Saturday, May 04, 2013

Kathleen Starnes speaks up for Albert Tieche in letter to Buchanan

Email from Kathleen Starnes to Commissioner Buchanan of the Election Commission:
Dear Commissioner Buchanan:
I am writing as the immediate Past Chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party.
The Davidson County Republican Party (DCRP) worked with Republicans across the state to gain a majority in the State Senate and House. Because we are now a solid Red State, the Tennessee Republican Party has strengthen their by laws to include a higher standard for Republican county officials.  In fact, to be an officer in the Davidson County Republican Party one has to have voted in the last three Republican primaries.  I assume you and the other DCEC Commissioners can meet this standard?  After all, you do represent the Republicans of Davidson County in our election process.  Another factor of our State Senate and House success is that now we have a majority on the Davidson County Election Commission (DCEC).
I have been very involved with the DCEC and have attended most of their meetings over the past four years. As Republicans, we should be proud of the accomplishments of the Commission. Among those accomplishments are the following:

-Survived the Voter ID law to get the message out over the County;
-Survived two, not one, but two redistricting maps (Metro Council, State, and House);
-Incorporated new electronic poll books which work great in spite of Democratic objections and those of Mark Goins;
-Increased the Republican base to help with the elections:
-Continued the fight against Democrats who want to hold on to their last stronghold, Davidson County
-Increased the voter base who have confidence in the election process; and,
-Improved the DCEC election website, making it user friendly.

Over the years, I have worked the polls in Davidson County in every capacity. I suggest that it is important for those in leadership positions to have a background in the election process, to walk in the shoes of those closely involved in the election process. Surely, this is something you and your fellow Commissioners will be involved in doing during an election. I also recommend that you and fellow Commissioners would be better served to attend a Poll Official training session to get an overview of the process.
I sit on several Metro, State, and Federal Boards and Commissions, and I am very concerned that you took it upon yourself to ask for Albert Tieche's resignation. I suggest that your job, especially new in your position, should be to work WITH the Administrator of Elections (AOE), not attack him so early in your tenure on the Commission. There is concern among many Republicans that we avoid "Eating Our Own."

As you know, the DCEC recently went through an audit from Metro Nashville. The audit was favorable with some areas identified for improvement. (That's what audits do.) The audit was appropriately sent to Secretary of State, Tre Hargett. I suggest to you, Commissioner Buchanan, that as a Mediator, your job is to assess problems over time and work with the Commission and the AOE to solve issues that need addressing. Problem solving is always evolving and can take weeks, months or a year depending on the issue.  The worst mistake is to make a knee jerk decision based on misinformation or not getting to know the personnel involved.

I understand that you may have been encouraged by others to expedite the dismissal of Albert Tieche. A meeting of the State Election Commission is set for May 13. I have requested that Secretary of State Tre Hargett arrange for a large meeting room in order to hear from those who wish to attend. It has come to my attention that you have called a meeting of the DCEC for May 9 at 2:00 p.m. to address personnel matters. Is this a coincidence?
I trust that you will be open about your intentions for AOE Albert Tieche and deal with this matter in an open and transparent manner.

Kathleen Starnes
Immediate Past Chairman
Davidson Co Republican Party

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Friday, May 03, 2013

Meeting of the Davidson County Election Commission changed to Thursday.

The meeting of the Davidson County Election Commission at which the newly appointed commission may vote to fire Administration of Elections Albert Tieche rather letting due process run its course has been moved to Thursday, May, at 2 pm, at 800 2nd Avenue, in the first floor Conference room. It was first thought it would be on Friday, but they changed it to Thursday. For more on this issue follow this link.

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Thursday, May 02, 2013

George Jones, RIP

On Thursday, thousands of fans gathered at the Grand Ole Opry to say goodbye to country legend George Jones.

Jones died last Friday after being hospitalized at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville since mid-April. He was 81.

I'll miss George Jones.

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Beth Campbell speaks up for Albert Tieche

From the Tennessean:

Beth Campbell, a Davidson County member of the Tennessee Republican Party's State Executive Committee, sent an email Wednesday to the county’s Republican legislative delegation and other GOP officials that said Buchanan was calling the special meeting with the purpose of firing Tieche. There are three Republicans and two Democrats on the election commission.

Campbell said Tieche, also a Republican, deserves a fuller hearing as state officials continue their review of the county's election operations. She urged House Speaker Beth Harwell and the county's other two GOP lawmakers, Sen. Steve Dickerson and Sen. Ferrell Haile, to talk to Buchanan "about the unintended consequences of such action."

"The DCEC needs to let due process run its course with an audit of The Davidson Election Commission from the State Election Commission," Campbell wrote.(read more)

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Is Albert Tieche on the way out as Davidson County's election chief?

By Steven Hale, The City Paper, Thursday, May 2, 2013 - It became clear that Davidson County Election Administrator Albert Tieche was on the defense when he hired a personal attorney to help him respond to a scathing state review last month.
During the most recent meeting of the Davidson County Election Commission — the five-member body that hires and fires the election administrator — Tieche spent the better part of five hours disputing nearly every piece of state Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins’ report on the commission, which he said seemed written “to be personal in nature.” (link)

My Comment
It would be a damn shame if the newly elected Election Commission, which has a Republican majority, throws Albert Tieche to to wolves. The new Davidson County Election Commission Chairman, Ron Buchanan, has called a special meeting, on Friday May 10  Thursday May 9th, at 2 pm, at 800 2nd Avenue, in the first floor Conference room.  (It was first thought it would be on Friday, but they changed it to Thursday) of the DCEC. It is rumored that at that meeting the newly appointed election commission will fire Administrator of Elections Albert Tieche.

Albert Tieche is the first Republican ever in Davidson County to serve as the Davidson County Administrator of Elections. In November 2008, the Republicans gained a majority of legislative seats in the State Legislature and that meant Republicans would hold a majority on all county election commissions across the State.  When former Administrator of Elections Ray Barrett announced his retirement, the Davidson Election Commission sought applicants to fill the vacancy. Albert Tieche was chosen from the 55 people who submitted applications. Prior to taking this position, Tieche worked at the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services, had worked as an election poll officer since 2003 and had trained others in the field and had written and copyrighted a manual to help poll workers know their tasks and responsibilities on Election Day. He took office in Nov. 2010.  He is well qualified for his position.

The Election Administrator is appointed by the local Election Commission for a four-year term. He keeps voter registration records, maintains voting histories for each voter, provides information concerning voter registration, absentee voting, elections, campaigns, and campaign financial disclosures. He is responsible for organizing all matters related to local elections in the county, including tallying the votes.

Albert Tieche had had difficult job.  Despite having a Republican Election Administrator and three of five seats on the Election Commission being Republican, rank and file of employees of the Commission are almost all Democrats. Tieche inherited a staff hired by the previous Democrat Election Administrators. Even today the attorney for the Davidson County Election is from Metro Legal Services. Since Davidson County has never had a Republican Mayor, all of our agencies are controlled by Democrats so the people who work for Tieche and the people Tiche must work with are often loyal Democrats. In addition to partisan loyalty, there is a certain resentment and resistance anytime a new chief executive comes in and starts making changes.

Tieche has had a challenging job to do at the election commission. Since he has been hired we have had a legislative and county redistricting, a Lakewood election that was won by only 11 votes, a City Council race that was won by only fifty-some votes, and in 2012 Jim Gotto lost a House seat election by only 91 votes. Anytime an election is close there will be intense scrutiny given to the process. In addition, the Commission has had to learn new technology and train people in its use and comply with the new picture Id law. All of this occurred within two years. With these challenges, I think Albert Tieche has done an admirable job. A recent Metro audit of the Election Commission gave the agency a good report.

The attempt to get Albert Tieche fired is being engineered by Mary Mancini. Mancini is a left wing ideologue who heads Tennessee Citizen Action, a non-profit, community-based public interest and consumer advocacy organization. She at one time hosted a radio program on the now defunct independent left-wing Liberadio(!). She is a 2006 graduate of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center’s Leadership Institute and has various other left-wing credentials.  Mancini is said to have the ear of Goins and has some influence. Why, I don't know.

The DCEC needs to let due process run its course. A meeting with the State Election Commission will occur on May 13, 2013 at which time Mr. Tieche will have an opportunity to respond to the State audit. The DCEC needs to stand by Tiche and let him defend himself before the State Election Commission.


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Phil Valentine on Commmon Core: I found nothing to alarm me and, in fact, a lot to encourage me.

Common Core: Good or Evil

by Phil Valentine
To be honest, I must admit that I went into my research looking for reasons to hate Common Core.  I was under the impression that the federal government was making a back door attempt to take over education which, constitutionally, should be run by the states and local school boards.

......I found nothing to alarm me and, in fact, a lot to encourage me.  Common Core appears to be what the name implies; a common core of knowledge that the states can agree on to prepare students for college, if the student so chooses, or for a career after high school.  How the schools impart that knowledge is largely left to them.  And the curriculum and materials are left exclusively to them. (read more)

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Joe Carr officially announces he is running

The Tennessee House member announced Thursday he is officially entering the race for the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District.

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About the Nashville Tea Party's anti-Lamar Alexander petition

Nashville Tea Party
Updated Information: We have over 2,000 signatures but we need 5,000. Please sign and then pass the web address on to Friends and Family. Thank YOU! PLEASE Sign the Petition: Tennessee Deserves a Conservative Alternative to Lamar Alexander Just Click HERE: PLEASE share this web address, and ask your friends and family to sign also. It is absolutely essential that we show support for the idea of a conservative alternative to Lamar Alexander. The more support we show, the more likely someone who can raise money and has statewide name recognition will step forward. If you have trouble with the link or simply want to handle this by email just REPLY to this email with the Names, email addresses and ZIP codes of those who would like to sign. Thank YOU!

My comment:

Why I won't be signing the Petition

I am not sure to whom this petition is to be addressed. It does not say but I won't be signing it.  I am occasionally disappointed with Lamar Alexander myself, but not disappointing enough to sign this petition. I am currently disappointed that he is pushing the bill that would require vendors of Internet sales to be tax collectors for all fifty states. I think that is a bad bill. Other than that bill however, I am not that disappointed in Lamar. I have a vague impression that he is not sufficiently conservative, but I actually often agree with Lamar on the issues that cause some conservatives to criticize him. 

I guess one reason I support Lamar is because of nostalgia. I remember when we had a terribly corrupt governor in Ray Blanton. The State was for sale, including selling of pardons and payrolls. Lamar was an unknown, but walked across the state in a red plaid flannel shirt and picked up name recognition and support. The contrast between Blanton and Alexander could not have been stronger. Alexander was clean-cut and fresh and honest and Blanton was the slim-ball selling pardons. After the election I joined in an event to walk to the capital with Lamar. Lamar led the pack as hundreds of us wearing red flannel shirts walked up Charlotte Ave to the Capitol building. I had never attended or thought about attending an inauguration ball or a swearing in before, but I attended Lamar's. Lamar was actually sworn in a couple days early to keep Blanton from pardoning a massive number of criminals. This was a time of high drama and Alexander was the hero.

Some of the criticism of Lamar is because of his support of the new START treaty. I am not an expert on nuclear arms control but think that with the end of the cold war and the US by far being the most heavily nuclear armed country in the world that this treaty, which would ensure that the weapons we do have actually work and that would allow inspection of Russia's nuclear warheads, was not a bad treaty.  The last six Republican secretaries of state supported it. One can not be an expert on everything and rather than trust the opinion of the critics of Lamar, I prefer to trust the opinion of the last six Republican Secretaries of State.

I also generally support Lamar's clean air and conservation record. I want to add acreage to our parks and protect critical habitat and I support reducing the toxins spewed from coal-fired plants. I sort of like clean air.

It is a futile effort to run a candidate against Lamar. He is unbeatable.  He already had $4 million in his campaign war chest in January, and he has the support of almost all elected Republican officials.  The co-chairs of his election campaign are Gov. Bill Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. In addition, campaign co-chairs will be Senator Bob Corker, the state speaker Beth Harwell and U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Chuck Fleischmann, Diane Black, Stephen Fincher and Phil Roe. Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr., a 13-term congressman, will chair Alexander’s campaign.(link

For a while Monty Langford, political fund raiser, conservative leader, and  former congressional candidate from Franklin, considered a run against Lamar, then decided against it and instead endorsed him saying:
 I’m supporting Lamar because he stands up for Tennesseans:

1) In 2011 and 2012 Lamar received a 100% rating from the National Federation of Independent Business and a 100% rating from the National Right to Life. The NRA gave Lamar an “A” in its most recent evaluation of his record.

2) He’s committed to fixing the debt by restraining out-of-control spending. He has had the courage to introduce a specific plan that reduces entitlement spending by $1 trillion, he voted for the Budget Control Act which is now law and cuts $2.2 trillion in spending, he has introduced legislation to require a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget and he’s cosponsored the No Budget, No Pay Act. He doesn’t want anyone in Congress to get paid if they don’t do their job.

3) He has fought to stop unfunded federal mandates his entire time in Congress. Lamar challenges legislation that sends Tennesseans the bill for Washington’s mandates because he believes the best thing Washington, D.C., could do for the state of Tennessee is stop imposing federal mandates that soak up our tax dollars.

4) He believes, as I do, that the Republican Party is the party of opportunity. In 2012, he voted with the majority of Republican senators 83% of the time.

5) He wakes up every day working hard for us and standing up for Tennesseans. He believes that we must preserve our Constitutional rights so that our children and our grandchildren have the same opportunities and freedoms that we have enjoyed.
I agree with the above statement. If Lamar Alexander is conservative enough for Monty Langford, Lt. Gov. Ron, Ramsey, and U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn, he is conservative enough for me. Please think about it before you sign that petition.

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The agenda of the May 7th Council meeting is now available

The agenda of the May 7th Council meeting is now available. If you will wait, I will read if for you and tell you if anything important is on the agenda, but if you just can't wait, here it is: Metro Council Agenda.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

First Tuesday topic "The future of health care"

From First Tuesday:

1ST TUESDAY members, friends &  Tennesseans VERY concerned about our State:
Those of you here in 1992 remember when Bill Clinton put TN Senator Al Gore on his ticket.... Doing so came with a PRICE to Tennessee....  Our Governor at the time, Ned McWherter agreed  that Tennessee would to become the "Guinea pig for Hillary -Care".... and they called it Tenn-Care ..... 
What was introduced to us a program that would basically be 5% of our State Budget now consumes at least 30% of our State Budget... SO....with the Republicans in charge in Tennessee....  you may be asking ... "Now What ?? "
Want to hear what the future of Healthcare in TN looks like ? What it may cost? Who has a role in deciding ? What the fights are likely going to be about ? In the State House? In the State Senate ? .... AND MORE ???? 
If you understand the importance of this growing issue... and the repercutions on EVERY OTHER Budget item , then  you will want to join us MONDAY... May 6th for our next 1ST TUESDAY lunch event.
Our panel will 4 members of the Legislature who will not only play critical roles in the decision making processes.. but are ALSO private industry professionals whose background and expertise will add critical perspectives this insightful event..
Our line up of SPEAKERS include --
1] St Senator  Mark Green, MD  -- not only is he educated as a Doctor, but has started a very successful healthcare company. Dr. Green knows the business of healthcare.
2] St Senator Jim Tracy  -- a trusted leader confidant of Lt. Gov Ramsey in the State Senate and for almost 30yrs the owner of an Insurance Agency for Nationwide Insurance. He understands what the public knows... and much of what we really don't !
3] Republican House Caucus Chairman Glen Casada -  As the Caucus Leader, Glen is in a rare position to understand what is happening in the State House.. and who is likely to support.. or oppose various Legislative options.. Professionally .. Glen works "Big Pharma"
In our country.. You cannot do medicine without the Pharmacuetical Industry being involved
4] St Rep Charles Sargent, Chairman of the House Budget Committee. -- When 30% of the Budget is involved.. you can just imagine how critical the views of the Budget Committee Chairman are to the outcome. Professionally, Charles owns an Insurance Agency in Green Hills.
Needless to say.. these 4 Legislators will be major factors in what Healthcare in Tennessee... AND its affects on the Tennessee State Budget will look like !!
LITERALLY..    10's of MILLIONS of $$$$ .... your DOLLARS..   are in play !

As usually, we will meet at The Law Offices of Waller/Lansden.. 511 Union Street 27th floor. Doors open at 11AM for Coffee & Social Time. Lunch from Alexanders Catering is at 11:30AM -- $20 for Members and $25 for Guests who have prepaid .. $30 for anyone at the door the day of the event.. Visit our 1ST TUESDAY   website at  and click on Shopping Cart to secure your seat for lunch!
Again.. our 1ST TUESDAY lunch will be next MONDAY.. May 6th so our friends at the Nashville Republican Women can have the next day for their annual auction !!  Details  for the NRW event to follow !  ---  [ come to both.. and bring your check book !!  ]
Hope to see you at both events.

Tim Skow

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The case against cronies: Libertarians must stand up to corporate greed

Being "pro-business" is not the same as being in favor of free enterprise.  Many businessmen are pleased with their special protection from competition or their government subsidy or special tax break or regulations designed to give them an advantage.  Many business people do not object to the government picking winners and losers as long as they are the one picked.  This article explains why crony capitalism is immoral and why advocates of free markets should expose and condemn it.

Crony capitalism is not just a national issue, but evident here in Nashville when a mandatory minimum fee and regulation are designed to protect established limousine companies from competition, when special tax breaks are given to HCA or Gaylord, and when eminent domain is used to take property from one person and give it to another.

The case against cronies: Libertarians must stand up to corporate greed

Timothy P. Carney , The Atlantic, April 30, 2013 - It's time for a free-market corporate social responsibility. Conservatives who rail against government hand-outs should also blast companies who seek shelter from Washington.

The Republican attack on President Obama's economic policy has changed subtly, but significantly, in the last three years. In 2009, he was allegedly a "socialist" and a "Marxist" who lusted for government control of the entire economy. But lately, that has given way to more nuanced charges of "crony capitalism" -- of giving special, friendly treatment to certain companies and industries, or allowing powerful corporations to essentially write the laws, themselves.

Republicans shouted about Obama's green energy handouts and industry bailouts. Mitt Romney assailed him for picking winners and losers. "Free enterprise works," Romney said in early 2012. "Crony capitalism does not."
When the ethanol industry writes an ethanol mandate, or H&R Block hatches a policy that crushes its small competitors, it's legal. But it's also a naked attempt to extract money from unwilling payers, restrict the freedom of competitors, and deny options to customers. This is the sort of behavior conservatives and libertarians need to denounce. (link)

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Rep. Joe Carr To Announce Decision Thursday On 4th District Congress Race

 Rep. Joe Carr To Announce Decision Thursday On 4th District Congress Race

The Chattanoogan - Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas, District 48) said he will announce his decision on Thursday on whether to run for 4th District Gongress - a seat now held by Republican Scott DesJarlais. He will hold a press conference at Gateway Village in Murfreesboro at ...

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The anti-Common Core forum at Cool Springs

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Common Core event at Cool Springs last night.  I would have liked to have learned  more about the topic and provided my own report on the event. While the Common Core standards may not be perfect, I have tended to think Common Core was a positive education reform effort. However,  with organizations such as the Heritage Foundation taking a stand against Common Core I am open to being persuaded that it is not a positive development.

While I respect the Heritage Foundation and would value their opinion, some of the other lead opponents of Common Core and some of the organizers and sponsors of this event are from the Black-Helicopter-tinfoil-hat wing of the conservative movement. I tend to take their opinions with a grain of salt.  I know most bloggers are very opinionated and take adamant positions on issues. I guess I am not a good pundit because I don't have all the answers. I also tend not to jump on the bandwagon. I am still forming an opinion.

According to a Facebook post from Bobbie Patray of Eagle Forum,  among those attending were Sen. Mae Beavers (Mt. Juliet), Sen. Mike Bell (Riceville), Sen. Janice Bowling (Tullahoma), Sen. Dolores Gresham, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, (Summerville), Sen. Ferrell Haile (Gallatin), Sen. Jack Johnson (Franklin), Sen. Jim Tracy (Shelbyville), Rep. Shelia Butt (Columbia), Rep. Mike Carter (Ooltewah), Rep. Glen Casada (Thompson Station), Rep. Mary Littleton (Dickson), Rep. Rep. Debra Moody (Covington), Rep. Mark Pody (Lebanon), Rep. Courtney Rogers (Goodlettsville), Rep. Charles Sargent (Franklin), Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (Lancaster), Rep. Dawn White (Murfreesboro), and numerous members of local boards of education, many teachers, parents, and grassroots activists.

Below is the Tennesseans report of the event:

Conservatives rally against schools' Common Core standards as a federal overreach

by Maria Giordano, The Tennessean, May 1, 2013, FRANKLIN — Conservatives came from far and wide Tuesday night to rail against Common Core standards, calling them academically weak and a threat to parents’ control over their children’s education.

More than 400 parents, community members and out-of-town guests gathered in the Cool Springs Embassy Suites for a second round of panel discussions on the standards, adopted here and in 44 states for what children are expected to know as they progress through school.(read more)
Here is a link to WKRN Channel 2's  news report: Critics speak out about new Common Core standards.

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6 P.M., THE STANDARD, 67 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard, Guest Speaker, Grant Everett Starrett, former Coalitions Coordinator for the Mitt Romney campaign.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Highlights Fiscal Year 2014 Metro Budget

From the Mayors Office:

Highlights Fiscal Year 2014 Budget 
Mayor Karl Dean today discussed highlights of Metro’s Fiscal Year 2013-2014 proposed operating budget and capital spending plan. “We have been conservative but optimistic, and so with this year’s budget there are no surprises,” Mayor Dean said. “We are in a good position to implement the same philosophy that has driven our budget decisions from day one: focus on services, invest in our priorities and cut back where we can. This budget allows us to continue our city’s momentum, but in a way that is prudent and fiscally responsible.”

Operating Budget
  • Recommended budget of $1.8 billion, representing a 5.86 percent increase over FY 2012-2013.
  • No proposed increase in property taxes. The tax rate will go down because of the property reappraisal and the increase in property values in recent years (by state law, municipalities cannot collect more revenue from a reappraisal).
  • Projected revenue growth of $55.3 million, mostly from increased collections of the local option sales tax ($24.2 million) and property tax collections ($16.4 million).
  • Metro Schools will continue to receive the largest portion of the budget at 41 percent, and public safety will get the second largest part at 22 percent.
  • Metro Schools will receive an additional $26 million.
    • Their budget has increased by $126 million since Mayor Dean’s first budget.
    • Metro Schools’ $746 million budget is a 3.61 percent increase over the current fiscal year.
  • Metro Police will receive an additional $2.8 million.
    • The increase will fund staff for the city’s new DNA Crime Lab, which will open in January, and will allow DNA tests for at least twice as many cases than are currently being sent to the TBI due to the state lab’s constraints.
    • The increase will also staff the new Madison Police Precinct, which only operated for part of the current fiscal year and will need a full year of funding going forward.
  • Parks will receive $878,400, in large part to cover maintenance and mowing and staff two new community centers.
    • Since Mayor Dean took office, the city has added 1,500 acres of new park land, all of which needs to be maintained. Other parks will be mowed more frequently.
    • Community centers in Sevier Park and Joelton will open this fiscal year and need funds for staff and operating expenses.
  • Nashville Public Library will receive $469,700, primarily to open the main library downtown on Mondays.
  • The Health Department will receive $150,000 for three additional animal control officers. These additional positions will help restrict the population growth of unwanted animals.
  • MTA will receive an increase of $4 million to fund a full year of operation for the new University Connector, the city’s first crosstown route that began operating shortly after the 28th/31st Avenue Connector opened last fall and the new Murfreesboro Road bus rapid transit (BRT) lite service.
  • An increase of $350,000 for the Community Enhancement Fund, a program in which Metro awards grants to nonprofits that provide services in three critical areas: domestic violence, education or afterschool care, and direct community service. The increase will add a fourth category of adult literacy.
  • An additional $57 million in debt service payments. Anticipating this higher debt payment, past budgets set aside additional reserves to help cover these costs. City reserves will remain higher than when Mayor Dean first took office.
Capital Spending Plan

  • The largest portion of the proposed $300 million capital spending plan is $95 million for Metro Schools.
    • Funding for Goodlettsville Middle School and Tusculum Elementary to be replaced, Waverly Belmont to be renovated and opened, and build a new elementary school.
    • The $95 million builds on the $100 million in capital dollars Metro Schools received last year. In total, Mayor Dean has provided $388 million in capital spending to Metro Schools since taking office. 
  • The rest of the capital spending plan is set aside for general government projects, including Public Works, Library maintenance, Parks improvements, fire halls and MTA.
My Comment:
Just because the Mayor has proposed a no-tax-increase budget the Council should not roll over and play dead.  The Council should look hard for inefficiencies and waste and examine the budget to insure that it reflects the values of this community and our priorities and it does not lay the groundwork for future tax increases.

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BELLEVUE BREAKFAST CLUB SATURDAY, May 4th, Special Guest Steve Abernathy

SATURDAY, May 4th, 2013 
8:00 AM BREAKFAST (Dutch)  
7745 HWY 70 SOUTH  
Special Guest 

 Steve Abernathy 
 Past Election Commissioners, who has been diligent in wanting our voting rights as U.S. Citizens to be protected. 
Thanks for your support ! Betty Hood

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RNC passes resolution opposing Common Core

On Friday April 12th, the Republican National Committee unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards. Below is the complete text of that resolution.


Whereas, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of academic standards, promoted and supported by two private membership organizations, the National Governor‟s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), as a method for conforming American students to uniform (“one size fits all”) achievement goals to make them more competitive in a global marketplace; and

Whereas, the NGA and the CCSSO, received tens of millions of dollars from private third parties to advocate for and develop the CCSS strategy, subsequently created the CCSS through a process that was not subject to any freedom of information acts or other sunshine laws, and never piloted the CCSS; and

Whereas, even though Federal Law prohibits the federalizing of curriculum, the Obama Administration accepted the CCSS plan and used 2009 Stimulus Bill money to reward the states that were most committed to the president‟s CCSS agenda; but, they failed to give states, their legislatures and their citizens time to evaluate the CCSS before having to commit to them; and 

Whereas, the NGA and CCSSO in concert with the same corporations developing the CCSS "assessments‟ have created new textbooks, digital media and other teaching materials aligned to the standards which must be purchased and adopted by local school districts in order that students may effectively compete on CCSS "assessments;" and

Whereas, the CCSS program includes federally funded testing and the collection and sharing of massive amounts of personal student and teacher data; and

Whereas, the CCSS effectively removes educational choice and competition since all schools and all districts must use Common Core "assessments" based on the Common Core standards to allow all students to advance in the school system and to advance to higher education pursuits; therefore be it 

Resolved, the Republican National Committee, as stated in the 2012 Republican Party Platform, “do[es] not believe in a one size fits all approach to education and supports providing broad education choices to parents and children at the State and local level,” (Renewing American Values to Build Healthy Families, Great Schools and Safe Neighborhoods, p.35), which is best based on a free market approach to education for students to achieve individual excellence; and be it further 

Resolved, the Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is -- an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived “normal;” and be it further 

Resolved, that the Republican National Committee rejects the collection of personal student data for any non - educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student‟s parent, and that it rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student‟s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state; and be it finally 

Resolved, that the 2012 Republican Party Platform specifically states the need to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (Renewing American Values to Build Healthy Families, Great Schools and Safe Neighborhoods, p. 36); and therefore, the Republican National Committee rejects this CCSS plan which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement. 

As adopted by the Republican National Committee on April 12, 2013.

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A humor break: A Husband and wife came for counseling...


When asked what the problem was, the wife went into a tirade listing every problem they had ever had in the years they had been married. On and on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness, loneliness, feeling unloved and, unlovable, an entire laundry list of unmet needs she had endured.

Finally, after allowing this for a sufficient length of time, the therapist got up, walked around the desk and after asking the wife to stand, he embraced and kissed her long and passionately as her husband watched - with a raised eyebrow.

The woman shut up and quietly sat down as though in a daze. The therapist turned to the husband and said, "This is what your wife needs at least 3 times a week. Can you do this?"

"Well, I can drop her off on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays I go fishing."

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Metro School Board Workshop: Charter Schools

Register says no armed teachers in Metro Schools

This work session of the School Board is one hour and ten minutes long. This is not a regular school board meeting. There is no published agenda.

Board member Jill Speering provides valuable information for any student or parent of a student who will be taking the ACT test (see 3:40 in the video).

School Board member Sharon Gentry talks about the TCAP lab. This lab can increase a child's TCAP score (see 7:09).

School Board member Will Pinkston reports on the School Board's Mayor's budget hearing (see 9:22). Pinkston is the Board's chair of the Board's finance committee. We must go back to the drawing board and reduce our increased funding request by about half, he says.

This year the State Legislature approved legislation that would permit, with local authorization, teachers who are former or current law enforcement officers to carry a gun in the class room. Dr. Register states he is opposed to allowing any teachers to carry weapons in the classroom (see 20:22).

The reason for this workshop is to explain the approval process and timeline for approval of charter schools. The discussion begins at 22:12 in the video. Mr. Alan Cloverstone makes the presentation. There is a good slide presentation that helps explain the process. Anyone who is an active advocate of charter schools needs to master this information. I am impressed by Mr. Cloverstone. He certainly knows his subject matter and does a very good job of explaining things. I have the impression that he is smart, fair, and objective. There are six applicants for charter schools. Anyone interested in getting their child in a charter school needs to watch this presentation. To learn more about the applicants and the timeline, follow this link.

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Senator Jim Tracy's session wrap-up report

From Senator Jim Tracy:


After a great deal of hard work and collaboration, this year’s session of the 108th General Assembly finally came to a conclusion on April 19, 2013. Not only did the House and the Senate pass many pieces of important legislation, but more importantly we passed a balanced budget for the State of Tennessee. This year’s budget included many improvements that will provide $43 million in tax cuts. Senate Bill 502 included a 4 year plan to phase out the inheritance tax as well as an increase in funds to give senior citizens the opportunity to apply for Hall income tax relief. The will also lower the sales tax on food in Tennessee from 5.25% to 5%. This session we also worked together to take a good look at education reform. This budget incorporates funds that will increase teachers’ pay and provide $47 million to invest in low performing public schools. The budget also gives a $350 million increase to assist with TennCare inflation and other expenses that relate to it. I also feel that it is important to acknowledge the $3.9 million increase for mental health. After the various atrocities that have occurred in the United States this year, it is important that we engage in mental heath research and provide sufficient services to those who need them in order to keep Tennessee safe.

Aside from the state budget, there were many vital pieces of legislation that were passed this week to promote a better Tennessee. Senate Bill 783 improves Tennessee’s program for unemployment compensation. Along with other advancements, the bill requires the Department of Labor to increase the number of weekly audits that they perform to ensure that those who are receiving state funds during periods of unemployment are actively searching for a new job.

Another step that the legislature has taken towards promoting a safer Tennessee is in our schools. We passed a bill that will allow retired law enforcement officers to act as school security officers with the permission of the local director of schools and the school principle. This allows each school district and individual school to have the opportunity to decide whether or not allowing handguns on campus is right for them specifically. These officers will also be required to complete an additional 40 hour course which includes training for crisis management and hostile situations in a school setting. This bill will also allow teachers, who have a background in law enforcement and a handgun carrying permit, to carry a gun with them on school property. The bill is intended to take precautionary measures in response to the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary this past December. Governor Haslam has also included an additional $34 million in this year’s budget that may be used to hire security officers for schools that cannot already afford them.

I am very excited about two bills that passed this session and will promote technology schools in Tennessee. My bill,Senate Bill 643 changes “Tennessee Technology Centers” to “State Colleges of Applied Technology.” Senate Bill 1330, which was sponsored by Senator Norris, creates LEAP (Labor Education Alignment Program) in Tennessee technology centers. This program will work similarly to a co-op program at a university by allowing students to obtain hands-on experience in their occupational field through working for a company and receiving financial compensation as well as school credit for their work. This bill is intended to provide Tennessee with more skilled workers who are ready to take on a job in their field once they have completed their technology program.

Lastly, Senate Bill 670 passed both the House and the Senate this session in an attempt to prevent drunk driving on Tennessee roads. This bill lowers the blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) from 0.15% to 0.08% to be grounds for a restricted driver license. Any convicted drunk driver will now be required to install an interlock device in their car which they will have to breathe into in before starting the car. The interlock devices will have to be equipped to take a photo of the individual as they breathe into it in order to insure that it is not someone else providing the sample.

Although this legislative session is over, we will continue working year-round to serve our constituents and to prepare legislation for next year. Please feel free to contact me with any of your thoughts and concerns. You may stop by the office or email anytime! Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter @jimtracy for news and updates.

Best Regards,

Jim Tracy

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Mayor's budget hearing on the fairgrounds. Fairgrounds need $600,000 subsidy. Future in doubt.

For those who think that the public voted in a referendum to save the fairground and that settles it, they are wrong. The public referendum simply said it would take 27 metro council votes to close the fairgrounds instead of a simple majority. The future of the fairground is still up in the air.

The mayor wanted to sell the fairground and turn the site into a corporate headquarters campus. The attempt to sell the fairgrounds caused great uncertainty about the future of the site and caused loss of revenue to support the fairground operations. While previously the fairgrounds never had to have a subsidy, now they need $600,000. A cynic might say, they were set up to fail.

Since the fairground referendum, the council hired a consultant to advise them on alternative policies for the site. That study stacked the deck to make closing the fairground and turning the site into a mixed use development appear to be a better option rather than improving and keeping the fairgrounds. There has now emerged another option. A private entity has proposed a long-term lease of the fairground and pledged to make physical improvements to the site and keep all of the existing functions. I hope that this third option is pursed.

 In the meantime, Metro continues to operate the fairgrounds but no longer operates the State Fair. For those interested in the future of the fairgrounds, they need to be informed and understand the issues. Below is the Mayor's Fairground budget hearing.

Buck Dozier, Executive Director of the Fairgrounds makes the budget presentation. Below is a summary of the hearing:

There are ten racing events a year at the fairgrounds, and the manger of fairground racing regularly meets with nearby neighborhood groups and has a good relationship with the community. Charging the $5 fee for parking has not hurt attendance at events. The current food vendor's contract is expiring soon and an RFP for a food vendor will go out soon.  With a new food vendor and contract there should be a considerable enhancement of revenue. The heating and air conditioning and grounds is our "greatest challenge" said Mr. Dozier. State Fair is no longer ran by Metro. Dozier discusses the dueling offers to run the fairgrounds.

Attendance at the State Fair was up 10% last year. Racing attendance is up. The quality of the races is up. Formosa is doing a good job.

The flea market attendance is up 5% above last year. There are opportunities for improving the flea market by providing entertainment and better food options.

Our facilities cannot attract the best commercial trade shows. Uncertainty about the future of the fairgrounds hurts marketing.

The budget request is for $3.1million with anticipated revenues of $2.5 million. The fairgrounds has drawn down its reserve fund balance and no longer has a rainy day fund from which to draw. This is only the second time the fair board has asked for money from the general fund to offset the operating deficit. "When everything settles down," says Dozier, "I think the fairgrounds can make a profit." Dozier stresses that "the uncertainty" of the future of the fairgrounds is hurting the fairgrounds. Much business was lost due to vendors thinking the fairgrounds was closing. Corporate sales will still be hurt without certainty since many vendors want to book events three to five years out.

For more insight into understanding the fairground issues, follow this link

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We need a corp of citizen activist

Last year I watched almost all of Mayor Dean's budget hearings. This year, with the Mayor pledging not to propose a property tax increase, I have been less inclined to watch each hearing.  I would hope that Council members are paying as much attention to government efficiency and are as conscience of looking for wasteful spending now as they are in a year with a proposed tax increase. Unfortunately, the way I view this is much the way I suspect the Council and others view it.  Departments get much less scrutiny in years in which there is not a proposed tax increase.  It seem human nature is such that attention wanes when there is not an immediate impact to ones own well being. We seem to care more about efficiency when if will effect us in the near term.

If anyone wants to watch the budget hearings they are readily available and easily accessible. It has never been easier to become a citizen activist, stay informed,  and get involved in local government.  The meetings of boards and commissions are often video taped and posted online and agendas and budgets and numerous documents are posted online. Sunshine laws and pubic information request rules make government operate in the open and make what they do be accessible to citizens. At many meetings, citizens can address the policy makers and most elected and appointed officials are approachable.

I encourage you to get involved.  We need a corp of citizen activist who will be government watchdogs. Ideally, it would be great if we had a lot of citizen activist who would divide up the task of keeping an eye on government. It would be great if citizen activist would pick a particular department, become an expert in that field and watch that department like a hawk.

With only one daily newspaper and fewer news reporters, we can not depend on the press to keep us informed the way we could when daily newspapers competed and when their were more reporters. While there is a lot of attention paid by political activist to what happens in Washington, their is less attention paid to what happens at the State level and even less attention paid to what happens at the local level, yet what happens at the local and state level may effect your life as much as what happens nationally. Crime rates, response time of your fire department, utility rates, quality of life, level of taxation, and quality of schools are primarily local issues.

The Mayor's budget hearings are online as well as Council meetings, School Board meetings and various other videos concerning local government. You can find them at this link: Metro Nashville Government Videos.

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