Friday, June 19, 2015

Who is running for Mayor and Council and who I am supporting. (update # 9)

This is update #9 on who is running for Mayor, Vice Mayor and seats on the Metro Council. Since the last update on April 12th, the filing deadline and the deadline for withdrawing from the ballot has come and gone, so this list is now a final list of who is running. Several people whose name appeared on a previous list as a candidate are not on this list.  That most likely means they picked up a qualifying petition and then changed there mind and did not submit the petition. That is not uncommon. Also, since the last update, a lot of new candidates whose name was not on a previous list are now candidates and their names will be on the ballot. Some people picked up and submitted qualifying petitions in the last days before the deadline. On the August 7th ballot there will be seven candidates for mayor, two for vice mayor, 26 running for councilman at-large and 88 seeking district seats.

Since the last update, the 1st quarter campaign finance report date has come and gone, campaign signs dot the landscape, candidates are going door-to-door and a several candidate forums take place each week. In the mayors race the airways are being bombarded with advertisements and some council at-large candidates have started radio and TV advertisements.  The campaigns are well underway and early voting starts in a month. By this time, we should know who are the serious candidates.

I have made an effort to find out who the candidates are and have given a brief one-sentence bio on some of the them and if I could find a campaign website, Facebook page or a news story about the candidate I have linked to that.  Follow "Link" to learn more about the candidate. If the name is in italics that indicates that person is the incumbent. (I will be posting more links soon with update #10)

If you are a candidate and I missed your website or Facebook page and you would like it listed, please send me the link. I will also post any candidate's press release announcing their candidacy if they send it to me.  Posting of a press release of a candidate does not indicate I am supporting that candidate.

Where I have made endorsements, the candidates name is bold and in red typeface. I will be making more endorsements soon but I may not make an endorsement in every race, as I may not have enough information to make an informed decision in each race or some districts may have candidates so equally distasteful that I don't care who wins.  Winnability is a factor in who I support as well as experience and philosophy of government and leadership potential.  Some candidate I am enthusiastically supporting, in other cases, I have a preferred candidate but the candidate may only be the preferred candidate because he is the best of the available choices. In some cases, I am choosing a bad candidate over a terribly bad candidate.

There has been so much written about each of the candidates for mayor, that I am only listing a few links. If you want to know more about any of the mayoral candidates, I suggest you do your own web search.

Below are the people running for Mayor:

  • Megan Barry, progressive Council-member-at-large. She is the person I would least like to see elected mayor. (link) 
  • Charles Robert Bone, an attorney. (link) 
  • Linda Rebrovick, Consensus Point president and CEO. A Republican. (link) 
  • Jeremy Kane, CEO and President of Lead Academy. (link
  •  David Fox, a former Tennessean business reporter, former Titan adviser, former
    David  Fox
    school board chairman. He is a Republican and has a Republican campaign team. I am supporting David Fox. I am impressed by his intellect, his business background, his leadership as Chairman of the School Board and I share his general view on the roll of government and his view of what the challenges will face the next mayor and his priorities.  He is the only mayor candidate that has taken a position against using eminent domain for redevelopment. As chairman of the school board he outsourced school janitorial service and grounds care saving the school system about $7 million a year. I believe he will look to private sector solutions to solve public problems where possible and I believe he is the candidate least likely to raise taxes. (link. link)
  • David Freeman, local businessman and major fund raiser for the Democratic party and the Obama presidential campaign. (link) (link)
  • Howard Gentry, former Vice Mayor, came in third when running for mayor in 2007. The only African-American in the race. He currently serves as Davidson County Criminal Court clerk. (link)
Tim Garrett
This is who is running for Vice Mayor:
  • Tim Garrett, Councilman-at-large and former state representative. He is in the funeral home business. He is a Democrat, but he is a reasonable, fiscally conservative Democrat and a very nice guy with a depth of knowledge about Nashville. The job of Vice Mayor is to conduct Council meetings and to appoint the members of Council to committees. It is a fine balance between running efficient meetings and stifling debate. I think Garrett will strike the right balance. I think he will be fair and thoughtful in making committee assignments. With so many good people leaving the council, we need someone with institutional knowledge in the Council. Tim Garrett will be a great vice mayor.  (link)
  • David Briley, grandson of former Mayor Beverly Briley, an attorney with Bone McAllester Norton, former candidate for mayor.  (link)
Candidates for at-large seats:

There are no incumbent Council members at-large. They have all been "termed-out." I am such an enthusiastic supporter of Ken Jakes that at this point he is the only candidate for an at-large seat I am endorsing.  One my vote for up to five people to fill the five council member at-large positions, however to vote for five dilutes the strength of one's vote. In addition to not wanting to dilute my vote, recently my enthusiasm waned for an incumbent district councilman seeking an at-large position who voted to advance rent control and has also cast some other votes I disagree with. I have selected some other candidates that I would suggest one vote for if one really wants to vote for more than one candidate. I may be adding more  acceptable candidates when I next update or I may endorse other candidates but if the election was held today, I would only be casting one vote for an at-large councilman and that would be a vote for Ken Jakes . My choice for other candidates, if one is going to vote for more than one candidate are indicated by a red asterisk.
  • Buddy Baker,
  • Jody Ball,
  • Karen Bennett *. currently a member of the Metro Council representing District 8. She is a member of the Republican Party State Executive Committee. (link)
  • Al Carota (link)
  • Eric Coleman, President of YAD consulting.
  • John Cooper, He is the brother of Congressman Jim Cooper.
  • Elizabeth Dachowski
  • Adam Dread*,  (link)
  • Robert Duvall*, currently a district councilman, term limited out, former unsuccessful candidate for the State House, and former Chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party.
  • Leroy Johnny Ellis,
  • Erica Gilmore, currently a district councilman representing District 19 and termed-out.  She is the daughter of Democratic state Rep. Brenda Gilmore.   (link)
  • Ronnie E. Greer, Sr,
  • Frank Harrison, is currently a termed-out member of the Metro Council representing District 2.  
  • Jason Holleman, a termed-out Councilman representing District 24. He briefly ran for the State Senate in the  Democrat primary last year. (link) (link
  • Martin Holsinger, I assume this is the same Martin Holsinger who is a member of the Green Party who once ran for the State House. If not the same person, please correct me. (link)
  • Phillip Hostteler,
  • Walter Hunt. He is currently serving as the Councilman from District 3, he is a retired substitute teacher and served in a high level  capacity in the Boner administration and is a member of the Davidson County Democratic Party executive committee. (link)
  • Sharron W. Hurt,  President and CEO of JUMP-Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership, an organization dedicated to revitalizing the businesses on Jefferson Street and bringing commerce to the North Nashville Community. 
    Ken Jakes
  • Ken Jakes, he owns a produce company and is a citizen activist who has often exposed government waste and corruption.  He has previously sought the position of Councilman at-large, garnering the most votes other than the five incumbents. link,  (link to everything ever published in this blog about Ken Jakes and learn of his work for honest and open government.)  
  • James Keeton,*
  • John Lasiter. He previously served in the Council represented District 18 in 2007. He is openly gay. link, linklink,
  • Don Majors, who has been working in constituent services for Rep. Jim Cooper, is leaving that position to run for council. He previously represented the Maplewood area in the Council in the 90s and early aughts.  (link)
  • Lonnell Mathews, Jr., currently representing District 1 and termed out.  (link)
  • Bob Mendes, an attorney, chairs the board of Nashville Electric Service.  (link)
  • Jim Shulman,
  • Sandra V. Moore, she is the Council member in District 17 who is termed-out. 
District Council seats:

Below are the people who are running for a District council seats.  Most of the current Council members are "termed-out," meaning they have served two terms and are not eligible to seek reelection. The names of incumbents who are seeking reelection are italicized in the list below. Three Council members, Josh Stites in District 13, Brady Banks in District 4, and Chris Harmon in District 26 are not termed-out but have chosen not to seek reelection. In some of the races I am enthusiastically supporting some one and in some of the races, I am selected the least bad choice. In some districts, I do not know enough about the candidates to have a preference.
Lioniel Green, Jr.

District 1.
  • Sylvester Armour
  • Ruby Baker, (link)
  • Rueben Dockery, he is a former candidate for the State Senate.
  • Lioniel Green, Jr. Former officer in US Army, served in Iraq, on the board of the charter school Purpose Prep and Northwest YMCA. I have met him and am very impressed.  (link)(link)
  • Nick Leonardo, several YMCA affiliations. (link
  • John H. Montgomery,
  • Johnathan Richardson, Democrat, (link)
  • Jerry Stange,
  • Roosevelt Williamson, A retired Air Force Major, he has taught Junior ROTC at Whites Creek High School for the last 21 years. Prior to teaching at Whites Creek, he had a successful career in the Air Force, primarily in the Space and Missile career field, with assignments in missile operations, missile maintenance and missile test and evaluation. (link)
District 2.
  • Laura Fortier,
  • Decosta Hastings, He is a member of the Davidson County Democrat Party Executive Committeeman.(link
  • Danavan Hylton, President and Owner of Hoshana Management Group (link) 
  • Carrie Searcy is an attorney  focused on criminal defense, family law, and personal injury with the law firm of Edward J. Gross. (link)
  • Robert "Bobby" Stockard, (link)
District 3.
  • Terry Clayton
  • Tim Coleman, 
  •  Brenda Haywood, retired teacher, wellness consultant, talk Show personality with 760 AM a Gospel Radio station. (link)
District 4.
  • Robert Swope, has had a successful career in the music business. He has leadership ability and
    Robert Swope
    is a strong conservative. With the music business being so important to our city, I think it is important to have someone with that perspective on the Council. Mr. Tuttle is also a good conservative but I have talked to Mr. Swope and believe he is the better choice of two very good candidates. (link)(link)
  • Peter Tuttle,
District 5.
  • Scott Davis,  is the incumbent. There is not a good choice in this race but the incumbent would be preferable to the challengers.  (link)
  • Sarah Martin,  She is a liberal, works in the non-profit sector, neighborhood activist. She is a liberal, works in the non-profit sector, neighborhood activist.(link) (link) (link
  • Pam Murray, is the former council member who was removed from office. (link)
District 6.
  • Peter Westerholm, He is the incumbent and one of the more liberal members of the council (link)
  • Brett A. Withers, a community activist. Withers would be the better choice. (link) (link)
District 7.
Steve Clements
  • Anthony Davis, he is the incumbent councilman. 
  • Stephen Clements, a Republican who heads the Caffeinated Conservatives group, works for the State of Tennessee, former Army officer, active in Madison Now and other civic affairs. He has leadership ability and will be an independent thinker. He is one of the candidates I am enthusiastic about. (link) 
  • Randy Reed, he is a retired policeman who previously ran against Anthony Davis and did not do too well. 
District 8.
  • Ramona L. Gholston,(link) (link
  • Nina Ground 
  • Robert Sawyers, Sr.,
  • Chris Swann,works at Olympus Corp. and has spent more than 20 years in the medical field. He is a conservative. (link) (link) (link)
  • Nancy VanReece, (link) (link)
  • Daniel (Danny) Williams,
Cris Swann
District 9.
  • Bill Pridemore, He is the incumbent seeking reelection. He was the recent Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee. He is moderately conservative. There will be a massive turnout of the Council this time. we need to keep some experienced councilmen in office.
  • Rod McDaniel,
District 10.
  • Doug Pardue, He is the incumbent seeking reelection and he is unopposed. He is one of the "good" councilman.
District 11.
  • Larry Hagar, He is the incumbent, elected in a special election in August 2014. In the short while he has been in office, he has voted the right way on the several controversial issues. He deserves another term.
District 12.
  • Steve Glover, He is the incumbent seeking reelection and is unopposed. He is one of the "good" councilmen. 
District 13.
  • Furtesha Carter
  • Mark Cole
  • Holly Huezo
District 14. 
  • Kevin Rhoten, a former Tennessee state attorney and legislative liaison in Gov. Pill Bredesen's administration.  (link
District 15. (There are two good candidates in this race and I have not yet made a selection.)

  • Jim Garrett,
  • Jeff Syracuse,  (link)
District 16.
  • Tony Tenpenny,  He is the incumbent. He was active in the effort to save the fair grounds. He
    Tony Tenpenny
    is one of the "good" councilmen.
  • Mick Freeman.
District 17.
  • Christopher Cotton, an attorney and Vice Chair of the Davidson County Democrat Party (link)(link)
  • Colby Sledge, A community activist, public relations professional with McNeely, Piggott and Fox and former employee of the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus. (link)
  • Paula Foster. She is endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. She is practicing privately as a clinical social work supervisor and therapist as well as a practicing faculty member for the Vanderbilt School of Nursing. She lives with her "wife." (link) (link) 
  • Tony Watson, (link
    Tony Watson
District 18.
  • Burkley Allen. She is the incumbent and is unopposed. She has shown leadership on the issue of regulating peer-to-peer vacation rentals and attempting to apply reasonable regulations of in-home recording studios and developed legislation to accommodate an innovative car-share program. She has worked to accommodate innovation and make the regulations not overly onerous. Her experience and her approach to resolving problems will be valuable in the new council.
District 19.
Amanda Harrison
  • Keith Caldwell 
  • Amanda Harrison, (link) (link)
  • Freddie O'Connell,  President of the Salemtown Neighborhood Association, board member of Walk Bike Nashville. (link)
  • Bill Shick, an attorney, member of the Tennessee Democratic Party's executive committee. (link) (link)
District 20.
  • Marisa Frank,
  • Frank Stabile (link)
  • Mary Carolyn Roberts (link) (link
District 21.
  • Leah P. Dupree, An attorney and legislative liaison for the Tennessee Department of General Services. (link)
  • Edward Kindal,
  • Mark Lollis, Jr 
District 22.
  • Sheri Weiner, The incumbent Council member, a Republican. A member of Budget and  Finance who asks good questions. She has no opponent.  (link) 
District 23.
  • Thom Druffel, (link) (link). Mr Druffel failed to turn in his qualifying petition. He says he was so busy he just forgot it. His name will not be on the ballot but he is conducting a write-in campaign (link). 
  • Mina Johnson, very active in the West Meade neighborhood organization. (link)
  • Timothy Lee, Tim Lee is a Republican and a former candidate for the state house. I like both Tim Lee and Jim Roberts in this race, however, I had already committed to Jim Roberts and am
    Jim Roberts
    supporting his candidacy and believe he would be the better choice.
  • Jim Roberts, former Republican candidate for Chancery Court Judge. (link) (link)
District 24.
  • Allen Grant, (link) (link)
  • Kathleen Murphy, She is a government lobbyist and active in Democrat Party politics and the daughter of Mike Murphy. (link)(link)
 District 25.
  • Russ Pulley, (link)  He is the only candidate in the race. 
District 26.
  • Jeremy Elrod, An attorney, employed at the Tennessee Municipal Electric Power Association. (link)
  • Luseni Bangalie Kromah
  • Jimmy Mitchell
Davette Blalock
District 27.
  • Davette Blalock, The incumbent council member, A Republican. When Nashville had livery service price-fixing, she let the effort to repeal it. (link)
  • Clement Ledbetter,
District 28.
  • Daniel Lewis, is Chairman of the Davidson County Libertarian Party. I like Daniel and have in the past contributed to his campaign for another office. I would like to see one libertarian in the Council, but am supporting Melissa Smithson. I do not think Lewis is electable and he seems more interested in promoting the Libertarian brand than getting elected. (link)
  • Melissa Smithson, A Republican. (link)
  • Melissa Smithson
  • Tanaka Vercher, (link)
District 29.
  • Karen Johnson, She is the incumbent Council member. I know and like Karen a lot.   Karen takes her duties seriously and is a good council member and is responsive to her constituents.  I know nothing about Karen's opponent, but I want to see Karen reelected. Karen is a Democrat but is moderate in her views and is not an ideologue.  (link) (link)
  • Vicky Tataryn
District 30.
  • Jason Potts, the incumbent council member. It is unfortunate he does not have an opponent. If you live in his district I would suggest writing in your own name. (link)
District 31.
  • Fabian Bedne, the incumbent council member.  No doubt Fabian Bedne is a liberal, but he scored a point with me when he took an extremely free market position of advocating removing the cap on the number of taxis allowed to operate in Nashville, something I have heard no conservative in the Council do. He also seems to be one of those Council members who carefully studies the agenda and ask good question. He returns phone calls and will listen to other opinions. (link
District 32.
  • Jacobia  Dowell is the incumbent. She scored a point with me when she voted to "abstain" rather than vote for Metro benefits for same-sex couples. She also took what I consider a pro free market position in advocating for a co-op taxi company to get more permits. She also took a strong position against the jail locating in Antioch. She is smart and ask good questions in committee. (link
  • Ronald A. Haskins, I have heard favorable things about this candidate. I am still undecided in this race.
  • William Kissie
District 33. (This is the District represented by Robert Duvall who  is termed-out. I have not yet reached a decision in this race.)
  • Sam Coleman,  former Councilman.
  • Jimmy Gafford,
District 34.
  • Steve Butler, on the board of Matthew 25 and on the  board of Stem Preparatory Academy, a charter school.   (link)
  • Angie Henderson, (link)
Lonnie Spivak
District 35.
  • Lonnie Spivak, a Republican and a former Republican primary candidate for the 5th Congressional district. He is smart and thoughtful and I suspect he will become a leader in the Council if elected. He is one of the candidates I am enthusiastic about.  (link)
  • Vic Lineweaver, A former Metro Councilman who went on to be elected Juvenile Court Clerk and terribly mismanaged the office. He was once arrested for failing to provide client files to the court. He was filmed by a local news station in his driveway getting his newspaper while on the phone claiming to be at work. Lineweaver lost his re-election bid for office of Juvenile Court Clerk. He has been trying to get back into politics every since. (Lineweaver arrested by Juvenile Court officers) (link)
  • Dave Rosenberg, a supporter of State Rep. and Council member Bo Mitchel and a supporter of School Board member Amy Frogge. Those are two good reasons to vote against him. He has several Bellevue community involvements. (link)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What did the Council do on June 16th? Passed the budget (& funded early voting), advanced rent control, gave pay raises, created a new bureaucracy. (update)

The big news of the night is the Council unanimously passed the 2015-16 budget of $1.968 billion, which was a substitute for the mayor's budget. About the only difference between the original and the substitute was that the substitute gave the Election Commission the money they need (or want, depending on who is explaining what is going on at the elections commission) in order to fund early voting. The budget is 4% greater than last years budget and did not require an increase in the tax rate. Included in the budget was a 2.5% pay raise for most employees and more for some. The mayor's pay was increased from $136,500 to $180,000 a year, the schools got $36 million more than last year, libraries that were closed on Friday will now be open, the MTA got more subsidy, the Barnes Fund to support affordable housing got $1million, and a whole new Department of government was crated called Office of Family Safety to deal with domestic violence.

Occasionally someone will tell me they are disappointed that no one voted against the budget.  The way the charter is written, one cannot vote against the budget. If one votes "no" on the substitute, the effect of that vote is to vote for the mayor's budget.  If there was no substitute and a majority  voted "no" on the budget, then the mayor's budget would become the city's budget without being approved by the Council.  I think that needs to be changed so a council member can actually vote against the budget, but until it is the effect of a "no" vote on the budget is a to vote for the mayor's budget.  

To follow the council with your own copy of an agenda, staff analysis and to see my commentary, follow this link

Other than the budget and related budget items, these are some interesting agenda items:

Mayor's salary increase: Some council members did not want to increase the mayor's salary to $180K.  This is another case in which the charter makes it difficult to vote the way one might want to vote. To vote against the pay increase for the mayor, the council would have had to reject the entire pay plan proposal and send it back to the civil service commission. That means the other pay raises in the budget would have been delayed also. The council's legal adviser explains this and you can see it at time stamp 19:16

RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1498 by Charlie Tygard request the  Metropolitan Civil Service Commission to consider and recommend an amendment to the General Pay Plan to partially base the compensation of Members of the Metropolitan Council upon Council and committee meeting attendance.  This was deferred again, which because it had been deferred more than two times, made it an indefinite deferral. That does not kill it necessarily; the sponsor could have it  put back on the agenda, but it will not automatically appear on the agenda next meeting.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1515 by Charlie Tygard requests the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and support the necessary legislation to require full-time Davidson County elected officials to submit an annual report to the Comptroller detailing the dates they worked. It was deferred one meeting.  

Bills on Second Reading:
BILL NO. BL2015-1129  which would establish a Codes Offender School, much like we have a traffic violations school or a "John's School" for those arrested for solicitation of a prostitute. It is deferred one meeting.

BILL NO. BL2015-1143 is a bill which authorizes The Industrial Development Board  to negotiate and accept payments in lieu of ad valorem taxes with respect to CHS Realty Holdings III, LLC. What this means is that the city, though this board, funds the construction of the building and actually owns it for a certain number of years and as a tax exempt entity they do not have to pay taxes. However the company for which they build the building pays something in lieu of taxes but not anywhere near what they would pay if they were paying taxes. This is one of the means by which the city entices companies to locate in Nashville. It provides that the company for whom this building is being build pays nothing during the period of construction and continues to pay nothing until 2019 and then pays only 40% of what they would otherwise pay until 2028, then they pays 75% through 2027, at which time they would began paying 100% of their tax bill. There is more to it than that. The company must hire a certain number of people to keep this deal. There are benchmarks of employment for different periods.

I did not see this council revolt of the tax giveaway coming but am pleased but disappointed the revolt did not succeed. See time stamp 33:53  for the action on this bill. It passed by a vote of 27 to 6 with no abstentions and 7 members not voting. The "not voting" may have been absent or they may have been out of the room or just sit on their hands. The six "no's" were Paudue, Stites, Stanley, Tennpenny, and Duval.

BILL NO. BL2015-1146  is a bill which would allow "free-floating car-sharing vehicles to be exempt from the limitations imposed on vehicles lacking a residential parking permit when parking in a residential parking permit area."  There is a new service that allows members of a car sharing enterprise to get a car and drive it where they need to go, which may be on the street near there home where cars that park there are supposed to have a sticker saying they are allowed to park on that street. A member of this car sharing program may, for instance, take the bus to work but find an available car on their smart phone app and drive it home. This is a good innovation which helps make it possible for more people to survive without owning a car. I am pleased to see the city accommodate this innovation. This passes.

BILL NO. BL2015-1147 is one of the bills to advance rent control and home price fixing called "inclusionary zoning." The planning commission would have six months to come up with a specific proposal to implement this form of housing price control. That proposal would then have to come back to the council for approval.  See time stamp 40:53 for some discussion. The sponsor says the bill will be deferred on Third Reading. There is another bill, BL 1139, which is working it's way through the process which would even be more onerous than this bill. In the discussion the difference between the two bills are explained. In my view this and the other bill also should have been defeated. "Inclusionary zoning" will increase the cost of building housing and where it has been adopted it has produced very few units of affordable housing. For more on this topic, follow this link. The bill passes on a voice vote with no audible "no" votes. I am disgusted that the few "good" councilmen did not take a principled stand against this bill. They could have asked to be recorded as voting "no" and if there were as many as five opposed to it they could have required a roll call vote. Some members I spoke to reasoned that this did not actually do anything except tell the planning commission to study the issue and that by the time the planning commission reports back, a new council will have taken office. Still, this advances the notion of housing price control, which I do not think should even be entertained.

Bills on Third Reading:

BILL NO. BL2015-1124 is the Tax Relief Program for low-income elderly. As always, this passes. This is a good program which I support.

BILL NO. BL2015-1126 is a new tax, initially to be at $2, imposed on all parties in a civil litigation case to help fund the salary of General Sessions Judges. I assume this is legal, but just as once upon a time one had to pay a poll tax to exercise the right to vote and now we think that was not proper, we are now going to make one pay a tax to have the right to have access the courts. This is shameful. It passes with a machine vote with only Megan Barry voted against it, for what reason I do not know. Duane Dominy abstained and  nine members were not voting.

BILL NO. BL2015-1127  is another tax give away similar to 1143 above. It is deferred one meeting.

BILL NO. BL2015-1128  is the Asurion tax give-away similar to 1143. On a machine vote the vote is 25 for, 4 against, 2 abstentions and 9 not voting. The "no" votes were Pardue, Stites, Hagar, and Standley.

To read The Tennessean's report on the Council meeting, follow this link.

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New State Logo Wins 'Pork of the Year' award from Beacon Center

Press Release, The Beacon Center - This year, for the first time in Beacon history, we let the public decide which instance of government waste should be named the Pork of the Year, and after hundreds of votes in an online poll, we have a winner!

 It was a close matchup but in the end, the new $46,000 Tennessee logo debacle took the high honors, barely edging out the $165 million taxpayer handout to Volkswagen by a vote of 47% to 39%. A local government official's taxpayer-funded trip to Disney World came in a distant third with 14%. To read a little bit more about the nominees, you can click here.

Beacon Communications Director Mark Cunningham stated, "While there were many deserving candidates for Pork of the Year, there was none more deserving than the Tennessee logo fiasco.  Although our team has absolutely no graphic design experience, it took us an entire minute and 45 seconds in Mac Paintbrush to create the same design for our Pork Report."

The full 2015 Pork Report, which remains Beacon's most famous annual publication, will be released in mid-July.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

More Mayoral Candidate Forums and District Council Forums

Chamber West Metro Council Forum, June 17th at Hampton Inn in Green Hills

Good Morning, Chamber West will hold a Metro Council Forum for candidates from Districts 23, 24, 25 and 34 on Wednesday, June 17 from 8:00 a.m. till 9:30 a.m. at the Hampton Inn here in Green Hills (2324 Crestmoor). Ralph Schulz, President & CEO of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce will serve as moderator. If you plan on attending, please register by using this link: 

 Districts 25 and 34 comprise the majority of Green Hills; therefore, this is a good chance to come out and hear our candidates. Topics will be focused on the business environment for each district. Questions are likely to cover the Nashville Chamber’s top priorities of education, business advocacy, transit and economic development.

Agenda (times are approximate): 8:00-8:20—Registration and networking 8:20-8:25—Welcome (please be seated in the room by 8:20) 8:25-8:30—Explanation of the forum by moderator (Ralph Schulz), candidate introductions 8:40-9:15—Questions asked by moderator-1 minute responses by candidates (Moderator will ask a series of questions. Some questions will be for all candidates. Some will be asked only to candidates from a certain district.) 9:15-9:25—Questions asked from audience, if time allows. -1 minute responses by candidates (Attendees will be given cards to write questions. Questions will be gathered by Nashville Chamber staff and asked by moderator.) 9:25-9:30—Wrap up by moderator

The GHNA Board

 Mayoral Candidates Forum Thursday, June 25th at 7PM at Loveless Barn 

All 7 major candidates for mayor of Metro Nashville including: Charles Robert Bone, David Fox, Megan Barry, Bill Freeman, Howard Gentry, Linda Eskind Rebrovick and Jeremy Kane have all confirmed their participation in the Bellevue Community Mayoral Candidate Forum. Questions will be posed to candidates from a moderator selected by the chamber. Questions will focus on major challenges facing Metro Nashville and the Bellevue Community. The forum is FREE and open to the entire community. Seating is limited, so make sure to get there early. Doors will open at 6:30PM We want to hear from you on what type of questions you would like to hear the candidates answer. Go to the Bellevue Harpeth Chamber's website and submit your questions.

 If you know of a candidate's forum, please send me the information and I will post it. Thanks, Rod Williams,

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What's on the Council Agenda for June 16th? A rent control and home price control code to be developed, 2015-16 budget and tax levy. (update)

The Metro Council meets tonight June 16th. To get your own copy of the agenda and council staff analysis, follow the links indicated.

There are a couple appointments to boards and commissions but they are to the non-controversial agencies and it wouldn't matter anyway as there has only been one appointee rejected in over eight years and the appointees are routinely confirmed without serious questioning.

There are 25 resolutions on the agenda, at this time all on the consent agenda. Here are the ones of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1517, RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1518,  and RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1519 are all part of pay plans for Metro employees. Almost everyone gets a 2.5% raise, those who are in positions with automatic increment pay raises will get the increment plus the across the board raise. About 700 police and fire personal who missed incremental pay raises in the past will get a bigger raise to make up for the lost increment raise when pay was frozen.

The mayor's salary will be raised to $180,000.  Currently, the mayor is paid $136,500, so that is a 32% salary increase.  Given the candidates who are seeking the office of mayor, I suspect a salary of $180K would be a pay cut for most of them. None of them are running for the job for the money.  David Fox is putting a million dollars of his own money into the race and Bill Freeman is putting in more; "what ever it takes."  People don't serve as mayor for the salary. Still, with employees getting only a 2.5% raise in most cases, a 32% increase seems like a lot, however this will be the first increase in the salary of the mayor since 2003. For a top executive $180,000 does not seem excessive.  Several employees of Metro earn more than the Mayor.  As a means of comparison, here are some salaries of the mayor of some other cities: New York City, $225,000; Chicago, $216,000; Atlanta, $147,000; Charlotte, N.C., $245,000; Indianapolis, $95,000; Louisville, Ky., $110,000; Memphis, $171,000; San Antonio, $355,000; St. Louis, $132,000, and Austin Texas, $82,387.

I have no principled objection to raising the mayor's salary to $180,000 but it I were in the council and someone made a good argument to why it should only be raised about half as much, maybe to match Atlanta's mayor, I could be persuaded to raise it a lesser amount.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1520  adopts Pension Funding Policies for the Metropolitan Government. Don't panic! It really doesn't do anything but formalize what we are currently doing in order to conform with a new state law.

Several resolutions approve contracts for building sidewalks along some major corridors such as Lebanon Pike, Harding Place, Dickerson Rd and Gallatin Rd. These projects will be 80% funded by federal dollars and 20% local money.

There are several resolution to approve intergovernmental agreements to improve signalization on a bunch of intersections.

There are eight bills on First Reading, but I don't read them until they are on Second Reading.
There are 12 bill on Second Reading. The staff analysis only analyzes the resolutions and no explanation is given as to why bills are not analyzed. Here are the bills of interest:

BILL NO. BL2015-1129  would establish a Codes Offender School, much like we have a traffic violations school or a "John's School" for those arrested for solicitation of a prostitute. I don't yet have an opinion on this bill and do not know the pros and cons. My first thought is, is that codes violations is different than these other type offenses. I own a rental unit and had a tenant who created a situation that violated codes.  I was given adequate time to correct the violation and the codes inspector worked with me to bring my property back into compliance.  Some people who routinely run afoul of codes do so as a calculated business decision. I am not sure they would benefit by a codes school. I would be open to persuasion but I do not really see this as beneficial.  Will it cost the taxpayer's?

BILL NO. BL2015-1147  is "An ordinance requiring the Metropolitan Planning Department to prepare an amendment to the Metropolitan Zoning Code to require affordable and workforce housing units as part of residential developments, and to establish rules and regulations pertaining to the implementation of such requirements."  In other words, the Planning Commission is to draft an inclusionary zoning code.  Inclusionary zoning is a form of price control, that may say something such as that in a condo development with 100 units, 10% of them must be sold so they can be affordable to a person making 80% of the area medium income.  So while 90 of the units may sell from $500,000 to $1,000,000 for the penthouse with the view,  ten of the units would have to sale for about $180,000. (The math works like this: 80% of Area median income is $53,500 for a family of four, x 31%= $16,585 for housing /12 months = $1,382 monthly house payment. Assume taxes and HOA fees and MIP = $482 a month = $900 for principal and interest and the assume interest rate is 4.5%, that buys a $180,000 house.)  Of course if the house must be affordable for a family of two or a family earning only 60% or the area median income then the set aside units would have to be sold at an even lower price.e

So, what happens with this form of price control?  The market rate unit must have their price increased to subsidize the below market rate units.  The result may be that fewer total units get build and total housing cost increases for everyone. Some inclusionary zoning codes applies to only rental and some to rental and units for sale. Some inclusionary zoning codes requires the unit to remain affordable for thirty years.  In the case of the situation described above, if after a few years, the person who purchased one of the set aside units decides to sale and prices in the development he purchased had significantly increased in value, he would still have to price his home so it was affordable for a person making 80% of the area median income and would not benefit from an increase in value. He could only sale is house for more than he paid for it if the area median income had increased. 

In a case of a condo as described above, much of what one is buying is the amenities, such as flowers in the lobby, a doorman and a roof top tennis court and a swimming pool. Questions arise, if the set aside units get all of the condo amenities? Some controversy has arisen because in some developments, the residents of the set aside units were required to use a different entrance than the market rate residents.

For more on the topic of inclusionary zoning, follow this link. In some cities with inclusionary zoning, it has resulted in very few additional units. In some places builders can choose to pay a fee into an affordable housing fund instead.  Whether being required to build the affordable units or pay the penalty for not building the units, it increases the cost of housing. The Council should defeat this bill.

Bills on Third Reading:

BILL NO. BL2015-1122 is the budget. There will be a substitute that gives more money to the Election Commission allowing the Election Commission to continue early voting. There may be a few other modest changes, but nothing major. The dollar amount of the budget will not change.

BILL NO. BL2015-1123 is the tax levy to fund the budget. Taxes are not increasing.

BILL NO. BL2015-1124 is the Tax Relief Program for low-income elderly. It always passes.

BILL NO. BL2015-1127 is a tax give-away deal to benefit American General.

BILL NO. BL2015-1128  is the Asurion tax give-away.

There are three Memorializing Resolutions on the agenda. These two are of interest: 
 RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1498 by Charlie Tygard request the  Metropolitan Civil Service Commission to consider and recommend an amendment to the General Pay Plan to partially base the compensation of Members of the Metropolitan Council upon Council and committee meeting attendance.

Recently, Channel 5 did an investigative piece and revealed that some Council members almost never attend committee meetings.  This is just not right! As Tygerd said, "It's not fair for certain council members to do all of the homework and others to get the same rate of pay and do nothing of the work.”

With a large council, the council must have a strong committee system.  It is in committee where the real work of the Council is done. It is in committee where the council can ask hard questions and get answers.  There is no way a councilmember can know all there is to know about the  bills on the agenda. Some of the Councilmen said they had regular jobs and could  not take off work to attend committee meetings. In my view, if a councilmember does not have flexibility in his job to attend to his council duties, he should not run for council.  If he cannot attend Council committee meetings he should resign from the council. The worst offenders were Emily Evans, who missed 83 committee meetings since 2013, Robert Duvall, who's missed 93 committee meetings in that time period, and Sean McGuire, who's missed 132 committee meetings since 2013! Among the top twelve members with the worst attendance records was Council member-at-large and Mayoral candidate Megan Barry. This resolution was on the agenda the last two meetings and was deferred both times.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1515 by Charlie Tygard requesting the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and support the necessary legislation to require full-time Davidson County elected officials to submit an annual report to the Comptroller detailing the dates they worked.  The Tennessean recently did some investigative reporting, and got the records of the access card swipes of various elected officials.  These elected officials carry a unique card that records every time they enter a certain office or building and some of them have very poor records of showing up for work. This has also been on the agenda the last two meetings and deferred.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

What Is NashvilleNext? City's 1,000-Page Plan For the Future Explained In 90 Seconds

What Is NashvilleNext? City's 1,000-Page Plan For the Future Explained In 90 Seconds

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NashvilleNext Pubic Hearing June 15th 3PM

The Metro Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the NashvilleNext countywide long-term plan on Monday, June 15, at 3 pm, in the Sonny West Conference Center in the Howard Office Building, 700 Second Ave South
Public comments will begin around 4 pm and continue through the evening; community members may sign in to speak beginning at 2:30 and as long as the hearing is open.
Can't be there Monday evening? Metro 3 will be live-streaming the meeting, and you still have time to submit comments (until noon on June 15) by email, phone at (615) 862-NEXT (6398), or online on the Concept Map (desktop only).
If you would like to request to speak during the meeting, please fill out this form and bring it with you ahead of time. (Forms will also be provided at the meeting, but bringing a completed form will reduce waiting times.) Each speaker will have two minutes to present his/her comment. All requested amendments will then become proposed amendments that the Planning Commission will consider for its June 22 meeting.
Check out the walkthrough video below for more information, and we hope to see you on June 15! And remember: You can keep up with NashvilleNext at, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

My Comment (similar to my emailed  comment to the Planning Commission) : I have not read the 1,000 + page report and a casual reading would not inform anyway.  This is the kind of thing that needs to be studied.  If one does not have a background in land use issues, there would be a steep learning curve to understand what one was reading.  I think the way this thing is being rammed through is a disgrace. 

Sure, it was three years in the making and 50,000 people participated (or what ever number) in developing it, but that does not give it legitimacy. I went to several of the public meetings. I listened to some good speakers. I put little sticky dots on preferred options, which in a way was insultingly simplistic choices. The questions were often of the kind like, "Do you prefer bad, or do you prefer good." I sat at tables in small groups and brainstormed and I listed on the website things I like about Nashville and things I wanted changed.  Still, I think that this public process was all "dog and pony" show.  I felt I was no more than a prop. The public participation was for show. 

I suspect the plan is boilerplate and the name of the city is simply changed. I don't know what is in the plan.  Maybe it is a great plan, but I think it is so massive that no one will actually know what it does until it is passed and then applied. Someone told me it plans for greater density and what is generally thought of as "new urbanism" or "smart growth."  Actually, I think we must have greater density in order to have good mass transit and I support a relaxation of the type zoning that strictly separates land uses.  If that is what is in the plan, I will probably actually like it, but I think people should know what they are getting, and not just in general, but how the plan would change their neighborhood and their street.

The General Plan is very important. Here is why and how zoning works.  If some one wants to do something with their property that under current zoning they do not have a right to do they propose a rezoning. The planning department evaluates the proposal for conformity with the General Plan. If it is in conformity with the General Plan, they recommend approval to the Planning Commission, the Planning Commission recommends approval to the Council and the Council, after a public hearing, can pass it with a simple majority. 

If the proposal is not in conformity to the General Plan, the Planning Commission recommends disapproval and then it takes 27 votes of the Council to pass it, but a council member does not have to move forward with a disapproved bill. The council cannot refuse to introduce a bill in conformity with the General Plan.  The council does not vote on the General Plan, once approved by the Planning Commission, that is it.

The current General Plan has sub area plans that were developed by committees of citizens guided by the staff of the planning commission.  The NashvilleNext plan has changed "sub area" plans to "community" plans, but no one from the communities had input in developing the community plan.  Please put off the adoption of the plan and adopt it in phases, chapter at a time or whatever and then community subarea at a time, only after their has been a process of citizen input in each community. We are buying a pig in a poke with this plan and being sold the idea that it is a plan developed to reflect the will of the people. I'm not buying it.

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