Friday, December 21, 2012

Drew Johnson's support of gay marriage

Drew Johnson is the editor of the Free Press opinion page at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He was formerly a resident of Nashville and was founder of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, now the Beacon  Center, an influential Tennessee conservative think tank.

Writing in the Free Press yesterday Drew wrote an article supporting gay marriage, and laying out the argument why conservatives should support it. Here is an excerpt:

  As conservatives, we often advocate for government recognition of marriage between one man and one woman on the basis that it is an institution that benefits the public good. Yet, in the same breath, we fight other attempts by government intended to benefit the public good -- such as mandatory exercise schemes, occupational licensing requirements and bans on sodas and fatty foods -- with every fiber of our being. This intellectual inconsistency not only concedes marital power to government without a constitutional basis, but weakens our arguments when government tries to gasp control of other aspects of our lives -- from what we can eat to how we should teach our children.
 Our other conservative arguments against gay marriage are even more flawed and even less compelling.  Religious beliefs, while the best reason to oppose gay marriage personally, are perhaps the worst reason to encourage government prevention of gay marriage universally.

For many of us as conservatives, religious dictates determine how we and our family choose to operate in our personal lives -- and we don't want government in the way of that. It is contradictory to argue to keep government out of religion while attempting to use government to mandate our religious beliefs on others who may not share out values.(read more)
While I understand the logic of his argument, I am not persuaded. I am not homophobic and don't care what any two or more people do in the privacy of their bedroom. I do think homosexuals should be treated with dignity and I am not uncomfortable around gay people. I would not discriminate against them. However I am not ready to endorse gay marriage.

Every since written history, for as long as we have had knowledge of the institution of marriage, it has been between a men and women. Marriage is older than formal government. If two men or two women want to shack up (or two men and two women), I don't care, but don't call it marriage. Institutions, culture, values, customs, traditions, and truths should not be changed lightly . Conserving is also part of what it is to be a conservative. Respect for inherited wisdom is as much of what it means to be a conservative as is limited government.

I understand some of the practical benefits of marriage and why a gay couple would want them.  However many of those benefits can be conferred by contract. If a gay man wants to be with his dying partner in the hospital, that can be arranged by contract. Two gay people can deed a house as tenants in common with right of survivorship.

I also understand that two gay people may want to solemnize there relationship. They can do that now as a private matter.  They can get married in a gay or gay-friendly church and have as big of a "wedding" as they can afford. Do it. I don't care.

What I don't want, is to corrupt what has been the institution of marriage since the dawn of history.  I don't want government to become a morality police agency enforcing standards or moral conduct and imposing conformity but neither do I want government to sanction a union of two people of the same sex and call it marriage. 

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meeting of the Metro Nashville School Board on December 20, 2012

The video of the meeting of the Metro Nashville School Board on December 20, 2012 is now available. It is a work session on capital needs. I have not watched it and am not sure I will. I have Christmas present to wrap, and a party to go to, and other holiday activity.  For those of you who are very interested in what happens with Metro schools, you can go to the link and watch it. If there is anything of interest that happens, please post a comment.  Here is the link: Metro Nashville School Board on December 20, 2012

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.  I would want someone who has a passion for education and and who 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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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Notation and commentary of the 12/1/12 Council meeting

This meeting is only 52 minutes long. Below are the highlights with notations of where to go in the video to see the good stuff. If you want to follow the action and relate it to the agenda, follow this link. From that link you can link to the Metro Council staff analysis should you want to know even more about any particular bill.

The meeting opens with a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Newtown Connecticut shooting and a moving heartfelt prayer by Councilman McGuire. 

Resolutions: All resolutions are on the consent agenda except RS2012-522 which is a resolution authorizing the school board to purchase some property. Councilman Stanley has RS2012-523 pulled off the consent agenda.  RS2012-522 is deferred indefinitely.

Resolution No. RS2012-523 acquires 600 acres in the bend of the Stones River. This purchase, combined with other recently-acquired property, would result in 800 acres of contiguous park land. This resolution is not controversial and passes unanimously but is taken off of the consent agenda apparently just so the sponsors can explain the project and get some deserved credit and recognition for this accomplishment. (see 11:30-17:08)

Bills on Second reading

  • BILL NO. BL2012-283 would impose new regulations on commercial door-to-door solicitors and it passes unanimously. While I know aggressive sales people can be an annoyance and while I know some are unscrupulous, I do not think I could support this bill. We are grownups. We do not need to look to government to remove every annoyance from our life. I am disappointed there was no debate on this bill.
  • BILL NO. BL2012-284 would require public works to install rubber speed cushions as part of a traffic management program if petitioned by a majority of the resident homeowners on the street. It is deferred indefinitely. Speed bumps are controversial and many motorists hate them. (To see the discussion see 20:42-24:13)

  • BILL NO. BL2012-292 would permit home recording studios in residential neighborhoods is deferred to the second meeting in January.

  • BILL NO. BL2012-320 by Councilman Claiborne which would reduce the Metro lifetime health health insurance subsidy for former members of council.  This benefit currently costs Metro approximately $300,000 per year. Due to term limits there are a growing number of former metro council members. This cost is going to continue to increase. This bill deserved to pass and it does by a vote of 25 to 13. Check the video to see how the individual council members voted. (see 26:20-31:04)

Bills on Third reading

  • BILL NO. BL2012-301is Council member Karen Johnson's attempt to down zone a piece of property in Nashboro village. There is some controversy about what the committee vote really was. In my view this bill is a "taking" of private property without compensation. It deserved to fail and does by a vote of  18 for and 20 against. I am surprised and disappointed that some of the councilmen who I think of as the good councilmen voted for this bill.  The vote was a machine vote. See the video to see how council members voted. (See 34:20-42:18)
  •  Bill 2012-314 the voluntary retirement buy-out for Metro employees passes.

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Liberal racist hate Blacks who won't stay on the plantation

Some of the most courageous people in America are those African-Americans who dare defy liberal orthodoxy and think for themselves. Liberals love Black people as long as they stay on the liberal plantation. Liberals claim to love diversity but they hate diversity of thought. Let a Black person become a Republican or member of the tea party or express support for free enterprise and limited government and the liberal establishment turns on that person with a vengeance.  They are routinely denounced as Uncle Tom, tokens, and race traitors. It takes true courage to be a Black conservative.

Earlier this week, Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina appointed  Republican Representative Tim Scott, who happens to be Black, to fill the Senate seat of Jim DeMint who resigned to take over leadership of the Heritage Foundation. In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Adolph L. Reed Jr., a  political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, explain why Tim Scott is nothing but a "cynical token." Below is an excerpt:

Mr. Scott’s background is also striking: raised by a poor single mother, he defeated, with Tea Party backing, two white men in a 2010 Republican primary: a son of Thurmond and a son of former Gov. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. But his politics, like those of the archconservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, are utterly at odds with the preferences of most black Americans. Mr. Scott has been staunchly anti-tax, anti-union and anti-abortion.(read more)

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

TNGOP Names Brent Leatherwood as New Executive Director

State House GOP Communications Named to the Position; Michael Sullivan Promoted to Deputy Executive Director 

NASHVILLE, TN – The top spot on the staff of the Tennessee Republican Party is going to a fresh face, while a new position will be filled from a much-deserved promotion from within the organization.

Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, Chris Devaney, today announced the hiring of Brent Leatherwood to be the Party’s new Executive Director. At the same time, he announced that the Party’s current Political Director, Michael Sullivan, will be promoted to Deputy Executive Director.

“We have a great team at the TNGOP, and we are excited about Brent Leatherwood helping us lead our effort for the next two years. Brent has extensive campaign experience, and his knowledge of the state legislature will also be a valuable asset as we prepare for the 2014 elections and beyond,” said Devaney.

Leatherwood remarked, “I am incredibly excited about this opportunity to help guide the Tennessee Republican Party. Chairman Devaney has led the Party to new heights and I believe we’re going to continue excelling as the organization that represents the values of Tennesseans. We’ll do that by being a robust operation that serves as an unparalleled information resource, provides a strong Get Out the Vote effort, and continues to help elect Republicans across the state.”

Leatherwood will join the TNGOP in January after serving the Tennessee House Republican Caucus as the Communications Director. A native of Chattanooga, he has worked in Congress as a Senior Policy Advisor for U.S. Representative from Florida, has led two congressional campaigns in Tennessee, and has worked on multiple U.S. Senate and U.S. House races.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working for Chairman Devaney and the TNGOP at a higher level. Republicans have made significant gains in Tennessee in the past few years, but there is still more we can do to ensure a strong Party in Tennessee for years to come. ” added Michael Sullivan.

State House GOP Communications Named to the Position; Michael Sullivan Promoted to Deputy Executive Director Sullivan has been with the TNGOP since July of 2011. Prior to his current role, he served the Indiana House Republican Caucus as a Press Secretary. An Indianapolis native, Sullivan has worked on multiple campaigns including Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels' 2008 reelection campaign, as well as running a congressional campaign in Indiana and a Senatorial campaign in Illinois.

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Green Hills GOP group needs a place to meet

From Peter & Gail Voysey, Green Hills GOP Summit

Hi Everybody!

Two Things:

FIRST: We are still looking for a new home for our meetings. We'd like to find a location in or near Green Hills, with a special preference for a company cafeteria or church parish hall or similar, where we can serve coffee and pastries and have ample seating and free parking.

SECOND: No meeting this month--everybody's running around and much too busy.

We wish you and yours all the peace and joy of the holiday season.
Peter & Gail Voysey Green Hills GOP Summit
GOP Nashville/Davidson County Republican Party

You can contact Peter or Gail at The Green Hill group has been very successful. These breakfast "summit" groups are a great way to stay connected with other Republicans and stay informed. In the approximate two years since the Green Hills groups has existed it has had five different homes. In Green Hills a Saturday morning meeting place is hard to come by. If you have an office with a break room or any meeting place that might be suitable, please contact Peter or Gail. It would be ashamed to let this successful group disappear because we can't find a place to meet.

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Speaker Harwell proposes changes to decades-old House rules Effort seeks to promote efficiency and save taxpayer money

Speaker Beth Harwell
NASHVILLE - Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today announced she is recommending changes to the Tennessee House of Representatives internal rules that will make the governmental process more efficient and save taxpayer money. The changes follow an effort two years ago to streamline operations.

The changes include:
• Restructuring the committee system to balance the workload of each;
• Adopting the annual ethics resolution into the House Rules which will ensure the body is abiding by an ethics policy from the first day;
Limiting the number of bills filed to 10 per member annually which will encourage members to prioritize;
• Reaffirming that each member vote for only him or herself;
• And deleting the requirement that every document be printed to reduce the amount of paper used in committee and for floor sessions.

"The new committee system will balance the workloads of each committee, ensuring that they are as efficient as possible. Bill limits will reduce duplication and ensure each member prioritizes their issues. I am seeking to eliminate the requirement that every document we produce as a body be printed in effort for us to adapt to the technology available and reduce the enormous amount of paper used each year. Each of these measures together ensure a more efficient, effective, and accessible government. This will also give us more time for thoughtful, deliberate analysis on each piece of legislation—which is something Tennesseans expect and deserve."

The proposed recommendations will be taken up by the House Rules Committee, which will be appointed by the Speaker in January.

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What happened in the Council on 12-18-2012

  • Council passes on second reading a plan to reduce the insurance subsidy for future former council members.
  • Voluntary retirement buy-out for Metro employees passes.
  • Council voted to purchase 600 acre Stones River property for a park.
  • Council member Karen Johnson's attempt to down zone a piece of property in Nashboro village fails.
Check back for video with notation of highlights and commentary.

Council health insurance change moves ahead

The Tennessean, Dec 18, 2012- A plan to dramatically scale back the controversial lifetime health insurance benefit for Metro Council members won preliminary approval Tuesday but could face challenges when it goes up for a final vote next month.
Council approves Metro employee buyout program on final reading

City Paper, by Steven Hale, Wednesday, December 19, 2012- The Metro Council gave quick final approval to a buyout program for Metro workers, in what was an otherwise relatively uneventful meeting Tuesday night. The council’s final meeting of the year began with a moment of silence for the victims of last Friday’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. Councilman Sean McGuire led a prayer for the victims families.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Council Budget and Finance for 12/17/2012: Well, we never knew, says Register.

This meeting is only 20 minutes long. One learns a lot more about the important issues facing the city by watching the B&;F committee meetings than they do by watching the council meetings. Most of the bills sail through without discussion.

The meeting with Director of Schools Jessie Register of School Board occurred immediately prior to this B&F committee meeting and is not captured on this video. The below link is to a Tennessean article that reports on that meeting.

Charlie Tygard takes the opportunity to chastise the school board for the loss of the $3.4 million dollars as a result of defying the State Department of Education.  See 10:35 

Bill 20-12-220 which would significantly reduce the health insurance subsidy for future former council members passes by a vote of 8-2. There is no discussion of the bill.

Metro school board didn't know funds would be withheld, director says

 System lost $3.4 million after defying state order to approve Great Hearts Academies plan

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean,12/18/2012- The Tennessee Department of Education never warned Metro that state education funds were at stake if it were to reject the controversial charter school proposal of Great Hearts Academies, Director of Schools Jesse Register told members of the Metro Council on Monday.

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Summary of the Council Agenda for 12-18-12

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.

Bills on public hearing: There are no bills on public hearing this meeting.

The Consent Agenda.  There are twenty 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. However, sometimes things that should be controversial do slip through on the consent agenda.

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 ask 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.

I see nothing on the consent agenda that appears controversial. Below are a couple resolutions of interest.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-516 refinances up to $370 million of debt to a lower interest rate which will save the city money. This is a good bill.

  • Resolution No. RS2012-523 acquires 600 acres in the bend of the Stones River. This purchase, combined with other recently-acquired property, would result in 800 acres of contiguous park land. I support this. We have great park system in Nashville. As we grow we need to continue to set aside park lands.

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.

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. BL2012-283 would impose new regulations on commercial door-to-door solicitors. They would have to get permits and display badges with photo id’s. It also provides for Metro to maintain a “do not solicit” list. There is a substitute pending that would also require a criminal background check. While I know aggressive sales people can be an annoyance and while I know some are unscrupulous, I do not think I could support this bill.  We are grownups.  We do not need to look to government to remove every annoyance from our life. I hope there is some good debate on this bill.
  • BILL NO. BL2012-284 would require public works to install rubber speed cushions as part of a traffic management program if petitioned by a majority of the resident homeowners on the street. Speed bumps are controversial and many motorists hate them. This will probably generate some debate.
  • BILL NO. BL2012-292 would permit home recording studios in residential neighborhoods. 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.
This bill was on public hearing last time and there was a lot of comment about it. It was deferred and referred to committee. Council Member Barry promised to get input of the music committee and work on improving the bill. (To see last meeting’s discussion follow this link and view the video and see 14:03-26:33) I suspect this bill will be deferred again.
BILL NO. BL2012-320 by Councilman Claiborne would reduce the Metro lifetime health insurance subsidy for future former councilmen. Previously, Councilman Claiborne had attempted to abolish the lifetime health insurance subsidy for future former councilmen, but that effort failed. The subsidized health insurance for former members of council currently costs Metro approximately $300,000 per year. Due to term limits there are a growing number of former metro council members. This cost is going to continue to increase. This bill needs to pass.  To read more about this see here and here.  
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. While there may be several zoning bill that interest effected neighbors, there is only one bill of general interest that is controversial on third reading.
  • BILL NO. BL2012-301 by Council Member Karen Johnson is the controversial bill that would downzone a piece of property in Nashboro Village. Last council several people spoke against it. To see the public hearing on the bill from last council meeting follow this link, view the video at (see 26:34-58:00.). 
Since this bill was disapproved by the planning committee if will require 27 votes to pass.  On second reading it passed 28-8. This could be real close if a council member changed his mind or if a couple of members are absent. I hope it fails. This seems like a “taking” of property.
There are no memorializing resolutions on the agenda.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Nashville Chamber Backing Charter Schools

Nashville Chamber Backing Charter Schools
A Nashville business group has put a priority on advocating for charter schools.

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How to profit from a disaster

From the Heritage Foundation:

Today, the Senate will begin debating a bill that was supposed to be disaster recovery funds for those devastated by the storm. But so many special-interest projects were added on that the $60.4 billion request has turned into a farce. Roughly $28 billion of the request is marked for future disaster-mitigation projects.

It includes:

The bill also seeks federal funding for things that are provided on a state and local level, or by nonprofits and communities, such as food for food banks.

 “Removing unnecessary items from the Administration’s request yields a reduced request of $12.8 billion in supplemental funds. These funds should be provided only after being offset by spending reductions.”
Using the excuse of a national disaster to fund roof repairs for the Smithsonian is almost enough to make one cynical, isn't it. 

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This Wednesday: The Electoral College: Time to Scrap It? A Debate

Conservative Fusion is a book club that reads important books of interest to conservatives and libertarians. For this meeting however, there is no book to read; instead, there will be a debate on whether or not it is time to abolish the electoral college and have direct popular election of the president.

 Meeting: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

To RSVP and get location, follow this link. Conservative Fusion Meetup.

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Formal ethics complaint filed against NES's Decosta Jenkens. Public needs to demand action!

Citizen-activist Ken Jakes has filed a written complaint against Decosta Jenkens for unethical and criminal behavior. Below is a copy of his email to the Mayor and members of the Council asking that the Mayor ask the NES Board, which is appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council, to terminate Mr. Jenkins contract. Below is the email letter. I have edited the email by removing Mr. Jakes phone numbers.

From: "Ken Jakes"
To: "Metro clerk" ,
Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2012 11:00:09 AM
Subject: Ethical Complaint to file against Decosta Jenkins

To mayor Dean, our Metro Council, and Metro Clerk,

I am forming in a written complaint for the unethical behavior against Decosta Jenkins as the leadership of NES. Decosta Jenkins himself signed the contract between Opryland and NES where it benefited only he and other employees of NES. It had no benefit to the rate payers of Nashville and Davidson County and the area that NES provides. All that was gained from this action was a loss of revenue for the rate payers which we have to replace within our electric rate charges. All the free perks on the back of the rate payers were taxable income which NES has provided to me that they did not keep records. This in itself is a violation of law and it is my opinion that a violation of law is a criminal offense.

The Metro Government has to have in place policy against this type of actions. How does Decosta Jenkins say we will address this issue when in my opinion he is as guilty as the wrong doing of the employees. I ask that you Mayor Dean, address this and ask the NES Board who you appointed to terminate Decosta Jenkins. I ask the Metro Council to address in what ever way it can proceed. I ask the Metro Clerk if this is not the proper procedure to file an ethical complaint against Decosta Jenkins, then to contact me so I may take each step necessary to file this complaint. I will place my contact information below so should any of you wish to contact me please do so,

The people you represent do not want this swept under the table,

Ken Jakes
office 615-xxx-xxxx
Cell 615-xxx-xxx
Home 615-xxx-xxxx 

Ken has also written Laura Tidwell, legal counsel for NES forwarding her a copy of the complaint and asking that  his complaint be placed on the NES agenda for the next meeting. Here is an excerpt from that letter:
I am requesting that you as Legal Council for NES follow through with my request to make sure it is filed the proper way to be address and placed on the Agenda for the next meeting of the Board to be addressed. The 17 million dollar contract that Decosta Jenkins stated on Channel 5 , was an error on his part, was public revenue. Part of that revenue came from me through my electric rates. In my opinion it is nothing short of Bid Rigging.

We do not need Decosta Jenkins in leadrership of NES WITH THESE TYPES OF ACTIONS. Tory Johnson may say he will not make criminal prosecutions but all know it was wrong. I can assure all if Decosta is not terminated it is not over yet. I will just proceed to Federal Investigations of Fraud and misuse of Public Funds. Who knows, maybe they will with hold Federal Grants and Funding until they can get to the bottom of the situation. I am on a crusade for the rate payers of NES that have been abused. I would hope that you would feel as I. Laura, my battle is not with you, however handle this for what it is, Public Corruption. Do not let Decosta Jenkins harm your Legal Profession in my opinion defending his actions. Just something to think about.
In a separate email to the Metropolitan Clerk, Ken includes appendix three of the Metro Charter. Below is a relevant portion of that Charter provision concerning NES.
The officers, agents and employees of the board are prohibited from appropriating or using any of the moneys, revenues, assets or property of the board, or of the metropolitan government, or its credit either directly or indirectly by way of donations for festivities, exhibits, shows, lectures, pageants, excursions, decorations or parades, and shall not give or grant to any person or persons any reduction or other benefit of any kind in rates or service by the board, nor shall they make or allow any discrimination in favor of any purchaser of power, light, current or other service not enjoyed by others of the same class and taking power under like conditions; provided, nothing in this article shall prevent participation in normal electric promotion activities.  
The public need to rally around this issue and not let the people at NES get off with a simple promise to do better in the future. Corruption like this should not be accepted as business as usual. Tory Johnson needs to pursue criminal indictments, the mayor needs to pressure the NES board  to fire Jenkins and the Council needs to hold hearing on the matter and apply pressure. Also, since NES is chartered by the State and subject to state authority our State senators and representatives need to demand changes at NES. 

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Audit of NES shows an outrageous lack of ethics

by Gail Kerr, The Tennessean, Dec 16, 2012- A scathing audit of Nashville Electric Service shows that $104.50 from your light bill payment went to buy a baby gift for an NES board member.

The buyer? NES’ chief financial officer.

Are you hot under the collar yet?

How about this: The public utility wrote specifications to “circumvent” proper bid procedures when buying $17 million of power cable. “Circumvent” is such a polite word. They might as well just call it what it was: bid rigging.

But wait! There’s more! (read more)
My Comment: I am hot under the collar. This is an outrage! It is theft. Crimes have been committed. Some people ought to go to jail and a lot of people ought to lose their jobs!

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