Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cruz Announces 57 Additions to Tennessee Leadership Team, Totaling 84 Conservative Leaders

Ted Cruz 2016 Press Release, HOUSTON, Texas - Presidential candidate Ted Cruz today announced the expansion of his Tennessee Leadership Team, with new endorsements from nine state legislators and 48 pastors, grassroots leaders, and elected officials. These new additions join 27 leaders previously announced, bringing the campaign’s state leadership team to a total of 84 members.
“Our Tennessee team continues to grow and demonstrate the commitment to fighting for conservative principles,” said Cruz. “I’m encouraged by the new members of the team who have passionately defended liberty and will help us compete and win the state of Tennessee.”
New endorsements include former House Speaker Pro-Tempore Judd Matheny, former talk radio host Steve Gill, and the president of the Tennessee Pastors Network Dale Walker.
New State Leadership Team members:

Rep. Judd Matheny, 47th District, former House Speaker Pro-Tempore and Coffee County Republican Party Chairman

Rep. Sheila Butt, 64th District, House Majority Floor Leader

Rep. Kelly Keisling, 38th District, House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee Chairman

Rep. Mike Sparks, 49th District, Vice Chair of the House Local Government Committee

Rep. Courtney Rogers, 45th District, House Transportation Committee Vice Chair, Retired Lt. Colonel, U.S. Air Force, and Nuclear Advisor

Rep. Micah Van Huss, 6th District, House Criminal Justice Committee Vice Chair, Retired Marine Sniper

Rep. Jerry Sexton, 35th District, House Majority Assistant Floor Leader, Pastor

Rep. Jay Reedy, 74th District, U.S. Army Veteran

Rep. Jason Zachary, 14th District, Americomm Principal and Executive Vice President

Steve Gill, former Host of The Steve Gill Show

Dana Gill, Williamson County

Tina Benkiser, Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committeewoman, former Republican Party of Texas Chairman, former Senior Advisor to Gov. Rick Perry

Lynne Davis, Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committeewoman

Scott Smith, Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committeeman

Chris Thompson, former Mayor of Byrdstown, former Pickett County Republican Party Chairman

John Uitendaal, Dyer County Legislative Body Chairman

Rob Mathis, Cocke County Trustee

Reggie Howard, Fayette County Commissioner

Richard Daniel, Pickett County Executive

Josh Stites, former Nashville Metro Councilman

Ben Graham, Tennessee Pastors Network Vice Presdient, Pastor of Music City Baptist Church

David Baker, Pastor of the Family Baptist Church

Dale Walker, President of the Tennessee Pastors Network, Pastor of Union Hill Wesleyan Church

Kevin Burden, Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church

Rob Bremer, retired Pastor, past Chairman of the Sevier County Tea Party

Phil Hauser, Assistant Pastor, Fellowship Community Church

Roger Burks, Treasurer/Secretary of the Tennessee Pastors Network

Paul Grant, Ruling Elder, Faith Presbyterian Church

Sharon Strange, past President of Republican Women of Williamson County

Dr. Aaron Margulies, President of the Republican Jewish Coalition of Knoxville

David Baldovin, former Chairman, Moore County Republican Party

Lynn Moss, Co-Founder and Board Member, Mid-South Tea Party

Janice Johnson, former Legislative Director of the Tennessee Christian Coalition

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, President of Proclaiming Justice To the Nations, and Special Envoy to the UN for the World Council of Independent Christian Churches

Richard Archie, West Tennessee Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, Chairman of the 8th District Tea Party Coalition

Lana Smith, past President of the Sullivan County Republican Women

Edward Phillips, former Campaign Manager for Rep. Mark Pody and Rep. Joe Carr

Kevin Baigert, Sumner County

Laura Baigert, Sumner County

Lucy Overstreet, Leader of the Madison County Tea Party

Claire Crouch, past President of the Tennessee Federation of Republican Women

Ed Smith, former Davidson County District 34 Republican Chairman, Bronze Star recipient

Craig Reasor, former Field Director for Rep. Jason Zachary

Judson Phillips, Founder of Tea Party Nation and Columnist for the Washington Times

Bob Miles, Executive Board Member of the Cross County Patriots Tea Party

Greg Johnson, former Vice President and Treasurer of the 912 Project Tennessee

Aaron Snodderly, former State Chairman of Tennessee Young Republican Federation and Chairman of the Cumberland County Republican Party

Mel Canterbury, Chairman of the Sevier County Tea Party

Michaele Ann Swiderski, Polk County

William Swiderski, Polk County

Bryan Baskin, former Middle Tennessee Volunteer Coordinator for Santorum for President

Theresa West, Chair of the Knoxville Tea Party

Debbie Deaver, Board Member, Republican Women of Williamson County

Walter Lounsbery, past President of the Anderson County Tea Party Patriots

Penny Chastain, Humphreys County

Andrew Anderson, former Campaign Manager for Rep. Bryan Terry and Rep. Joe Carr

Matthew Studd, Chapter Leader of the Tennessee Firearms Association

Previously announced leadership team members:
Kevin Kookogey, State Chair
Stephen Siao, State Director
Joe Carr, former State Representative
Ben Cunningham, President of the Nashville Tea Party
Myra Simons, Board President of the Yes on 1 Campaign
Julie West, President of Parents for Truth in Education
Lyndon Allen, Pastor of Woodmont Bible Church
Mark West, President of the Chattanooga Tea Party
Tommy Vallejos, Montgomery County Commissioner, Pastor
James Amundsen, Williamson County
Charlie Cato, former Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committeeman
Bob Crigger, Maury County
Kim Dahlgren, past President of the Washington County Republican Women
Dr. Lee Douglas, Founder of 912 Project Tennessee
Karen Entz, former Vice Treasurer for the Williamson County Republican Party
Hope Foulds, Knox County
Michelle Garcia, Rutherford County
Frank Gorgie, Political Science Professor
Grant Hubbard, Vice President for National Promotion at Capitol CMG
Katherine Hudgins, former Vice President of the 912 Project Tennessee
Kyle Mallory, former Chairman of the Stewart County Republican Party
John Miles, Chairman of the Union City Planning Commission and Chairman of the Obion County Tea Party
Steve Osborn, past Chairman of the Sevier County Tea Party
Rob Thacker, Pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church
Jim Vesper, former Newt Gingrich County Coordinator
Mick Wright, former President of the Northeast Shelby Republican Club
Michael Zinser, President of the Zinser Law Firm, P.C.

Comment: The names in bold red type face were emphasized by me to call attention to local conservative activist of note. 

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TSU gunfire in a gun-free zone kills one, wounds several.

Metro Government Press Release - Surveillance video from Tennessee State University cameras made available to the MNPD Friday night shows at least two persons fired shots in the outside courtyard of the Floyd-Payne Campus Center Thursday.
MNPD technical experts were able to access and analyze the surveillance video after physically removing cameras from the TSU campus Friday night and bringing them to police headquarters where the recorded data was removed.
One video clip, linked below in normal speed and slow motion, shows two gunmen firing at a third individual.  Detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the two shooters in the video clip.  Anyone who knows their identities is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-74-CRIME.  Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward of $6,000 ($5,000 of which is being made available by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms). 
At this point in the investigation, it has not been determined whether Cameron Selmon, who was fatally wounded, was responsible for any gunfire.
Surveillance video shows that at least half a dozen individuals made cellphone still pictures or video recordings of a fight that immediately preceded the gunfire.  Anyone who has those photos or recordings is asked to contact Detective Melody Saxon at 615-862-7805.

My Comment: I thought all State College campuses were gun-free zones.

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Maybe the Social Studies standards that make an Islamic textbook necessary is the real problem.

I recently posted about the uproar by parents in White County about what has been called "Islamic indoctrination" of their children (link). I said in that post that I did not know the truth about what was being reported and had not read the textbook in question but I doubted school board members and educators in White County had an agenda to indoctrinate kids in Islamic theology and I said I suspected the truth of what was going on was somewhere between an excess of naive liberal political correctness and bigotry. 

I still have not read the textbook in question and still think the charge that kids are being indoctrinated may be a bit strong.  However, the textbook in question may be inappropriate. It can be inappropriate without being part of plot to turn little Johnny into an Islamic terrorist. Not only may the textbook be inappropriate but the standards that make such a textbook necessary may to be a bigger problem.

Michael Patrick Leahy in a piece in Britbart News  quotes a teacher by the name of Kyle Mallory who has many years experience teaching social studies and who sits on the State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission. Mr. Mallory opposed the adoption of the current Social Studies standards. “These [new Social Studies] standards are not appropriate for seventh grade," he says. "We need to revert back to the old standards. They were very comprehensive and at grade level."

Here is an excerpt from The Britbart News article:

In contrast to the current seventh grade standards, which deal with World History and Geography exclusively during the period 400 AD to the 1500s, (an approach more often associated with high school or college curriculum), the previous standards provided a very broad overview of cultural, economic, geographic, governance and civics, and historical issues that have shaped our current world.

All major religions – Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam – were briefly summarized in the old standards. Students were introduced to the complexity of the various cultures in the world at an “age appropriate” level of detail.

In contrast, only Islam is given detailed attention in the new standards. In fact, as Breitbart News reported previously, 13 percent of the learning objectives of the current standards (10 out of 75) are devoted to instructing students on both the tenets and history of Islam.
That in itself is a concern. Why should only Islam be given detailed attention.  Even if the textbook is not biased, if an inappropriate amount of time is given to the study of Islam, then other areas of study are being ignored.

Mallory says there is a serious problem in counties that have not yet purchased the textbook in question.  In those counties, teachers are going to the internet and printing off material to use in their class that support the standards. Some of that material may be material that originates with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  Mallory also points out that, “Many teachers teaching seventh grade are sixth to eighth grade certified, not content teachers.”

I share that general criticism of education, beyond just this topic. Many teacher are not scholars in their topic of study and they have been taught how to teach but may not know any more about the topic they are charged with teaching than the parents of their students or the average man on the street. The teachers may not be able to select objective material or judge biased material or know very little about the topic they are teaching. If teachers are just downloading material from the internet and using it in their classroom, I can see how that could be a real problem.

I stand by my opinion that bigotry may be partly responsible for the charge that children are being indoctrinated in Islam.  A few years ago we saw  bigotry at play when people in Murfressboro fought to stop local Muslims from building a mosque simply because it was a mosque and we also saw it in play when Governor Haslam was accused of trying to impose Sharia law on Tennessean simply because the Department of Commerce hired a well-qualified Tennessean who happened to be a Muslim.

While bigotry and prejudice may be at play in getting people riled up, that does not mean that the textbook in question may not also be biased or inappropriate, and perhaps more importantly, that the social study standards are inappropriate.

While Mr. Mallory has made a good case that the Social Studies standards are inappropriate, I still do not know what is in the text book in question that is objectionable. If anyone has examined it, I would like to see examples of what concerns them and what bias they found.

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Mayor Barry and Will Pinkston on State Bd of Ed approves two MNPS rejected Charter Schools.

In today's Tennesseen stories of the State Board of Education approving two of the four public schools denied a charter by Metro, what happens next is explained. The local school board must now decide if they will charter the schools or if the State Board will become the authorizer. Either way the two schools will open.  The law provides that following the State approval there will be a 30-day reconciliation period.

Will Pinkston says the law permitting the State to charter schools will be legally challenged. He says if the Metro School Board will not challenge the law, "I know a group of parents and educators interested in a lawsuit."

It should be noted that Metro rejected four charter applications and the State only approved two of the four that were rejected and both of those were KIPP schools.  The State is not just automatically approving ever denied charter application.  This action by the state was the first time the board has acted to approved a charter application denied by the local school board since the law was adopted.

In response to the  actions of the State in approving the charter school applications, Mayor Barry said that while she prefers more local control over education she respects the decision by the
State Board to approve the charters.

To read the stories in The Tennessean, if you can climb their paywall, follow these link:
Barry 'respects' state board's approval of KIPP charters
KIPP Nashville wins appeal, can open 2 new schools

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Friday, October 23, 2015

House of Representatives votes to undo the damage of Obamacare

Marsha Blackburn
by U. S. Congressman Marsha Blackburn - House Republicans made good on their promise to repeal Obamacare by 240-189. Today was a victory for all Americans as the House passed legislation that will undo the damage done under Obamacare and repeal key parts of the law. The Administration recently cut in half the projections for how many people will be enrolled in Obamacare next year. They obviously know that enrollment will be much less than they promised in the past and they are in damage control mode as the death spiral begins.

Nine of 23 Obamacare co-ops, including Tennessee’s, have now failed, at a cost of nearly $1 billion for taxpayers. States have spent $5.5 billion federal taxpayer dollars to build state exchanges with little to no oversight. Now, with the failures of those state exchanges, what are the plans for those “loans” to be repaid? All of these recent findings are making the disastrous HealthCare.Gov roll out look like a speed bump.

H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act guts the law with the most infamous misnomer – the Affordable Care Act. This bill repeals the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the Cadillac tax, the medical device tax, ends auto-enrollment, and ends the public health slush fund. H.R. 3762 is a net tax cut, net spending cut, and reduces the deficit. This is a win-win-win solution to gut Obamacare so we can replace it with patient-focused reforms that provide access to affordable health care for all Americans

Additionally, H.R. 3762 places a one year moratorium on the funding of Planned Parenthood while Congress completes its investigation of the practices of the abortion industrial complex. I am pleased to be leading the new Select Investigative Panel at the Committee on Energy and Commerce to review medical procedures and abortions business practices. No issue is more deserving of our undivided attention than protecting the dignity of human life.

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Appeals Court Rules In Favor Of Rep. Fleischmann In Mark Winslow Lawsuit

Mark Winslow
Mark Winslow, the member of the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee who actively works to elect Democrats while sitting on the Executive Committee of the State Republican party and Davidson County Republican Party and gets to vote on whether or not to fund Republican candidates and who has access to Republican strategies, has lost his lawsuit against against Congressman Chuck Fleischmann. In a ruling today, the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against Congressman Chuck Fleischmann by Mark Winslow who was a former GOP chief of Staff. (link)

The controversy stems from a 2010 incident in which Fleischmann criticized his opponent Robin Smith in the Republican primary for the nomination for the 3rd Congressional District seat, for paying lavish bonuses to Winslow and other staff member when she had served as Chair of the Tennessee Republican Party. Winslow sued claiming the ad contained false and defamatory statements.

The Court ruled that the statements were not false or capable of defamatory meaning or published with actual malice, and that they took no action to induce a breach of contract or otherwise interfere with the relationship between Mr. Winslow and the Tennessee Republican Party. Winslow appealed that ruling and today, the Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.

It is a mystery to me, why the State Republican Party continues to allow Winslow a seat on the State Republican Party Executive Committee. As long as Winslow holds his position on the State Executive Committee, I am withholding contributions from the State Party. Winslow's holds a seat on the Davidson County Party by virtue of his seat on the State Executive Committee, and the County Party cannot remove him. For more on Mark Winslow and his role in helping to elect Democrats while serving on the Executive Committee of the Republican Party, follow this link.

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Tennessee State Board of Education grants charter to two schools on appeal from MNPS

Today the Tennessee State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve two charter school applications from KIPP Nashville.  This historic vote represents the first instance in which the State Board of Education has granted a charter appeal since the General Assembly empowered the body with the final authority to overturn denied applications from districts with Priority Schools in 2014.   

KIPP had previously appealed the applications to the State Board after being denied by a narrow vote of the Metro Nashville Public School Board in August.  In their decision, members of the State Board determined that the MNPS Board had not acted in the best interests of the district's students in denying the applications.  The State Board also found that the addition of KIPP's charter schools would not, contrary to the claim of  some MNPS Board members, impose any significant negative fiscal impact on the district.

This is great news!  Opponents of education reform can not stop charter schools! Those satisfied with mediocre schools and low student exceptions are on the losing end of this battle to improve education.

Upon hearing news of the vote, StudentsFirst Tennessee State Director Brent Easley remarked, "Today's historic vote by the Tennessee State Board of Education signals the beginning of a new chapter of accountability for districts in their charter authorizing decisions.  With their votes, State Board members have also affirmed that improving student access to quality seats remains a fundamental public imperative for school districts across the state.  Thanks to crucial legislation adopted by the General Assembly in 2014, the Board may now provide a fair and impartial second look at charter applications and render an honest verdict that best serves the interests of students, not frivolous local political agendas."

The decision comes on the heels of a recent poll from Vanderbilt University which found that 63% of Nashville residents, including 71% of parents, said they favored opening more charter schools.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dr. Ming Wang to receive Peace Award

Dr. Ming Wang
Dr. Ming Wang, Harvard &. MIT (MD, magna cum laude); PhD (laser physics), will be awarded the Peace Award, on Thur 10/22 5:30pm, at City Club, by Atlantic Institute - TN, a non-profit organization and the largest organization representing Turkish-Americans in the State of Tennessee. This award is given to Dr. Wang for his service to the community.

My Comment: Congratulation!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What did the Council do on Oct. 20,2015: Council leadership positions elected. Karen Johnson elected Pro Tem.

This is a relatively short meeting at 53 minutes long. For a link to the agenda, the Council staff analysis and my commentary, follow this link. 

The first order of business following the prayer and pledge of allegiance are a couple of a non-controversial memorializing resolutions. These were not listed on the agenda. What is going on? There was no explanation. While this occurrence of consideration of memorializing resolutions not listed on the agenda was not a problem, memorializing resolutions are often very political. Consideration of resolutions not on the agenda is a dangerous practice. 

The next order of business was Elections and Confirmations. Karen Johnson was elected in an uncontested election to the position of Speaker Pro Tem. She will be the council member who conducts meetings in the absence of the Vice Mayor. Karen Johnson is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet and I think that was a good choice. If I were in the Council, I would have supported her. 

In a contested elections between Steve Glover and Burkley Allen, Allen was elected to the position of Chair of the Planing, Zoning and Historical Committee of the Council which also gives her a seat on the Planning Commission. She has worked hard to advance bills such as Nashville's DADU ordinance, in-home recording studios, authorization of temporary vacation rentals and others. These type bills are complex and controversial and require a lot of work on the part of the Council member. I really like Steve Glover and admire the stand he has taken on some controversial issues but I think this was a good choice for this position.

Jason Potts was selected in an uncontested election to head the Traffic and Parking Committee of the Council which also gives him a seat on the Traffic and Parking Commission. Council members John Cooper and Bob Mendes were elected unopposed to seats on the Audit Committee.

 Several people were nominated to fill seats on the Industrial Development Board. I lost count but it looks like eight or nine people were nominated to fill four vacancies. The election from among the nominees to fill the positions will occur at the November 3, 2015 council meeting. Members of this board control a lot of money.  Ms.Talia Lomax-O’dnea was confirmed as Finance Director.

All resolutions and bills on First and Second reading pass.  Michael F. Jameson's employment  as Special Counsel and Director of the Metro Council Office is approved. There were no controversies or much discussion of any of the legislation. I would like to have seen some opposition to RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-25 which simply forgave and overpayment of a pension to an employee but it didn't happen. I think overpayments should be repaid but on very generous terms.

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Citizen's riled in White County over Islamic indoctrination.

SPARTA, Tenn. -- About 350 concerned citizens gathered at a church in White County upset about a textbook. They want the school board to get rid of a 7th grade history book that they believe promotes Islamic indoctrination.
 "It is our time, it is our place to stop it here," said Steve Gill, a speaker at the event. (link)

I don't know what the truth is about reported Islamic indoctrination in White County but people are certainly riled up.  I have not read the textbook in question, but I doubt many of those at the church in Sparta have either.  Tennessee Eagle Forum has devoted the last couple days of its newsletter to the issue. To view the newsletter and learn Eagle Forum's take on the controversy, follow this link

I support public and parental involvement in public education and think education is too important to be left up to educators. We know the majority of educators are liberal as evidenced by the role of the National Education Association in Democrat Party politics. Even liberals however, I do not think, have an agenda to indoctrinate kids in Islamic theology.

I do think however the agenda of promoting people being non-judgmental and politically correct may distort what and how educators teach. They may be so devoted to a why-can't-we-all-just-get-along attitude, a belief that all views are equally valid, possess an Obama-like attitude of apology for America's role in the world, and believe that if we would just be more respectful and understanding of other people that they would not do bad things, that promoting that belief system amounts to bending over backwards to present Islam in a favorable light and ignoring Islamic fanaticism. I doubt educators are indoctrinating kids in Islamic theology, but I don't doubt that they are indoctrinating them in a liberal world view and that may be almost as bad.

On the other hand, there are ignorant people who don't want their children to be exposed to other cultures and faiths and other points of view. There are people who think all of Islam is represented by Al Qaeda and ISIS's and they don't want anyone pointing out that most of the world's Muslims are not terrorist. There are people who think their view of Islam is more accurate than that of Islamic scholars. 

In World War II there were many who thought rounding up and imprisoning Americans of Japanese descent was a good idea.  That way of thinking has not disappeared.  If  today it was proposed that all Muslim be put in concentration camps, I fear there would be many Americans who would support that proposal. There are people who support Freedom of Religion as long as it is their religion but think Muslims should not be allowed to build mosques in America.  Is is easy to fill a room by preaching xenophobia and Islamophobia and bigotry. I don't know what the truth is.  I suspect it is somewhere between an excess of naive liberal political correctness and bigotry. 

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    Update: More GOP Presidential Debate Watch Parties

    A RNC sanctioned debate will be held at the Coors Events Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and broadcast live on CNBC. There are several local debate watch parties around town. I think I am attending the one at the Sheraton Four Points in Bentwood.  I am not leaning toward Trump at this time, but it looks like this is the event most of my friends are attending. I am sure we uncommitted Republicans would be welcome at any of the events. Please follow the links and RSVP if that is requested.

    (1) Hosted by The Tennessee Republican Party. This invitation appears to be an open invitation:

    (2) Hosted by Rutherford County Conservatives, Latinos of Tennessee and promoted by the Ted Cruz team. If you want to be in the company of other Ted Cruz supporters to watch the debate, you may want to attend the Rutherford County Conservatives GOP debate watch party at Legends of Smyrna,  Wednesday, October 28 at 7:00pm. More info.  The website does not identify this debate watch party as a Ted Cruz event but an email from the Cruz campaign identifies it as such. Update: This is also the event for Latinos for Tennessee.

    (3) Hosted by Middle Tennessee for Donald Trump and promoted by Tim Skow of First Tuesday. This is the event I am attending. If you are a Donald Trump supporter and want to watch the debate with other Trumppies, then you may want to attend the Middle TN for Donald Trump  debate watch event at Four Points by Sheraton Nashville - Brentwood in Brentwood. Update: This event is also being promoted by Tim Skow. I am convinced that it is not a Trump-only event and everyone will be welcome.

    (4) Rand Paul watch party. Palinistas may want to attend the  Tennessee for Rand Paul event at  Dan McGuinness Nashville.

    If anyone knows of other debate watch parties, please send me the notice and I will add them to this list. 

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    Tuesday, October 20, 2015

    The New York Times' recent take on our local successes and challenges .

     Nashville's Skyline Being Rebuilt By Building Boom

    The New York Times, NASHVILLE — A powerful surge in construction is reshaping the physical character and economy of this 236-year-old river city, and fueling a deepening public conversation about essential civic values that many residents worry could be lost.

    More than 100 new projects, together valued at more than $2 billion, are underway in Nashville or planned to start next year, according to city figures. Most of the big projects —....(link)

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    Tenn. Gov. Haslam raises questions about 'religious doctrine' bill

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Gov. Bill Haslam is raising questions about a legislative proposal to ban Tennessee schools from teaching about "religious doctrine" before the 10th grade, saying it could have unexpected consequences.

    For instance, the Republican governor said the proposal could prevent younger students from learning why the Pilgrims decided to leave Europe.

    "I don't know how you talk about the founding of America, and what became of the United States, without talking about religious doctrine," Haslam told reporters last week. "Now, that's very different than indoctrinating, or teaching that doctrine as truth." (link)

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    Banning the teaching of "religious doctrine" is a bad idea and the Butt's bill is a bad bill.

    Below is the text of the bill by Rep. Sheila Butt that would ban the teaching of religious doctrine.

    HOUSE BILL 1418
    By Butt
    AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 10, relative to curriculum for K–12 public schools.
    SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 10, is amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated section:
    (a) The state board of education shall not include religious doctrine in any curriculum standards for grades prior to grades ten through twelve (10–12).
    (b) The state board shall provide curriculum standards for grades ten (10), eleven (11), or twelve (12) that teach comparative religion as it relates to history or geography, but no religion shall be emphasized or focused on over another religion.
    (c) If the curriculum standards in grades prior to grades ten through twelve (10–12) include a reference to a specific religion or the role and importance of a religion in history or geography, then the state board shall ensure that the reference does not amount to teaching any form of religious doctrine to the students.
    SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.
    "Religious doctrine" is not defined in the bill. Some teachers may decide that the term means they may not even mention religion at all and another may determine that teaching the basic tenants of any faith is not teaching "doctrine" but educating students about the tenants of that faith.

    Merriam-Webster says doctrine is "a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true." Is to state that Christians believe Jesus Christ is the son of God teaching "doctrine?"  I think it is. I think this bill would ban explaining what any religious group believes. There is a difference between explaining what a religion teaches and teaching people it is the truth. There is a difference between saying "Christians believe Jesus Christ is the son of God," and saying, "Jesus Christ is the son of God." There is a difference between explaining doctrine and indoctrination. Does Butts really want to ban teaching doctrine or ban proselytizing and indoctrination?

    An overly cautious teacher may determine he can not teach World History, because it is difficult to teach world history without mentioning the Reformation or The Holy Roman Empire or the Crusades.  To teach about those things one would have to explain what all the fuss was about. That is getting into teaching doctrine.

    It would also be difficult to teach American history. The motivation for much exploration of the New World was to claim lands for God and King, and then the Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom, and the movement to free the slaves was in large part motivated by religious zeal as were many social reforms. And how are you going to teach American History without getting into, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…?"  That may require an explanation of doctrine.

    One could not discuss current events in the class room for to mention the wars in the Middle East or the renewed Palestinian uprising or gay marriage or the recent controversy over abortion may require an acknowledgement that these conflicts or disagreements are rooted in religious "doctrine."  

    The idea that in a comparative religion class one must not give more emphasis or focus to one religion over another is absurd. Taoism simply does not deserve the same amount of attention as Christianity. It has not had the same impact on shaping our world.

    I am all for scrutinizing what is taught in the classroom and making sure our text books are accurate. I also suspect that we may have some teachers who are so liberal and politically correct that they may be teaching that all religious views are equally valid and maybe overselling the historically positive aspects of the Islamic faith and ignoring the fanaticism of Islam. This bill however is killing a fly by dropping a bomb.  

    An unintended consequence of this bill, should it pass, is that the classroom becomes even more of a secular zone where the role of religious faith can not even be acknowledged. The classroom may become a place were the only "doctrine" that can be taught is the doctrine of secularism.  Is that what we want?

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    Alexander Says “Sanctuary Cities” Must Follow Federal Immigration Law “As It Is Written", Tuesday, October 20, 2015- Senator Lamar Alexander on Tuesday voted to begin debate on legislation that would have reduced or eliminated certain federal grants to states, cities, counties or towns that fail to comply with federal immigration law.

    “It is the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president—not cities or states—to establish our nation’s immigration laws,” Senator Alexander said. (link)

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    Monday, October 19, 2015

    10/19/15 Metro Council Budget & Finance Committee Meeting

    For those who want a deeper understanding of the affairs of the city, you need to watch the meetings of the Budget and Finance committee.

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    What's on the Oct. 20 Council Agenda? Council position elections, not much else of interest.

    You can get your own copy of the Metro council meeting agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. And, you can find the agenda analysis at this link: Metro Council Agenda Analysis. Council meetings are more interesting if you follow along with an agenda and know what the council is voting on.

    This will be only the second meeting of the new council so it is worth watching to see who emerges as leaders and what factions may form. Without political parties, there is not much to create and hold a faction together. Probably the strongest faction  is the Black members of the Council. Other factions are often groupings of council member from the same part of the county.  Other temporary factions emerge around issues and then dissolve. There actually are very few conservative-liberal divisive issues in the council. As one council member commented recently, there are no Republican or Democratic potholes.

    The last council saw the fairgrounds to be a divisive issue and most of the council members who one would think of as conservative were active in the effort to save the fairgrounds. Another  divisive issue was the effort to stop the AMP with the conservative council members opposing the AMP. Other issues that reflected ones political leanings were raising the property tax and metro benefits for same-sex couples and a few memorializing resolutions praising Obama's policies. It may take a while to emerge who are the conservative members of the Council and how often they will vote together.

    Most of the council leadership is determined by the Vice Mayor. It is he who appoints chairmen of the committees.  The chairmen of a committee is usually the person asked to sign bills presented by the administration that are to be assigned to that particular committee.  These are most often routine things and if the chairman does not support the bill then he could refuse to sign it of course, but that seldom happens. As a result of sponsoring lots of routine bills, conducting committee meetings and getting face-time on TV, the committee chairmen become leaders of the council.

    Their are a few leadership positions not appointed by the vice mayor. These are positions elected by the council. Tonight he Council will be filling these seats. The council has not been in office long enough for members to know each other well, but those who want those leadership positions have most likely been lobbying other council members for their support so members are getting to know each other through this process. This will show who, so far, is popular or has been lobbying for one of the positions and which alliances are being created.

    The first order of business is Elections and Confirmations. Below are the positions to be filled by the council tonight where the council elects one of its own. These are coveted seats and often a lot of lobbying goes into getting these positions. 

    • President Pro Tempore. This member conducts the meeting in the absence of the vice mayor. This is for a one year term.
    • Planning, Zoning and Historical Committee Chair. Election of committee chair for a two-year term ending September 30, 2017. I would not want this job; it is thankless and a lot of hard work and I find most zoning issues boring, but it is a coveted position.  The Chair of this committee also serves as a member of the Metro Planning Commission.
    • Traffic, Parking and Transportation Committee. Election of committee chair for a two-year term ending September 30, 2017. The person who gets this position also serves as a member of the Traffic and Parking Commission.
    • Audit Committee. Election of two Council members for two-year terms ending September 30, 2017. Council members Steve Glover and Jacobia Dowell are the two previous council members serving on this committee and both are incumbents who were reelected. I assume they could keep their position on this committee if the want it. 
    Other Elections and confirmations are these: 
    • Industrial Development Board nominations made from the Council floor to fill four vacancies. The election from among the nominees to fill the positions will occur at the November 3, 2015 council meeting. Members of this board control a lot of money.  This board can issue bonds, buy and develop property and then rent the property to a tenants. When you hear of a company paying "payments is lieu of taxes" or PILOT, this is most likely a development of property by the Industrial Development Board. Since the property is owned by this government entity, the tenant does not pay taxes and often the PILOT is much less than the taxes would be.  Along with Tax Increment Financing this is a tool to either facilitate crony capitalism and sweetheart deals or encourage development, depending on how one looks at it. A lot of important well-connected people want positions on this board. I assume some newly elected council members were not even aware of the function of the board and now they have been solicited by someone to put their name in nomination.
    • Director of Finance Appointee is Ms.Talia Lomax-O’dnea. She is a 15-year veteran of the Metro finance department and is being appointed to replace Rich Riebeling who Mayor Barry appointed as her Chief Operating Officer. She should win confirmation easily.
    There is one resolution on public hearing and that is for a restaurant that already has a liquor license but is seeking a beer permit and is seeking a variance from the rules for those permitted to have a beer permit. I think this is a waste of Council time and any place that has acquired a liquor license should automatically be entitled to a beer permit, but that is not the case.

    There are fifteen other resolutions, all on the consent agenda at this time. A resolutions stays on the consent agenda if it passes the committee to which it was assigned unanimously. However,in any member may request a bill to be pulled off or consent or have his dissenting vote or abstention recorded. Most of the resolutions are simply accepting pass through grants.  These are the resolutions of interest:
    • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-19, authorizing the employment of former Councilman Michael F. Jameson as Special Counsel and Director of the Council Office for the Metropolitan  Council.
    • RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-25 approves the waiver of repayment of pension benefit overpayments made to former employee due to a Metro employee error. I did not know that there was a policy that permitted waiver of repayment of  overpayments. I think this is a bad policy. If Social Security makes an error in an overpays you, you have to pay the money back. I think we should be accommodating to those for whom repayment of an overpayment would create a hardship and maybe only withhold as little as $5 a month until repayment is made, but I do not think it should just be forgiven. 
    There are thirteen bills on First Reading. Normally everything passes First Reading and is not discussed until second reading. I normally do not examine bills on First Reading, but here is a bill of interest.
    • BILL NO. BL2015-32 by Councilman Steve Glover would ban the sale of newspapers, magazines, periodicals or other such written items to occupants of vehicles within the public right-of-way. The Contributor newspaper which provides a livelihood for many homeless is one of the most successful operations of its kind in the country. Most of the people selling The Contributor are unable to hold down a real job. I realize selling The Contributor is a form of panhandling, but these unfortunate people do exist and I think this system of seeking assistance has served these people well. Also, when I buy a copy it makes me feel good. Rather than giving to some impersonal bureaucracy to help these people, I like the one-on-one opportunity to help the less fortunate. Occasionally, but rarely, I have seen what I thought were situations which slowed traffic or created a hazard, but rarely.  I have gotten to know, in a casual way, the man who regularly sells newspapers at the Wedgewood-8th Avenue intersection. Selling The Contributor has let this man earn enough money to keep a roof over his head. I would not oppose this on first reading and would let the bill go to committee, but do not think I could vote for this bill on second reading. If there are situations that create a traffic problem or safety hazard then that needs addressing, but I would not be in favor of banning this type of solicitation.  
    Bills on Second Reading: Most of them concern sewer easements and none of them are of much interest. There are no Bills on Third Reading.  

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    Rep. Black Statement on Planned Parenthood’s Decision to Stop Accepting Government Payments for Harvesting of Aborted Baby Organs

    Diane Black
    Press Release, Washington, DC– Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a registered nurse and author of the House-passed Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, released the following statement after Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards’ announcement that the organization would no longer accept federal reimbursement for the harvesting of aborted babies’ tissue and organs:

    “It is curious that, while Planned Parenthood officials maintain there has been no wrongdoing, they still find it necessary to change their policy following the recent undercover videos. Clearly, this was a decision motivated by optics rather than the organization’s conscience. If Planned Parenthood truly wanted to confront its growing scandal, it would stop aborting more than 327,000 innocent lives each year and fully commit to true women’s health care,” said Congressman Diane Black. “In light of this news, I suppose Doctor Mary Gatter will have to find another way to get her Lamborghini, but rest assured – this development does not change my conviction that Planned Parenthood should not be subsidized by American taxpayers.”

    Congressman Black added, “Cecile Richards’ letter is right about one thing: the fight against Planned Parenthood is not just about its use of fetal tissue. It is about how we treat a human life and how we ensure that the conscience rights of American taxpayers are respected. This is a fight we must continue.”

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    Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Oct. 26th, is guest speaker at Joint event of Conservative Groups of Middle Tennessee, Latinos for Tennessee and Tennesee Republican Minority Coallition

    Tonight! 10/26/2015!


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    The AFP Axe The Tax Road Tour schedule: Monday, October 19th - Nashville (Bellevue)

    Hi Rod,
    I wanted to make sure you knew about our upcoming events. We will be making Axe
    the Tax tour stops across the state to STOP a gas tax increase. Please join us for the events in your area.
    Thursday, October 15th - Franklin - Puckett's Boat House - 6-8pm
    Thursday, October 15th - Jackson - Logan's Roadhouse - 6-8pm
    Monday, October 19th - Nashville (Bellevue) - Jonathan's Grille - 6-8pm
    Tuesday, October 20th - Clarksville - Logan's Roadhouse - 6:30-8:30pm
    Thursday, October 22nd - Washington County - Jonesborough General Store - 6-8pm
    Stay up-to-date with all of our events by subscribing to them on Facebook:

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    Raul Lopez in The Tennessean

    Raul Lopez
    The Tennessean today published an op-ed written by Latinos for Tennessee Executive Director, Raul Lopez, on mobile internet use among Latinos.
    "A 2015 Pew Research Center study found that Latinos and African Americans are three times more likely than non-Hispanics to be 'smartphone-dependent' for Internet access," Lopez says.  Click here to see the complete article.
    On August 23rd, Lopez had another op-ed published in the Tennessean  that addressed some challenges Latino parents face with our current education system.  In that article, Raul discussed the need for greater educational freedom in our state as well as the measures our state legislature has taken to give students better opportunities for success.  Click here to see that complete article.

    It is heartening to see the message of freedom, faith, and family presented from a Latino perspective and I commend The Tennessean for allowing this point of view space in the newspaper. Too often, Hispanics are presented as a group that is monolithic and liberal. At some date in the not too distant future, American will be a majority minority country. If conservatives can not win the hearts and minds of minorities then the future of our country is very bleak.  Raul Lopez is doing his part to reach Latino voters with the message of freedom.

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    First Ever We Are Breitbart Meetup,

    We are Breitbart - Nashville, First Ever We Are Breitbart Meetup, Thursday, 6:00 PM Oct 22

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