Saturday, January 09, 2016

Stupid poor people line up to play the powerball lottery.

People who think they can get rich without working, other stupid people, and people who like a

long-shot and just enjoy participating in a game of chance with an incredibly large jackpot lined up last night to buy lottery tickets in Nashville and at convenience stores across America. If no one matches all the numbers on  tonight drawing, the next drawing is expected to soar to $1.3 billion.

The chance of winning in tonight's drawing were 1 in 292.2 million. You chance of being struck by lighting in any given year is 1 in 1,107,143. So your chance of being struck by lighting is 290 times greater than your chance of winning the lottery. The annual risk of being killed in a plane crash for the average American is about 1 in 11 million.

I have no moral opposition to gambling although I have never gambled much myself. I don't even know how to play poker.  While a young man in the service I played slot machines in the airman's club from time to time.  I went to Vegas once to a League of Cities convention and gambled a little but just did not enjoy it that much. I just don't see the attraction.  I have bet on horses or dogs maybe a total of 20 times and did enjoy that. I  have bought only two lottery tickets in my life. If I enjoyed gambling, I would do it and not feel guilty. As a leisure activity I do not see it any worse than any other leisure activity such as going out drinking and listening to music or going  to a sports event or to a movie or a concert.

What bothers me about the lottery is that most people who play the lottery are poor people who should be paying their utility bills on time rather than buying lottery tickets or should be buying food for their family. I am not for being overly protective of stupid people. People should be free to be stupid. I don't want to ban payday lenders, as an example. I think payday lenders are kind of slimy, but for people who have a crisis or never learned money management, the exorbitant interest rate charged by payday lenders is cheaper than having your electricity cut off. It is cheaper than bouncing a check. I still think that for the most part however, payday lenders are preying on weak and stupid people. I could not be in the payday loan business and feel like an honorable person.

When payday lenders prey on stupid people, it is not me doing it.  They are not doing it in my name. However, the lottery is the government preying on stupid people. While I am not for using the power of government to protect stupid people from being preyed upon necessarily, I don't want the government to be the one preying on stupid people. The State lottery is done in the name of "we the people." I think it is shameful and we should repeal the State lottery. I also think it should be illegal for anyone on food stamps or any other public assistance to purchase a lottery ticket. If you are so poor you need a handout, you should not be permitted to gamble with that money.

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How our members of Congress voted on the bill passed by Congress that would repeal Obamacare

For the first time, Congress sent a bill repealing key provisions of  Obamacare to the President for his signature earlier this week, which he will veto. Republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare on numerous occasions before, but this is the first time a bill passed both houses and reached the President. The reason it passed this time, is that it passed through the budget reconciliation process so Senate Democrats could not filibuster the bill. The House passed it, sent it to the Senate, the Senate amended it and sent it back to the House, the House passed the Senate version.  This process meant the bill did not require 60 votes to clear the Senate but only a simple majority. The President, however, will veto the bill and there are not enough votes to override a veto.

The Bill did not actually repeal Obamacare but repealed major provisions. Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 would make these key changes to Obamacare:

  • Restrict the federal government from operating health care exchanges
  • Phase out funding for subsidies to help lower and middle-income individuals pay for insurance through the health care exchanges
  • Eliminate tax penalties for individuals who do not purchase health insurance and employers with 50 or more employees who do not provide insurance plans
  • Eliminate taxes on medical devices
  • Eliminate the “Cadillac tax” on the most expensive health care plans provided by employers to their employees.
  • Phase out an expansion of Medicaid over a two-year period
The House passed the bill by a vote of 240 to to 181 and the Senate had passed it last month.  In the House, 239 Republicans voted in favor of the bill and one Democrat,  and 178 Democrats and one three Republicans voted in opposition. There were no surprises in how our U.S congressional delegation voted:
Yea   R   Roe, Phil TN 1st
Yea   R   Duncan, John TN 2nd
Yea   R   Fleischmann, Chuck TN 3rd
Yea   R   DesJarlais, Scott TN 4th
Nay   D   Cooper, Jim TN 5th
Yea   R   Black, Diane TN 6th
Yea   R   Blackburn, Marsha TN 7th
Yea   R   Fincher, Stephen TN 8th
Nay   D   Cohen, Steve TN 9th

In the Senate, Senator Alexander and Senator Corker voted for the bill.

For more information on the House vote, follow this link and for more info on the Senate vote  see this link.

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Friday, January 08, 2016

Paul Johnson: Jim Harbison's explanation is "Disingenuous" and "intentionally obfuscating."

Paul Johnson
In the agency's defense responding to criticism that MDHA was not  requiring any units of affordable housing in the sale of three parcels of property in the Rolling Mill Hill neighborhood of downtown Nashville, MDHA Executive Director Jim Harbison offered several explanations.

As reported by The Tennessean:  "He said MDHA has a goal of keeping the number of affordable housing units on Rolling Mill Hill below 30 percent of the overall stock to prevent the “concentration of poverty.”

That sounded like BS when I first read it. I am pleased to see  Paul Johnson explain it. The below quote is from Paul Johnson's Facebook page. Please read this carefully and I have added some highlighting. 
At best, it is disingenuous for MDHA to state that putting more affordable housing in Rolling Moll Hill would be "concentrating poverty." That is an intentionally obfuscating an divisive statement. The affordable housing that could go in these developments would most likely not be affordable to households with poverty level incomes, but rather to households with a little higher incomes whose needs still fall within the definition of affordable housing. What a missed opportunity to provide housing close to centers of work with short commutes for working families making $30,000-$60,000.
Paul Johnson is an expert on affordable housing and probably knows more about the topic than anybody else in Nashville.  He is Executive Director of The Housing Fund, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution and worked for many years at MDHA. I commend him for having the courage to call out Jim Harbison for a BS defense of a hypocritical policy. 

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Metro's hypocrisy about affordable housing.

MDHA not requiring affordable housing for 3 hot properties

 by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, 1/8/16 - Three prized city properties in the trendy Rolling Mill Hill neighborhood of downtown Nashville are on the market — and each is owned by the Metro agency whose core mission includes creating affordable housing opportunities.

But as the Metro Development and Housing Agency seeks financial offers from developers for the parcels, the agency is not requiring that affordable housing be included in their building plans.
That’s the case even though the issue of adding more affordably priced homes has entered the forefront of public discussion in rapidly gentrifying Nashville. (read more)

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Thursday, January 07, 2016

The Scene: A South Nashville school board race is already shaping up as one of 2016's most watched. That's because Will Pinkston's in it. In Defiance of Will

by Amanda Haggard, The Nashville Scene, Jan. 7, 2016 - At an open conference room in a shared East Nashville workspace, Jackson Miller utters the same phrase over and over again: "Be kind. Be brave." It's a mantra he uses in his life and with his six children, he says.

And it will be his guideline, he says, as he launches his Metro school board campaign against Will Pinkston.

In the race toward August's election — running against a self-described bomb thrower and hatchet man — it'll be tough to maintain the former. The latter, however, will be necessary.
More than a half-year out, the South Nashville school board race is shaping up as one to watch as observers gather along the sidelines. Few of those spectators are disinterested — not in a political climate laced with pro- and anti-charter school sentiment and sharp political maneuvering. And not when it portends the kind of political fundraising and spending once reserved for state legislative seats, a standard set by the hotly contested Metro school board race in 2014. .....

"I'm not the one who came up with the term 'divisive school board,' " Miller says, stifling a soft laugh in the back of his throat.......

"I want to push more autonomy on the school level," Miller says. "That's fair to our teachers and principals, and those kind of broad statements really don't solve a problem. Instead of setting an arbitrary goal of reducing testing, maybe let the schools make that decision." (link)

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The Tennessean's report: Miller kicks off District 7 school board campaign

Jackson Miller and his wife, Erica, talk with supporters after he kicked  off  his 
campaign for the District 7 school board seat at his house. The handsome old 
white-headed guy in the background is me, talking to Jackson's sister. This 
is a Tennessean photo, but since I'm in it, I am taking the liberty of posting it.
by Jason Gonzales,The Tennessean, 1-6-2016 - Introduced by his son and surrounded by. family, friends and supporters, Jackson Miller made official Tuesday his plans to run for the Nashville District 7 school board seat as a candidate that he said understands the hard route in life. ...."It's widely known that teachers have the greatest impact on student success, but we constantly burden teachers with program after program and take up time, along with mandated testing and training," he said. "They're not able to use their unique skills to have that extra time for students who need a little bit more support." (link)

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What happened at the Council Meeting of 1/5/16: Mayor Barry addresses the Council, promises lots of new sidewalks. ...

...Council advances an overlay for Waverly-Belmont, a disapproved zoning bill in North Nashville deferred. 

Following the opening prayer and pledge, Mayor Barry addresses the council and reports on her first 100 days in office. She announces that she is launching a major sidewalk expansion program and will be following established sidewalk priority guidelines but will also be meeting with each district council member for their input on where sidewalks are needed. She also said the sidewalk and bike master plan would be undated. She promises her administration will be building a lot of sidewalks. She announces she will be building a new police headquarter proposing it for Murfreesboro Pike near where the new family criminal justice center is being build and will soon be holding neighborhood meeting to answer questions and engage the community. Her comments end at time stamp 5.57.

I am pleased to see her emphasis on new sidewalks. I think everyone sees the need. I have observed that we waste a lot of money building sidewalks and have little to show for it.  We tear up sidewalks that are still serviceable and replace them with new sidewalks instead of building sidewalks were there are none.  I think building new sidewalks should have priority over replacing merely cracked sidewalks.  I hope she builds sidewalks much smarter than the Dean administration. I am also pleased that Mayor Barry is attempting to engage the community rather than just dictating policy. While Mayor Barry was not my preferred candidate for mayor, I think she is off to a good start.

To see my commentary on the meeting and to get the link to your own copy of the council staff analysis of the agenda and a copy of the agenda, follow this link. Below is summary of the balance of the meeting. I do not cover every bill, only those that seem important and I do not make much of an effort to learn the issues behind each zoning bill, so there may be a zoning bill that some think is very important but I miss.

Appointees to Boards and Commissions are confirmed.

Bills on Public Hearing:

  • BILL NO. BL2015-81 is a bill which is disapproved by the Planning Commission and rezones 9.2 acres off on Clarksville pike which would allow the construction of between 72 to 120 apartment units of what is considered "workforce housing" which is another term for affordable housing. Here is a link to a Tennessean story about the The planning Commission's unanimous vote to disapprove the bill. Several people speak in favor and in opposition to  the bill. The leader of the group North by Northwest speaks in favor. Opponents include Carl Meyer a leader of a neighborhood organization.  People opposed to develop always list increase traffic as a concern and so do the opponents of this bill. Another thing opponents of this rezoning mention is that an apartment complex of affordable housing will increase crime in the area.  Some of the comments on this bill are reflective of the problem of building affordable housing - not Section 8 housing or public housing, but housing that is priced to be affordable for persons who make less than the average income. People in principle say they want affordable housing for Nashville but no one seems to want it in their neighborhood.  The bill is deferred one meeting. It appears to be the councilman's intent to change the bill from a bill that just changes the base zoning to allow the greater density to a bill that changes it to SP.   Under SP zoning, design standards established for that specific development are written into the zone change ordinance. Some of the concern was access to the site from neighboring side streets and traffic patterns. With SP the layout of the site and access points can be specified.  I think a proper motion would be to defer and re-refer to the Planning Commission but the councilman doesn't do that. To win final council approval, with the Planning Commissions disapproval, will require 27 votes. To see action on the bill see time stamp 17:45 - 53:55.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-84  which would establish the Waverly Belmont Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District passes second reading. This would restrict the tearing down of existing housing and building a very large home or two large homes on the lot.  On some streets in this part of town, there are more big new houses than original smaller houses.  I understand the desire to preserve the character of the neighborhood but a consequence of not allowing the character to change and more expensive homes to be build is that our tax base does not keep pace with the demand for more spending.  Also by restricting this type of tear-down and replacement with larger homes in one area puts more pressure for this to occur on those areas adjacent to the area with the overlay.  It shifts the problem and intensifies it for neighboring neighborhoods. For more information see the Tennessean reporting on the issue. For the discussion, see time stamp 56:35-1:15:16.
All resolutions pass on the consent agenda and all bills on first reading pass without discussion.

BILL NO. BL2015-94 which amends the code pertaining to Short Term Rental Property passes second reading.

Bills on Third reading pass except a couple which are deferred. Nothing interesting happens.

Below is The Tennessean's reports:
Megan Barry proposes new police HQ on Murfreesboro Pike

 Seven months after the Metro Council rejected plans to relocate the city's police headquarters to historic Jefferson Street, new Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has now proposed a new site for the administrative facility: Murfreesboro Pike.

Barry, making her second appearance before the Metro Council in just four months in office, announced plans Tuesday for a community input process on moving the police headquarters from the downtown Criminal Justice Center to an 8-acre property that Metro owns at 600 Murfreesboro Pike near Foster Avenue.
The new headquarters would be located adjacent to a new $20 million Family Justice Center set to open on the corridor at the former site of Carl Black Chevrolet. (read more)

Waverly-Belmont overlay advances in Metro Council

Restrictions intended to protect the historic character of the rapidly changing Waverly-Belmont and 12South neighborhoods advanced in the Metro Council on Tuesday, putting the set of proposals on track for final approval later this month.

After an hourlong public hearing — one dominated by supporters who wore bright neon-green T-shirts — the council voted unanimously on a second of three readings to approve a conservation overlay that would limit new home construction and demolition on 152 acres in a part of town that has become a real estate hotbed. (read more)

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Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Election Commission Administrator Wall Announces Retirement

Press Release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. Davidson County Election Administrator Kent Wall announced he will retire from his post effective March 31.

Wall came out of retirement on Nov. 4, 2013 when Davidson County Election Commissioners appointed him administrator and charged him with correcting serious shortcomings identified in the state report and metro audit report of the 2012 election cycle and returning the Election Commission to a higher standard of operational effectiveness and competence.

“Today, two years plus into my tenure, I believe my assignment has been accomplished, and therefore, it is time for me to relinquish the reins of the Election Commission and return to the retired life I was enjoying for several years prior to November 2013,” Wall said in announcing his retirement to election commissioners.

All five commissioners praised Wall for his work.

“I’ve always known this wasn’t a second profession for Kent,” Chairman Ron Buchanan said. “We hired Kent because of his strong administration and business skills and charged him with pointing the commission in a new direction. He has done that job admirably.”

Buchanan said he will call a special meeting within the next few weeks for commissioners to discuss the procedure to appoint a new administrator.

“In my considered opinion, the Davidson County Election Commission is now well within the top tier of all county election commissions in the state. And, without fear of contradiction, I will go on record and state that I am blessed to work with a first-class group of associates who have honed to a fine degree their competence and professionalism over the last five elections,” Wall said.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Jackson Miller kicked off his campaign for school board in a living room announcement at his home today

Jackson Miller kicks off his campaign for School Board
Jackson Miller kicked off his campaign for school board today in the living room of his 10th Ave South home across the street from Waverly-Belmont Elementary School. Twenty-five or so people crowded into the living room and dinning room for the announcement.  He was introduced by his son who is standing to his left in this picture. I am an amateur journalist and did not take good notes, so I don't recall what he said but he was cute and charming and his remarks were clever. Mr. Miller should be proud of his son.

Miller said that as a parent of six children, five of whom attend public schools in Nashville, and as someone who grew up attending  public schools, he had a vested interest in improving the city's public education climate.  He told of attending Eakin school as a child and how Eakin was a very good school.  He said he attended school with immigrants who were refugees from Cuba and Burma, as well as students who were children of privileged immigrant parents who were professors at Vanderbilt, and some of the best students from across the county. He said Eakin was an excellent school but he thought there should be good schools in every zip code.

After what he describes as a “phenomenal” experience at Eakin Elementary School, he said he attended J. T. Moore Middle School and Hillsboro High School. A devastating event in middle school changed his trajectory.  “During my second week at J. T. Moore, my mother was hit by a drunk driver and told she’d never walk again,” he said. “Middle school is hard enough when you’ve got a good support system at home. But that wreck shook our family to the core, and I quickly found myself on the ‘discipline’ track at school.”  He said that was back when they could still paddle in school and he said he got more than his share of paddling. He also said he spend a lot of time in the principal's office. "Books and instruction aren’t enough if a kid’s working through challenges, stress or trauma at home." he said. “I Know what It’s like to slip through the cracks,” he said. He dropped out of school and ended up getting a GED rather than a regular diploma.

He said that from his own experience as a product of Nashville public schools and as a parent of students in public schools he knows that we must do more than what we are doing for Nashville to have great schools.  He said that the most important factor in a child succeeding or failing is school is often a good caring teacher.  He said if the teacher's time is taken up by needless testing, training, and reporting that there may not be enough time for that child who needs extra help to get it.  He said he believes the key to a good school is a collaborative approach to learning within the school and a strong school leader. He said schools need more autonomy. He says he favors an organizational structure that goes from the bottom up, not the top down.  While I did not record the exact words, he said something to the effect that the dollars need to follow the child, and creating an environment that puts the child first is important to success in educating children.

It was a pleasure to get to meet Jackson Miller and his wife, mother and sister today.  I was impressed by what I heard and I am supporting him in his campaign for the school board seat to replace Will Pinkston.  I have already made my first contribution to his campaign, making it today as soon as I got back to my office from attending his announcement. When it comes time to put yard signs in the yard, I will put a Jackson Miller yard sign in mine.  The election is not until August of this year, so this will be a long campaign but the differences between these two candidates is clear and Jackson Miller is the kind of person we need on the school board.

To learn more about Jackson Miller or contribute to his campaign, follow this link: Jackson Miller for Nashville School Board

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Update #3. What is on the January 5th Council agenda? Short-term rental regs and Pedal Tavern regs and a controversial rezoning and Farmers Market

Update #3: There is another zoning bill that will be controversial. See "BILL NO. BL2015-81" below.

The Metro Council agenda for January 5th is available at this link and the staff analysis at this link. Since the last update, the staff analysis has been published and I have reviewed it and updated this post to reflect anything of significance gleamed from that information. If you watch the council meetings and you don't have an agenda and an analysis, it is really hard to know what is going on and the council meetings will seem really boring, so if you are going to watch the meeting I suggest you get your own copy of those documents. The meetings will still be boring, but you will know what it is that is boring you. For you own copy, follow the above highlighted links.

There are three mayoral appointees to Board and Commissions up for council confirmation. None of these are to the commission that are the subject of controversy.

There are 22 bills on public hearing on Second Reading.  I, for the most part, don't really care much about zoning issues unless it is a proposed rezoning in my neighborhood and I don't study zoning issues unless something has impact beyond one little neighborhood. I don't even try to be knowledgeable of all of the rezoning bills, so you are on your own. Zoning can have a tremendous impact on one's quality of life and financial standing, so zoning is very important, but the impact is often limited to just a few people.   Most council members will work with their constituents to let them know of any significant rezoning proposals and hold neighborhood meetings if a rezoning is significant or likely to be controversial. Also, the property to be rezoned must post signs stating it is slated to be rezoned and advertise the date of the pubic hearing. An active neighborhood organization can be important in keeping neighbors abreast of zoning and land use developments. If you have a neighborhood organization where you live, I suggest you join it. If not, I would suggest you start one. Also, get to know your councilman so he will be sure to communicate to your neighborhood any proposed significant rezoning.

The bills on public hearing on second reading, that I find of interest are these:

  • BILL NO. BL2015-81 rezones 9.2 acres off on Clarksville pike which if approved would allow the construction of between 72 to 120 apartment units of what is considered "workforce housing" which is another term for affordable housing. The planning Commission unanimously voted to disapprove this bill and there is a lot of neighborhood opposition. Here is a link to a Tennessean story about the issue. 
  • BILL NO. BL2015-84  establishes the Waverly Belmont Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District. This is significant because if covers such a large area and so many parcels. A conservation overlay is less restrictive than a historical overlay but is a planning tool to protect the architectural character of Nashville’s historic neighborhoods by managing growth and change. It is a type of ‘overlay zoning’ that is applied in addition to the ‘base’ land use zoning of an area. It makes it more difficult to demolish an existing home and insures additions are in character to the neighborhood.  This bill does not give the details.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-85 adds eight acres to an already existing Contextual Overlay District. A Contextual Overlay District is a zoning tool that can be applied to residential neighborhoods. The Contextual Overlay applies design standards necessary to maintain and reinforce established form or character of residential development in a particular area. A Contextual Overlay must apply throughout the residential portion of a complete block face. This is for an area along Pinewood Road, west of Stratford Avenue.
There is one bill on public hearing on Third Reading.  BILL NO. BL2015-67  authorizing the creation of a Gulch Central Business Improvement District. This would require property owners in the Gulch area to pay a slightly higher property tax and the proceeds from that additional tax would be used to enhance services in that district. There are already a couple other areas of town with this arrangement.

There are eight resolutions, all of which are on the Consent Agenda. While a bill requires three readings to become law, a resolution only requires one vote. Resolutions include things like accepting grants, and spending money out of funds already approved, and other minor things. Bills are laws or are changes in zoning. All of the resolutions are at this time on the consent agenda. Resolutions are placed on consent if the Vice Mayor deems them non-controversial and they stay on consent if they pass the committee to which they are assigned unanimously. Resolutions on consent are all lumped together and pass by a single vote of the Council. However, any member of the Council may, from the floor, ask for a bill to be considered individually or may ask to have his dissenting vote or abstention recorded. This are the only resolutions I find of interest:
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-77 accepts a grant of $100,000 from the Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park to hire one employee. Metro must pay the fringe benefits which come to $35,460. While it is not wise to look a gift horse in the mouth, that is one expensive employee.  I hope the Council is curious as to this person's qualification and job description. What will they be doing? Will this position be advertised and will filling this position be competitive or is the person to fill this position already chosen?  I also find it informative that fringe benefits equal more than a third of an employee's salary. I wonder what that ratio is in the private sector?

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-85, "A resolution requesting the Nashville Farmers Market to provide a comprehensive report to the Metropolitan Council regarding its current financial status and its capital and operational needs to guarantee future success."  I am pleased to see this. The Farmers Market has been losing money for years. It is not structured to provide a market to help farmers sell to retailers such as super markets and restaurants but is designed for farmers selling retail to consumers. Think of it as boutique farmers market not a real farmers market. Recently the Farmers Market restricted the sale of produce to only locally grown products so the consumer may buy their watermelons and  tomatoes at the Farmers Market but they can't buy their bananas and oranges. Also, the Farmers Market stopped the sale of the velvet Elvis vendors and vendors of twelve socks for twelve dollars and restricted the flea market operation to the sale of locally produced artisan stuff such as soy candles and handicrafts. The Council needs to keep close taps on how much money the Farmers Market is losing. I was skeptical when the Farmers Market kicked out the food vendors who sold bananas and the flea market vendors who sold the velvet Elvis and socks, however with Nashville continuing to be the "it" city, perhaps the Farmers Market can be a success by being "authentic." We will see, but in any event the Council needs to keep close tabs.  
There are  nineteen Bills on First Reading. All bills on first reading are lumped together and generally not discussed until second reading. I don't read them until second reading.

There are only six Bills on Second Reading. These are two of interest:
  • BILL NO. BL2015-94 amends the code pertaining to Short Term Rental Property. One change is that DADU's (Detached  Accessory Dwelling Units) will now be subject to the 3% limit the same as non-owner occupied units. In any area (and I think it is my Council district but I am not sure, it may by census track or some other delineating measure) only 3% of the non-owner occupied properties may be approved for short-term rental and it is first-come, first-approved.  I know someone who has spend a lot of money building a DADU "tiny house" for the purpose of renting it as a STRP.  It has taken longer to build it than they anticipated and they may be screwed if this passes.  These folks are a young couple who have risked a lot to build this house. They are not wealthy. Another provision prohibited advertising the short term rental as lodging for more people than is permitted by the permit for the property. That provision sounds reasonable to me. Another change would change the definition of "detached" so that if the rental unit is actually attached or separated by no more than 6 feet is is not considered detached for purposes of this ordinance and would not be subject to the 3% rule.
  • BILL NO. BL2015-95 would restrict pedal taverns to certain areas and impose other restrictions.
There are seven bills on Third Reading and none of them are of much interest.

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TNGOP: Democrats Should Campaign on the Gun Ban They Want to Impose on Us

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - January 5, 2015 -- From the East Room of the White House, President Barack Obama announced a sweeping set of executive orders meant to restrict Americans’ access to firearms.
Following the President’s speech, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes remarked:
Today’s announcement by the President once again lectured responsible, law-abiding Americans. It echoed his snide comments from 2008 where he talked down to concerned citizens who ‘cling to guns or religion' as if that’s a moral wrong.

Ultimately, these actions are a political play by the President that could undermine our constitutional rights. Governing solely by executive order ignores the fact the Executive Branch is supposed to enforce the law, not create it. Furthermore, it subverts the authority of Congress—the law-making branch of our federal government. These actions, supported by Democrats, show a disdain for the framework set up by our Founders. That’s inexcusable.

Instead of hiding behind the President's pen, Democrats should just campaign on the gun ban policy they want to impose on Americans. I would welcome the opportunity to debate the Democratic Party's gun restrictions. Let’s have an honest conversation and see if Tennesseans really want their 2nd Amendment rights gutted by Democrats. 
The TNGOP is circulating an online petition (associated graphic linked above) at for Tennesseans to sign who believe the President is overreaching with today's executive orders. Weblink:

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Pinkston, Miller set for school board showdown

Pinkston, Miller set for school board showdown 

Will Pinkston
 The Tennessean - The highly anticipated election showdown between outspoken Metro school board member Will Pinkston and challenger Jackson Miller is set. Pinkston, a lightning rod on the board and vocal critic of charter schools, announced on Monday he plans to run for re-election in August for the South Nashville-area District 7 seat.
Less than two hours later, Miller — a small-business owner, Pinkston rival and past co-chairman of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's Education Report Card — issued a media advisory confirming he will challenge Pinkston. (Read more)

Jackson Miller
Pinkston’s Challenger Positions Himself As Uniter In Nashville School Board Race by Blake Farmer, Nashville Public Radio - Metro Schools parent Jackson Miller says he will run for the board of education, with a formal announcement planned for Tuesday afternoon. He will challenge the panel’s most vocal member, saying Will Pinkston has led to dischord on the nine-member panel and within the central office. .... Charter school advocates appear to be galvanizing around Miller, who once worked at Maya Angelou Schools, a charter organization in Washington D.C. .... There's a fundamental difference between Miller and Pinkston, and both agree. Miller says he welcomes experimentation and small-scale reforms while Pinkston says he prefers universal, district-wide initiatives that might help every student.

School Board's Hellraiser Wants Another Four Years | Pith in the Wind Nashville Scene 

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Monday, January 04, 2016

Happy New Year from 1st Tuesday

From Tim Skow:

HAPPY NEW YEAR to our 1ST TUESDAY 2016 Members &friends !

GREAT NEWS is coming to 1ST TUESDAY in 2016 !!!!

You can expect the 1ST TUESDAY line up of speakers for 2016 to be the most impressive, informative and exciting in the years we have been at WALLER Law !! As most of you know, we do NOT meet on election days and avoid having meetings close to holidays. We are also known to move a meeting date to meet the schedule(s) of important speakers. These concerns will change our meeting dates for both JAN and for MARCH.
Details for our JANUARY meeting will be coming out shortly... Our MARCH 7th meeting will feature former Member of Congress and frequent FOX News contributor, the remarkable Col. ALLEN WEST ! 

There will be a pre-lunch event featuring Col. West benefiting his National Center for Policy Analysis. Those contributing $100 will not only be welcome to attend the 10:30am pre-lunch event with Col. West, but the $100 also cover lunch costs for 1ST TUESDAY. Given early demand, we EXPECT BOTH LUNCH and the pre-event to sell out!

If you have not already paid 1ST TUESDAY 2016 annual dues, you will want to ASAP. As noted, for special events, seating is initially reserved for 2016 Members.

Visit our website at and click on ''JOIN US'' to prepay for lunch [and/or your annual dues. ] See you on MONDAY, January 11th ... and more !

Tim Skow

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MIDDLE TENNESSEE REPUBLICAN WOMEN meeting Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016

From MTRW:

Happy New Year!

Please join us for our first social breakfast of the new year and meet and listen to our special guest speaker:

Patrick Rosenstiel, former Bush official from the Office of Legislative Affairs

Saturday, January 9, 2016, 8:30-10:00 a.m.

The Egg & I/First Watch, 710 Old Hickory Blvd, Ste 307, (two block past Target)
Brentwood, TN 37027

Come for a morning of great food, conversation, and a very informative discussion. 
Please RSVP to so we know how many to plan for. We hope to see you there!

MTRW wants to be involved in the community to spread our conservative values. This is a great way to get started. Watch for more opportunities coming in 2016.

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Sunday, January 03, 2016

TNInvestco almost out of money. Only $17 of $200 million left. Uncertain borrowed money will ever be repaid.

Today's Tennessean ran the first of a three part series that examines TNInvestco. TNInvestco was established with $200 million in state taxpayer funding to finance startup companies. It is almost out of money and it is difficult to determine what we got for our money.  Here are some excerpts from the article:

Just $17 million remained as of 2014 — the most recent year financials are available. The state’s $30 million INCITE program, a federally funded initiative run by Launch Tennessee, is down to $2 million as of 2015.

Six years into the program, TNInvestco has become a sparkplug for Tennessee’s startups and it has spurred job creation across the state. It has also put private investors on track to make millions and yielded millions in tax savings for insurance companies. But TNInvestco is a long way from repaying taxpayers.

In 2009 Tennessee lawmakers approved $200 million to fund TNInvestco. By enlisting private fund managers to invest the state’s money and insurance companies to help pay for the program, TNInvestco would support small business growth and create jobs. There was also the expectation that the state would recoup its massive investment.
The article goes on to report that at the time TNInvestco was proposed it had almost unanimous bipartisan support and was presented as a jobs bill, "but the descriptions that bill sponsors and state officials provided were often confusing, misleading or incorrect." More:
The problem is in TNInvestco’s design: It forces the state to bear all the risk and see only half of the proceeds, providing far more profits to the managers of 10 TNInvestco funds than they would make in the private markets. Tennessee also loses millions through the sale of tax credits to fund the program, tens of millions that could be spent on funding schools, roads or more early-stage companies.
This is complex but it looks like the taxpayers got the short end of the stick. In a nut shell, this is what happened. The State made available $200 million to ten INvestco venture companies, they sold the tax credits to insurance companies for $146 million, so right off the bat the state lost $54 million.  After some cost incurred by the venture firms and other professional fees are paid, $117 million was left available for investors to borrow. Loans were made to 175 companies. Since then, 50 of them were sold at a loss or closed, a few sold at a profit and the others are still struggling.  If the company is sold at a profit, Tennessee shares in the profit but that may not be sufficent to recoup Tennessee's investment.  It is unclear how many jobs were created in Tennessee. To read the full article follow this link: State needs big wins to see returns from TNInvestco.

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Nashville is Destination of the Year says Travel and Leisure

Travel and Leisure, by Caroline Hallemann, December 30, 2015 - With 15.8 percent of the votes, Nashville, Tennessee, is the newly crowned winner of Travel + Leisure's readers' poll for Destination of the Year, beating out international hot spots like Adelaide, Australia, and Korea, as well as fellow domestic darlings New Orleans and Detroit, in addition to Cuba, our editors' pick for the award. In fact, Nashville received almost double the votes of the number two destination, Charleston, with Cuba coming in third with 6.5% of the votes. Other readers' choice stand-outs included Greece, Iceland, Istanbul, and Paris. (link)

My Comment: I love Nashville and am pleased to see this city get the recognition it deserves.  Unfortunately, many residents will never experience the city the way a visitor does.  Treat yourself and "visit" Nashville.  Get a guidebook and visit the sites.  Stroll down Riverfront Park and take in the view, walk across the river's pedestrian bridge, spend an evening visiting the honky tonks of lower Broadway, eat at one of the many restaurants that are getting rave reviews, visit the Parthenon and really look at it and take the tour inside, go to the zoo, visit Andrew Jackson's The Hermitage, take in  a show at the Ryman, visit The Country Music Hall of Fame, look at the architecture of the city and go inside and take a tour and really see the State Capitol, The Hermitage Hotel, the Downtown Presbyterian Church. Union Station, Christ Church Cathedral, and more.   This is a great city. Get to know it.

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