Saturday, February 21, 2015

Please attend the NOAH forum on Sunday. This could be the most important forum of the campaign.

The Tennessean today gave a lot of coverage to NOAH, the group that is hosting the mayoral forum at 3PM tomorrow at Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church. NOAH is headed by Mike Hodge a community organizer in the tradition of Saul Alinsky who for many years was the public face of the Neighborhood Resource Center.  Hodge is good at what he does. He is a master at getting people stirred up and manipulating opinion and he is very good at putting people on the spot and making them commit to positions to which they may not want to commit.

The NOAH platform is the following:

Affordable housing. To preserve and produce affordable housing by enhancing the city's housing trust fund, developing inclusionary zoning, and using federal, state and local resources to prevent displacement.
Criminal justice: To reduce the jail population and the General Sessions Court docket by 50 percent by using alternatives to arrest and restorative justice measures.
Economic equity and jobs: To increase transparency on public project government incentives, to hire locally first and to attach community benefit measurements to projects in high-poverty areas.

Candidates will be asked to pledge to support this agenda. Candidates should be very careful how fully they commit to this platform.  I agree with the goal of maintaining a mix of housing price points in Nashville, but would not use the heavy hand of government to force this preference. I support efforts to build affordable housing through tax credits and using the trust fund for construction loans and I support zoning that allow accessory dwelling units on  residential property, but exclusionary zoning requires a given share of new construction to be affordable by people with low to moderate incomes. Do we really want the city to engage in this type price control? I do not. I am not really sure I know what is meant by "using federal, state and local resources to prevent displacement," but I would hope a candidate would not give an ironclad grantee to do that.

To reduce the jail population by 50%?  That is a worthy goal and the jail population has been declining for several years now. However, the crime rate has been on a decline for about the last 30 years. If crime goes back up then incarcerations will go back up. I do think one way to achieve this goal is to cease jailing people for possession of small amounts of marijuana and even ceasing to arrest people for possession of small amounts. We already have some diversion programs such as the "John School" for people arrested for soliciting prostitutes. I think there are good answers to this question without moving far to the left. However 50% is an awfully big reduction on top of the already reduced jail population. I am going to be leery of voting for anyone who promises this much reduction without a convincing explanation of how they will achieve it.

Economic equity and jobs?  I want the best deal for the tax payers and hiring locally is often not practical. When a company bids on a big job they usually have their own trained and reliable labor force. I don't want a mayor who promises that public projects will use x% local labor. Also, I am unsure exactly what is meant by attaching "community benefit measurements to projects in high-poverty areas."  It will be interesting to see how candidates answer that question.

I hope the candidates will not pander and move as far to the left as this forum will try to push them.  I expect Megan Barry is already there. It will be interesting to see how the others respond, perform, and are received. I hope a large crowd attends this forum and not just members of NOAH.  Sometimes politician get more backbone when they see they are being watched.  They may pander less if the audience is more diverse than just the people supporting the agenda of the host organization.

I plan to attend. Please join me.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Southeast Nashville Conservatives Breakfast is cancellled.


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Statesmen’s Dinner 2015 featuring Gov. Jeb Bush and Why I don't think I will attend.

Press release, NASHVILLE, Tenn.—2016 is here.

Jeb Bush
In the latest sign that the 2016 presidential race is heating up, the Tennessee Republican Party today announced that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will headline the Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville — the largest annual gathering of Republicans in Tennessee. Gov. Bush, who announced recently he was actively exploring a run for the White House in 2016, joins an impressive list of leaders who have spoken at the dinner.

As an early primary state, Tennessee in an important place in Republican politics. This is the perfect forum to come and deliver an optimistic, dynamic case for conservatism. We need a bold reformer leading our nation. As Florida’s Governor and as a public servant, that’s exactly the reputation Gov. Bush has built. We look forward to welcoming Jeb Bush to Nashville,” said TNGOP Chairman Chris Devaney.

Devaney also announced that Congressman Diane Black (TN-06) will serve as the 2015 Statesmen’s Dinner Chair. Cong. Black will play an instrumental role in the dinner, which is the TNGOP’s largest yearly fundraising event.

Cong. Black is the perfect chair for this important occasion. She has quickly become known as a conservative solutions-seeker both in Washington and here at home. In fact, this event will showcase how Tennessee is leading our country with bold ideas, effective leadership, and a conservative philosophy,” he noted.

Congressman Black stated, “Each year, the Statesmen’s Dinner offers a chance to recognize our dedicated Republican activists here at home and listen to some of the brightest minds in the conservative movement from across the country. I am honored to lead the effort to once again make this Tennessee’s premier political event of the year.”

The 2015 Statesmen’s Dinner will take place on Saturday, May 30th in Nashville. Tickets may be purchased by going to or calling Taylor Ferrell at 615.269.4260.

About Governor Bush
Jeb Bush served as the 43rd Governor of the State of Florida from 1999-2007. During his tenure, he remained true to his conservative principles—cutting nearly $20 billion in taxes, vetoing more than $2.3 billion in earmarks, and reducing the state government workforce by more than 13,000. His limited government approach helped unleash one of the most robust and dynamic economies in the nation, creating 1.4 million net new jobs and improving the state’s credit ratings.

  • Last year, the TNGOP Statesmen’s Dinner featured New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and helped the Party raise record breaking contribution numbers.
  • Coverage of the 2014 Statesmen’s Dinner can be found here and here.
  • Past Statesmen’s speakers include: Former Vice President Dick Cheney, 2012 GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney, President George W. Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and US. Senator Tim Scott.
  • The 2015 Statesmen’s Dinner announcement is the first of several upcoming events that will feature prominent potential Republican presidential candidates who are coming to Tennessee at the invitation of the Tennessee Republican Party.
My Comment:
I am not exactly boycotting the Tennessee Republican Party, I am just having a hard time getting excited about contributing to the Party or attending the Statesman's Dinner. I could afford to go to the Statesman's Dinner but I'm just not very motivated. Year before last I attended and the guest speaker was Senator Tim Scott and I enjoyed it immensely.

There are two reasons I guess why I am having a hard time getting motivated to attend the Statesmen's Dinner. One, the speaker does not excite me.  I could not get excited about Chris Christie last year and can not get excited about Jeb Bush this year.

The other reason that I can not get motivated to financially help the party or attend the Statesman's Dinner is because they allow a person who has campaigned to elect Democrats and defeat Republicans to keep a seat on the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Republican Party. I am speaking of Mark Winslow.

Mark Winslow
Winslow managed the campaign of Democrat Melissa Blackburn who successfully ran for Davidson County Judge. Her Republican opponent was Marian Fodyce. Winslow worked for Blackburn as her paid campaign manager.  Since then, he has gone to work for Judge Blackburn.  Working to get Blackburn elected is not the only time Winslow has worked to help Democrats get elected.

In April of 2014, Mark Winslow’s candidacy to again run for a position on the State Executive Committee was challenged because of his managing the campaign for a Democrat. Party Chairman Chris Devaney could have prevented Winslow from running for a seat on the SEC, however he chose to allow Winslow to keep his name on the ballot. (link)

Overall, I think Chris Devaney has been a good Party chairman, but he really disappointed me when he allowed Winslow to stay on the SEC.  Obviously, one cannot serve the best interest of the Republican Party and a Democrat nominee for office at the same time. Any fool should be able to see that, that is a conflict of interest.  When the Davidson County Republican Party was considering giving financial help to Republican candidates, Winslow who serves on the County Executive Committee by virtue of his elected position on the State Executive Committee opposed giving the candidates money. Just think about that: He is working to elect the Democrat and gets a vote on whether or not the Republican will get campaign money. (link)

This year I decided not to renew my membership in the Tennessee Republican Party and after the Party wasted the cost of several mailings to me asking for my annual contribution, I got a phone call asking me to renew by membership.  I explained to the nice lady who called me that I was not in a mood to contribute and explained the reason why and told her of Mark Winslow's duplicitous roll. (For more on Mark Winslow, follow this link.)

Like I said above, I am not boycotting the Tennessee Republican Party, I am just explaining why I have not been in the mood to contribute ever since Winslow was reelected to the SEC. If, however, the speaker at the Statesman's Dinner was going to be Scott Walker or Bobby Jindal or Marco Rubio or one of several other people, I might have overcome by revulsion at Winslow serving on the SEC and chose to attend the event anyway.

One bad apple may not spoil the whole barrel and there are many good people serving the interest of the Party and serving on the State Executive Committee. These good people on the SEC should do the right thing however, and move to remove Winslow from his seat on the SEC. I want to see the Party succeed and I not trying to persuade anyone else to join me in not attending the Statement's Dinner or join me in not contributing to the State party. And, I am not going to sit on the sidelines forever just because of one turncoat in the ranks, but for now I am going to take the $500 I would have spend on the Statesman's Dinner and split it between good conservatives like Lonnie Spivak, Stephen Clements, and Ken Jakes who are running for Metro Council.

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Caffinated Conservatives reset from the 21st to the 28th of February

From Stephen Clements,

Hi everybody,
Terry and I have decided to postpone the coffee talk from the 21st to the 28th of February. We will still be at Uncommon Grounds visiting their great proprietor Chuck Sonn, from NOON - 2 PM, just a different day.
While I don't agree with Mayor Dean on much, I do agree with him that this weekend will be a mess. STAY WARM!

Stephen Clements and Terry Torre
Caffeinated Conservatives

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Democrats United with Labor mayoral forum canceled due to pressure from Freeman, organizer says.

The Democrats United with Labor mayoral forum scheduled to take place tomorrow at 3PM at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall on Elm Hill Pk has been cancelled at this late date, due to a pressure from local labor leader Gary Moore, according to the forum organizer. The organizer of the, Larry Crim, has scheduled a new forum, much like the one cancelled, for March 21st but the new forum will not have the participation of organized labor. According to Crim the reason the  Democrats United with Labor forum is cancelled is because the Freeman for Mayor campaign pressured labor to not participate. Below is a statement issued by Crim.

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Cancelled Mayoral Forum Saturday Feb. 21st 2-5PM

To RSVP follow this link: Cancelled and it is not due to weather.

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Southeast Nashville Conservatives Breakfast Saturday, February 21

Shoney's (Antioch), Bell Road @ Cane Ridge Road, (I-24E, Bell Road Exit)
Breakfast (dutch treat ) 8:30 - 9:00 am, Program:  9:00 - 10 amGuest Speakers, Metro Council at Large Candidates for August, 2015 Election, Karen Bennett and Ken Jakes
Candidates for Mayor, Vice Mayor and Council are invited and will be recognized.

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Southeast Nashville Conservatives Breakfast Saturday, February 21

February 21. 8:30 - 9:00 am Program: 9:00 - 10 am
Shoney's (Antioch) Bell Road @ Cane Ridge Road (I-24E, Bell Road Exit)
Breakfast (dutch treat).
Guest Speakers, Metro Council at Large Candidates for August, 2015 Election Karen Bennett and  Ken Jakes
Candidates for Mayor, Vice Mayor and Council are invited and will be recognized.
 Meeting Hosts: Robert Duvall & Pat Carl

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Caffeinated Conservatives will meet Saturday February 28st

From Stephen Clements:

Just a reminder that we are still on for Saturday the 28th! Also, I wanted to plug a few other events coming up:

- Friday the 27th, the Middle Tennessee Republican Women are having a luncheon with Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory. Please see this link for time and details:
- Saturday March 7th at 8 am at the Shoney's in Bellevue is Betty Hood's most excellent Bellevue Breakfast Club!
- Tuesday 10th of March at 6 pm at the Madison Police Precinct, the community group Madison NOW! is meeting to discuss plans on how to improve our community and rally volunteers. Want to sway others to your political cause? Show them you actually care about something other than your own agenda! Message me for more details.
- Saturday March 14th and 21st at the Ellington Agricultural Center will be the Davidson County Republican Party Caucus and Convention! If you want a say in how the party is run and who is running it, come on down! More details on the way, but you can get on the DCRP email list by signing up for weekly updates here:

Caffeinated Conservatives will meet Saturday February 28st from NOON to 2 PM at Uncommon Grounds (1053 Donelson Ave in Old Hickory Village).

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Beacon Releases New Website for Tennessee Taxpayers:

NASHVILLE - Today, the Beacon Center of Tennessee released a website that gives taxpayers across the state an opportunity to see how their tax dollars are spent on education. is a customizable tool that allows Tennesseans to look into how their specific school district spends money. By typing in their ZIP Code, or choosing a local school district with a drop down menu, taxpayers can determine whether their investment is being spent wisely.

Some of the statistics taxpayers can see for each school district include total spending per child, percentage of money spent in the classroom, and the growth in administrative costs. For instance, taxpayers spend $9.3 billion each year on education statewide. Of that amount, just 53 percent makes it into the classroom.

Beacon CEO Justin Owen noted, "This is a great tool for parents and taxpayers alike to see how their tax dollars are actually spent when it comes to education. Overall, we have found that many school districts are spending excessive amounts of money on administrative costs instead of on each child's actual education. We believe that by exposing how school districts spend money, people will be more open to parental choice options that could result in a more efficient use of taxpayer money along with better results for our children."

You can visit and see how your district spends taxpayer money by clicking here.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New EPA power plant rule will cost Tennessee 14,159 jobs

If you recall, back on December 2nd the Metro Council passed  RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1300  sponsored by Council Member Peter Westerholm which expressed the will of the Council in   supporting President Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

The Council had not had months of debate on the bill, they had not heard from experts, they did not have hearing, they did not have scientific studies to validate the wisdom of this move, they did not debate the goals or alternative ways of achieving the goals and they did not do a cost-benefit analysis.  They had no idea what it cost to comply and how it would impact our economy. The Council knew no more about the subject than you and I but they thought it important to weight in on the subject and express the will of the Council.

The plan the Council endorsed forces states collectively to cut power-industry emissions by 30 percent in 2030 from 2005 levels. Different states would have different targets. The EPA’s proposed regulations set target emission caps for each state based on assumptions about how much that state can reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. Many states have called the EPA’s goals unrealistic and are pushing back against the proposed regulations.   The map below from the National Conference of State Legislators shows which states will have to reduce emission the most.

I bet when the Metro Council passed Resolution 2014-1300 they had not seen the above map not that I think it would have changed any minds. The Beacon Center reports that a study by Suffolk University shows new emission rules on new power plants could cost upwards of $208 million in Tennessee. The rule for existing plants could cost $394 million according to the study, while the mercury emissions rule could cost $727 million, for a total of more than $1.3 billion. Other experts expect retail energy cost to increase 14 to 18% over the next decade. A new study by the Heritage Foundation estimates the new EPA rule will cost Tennessee 14,159 jobs which is 3.51% of the jobs in Tennessee. The map below the congressional districts that will take the hardest hits.

It is time to recall who voted to commend the EPA for this rule and who it was that thought it was a great idea.  Here is how they voted.

“Ayes.” Barry, Steine, Maynard, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Pridemore, Stanley, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Baker, Langster, Holleman, McGuire, Harmon, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, Todd, Mitchell (24).

“Noes.” Garrett, Tygard, Bennett, Hagar, Glover, Stites, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Weiner, Blalock, Dominy, Duvall (12),

“Abstaining.” Evans, Johnson (2).

Several of these members are termed out and cannot seek reelection, but Megan Barry who voted in favor wants to be mayor and Walter Hunt is seeking to be Council Member at large. Councilman Anthony Davis is seeking reelection and has an opponent worthy of support in Stephen Clement. Scott Davis, Westerholm, Harman, Bedne and other are seeking reelection. I would not vote against someone because I disagreed with one single vote they cast but this one vote would enter into my calculation in deciding if I would support their reelection.

On the other hand, some of those who voted the right way by voting "no" deserve support.  Tim Garrett is running for Vice Mayor and several of the others may be running for at large seats such as Bennett, Dominy and Duvall and several of the other such as Hagar, Glover, Tenpenny and Weiner are seeking reelection. That should be point in their favor in determining if their candidacy merits support.

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Event Cancelled: The Nashville Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society presents A Postmortem on Insure Tennessee and Looking Ahead

Good morning, Unfortunately, the other organizations in Nashville that invited Lawrence Bader have postponed their events and he can no longer make it into town. Although we Federalists are made of sterner stuff, we're going to postpone this event to ensure that we can maximize both attendance and enjoyment. If you have already paid for this event, then I can either refund your ticket or credit it toward a future event. Please let me know which you would prefer. Grant

A Postmortem on Insure Tennessee and Looking Ahead to King v. Burwell
Justin Owen & Lawson Bader
February 19, 2015, 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

JUSTIN OWEN is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Beacon Center of Tennessee. He manages the day-to-day operations of the Center, oversees all policy initiatives, and serves as the main point of contact for members of the Tennessee General Assembly, the media, and the public on policy issues. He formerly served as director of policy and general counsel for the organization. Justin advances the Beacon Center’s mission – empowering Tennesseans to reclaim control of their lives – by promoting free market solutions at the state and local level. In his time as president & CEO of Beacon, Justin has helped usher in comprehensive tort reform, assisted in the repeal of collective bargaining by government unions, and worked to end Tennessee’s death tax, among many smaller achievements. Justin received his J.D. from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis and obtained his undergraduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University.

LAWSON BADER is president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Under Bader’s leadership CEI has expanded its outreach, launching RealClear Radio Hour with Bill Frezza in January 2014. RealClear Radio Hour airs weekly on Bloomberg Radio in Boston and San Francisco, and is syndicated in several markets across the country. Bader has also streamlined CEI’s policy efforts and focused its legal and litigation work to demand government transparency and rein in executive branch overreach. Before joining CEI, Bader served as vice president of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for 16 years; manager of government relations at SRI International; legislative analyst with Pierson, Semmes and Finley; and a special assistant at the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Bader, a long-time Washington resident, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and earned degrees from Wheaton College in Illinois and The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. My note: Just for clarification, one does not have to be a member or a lawyer to attend. For attorney's, this has been approved for CLE credit.

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Liberty on the Rocks Liberty on the Rocks, Thursday, February 19

Liberty on the Rocks Liberty on the Rocks, Thursday, February 19, 2015, 5:30 PM, Mafiaoza's 2400 12th Ave S Nashville, TN 37204

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mayoral Forum Sunday Feb. 22nd hosted by NOAH at 15th Ave. Babtist Church

There will be another mayor forum next Sunday sponsored by an organization called NOAH.

With a name like Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, and the other code words they use one
Mike Hodge
can assume this is a very liberal organization.  I am not sure if he is the Executive Director of not, but long time community organizer and former employee of the Neighborhood Resource Center, Mike Hodge is associated with this group.  Candidates should be prepared for some question that will put them on record as advocating a very "progressive" agenda. There will probably be questions about gentrification, diversity and affirmative action, community police relations, and affordable housing. I expect some candidates for mayor will loose points with me at this forum. It will be interesting to see who panders least and if there is a conservative among those running for Mayor.

NOAH is classified as a religious corporation by the Secretary of States office and has been around since 1991 under the name Tying Nashville Together.

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More about the teacher at Pearl-Cohn who had "inappropriate contact" with a student

Back on November 24th I posted that a first-year female teacher at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet

Marquita Alston
High School was accused of  having sex with a male students. I had no other details at the time and that was about all I knew and I never saw a follow up.

Contacting the school system, after some delay I got more information. This is the press release the school issued at the time of the incident:
Marquita Alston, a teacher at Pearl-Cohn High School, has been accused of inappropriate contact with students. Immediately upon becoming aware of these allegations, Principal Sonia Stewart called Metro Police and Alston was placed on administrative leave. Student safety is always our No. 1 priority. MNPS is cooperating fully with Metro Police in the investigation. This is Alston’s first year with Metro Schools.
I may have jumped to conclusions when I originally reported she was "having sex" with the student. I can not find the original source of my information and reports I now read only say she had "inappropriate contact."
School officials report that Ms. Alston resigned two or three working days after the incident was reported and that the matter was turned over to Metro Police and they are investigating the matter. When police are involved, MNPS is advised not to conduct an investigation as it may interfere with the police investigation.

This story was reported in the media in more detail than I had, but my attempt to do a Google search was not successful without the name of the teacher. Below is news story that ran at the time.

Ms Alston's auto bio is still on the Peal-Cohn webpage and this is what says about herself:
My name is Marquita Alston and I am a science teacher in the AEC academy. I am from Covington, TN and this is my first year at Pearl-Cohn. I graduated with a degree in Forensic Science and Spanish from the Middle Tennessee State University. I enjoy working out, going to the movies, spending time with family and friends, and relaxing. My favorite quote is by Maya Angelou and it says, “Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
On a website called "Black Planet," in 2010 she wrote:

My name is Marquita Alston. I am a college intellectual and I have nothing, but success on my mind! I am aspiring to be a doctor/medical examiner. If you would like to know more about me, just ask! I am delighted to meet you!

Ms Alston now has a resume posted online and updated Feb. 15, 2015, but of course does not mention her employment with MNPS.

It should be noted that Ms Alston has not yet been found guilty of a crime but her abrupt resignation after being charges certainly makes her look guilty.  I am perplexed as to what would cause this.  A look at her resume and statements, shows a story of someone who overcame adversity, who had high ambitions, who had had academic success in the area of science where few women excel, who considers herself an intellectual and says "I have nothing but success on my mind."

She had just graduated a few months earlier and was just starting her promising career and then had "inappropriate contact" with a student and threw it all away or certainly had a setback. I will continue to follow this story and report more details when they become available.

Teachers having sex with students appears to not be that uncommon of an occurrence and it looks like a whole lot more female teachers are having sex with male students than male teachers having sex with female students, but of course that could be a function of reporting, not what is really happening. For more of my thoughts on this issue and other examples of this type of occurrence, follow this link.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

What's on the Council Agenda for Feb. 17? Not much.

There is not much of interest on this agenda. This should be a quick meeting, but one never knows for sure. Council meetings are more interesting if you know what is being voted on. To get your own copy of the Council agenda and Council staff analysis, follow the highlighted links.

There are six appointments to Board and Commission on the Council agenda. The Council routinely rubber stamps these appointments without examining the positions or qualifications of the candidates. In doing so the Council misses an opportunity to exert influence. I appreciated the members of the pubic who are willing to serve and they should be given the benefit of the doubt and the Mayor should be given quite a bit of leeway in whom he appoints to boards and commission. However, the Council should make sure that if people are being appointed to a board that they will be committed to cleaning up a corrupt agency or to improving management of a mismanaged agency. Also some consideration should be given to the diversity of the boards.  I am not advocating a quota, but all of our boards should not be white professionals from Belle Meade who work in the industry they are regulating. We need different points of view and people from different parts of the county on these boards as well as some minorities and women and different profession. I don't know if we do have that diversity or not, but I don't think anyone in the Council even considers that when approving mayoral appointments.

One appointees this time is that of  Ms. Erin McAnally to the Fair Board.  On January 6th of this year the Council took the extremely rare action of rejecting a mayoral appointment and that was the appointment of Mr. Eric Malo to the Fair Board. Mr. Malo had been a vocal proponent of destroying the fair ground and redeveloping the property. That appointment was stopped only after the Save Our Fairgrounds people rallied their troops to stop the appointment.  I doubt the mayor would try that again so soon, but I hope the Rules and Confirmation Committee which makes recommendation to the Council on appointees to boards and Commissions closely examines Ms. McAnally and ensures we are putting someone on the Fair Board who actually supports the agencies mission and who does not advocate destroying the fair grounds.

There are seven resolutions, all on the consent agenda at this time.  Resolutions on the consent agenda are considered all at one time rather than individually. A resolution is put on the consent agenda if it is assumed to be non-controversial and stays on consent if it passes the committee to which it was assigned unanimously. However, any council member may request a resolution be pulled off of consent.  I see no problem with any of the resolutions and no reason to pull them or vote against them.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1389 is interesting and involves the settlement of a lawsuit brought  by an employee who sued the city when fired. It is somewhat complex but my view is that the Council should settle lawsuits when defending them would be more costly than settling and when there is serious doubt if we would win  if it went to trial. I tend to trust the legal department when they propose settling a suit. The fired former employee was a Metro Parks Police officer with the Parks Department who is a lesbian and one of the first females hired by the Parks Department for a Parks police position with the department. The department fired her for inefficient performance of duties, insubordination toward a supervisor, violation of written rules and dishonesty. She claims she was discriminated against. This resolution would settle the suit for $295,000.

There are only two bills on First Reading. First Reading is a formality and with rare exceptionsthe merit of a bill is not considered until Second Reading.

There are nine bills on Second Reading but none of them seem particularly controversial or of much interest.

There are 16 Bills on Third Reading.

  • SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-909 and BILL NO. BL2014-951 would regulate peer-to-peer vacation rentals such as AIRBnB. There are over a thousand of these vacation rentals operating in Nashville with little problem. Since they do not fit the definition of what is prohibited in a residential area (they are not a bed and breakfast, they are not a boarding house, they are not a hotel) they have been allowed to operate unregulated. This defines what they are, says what they can do, regulates parking and advertising, establishes some fire safety requirements and makes them collect taxes and establishes insurance requirements. These regulations are not onerous and I am pleased Nashville is accommodating this new type service rather than trying to ban it. Last meeting when the bill was on second reading there was expressed  some concern about the bill in that the state fire marshal may come back with a sprinkler requirement for the larger facilities of this type and some council members stated that should be resolved before the bills is passed. I do not see that as a reason to delay this bill. I have some minor concerns with the bill but on balance thing it is good and should pass.
  • BILL NO. BL2014-948  amends the Five Points redevelopment plan, changing some permitted uses and it would provide and additional $670,000 in Tax Increment Financing. TIF lets the taxes from a project first go to pay for improvements in the area of the project before any tax from the project goes to the general fund of the city. I am not opposed to TIF but think it must be used cautiously . If TIF causes a project to be built that most likely would not be built then it makes sense. If however, it is just a giveaway in a popular area where development would occur anyway then it is a misguided policy in my view. I would like to know how much money has been diverted from the general fund over the past few years due to TIF and if this development tool is being overused.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1002 rezones 361 acres to a use that prohibits duplexes from a current use that permits them.  I personally do not like this and think it unwise to downzone property for less density. To make mass transit more viable and to combat urban sprawl we do not need to be codifying lesser density.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-1008 would regulate how one could tether their dog such as how long the cable must be and how heavy and also prohibits keeping a dog tethered when it is too hot or too cold. If the dog has water and shade I do not see that a heat index of 90 is excessive but that is a minor quibble with the bill and I would vote for it.
There are three memorializing resolutions on the agenda which will most likely be added to the consent agenda but none of them are objectionable or controversial.

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How the Mayoral candidates would address Metro General Hospital. None of them impress me.

Last week, six of the eight candidates for Mayor attended a candidates forum called “pancakes and politics,” at Meharry Medical College, sponsored by The Tennessee Tribune, Nashville’s Black newspaper, and The Nashville Association of Black Journalists.

The only Black candidate for Mayor, current Criminal Court Clerk and former Vice Mayor Howard Gentry, who got in the race late was not present, stating he had a previous engagement already scheduled by the time he learned of the forum. No mention was made of candidate Kenneth Eaton and why he was not present. In fact the article incorrectly stated that “six of the seven candidates for mayor…” participated in the forum, when in fact there are eight candidates running for Mayor.

Being that this forum was held at Meharry and that the status of Metro’s General Hospital at Meharry is a concern to the Black community, every candidate should have been prepared to answer a question about his policy toward General Hospital and the very first question of the candidates was about General Hospital. Candidates were asked, “if General Hospital, located at Meharry, would continue to serve the safety net needs of patients who have the highest needs, would Meharry and Metro General be supported in the Mayor’s budget and to what extend”?

Jeremy Kane replied, “yes” and said the hospital also needs a pharmacy. Bill Freeman said he “would explore that issue and give every bit of support I could, providing funding and direction.” Megan Barry said health care is a “fundamental right” and that “dictates how the next Mayor will engage Metro General Hospital.” Charles Bone said, “the answer is yes,” and that Meharry needs more patients and different pay structure. David Fox said the University of Tennessee plans to move its medical school to Nashville, and said Meharry and General are a financial issue that he’s trying to solve. Linda Eskind Rebrovick said the mayor must support General and Meharry and that her experience as a consultant will help increase the efficiency of the hospital and as mayor she would get her physical there.

I was not at the forum and the above it taken from a report in The Tennessee Tribune. Maybe the candidates gave elaborated answers and left some wiggle room, but from the above, all of the candidates lost a point except for Megan Barry who lost two points, and David Fox who did not lose or gain a point.

In my view, Metro Nashville needs to get out of the hospital business just as we got out of the nursing home business last year when we privatized Bordeaux Long-term Care and Knowles Home Assisted Living and Adult Day Services, saving the city $10.5 million a year. Maybe none of the candidates agree with me or none have the guts to tell the truth to a Black audience that we need to stop funding General.

Many years ago there was a need for local governments to provide charity hospitals and many cities did. As healthcare changed and low income people no longer had to go to the charity hospitals but could go to the hospital of their choice, the justification for such safety net hospitals went away, but with government slow to change, many cities continued their funding of charity hospitals as did Nashville. Overtime other changes occurred which made General even less viable, such as more people being treated as outpatients rather than being admitted into hospitals and length of stay in hospitals being shortened.

Metro General Hospital opened as the City Hospital on April 23, 1890 as Nashville’s first full-service hospital. In 1891 the hospital started a school of nursing and in 1913 it opened a pediatric ward. The hospital grew and flourished until after World War II when admissions began declining. As more hospitals opened in Nashville customers had more choice. St. Thomas opened in 1898 and then Baptist Hospital, first known as the Protestant Hospital, opened in 1917. Park View which was the first in what was to became a chain of hospitals known as HCA opened in the mid 1960’s. Vanderbilt Hospital opened in the 1970’s and there have been numerous expansion and additions of other hospitals since then.

Not only did more choice mean less demand for General, but when Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law in 1965 that meant that low income people could go to any hospital and not depend on city charity. By the 1990’s General was facing a crisis. Not only did low income people have choice, but General, dependent on Metro’s level of funding, did not have the resources to acquire the latest in technology and equipment. Also the building, by this time a hundred years old, was in need of rebuilding or major rehabilitation.

Maharry Medical College was also facing a financial crisis in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. In an effort to help both institutions, in October 1991 Nashville approved of a plan to merge the Meharry Hospital with Metro General. The merger phased out services at the Metro General Hospital site on the bluffs of the Cumberland, now known as “Rolling Mill Hill,” and relocated services to Meharry-Hubbard hospital. General Hospital became the teaching hospital for Meharry Medical School and metro heavily subsidized the 116-bed facility.

General has had a difficult time competing with the many other hospitals in the area despite Metro’s generous subsidy, although the subsidy is not as generous as it was when the merger first occurred. Last year Metro’s subsidy was $33.5 million. I have not researched how much Metro has subsidized Meharry-General year to year, but I know a few years earlier the subsidy was almost twice that amount. Despite Metro’s continued subsidy of the hospital, the hospital struggles to attract patients. All Metro prisoners are treated at Mehary-General and Metro employees are given an advantageous deal if they will use Meharry, and yet still the hospital struggles.

In 2012 the city commissioned a study of Meharry-General conducted by the firm of Alvarez and Marsal. The study found that as currently operating Meharry General was not sustainable. One thing plaguing meharry is that it cannot fill its beds. They only have an occupancy rate to about 42%, but even if they operated at full capacity they would have a per patient loss per day of $1,602. The per patient loss is higher with fewer patients, but the overall loss would be greater with more patients.

The consultants offered a range of options for addressing the situation, ranging  from “maintaining the status quo to re-purposing the hospital as an ambulatory care facility with reduced inpatient services to a full scale re-design of the business model focused entirely on outpatient and clinical service.”

Last year Metro spun off its nursing homes and saved the city $10.5 million a year. A city owned nursing home is as about as archaic as a city poor farm, yet ending metro’s ownership and operation of a nursing home was not without its opponents and yet the city did it. Even Megan Barry voted to privatize Boudreaux and Knowles.

If there was a candidate who was not at the forum or any candidate who was but who would like to give a more detailed answer to the question about the future funding of Meharry General, I would be glad to post your position paper or statement.

None of the candidates at this forum impressed me with their answer to this questions.

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