Saturday, November 01, 2014

Update on The 10/28/14 School Board Study Session on Charter Schools

This is a very interesting meeting.  Anyone interested in education reform and the roll of charter schools should watch this meeting.

The School Board produces good agendas. To view the agenda, follow this link. The board has a very abbreviated regular meeting and  almost immediately jump into the work study session. Under discussion are two reports commissioned by the school board concerning charter schools and school reform. One is a recent study conducted by MGT of America to study the fiscal impact of charter school. To view that study follow this link: Charter School Financial Impact Model.

The other report is a two-year old study performed by the Tribal Group. I have been unable to find that report but only devoted limited time to the search. I am not sure it was ever made available to the public. At the time it was completed the press and council members could not get copies.  The Tribal Group is a foreign-owned company that was paid $6.3 million to advise the board on how to turn around Metro's failing schools. One thing the Tribal Group study concluded was that MNPS are top heavy, that there should be staff reductions and that more authority for managing schools should be given to school principals. To read more about the Tribal Group study, see this report that appeared in the Nashville Scene.

The work session starts at time stamp 0:3:38 with a discussion of the MGT report. The discussion of the Tribal Group report starts at 1:38:00

One thing to take away from this meeting is that the MGT consultant and some members of the board are opposed to charters competing with regular pubic schools in areas of the county where there is adequate capacity for the regular public schools to adsorb the students. They look at charters as a way to handle the overall capacity needs of school system rather than a tool to advance education improvement. They also continue to think of overhead and "fixed" cost as being fixed and see charters as a financial drain on the system. If they took to heart the recommendations of the Tribal group they would be cutting bureaucracy. I assume there is real fear of direct competition with charters because they know that if parents had a choice of a charter school or a regular public school in their community, parents would choose the better school. 

The data is clear that charter schools are succeeding where regular public schools are failing, but to many on the board that is not a persuasive enough factor to cause them to embrace charters. They are married to the status quo. Elissa Kim asks the right question, "what is the return on the investment?" She says all schools cost money.  The real cost to society, she says is when we don't educate children.  (see 0:24:47)  In addition to the point offer by Ms Kim about the general cost to society of failing schools, I also think any discussion of the impact of charter schools should look at the particular economic impact to the city for having bad schools.  Nashville shines and excels in many areas but many families avoid living in Davidson County because of our poor school system.  People who are deciding to either live in Davidson County or a surrounding county may be able to send their child to a public school in Williamson County but must consider the cost of private school if they choose to live in Nashville.  There is also a measurable cost associated with students who graduate unprepared for gainful employment or college. 

One interesting thing I learned from this work session is that while state and local dollars follow the student, federal dollars, such as title I money,  do not. This weakens what I think is a false argument anyway, and that is that when a child goes to a charter, the dollars that fund overhead are lost to the regular public schools and thus put regular public schools at a disadvantage. There is in the works the development of proposed state legislation that would change the funding formula so that charters will have to pay an administrative fee to the local school system or an amount less than a 100% of state and local dollars follow the student to a charter school.

I am so impressed by Elissa Kim. She is articulate and vivacious and passionate and rational in her arguments. She says "charters are only growing because people go to them." No one makes people go to charters she says.  She points out that charters are overrepresented in the top schools in Nashville.  She says we should not be trying to figure out how to tamp them down, but how to expand them. (See 1:19:00)

The Nashville Scene offers a good report on this meeting:

Five Things to Know From Last Night’s School Board Meeting, What’s Next

by Andrea Zelinski, The Nashville Scene,Wed, Oct 29, 2014 - School board members spent two and one-half hours diving deep into an outside report rekindling a years-long debate about the role of charter schools in Nashville and discerning what advice the district took from a two-year-old Tribal report. Here’s a breakdown of the major takeaways, and then some. 

1) Gentry favors a narrowed charter school policy.(link)

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Obamacare sends health premiums skyrocketing by as much as 78 percent

Lamar Alexander posted this to Facebook:
ICYMI, check out the Washington Times’ article, “Obamacare sends health premiums skyrocketing by as much as 78 percent,” on a new study by State Farm that compares health insurance policies before and after Obamacare, showing how premiums have drastically increased since its implementation. 
Sen. Alexander says Republicans are ready to take the health care debate in a new direction with “proposals that move our country step by step toward more freedom, more choices, and lower costs—repairing the damage Obamacare has done and preventing future damage.”
Read the full article here:
If you are not as hip and Facebook code-word savvy as Senator Alexander, "ICYMI" is "in case you missed it."  I had to think about it before it came to me. I know LOL and LMAO but I had to think about ICYMI. Anyway, ICYMI this is an informative article.

The people who were hit hardest by rate increases are young adults. I doubt enough young healthy adults are going to enroll to make Obamacare work. It seem clear to me, that Obamacare is simply not sustainable. My fear is that as the failures become clear, instead of moving toward a free market model there will be pressure to move toward a more universal healthcare model. 

Instead of focusing on "repeal" maybe it is time Republicans start focusing on the "replace."  And, maybe not even use the term "replace." Maybe we should talk about "working with Democrats" to "fix" what is "wrong" with the Affordable Care Act.  That would let Democrats save face while they tacitly admit Obamacare was a mistake. Maybe the strategy should be to "amend" the Affordable Care Act until it is in fact replaced. I know it would be satisfying to "rip it out by the root," as I heard Louisiana Republican Senate candidate Rob Maness say in a debate I watched last night.  It may be satisfying but I am not sure that will attract votes or is a winning strategy.

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Why I am not voting for Bill Haslam

I think Bill Haslam has made an excellent governor. He has governed with common sense conservative values. He and the Republican-controlled legislature have advanced education reform and cut taxes and increased government efficiency. I could hardly be more pleased with a governor that I am Governor Haslam.  So why am I not voting for Haslam in the upcoming election?  Because I am in favor of all four proposed constitutional amendments.

It is designed to be difficult to amend our State constitution. In order for an amendment to pass, it does not just have to have more people vote for it than vote against it. A proposed amendment must get one more vote than 50% of the number of people who vote in the Governor's race.

For sake of simplicity assume 100,000 people vote in the governor's race. Assume not everyone who votes will vote on the amendments.  There are some people who feel duty-bound to vote in every election but who may feel too uninformed about the amendments to cast a vote. Assume that 50,000 people vote for Amendment one and 45,000 vote against it. Does it pass? No. It would have required 50,001 votes to pass.

Now assume some people vote for Amendment one and do not vote in the governor's race. Assume only 95,000 vote in the governor's race and 50,000 vote for amendment one and 45,000 vote against it. Does it pass? Yes. One more than 50% of those voting for governor in this example is 47501. By not voting in the governor's race, you are lowering the threshold of the number required for an amendment to pass.

What is the risk of doing this?  Mark Rogers a local Republican Party activist whose opinion I value said there is considerable risk.  He spoke on this subject at a meeting of Caffeinated Conservatives yesterday. He said many of the vote-no-on-amendment-1 people will be driven to the polls by this issue alone. Despite that Charlie Brown is a clown and no one knows hardly anything about him and he has no credentials and experience, the no-on-one voters will vote for the Democratic nominee for Governor. Rogers says by failing to vote for Haslam, we could end up with Charlie Brown being our governor.

Is this likely? I seriously doubt it.  I just do not think that many people will vote for Charlie Brown.  If Haslam had a serious challenger I would not be advocating this strategy. While I respect Mark Roger's opinion, I think he is wrong.  Not that many people will understand the value of abstaining from voting in the governors race. So, I am going to risk it and vote for the amendments and vote in races down-ballot and abstain from voting for governor. To lower the threshold of the required number necessary for an amendment to pass, will not require that many people to abstain from voting in the governors race. A few people abstaining from voting in the governor's race could make the difference in the vote on the constitutional amendments.

If you understand what I have been explaining there no need to read further.  Some people cannot grasp that if more people vote for an amendment than vote against it, that is does not pass. Talking to them one-on-one and seeing their comments on Facebook, some people are just not convinced that that is correct. It is.

Here is the Wikipedia explanation:

Under the legislative method (which is a quite lengthy process), the Tennessee General Assembly must pass a resolution calling for an amendment and stating its wording, and must do so in three separate readings on three separate days, with an absolute majority on all readings. The resolution does not require the governor's approval.
The amendment must then be published at least six months before the next legislative election, but is not placed on the ballot at that time. Instead, once the legislative election is held, the proposed amendment must go another three readings, three day voting process. At this stage the amendment now requires approval of 2/3 of the legislature on each vote.
Finally, the amendment is placed on the ballot as a referendum coinciding with the next gubernatorial election. For the amendment to pass, the number of yes votes must be greater than one-half the number of votes cast for governor.
Here is the wording from the State constitution:
Article XI, Section 3 of the Tennessee State Constitution
Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in the Senate or House of Representatives, and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each of the two houses, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be entered on their journals with the yeas and nays thereon, and referred to the General Assembly then next to be chosen; and shall be published six months previous to the time of making such choice; and if in the General Assembly then next chosen as afore-said, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to by two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, then it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to submit such proposed amendment or amendments to the people at the next general election in which a governor is to be chosen. And if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments by a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor, voting in their favor, such amendment or amendments shall become a part of this Constitution. When any amendment or amendments to the Constitution shall be proposed in pursuance of the foregoing provisions the same shall at each of said sessions be read three times on three several days in each house.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Last Meeting of the AMP Citizens Advisory Committee: Mayor Dean pulls the plug on the AMP.

The highlight of the meeting is the address to the Committee by Mayor Karl Dean. He makes a push for mass transit and says now is not the time to put on the brakes, but he does. He says the project needs to move forward with the design phrase and meeting TDOT standards and Federal environmental impact studies need to move forward. He says, however, he will not be seeking state or local funding for the project for the upcoming year. (To see his remarks see timestamps 2:02:03-2:10:44.)

With this being Dean's last year in office, I think this kills the project. Only one of the announced candidates for Mayor has said he favors the AMP. I would be very surprised if this project moves forward. With little likelihood this project will be build, I hope the Council stops the project now instead of wasting a few more million dollars on design of a project that will not be build. The Council has already appropriated $7.5 million for this project and some of that has been spend, but I would assume not most of it. Unless the Council acts to stop action of the project, money will be spend to advance a project that is going nowhere. I hope someone in the Council is paying attention and can reclaim any unspent money. If the Council does nothing the whole $7.5 million will be wasted.

Most of this meeting is boring with charts and explanations of intersection wait times and number of turns and such as that. It is much more information than the average person would want to know. Here are the other highlights:

Richard Fulton, son of the former Mayor Richard Fulton, and a member of the AMP Advisory Committee gives a fast-passed description of the route and all of the lane changes from center lane to curbside and the turns a bus on the proposed route would have to make.  After his route description he says, "Woe! And this is BRT"? "There has got to be a better way."  He says he thinks that if the AMP is built, it will be such a disaster that it will set mass transit back decades.  (See 1:39:26- 1:43:02)

Dianne Neal says the plan has the best of intentions but is a "cut and paste" and is not a comprehensive plan. We do not know that this is the best alternative. She points out that two key issues, ridership and finances, were not before the committee. She also says we now know the AMP will do nothing to ease traffic congestion. She says the AMP is an example of the Federal government dictating transit solutions to local government without concern that the plan is affordable and sustainable.  (see 1:54:02- 1:57:55)

Here is The Nashville Business Journal report on the meeting:

With Citizens Advisory Committee, Dean's Amp lost the room
 In the end, however, concerns about the $174 million project came from more than just the loudest opponents on the 25-member advisory group, which Dean formed in April to provide regular feedback on the project. As members of the CAC issued final statements during the group's last meeting Tuesday, one thing became apparent: Dean's bus rapid-transit project had lost the room. (link)

Here is The Tennessean's report:
Dean punts Amp decision to next mayor 
Mayor Karl Dean says he won't pursue local or state funding for his Amp project during his final year in office, putting the fate of the controversial bus rapid transit project in the hands of a successor who might not be as enthusiastic about the idea.

Dean, entering his final 11 months in office, announced his new course at the final meeting of a citizens advisory committee he appointed in April to offer input on the 7.1-mile, $175 million transit project that would stretch from East Nashville, downtown through Broadway and onto West End Avenue. (link)

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Rep. Diane Black op/ed: Yes on 1 the compassionate choice

Rep. Diane Black op/ed: Yes on 1 the compassionate choice

Amendment 1 will not ban abortion in our state. It will instead give all Tennesseans a say by empowering our elected representatives to enact protections for women and unborn children that were wrongly struck down by unelected justices at the state Supreme Court. This includes informed-consent laws so that women know of any health risks associated with their abortion — a requirement that already exists for most other major surgeries — and regular inspections of abortion facilities to ensure compliance with health regulations.
Right now, the lack of proper safety regulations for abortion procedures has made Tennessee the state with the third-highest percentage of out-of-state abortions. Amendment 1 is not radical or extreme — this absurd status quo is. That is why this amendment puts our laws back in step with our principles and those of our neighboring states, and trusts that when it comes to decisions regarding life and abortion, Tennesseans know best.

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Five Things to Know From Last Night’s School Board Meeting, What’s Next

by Andrea Zelinski, The Nashville Scene,Wed, Oct 29, 2014 - School board members spent two and one-half hours diving deep into an outside report rekindling a years-long debate about the role of charter schools in Nashville and discerning what advice the district took from a two-year-old Tribal report. Here’s a breakdown of the major takeaways, and then some. 

1) Gentry favors a narrowed charter school policy.(link)

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The AMP is done! Put a fork in it.

Dean slams brakes on the Amp

Scott Harrison Staff Reporter, Nashville Business Journal, Oct. 28, 2014- Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is passing the baton on the Amp, his controversial $174 million bus rapid-transit project.

In the final meeting of his Citizens Advisory Committee, Dean announced today that he will not seek state or local funding for the project in 2015. Given that next year is his last in office, doing so effectively means getting the Amp off the ground will be dependent on the next administration — should that administration choose to pick up the mantle. (link)

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Friendly reminder for my Democrat Friends.

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Former Rep. Ben West urges voters to Vote for Jim Gotto

From former state representative Ben West:

"I'm speaking to you all to remind you how very important tomorrow is, it's Election Day! We get to exercise our most basic American right by going to the ballot box. Today I am asking you to vote for my friend, Jim Gotto, who is running for my former seat in the state house of representatives, district 60 which includes Donelson, Hermitage, and Old Hickory.

“It was truly my honor to serve you for 26 years. It has been my pleasure to have known Jim and his wife Carol for a very long time. I know the countless contributions they have made to our community over the years in this district. Even though you have known me as a conservative Democrat, in this election I am choosing to cross party lines as so many of you did for me and vote for Republican Jim Gotto. I believe he is the right man for the job.

“Jim is the man we can trust. He is accessible. He brings people together and listens to his constituents. Most importantly, he moves past partisan gridlock when voting for laws which will impact our families' lives. The state house is called the people's house for a reason. This is where your voice matters most in this complicated thing called government. This is why Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike are sticking up and supporting Jim Gotto. He will be your voice in the people's house. Please, don't miss this opportunity to make a difference. Join me tomorrow and vote for Jim Gotto. And if you want to speak directly to Jim, please call 615-482-3815.

Thank you for your time.”

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Amendment One Riddled with Ironies

by Lei Ann Ulep
Amendment 1, on the ballot tomorrow, is riddled with one irony after another.  Roe vs. Wade became law because women were either doing their own homemade abortions or resorting to “back alley” procedures. Needless to say it was unsafe and downright inhumane.

Lei Ann Ulep
Irony #1
The sole reason Amendment 1 is on this Tuesday’s ballot is because abortion clinics in Tennessee are being run under zero guidelines.   They don’t need the health department’s approval to perform procedures like other medical facilities.  Hence there are abortion clinics that are unclean and unsafe.  Amendment 1, if passed, will cause no immediate effect on abortion in Tennessee. However, it will enable Tennesseans, through their state legislators, to pass legislation that requires abortion clinics to be regulated, like all other medical facilities, making them safe for women to have a proper and informed procedure.  
The irony is that the same groups who backed Roe vs. Wade are the same group blocking Amendment 1, even though both have the same goal of making abortions cleaner and safer.

Irony #2
The Tennessean recently reported that the campaign No on 1 is 87% funded by Planned Parenthood, nearly $1.7 million. Yes on 1 is funded by the National Right to Life PAC, donating $15,000, and businessman John Gregory with $150,000, but 83% of funding is coming from individuals. (  It has rarely been pointed out that Planned Parenthood is profiting from these procedures. The organization says they are fighting the proposed amendment because they are doing this out of the principal, craftily labeled as “pro-choice”.  This legislation is not taking any choice away but in fact, modernizing the choice to have a clean and safe abortion.
I am pro-business on all levels, but if you are going to profit you must have and follow regulations especially if that business is medical in nature.  What’s ironic is liberals have always LOVED regulations but now we know that they are only for regulations if it does not include the corporations that fund their political candidates.  This is not to be mean or hateful but simply being truthful.
The irony is that for a change the left/progressives are the capitalist here, as well as standing against government regulation of health facilities. 

Irony #3
The No on 1 campaign is funded by progressive type groups like American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood but out of either ignorance or greed, they are actually keeping abortions from being more modernized because of fear that the Pro-Life groups will use this legislation to move things backwards i.e. introduce state legislation that will infringe upon women’s privacy.  Arguments against the amendment paints, the perception that it would take away a women’s choice when in fact, it just gives women better and informed choices.  That thinking of not doing something because it “might” lead to something backwards, is irrational and ironic because progressive means “favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters” –   
In short, Progressive groups are getting in the way of progress.  Progress is progress, it doesn’t matter who or what is funding it or what their ulterior motives are behind the funds.

We recognize that both campaigns, No on 1 and Yes on 1, have their own messages.  This opinion piece/letter is to communicate to our fellow Tennesseans to forget what both campaigns are saying and cut through the clutter.  Vote Yes on Amendment 1 to ensure abortions are done safely, cleanly and most of all humanely.  

Lei Ann is a Political veteran with experience working on six campaigns spanning from 1994 to 2014.  She served in different capacities on statewide campaigns in three states. She Served as Campaign Manager in a Congressional race and as the Regional Field Director in the battleground area of one of the biggest surprise victories of 2002.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Register Hasn’t Ruled Out Giving Inglewood Elementary to KIPP

Register Flips, Hasn’t Ruled Out Giving Inglewood Elementary to KIPP

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Yes on 1 Turns Focus To Unlicensed Abortion Facility

911 Emergency Call Released at Press Conference 
Supporters of Amendment 1 held a press conference on Monday outside a Nashville abortion facility which is neither licensed nor inspected by the Tennessee Department of Health. 
In 2002, owner-operator of The Women's Center, Gary Boyle, successfully won his lawsuit against the state in which he claimed that the state law requiring licensure and inspection of his abortion facilities violates the Tennessee Constitution.  As a result, facilities owned and operated by Boyle in Bristol and Nashville continue to operate without Health Department licensure. 

TN Department of Health website to document licensed facilities:
Yes on 1 provided reporters with copies of a June 21, 2014 audio recording of a 911 call retrieved from Nashville's Emergency Communications Center.  During the unedited recording, abortion facility staff can be heard struggling to provide aid to a patient who, according to The Women's Center, was undergoing an abortion.
During the call a Women's Center staffer directs other unidentified personnel where to find medication, and provides the following details to the 911 dispatcher.
911:  "Tell me exactly what happened..."
WC Staff: "She started coughing and she quit breathing...."
911:  "Is she breathing?"
WC Staff: "Uh, some"
WC Staff: "She just started having a coughing fit and maybe had quit breathing at one point." 
911: "Is her breathing completely normal?
WC Staff: "Now? No."
911: "And is she completely alert?"
WC Staff: "No."
911: "Is she changing color?" 
WC Staff: "Yes....She just looks ashen, she's a  black woman..."
911: "Does she have any abdominal pain?"
WC Staff: "Uh, I'm sure she does, she's in the middle of getting an abortion."
Speaking in support of Amendment 1 and urging that all TN abortion facilities be required to submit to licensure and inspection were Franklin attorney Deana Hood and Murfreesboro physician Brent Boles, M.D.
"The fact that this facility can continue to perform thousands of abortions each year without being licensed by the state Health Department shows just how extreme our state's abortion policies have become," said Hood.  "Abortion is now considered a fundamental right in Tennessee and even the most modest efforts to regulate the practice are now at risk of being struck down.  If we cannot ensure the health and safety of women entering this building, we are abdicating our most basic responsibility as citizens and public officials."
Dr. Boles agreed.
"Tennesseans who care about women who choose to have abortions should pay close attention to this issue," said Boles.  "The recent 911 call dramatically illustrates that things can and do go wrong during abortions. Half of the facilities which advertise abortion in Tennessee aren't inspected or licensed, what would we find here if an inspection were required?"
Yes on 1 spokeswoman Lorene Steffes added, "Licensure and inspection is a place where pro-choice and pro-life advocates can agree," said Steffes.  "Anything less places the life and health of vulnerable women and girls in jeopardy."
Click on the link to view Yes on 1's new '911' television ad that is airing across Tennessee: 
Please make a secure online gift today to help win Amendment 1.
Restore Life to Tennessee: Vote Yes on Amendment 1!
Election Day: Tuesday, November 4
Early Voting: October 15 - 30

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Beth Harwell says she is "open" to possibility of running for Governor

Speaker of the House Beth Harwell told the Paris Tennessee Post-Intelligencer she is is interested in the possibility of becoming the state’s first female governor.  “I do love what I do, and it’s an honor to get to be speaker,” Harwell is quoted as saying. “Nobody knows exactly what the future holds, either personally or professionally, but if I had the opportunity to run for a statewide office, I would certainly be interested in doing that, and I would just have to see what the lay of the land is.” (link)

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Will Senate District 21 Allow Lobbyists To Buy Our Vote?

Dear friends,

This Election year is crucial for so many reasons, and we are so close to ensuring Senate District 21's voice is heard at the Capitol.

We have an incredibly important choice to make at the polls. Are we going to have a voice, or will we allow lobbyists and special interest groups to run our community?

My opponent, Jeff Yarbro, works for one of the largest law firms in Nashville with an incredibly active lobbying arm. When asked at a debate if he would quit his job if elected, he simply danced around the question and eventually said he would not quit.

If it isn't a direct conflict of interest to have a State Senator working at one of the city's largest law and lobbying firms, then I don't know what is. I'm asking you to help me stop it.

Together, I know that we can ensure our community has a voice at the Capitol. Deep pocketed special interest groups are trying to buy your vote, and I pray that they do not succeed.

Our campaign has received an incredible amount of support from so many great Nashvillians. Former Tennessee Governor Winfield Dunn has endorsed our campaign, and so has Vanderbilt University's Dr. Carol Swain.

Your small donation today will help secure the future of our District. With your support, we can pull off a win for our community!

Remember, early voting ends October 30th and Election Day is November 4th. If you're not sure where you need to vote, please click HERE.

Thank you so much for your time and support.
Diana Cuellar

My Comment: Come on. Give again or if you have not given, do it now.  Diane has worked really hard and she would make a great Senator. Rod

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Double Your Vote on Amendment 1. Don't vote in the Governor's race.

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Yes on Amendment 4 lets Vet Groups have raffles same as other non-profits.

I am voting "yes" on all four proposed constitutional amendments.  Of the four proposed amendments, amendment number 4 has received the least publicity.  Amendment Four would simply allow veterans to be added to the list of those charitable organizations that may apply to the state to hold one raffle or "gaming" event a year to raise money. All other charitable organizations are allowed to do this. The word "veterans" is not in the language of the Amendment but 501(c)(19) is the section of the tax code that covers non-profit veterans groups such as American Legion and VFW. When the Tennessee constitution was amended in 2002 to allow other non-profits to apply to hold one "gaming" event a year, veterans groups were left out of that amendment.

Here is a link to a very good article that explains Amendment 4 in more detail: Amendment #4 adds veteran groups to gaming

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Could non-citizens decide the November election?

By Jesse Richman and David Earnest, Washington Post, October 24 - Could control of the Senate in 2014 be decided by illegal votes cast by non-citizens? Some argue that incidents of voting by non-citizens are so rare as to be inconsequential, with efforts to block fraud a screen for an agenda to prevent poor and minority voters from exercising the franchise, while others define such incidents as a threat to democracy itself. Both sides depend more heavily on anecdotes than data.
In a forthcoming article in the journal Electoral Studies, we bring real data from big social science survey datasets to bear on the question of whether, to what extent, and for whom non-citizens vote in U.S. elections. Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races. (read more)

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Mayor Karl Dean says November 13th is Child Hungar Day

Mayor Karl Dean has just released a public service announcement promoting November 13 as Child Hunger Day. It has the requisite soft mood music in the background as Dean says there are 4,000 children suffering from hunger here in middle Tennessee. He ask us to take the 365 challenge and for just $1 a day you can change the life of a child suffering from hunger. You can view the PSA at this link

Didn't we just have a whole month devoted to hunger?  The month of September was Hunger Action Month so why is November 13th Child Hunger Day?  Is not a whole month enough?  It is not that I am a heartless bastard who wants kids to go hungry.  I just don't believe hunger is that big of a deal in America. I do not believe there are 4000 kids "suffering" from hunger in middle Tennessee. Ask your self, do you believe it?

I believe that if there is any real hungry kids in America it is because of bad parents who sell the food stamps and spend the money on crack or booze or gambling instead of milk and groceries. To solve that problem, we must be willing to take kids away from bad parents which I would be willing to do.  Giving the incidents of poor, neglectful, and abusive parenting and the failure of the foster care system, I think maybe it is time to bring back public orphanages and be willing to take kids away from parents who will not care for them. If they are in an orphanage, we know they will be fed.

Below is my commentary commemorating Hunger Action Month. The same commentary applies to Child Hunger Day.

This is Hunger Action Month and we are told that one in six Tennesseans "struggle with hunger."  I don't believe it! I have never believed the hype about hunger. I remember a few years ago there was a ad, with sad music in the background, for some organization fighting hunger that went something like this: "It could be the person you work next to, it could be that person you ride the bus with every morning but x number of x number of people go to bed hungry every night." I didn't believe it then and do not believe it now. I thought, if they go to bed hungry it is probably because they are on a diet.

Most of my working career, I have worked one way or the other with poor people and people in crisis.  I don't know that I have ever witnesses real hunger. At one time the place where I work was an outlet for Nashville's Table and Second Harvest Food Bank.  The food people got from that place supplemented their budget and helped them, but I don't think many of the clients were hungry and maybe it was because of these agencies they were not hungry, but those agencies were there. Even among the homeless there is an abundance of free meals in Nashville. This is link to a list of 113 food pantries in Nashville.

What do people really mean by "hunger?"  Well notice that the campaign does not say they are starving or have nothing to eat or do not know where their next meal is coming from; it says they "struggle" with hunger.  I think "struggles with  hunger" is synonymous with "food insecurity" and that means "without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life." Here is how an article in Forbes called, 29 Uncomfortable Myths About Soaring Poverty In America described it:

21. Today, approximately 17 million children in the United States are facing food insecurity. In other words, that means that “one in four children in the country is living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life.”
Food insecurity is one of those odd numbers again. It’s whether the household has ever skipped a meal in the year, or had a less than adequately nutritious one, or even had to drop the quality of their menu, as a result of not having the money to buy food. So having to have pasta with ketchup for lunch and dinner because Pops blew the food budget on a bottle of whiskey counts here. We can indeed call this poverty if we want to but it’s obviously not an extreme form of it.
We have 47 million Americans on food stamps (now called SNAP) and our local school system decided to give free breakfast and lunch to every child in school and end the necessity to qualify for free or reduced lunch. We are very generous to the poor in America.  We are so generous that people become trapped in poverty and it is too expensive to stop being poor.  If one is eligible for Aid to Dependent children, medicaid, public housing, earned income tax credit, food stamps and a free telephone and gets the free stuff such as clothes and schools supplies and Christmas gifts from non-profit agencies, it takes a lot of money to equal that same level of income one has living in poverty.  If one tries to enter the workforce and fails, then they must requalify for those benefits and there may be a long waiting list for some of them.  It is easier to stay poor.

Why do we sensationalize hunger? I have some theories:
(1) The non-profits and government bureaucrats want to keep their job. If the problem does not appear a severe crisis then people may not give and tax payers may be more demanding that government spending be cut.
(2) There is a political payoff to perpetuating a myth that times are really bad and only the government can help hurting people and that the wealth needs to be redistributed.  Democrats are looked upon as the party that cares about poor people so by spreading a perception that there is widespread hunger in America it helps Democrats stay in office.
(3) It is simply advertising and advertisers exaggerate and lie. These agencies helping the poor will get more money to help the poor if the situation appears dire. They have advertising agencies create a fund raising campaign. And,
(4) it makes good copy and TV.  The liberal media shares the world view of other liberal but also a story about hunger in the richest country in the world makes a good story. 

I am not opposed to programs to help families in poverty.  I do think food stamps is out of control and there is a lot of waste and corruption in the program and the food stamp program needs to be cut, but I am not opposed to programs that help the poor. I occasionally give to the Nashville Rescue Mission or buy a homeless newspaper or contribute to Second Harvest or  Meals-on-Wheels.  These are good programs. I hate to see food go to waste and I think Nashville's Table and Second Harvest are good programs.  I admire the work done by all the churches who help the poor supplement there food budget. However, it is dishonest and unnecessary to create an impression that there is widespread hunger in America.

According to the Census Bureau, 96% of parents classified as poor said their children were never hungry.

Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2012 - We take it as a given that hunger stalks America. We hear it in the news, we see a myriad of government and private organizations set up to feed the hungry. And we are often reminded of the greatest of all ironies—in the richest nation on earth, there are still those without enough to eat. But are these media portrayals of hunger in America accurate? 

A hungry child is the ultimate third rail in the entitlement debate. Few candidates—Democrat, Republican or independent—would even question conventional wisdom on this particular issue because that would make them look indifferent to hungry children and that, of course, is political death.
The U.S. government spends close to $1 trillion a year providing cash, food, housing, medical care and services to poor and near-poor people. (read more)

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Federalist Society guest speaker Ryan T. Anderson to speak on Religious Liberty, Oct. 28th

The Nashville Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society
Religious Liberty: The Founders' Intentions and Current Threats
Ryan T. Anderson
Ryan T. Anderson
October 28, 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 and pay $15 by visiting this website.

Ryan Anderson researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He also focuses on justice and moral principles in economic thought, healthcare, and education, and has expertise in bioethics and natural law theory. He is also the editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, NJ. Anderson’s recent work at Heritage focuses on the constitutional questions surrounding same-sex “marriage.” He is the co-author with Princeton’s Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis of the acclaimed book “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” (Encounter Books, December 2012), which was cited twice by Justice Samuel Alito in the Supreme Court case involving the Defense of Marriage Act.

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Ashley Judd in Nashville to rally for "no-on-one."

Ashley Judd
Hollywood actress  Ashley Judd was in Nashville again yesterday headlining an afternoon rally for opponents of  amendment 1.  The event was at Event Space on Chestnut Street and was attended by about 100 people. (link)

Ashley Judd is a frequent visitor in Nashville and often holds fund raisers for liberals such as she did this summer for Jeff Yarbro who is running for the State Senate in District 21 against Republican Diana Cuellar.

Ms Judd often campaigns for what are sometimes called "women's" issues. She claims she was a three-time rape survivor and childhood victim of incest. She has also claimed she was the victim of "egregious sexual harassment” in Hollywood.  She has stared in several movie that featured nudity and soft core sex scenes.  She was a 2012 Tennessee delegate to the National Democrat Party convention.

Amendment one would allow the state legislature to pass reasonable regulations to regulate the abortion industry.  The pro-abortion forces from across the nation have poured money into Tennessee to defeat amendment one outspending the pro-amendment one forces about four-to-one. .  Abortion is protected as a constitutional right due to the Supreme Court decision in Roe vs wade and is virtually unregulated in Tennessee and Tennessee has become an abortion destination state. Amendment one would not ban abortion but would permit the same level of regulation as in other states. To read more about Amendment one follow

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Diana Cuellar on Why I am running for public Office.

Diana Cuellar for TN State Senate District 21

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