Saturday, August 16, 2014

What is on the Council Agenda for Tuesday August 19? End of skinny duplexes, Honky Tonk Protection, Beer, honoring Ken Jakes, electing speaker Pro tem, and more.

The August 19th Metro Council agenda and analysis are now available. If you don't know what the Council is voting on, Council meeting are very boring; if you do, they are just boring.

Election of Speaker Pro Tempore is the first order of business. The speaker pro tem conducts the council meeting in the absence of the Vice Mayor. Other than that they don't have anything to do, but this is a coveted position and often there is a lot of jockeying and campaigning among council members to be elected to this position. 

There are six appointments to Boards and Commissions and this could be an opportunity for the Council to impact policy and exert influence, but the Council routinely rubber stamps whom ever the Mayor appoints without question.

There is one resolution on public hearing concerning the distance requirement for a beer permit. This is for a location that already has a liquor-by-the-drink permit. This seems like such a waste of time. If a place can already serve liquor, why does the council not go ahead and change the law and say the beer permit distance requirements are automatically waived?

There are 13 resolutions, all on the consent agenda at this time. A resolution is put on the consent agenda if it is assumed to be non-controversial and stays on the consent agenda if it passes the committee to which it was assigned unanimous and unless a council member ask that it be considered separately.  Instead of being voted on separately all resolution on the consent agenda are lumped together and passed by a single vote. Here is a  resolutions of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1109  establishes an $800 fee for an application for a Conceptual Overlay District designation. The Conceptual Overlay District zoning is a new zoning, on third reading on this agenda, that would impose restrictions on infill development so the new development is not terribly out of character with the existing community. It would impose height, setback, and lot coverage restriction on new development in existing neighborhoods. I tend to think this effort to halt transition of modest neighborhoods to upscale neighborhoods is misguided anyway, so I do not have a problem with the $800 fee.  I suspect some people will think this is excessive and I suspect this resolution will be deferred. Actually, this seems like a modest fee.  If a neighborhood of a hundred homes wanted to impose the Conceptual Overlay District on their neighborhood that would only require a contribution of $8 per household.  Or, if the area of the COD was only 50 homes, $16 a household.  If a neighborhood can't raise the $800 then they must not be that concerned. I do have a question. Who will pay the cost of advertising and posting signs about the proposed overlay?  I assume proper notification will be required.
There are 11 bills on First Reading. Bills on first reading are passed by a single vote and they are generally not discussed or evaluated until second reading after they have been to committee.

There are 8 bills on Second Reading. Here are some of interest.
  • BILL NO. BL2014-841 establishes a formula for how big an outdoor residential dog pen must be.
  • BILL NO. BL2014-847   requires contracts for the companies that lobby the state on behalf of Metro government  and it requires that reports be submitted to the Metropolitan Council detailing what the Metro lobbyist is lobbying for and what the goals of the lobbying effort is and what the impact would be of the outcome the lobbyist is seeking. This is a good bill but I wish it was even stronger. I think Metro's lobbyist should only lobby for or against a bill if specifically authorized to do so by the Council. 
There are 18 bills on Third Reading. Here are the ones of interest:
A tall skinny Nashville Duplex
BILL NO. BL2014-770  is back on the agenda on third reading.  It would change the definition of duplex so one could have two units on a piece of property and they would not have to be artificially joined the way they are now, where two protruding utility rooms are the only thing joining the homes. It would also impose heights restrictions. If the units are built to be joined, then a greater portion of the building would have to share a common wall. The tall skinny Nashville duplex would be a thing of the past.

BILL NO. BL2014-771 creates a new code provision for a “contextual overlay district” which could be applied to a neighborhood to ensure that infill development is compatible with surrounding properties. It does such things as restrict the height to no more than 125% of nearby homes. Already the same thing can be accomplished with an Urban Design Overlay, but this would make it easier. I have mixed views of this, but tend to oppose it. There are some neighborhoods that have been transformed from neighborhoods with homes in the $75,000 to $100,000 range to neighborhood where the homes are worth up to $650,000. If this had been in place those transformation would not have occurred. These transformations do destroy “affordable” housing but they also respond to market demand for more expensive home in Nashville, which results in a higher tax base. Do we want upper middle class people to all move to Williamson County or do we want to let market forces make room for them to live in Davidson County? Also, why should existing property owners who want to sell and move, not be permitted to get the highest dollar for their home? If allowed to be torn down, the lots are often more valuable than the home on the lot.

SUBSITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-776 is now improved some and is on third reading. It would create the Music City Cultural Heritage Overlay District to protect our honky tonks. It would require all first floor businesses, except offices, on lower Broadway, 2nd Ave and printers alley to have live music or sale merchandise reflective of Nashville culture- think boots, cowboy hats, tee shirts, and tacky souvenirs. It would no longer ban chain establishments but they could not look like chain establishments.  They could not follow their standard color scheme and identifiable look but would have to blend in. This bill was spurred by the threat of Wallgreens to open a store on Lower Broad. The buildings are already protected so this bill would apply to use. I love lower Broad and the honky tonks, but this is still too restrictive. People may want a nice meal without live music after visiting the honky tonks all day and night. If this was in place, we would not have the ice cream store on lower Broad. We would not have the Merchants Hotel restaurant. While I would not want to see it on Lower Broad, a sports memorabilia store, an art gallery, or a good antique store, or a candy store on Second Ave, may provide a better experience for tourist.  This is just too restrictive. This has been disapproved by the Planning Commission so will require 27 votes to pass. It should be withdrawn and the proponents should go back to the drawing board and come up with something even  less restrictive or maybe just abandon the effort.   

BILL NO. BL2014-840 prohibit beer permits from being issued for establishments located within a shopping mall containing a community center and/or public library. In my view this is ridiculous. So there is a library at the other end of mall, what is it going to hurt to allow someone to have a beer with their meal or pick up a six-pack to go at the drug store?

Memorializing Resolutions do not  carry the force of law but they express the will of the council. They will probably be lumped with resolutions on the consent agenda and be passes along with those by a single vote.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1186  by Council members Tygard and Dominy recognizes Mr. Ken

Ken Jakes
Jakes for his service to our community. This is a well deserved honor. Ken Jakes is being honored for his charitable work, but Ken Jakes does much more than that. He is a citizen activist who has exposed corruption and waste in Metro Government time and time again, including exposures of the mismanagement at Farmers Market and corruption at NES. Ken Jakes has ran for Council in the past and came close to getting in a run-off in 2010 but with all incumbents reelected on the first round, he failed to make the run-off but was close. Next Council election, Ken Jakes, if he choses to run, will stand a good chance of being elected given that all incumbent Council-Members-at-Large are term limited. I hope he runs and is elected. He would make a great council member.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

This ain't Mayberry. The militirization of the Nashville Police Department.

Patrolling the streets of Ferguson Mo.
It is not often I agree with Rachel Maddow but last night I was watching her show on MSNBC and she was reporting on the disruption in Ferguson Missouri and she reported on how the police had responded to the disturbance riding on armored personnel carriers  with snipers on top and policemen in full battle gear.  From there she expanded her report to report on the militarization of police across America.  The federal government makes funds available to local police department to buy surplus military equipment and they do. I share her concern about the militarization of our police.

The segment reported that many police departments even have mine sweepers.  One policeman who had spend his whole career on the bomb squad said he had never encountered a mine in all his years of police work.

Now, there are not many Mayberry's left where the Sheriff can go unarmed and the chief deputy gets only one bullet, but that does not mean we need the police to become small armies. Certainly, the police need to be well armed and well protected. Many criminals have AK47's which can penetrate body armor and go through  a person and out the other side. The police need to me able to meet the threat.  However, crime has actually been falling for decades now.  Crime is now about the same as in 1960.  With crime falling for decades now, why now do we need a police force that looks like an army? 
Do the police need a mine-resistant
vehicle in Nashville? 

I know a lady who smokes a little pot and she had a pot plant growing in her back yard at her home in Englewood.  A disgruntled tenant of hers who had stopped paying her rent and had to be evicted had seen the plant and tuned this person in to the police.  The police descended on this lady's home with several cars and a swat team dressed in black with assault rifles at the ready. Actually she said the police were nice and did not even do a good check of her home.  The pot plant had long been removed. The police asked to look around and walked around the well kept flower beds and finding no pot plant apologized for the inconvenience and left. In my view, police should not respond to this type of complaint ready for battle.

If police departments have swat teams, and K-9 units trained in crowd control, and helicopters and tanks, they will look for opportunities to use them.  Reporting in today's Nashville Scene, Steven Hale reports that included in surplus military equipment purchased by the city of Nashville are four helicopters, a mine-resistant vehicle, and two "other armored vehicles."  Wilson County and Williamson County have a mine-resistant vehicle each and Rutherford County has two. Our police force could probably take over a small country. Why do we need four helicopters?  Why do we need a mine sweeper?

The police need to "preserve and protect."  One needs to think of your local policemen as the good guys not an army of occupation.  Nationally the Congress needs to hold hearing on the issue of the militarization of police.  How much armament is too much for a local police force? What are we preparing for?  Locally, we should not wait for the issue to be addressed nationally, our local Metro Council Public Safety Committee needs to hold hearings and ask the Chief to justify this level of militarization. It needs to end.

Additional Comment:
Why I am concerned about the level of militarization of our local police, I did not want to leave the impression that our police routinely act inappropriately. I do think sending a swat team to investigate a tip that someone is growing marijuana in their back yard is excessive, but I agree with the following comment posted to his Facebook page by my friend Barry Donegan:
Seeing what's going on in Ferguson once again reminds me why Nashvillians are lucky in that our local police are more reasonable than in other places and tend to respond to protests by sending one or two officers out, not wearing armor, not riding in tanks, not standing in a line 100 strong in body armor with shields, not pointing sniper rifles at people, but just a couple guys in blue with a regular old pistol in the holster, and who usually announce something along the lines of "we are not here to stop you from protesting, but just to make sure everyone's safe."
Guess what else: nothing really ever escalates and no one gets hurt. No one starts smashing windows out downtown and stealing anything. Police presence at protests shouldn't be provocative, and, to my knowledge, Nashville police never really do things to escalate these situations, and, subsequently, things rarely ever escalate.

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The August 19th Metro Council agenda and analysis are now available.

The August 19th Metro Council agenda and analysis are now available. If you can wait, I will read it for you and tell you if there is anything important on the agenda, but if you just can't stand the suspense, go ahead and check it out.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

I don't eat Communist Ice Cream

When anyone says anything about Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, I jokingly say I don't eat Communist ice cream. Ben and Jerry's of course is the brand of ice cream formerly owned by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield and who still have some association with the brand they created.  It is apparently  a pretty good ice cream but Ben and Jerry use their wealth to support all sorts of liberal causes. Now, I am not so fanatical that if I was at a function or someone's house and someone offered me a bowl of B&J ice cream that I would refuse to eat it, but I am not going to choose that brand at the grocery store.

On the other hand, I always buy Angel Soft toilet tissue because I appreciate and want to support the Koch brothers. Actually, it was my preferred brand before I realized it was a Koch brothers product, but that makes me like it even more.

If I ever need to buy some artificial flowers, which I doubt I ever will, or if I get the urge to decoupage a bird house, which I doubt I ever will, I will shop at Hobby Lobby.  If there was a Chick-fill-a and a KFC side by side, I would choose the Chick-fill-a. I would rather support brands and stores that share my values and support causes I support and I would like to avoid brands and stores that support things I disagree with. I wouldn't drive across town to avoid a liberal store, but if convenient, I would prefer to shop at a store that shares my values.

2nd Vote is a group of conservatives who are dedicated to helping you be informed about the everyday choices you make. They have created an app for cell phones that can instantly give you a score of hundreds of brands and stores. They rate companies from 1 for  liberal, to 5 for conservative. Some of the "1's" are Ben and Jerry's, Starbucks, and T-mobile. There are no perfect "5's" but some high scores are Bass Pro shop, Chick-fill-a, and Ace Hardware.

If you are more concerned about a particular issue, say 1st Amendment issues, Trader Joe's gets a "3" and Whole Foods gets a "1".  Where would you rather shop? Or if your issue is marriage, Radio Shake gets a "4" while Best Buy scores a "1." If they are both in the same mall, where would you rather spend your money?

I am still in the dark ages and have an old flip cell phone but soon I am going to get me a smart phone and when I do, I will put the 2nd Vote app on it. The app is not perfect. Right now there are more stores and brands not scored than there are. I tried to look up Logan's Road House, a restaurant I like, and they are not scored and Shoney's is not in there, so the service is limited but it is off to a good start.  Wallgreens pharmacy (2) and CVS pharmacy (1) are listed. Krogers (2.5) and Publix (2.8) are listed. That is an example of where the difference between two choices is insignificant and that is often the case. I hope this app grows so it can be even more useful and more influential. If a significant number of conservative consumers start using 2nd Vote, companies may become concerned and drop supporting liberal causes that cause them to score low. 

Money talks and now we have a way to be informed and speak with a louder voice. I hope 2nd Vote grows and becomes a force to change corporate behavior.

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Southeast Nashville Conservatives' Breakfast presents "yes on 1"

Southeast Nashville Conservatives' Breakfast
Saturday, August 16th 
Shoney's, (Antioch) Bell Road @ Cane Ridge Road (I-24E, Bell Road Exit) 
Social/Breakfast 8:30 - 9:00 am Program/Speaker 9:00 - 10 am 
Guest Speaker Lorene Steffes: "Yes on 1" 
 (Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 1 for the November 4, 2014 General Election Ballot regarding Abortion - Tennessee has the fewest abortion restrictions of any state in the southeast) - Ms. Steffes has a video/slide presentation you don't want to miss. 
Hosted by: Robert Duvall & Pat Carl

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tennessee judge breaks gay marriage's streak

Russell Simmons Jr.
By Mario Trujillo, The Hill, August 12, 2014 - A judge in Tennessee broke a streak of successful rulings across the country in the past year in favor of same-sex marriage.
State Circuit Court Judge Russell Simmons Jr. ruled the state's ban on recognizing gay marriages does not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

His ruling last week .... stands in contrast to the dozens of state, federal and appeals court decisions that have struck down bans on gay marriage since the United States V. Windsor Supreme Court case in 2013. That ruling struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, but Simmons said it did not apply to the Tennessee case. 
"The Windsor case is concerned with the definition of marriage, only as it applies to federal laws, and does not give an opinion concerning whether one state must accept as valid a same-sex marriage allowed in another state," he wrote. 
He added: "The Supreme Court does not go the final step and find that a state that defines marriages as a union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional." (link)
I am sure most liberals who seem to be ashamed to be Tennessean's anyway are rolling their eyes and being embarrassed again and hoping their liberal friends form more enlighten climes do not learn of this.  However, a gay-friendly writer at the Nashville Scene reluctantly says this ruling is correct: 
Simmons ruled how a judge in Tennessee should rule. The state law is what it is and there's no federal law that supersedes it. His hands are tied. As our legislature and the voters of Tennessee intended.(link)
This could be an important ruling. In his ruling he said, “Both the Supreme Court of the United States and the courts of Tennessee have both found that the Full Faith and Credit Clause does not require a state to apply another state’s law in violation of its own legitimate public policy.” (link)

To read more on this issue, see this article in the Washington Times.

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Corker 'Not Ruling Out' 2016 Presidential Run

Corker 'Not Ruling Out' 2016 Presidential Run

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Nashville's traditional public schools are to be held to the same standards as Charters.

This is the school board meeting of Tuesday August 12, 2014.

On the Saturday before the above meeting there was a four-hour committee meeting which was not televised. According to news reports, at that meeting, the board’s Governance Committee voted for a policy that would require that all of Nashville charter School publish financial documents, including a disclosure of the source and amount of any private funds that supplement public funds. The committee also voted to require the same of each public school. That policy was adopted at the August 12th MNPS Board meeting.

Anti-school choice zealot Amy Frogge led the effort to require this new policy and pro-school choice advocate Elissa Kim successfully argued that the same standard apply to charter public schools and traditional public schools.

Here are the Tennessean's report on this issue. Charter school financial transparency to mirror all Metro schools.  Charter school policy meant to promote transparency.

Here is the Nashville Scene's story included tweeted play-by-play of yesterday's meeting: School Board Mints New Charter Transparency Policies.
I have not watched the above video. Caring for my ill wife is a greater priority than blogging or engaging in political activity at this time, so I am cutting back on some of the things I have been doing. If you wish to watch this two-hour video, you can watch it in half the time, if you double the speed. I can usually watch videos of meetings in double speed and still get all of the content. If the video does not give you the option of watching in fast speed, here is a link that will show you how to do that. Rod

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Alexander wants to know why a 'no child left behind' waiver request takes over 1000 pages and what is being asked.

Washington, D.C., Aug. 12 -  Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the senior Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) today requested a study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver policies.

In a letter to GAO, they wrote, “In 2011, the department began issuing waivers to states regarding specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, and to date, 42 states and the District of Columbia have received ESEA waivers.  In order to receive waivers, these states were required to comply with a new set of requirements, not authorized by Congress, related to standards and assessments, school accountability, and teacher and principal evaluation systems.”

The lawmakers noted the supporting documentation required to obtain waivers in their home states, which ranged from more than 700 to more than 1,000 pages. “However, Congress has little information about how the department utilizes the data required of these and other states to grant, deny, renew, or revoke a state waiver,” they wrote. “Additionally, Congress has little insight into how states are impacted by the time and cost associated with applying for and implementing these waiver requirements.”

“Finally, the department has recently altered various requirements for certain states regarding implementation timelines for teacher and principal evaluation systems. At the same time, other states have had their waivers put on ‘high risk’ status, and Washington recently had its waiver revoked, over issues related to teacher and principal evaluation systems. The department has provided no justifications for these seemingly contradictory decisions.”

The full text of the letter is below:

August 12, 2014

The Honorable Gene Dodaro
Comptroller General
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20548

Dear Mr. Dodaro:

We are writing to request a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of the U.S. Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act(ESEA) waiver policies.  In 2011, the department began issuing waivers to states regarding specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, and to date, 42 states and the District of Columbia have received ESEA waivers.  In order to receive waivers, these states were required to comply with a new set of requirements, not authorized by Congress, related to standards and assessments, school accountability, and teacher and principal evaluation systems.

For Tennessee, the supporting documentation required for its waiver request resulted in a binder that was more than one thousand pages thick. Minnesota’s approved application is more than 700 pages long. However, Congress has little information about how the department utilizes the data required of these and other states to grant, deny, renew, or revoke a state waiver. Additionally, Congress has little insight into how states are impacted by the time and cost associated with applying for and implementing these waiver requirements.

Finally, the department has recently altered various requirements for certain states regarding implementation timelines for teacher and principal evaluation systems. At the same time, other states have had their waivers put on “high risk” status, and Washington recently had its waiver revoked, over issues related to teacher and principal evaluation systems. The department has provided no justifications for these seemingly contradictory decisions.

Accordingly, key questions we would like GAO to explore include:                         
1.    What processes and criteria does the Department of Education use to approve, deny, renew, and revoke states’ ESEA waiver applications?  How does the department use the data it requires states to provide when applying for and renewing waivers?
2.    What changes have states made in order to meet the department’s conditions for the approval and renewal of a waiver?
3.    What issues have selected states, including states that have not applied for a waiver, had waiver applications rejected, and had approved waivers revoked, faced in deciding whether to apply for and implement an ESEA waiver, such as time and resources used to produce waiver and waiver renewal applications and the possible need for legislative changes?
4.    To what extent are states able to implement accountability and evaluation systems consistent with existing state laws and policies?  What barriers exist for states and districts in adapting accountability and evaluation systems to their unique needs?


Lamar Alexander                                                                    John Kline
Ranking Member                                                                    Chairman
U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education,                      U.S. House Committee on
Labor and Pensions                                                                 Education and the Workforce

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ObamaCare Enrollment Is Shrinking, Top Insurers Say

By , INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY, August 11, 2014 - Aetna's (NYSE:AET) ObamaCare exchange statistics should clear up any doubt as to why the Obama Administration has been tight-lipped about enrollment since celebrating 8 million sign-ups in mid-April.

Reality, evidence suggests, could require quite a come-down from those lofty claims. The nation's third-largest health insurer had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects that to fall to "just over 500,000" by the end of the year. (link)

My Comment: I am not surprised.

In my job, I work in the non-profit sector serving primarily low income people. Part of what I do is budget counseling. The other day I had a client who had lost her job, who was enrolled in an Obamacare insurance plan that was $400 a month with a a $5000 deductible.  For a low income or no-income person that might as well be no insurance at all. A $5000 deductible may be a good plan for a middle class person who has assets that could be at risk and who was denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, but for a low-income person with no wealth at risk or for the previously middle class person who has not accumulated assets and has lost his job, he would be much better off using the emergency room and free clinics.

I have worked with low-income people for most of my life. Many do not even have auto insurance although they have a car and they drive and although the law requires it. Many smoke cigarettes and play the lottery and have cable TV rather than pay their utilities. Many live day to day and take what pleasures they can and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Sports starter jackets, a good cell phone, bling, and a nice tattoo are more important than health insurance. Most of the low-income I have served are simply not going to pay a monthly insurance premium.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Caffeinated Conservatives: Understanding the Amendments on the November Ballot

From Caffeinated Conservatives:
Where: Uncommon Grounds, 1053 Donelson Avenue, Old Hickory, Tennessee 37138

When: Saturday, August 16th, 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.,
Hot Topics for Discussion:
For Amendment 1, Lorene Steffes will be presenting the case for why you should vote Yes on 1!
For Amendment 2, a presenter will tell us why having our judges selected by the governor is a good idea!
For Amendment 3, State Senator Brian Kelsey will tell us why we need this to stop a future state income tax!
Come with your questions and appetite for good food, great coffee, and excellent conversation. See you then!
Thanks for your support !
Steven Clements & Terry Torre

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The Nashville Chapter of the Federalist Society Presents The Taxing Task of Justifying an Income Tax: The Tennessee Constitution & Amendment 3

The Nashville Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society 
The Taxing Task of Justifying an Income Tax: The Tennessee Constitution & Amendment 3
 Forrest Shoaf
 August 13, 2014, 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. 
 The Law Offices of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP Nashville City Center, 511 Union Street, Suite 2700, Nashville, Tennessee 37219.

 Lunch Will Be Served. RSVP by noon Tuesday, August 12.  Pay $15 by visiting this website. Approved for 1 Hour of general CLE in Tennessee

Forrest Shoaf was born and reared in rural West Tennessee.  After graduation from West Point, he served twelve years active duty with the 101st Airborne Division and the 2nd Infantry Division and as a member of the West Point English Department faculty. He practiced law in Nashville, Tennessee as a member of Bass, Berry & Sims.  Later he was a Managing Director in the J.C. Bradford Corporate Finance Department.  Mr. Shoaf joined Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in 2005 and served as the Chief Legal Officer and (for 15 months) as the Chief Financial Officer. He retired from Cracker Barrel in 2012 and lives in Lebanon, Tennessee. Mr. Shoaf is an Airborne Ranger and a graduate of the Army General Staff College and the Air Force War College. He also holds an M.A. in literature from Vanderbilt University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. 

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Beacon Center Offers Teachers Assistance to Opt Out of Their Union

Poll Headlines National Employee Freedom Week Effort to Educate Union Employees About Rights

NASHVILLE – In celebration of National Employee Freedom Week, the Beacon Center of Tennessee will be running a week-long public awareness effort, which will focus on giving teachers across the state the information and resources needed to opt out of their union.

“The teachers’ unions continue to make the process of opting out difficult and complicated,” said Beacon CEO Justin Owen. "We believe opting out should be simple, and we are here to help clarify the process for those teachers who would rather keep their hard-earned money than give it to an extreme, far-left organization.” Owen noted that the states’ union has advocated for a state income tax along with other views completely out of the mainstream.

A new poll shows that 81% of Tennessee residents support allowing union employees to leave their union without force or penalty, a concept generally referred to as right-to-work. This poll was released as part of National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW). The full results of the poll, released yesterday, can be found here.

This poll headlines the activities of NEFW, which runs from August 10 to 16, 2014. NEFW is a coalition of 77 organizations in 44 states that are conducting widespread outreach to inform union employees about their rights to opt out of union membership. 

Unions often do as little as is required by law to inform their employees that they have the right to opt out. But as previous NEFW polling illustrates, over 33 percent of those in union households want to leave. Therefore, educational efforts similar to what Beacon is doing this week are absolutely necessary to inform and educate union members about their workplace rights and empower them to make the decision about union membership that's best for them.

The Beacon Center empowers Tennesseans to reclaim control of their lives, so that they can freely pursue their version of the American Dream.  

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In case you missed it: Great chance for GOP to retake the Senate!

If our Republic can survive another few months of Obama, then we may be able to survive for a long time. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep hope alive. Keep the Faith.

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Beat Lamar becomes Beat Jim Cooper, endorses Bob Ries

by Michael Cass, The Tennessean, August 11, 2014- With a little help from a few college students, the super PAC that failed to unseat U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in the Republican primary is now turning its sights on a congressional Democrat.

The Spring Hill-based Real Conservatives National Committee said today that it's launching Beat Jim Cooper and endorsing the six-term Nashville Democrat's Republican opponent, Bob Ries, in the November general election. (link)

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