Saturday, September 21, 2013

Marsha Blackburn on Delay, Defund, Repeal, Replace Obamacare

From Marsha Blackburn:

You might have heard me use these four words lately. I've talked a lot about delay and defund the mechanism to remove the job-killing Affordable Care Act. My colleagues and I are committed to delaying, defunding, and repealing this train wreck. That's not all I'm after. I want to take a minute today to let you know about the "replace" component of my plan.
This week, I joined fellow members of the Republican Study Committee to introduce the American Health Care Reform Act. It was great to work with Clarksville native and fellow colleague Dr Phil Roe as he led the working group in creating the American Health Care Reform Act. This legislation takes a market-centered approach to reforming health care by allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines. It also permits businesses to pool together in association health plans in order to drive competition. When we replace Washington-centered law with interstate competition, we encourage efficiency and pass cost-savings on to you and your bank account.
Today, the House voted on legislation that controls spending, defunds Obamacare, and prevents a government shutdown. It passed the House 230-189. I hope our colleagues in the Senate will do everything they can to force this debate on the Senate floor. Obamacare isn't ready for primetime - it will fail to deliver on all the promises the Obama Administration has made. Many advocacy groups have called for the defund debate to be pushed in the Senate. It has been heard in the House and now the American people need to encourage the Senate to act. Join me in tweeting using the hashtag #SenateMustAct.
Also this week, my colleagues and I voted to close loopholes in the SNAP program.
SNAP is a federal assistance program which provides help to low- and no-income individuals and families living in the U.S.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), there are currently about 1.8 million people enrolled in SNAP who should not qualify based on their assets and income.  We have an obligation to you, the taxpayer, to be as prudent with your money as possible. Closing these loopholes is a great place to start.
It looks like we'll be back in DC next week, so don't forget to keep up with the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.
Have a great weekend,
PS- I'll be joining Meet the Press this Sunday. Tune into NBC at 9:00am if you can!

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What happened at the Senate Education Committee Hearing on Common Core | Nashville News, Weather

by Aundrea Cline-Thomas, Channel 5 News, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Thursday, a standing room only crowd showed up for a Senate Education Committee session concerning the new set of standards known as common core.

"We stand here in support of Tennessee's Common Core State Standards," Dr. Vicki Kirk, Director of Greene County Schools, said while flanked by educators and parents during a press conference preceding the hearing. "We support raising the bar in our classrooms."

The Common Core State Standards are an issue where divisions are not just down party lines. (link)

Common Core’s Loudest Opponents Come from Outside Tennessee 

Nashville Public Radio - For and against, for and against. Tennessee lawmakers swayed between supporters of Common Core and opponents in a day-long hearing Friday. Many of those testifying have been debating the education standards in other states.

Georgia state Sen. William Ligon talked about why his state is ditching the PARCC test associated with Common Core. A spokesperson from the conservative Heartland Institute suggested the standards are a liberal conspiracy.

Peg Luksik – who is a politician from Pennsylvania – argued against what she sees as a one-size-fits-all approach. (link)

Common Core foes take their best shots

by Chas Sisk, The Tennessean, Sept. 20, 2013- Opponents of new education standards passed by the state three years ago took their best shot at convincing lawmakers to reverse course.

Foes of the Common Core State Standards Initiative took a scattershot approach to attacking the effort, offering arguments that ranged from claims that the standards are too low to one suggestion that they could lead to brainwave monitoring of children. (link)

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This Sunday's picnic at Monty Lankford's home for Lamar with special guests including ...

"Tennessee Family BBQ" on Sunday, September 22, 4:30pm, at the Lankford Farm in Franklin. Special guests Governor Bill Haslam, Speaker Beth Harwell and race car legend Darrell Waltrip. Reservations are $50 per person or $100 maximum for the entire family. If you would like make a reservation, please visit our website here to make your secure on-line contribution. No political speeches - just a day of family, fun, great food and live music. 
PLACE:4141 Trinity Road, Franklin, TN
3:30pm until 5:00pm

Tn Sons of Liberty have announced they will be present to protest the event.

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Rep. Joe Carr Calls on Sen. Alexander to Change His Mind and Join Senators Cruz and Lee to Defund Obamacare

Joe Carr press release, September 19, 2013, Nashville, TN- House Speaker John Boehner announced the House will vote on a continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare, while still providing funding to keep the government open. The ball will then be in the Senate’s court.

“Senator Lamar Alexander has refused to join Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to defund Obamacare claiming it would cause a government shutdown. Although Senator Lamar Alexander agrees with Obama on this point, it is false,” says Representative Joe Carr.

“Obamacare is bad for America and we should be doing everything possible to stop it. I choose to stand up and fight. I stand with Senators Cruz and Lee to defund this bad bill. I am calling on Sen. Alexander to change his mind and stand up with Senators Cruz, Lee, and the citizens of Tennessee to defund Obamacare,” said Representative Joe Carr.

Senator Alexander released an ad claiming he’s led the fight against Obamacare and stood up to the President. “He is trying to re-write history by ignoring his votes yet again. Senator Alexander stood with the President Obama on March 20, 2013, when he voted in favor of the FY2013 continuing resolution, which included funding for the implementation of Obamacare,” says Representative Joe Carr.

“Unfortunately, Senator Alexander is not fighting for Tennesseans by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Senators Cruz and Lee who are leading the fight against Obamacare. Let’s hope he decides to stand with Tennesseans this time around by choosing to defund Obamacare,” said Representative Joe Carr.

Representative Joe Carr is an announced candidate running against Sen. Lamar Alexander in the 2014 Republican Primary. He is a principled conservative who believes that Washington needs to return to our founding core principles of personal responsibility, individual liberty, and free and fair markets.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Report from Rick Williams of StopAMP

Rick Williams
Good Morning To All the Stop AMP Team!!!!

As I was flying back from Washington, DC last night and I was thinking about how I would describe in a little report what was accomplished yesterday. I thought I would tell you who I was able to touch base with.

 First of all, Diane Neal, Malcolm Getz and myself all met with Mr. Peter Rogoff, who is head of the Federal Transit Administration at his office in Washington, DC.  Mr. Rogoff and his top officials were very nice and tried to answer all of our questions about the process. The  process is anything but a done deal. Malcolm and Diane pointed out many of our arguments against the AMP project to Mr. Rogoff and his staff.  We also were able to deliver a letter from Lola Brown, who by the way is the late Dr. Dorthey Browns' daughter, to the acting director of the office of civil rights of the FTA. This letter addressed the inequity of this AMP bus route for people that live in North Nashville, but gives no increase in bus service to that same community. Dr. Sekou Franklin has already filed a civil rights complaint against the FTA for lack of current service to the parts of Nashville with high unemployment rates and the lack of input on planning of the AMP. They gave us a timeline of how this project would move forward. We must get busy and ramp up our efforts. We will have more definitive plans in an E-Mail early next week.

After that meeting, Diane and Malcolm left for the airport and I headed to the U.S.Capitol. I text Congressman Steve Cohen from Memphis and he responded to come on by his office. Well he preceded to take me with him to a vote and introduced me to many members of Congress. I had a few minutes with Congressmen Stephen Fincher from Frog Jump, TN. and Congressmen Hal Rogers and Ed Whitfield, both of Kentucky. I went by the offices of Congressmen Jim Cooper and Jimmy Duncan. I just left my business card at Congress Lady Diane Blacks' office. I also was able to meet personally with Mr. Jim Tymon who is a key contact person in the Congressional office of the House Transportation Committee. I left him a report that Margo Chambers had prepared. So on balance with just  12 hours on the ground in Washington, DC I think it was a banner day for the team.  I do think I need to do another trip in the next 30 days and have a tactical plan on who to see and why we are visiting them.

Congressman Cohen was great about introducing me around due to our 35 year friendship. But it certainly was a lucky day that only God could have directed to happen. I will give you more details in our meeting next week. I am working with Diane and Malcolm to have a joint steering committee meeting
between BRT Concerns, Inc. and Citizens for Responsible Transit next week.

ALSO, I learned from Congressman Cohen's office that the transit authority in Memphis is wanting to do a BRT in Memphis. And just like Nashville, they are using the most traveled and economically advanced route like West End Avenue: Popular Avenue which goes to the wealthier part of Memphis, Germantown. GO FIGURE!!!!!

Please reply with any questions that you may have:
Rick Williams,
Board Member of Citizens for Responsible Transit.         

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What happened at the 9/17 Council meeting and video.

This meeting is an hour long. It begins with a couple recognitions, one for the Principal of McGavock High School

The two current council members who are on the city's audit committee, Jacobia Dowell and Steve Glover are approved for reappointment by acclamation.

Resolutions: All resolutions except 845 and 846 are on the consent agenda and none are pulled. 845 and 846 are the bills granting an incentive to UBS of up to $2.5 million and a good deal on parking spaces in the public square parking garage. See 23:00 in the video for the discussion. When individuals or companies or institutions accept government money it usually comes with strings attached. While legal requirement are not put in place to dictate who the company may hire or where those they hire must live, there is discussion of those issues both in committee and on the council floor. Resolution 845 is put to a machine vote at the request of Josh Stites. It passes with only Stites and Tenpenny voting in opposition. 846 passes on voice vote.

All bills on First Reading pass and none are pulled from the agenda.

Bills on Second reading:  There are a couple deferrals and everything else passes.

  • BL2013-526 and Bill NO. BL2013-527 which establishes a Metro  Injury-on-duty clinic and approves an entity to operate it are deferred a meeting. 
  • Bill 543 would allow business  sponsorship within Metro Parks is explained by the sponsor and passes. It my view this is a good bill. An example of how it could save the city money is that an entity could put their logo on doggie poo bags and save the city up to $30,000. The bill's sponsor is Charlie Tygard. There is a failed attempt to defer the bill by Councilman Bo Mitchell. The discussion starts at 40:20.
Bills on Third Reading: All bills on Third reading, including  Bill 516 which is a code text change to allow the city to impose a "specific plan"over  a large area, pass without discussion.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Meeting of the Metro Council Budget & Finance Committee on September 16, 2013

To really understand the most important issues facing the city, one needs to watch the Budget and Finance Committee. Is is in committee that explanation are offered and questions are asked.

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What's on the Council agenda for September 17th with commentary

The Metro Council agenda and staff analysis for September 17 is available at these links: Agenda, Analysis. If you know what the Council is voting on it is still boring but not quite as boring.

The Council will be elected two of their members to serve an the city's audit committee.  I don't know who is seeking the post, but if I was nominating, one of the people I would nominate would be Emily Evans who has a background in municipal bond finance and I would hope the Council would nominate someone with an accounting background. I also think Tim Garrett or Charlie Tygard  would be good for this post. They have both served the city a long time, are smart and ask good probing questions in committee.

There is one bill on public hearing to allow a restaurant to have a beer permit. The West End restaurant is within 100 feet of either a house, church, day care center or other entity which would disqualify it from getting a beer permit, except that it already has a liquor license. In that case, the council can exempt it from the 100 foot requirement after a public hearing. How screwed up are our liquor, wine and beer laws?  The State issues liquor license and Metro issues beer license, so there are some places where you can order a shot of whiskey but not a beer. All of our alcoholic beverage laws need to be reviewed and modernized in my view.  I doubt anyone will speak in opposition.

There are fifteen resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda.
A resolution is put on the consent agenda if it is likely to be non-controversial and it stays on the consent agenda if it passes the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. However, any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda. Below are a couple resolutions that concern me but I doubt they will be pulled off of Consent.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-845 is one of those "incentive" grants where we bribe companies to come to Nashville or not leave Nashville.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-846 gives the same company a sweetheart deal, (I assume it is a sweetheart deal) by leasing them 125 parking spaces in the Pubic Square parking garage for $100 a month. I don't know what they are worth, but I would bet considerably more than that.
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.  I have not carefully reviewed the bills on first reading, but will before second reading. There are six bills on first reading.

Bills on Second Reading: It is on Second reading, after bills have been to committee, that discussion usually takes place. I see nothing on second reading that is very controversial. The following items are interesting:
BILL NO. BL2013-526 and Bill NO. BL2013-527 establish a Metro  Injury-on-duty clinic and approve an entity to operate it.  It looks like it has been a deliberative process to reach this point and it appears this will save the city money. Apparently this mode of operation is successfully used by major corporations.  Read the staff analysis to learn more. I hope Budget and Finance asks lots of probing questions.  
SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2013-543 would allow business  sponsorship within Metro Parks. Current law prohibits advertising in Metro Parks and this has been interpreted to prohibit sponsorships. I assume this would apply to sports teams as well as events such as concerts. This looks like a good bill.
Bills on  Third Reading: Third reading is the final reading and when a bill passes final reading it becomes law unless vetoed by the mayor and that almost never happens. The bill below is the only bill on third reading I find of interest.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2013-516 is a zoning text change that would allow for a large area to have a "specific plan" put in place. This zoning would not have to be initiated by the property owner but could be initiated by the district councilman or the planning department. The SP could dictate that all buildings be up to the sidewalk with no set back or that all parking be to the rear or virtually anything planners wanted that the Council would be willing to approve. This bill does not rezone any property but was precipitated by the Tennessee Court of Appeals striking down a SP plan that put design standards in place for Gallatin Rd from Main St. to Briley Parkway. With this text change in place, the Council could again put those SP regulation in place and they would be then be legal.

While I personally like "smart growth" or "new urbanism" or "urban design," or whatever the terminology is that indicates development is on a human scale and is pedestrian friendly, I do not think that can be efficiently mandated. If it is mandated then development may not occur for a very long time. All of the good planning in the world will not come to fruition unless investors are willing to invest. I do not think massive zoning such as was in place for Gallatin Pike is wise.

I also have reservation about the infringement on property rights. I am not opposed to zoning or planing and accept that any zoning is an infringement on property rights.  However, zoning and planing should not go beyond zoning for a public purpose such as planning infrastructure needs, or protecting the investment of neighboring property owners. I know this is not a clear distinction between what is a legitimate infringement on property rights and what is not.  However, like many things, zoning is a judgement call without clear guidelines on which to pass one's judgement. I think in a historic neighborhood, a historic overlay is appropriate. I do not think requiring all building along seven miles of Gallatin Road be build at the sidewalk property line is appropriate but realize that is a judgement call and good people may disagree. I know ideologues may not have any trouble with this. Some think any restrictions on property rights, even taking a persons property to sell it to a developer is appropriate, and those on the other end of the spectrum think any use restriction are wrong and the market should determine use. They would permit hog farms next to a schools or homes. Everyone in between has to exercise judgement.

I suspect this bill will pass; the planning commission approved it and no one spoke against it when it was on public hearing. I then suspect the Gallatin Road plan to be passed by the Council at a later date but am not sure of the status of the actual SP zoning bill for Gallatin.  To read more on this issue, read the council staff analysis, here, and here.

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Taxpayers to pay $7 million for UBS Nashville expansion

Metro's share of this is $500 each for the anticipated 1000 new jobs or $500,0000 per year for a maximum of  $2.5 million.. The resolution is on tonight's Council agenda. There is no requirement that the new employees live in Davidson County.
WZTV FOX 17 :: Newsroom - Top Stories - UBS Spending Millions on Nashville Expansion But so are Taxpayers - Erika Lathon

While I think it is a shame that we must bribe companies to move to Nashville, stay in Nashville or expand here, I realize it is hard to stop playing the game.  If we don't pay them to expand here, some other city will.  So, while I don't like this trend, I am not sure we can do anything about it. This is one of those issues that I would like to oppose on principle but pragmatism persuades me to support.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Senate Education Committee to hold hearnings on Commmon Core

Tennessee Senate Education Committee will conduct a hearings on Common Core  September 19 and 20. Experts on both sides of this issue will speaking.

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Liberty on the Rocks This Thursday

  • Thursday, September 19, 2013
    5:30 PM to
  • 2400 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN (map)
    ask the hostess to direct you to our sectoin
  • Liberty on the Rocks is a great place to meet other people, have a beer and some great food. We promote thoughtful and rational discussion on a wide range of topics.

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