Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's eve tips from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving

Happy New Year!

It is that time of the year again when more people will be driving drunk than any other night of the year.   Unfortunately, a lot of inexperienced amateur drunk drivers will on the road. I lot of people who seldom get drunk will get drunk tonight. A lot of people will have their judgment impaired and think they are perfectly capable of driving  but they will be drunk and the police will be out in force.

This  guide from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving is provided  to help you improve your drunk driving skills and enjoy the new year.

(1) Don't Drive drunk. That is the number one rule: don't do it. Getting arrested for drunk driving is only one reason not to drive drunk.  The most important reason is you could kill yourself or someone else.  If you are lucky and don't kill someone else or yourself, getting arrested for drunk driving could cost you your job, your election, your social standing, custody of your children or visitation rights, a lot of money, and maybe your marriage.

If you overindulge, there are alternatives to driving drunk. Take a taxi, get a hotel room, call a friend or family member and ask them to come get you. If at a friend's house and you have had too much to drink, stay the night.  Use the peer-to-peer livery services like Lyft and Uber. These services are cheep, fast, and convenient. While they are normally cheap, be aware that one of the factors in determining price is demand.  Surge pricing will kick in on New Year's eve and it may be expensive but $50 is cheaper than killing someone or getting arrested for drunk driving.  To use these services you page a ride using your phone. To do that you must first download an app. Don't wait until you're drunk to try to download the app. Here is a link to the Uber app.

(2) Use Sober Ride. Sober ride is a service of the Sheriff's office.  They will drive you home and there is no reporting or penalty for using the service. This is the 33rd year the Sheriff's office has been offering this service.  Those wanting a sober ride in downtown Nashville can head to the pick-up location at 2nd Avenue North and Commerce Street. Those at the Bicentennial Mall event can go to 4th Avenue North and Harrison Street. Pick-up hours will be from 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve through 2 a.m. New Year’s Day. Passengers may request to be taken home or to a hotel in Davidson County only. Drivers will not drop off passengers at another bar or party.

(3) Pick the designated driver before you start drinking.  If you are not going to rely on a commercial service such as a cab or Uber, and you know you are going to be drinking and you are going with other people, then have a designated driver. I prefer being the designated drinker, but someone needs to be the designated driver.
Despite the above advice I know there will be times when a person will have had too much to drink and not think they are too drunk to drive but will have had a sufficient amount of adult beverage that they could register drunk even though they don’t think they are drunk. I myself have probably driven many times when I would have registered drunk had I been stopped. I am not by any means advocating driving drunk, but if you are possibly driving impaired I am providing these below tips to help you increase your chances of getting home safely without getting arrested.

(4) Know that you don’t have to be “drunk” to register DUI. You do not have to be sloppy, falling down drunk to register as DUI. If you think you should not drive then by all means don’t. See the above tips. Often you will not know if you are drunk or not, so unless you know exactly how much you have had to drink and whether or not that would constitute drunk driving, then assume you are technically drunk. You do not have to appear intoxicated or have any of the symptoms that we think of as “drunk” to have a Blood Alcohol Content that legally makes you guilty of Driving Under the Influence. If you drink and you drive you have probably driven “drunk.”

(5) Track your consumption and don’t have “one for the road.” That is what often happens. If  for New Years you are having dinner with friends and you have a pre-dinner cocktail and wine with dinner and an after dinner liquore with coffee, and a champagne toast at midnight, you might register drunk. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to a level that falls below the BAC limit.

On occasion, but not as often as I would like, I like to go to Lower Broadway to listen to live music and party. If I have 8, 12-ounce beers in a four-hour period I should have a BAC of about .068, however if I have 9 beers in four hours that means I have a BAC of .085 and am legally drunk. “One for the road” could put me over the limit. Actually, I seldom have eight in a four hour period, but it has happened.

A female can drink less than a male and a slender person can drink less than a heavy person. For a 115 pound female, three glasses of wine in two hours is drunk. Don’t try to keep up with the other people in your party. Know your limit. Skip a round. Drink slower. Some people assume that wine is less inebriating than tequila shots. That is not so. A 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of 100 proof distilled spirits have the same impact on an individual's BAC level.

Here is a calculator that will give you guidance on how much alcohol you can consume and an estimate of BAC. Please be aware that this is only a guide. If you are drinking on an empty stomach, your BAC may be higher than indicated in the calculator.

(6)  Point your car in the direction of home.  Plan your trip. A good car should be able to find its way home, with a little help.  Avoid places where the police might see you. When I go to the honkytonk strip on lower Broadway to party, I never park on Broadway. I live on the south side of town, so I park a block or two south of Broadway on one of the one-way streets heading south. This means I do not have to circle a block and be concerned about traffic lights and stop signs. The less exposed one is to the police the less chance one has of getting caught. It is worth parking four or five blocks away to reduce your exposure.

(7) Be aware that you are impaired. If you didn’t keep track of how much you drank then assume you are may have had enough to register drunk and use your best drunk-driving skills. "Thinking" skills, like perceiving and evaluating risks, or processing information are not easily visible to outside observers, but they are the first skills to be adversely affected by alcohol. Be aware of this.

(8) Stop the Party. You are having a good time. You are joking and singing and laughing. You hate
to end the party, but if there is any chance that you are driving with an elevated BAC, then stop the party. Say, “OK folks, we need to straighten up. I need your help in getting us home.” Don’t sing or engage in distracting conversation. Turn off the radio. Don’t talk on the cell phone. Give driving your undivided attention. Don’t let anyone in the car have an open container. You may be perfectly capable of driving, but if a drunk passenger is yelling "Happy New Year" out the window, the police may stop the car and give you a drunk driving test. The moment you get in the car the party is over.

(9) Check the checklist. Have a mental checklist. You don’t want to get stopped because you failed to use your turn signal. I was once stopped by the police on lower Broadway and forced to take a Breathalyzer. I knew I had only had two beers in a two-hour period so I was not concerned. The reason they stopped me is that I had not tuned on my headlights as I pulled out into the street. This was in a previous car years ago when headlights did not turn on automatically. The downtown area is well lit and this was just an oversight. The police are looking for excuses to stop you; don’t give them one. Seat belts? Check. Adjust the mirror? Check. Turn off the radio? Check. Turn on the headlights? Check.

(10) Concentrate; pay attention. Be aware of your driving. Don’t relax. Keep both hands on the wheel. Don’t be distracted. Don't answer the phone. If you feel you must answer the phone, safely pull off the road. Don't even engage in conversation.  Make sure you do not weave. Are you staying within the lines? Drive just below the speed limit. Don’t tailgate. Pay attention to the car in front of you. If they put on their brakes, notice it. If you are approaching an intersection with a traffic light, pay close attention. Plan that traffic light stop. Don’t run a yellow light.

(11) Use your co-pilot. Ask the person in the passengers seat to help you drive. Ask them to tell you if you weave or tailgate or go too fast. Make them pay attention to your driving.

(12) If you get stopped. Unless you are certain that you have had less than the number of drinks it would take to raise your BAC level to the .08 level, then common wisdom holds that it is a good idea to refuse the breathalyzer test. It generally is more difficult to convict a driver of drunk driving if no chemical tests are taken.

Rep. Bill Beck
 (13) Use your influence to get the charge thrown out. Be a State Representative or other person (link) with important friends who can get a judge to throw out the charge based on lack of probable cause for making the stop. Despite the police seeing you drive with wheels over the lane line and observing the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, and inability to walk straight and a despite the arresting officer saying you were "absolutely hammered," the judge may rule the arresting officer did not have probable cause for making the stop.

This is an additional tip suggested by a student of the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving.

(14) If you are seeing double, close one eye. 

I have never been arrested for drunk driving but I admit I have been guilty of it. I guess I have been lucky. As a young adult I was more often guilty of it than I have been as an older adult. Nevertheless, from time to time, I still have probably technically met the blood alcohol level for being drunk.

Stay safe. Don't drive drunk. Drive careful. Happy New Year.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

While you are full of good will and thinking about year-end giving, please consider ...

Dear Friends, 
This time of the year you may be feeling particularly charitable and full of good will. With the end of the year fast approaching, now is a good time to reflect on your charitable giving. If you would like to give but don't have a favorite charity or cause, I would like to suggest the following. These are organization I support. 
The Beacon Center of Tennessee is one of the organizations that I am most excited to support.  It "empowers Tennesseans to reclaim control of their lives, so that they can freely pursue their version of the American Dream."  Beacon is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee. The organization had a major hand in ending the Hall income tax and in phasing out the Tennessee inheritance tax. It documents and exposes government waste. It promotes school choice, advocates for healthcare freedom, and stops job killing regulations. With Nashville on a path to become the San Francisco of the South, the Beacon Center is challenging the city in court when it violates the constitution. Donate
Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Alzheimer's is personal for me.  In November 2004 my sweet wife Louella was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  As it turns out she did not have that disease at all but had encephalitis. She was only correctly diagnosed a couple years ago but by that time her treatable illness had already caused irreversible brain damage. More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's.and more have some other form of dementia.  Dementia and Alzheimer's are not just part of the normal aging process. The number of Americans living with Alzheimer's disease is growing — and growing fast. An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's disease in 2016. Donate.
Nashville Rescue Mission does more to help the homeless than Metro government and all other organizations combined.  Nashville Rescue Mission serves close to 2,000 meals a day to hungry, homeless, and hurting people in the community. This includes three hot meals a day, 365 days a year at two locations. Each night, hundreds of men, women and children find a warm bed and safety from the streets at Nashville Rescue Mission. They house an average of 800 men, women, and children each night which includes anywhere from 25 to 85 children. In addition, they provide hot showers, clothes, day rooms, case management, and education, counseling and training. May God bless the Nashville Rescue Mission who are serving the people that are often unwanted and unloved. Donate.

Victims of Communism Foundation is not letting the world forget the horror that was, and to a certain extent still is, Communism. If it was up to Hollywood, the education establishment and the popular press the horror of Communism would be whitewashed and swept under the rug.  At any given time there are a dozen movies about Hitler or the Holocaust or World War II on Netflix but the horrible and fascinating story of the 70 year reign of terror and near world-wide domination of Communism is largely ignored. From the famines, purges, and gulags of Soviet Russia to Mao's Great Leap Forward and the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge—from the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre to the Castro regime's 2012 murder of Oswaldo Payรก—communists have killed more than 100 million people. Countless more suffered and suffer still. The Victims of Communism Foundation is not letting those victims be forgotten. Donate.

Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation is  non-profit that protects important natural and scenic lands across Tennessee. TPGF works with private landowners and local, state and federal agencies to conserve the best of Tennessee’s natural world by creating parks, protecting buffers and corridors, and through conservation easements and outright acquisition of privately-held land. Beautiful vistas, waterfalls, and critical habitat would often be lost to public access if not for the work of TPGF. Cummins Falls, Black Mountain, Devilstep Hollow and Virgin Falls are just a few of the natural treasures they have saved. I think we are so blessed to live in the majestic garden spot of Tennessee.  I am proud of the work this organization is doing to preserve our State's natural treasures. Donate.

Institute for Justice is the National Law Firm for Liberty. IJ litigates to limit the size and scope of government power and to ensure that all Americans have the right to control their own destinies as free and responsible members of society. IJ often takes cases in which the government is keeping people from earning a living due to regulations that protect current providers of a service from competition.  IJ has had a role in two Nashville cases. One was the case of  Mary Ford. Metro wanted to take her property which housed her music business enterprise and sell it to a large company. IJ prevailed. The other case involved Metro Livery. This company was providing an economical limousine service for a modest price. Metro said the only type of livery service that could exist in Nashville was taxis or luxury limousines. Metro passed ridiculous regulations regulating price, number of clients that could be serviced, and rules requiring central dispatching in an attempt to drive this company out of business. IJ litigated the case a long time and while eventually losing in the courts, Metro Nashville reversed course when overwhelmed by the advent of app dispatched ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. The legal delay allowed Metro Livery to survive until Metro reversed course. IJ is doing heroic work protecting the little guy from the heavy hand of government, in protecting consumer choice, private property, and the first amendment. Donate.

The National Review Institute was founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1991, 36 years after he founded National Review magazine. The Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), charitable organization, established to complement its sister organization, National Review, by engaging in policy development, public education, and to advance the conservative principles Mr. Buckley championed. National Review has been the premier source of conservative ideas for over 60 years.  While NR is not as widely know as some popular talk show host and may not be able to turn out a rowdy crowd, NR is immensely influential. Without NR it is doubtful America would have even had a conservative movement and our history would have been vastly different. NR made conservatism respectful and grounded it in principles.  Support NRI.

In addition to these organizations I occasionally help people in need directly. I also give small amounts from time to time to other organizations and causes I deem worthy of support.  I also contribute to candidates running for local, state and federal office.  In my view, preserving our nations character, solvency, and constitutional form of government and defeating liberalism is as worthy of support as is feeding the hungry or curing a disease.  If America fails to remain free and prosperous then misery will increase at home and in the world and there will be no money to do other good deeds. Contributing to the preservation of liberty is as noble as any other charitable giving.

I know peoples circumstances differ and people have different priorities. No one should give out of a sense of guilt or pressure or obligation. However, if you feel led to give, do it. Don't stifle the impulse. I know it makes me feel good to know I am helping others or being a part of something bigger than myself.  It really is a blessing to give.  Please give wisely and give where you feel led to give, but please keep an open heart. It is easy to become cynical and uncaring. Even if you can not give much, a lot of people giving a little can have a big impact.

May God richly bless you.
Happy New Year
Rod Williams

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Council Begins Process To Get New Autumn Hills Management

Last Metro council meeting there was a late bill introduced which required suspension of the rules in order to be introduced late. To introduce a late bill requires that there be an emergency and requires a unanimous vote to suspend.  The issue concerned the management of Autumn Hills nursing home.  Among other issues, Autumn Hill did not have liability insurance.

Autumn Hiss is the facility that was formerly the Bordeaux nursing home.  For the last three years, Metro has leased the facility to a private company to run.  Eventually the company that is leasing the facility would buy and develop the land around it.

As long as Metro is owner of the facility, I assume we have some obligation to the residents. Metro may have no option but to intervene; I do not know. It is my hope that the current crisis is solved and this is not used as an excuse to get Metro back into the nursing home business. Metro should completely privatize and sale off the facility so it is no longer a Metro concern.

For more on the issue follow this report from News Channel 5: Council Begins Process To Get New Autumn Hills Management.

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Sign the petition. Make the DEA tell the truth about marijuana.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Mayor Barry sends Kwanzaa holiday wishes. Kwanzaa is a made up holiday created by a drug addled radical thug that promotes values detrimental to the Black Community.

Mayor Megan Barry extends Happy Kwanzaa wishes and has issued a proclamation making this Kwanzaa week in Nashville. Here is her announcement: 

I am not surprised. I would expect nothing less from our progressive mayor. Progressives benefit by keeping minorities poor and balkanized into isolated enclaves which are depending on government.  A unified assimilated populous works to their disadvantage. Also pandering to these isolated communities is part of the way progressives stay in office. People like Megan Barry are comfortable promoting Kwanzaa. It serves their interest and fits their world view.

While I do not expect better from Megan Barry, what gets me is how widespread the celebration of Kwanzaa is and how people who should know better will send Kwanzaa greetings and recognize Kwanzaa as a legitimate holiday. Kwanzaa is not African, but pseudo African and its principles are not admirable and if followed, would be detrimental to the Black Community.
Kwanzaa is a made up holiday created by Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga, a radical American Black Nationalists. Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga was born 1941 with the name Ronald McKinley Everett but adopted the African sounding name in the 1960's. He was active in the radical Black Power movement of the 1960's and was for a while was a member of the Black Panthers. When the Black Power movement splintered into violent conflict between different factions he was engaged in that struggle. He started a group called "United Slaves" which positioned themselves as more radical than the Black Panthers.  Member of US and Black Panthers killed each other during the violent struggles for control of the revolution. We know that in the sixties, the FBI was engaged in promoting divisions within the Black Power movement. Some allege that Karenga was funded by the FBI to further that division but the truth is unknown.
In 1971, Karenga was sentenced to one to ten years in prison on counts of felonious assault and false imprisonment. He thought two female followers of his were conspiring to betray him and he took revenge. This is how the Los Angeles Times described the case.
Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis' mouth and placed against Miss Davis' face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said. They also were hit on the heads with toasters.
Even if Karnega was not a made-up holiday created by a drug addled radical thug, it would not be something worth celebrating.  The principles of Kawanzaa are not admirable. The first principle is Umoja (Unity). That is not unity among all people however but  unity in the family, community, and race. The second principle is Kujichagulia (Self-Determination). It calls for the right to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. Keep in mind this is for Black people to do. It is not a call for cooperation with others or to be accepting or cooperative with others; this is a call for Black power.

It doesn't get better. The fourth principle of Kwanzaa is Ujamaa which is "cooperative economics,"  perhaps the last thing the Black community needs. Ujamaa was the 20-year experiment with African- style socialism in Tanzania. It failed miserably. "Cooperative Economics" never works. Voluntary collectives always fall apart. To urge collective or cooperative economics for the Black community is to urge them to remain poor. The Black community needs a good dose of capitalism; not socialism.

I know Christmas is made up also. All holidays are made-up or declared by a proclamation as a day to honor an event or a person. Christmas evolved over time and customs and traditions and elements were added one on the other. The message of Christmas is a positive message and embraces all mankind. Any thing that evolves over time, to my way of thinking, has more legitimacy than something someone just set down one day and made up.

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas from A Disgruntled Republican

Merry Christmas 
A Disgruntled Republican

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Friday, December 23, 2016

A response to Will Pinkston's attack on the Chamber by Mark Rogers

Mark Rogers
Mr. Disgruntled,

I read your post on Pinkston. Here is my Facebook comment on Will and his opinion of the Chamber.

 Is the Chamber of Commerce really an enemy of Public Education in Nashville? If one believes School Board member, Will Pinkston, then the only conclusion is that the Chamber has a not-so-secret plan to keep Nashville's public school children uneducated.

Pinkston, it will be remembered, is the School Board member who's hostile behavior toward those who dare disagree with him is legendary. His bid for re-election resulted in a wafer-thin victory, suggesting that he does not speak for as many citizens of Nashville who care about public education as he thinks. His attack on the Nashville Chamber, in the form of a response to the Nashville  Education Report {a valuable publication that is worth regular reading} embodies the ugliness of Pinkston's 'my way or the highway' attitude. Worse, it may be reflective of the views of other School Board members and leading members of Metro government, something that could lead to worsening in any consensus for improving Metro Schools.

In his own words: "I am more convinced than ever that the Chamber is an enemy of public education — and frankly, it has been for a long time."

Right. Because greedy capitalists only need uneducated workers with low incomes. Companies like Bridgestone and HCA and Nissan look forward to the glut of $7 per hour workers they are creating by undermining public education. "The fact is the Chamber, through its lack of understanding of public education and lack of leadership in this community, helped to enable poor-performing superintendents for the better part of two decades — while at the same time trying, mostly ineffectively, to destabilize the school board in local elections."

The Chamber lacks an understanding of public education? In my experience, business people, particularly successful ones, understand a great deal about education and about the people in their communities. That is to say, their employees and their customers. "Thankfully, the Mayor, the Metro Council, and the school board are finally on the same page. We’re all working together to lead public education forward, no thanks to the Chamber." I am really excited to see if a reporter will ask Her Honor, the Mayor, if she agrees with her political ally, Mr. Pinkston, about that. "MNPS is going to succeed despite you, not because of you."

I want Metro Public Schools to succeed. But my guess is that Pinkston's ideas, more money and more bureaucracy and less accountability, won't work. More to the point, if the major problems facing Education in Nashville are related to the home, the School Board isn't going to be able to deal with the fundamental problems.

Perhaps, instead of fighting political and ideological wars with people who want to help, Pinkston and his allies ought to reach out and target poverty and homelessness and poor parenting. And they might find that the Chamber can be helpful there too.

Mark Rogers is a prominent Nashvillian active in Republican Party politics and public affairs.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Will Pinkston calls the Chamber of Commerce, "an enemy of public eucation."

The following is an unedited Facebook post from  District 7 School Board member Will Pinkston.  I am not posting this to magnify the voice of Will Pinkston or because I agree with him; I most certainly do not.  I think  his words speak for themselves and illustrate how a reactionary opponent of education reform attacks the bearer of bad news and how he views involvement as meddling and interfering.  In my view, it is because we have people like Will Pinkston on the school board that our schools are not considerably better than they otherwise are. 

by Will Pinkson - After digesting the news accounts of yesterday’s 2016 Education Report Card staged by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, I am more convinced than ever that the Chamber is an enemy of public education — and frankly, it has been for a long time. Consider this passage in Nashville Public Radio’s report, taken directly from the Chamber Report Card:
Over the past two decades, Metro Schools has launched various district reading and literacy initiatives, with no discernible impact on overall reading results.
This is true. However, this line could easily be rewritten to read:
Over the past two decades, the Chamber has meddled constantly in the affairs of Metro Nashville Public Schools, with no discernible impact on overall results. 
The reality is: The last two directors of MNPS — Jesse Register (2009-15) and Pedro Garcia (2001-08) — were the Chamber’s hand-picked superintendents who presided over stagnant growth in reading proficiency and, in Register’s case, a proliferation of struggling schools and lack of innovation to assist English learners, who represent the fastest-growing segment of our student population. I know this because I serve Nashville School Board District 7, where 43% of our students are struggling to learn English. Our lack of progress in helping these kids was a big reason why I led the charge in 2014 to exit Register from the school system and install new management that can think and act strategically. What was the Chamber’s response? Not surprisingly, the Chamber did not step forward and agree that a leadership change was needed at MNPS. To the contrary, the Chamber and its rubber-stamp Report Card Committee instead attacked me and other board members who actually were confronting problems, versus turning a blind eye to the situation. The fact is the Chamber, through its lack of understanding of public education and lack of leadership in this community, helped to enable poor-performing superintendents for the better part of two decades — while at the same time trying, mostly ineffectively, to destabilize the school board in local elections.

Adding insult to injury, the Chamber has advocated to strip the school board of local control while vigorously endorsing vouchers and the unabated growth of charter schools, which drain finite resources at a time when MNPS is now universally considered to be an under-funded school system. If the Chamber and the Report Card Committee aren’t happy with the lack of progress, perhaps they should take a look in the mirror and do some soul-searching. I daresay they won’t see any profiles in courage.

All that said: I’m optimistic that MNPS is finally headed in the right direction. This year, the school board exerted overdue independence and sidelined the Chamber during the search for our new MNPS director. In typical passive-aggressive fashion, Chamber leaders pouted throughout the months-long search process, then tried to take credit for the favorable outcome, and then attempted (albeit unsuccessfully) to oust from elected office one-third of the school board — members who played key roles in ushering in the new leadership. Our new director of schools, Dr. Shawn Joseph, now is doing yeoman’s labor getting his arms around years of problems that have been either created or exacerbated by the Chamber.

Thankfully, the Mayor, the Metro Council, and the school board are finally on the same page. We’re all working together to lead public education forward, no thanks to the Chamber. So now let me send the same message to Ralph Schulz and the Chamber that I sent to former Tennessean columnist Frank Daniels (whose sycophantic and obsequious support of the Chamber helped perpetuate some of this mess): MNPS is going to succeed despite you, not because of you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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The Education Report Card from the Chamber of Commerce shows Metro Schools losing ground.

by Rod Williams, Dec 22, 22016 -Since 1992, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has organized a diverse group of Nashvillians to evaluate the progress Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS).  In assessing the 2015-2016 academic year, the 22-member Education Report Card Committee spent six months interviewing Metro Schools’ staff and administration, Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) officials, state and local elected leaders, nonprofit organizations, and experts from higher education and parents, and reviewing data. The committee visited four schools as an opportunity to talk to students and teachers, as well as observe instructional practices.

While the Chamber is generous in concluding that Metro Schools did not improve for the second year in a row, a look at the data the Chamber compiled actually shows Metro schools are losing ground.  The graduation rate fell from 81.6 percent in 2015 to 81 percent in 2016. The percentage of those scoring at least a 21 on the ACT dropped from 30 percent in 2015 to 28 percent in 2016.

For anyone who wants a good understanding of the challenges facing Metro public schools as well as an understanding of the Metro public school system status and structure, I highly recommend you read the report. Here are a few facts gleamed from the report:

  • The current Metro Schools budget reflects a $33.3 million increase over the prior year (4.1%).
  • The FY2016-2017 budget is $843,299,700.
  • Metro Schools' operating budget is 41 percent of Metro Government’s total budget.
  • 75% of students in Metro public schools are economically disadvantaged.
  • 16% of students in Metro public schools are Limited English Proficient
  • Only 31% of the students in Metro schools are White non-Hispanic. Blacks are 44%, Hispanic 21%
  • Schools vary greatly in academic quality as evidenced by Students Scoring Above ACT Benchmarks: Hume-Fogg 97%, Whites Creek 4%.
To read the report follow this link:  Education Report Card 2016.

This is a very disheartening report.  While Nashville is the "it" city in many regards and has much to offer, people with children locating to Nashville should consider the cost of putting their children in private schools or consider not actually living in Nashville, but living in one of the surrounding counties.  Our poor schools are a reason not to move to Nashville. Apparently most Nashvillians are not displeased with our poor quality of schools.  In the last school board election four reformers were defeated by four supporters of the status quo. 

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

TennesseeCAN releases 2016 Tennessee Education Policy Report Card

Report shows positive movement over last year, adds new policy areas to report, and identifies key areas needing further improvement

Press release, NASHVILLE, TN, 12-20-2016 – This morning, TennesseeCAN: The Tennessee Campaign for Achievement Now released the 2016 Tennessee Policy Report Card. This is the fourth annual publication of this kind looking at model education policy practices and current state law. This report focuses on 25 education policy issues in Tennessee around educator quality, school choice, data and transparency and systems flexibility.

With the release of this year’s report card, TennesseeCAN Deputy Director Daniel Zavala said, "Our state continues to maintain strong policies related to educator quality and make strides toward model practice in school choice and school systems flexibility. We are looking forward to continued progress in these areas and the positive impact they will have on student outcomes for all of Tennessee."

“Tennessee's commitment to "all means all" is commendable," added TennesseeCAN Director of Policy and Strategy Charlie Bufalino.  "In order to remain the fastest improving state in education, educators, policymakers and community leaders must remain committed to ensuring that every Tennessee student has access to an effective teacher and a high-quality school--particularly those students from historically underserved backgrounds."

Below are some of the highlights and key findings from the report card:
  • Of the 25 policies examined, our state has a strong rating in nearly 1/3, with key progress in others. This positive movement is yet another item reinforcing Tennessee’s recent gains.
  • The state maintains a model standard in identifying quality instruction and practice with educators through robust evaluation rubrics and performance-based policies.
  • Tennessee’s commitment to providing students quality school options through expanded school choice is reflected, along with some highlighted areas where greater choice programs are needed.
  • This year also saw strong efforts to ensure our educators, state entities and the greater public have increased access to quality data.
  • Tennessee continues to need improvement around student assignment practices and school improvement strategies.
  • Several changes were made to existing policy rubrics that were in the previous year’s report. 
To view the 2016 Tennessee Policy Report Card in its entirety, click here.

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New Short-term rental policing, rules for sidewalk closure and enforcement of property standards on the way

Consultants will follow-up with a report on the Metro Public Works permitting process for street and sidewalk closures 

Metro press release, 12-20-2016 - Consultants engaged to review the operations of the Metro Codes Department’s Property Standards Division have released their findings in a new report presented to the Metro Council and public at-large.

One of the first items to be implemented from the report will be for Metro to utilize the HOST Compliance software that will help track and identify active STRPs within Nashville. This will assist Metro in collecting any unpaid taxes on the properties and give the Codes Department a list of properties suspected of improperly operating an STRP without a permit. Additionally, Mayor Barry will be seeking an increase in the budget for the Codes Department to hire the additional staff members required to meet the needs of our growing city.

“Rules and regulations are only effective if you have consistent enforcement,” said Mayor Barry. “I appreciate all of the community leaders who participated in creating this report, which will guide our efforts to ensure a better quality of life for residents of every neighborhood.”

The report from Fiscal Choice Consulting, commissioned by Mayor Megan Barry in response to concerns about the enforcement of Short Term Rental Property (STRP) regulations, lists a variety of recommendations on how the property standards division can improve service to the community. The division’s principal responsibility within the Metro Department of Codes & Building Safety to monitor and enforce issues such as minimum property maintenance standards for existing buildings and structures, high grass and weeds, junk, trash and debris, abandoned vehicles on the public right-of-way, and short-term rental properties.

“In the Metro Codes Department, we always strive to provide the best service possible to the citizens of Davidson County,” said Terry Cobb, director of the Codes Department. “It is great to have a fresh set of eyes come in and offer ways to improve operations and service. Our staff is looking forward to ensuring that these recommendations are implemented as quickly as possible to improve enforcement throughout the city.”

Recommendations on how to improve operations include:
  • Filling any vacant positions within the property standards division and hiring an additional seven staff members to allow for more proactive and responsive enforcement
  • Having at least one customer service representative and one inspector on staff that is fluent in Spanish in order to address language barriers
  • Using HOST Compliance software to identify and locate active STRPs in Nashville that may be operating without a permit or not paying required taxes
  • Improving forms and data collection methods to better interact with the public and address their concerns
  • Coordinating with the Metro Nashville Police Department to record and track habitual violations of the noise ordinance at STRPs
  • Creating better processes to deal with high grass/weeds and abandoned vehicles
  • Enacting an administrative hearing officer in lieu of environmental court in order to expedite enforcement of codes violations (the Vice Mayor and Metro Council are already empowered to do this under 2.20.130 of the Metro Code of Ordinances)
As Metro begins implementation of the recommendations in this report on the property standards division, Mayor Barry has requested that the same consultants begin a review of the permitting process in Metro Public Works. The department is responsible for issuing permits for sidewalk and street closures, the volume of which has increased dramatically in response to a large increase in building permits and the installation of fiber throughout the city.

“It is incredibly frustrating to drive down streets, especially downtown, and continuously see sidewalks and street lanes blocked off for no discernible reason,” said Mayor Barry. “Some closures are inevitable with the level of growth we are undergoing, but we need to be far more intentional and purposeful in seeking alternatives to closing off streets and sidewalks.”

The goal of the permitting process review is to determine whether Nashville is following best practices established in other cities for determining how and when to issue road or sidewalk closures, in addition to reviewing the staffing and organizational structure within the department. The report is anticipated to be released by the end of the first quarter in 2017.

To view the full report follow this link: Property Standards Division Report.

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What happened at the 12-20-16 Council meeting: Sheriff's office approved for east Nashville, Council ask School Board to "consider" seat belts for buses, Father Breen honored (sort of) and Nashville may be getting back into the nursing home business.

This is a relatively short meeting at under an hour.  For access to the agenda, the staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.

The "invocation" is a secular poem performed by the author, Cassie Martin, Nashville's 2016 Poet laureate.  The one appointment to a commission is approved.  The three resolutions on public hearing, all to grant an exemption to the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit, are approved.

There are 16 resolutions.
These are the resolutions of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-469  which approves 750 South 5th Street as the location of the new administrative offices facility for the Sheriff, passes on a voice vote with minimal discussion. You may recall that initially the sheriff wanted a new headquarters and jail located in Antioch but that ran into considerable opposition from the community and the council. This bill is for the sheriff's administrative offices and is welcomed in east Nashville, near the Envision Casey development.  The jail, called the criminal justice center, is being rebuilt at its current location.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-482  request the School Board to require all new school buses purchased be equipped with seat belts. This was deferred last meeting. This resolution is a response to the tragedy in Chattanooga recently where six school children lost their lives. The contention that school buses need seat belts is in dispute. The Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration says school buses are designed to be safe with or without seat belts. Requiring seat belts in all new bus purchases could add as much as $12,000 to the cost of each new bus. One reason for that cost is that with seat belts each bus could hold fewer students, only two per bench seat, so more buses would have to be purchased. The bill is amended to ask the school board to "consider" seat belts rather than to "require" seat belts.  To see the discussion see timestamp 19:12-22:42.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-501 which honors Father Breen of St. Edwards, passes on the consent agenda. Father Breen served for a very long time as pastor of St. Edwards. He was theologically and politically liberal, he was influential, he served on various boards of organizations and was a good compassionate man. I am quite surprised that this resolution was not accompanied by a presentation, speech and standing ovation. I expected more than just a resolution passed on the consent agenda. It almost seems like a slight. If anyone know why this resolution was passed without the appropriate fanfare, please share. All Bills on First Reading pass with a single vote as is the norm. One late filed bill is on the agenda that bears watching. Rules have to be suspended in order for it to be considered. It seeks to void a contract that metro has with the company that is running a metro-owned nursing home. In 2014 metro got out of the nursing home business and essentially privatized the Bourdeau nursing home, now know as Autumn Hills. The reason for this ordinance is that the operator does not have insurance among other concern.  I do not know if this action is justified or not and if I was in the Council, I would not vote to block it by opposing suspending the rules and I would vote for it on first reading. However, I would be very reluctant to support any bill that gets metro back in the nursing home business. In may view, Metro should completely get out of the  nosing home business so stepping back in and  taking over the operation is not even an option.  To see the discussion see timestamp 24:50 - 29:52.
 Bills on Second Reading These are the only ones of interest.

BILL NO. BL2016-494  funds the Metro Property Tax Relief Program assistance to low-income elderly residents of the county.  There is a State Property Tax Relief  Program and this bill increases the amount of that relief by matching what the State provides. Follow the link for more information. If you or someone you know are elderly and low income, look into this.  Due to escalating property values, many elderly low-income residents would be forced out of their home if not for this tax relief program. It passes on a voice vote.

BILL NO. BL2016-496 which would prohibit vehicles from parking in electric charging station spaces is deferred a meeting.  I have never done it but I have been tempted to take one of those spaces myself.  I attend a monthly luncheon downtown and park in the parking garage below the library.  When the garage is full, I have driven though the garage repeatedly looking for a space to park and seen the empty charging stations and been tempted.  There are three of them, I believe.  I have never seen them in use.  If I were in the Council, I would ask for a report of how often they are used and how much revenue the city is losing by providing those spaces. Maybe we only need one or none at all. 
 Bills on Third Reading. There are 16 bills on Third reading. Most are zoning bills which do not interest me.  This is the only one of interest.
SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2016-414,  is a zoning bill in Councilman Scott Davis district that is disapproved by the Planning Commission and has been to Public Hearing twice.  It is deferred indefinitely. For background on this see what I wrote here
To see The Tennessean's report on the meeting follow this link: East Nashville approved for new sheriff's office headquarters.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Don't stop believing! Don't accept reality! Don't grow up! Every time a liberal says, "I guess Trump won," a liberal fairy dies.

My dear liberal friends,

You have one more change to stop Trump. A joint session of Congress is scheduled to meet Jan. sixth
to certify the results of the Electoral College vote. Please spend million and million to stop Congress from doing so. You could have petition drives and get celebrities to make videos urging Congress to do the right thing, you could post messages to social media, you could offer bribes and issue death threats, and you could protest.

I know the vote recount resulted in more votes for Trump than had previously been recorded and the call for electors to be faithless and not vote for their pledged candidate resulted in twice as many unfaithful electors not voting for Hillary as unfaithful electors who did not vote for Trump, but maybe you can persuade Congress not to certify the Electoral college results. Maybe? Just maybe? It is your last chance to stop a Trump presidency. 

Just because you lost the election, the recount, and the electoral college vote, is no reason to give up and recognize and accept the result of the election. Why stop just because you are losing? Stay stuck on denial! Don't move on! Don't stop believing! Don't accept reality!  Don't grow up! Every time a liberal says, "I guess Trump won," a liberal fairy dies.

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(update) What's on the Council agenda for 12/20/16: Seat belts for school buses, a contentious rezoning in Councilman Scott Davis's district and not much else.

This blog post was updated after reading the council staff analysis which was not posted until late Tuesday December 20th. Nothing significant changed from a previous version.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, December 20th,  at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel.

Council meetings are really, really boring.  I am sure this close to Christmas people who have a real life have something better to do.  So, if you will wait, I will watch it for you and post the video and point out the good parts so you can go to that point in the video and watch just those segments. Also, I will  tell you what I think about what happened.   I watch the Council meetings so you don't have to.

If you are going to watch a council meeting, you really need the agenda and  the Council staff analysis, otherwise you will be clueless about what is going on.  Follow the highlighted links above to view the agenda and staff analysis.Below is my commentary and analysis.

There is only one appointment to a Board or Commission on the agenda and it is insignificant and will be approved. There are three resolutions on public hearing, all to grant an exemption to the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit.

There are 16 resolutions on the consent agenda. Resolutions on "consent" are passed by a single vote of the council instead of being voted on individually. If a resolution has any negative votes in committee it is taken off of consent.  Also any council member may ask to have an item taken off of consent or to have his abstention or dissenting vote recorded.  These are the resolutions of interest: 

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-469  approves 750 South 5th Street as the location of the new administrative offices facility for the Sheriff. I do not expect this to be controversial. 

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-482  request the School Board to require all new school buses purchased be equipped with seat belts. This was deferred last meeting. This is a response to the tragedy in Chattanooga recently where six school children lost their lives. The contention that school buses need seat belts is in dispute. The Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration says school buses are designed to be safe with or without seat belts. Requiring seat belts in all new bus purchases could add as much as $12,000 to the cost of each new bus. One reason for that cost is that with seat belts each bus could hold fewer students, only two per bench seat, so more buses would have to be purchased.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-500  settles a personal injury claim against the city in the amount of $75,000.00, to  be paid out of the Self-Insured Liability Fund. The victims were hit from behind by a Davidson County Sheriff’s Office employee, who was transporting prisoners in a bus owned by the Metropolitan Government.  These type resolutions often generate some discussion but the only issue should be are we better off litigating or settling.  I have always trusted the judgement of Metro legal.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-501 honors Father Breen of St. Edwards.  A fitting tribute. There will most likely be scroll and ceremonial presentation at the start of the meeting.    
Bills on First Reading. There are 16 bills on First Reading but I usually don't review bills on First Reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda. They are not evaluated by committee until they are on Second Reading. All bills on First Reading are lumped together and usually pass by a single vote. Only rarely is a bill on First Reading considered separately.

Bills on Second Reading.
These are 19  bills on Second reading. One addresses  placement of handicapped parking spaces on public streets outside residential properties and one requires approval by the Metropolitan Council for obstructions or excavations which close or occupy any portion of the public right of way for a period in excess of one  year and one prohibits non-electric vehicles from parking in spaces designated as electric charging station. I don't expect any of them to generate controversy. Here is one bill of interest. 
BILL NO. BL2016-494 reestablishes the Metro Property Tax Relief Program assistance to low-income elderly residents of the county.  There is a State Property Tax Relief  Program and this bill increases the amount of that relief by matching what the State provides. Follow the link for more information. If you or someone you know are elderly and low income, look into this.  Due to escalating property values, many elderly low-income residents would be forced out of their home if not for this tax relief program.
Bills on Third Reading. There are 16 bills on Third reading. Most are zoning bills which do not interest me.  This is the only one of interest.

SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2016-414,  is a zoning bill in Councilman Scott Davis district. Last council meeting it was on public hearing and third reading and then deferred to this meeting. The only reason I am calling attention to this bill is because it is is a bill that is disapproved by the planning commission. I don't know anything about the merits of the bill and have no opinion, except I tend to take seriously the recommendations of the planning commission and the burden of proof would be on the sponsor to convince me to vote for it, if I had a vote.  It takes 28 votes in favor to pass a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission.This bill was on the agenda of the October 6th Council meeting on Public Hearing in a different form. Here is what I reported at that time:
It would change  from R6 to RM40-A zoning for various properties along Elvira Avenue, Maynor Avenue, and Keeling Avenue. This would allow 220 units of apartments to be build in a district that does not currently permit that. Quite a few people speak in opposition. Davis closes the pubic hearing and proposes substituting the bill by changing the the zoning from RM40-A to SP zoning which would still allow the development but impose additional restriction, and proposes the bill be referred back to the Planning Commission.  Several council members express concern and say that the bill should come back to the Council for a new public hearing after the substitute is considered by the Planning Commission.  After the discussion by council members, Davis says he will permit a second hearing after the PC considers the substitute. The substitute is passed by a roll call vote of 24 in favor and 18 against.  The bill as substituted is then approved 28 to 10, rereferred to the Planning Commission and the public hearing is reopened. For those who are interested in understanding what is permitted under different zoning classifications, this link is a good resource.  To view the discussion of this bill see timestamp 1:27:25-2:19:52 (at this link).  I am pleased with this outcome. Bills which are substantially changed, I think, should come back to the Council for a second pubic hearing.  Also, I think the Council should take the recommendations of the Planning Commission very seriously.
Last Council meeting when the bill was a again on Third Reading and again on public hearing, this is what I reported:
 There are a lot people in the attendance supportive and more people opposed to the rezoning. The proposed units would be units for sale that would be affordably priced.  It is much easier to turn people out in opposition than people in favor of something, so effort must have gone into turning out the proponents, but I don't know who was behind it.  Maybe it was not an organized effort but it is hard to believe that many people would turn out in favor without an organized effort. The proponents are for the bill because they support affordable housing and would like to be able to buy a home in east Nashville.  These are real people and not the normal affordable housing advocates. Opponents make the normal arguments about density, traffic, stress on infrastructure, and character of the neighborhood.

The Planning Committee of the council had recommended a deferral of the bill one meeting, so deferral is automatically deferred "by rule."  The sponsor can bring the bill back and will not have to have another public hearing. To see the discussion on this bill see timestamp 14:00 - 1:19:30 (at this link).

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The Bastiat Society meets Monday, Jan.9th. "Unintended consequences of eduction policy" is topic.

The Bastiat Society

Unintended Consequences of Education Policy 

Adam Peshek
Join us for our first meeting of the Nashville Bastiat Society in 2017!
We will examine the unintended consequences of our education policy over the past several decades and discuss needed reforms to get our country back on track in this area.

Joining us this month will be guest speaker Adam Peshek from the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE). Adam Peshek is the Director of Education Choice for FEE. Previously, Adam was legislative director for the Foundation for Florida’s Future and a research associate at the Reason Foundation. He received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and is currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins.

Register Now!
Where: Scarlett Leadership Institute 840 Crescent Centre Drive #120 Franklin, TN 37067

When: Monday January 9, 2017 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM CST

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(update) Tennessee Electors Unanimously Vote For Trump For President amid protest

WTVF ,NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee's 11 presidential electors cast their ballots for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and vice presidential. .... Electors said they received tens of thousands of emails prior to the vote on Monday urging them to change their votes away from Trump and Pence.  (link)

Tennessee electors formally cast votes for Donald Trump
by Jake Lowary, The Tennessean -  Despite claims of harassment and a federal investigation into
The protestors
hacking, Tennessee's members of the Electoral College unanimously voted for Donald Trump on Monday at the capitol.

The formal voting event was not without disruption, however. Two outbursts from women in the gallery caused the state's Election Coordinator Mark Goins to bang his gavel and demand order.
One woman who shouted "bull****" during a short speech from one of the electors was escorted from the gallery by state troopers. ... Beth Scott Clayton Amos, one of Tennessee's electors, delivered remarks that were interrupted by one of the outbursts. She said she's received some 70,000 emails since Nov. 8, and "99.9% of them were from non-Tennesseans." .... Some had expected to see as many as 500 protesters, but less than 100 turned out.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Trump loses two electors; Clinton loses four!

After all of the money spent to persuade electors pledged to Trump to not vote for him, after all of the harassing of electors, the petitions signed, the social media campaign, celebrity videos, offered  bribes, death threats, and protest in the nation's state capitals today, only two Trump electors broke faith and voted for someone other than Trump.  With no effort at all, twice as many electors who were pledged to Clinton broke faith and votes for someone else. I LOVE IT!

With all Republican states reporting, Trump only lost the two electors in Texas. Clinton lost four electors in Washington state — three voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and one voted for Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle. (link)
Will the anti-Trump folks finally suck it up and accept the results of the election?  The next action in the process of Trump becoming president is that a joint session of Congress is scheduled to meet Jan. sixth to certify the results of the Electoral College vote. Will the Hillary voters who are still in denial try to persuade Congress not to certify the results or finally face reality and accept defeat?

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

How the Council voted on "unfair" bill to exempt non-polluting cars from auto-emissions testing.

Last Council meeting the Council considered a bill that would have exempted from auto emissions

testing vehicles less than three years old. Vehicles less than three years old almost never fail an auto emission test. The Council rejected this sensible move because it would not be fair to people who can't afford a newer car.  They allowed to let stand however, the emission testing exemption of cars less than one year old.  To be fair, should not all vehicles, even brand new vehicles that still have that new-car smell be tested also?  To be fair, should not non-polluting all-electric vehicles be tested?

Here is what I wrote at the time:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-406  would expand from one year old to three years old, the vehicles that are exempt from being required to be tested for auto emissions. This makes sense. Vehicles not over three years old almost never fail the emissions test.There are about 60,000 of these cars. This was deferred the last three meeting.  There is concern that this proposal favors people who can afford new cars.  I think this is representative of liberal-think. The logic for why we even have auto emission testing has to take a backseat to the concept of justice that says government should unnecessarily inconvenience all people equally. There is also an argument is made that the city needs the revenue. This is disgusting. The resolutions failed on a machine roll call vote. I will post that roll call vote at a latter date when it is available. To see the discussion see timestamp 2:17:53- 3:10:35.(To see the discussion follow this link and see the time stamp portion of the video.)

Here are minutes of the meeting. You can see how they voted:
A resolution allowing exemption of motor vehicles registered in Davidson County that are three (3) or less model years old from the required vehicle inspection and maintenance program to attain or maintain compliance with national ambient air standards. The resolution was not recommended for approval by the Health, Hospitals, and Social Services Committee. Ms. Gilmore moved to adopt the resolution, which motion was seconded and failed by the following roll call vote:

“Ayes”:  Cooper, Swope, Scott Davis, Hagar, Glover, Huezo, Rhoten, Weiner, Dowell, Coleman, Henderson, Rosenberg (12);[note, this is a vote for the exemption. These people voted the right way.]

“Noes”: Hurt, Shulman, Leonardo, Hastings, Haywood, Withers, Anthony Davis, VanReece, Pridemore, Pardue, Syracuse, Freeman, Sledge, Allen, Roberts, Kindall, Mina Johnson, Murphy, Pulley, Elrod, Vercher, Karen Johnson, Bedne (23);

 “Abstaining”:  Gilmore, Mendes, O’Connell (3).
Potts was absent for this meeting. Blalock, who I think of as one of the "good councilmen," did not vote. I do not know why.  Abstaining is different than not voting.  Abstaining is pushing the button to be recorded as abstaining.  Sometimes council members may be out of the room or distracted or simply choose not to vote. 

The names  in bold red above are members of the Council who I think of as the "good councilmen."  I am pleased to see they voted the right way on this resolution. There are a couple of members who I thought might have voted the right way, who disappointed me. Most voted the way I expected.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

75% of fictitious Obamacare applications were approved in a GAO test.

People are not supposed to wait until they get sick and then enroll in Obamacare.  Most people are enrolled during an open enrollment period. People who have a life changing event however, such as losing insurance coverage or getting married may enroll when it is not an open enrollment period. These people get to enroll in what is called a "Special Enrollment Period" (SEP).

To ensure that these people really are eligible for enrollment in a health plan, potentially including a subsidy, and not abusing the system and enrolling just when they get sick, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which maintains the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, established rules requiring that the applicants provide supporting documentation to support their claim that they had had a "triggering event" making them eligible for a SEP enrollment.

Recently the General Accounting Office (GAO) conducted a test of the eligibility for enrollment in a health plan in an SEP, to determine if people are being properly screened.  The GAO created 12 fictitious Obamacare applications.  Nine  of the 12 of GAO's fictitious applications were approved. Three were denied. For five of the 12, the GAO provided no supporting documentation but the Marketplace approved them anyway.

This is alarming. In 2015, 1.6 million individuals made a plan selection through an SEP.  These very well may have been sick people who waited till they got sick to buy insurance.  To read the GAO report follow this link.

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Beacon Issues Second Warning to Nashville Metro Council

BY BRADEN H. BOUCEK, The Beacon Center, December 8, 2016  -Today, we, along with Southeastern Legal Foundation, wrote the Nashville council for a second time regarding their affordable housing mandates. If this is the first you have heard of the issue, an affordable housing mandate forces developers of residences to use a complicated formula set by the city to sell their homes at below-market prices. In other words, the city is forcing people to lose money on something they sell. All of this is just to address an alleged crisis in affordable housing that does not exist.

This is price control, pure and simple. It is unnecessary. It does more harm than good. It does nothing to address the larger problem even in the best of cases. And even if none of this was true, forcing a property owner to lose money on homes that they build makes as much sense as addressing hunger by making a grocer lose money on the produce they sell.

We have written this second letter in the hopes that Nashville will fix the law. The law is illegal and unconstitutional for the reasons we explain at length in the letter. So ultimately Nashville will be forced to fix the law after ordered by a court. Responsible lawmaking can avoid this. We are happy to help.

There’s a particular reason to revisit the law. It was only supposed to be about residential apartment units. Everyone involved believed this to be true. Yet, buried in the law is an easily overlooked loophole that demands that “all proposed residential developments” who trigger the law “shall comply.” Nashville officials have told concerned parties to ignore that “shall” because the law is not supposed to impose the same obligations on residential units. The plain language says different. If this is a mistake, Nashville should fix it.

For us, litigation is a last resort. But when cities are willfully indifferent to the rights of others and won’t change even when warned, there is no choice. Litigation, however unfortunate, is sometimes necessary. It is all too easy for lawmakers to figure people will just bend instead of spending the time and money to protect their constitutional rights (which is why public interest litigation is so important). They may be right in most cases. This is not how a constitutional republic is supposed to work.

We hope for the responsible consideration of Nashville lawmakers.
You can read the full text of the second letter here.

My Comment: I am immensely pleased with the work of the Beacon Center. They are one of the organizations I financially support.  I appreciate their successful efforts to combat Nashville government's progressive agenda and defend our constitutional rights. To learn more about The Beacon Center, to get on their mailing list,  or make a contribution, follow this link

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Nashville ranks 7th in list of Best Performing Cities in America

The Milkin Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic think tank that "works to improve lives around the world by advancing innovative economic and policy solutions that create jobs, widen access to capital, and enhance health,"  has just published their annual Best Performing Cities list and Nashville ranks number seven, up from 18 in 2015 on the Big Cities list which ranks the largest 200 cities in America.

Below is what they said of Nashville:

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN, ranks seventh in this year’s index, having shot up 11 places to enter the Top 10. Employment in the metro rose 10 percent faster than the national average from 2010 to 2015, and this explosive growth earned the region eighth place on the five-year job growth measure. The metro also earned eighth place in one- year high-tech GDP growth, but this was off a small base since high tech represents a much smaller share of the regional economy than it does in the national economy. However, despite not having the high-wage high-tech industries that have driven growth in the majority of the Top 25 best-performing cities, the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin metro has experienced significant wage growth in recent years as the local labor market tightened, ranking 27th on the one-year measure and ninth on the five-year metric. Transportation equipment manufacturing, which includes auto manufacturing, has been a major contributor to the metro economy, with 900 jobs added in 2015.
The 10,000 jobs added since 2010 have more than made up for jobs lost during the recession. Despite cooling national demand, the region’s major manufacturers have announced multimillion-dollar investments in their local facilities, including $160 million pledged by Nissan to build a supplier park adjacent to its factory in Smyrna 39 and GM’s investing of more than $900 million in its plant in Spring Hill. With recent announcements of 650 new hires to staff a third shift to start in January 2017, GM clearly expects demand for its Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia lines to remain high. 40 Strong demand for office space and housing fueled by the growth of white-collar jobs and in-migration has stimulated growth in the construction sector. Employment for specialty trade contractors and in the construction of buildings combined rose by 3,750 in 2015.
Knoxville, Tennessee ranked 80th on the list, Chattanooga 101, and Memphis 149. All of Tennessee's large cities improved their ranking from 2015. If you read the report you can see the components that went in to the rankings. To view the report, follow this link.

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Mayor Barry Names Brian Kelsey (not the Senator) to Serve as Chief Strategy Officer for Metro (update)

Position will focus on holding Metro Government accountable and improving city business processes

Brian KelseyPress Release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. (December 13, 2016) – Starting in January, Brian Kelsey will become Metro Nashville’s first Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) focused on ensuring the government is delivering the very best level of services and accountability to the citizens of Nashville. As CSO, Kelsey will work across Metro departments and agencies to develop and implement strategies to promote collaboration and align the Metro budget with the needs and priorities of Nashville’s residents.

“Brian Kelsey will be a great addition to our team in Metro, emphasizing bold, innovative strategies to operate a more transparent and effective government for the people of Nashville,” said Mayor Megan Barry. “While government isn’t a business, we can seek out and adopt successful business tools that will improve our operations and lead to better outcomes for constituents.”

Kelsey most recently served as Principal of Civic Analytics, an economic research and planning firm based in Austin, Texas, and was on faculty in the Community and Regional Planning Department at The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to founding Civic Analytics, Kelsey was a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Economic Development Administration, where he engineered the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a collaboration of 16 federal agencies focused on supporting innovative, inclusive approaches to regional development.

“I’m grateful to Mayor Barry for the opportunity to work with Metro Nashville to help improve government operations in a way that has a meaningful, positive impact on the lives of average citizens,” said Kelsey.

The Chief Strategy Officer position was a recommendation from the Strategic Budgeting and Innovation Project Public Investment Plan (PIP) presented during this year’s innovative budgeting process. This PIP addresses changes to the budget process in order to make it more citizen-centered, capitalizing on the changes made for the FY2017 process to ensure future ones are connected to community priorities and accessible to the public. As approved, this will make budget and performance data available to citizens and ensure departments are held accountable for resource allocation.

“Nashvillians should be confident that their tax dollars are being used efficiently to improve their quality of life in Davidson County,” said Metro Finance Director Talia Lomax-O’dneal. “Brian Kelsey, with the leadership of Mayor Barry, will be a critical component of our strategy to ensure our budget priorities are meeting the needs of Nashville.”

Kelsey will engage with Metro department heads, employees, and citizens to design and implement changes that will lead to improved government functions. He will also work with Metro’s Chief Data Officer to better collect, analyze, and publish data that can be used to make more informed decisions.
In October, Nashville was one of 16 new cities selected to participate in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative – one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance the use of data and evidence in the public sector. The initiative has inspired 90 U.S. mayors to use data and evidence more effectively to improve services and has engaged over 1,700 city employees on performance management, analytics and other leading practices. What Works Cities has produced 130 resources that cities around the world are using to improve their communities and drive better outcomes for residents.

My Comment:  The press release does not state the salary of the new position or if the position is funded in the current budget.
Update: According to a Tennessean report the position pays $115,000 a year.

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