.....(Please read. This is an accurate report of what the Governor said. I was proud of him for standing firm on this. Rod)

Haslam spoke at length about the Affordable Care Act. Haslam said he still has not made up his mind about a state-operated health insurance exchange, blaming the federal government for leaving many questions about how the exchanges would operate unanswered.(Good reporting by Chas Sisk. Good summary of the event)
From: Peter Peter Voysey
Green Hills GOP Summit

After being greeted with a standing ovation, he said that someone had once asked him how it felt to be the Governor and receive standing ovations like that.  He said his response would be that there are things that keep him humble--like newspapers (!)--and he recounted a personal experience.

In Knoxville for a UT football game, he ran into a fellow he had known pretty well over the years.  "It's nice to be back in Knoxville" the Governor said.

The man replied: "Back?  Have you been away?"

"Well, we live in Nashville now" the Governor said.

"Oh--did Pilot Oil set up a major office in Nashville?" the man responded.

"No--you know--I'm the Governor now" the Governor answered.

"OF TENNESSEE??!!!???" the man gasped.

'This was from a fellow I've known pretty well" the Governor stressed.

Governor Haslam said that this encounter was an experience in humility.

I think you and I would characterize it as yet another example of what is
becoming known as: The Underinformed Voter.......

Haslam Discusses Healthcare Exchange Program Possibilities 

Channel 5
.....   The Governor said his staff is still studying the issue, and trying to decide which option serves Tennessee best. He has said he leans toward having more state control, but has criticized the federal government for not being able to divulge details about how much flexibility would be granted to the state.

"We have to know there's real flexibility.  It really is a state based exchange and we have some authority over the key decisions.  The other side is we have to understand if we do that are they organized enough to really have the interchange you need between a state based exchange and a federally run program," Haslam said.

Haslam said it appears Tennessee could run an exchange cheaper than the federal government. He said the federal government would pay for setting up the exchange.Then the cost of running either a federal exchange or state exchange will be paid by the users and the cost will be added to the premium.
"The implication is the state run exchange will do the same thing, but we could probably do it cheaper,' he explained.

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Should we abolish the Federal Reserve?

Some day, I promise,  I will read The Creature from Jekyll Island.  Several of my libertarian friends have suggested I read it.

To tell you the truth, I don't know if we need to abolish the Federal Reserve or not. I know a lot about a lot of stuff, but don't know everything. I have opinions about a lot of things, but do not know enough to have an informed opinion about abolishing the Federal Reserve.

I have been reluctant to invest the energy to become adequately informed about the Fed.  For one thing, it seems like many who are passionate about abolishing the Fed are not very well informed about why. When I have a conversations about the Fed or monetary policy with advocates of abolishing the Fed, it soon become evident that many of them have little knowledge about economics. When I mention fractional reserve banking, it soon become clear they don't have a clue about how money is created.  What they really seem to want is for only the government to control the money supply, which should be counter to their minimalist government, free market views.  They know a few facts and some slogans but lack understanding. I have not been adequately challenged to take the proposal for abolishing the Fed seriously.

I have also been reluctant to invest the time an energy into reaching an informed opinion on this matter because of the "kook" factor..  I don't waste energy on conspiracy theories other than to be entertained by them. When one starts talking about the Rothschilds and how the "insiders"  had JFK killed, and other stuff like that, I don't want to go any further. It seems like many of those calling for abolishing it are on the political fringe and prone to conspiracy theory.

Before I am ready to invest much energy into reaching an informed decision on abolishing the Fed, I want to know that is even an issue worthy of being informed about. I would like to see some mainstream economist make the argument. Maybe, a mainstream economist is doing just that. I have not read it yet, but this article from The Journal of Macroeconomics addresses the role of the Fed.

 Has the Fed been a failure?


As the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Federal Reserve Act approaches, we assess whether the nation’s experiment with the Federal Reserve has been a success or a failure. Drawing on a wide range of recent empirical research, we find the following:

(1) The Fed’s full history (1914 to present) has been characterized by more rather than fewer symptoms of monetary and macroeconomic instability than the decades leading to the Fed’s establishment.

(2) While the Fed’s performance has undoubtedly improved since World War II, even its postwar performance has not clearly surpassed that of its undoubtedly flawed predecessor, the National Banking system, before World War I.

(3) Some proposed alternative arrangements might plausibly do better than the Fed as presently constituted. We conclude that the need for a systematic exploration of alternatives to the established monetary system is as pressing today as it was a century ago.

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Monday, December 03, 2012

Report on the 12/09/2012 Budget and Finance Committee Meeting

This meeting is 42 minutes long. 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.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-513 settles a claim against metro brought by Jeanette Porter, a former assistant director of the human resources division of the Sheriffs Department. Apparently she was retaliated against for reporting wrong doing by the Sheriff's office. To read the Tennessean's reporting on this event, follow this link. Council member Megan Barry ask what policies are in place so in the future employees are not punished for reporting wrong doing. Sheriff Hall explains how this incident happened. (see the discussion at 4:05)

Duane Dominy's bill, BILL NO. BL2012-293, which would require the fair board to seek request for information (RFI) to gauge interest from the private sector regarding the future operation of the fairgrounds property is deferred one meeting at the request of the sponsor. (See 26:22 for discussion.) Dominy says he is deferring to give the the fair board a chance to do this on their own rather than it being mandated by the Council. Council Member Moore speaks against the bill despite it being deferred.

The employee buy-out program is discussed starting at 28:30.

Watch Charlie Tygerd. He is almost always the member of the B&F who asks the most questions and they are good question. He is a real asset to the Council.  

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Republican Party of Rutherford County Christmas Party

Republican Party of Rutherford County Christmas Party

Monday, Dec 03, 2012 @ 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Through the Grapevine, 630 Broadmor Blvd., Suite 109, Murfreesboro.
Please bring appetizers and desserts to share with fellow Republicans.

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Sunday, December 02, 2012

Report and summary of the 11/27/12 School Board Meeting

A workshop on Common Core 

School board meetings can be really long. This one runs over two and a quarter hours. This meeting is designated a "work session" rather than a regular meeting. No votes are taken.

Dr. Register starts the meeting with an announcement that we are one of 61 finalist for the second "Race to the Top" grant and he recognized the people involved in writing the grant. We the only district in Tennessee in the running and have a grant request of $40 million dollars. The US Department of Education received over 372 applications for the Race to the Top grant program and will determine the winner before the end of December.

Almost all of this meeting is a presentation and discussion of "Common Core," the new state means of measuring student achievements.

Dr. Register says a challenge facing the district is that only about one half of the students in metro schools have access to computers or the Internet at home. He says we must get wireless Internet in all of our schools and have sufficient number of "devices" so children will have the skills and the comfort level to do well on the new common core test, which I gather is administered on a computer.

There are good question asked by Will Pinkston about the interventions and strategies designed to address the problem of students who are not performing on grade level. There seems to be a reluctance on the part of the educators making the presentation to say a child will be "held back" or failed. If students show "growth" they will still be promoted even if they are not performing at grade level.

Dr. Register ask a question that elicits a response that says it is very important that we move to a school-based instructional coaches model with embedded professional development.

There is a frank admission that the previous standards and measuring, inappropriately rated schools and students as performing well, when in fact they were not.

Announcement: I am looking for someone to take over the function of reporting on education matters for this blog. Your post would carry your byline. The person doing this would get paid the same as I do for blogging (no pay). I would want someone who has a passion for education and would be diligent and timely. I would prefer someone with conservative values similar to my own, however if a person was more liberal than I, but could report on education matters with objectivity they would be considered. If interested, contact me. Rod

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Vandy Evioronmental Activitst Celebrate Council's EPA resolution

From: Vanderbilt Clean Air Summit

Today 4:00pm until 6:00pm
Wyatt Lawn, Vanderbilt University

We will celebrate the Clean Air Resolution on Wyatt Lawn. All organizations, universities and individuals interested in environmental issues are welcome. We will have speakers, bands, free food and beverages, and buttons!

Speakers: Councilman Jason Holleman
Mayor Bill Purcell
Bands: Jackson Alley Recent Southern Gentlemen
My Comment:

Thanks to the Metro Council which on November 13, 2012 unanimously passed a resolution "supporting the reducing of greenhouse gas pollution under the Environmental Protection," the environmental activist community is having a celebration today.

The resolution put the Council "on record as supporting the reduction of greenhouse gas pollution under the Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act."

It also put the Council on record saying, "climate change is not an abstract problem for the future or one that will only affect far-distant places, but rather climate change is happening now, we are contributing to it, and the longer we wait to act, the more we lose and the more difficult the problem will be to solve."

It also urged, "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."

This successful effort to pass this pro-EPA resolution was not the brainchild of a Metro Council member or a Vandy student. This resolution originated with the Climate Law Institute which is part of the Center for Biological Diversity and was part of, "a nationwide campaign urging cities around the United States to call on the Obama administration and the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas pollution." This campaign is called "Clean Air Cities."

What can the EPA do to control Co2 emission? They can keep industrial plants from being build, they can mandate the permissible emission from any power plant, they can mandate the fuel efficiency of automobiles and do almost anything they want to do without getting specific authority from Congress. The EPA essentially has dictatorial powers and if your Councilman is listed below, he or she voted for this resolution.  

Barry, Steine, Garrett, Tygard, Maynard, Matthews, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Bennett, Pridemore, Pardue, Jernigan, Stanley, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Moore, Allen, Baker, Langster, Weiner, Evans, Holleman, McGuire, Blalock, Dominy, Johnson, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, Duvall, Todd, Mitchell
I have highlighted above some of the Council members who disappointed me by this vote. A couple of the council members told me they regretted their vote and their vote did not reflect their values and believes.

What should the council do about this issue now? They should introduce a resolution to rescind  RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-478. I realize such a resolution would fail, but at least some members of the Council  could be on record opposing the EPA and proponents of the EPA could not say the Council support is  unanimous.

One does not have to believe that global warming is a grand conspiracy originating with Al Gore, to have opposed this resolution. Just for the record. that is not my position. Yet, I would have voted against this resolution. First of all, I would have opposed it because I do not think the Council should be debating national issues. What next? Should the Council take a position of the confirmation of Susan Rice? On the expiration of the Bush era tax cuts? On the Federal Reserve's $40 billion a month "quantitative easing?" No! Stick to local issue.

Another reason to oppose it is that no bureaucracy should be given that much independent authority. And, thirdly, the 350 parts Co2 per million is arbitrary and members of the Metro Council can not know that that is the right number. 

To learn more about this issue see the following post: 
Josh Stites is not guilty of endorsing the EPA
The unanimous Council support for EPA CO2 regulation.
Robert Duvall and Duane Dominy explain their pro-EPA vote

Update on the 11/13/12 Council Meeting: Lifetime health care for Council members approved, EPA endorsement, fairgrounds ...




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Ron Ramsey Beth Harwell support wine sales in supermarkets

Ron Ramsey Beth Harwell support wine sales in supermarkets | The ...
The top two Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly support allowing the sale of wine in supermarkets, and the influx of new GOP lawmakers is giving ...

My Comment: Maybe, finally, we will get wine in grocery stores. It is about time. Let us start with wine in grocery stores, then completely revamp Tennessee's antiquated, price-fixing, protectionist, anti-competitive liquor and beer laws. 

Let liquor stores buy directly from producers rather than making them purchase from wholesalers, allow owners of a liquor store to own more than one store, reduce Tennessee's highest in the nation tax on breweries, allow wine tastings in liquor stores and grocery stores, permit liquor stores to sell corkscrews, and legalize consumer internet purchase of out-of-state wine directly from the winery delivered to your home by UPS. 

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