Thursday, November 05, 2015

Councilman Loniel Green shot multiple times.

Please keep Councilman Loniel Green in your prayers. 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro councilman Loniel Greene, Jr. was taken to an area hospital after he was shot multiple times near a west Nashville gas station.
Officials with Metro police said Greene, councilman for District 1, was shot three times -- once in the elbow, shoulder, and chest. (link)

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Final update: The 11-3-15 Council meeting: Effort to stop Old Hickory rock quarry advances, Industrial Dev. Bd. elected.

At 3 hours and 15 minutes this is a long council meeting. Council meetings are a lot more interesting if you know what's going  on. For a link to the agenda, staff agenda analysis and my commentary follow this link.

The meeting opens with a prayer offered by Council member Erica Gilmore. The first meeting of the new council opened with a moment of silence in place of a prayer and the second meeting had someone singing a sacred song in place of a traditional prayer.  Also, Vice Mayor Briley has written an article in the Tennessean  titled Use invocations to celebrate beliefs, not divide people. In that article  he said  the courts have placed limits on prayer before legislative meetings and said that in the next four years the prerogative as to manner of invocation at each meeting would rotate from one council member to another but hoped they would be mindful of the ruling of the Supreme Court. So, I was wondering what would happen at the third meeting of the new Council. I am wondering if prayers have to be submitted in advance for approval.  It looks like we will still have an opening prayer in the Metro Council. I still wonder however, if someone would be called out of order it they ended their prayer with the words, "in Jesus name, Amen."

Following the prayer was the Pledge of Allegiance. So far, the Pledge of Allegiance does not appear controversial in Nashville and I have heard of no move to discontinue the practice as has occurred at other progressive places around the country.

I am only going to call attention to the most important items on the agenda. I may miss something that interest readers, so you may want to read the agenda for yourself.

All mayoral appointments to boards and commissions are approved unanimously.

The process of electing members of the Industrial Development Board begins at time stamp 9:13 and ends at time  56:00. This is something that the general public could care less about, but moneyed people sitting on boards of  large corporations, bankers, developers, and movers and shakers may care.There were originally 13 people nominated for the four positions but two of them withdrew their name from consideration.  For those who may want to see for whom each council member voted, watch the video or check the minutes of the meeting at this link. The winners are:

  • Former Councilman Chris Harmon, nominated by Councilman Elrod.
  • Former Bridgestone Americas Executive Vice President Ken Weaver, nominated by Councilman Larry Hagar.
  • Nigel Hodge nominated by Councilman Karen Johnson
  • Cristina Allen nominated by Councilman Pulley
Public Hearing: I do not event attempt to understand the pros and cons of every rezoning bill so if there is a particular bill you care about, watch the meeting. This is the item that I find of interest.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-13 and BILL NO. BL2015-14  are attempts to stop the development of a rock quarry very near Old Hickory dam. No one wants a rock quarry in their neighborhood, but in this case there is fear that the blasting at the rock quarry could weaken the dam which, if it caused a failure of the dam, could cause massive flooding of Nashville. For more on this issue follow this link.  I am normally a strong advocate of private property rights and the developer may already be "vested" in the right to build the quarry.  However, in this case I would err on the side of safety and join those trying to stop this development.  The chamber is full of people in favor of the bills. The public hearings on the two bills start at time stamp 1:02:00 and end at 2:15:10 Representative Bill Beck is the first person to speak in favor of the bills. He makes the argument that the developer is not "vested." Attorney Tom White who often represents developers at public hearings speaks against the bill at time stamp 1:31:13 and makes the argument that is client is vested. Councilman Hagar makes a plea that the Council pass the bill. The Council staff attorney in response to a question from Councilman Coleman asking if the developer is vested, says the council should not base their decision on that question and that this bill would have general application to all future rock quarries and that the question of the vested rights of the developer would be a question for the courts to decide if the bill is passed. Both bills pass. 
 All Resolutions on the consent agenda pass. There is a late resolution to accept a grant from the Justice Department to fund a Civil Legal Advocacy program. There is opposition to item number 48 in the grant.  Apparently this item was accidentally included in the grant by the Justice Department and due to some technicality the Justice Department cannot remove that item until after the grant is accepted by the cities. Councilman Glover questions the process and wisdom of passing the resolution with a promise that, that item will be removed. "Condition 48" is some sort of audit that would be required. I know I would not trust the Obama Justice Department. Any single council member could keep the resolution from being adopted but no one objects and the resolution passes. The Council apparently is not completely relying on the good faith of the Justice Department and could amend out this item themselves if the Justice Department fails to do so. Also, if the Justice Department does not remove the condition 48, they would apparently have to provide another $400,000 to metro, so approving this is not totally dependent upon trusting the Justice Department. It is good that this concern got expressed at this meeting. At least the Council's concern is on record.

Bills on Introduction and First Reading pass as is customary.

Bills on Second Reading.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-32  is a bill that would ban vendors from selling newspapers and magazines in the street. This bill is sponsored by Councilman Glover. It would prohibit the homeless from selling The Contributor to occupants of vehicles who are in a lane of traffic. It is deferred until March 15th. 
All Bills on Third Reading pass and none of them are of much consequence. 

Below are news reports on this council meeting.

From the TennesseanBuffer bills aimed at Old Hickory quarry advance. 

Metro Council Advances Quarry Restrictions, But Old Hickory Company Says Bill Doesn’t Apply

Nashville Public Radio - The Metro Council moved a step closer Tuesday to restricting quarries and concrete plants across Davidson County. But, in a twist, it appears that the proposed quarry in Old Hickory that triggered concerns could be exempt from the limitation.

After waiting months to speak out, dozens of residents packed the council meeting to decry the quarry that’s trying to open near their homes, a popular public beach and an aging Army Corps of Engineers dam.(link)

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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

GOP Debate Watch Parties


LOCATION: VFW POST 1291 1907 LEBANON PIKE NASHVILLE, TN. 37210 The first 50 Veterans and their guests eat free! Asking all others that attend to donate $20 each for dinner\cost ALL PERSONS ATTENDING MUST R.S.V.P. at or call 615-499-6819

 Nashville for Rand Paul Debate Watch Party
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 8:00 PM
The Standard at the Smith House, 167 Rosa L Parks Boulevard, Nashville, TN.
Let's watch the debate and support our candidate! Join this Meetup to comment.  In order to attend the event, you MUST register using this link:

Watch Party @ The Standard 
 By: Latinos for Tennessee Event Description
Doors open at 7pm, debate begins at 8pm.  No cover charge, but reservations are required. Click here to Register.
A joint outreach event sponsored by The Standard At The Smith House, Latinos for Tennessee, Williamson County Republican Party and Tennessee Republican Minority Coalition.
Where: The Standard At The Smith House - 167 Rosa L Parks Boulevard Nashville, TN 37203 -
I assume the Rand Paul Debate Watch Party and the Watch Party at The Standard co-sponsored by Latinos for Tennessee and others is the same watch party. Rod

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Please urge the State legislature to stop Nashville from passing inclusionary zoning.

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, Oct. 31, 2015 - With the price to live in gentrifying Nashville continuing to climb, Metro planners have begun drafting a new policy to try to increase and retain Nashville’s affordable housing stock.

As they do, some of Tennessee's Republican lawmakers are keeping a close eye — and could decide to intervene legislatively if they believe Metro, or some other local government, goes too far to restrict private enterprise.

One top Republican House member predicts state legislation next session that would effectively seek to prevent local municipalities from adopting a mandatory inclusionary zoning policy or nullify that policy if action is taken. Such an ordinance — supported by many affordable housing advocates but opposed by developers, real estate groups and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce — would mandate that a certain percentage of units of new development in Nashville be priced affordable.

“The legislature is very sensitive to the needs and the concerns of the business community, and I think there will be (a state bill) based on the concerns that I’m hearing,” said House Republican caucus chairman Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin. “I’m looking at it, but I know others are as well." (link)

My Comment. This is great news and I hope members of the Tennessee legislature continue to watch this issue and vote to protect private property rights and protect us from the socialist tendencies of our Mayor, the Metro Council and many Nashville "do-gooders."

So called "inclusionary zoning" is a form of price-fixing in which the government takes away a property owner's right to establish the rent or sale price of his property.  It often mandates that a certain percentage new rental units or units of property for sale be priced so as to be "affordable" for people with different incomes. The two most often income levels are for people making 80% to 100% of the area median income or people making between 100% to 120% of the area median income. Affordable has a specific meaning and generally means housing cost should not exceed 31% of ones gross monthly income.

What happens if a developer is told that 14% of his properties in a development must be priced to be affordable, is that he raises the price on all other property in the development to subsidize the reduced price of the set-aside affordable units. While this helps those who get the set-aside units, it has the effect of increasing overall prices and pricing other people out of the market.

Another way that inclusionary zoning causes property sale prices and rents to increase is that it suppresses supply.  If a developer has a choice of places to develop and can earn more developing in Austin, Texas or Charlotte, North Carolina rather than Nashville, he will do so.

Tennessee already bans rental price control imposed by a city, so most likely inclusionary zoning as it relates to rental property  would fall into that category. It would probably take an opinion from the Attorney General or maybe a lawsuit however to clarify that issue. There is no state prohibition on price control of homes for sale. The state legislature should ban this interference in the marketplace and remove the uncertainty by banning mandatory inclusionary zoning.

Some forms of inclusionary zoning are not quite as bad as mandatory inculsionary zoning and rely on incentives instead of mandates. That sounds good, but incentives can have the effect of being punitive, depending on how they are designed. Denial of a benefit or bonus can be a form of punishment for not doing what the government wants you to do. If everyone else gets the benefit and you do not, that is the same as a penalty. While the city should have a certain leeway to incentivize developers of affordable housing, it should not be punitive for those who do not.

I am doing my part to encourage the state legislature to stop inclusionary zoning.  When I went to Columbus Ohio for the Americans for Prosperity event a couple months ago, I got to socialize with several state legislators and used the opportunity to discuss Nashville's inclusionary zoning. At various fund raisers and other social gatherings whenever I have had a chance to chat with a legislator, I have urged him to stop Nashville's inclusionary zoning. I have spoken to my State Senator about the issue. Last week at a joint meeting of Latinos for Tennessee, The Republican Minority Coalition, and Conservative Groups, the guest speaker was Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey. During Q & A I asked Governor Ramsey if he would watch Nashville's inclusionary zoning and step in and stop it if Nashville passes a inclusionary zoning ordinance. He said in the past the State had acted to stop Nashville from passing other anti-competitive and price-fixing policies and said inclusionary zoning was something the legislature was aware of and was watching.

Please, if you have an opportunity to speak to a state legislator ask him to pass legislation to stop Nashville's proposed inclusionary zoning. With our liberal mayor and city council, I would not be surprised to see the most extreme liberal policies become law.  It is a proper role of the State to limit what damage cities and counties may do and to protect private property rights and individual liberties. We need to urge the State to stop Nashville from becoming the San Francisco of the South.

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Arrangements for Senator Fred Thompson

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--The following information was provided by the Thompson family regarding the arrangements for Senator Fred Thompson: Services will be held this Friday, November 6, at 10AM CT at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville (301 6th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37243). The service is open to the public.

 Following the service, family and friends will go to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee for a Hometown Tribute at the Crockett Theatre. A private burial will be held in Lawrenceburg. Woodlawn Funeral Home of Nashville is handling arrangements. In lieu of flowers, the Thompson family asks for donations to the following organizations:

  • Alive Hospice 1718 Patterson Street, Nashville, TN 37203 
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee 1704 Charlotte Ave, Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37203 
  • Mayo Clinic, Department of Development 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905 
  • MusiCorps P.O. Box 73051, Washington, DC 20056 "

All Tennesseans are welcome to join us in celebrating the life and legacy of Senator Thompson," stated Ryan Haynes, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

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Monday, November 02, 2015

Alexander: Tennessee’s 23 Percent Rate Hike in Obamacare “Benchmark” Plans “Will Put a Dent in Tennesseans’ Family Budgets”

Press Release, WASHINGTON, D.C, October 28 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that the 23 percent rate increase for Tennessee’s “benchmark” health care plan under Obamacare will “hurt those Tennesseans that this law was intended to help.”
Alexander, chairman of the Senate health committee, continued: “Tennesseans who buy Obamacare’s ‘benchmark’ plan will see their premiums rise next year by 23 percent—that will put a dent in family budgets even though the president promised Obamacare would lower their health costs. Republicans are ready to reduce Tennesseans’ health insurance costs with plans to restore freedom to the insurance marketplace and allow individuals to choose health care plans that meet their budget.”

The Obama administration announced that the national average rate increase for the “benchmark” plan starting January 1, 2016, will be 7.5 percent. The “benchmark” plan is the second lowest-cost Silver plan offered on the Obamacare exchanges, and is used to determine the level of health care subsidies in a state. Tennessee is one of 19 states which will experience double-digit benchmark plan rate hikes next year.

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What's on the Nov. 2nd Council agenda? Stopping the Old Hickory Dam rock quarry and banning The Contributor street sales.

The Metro Council will meet in regular session at 6:30 PM on Tuesday November 3rd. Council meetings are important but can really be boring if you don't know what the Council is voting on.  If you follow the meeting with an agenda and the staff analysis, while they may still be boring they are not quite as boring. I try to report on each agenda as to what I think is important, but sometimes I miss things and I don't even attempt to stay informed about all of the rezoning issues before the Council, so I encourage you to review the agenda and analysis for yourself. Follow the highlighted links for your own copy.

The first items on the agenda are elections and confirmations. While we owe those who are willing to serve on Metro's numerous boards and commissions a debt of gratitude, the council should take its roll of confirmation seriously. I hope the new council will do better than the old council in evaluating mayoral appointments. If appointees are going to pursue policies a council member may not like, that member should vote against that nominee. Also the council should expect a geographical balance and some diversity on the boards and commissions. There are nine mayoral appointees to boards and commission on the agenda for confirmation.

The council will also be electing members to the Industrial Development Board. This Board controls a lot of money. It develops property then leases it to businesses. This is one of three ways the Council bribes companies to locate in Nashville by giving sweetheart deals to favored companies. Another way of looking at it is that this is a tool to encourage companies to locate in Nashville.  Since the property remains the property of Metro Government and thus exempt from property taxes, companies awarded these deals do not have to pay property taxes but instead pay "payment in lieu of taxes" or PILOT, which is often much less than they would pay in taxes. Last council meeting, council members nominated people to serve on this board. The council will elect four members for positions on the Board from the 13 nominees. Here are the list of nominees and the Council members who nominated them:

  • Ms. Karen Johnson nominated Mr. Nigel Hodge
  • Ms. Hurt nominated Ms. Saletta Holloway
  • Mr. Pulley nominated Ms. Cristina Allen; 
  • Mr. Pridemore nominated Mr. Howard Wedekind; 
  • Mr. Rosenberg nominated Mr. Jeff Wilson
  • Mr. Syracuse nominated Ms. Lara Tucker; 
  • Mr. Hagar nominated Mr. Kenneth Weaver
  • Mr. Elrod nominated Mr. Chris Harmon
  • Ms. VanReece nominated Mr. Jeff Weems; 
  • Mr. Withers nominated Mr. Clay Haynes
  • Ms. Murphy nominated Mr. Brad Pickett; 
  • Mr. Shulman nominated Ms. Erin Coleman; on behalf of Mr. Scott Davis, 
  • Ms. Hurt nominated Mr. Eddie Gray III.
Public hearing
There is one resolution and  19 bills on public hearing. The resolution is to allow an entity that already has a liquor license an exemption from the distance requirement necessary to get a beer license. Metro requires that establishments seeking a beer permit be a certain distance from churches, day care center, parks and residences.  Metro awards beer permits; the state awards liquor licenses. In my view, this hearing is a waste of time. If an establishment already has a liquor license, I see no reason to deny it a beer permit and I think the establishment should automatically be exempt from the beer permit distance requirements, but that is not the way it is.

Most of the bills on public hearing are rezoning issues. Most rezoning concerns only nearby neighbors and I do not even attempt to stay informed about all of the rezoning issues. Here are the ones I find of interest:
  • BILL NO. BL2015-13 and BILL NO. BL2015-14  are attempts to stop the development of a rock quarry very near Old Hickory dam. No one wants a rock quarry in their neighborhood, but in this case there is fear that the blasting at the rock quarry could weaken the dam which, if it caused a failure of the dam, could cause massive flooding of Nashville. For more on this issue follow this link.  I am normally a strong advocate of private property rights and the developer may already be "vested" in the right to build the quarry.  However, in this case I would err on the side of safety and join those trying to stop this development.
Resolutions: There are 14 resolutions all on the consent agenda. A bill is put on consent if it is deemed non controversial and stays on consent if it passes the committee to which it was assigned unanimously.  However, any member may ask to be recorded as abstaining or voting "no" or he may ask to have the bill taken off of consent. None of the resolutions are of much interest or are controversial.

Bills on First Reading are all lumped together and voted on without being considered individually.  First reading is just a formality and unless something is absolutely atrocious, no one ever votes against anything on first reading. I don't pay attention to bills on First Reading and wait until second reading to read them.

Bills on Second Reading: 
  • BILL NO. BL2015-32  is a bill that would ban vendors from selling newspapers and magazines in the street. This bill is sponsored by Councilman Glover. It would prohibit the homeless from selling The Contributor to occupants of vehicles who are in a lane of traffic. I approve of  The Contributor and the way they operate. It has helped many homeless be able to afford rent instead of living under a bridge. It is a good way for the public to help the less fortunate. I have on occasion seen what I thought was a dangerous situation or have been annoyed by waiting for someone to complete a transaction when the light changes but I would not support this bill.
Bills on Third Reading: None of them are of much interest.

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

Fred Thompson, RIP

Fred Thompson
TNGOP press release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Former U.S. Senator, presidential candidate, and famed actor Fred Thompson passed away today. Thompson represented Tennessee in Washington from 1994 – 2003. He gained notoriety by barnstorming Tennessee with a strongly conservative message in a red pickup truck.

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes remarked, "The news of Senator Thompson's passing gives me a heavy heart. This is a sad moment for all of us as our state has lost a larger-than-life figure. His quick wit, his hospitality, and his conservative beliefs reflected the best attributes of Tennessee. Senator Thompson was a statesman in every sense of the word. He will be missed as much for his friendship as he will for his leadership."

Former US Senator, Actor Fred Thompson Dead at 73 

ABC News - Former U.S. Senator and actor Fred Thompson has died at the age of 73, after a recurrence oFred Thompson, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee, GOP presidential candidate, Watergate attorney and actor who starred on the television drama "Law and Order," died on Sunday in Nashville. He was 73.f lymphoma, according to a statement from his family. Thompson, who served eight years as a U.S. Senator for Tennessee, was also a GOP presidential candidate, an attorney during President Nixon's Watergate scandal and an accomplished actor.

"Very few people can light up the room the way Fred Thompson did," Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a statement. "He ...(link)

Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson dies at 73 

The Tennessean - Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee, GOP presidential candidate, Watergate attorney and actor who starred on the television drama "Law and Order," died on Sunday in Nashville. He was 73.
.....In 1977, Mr. Thompson found himself representing the whistleblower in one of Tennessee's biggest political scandals. In her role as a parole administrator, Marie Ragghianti refused to release inmates granted pardons after paying then-Gov. Ray Blanton. Mr. Thompson successfully represented Ragghianti in a wrongful termination case, helping her win a settlement and a return to her job in 1978.

That case eventually became the subject of a book and launched Mr. Thompson's acting career. Mr. Thompson played himself in the 1985 version of the movie “Marie." Critics praised his performance, and more roles soon followed. (link)

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Sheri Weiner decides not to run against Bo Mitchell

Sheri Weiner has announced she will not be challenging Bo Mitchell for his seat in the State House. Councilman Weiner was considered to be a strong challenger of Mitchell if she would have sought  the Party's nomination. She is conservative on economic issues and socially moderate and has served Bellevue well and was reelected to her Council district seat without a challenger.

District 50 runs from Goodlettsville in the northern part of the county and runs to the southwest along the northern and western edge of the county taking in Bellevue. The district should be winnable for Republicans with the right candidate and adequate support. It is considered about evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. In the last election for that seat, Republican challenger Troy Brewer lost to Mitchell by 430 votes out of 17,774 votes cast.  In 2014 Republican challenger Charles Williamson came within 157 votes of beating Mitchell out of 23,260 votes cast.

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