Saturday, February 06, 2016

Early voting begins Wednesday, February 10

TUESDAY , MARCH 1, 2016 


WEDNESDAY , FEBRUARY 10.  8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
THURSDAY , FEBRUARY 11,  8 :00 AM – 8 :00 PM

  • FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM 
  • SATURDAY , FEBRUARY 13, 8:00 AM – 4 :00 PM 
  • TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 8:00 AM – 8 :00 PM 
  • WEDNESDAY , FEBRUARY 17, 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM 
  • THURSDAY , FEBRUARY 18, 8 :00 AM – 8 :00 PM 
  • FRIDAY , FEBRUARY 19, 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM 
  • SATURDAY , FEBRUARY 20, 8:00 AM – 4 :00 PM 
  • MONDAY , FEBRUARY 22, 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM 
  • TUES DAY, FEBRUARY 23 8:00 AM – 8 :00 PM 


For questions contact the Election Commission at 615 - 862 - 8800 or WWW.NASHVILLE.GOV/VOTE

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Tennessee joins the call for an Article V Constitutional Convention

Article Five of the Constitution lays out a process whereby the Constitution can be altered. There are two ways to alter the Constitution, one is the process we are familiar with and that is that by of vote two-thirds of each house of Congress, a proposed amendment is passed and then that amendment is ratified by three-fourths of the sates. The other way to alter the constitutions is by having a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures. Anything passed by the Constitutional Convention would then have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

We have never amended the constitution by the second method which is called, "An Article Five Conventions."  Those opposed to an article five convention fear that such a convention cannot be limited and could become a "runaway" convention and radically change the structure of our government and curtail our liberties. 

On Thursday, Tennessee joined four other states in calling for an Article V convention.  Similar legislation is pending in over thirty other states. An Article V convention could become a reality.

I am reposting the following from an email I received from Bobbie Patray of Tennessee  Eagle Forum which tell how each member of the State House and Senate voted on the issue and which, I think, does a good job shedding more light on the topic:

 SJR 0067 by *Bell
Constitutional Amendments - As introduced, makes application for the calling of an Article V convention under the United States Constitution to consider amendments to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress

STATUS:  You may remember the SJR67 passed the State Senate on April 16, last year, 23-5-2:

 Senators voting aye were: Yager, Watson, Tracy, Stevens, Roberts, Norris, Niceley, Mr. Speaker Ramsey, McNally, Massey, Ketron, Kelsey, Johnson, Jackson, Hensley, Haile, Gresham, Green, Gardenhire, Crowe, Briggs, Bowling, Bell -- 23. Senators voting no were: Yarbro, Overbey, Kyle, Dickerson, Beavers -- 5. Senators present and not voting were: Harris, Harper -- 2.

On January 26, SJR67 was in the House State Government Committee, where we had expected a tie vote, but the vote was 5-3 and it went out.  Representatives voting aye were: Sanderson, Littleton, Lamberth, Hulsey, Durham -- 5.  Representatives voting no were: Shaw, Powell, Jernigan -- 3.

On Thursday morning, 4 February, after a lively debate, SJR67 pass the House Floor 59-31-1:

 Representatives voting aye were: Zachary, Wirgau, Williams, White M., White D., Van Huss, Travis, Todd, Terry, Swann, Spivey, Sparks, Shepard, Sexton J., Sargent, Rogers, Reedy, Ragan, Powers, Pody, Moody, McManus, McDaniel, McCormick, Matheny, Marsh, Madam Speaker Harwell, Lynn, Lundberg, Lollar, Littleton, Lamberth, Kumar, Kane, Johnson, Hulsey, Howell, Holt, Holsclaw, Hicks, Hazlewood, Hawk, Halford, Gravitt, Goins, Forgety, Farmer, Eldridge, Dunn, Daniel, Coley, Casada, Carter, Calfee, Byrd, Butt, Brooks K., Brooks H., Alexander -- 59.
          Representatives voting no were: Womick, Windle, Weaver, Turner, Stewart, Smith, Shaw, Sexton C., Sanderson, Powell, Pitts, Parkinson, Mitchell, Miller, Jones, Jenkins, Hill T., Hill M., Hardaway, Gilmore, Fitzhugh, Favors, Faison, Dunlap, Doss, Cooper, Clemmons, Camper, Beck, Armstrong, Akbari -- 31.  Representatives present and not voting were: DeBerry -- 1.

NOTES: For many reasons, Eagle Forum has opposed an Article V Constitutional Convention for over 40 years. We have felt and continue to feel that there are a lot of unanswered questions, since we have never had such a Convention since the US Constitution was written.  When I read Article V and see that "CONGRESS....shall call a convention.." and the ratification process is "proposed by Congress", I still have pause!

I truly understand the hearts of those TN legislators who are horrified when they look at what has happened at the Federal level under both Democratic and Republican majorities.  I am horrified too! I know that they see this as the perhaps the last chance to 'do something' to impact the overreach and control that the Federal government has exerted. I get that and I understand!!

It is important to know that there are folks at the national level whose desires do not seem to be so honorable.
(How former Justice John Paul Stevens Would Amend the Constitution, Soros in Vermont: Leftist billionaire behind state's call to keep money out of politics.)

This issue in Tennessee has put good friends and colleagues on opposite 'sides', (I really don't like that term, but it is useful here) but both 'sides' care deeply about this country and it's future. Nevertheless, if 34 states do end up passing this 'call' I will hope and pray that the process works out like it has been presented and my respect and my admiration for the state COS supporters has not dimmed and we will move forward TOGETHER!!

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Friday, February 05, 2016


 “Special Called” Meeting 
February 1 2 , 201 6 3:00 p.m. 
1. Call the election for Metro Council District 1 to fill a vacancy
2. Review of assistance available from Metro HR for AOE Search – Ms. Jane Madden, Metro HR
3. Discussion of the need to look at internal financial control procedures including the need to seek more clarity from Metro Finance regarding the same procedures

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Former Councilman Greene indicted on coercion charge

The Tennessean - Former Metro Councilman Loniel Greene has been indicted on a charge of coercion of a witness connected to his cousin's domestic violence case, officials said late Friday. Read Story

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All of Memphis charter school’s graduating class heads to college

By Amelia Hamilton / /February 5, 2016 -  Since 2012, every graduate of Soulsville Charter School in Memphis has headed to a four-year college or university. Of these 207 graduates, more than $30 million in scholarships and grants have been awarded, WMC Action News 5 reports.

“Some students will choose four year, others will choose two year, some may choose trade school, and some might choose military, but getting 100 percent of our students to the place where they have the option to attend college is one of our goals, and we have reached that much sooner this year than ever before,” said the charter school’s director, Ashley Shores. (Read more here.)

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Bill easing pot penalties advances

by Joel Ebert, The Tennesseean - A Republican-sponsored bill that would make three or more convictions for simple possession or casual exchange of marijuana a misdemeanor rather than a felony passed a key hurdle on Tuesday.

With a unanimous 9-0 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would make changes to the prosecution of those found guilty of possessing marijuana and other controlled substances three or more times.

The move is expected to decrease the state's incarceration costs by as much as $2 million, according to the bill's fiscal note.

The change  comes as part of a package deal. The heart of the bill was actually centered on enhancing the state's DUIs laws. (link)

My Comment: This sounds like a common sense move to me and a significant step in the right direction. I hope it passes. If it does, it is also a victory for justice. No one should go to prison for simply smoking a little pot.  Marijuana is an almost harmless drug. It makes much more sense to lessen the penalty for marijuana use and increase the penalty for drunk driving. I hope Tennessee will soon move toward the Colorado model of legalization and regulation or simply fully decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and allow cultivation for personal use.

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More about that $200M lawsuit DA Glenn Funk slapped on reporter Phil Williams.

From PithIn The Wind - Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk has filed a $200 million defamation lawsuit against Scripps Media, parent company of News Channel 5, and the station's investigative reporter Phil Williams.

The suit stems from a story Williams reported Wednesday night — one also independently reported by Pith Thursday — about allegations from an ongoing civil suit involving David Chase, the developer who was at the center of controversy less than two years ago after he was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend twice in 24 hours. Those charges were eventually dropped. But documents from an ongoing suit, in which Chase has accused an array of individuals with conspiring against him, contain allegations of extortion, blackmail and possible bribery.

Political consultant Bill Fletcher is accused of approaching the Chase family with a request for $2 million to make David Chase's criminal charges go away — a request they suggest they believed might have been for a bribe. In a statement to the Scene, Fletcher strongly denied the allegations. The documents also include an allegation by David Chase that Funk "blackmailed" him. Funk has denied any wrongdoing, but did acknowledge that he dismissed the criminal charges against Chase under the condition that Chase drop a federal lawsuit he had filed against the Metro Police Department.  (read more)

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Update. What happened at the Council meeting of 2-2-16: PILOT to fund affordable housing, no new reg for historic home events, ....

... $10M more for Meharry money pit, inclusionary zoning bills deferred on first reading, Human Relations strengthening bill deferred.

To see my commentary on the agenda a link to the agenda and agenda analysis, follow this link. There are a lot of zoning bills on public hearing and I don't report on them unless they have an impact beyond one community or prove extremely controversial, so if you are particularly interested in a zoning issue, don't rely on my analysis or meeting summary.

Following the prayer and pledge, the meeting starts with a presentation about heart disease and the agenda is not taken up until time stamp 8:23. Below is a summary of the meeting calling attention to the most important actions.
Charles Robert Bone's appointment to the board of MDHA is a approved and all other mayoral appointments to Boards and Commissions are approved. The other appointments were to the NECAT  board.

  • BILL NO. BL2015-96 by Councilman Withers which would restrict all “Historic home events” to enclosed areas is withdrawn without explanation. Good. That was a bad bill. An explanation would have been nice.
  • BILL NO. BL2016-107 by Councilman Anthony Davis which would expand the Inglewood Place - Jackson Park Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District to 454 additional acres has people wearing green "Preserve Inglewood" tee shirts speak in favor of the bill, and several people speak against.  It is approved. To see the discussion on this bill see time stamp 18:15- 41:45.
  • BILL NO. BL2016-109 which is a rezoning proposal for property on Kenilwood Drive to allow the construction of large self-story facility generates some negative comments from the public and passes second reading. See time stamp 47:15 -1:14:01 to view the discussion.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-86 which authorizes MDHA to  enter into a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) Agreement with a developer, developing a 240 unit apartment complex of affordable housing is approved on a voice vote. This is the first of its kind program in Nashville to build affordable housing using this tool.  
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-100 which request an addition $10 million dollars in operating subsidy for Metro hospital in addition to the $35 million dollar operating subsidy in the FY16 budget is approved unanimously. I am disappointed and think Metro should totally get out of the hospital business.  I am disappointing that none of the council members who identify as conservatives took a stand on this issue. Since poor people can go to the hospital of their choice, there is no need for Metro to have a charity hospital. While passing unanimous, the council does require the Hospital Authority to report report back to the Council on their financial status and questions the timing of the request. If Council had not approved this expenditure, the hospital would not have been able to meet their next payroll. Metro privatized the two nursing homes it used to own and should do the same thing with Meharry Hospital. The way I see it, the only reason we have a Metro General Hospital now is because it is a payoff to the Black Community. Metro General is also know as Meharry Hospital and is the teaching hospital of Meharry Medical College. Meharry Medical College is a Black institution and the Black community takes pride in it. All candidates for Mayor promised they would continue to support it. Due to the desire to curry favor with the Black community, politicians still continue to poor money into the Meharry Hosptial money pit despite there being no logic to funding a charity hospital.  If I am missing something and there is logic to funding Meharry, I would like for someone to explain it. Without a Metro charity hospital, is there anyone served who would not otherwise be served?  Not all cities have charity hospitals. How do cities without charity hospitals care for their indigent? To view the discussion, see time stamp 139:05- 1:56:54. To read The Tennessean report on the issue see Council approves emergency $10M for Metro General Hospital.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-101  refinancing some metro bonds to a more favorable interest rate freeing up some debt capacity, passes unanimously. This sounds like a good deal to me.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-102  which takes out the north shed portion of Farmers Market is deferred two meetings. It is revealed that the $4M that the State is going to pay Metro for releasing the northern sheds, will not flow back to the Metro General fund but will go to subsidize the operation of the Farmers Market. I do not like that and think the money should go to the General Fund and any additional subsidizing of Farmers Market should have to come before the Metro Council. In my view the Farmers Market should not have to be subsidized. I like Farmers Market but think it should be able to cover its own operating cost. Kudos to Council member Jacobia Dowell for speaking out on this issue.  
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-113 is a memorizing resolution asking the Davidson County Delegation to oppose House Bill 1412 sponsored by Rep. Mark Pody which responds to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges which forced all states to grant license for same-sex marriage, by saying the Supreme Court's decision in Tennessee is "unauthoritative, void and of no effect." I am no friend of gay marriage but do think HB 1412 is a bad bill. RS2016-113 passes on a voice vote. 
  • BILL NO. BL2016-133 and BILL NO. BL2016-134 on First Reading are the inclusionary zoning ordinances and they are deferred indefinitely. Almost never is a bill on First Reading not passed.  For more on this issue, read The Tennessean's report at this link: Affordable housing plan delayed in Metro Council  
  • BILL NO. BL2016-99 which would strengthen the Human Relations Commission by removing the term limits for members of the Commission is deferred one meeting.

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DA Glenn Funk suing reporter Phil Williams over news story

Nashville DA sues TV reporter Phil Williams

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" As a former Special Operator, with a Top Secret SCI clearance, I was expected to respect top secret information. Information is classified as such because the very safety of our country could be at risk if it were to be exposed. Any of my colleagues would have been immediately sent packing from the Army with even the slightest indication of a breach. I acknowledge that, as a State Senator, I have no standing, but as an American citizen with a voice, I am demanding accountability. I am asking you to sign this petition and share it with your friends. We will deliver it to the director of the FBI and US Attorney General. Together, our voices carry much more impact." (Follow this link to join me in signing this petition. Rod)

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Congratulations Renato Soto

Renato Soto
by Joel Ebert, The Tennessean, February 3, 2016 - House Republicans aren’t the only ones who have questions about a resolution honoring Renata Soto, the founder of the Casa Azafrán Community Center. The resolution, which the House approved last week with a 66-10 vote, was pulled from the Senate’s calendar on Wednesday, at the request of Republican Majority Leader Mark Norris.

“I had a member who had questions about (the National Council of) La Raza,” Norris said after the floor session. (link)

National Council of La Raza  From Groupsnoop -  Introduction

The National Council of La Raza (“La Raza”) is a left-of-center Hispanic group that opposes many American immigration laws. La Raza describes itself as a civic-minded Hispanic advocacy group. Critics complain La Raza supports amnesty for illegal immigrants. La Raza believes that Hispanics in America are victims of terrible racism.[1] La Raza opposes English-only laws.[2] Critics contend that La Raza (literally translated “the race”) is part of a larger movement that seeks to extinguish United States borders and control much of the American west as the rightful owners of that land.

History and Mission ....(link)

National Council of La Raza From Wikipedia - The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is America's largest Latino advocacy organization. It advocates in favor of progressive immigration reform policies, including a path to citizenship and reduced deportations. 

Founded in 1968, NCLR is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has regional offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Phoenix, and San Antonio.[4] NCLR has historically received three-quarters of its funding from private sources, including individuals and corporations, and one-quarter of its funding from the federal government.[5] (link)

Below is a copy of the resolution that honors Ms Soto:

HJR0506 007924 - 1 -  
By Clemmons 
A RESOLUTION to honor and commend Renata Soto of Nashville on being named Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Council of La Raza. 

WHEREAS, it is fitting that the members of this General Assembly should salute those citizens who, through their extraordinary efforts , have distinguished themselves as community leaders of whom we can all be proud; and 

WHEREAS, one such noteworthy person is Renata Soto of Nashville , who was recently named Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States; and 

WHEREAS, the first Central American and the first Tennessean to serve in this important leadership role, Ms. Soto , a native of Costa Rica, is the co - founder and executive director of Conexión Américas and has built a reputation as a fierce advocate for Latinos and their families and a valuable asset for the entire Nashville community; and 

WHEREAS, under Ms. Soto’s dynamic leadership, Conexión Américas promotes the social, economic, and civic integration of Hispanic families into the Tennessee community, drawing national recognition and acclaim that led to a visit by President Barack Obama in 2014 to host a town - hall meeting; and 

WHEREAS, Ms. Soto played an integral role as Metro Nashville Public Schools joined in partnership with Conexión Américas to open a pre- kindergarten program, the Casa Azafrán Early Learning Center, at the Casa Azafrán Community Center . This new program not only helped ease long waiting lists, but also strengthened services for students from non - English - speaking backgrounds, who make up to a quarter of all Metro students; and 

WHEREAS, no stranger to awards and accolades, Ms. Soto was named the 2013 Nashvillian of the Year by the Nashville Scene, selected as a Woman of Influence by the the Nashville Business Journal in Nashville Business Journal in 2008, and inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women of Achievement in 2012; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Soto is most grateful for the love and companionship she shares with her husband , Pete Wooten, and their two children, Gabriel and Camila ; and her husband , Pete Wooten, and their two children, Gabriel and Camila ; and 

WHEREAS, the members of this General Assembly find it appropriate to acknowledge and applaud Ms. Soto for her dedication to her community and its citizens; now, therefore, 

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED NINTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that we hereby honor and commend Renata Soto upon being named Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Council of La Raza and extend to her our best wishes for every future success. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that an appropriate copy of this resolution be prepared for presentation with this final clause omitted from such copy. 

My Comment: Just go ahead and give it to her. While La Raza is a liberal lobbying group, Connexion Americas does some good deeds. We don't have to agree with the La Raz position on open borders to pass this little polite congratulatory resolution. Anyway Renato Sota is a nice person. I know she is a liberal, but she means well.  This is one of those little social niceties that don't amount to much. It is simple civility. Someday liberals might be in charge and conservatives might want to give an award to someone who got appointed to the board of Eagle Forum or the National Association of Independent Businessmen or who became a scholar with The Cato Institute. It would be petty for a State legislature with liberals in the majority to reject such a resolution. It is OK to delay the resolution and get some questions answered about La Raz, but now the Senate needs to go ahead and approve this.  I can congratulate someone on their success, even if I do not agree with the position they take on every issue. Congratulations Renato Soto.   

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Council approves emergency $10M for Metro General Hospital

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, Feb. 3, 2016 - The Metro Council approved a $10 million infusion of emergency funds Tuesday for Metro General Hospital at Meharry, Nashville's safety net hospital whose new leader requested the dollars to address deficiencies identified by regulators, a revenue shortfall and other needs.

But even though the vote was unanimous, some council members questioned the late timing of the request. Had it not been been approved, meeting payroll next week was at stake for the hospital, which has struggled financially over the years. (link)

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Update. What's on the Council agenda for 2-2-16: New regs on historic homes and payday lenders, extra $10 million for ...

... Metro Hospital, PILOT for affordable housing, and gay marriage resolution.

Council meetings are a whole lot more interesting (well not a "whole lot;" they are still boring but they are less boring), it you know what it is that is under discussion. To get your own copy of the Metro Council agenda and the staff analysis of the agenda follow the highlighted links.

Below is my agenda summary and commentary.

Boards and Commission: There are seven mayoral appointments to Boards and Commissions on the agenda, including the appointment of  former mayoral candidate Charles Robert Bone to the board of the Metro Development and Housing Agency (MDHA). All of the other appointments are to the Nashville Education, Community and Arts Television Corporation (NECAT). NECAT is the not-for-profit organization that programs three of Metro Government's four PEG (public, educational and government) television stations in Davidson County. I expect none of these appointments to be controversial and all to be approved.

There are 19 bills on public hearing. These are usually rezoning bills that effect only one neighborhood, but sometimes there are text changes also on public hearing that may have larger implications. I don't pay much attention to most zoning bills and do not even attempt to understand the pros and cons of every rezoning bill. Usually the only people who care about a rezoning bill are close neighbors of the proposed zoning change. Below are the bills on public hearing that interest me.

  • BILL NO. BL2015-96 by Councilman Withers would restrict all “Historic home events” to enclosed areas.  I guess when you have a big hammer every problem looks like a small nail. There are certain historic homes in Nashville which are in residential areas that are granted a status allowing them to host events such as meetings and weddings and dinners. They are also often a bed and breakfast.  We have one in my neighborhood which I consider an asset to the community.  Many of these large homes are very expensive to maintain and by allowing them to function in this capacity, the owner can maintain them as showplaces and these historic homes are preserved. The Timothy Demonbreun House, the historic home in my neighborhood of Woodland in Waverly, is only one mile from downtown and from music row and Belmont University. This historic home has a big deep porch running across the full front of the house and from time to time there are front porch wedding and it may also have backyard breakfast meetings and receptions. I enjoy walking by this beautiful old home and seeing a wedding taking place on the grand porch.  There are restrictions on time of operation and parking that keep the site from being an inconvenience to the neighbors.  It is my understanding that in Councilman Withes district there is one of these homes that has been having late night jam session outside and disturbing the neighbors.  We already have a noise resolution that could prohibit that. It seems like overkill to require all of these approved historic homes to stop having outdoor events because one such property owner is inconsiderate of his neighbors.
  • BILL NO. BL2016-107 by Councilman Anthony Davis would expand the Inglewood Place - Jackson Park Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District to 454 additional acres. These conservation overlay districts restrict developers from buying modest homes and demolishing them and building much larger homes which are much more expensive. I understand the desire to maintain the character of one's neighborhood but I am not sure this is good public planing policy. If those desiring nice big homes near downtown cannot get them, then the tax base does not grow as it otherwise would and we need an expanding tax base to fund better schools and mass transportation and all the other things we need and want.  Downtown development has not grown the tax base as much as one would think because much of the new development was funded by tax increment financing and the increased taxes flow to MDHA to fund more development and very little goes to the general fund.  We can raise more taxes by expanding the tax base or raising taxes or we can choose to not have the things many of our citizens desire.  Also when one area is put in a conservation overlay, the area immediately adjacent to the overlay and other areas close to downtown not in an overlay are under more pressure for redevelopment. An overlay in one area shifts the pressure to another area and often the area outside the overlay area has more affordable housing than that within the overlay area.  Instead of preserving affordable housing, an overlay may increase the destruction of affordable housing.  A conservation overlay in east Nashville may cause rapid destruction of affordable housing in Woodbine which does not have an overlay and still has affordable housing. While I am not opposed to this or any of the particular overlay districts, this seems like a haphazard approach to deal with Nashville's growth and its increased desirability as a place for people who have money want to live.
  • BILL NO. BL2016-117 would impose a proximity distant requirement on alternative financial service establishments. This refers to those business such as pawn shops, title loan companies, payday lenders and check cashing places. It would require them to be 1320 feet apart. I am no fan of these business that are often referred to as "predatory lenders." If you don't know about them, this is how pay day lenders work.  Assume you get paid every two weeks and take home $300 a week and to avoid having your electricity cut off you go to a payday lender and borrow $250 with the understanding that on pay day you will pay back the $250 and $50 in fees. If a person paid it back on payday, then that would be less costly and less inconvenient than having ones electricity cut off.  However, many people do not pay it back and roll it over again and again. On an annual basis the interest rate comes to 500% or more for these type loans.  I think it is shameful that people are so stupid that they use these services and that these businesses thrive taking advantage of stupid people. I doubt that by imposing a distance requirement there will be fewer people using these services. The total number of such establishments may decline and each serve more people and the people who use them will be inconvenienced but this will not lessen the demand for these services. The reason these places of business are in low income and minority neighborhoods is because that is where their customers are.  As far as being unattractive, sometimes they may be more attractive than the other business that line the street on which they are located. I oppose this bill just as I would oppose a bill that tried to require fast food establishments be 1320 feet apart.

There are 17 resolutions on the consent agenda at this time. Resolutions on "consent" are all lumped together and are passed by a single vote do the Council.  A bill is taken off of consent if it fails to gain unanimous approval from the committee to which it was assigned.  Also, any council member may, from the floor, object to a resolution being on consent or may ask to have his dissenting vote or abstention recorded.  Here are the resolutions of interest:
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-86 authorizes MDHA to  enter into a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) Agreement with a developer developing a 240 unit apartment complex known as the Paddock at Grandview near I-65 and Trinity Lane. These apartments will be priced affordable for  people earning below 60% of the area median income.  In addition to being excused from paying about 88% of the property taxes they would otherwise pay on this property, the developer is using Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and other tools to subsidize the financing of the project.  This is an example of what it takes to build affordable housing.  While I oppose mandatory inclusionary zoning, I do not oppose developments of this nature.  If this property was not already zoned for multi-family this development probably could not occur as communities routinely oppose rezoning request to accommodate affordable housing. While everyone says we should build affordable housing, no one seems to want it in their neighborhood.  If you live in Belle Meade or Green Hills it is very easy to support affordable housing in principal since there is very little likelihood that affordable housing will be build in your neighborhood. Those who live in neighborhoods where it may be possible for developers to build affordable housing, often do not want to see developments of large number of affordable housing units. They want to see their community become upscale and their property values increase. I don't have a solution for how we build affordable housing and protect property rights and the desires of neighbors to control the nature of their community, but I see the complexity. I have heard of no opposition to this resolution, but since those who oppose development of affordable housing can not fight this development from a zoning standpoint, I would not be surprised if this proposal generates some opposition.
  •  RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-100 request an addition $10 million dollars in operating subsidy for Metro hospital in addition to the $35 million dollar operating subsidy in the FY16 budget. This needs to be rejected. Metro needs to get out of the hospital business all together.  Every since the advent of medicaid poor people could go to the hospital of their choice. There is no need for a Metro charity hospital. Meharry cannot fill its beds despite being the hospital metro jail inmates are sent to and despite it being the hospital that Metro employs get a special deal for using.  A few years ago, long after there was no longer a need for Metro to provide charity nursing homes, metro finally got out of the nursing home business. It is time for metro to get out of the hospital business.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-102  this resolution amends the Farmers Market lease agreement and turns back over to the State the part of the Farmers Market property that has the northern sheds which have been used as flea market space until fairly recently. Metro is compensated. The resolution does not say so, but it is my understanding this is where the State plans to build a new State museum. Assuming the details and dollar amounts are right, I am for this. Now that metro has decided farmers market will be a local-produce-only market and not structured to sell from farmers selling wholesale in bulk to retailers, but will function as a farmer-to-consumer only type boutique farmers market, Metro Farmers market will never need that space.  They have also ended the flea market type vendors who were using the northern sheds and are going to only allow local artisan type stuff to be sold, not the velvet Elvis and 12 socks for $5. So, we do not need all of that norther shed area for people selling homemade soap and soy candles. It would be a good location for the new State museum.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-109  settles a claim against metro in the amount of $200,000 due to an officer shooting a suspect during an arrest. The officer apparently violated some department procedures and the victim sued.  This will probably result in some questions from the council. Often anytime the city has to settle a claim the Council questions the decision to settle. I understand, but the question is not if the employ did right or wrong or if the employee was punished or not. The important issue is, is it cheaper to settle than it is to take a case to court. Can we win if we go to court?  In my years on the council and observing the Council, I have never thought the legal department was wrong in suggesting a settlement. I tend to give Metro Legal the benefit of the doubt in these cases and do not second guess them. 
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-113 is a memorizing resolution asking the Davidson County Delegation to oppose House Bill 1412 sponsored by Rep. Mark Pody. This bill responds to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges which forced all states to grant license for same-sex marriage, by saying the Supreme Court's decision in Tennessee is "unauthoritative, void and of no effect."  While I very much oppose same-sex marriage and would support the State of Tennessee doing whatever it can to legally resist implementing the decision, I do not support the theory of nullification. I think HB 1412 is a bad piece of legislation. I am not alone. David Fowler of Family Action Council of Tennessee has said of HB 1412, "Good Intentions Make Bad Politics" and has explained his opposition. While I agree with substance of the resolution before the Council, if were in the Council I  still might vote against it or be recorded as abstaining simply because I do not think the local council should opine on issues before the state legislature or the U. S. Congress except in the most extreme of circumstances. The Council does not have hearings on the issue or study the issue. There are lots of bad bills introduced in the state legislature that never pass and I doubt 1412 will pass. The Council should generally stick to local legislative matters.  However, since Bill 1412 is such a bad bill I would not be critical of those who voted for Resolution 2016-113.
There are 23 bills on First Reading. I have not read them. First Reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda and they are passed all lumped together by a single vote. Bills do not go to committee until after they pass First reading. BILL NO. BL2016-134 is the inclusionary zoning ordinance and it is on First Reading.

There are seven bills on Second Reading and this is the only one I find of interest.
  • BILL NO. BL2016-99 would strengthen the Human Relations Commission by removing the term limits for members of the Commission. In my view this useless agency should be abolished instead of strengthened. They serve to indoctrinate people in  political correctness. Any thing of value they do could easily be done by other agencies.  One of the offensive things they do is sponsor the Youth Pavilion at the Gay Pride Festival. This bill should be defeated.
There are only five bills on Third Reading and none are of interest. 

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2016 Bills of Interest to TN Small Business

For a list of those bills before the State legislature that the Tennessee chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business find of interes,t follow this link: 2016 Bills of Interest to TN Small Business.

I am especially pleased to see the NFIB take the position they have taken on the following bills:

The NFIB supports the bill prohibiting mandatory inclusionary zoning: SB 1636  by Haile, HB 1632 by Casada. Prohibits a local governmental unit from enacting zoning regulations that require the allocation of a percentage of existing or newly constructed private residential or commercial rental units for long-term retention as affordable or workforce housing.

The NFIB supports the bill that prohibits a local government from haveing a "local hire" requirement on construction projects, such as the recently passed Nashville amendment 3 charter amendment:  SB 1621  by Johnson, HB 1674 by Marsh. Prohibits the state or any local government from requiring a company bidding on a state or local construction project to employ individuals who reside within the jurisdiction of the state or local government. Addresses so-called “local for hire” ordinances.

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Mayor Barry takes away the Election Commission's credit card, issues statement regarding Ron Buchanan's resignation

Press Release, 2-1-2016, NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mayor Megan Barry has issued the following statement on the resignation of Ron Buchanan as Chairman of the Davidson County Election Commission and on the investigation into credit card charges by the Election Commission:

Mr. Buchanan’s behavior and treatment of reporter Alanna Autler was outrageously inappropriate. It is good that Mr. Buchanan has resigned, but unfortunate that he has shown no remorse for his words or actions. Government officials should be able to withstand tough questions.

After reviewing the charges with Finance Director Talia Lomax-O’dneal, I directed the Election Commission’s credit card privileges to be revoked and we sent auditors to the Election Commission this morning to get a more detailed view of the purchases that have been made.

When the audit is complete, the Finance Department will report to me and the Law Department to determine the appropriate next steps.

Additionally, I have directed the Finance Department to undergo a comprehensive review of our credit card procedures throughout every Metro department. After the last comprehensive review, Metro significantly reduced the number of cards available in our departments, and while we believe this to be an isolated incident involving the Election Commission, we want to be certain that we are following best practices to safeguard taxpayer dollars.

My Comment:  I am with the Mayor on this. Not that I have never said to my self about someone, "what a bitch," but I only thought it; I didn't say it out loud.  Well, maybe once or twice I have said it out loud but in a private setting, not to a reporter. A public figure should be able to govern his temper and refrain from name calling, not that I think calling a women "bitch" is any worse than calling someone a "scumbag" or an "asshole."

I know the "b-word" is considered almost as bad as the "n-word" and because of political correctness we get down right silly and when quoting someone, if they used the term "bitch," we say they said the "b-word" instead of saying he called her a "bitch."  We also say he called him the "n-word" rather than saying, "he called him a nigger."  When one can't even say the words, even when quoting what someone else said that was inappropriate, we have become too sensitive.

While I think it totally inappropriate that Buchanan called a reporter "bitch," I am not buying the feminist outrage that the "b-word" is any worse than many other bad words one could utter in anger. Calling a woman a "bitch" is no worse than calling a man a "bastard." I have heard women refer to another women as a "bitch," but somehow it is supposed to be worse if a man calls a women a bitch. I am not buying that either.

Where I disagree with the Mayor is, I don't care that Buchanan did not apologize. As much as I dislike someone losing their temper and calling a reporter "bitch," I dislike phony remorse.  To show real remorse one is supposed to sign himself into rehab and get "treatment."  Another way to survive such an incident is to express remorse and then accept being sent to sensitivity training.  I don't like it when people accept sensitivity training; it sounds a lot like getting sent to a police-state reeducation camp.  Buchanan lost his temper and said a bad word, he resigned, it is over.  No other action necessary, no treatment and no sensitivity training.

I support the mayor in taking away the credit card.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Dems use Buchanan resignation to attack Beth Harwell. She should not have given them the ammunition.

From: Gary Bynum, Chair DCDP [] On Behalf Of Gary Bynum, Chair DCDP
Sent: Monday, February 1, 2016 2:09 PM
To: xxxxxx
Subject: Harwell appointed Davidson County Election Commission Chairman Ron Buchanan resigns
" ​It has become clear that Davidson County Republicans have no respect for women these days.  From Election Commissioner Ron Buchanan calling a female reporter a "bitch" and refusing to apologize, to Speaker Beth Harwell covering up sexual harassment at the Capitol and creating a toxic work environment for her female employees, Tennessee Republicans simply can't be trusted not to abuse their authority.  The fact that Speaker Harwell appointed Mr. Buchanan--a Republican with no election experience to speak of--to be the Chairman of the most important County Election Commission in the State of Tennessee further calls her judgment into question.  Mr. Buchanan secretly dining out at Sperry's on the public's dime during a budget crisis is bad enough.  However, the fact that he did so while he was directly responsible for overseeing the Commission's use of taxpayer money is unconscionable.  His immediate resignation was appropriate, and we encourage Speaker Harwell to appoint someone with experience and integrity to Chair the Davidson County Election Commission in his place, rather than making another patronage appointment to someone whose only qualification is being a registered Republican."
My Comment: The Democrats have a point when it comes to the Election Commission.  I don't know the details but either Wall and Buchanan are close friends or their wives are close friends. I am not sure that is a healthy arrangement when there is a close relationship of that nature between the head of the commission and the administrator of the agency who answers to that commission. Some of my Republican friends questioned the wisdom of the appointment of Buchanan and hiring of Wall at the time.

Kent Wall has announced his resignation effective March 31st. One thing that has disappointing me in Kent Wall is that he did not seek certification as an Administrator of Elections (link). Only nine of Tennessee's 90 counties do not have certified administrator of elections and most of those without certified Administrators are rural, low-income counties and their Administrator is pursuing certification. It was embarrassing that our Administrator of Elections was not certified and not seeking certification. I think The Tennessean's questioning and Mr. Bynum's criticism of the expenditure of  a $600 for a picture frame and a $125 lunch was appropriate. The Republican Party is supposed to be the party of government frugality; those expenditures can not be justified.

Ever since Republicans took control of the Election Commission there has been turmoil. Frankly, I think we should have weathered the storm and stuck with Albert Tiche rather throw him overboard, but that is history.  I hope Beth Harwell will recommend someone to replace Buchanan who is a public servant first and a Republican second and someone who knows better than to call a female reporter "bitch."  Surely we can find a good Republican to serve on the Commission who will see that the Commission hires a good administrator who wants to run a tight ship, conduct fair elections, wisely spend the money they are allocated, seek certification, and keep the Election Commission out of the newspaper.  I don't know her political affiliation and don't really care, but I think Joan Nixon should be considered for Administrator of Elections.

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Davidson County Election Commission chairman Ron Buchanan has resigned

A Tennessean news reporter was questioning Mr. Buchanan about the appropriateness of some Election Commission expenditures including $600 for a custom picture frame and a $125 payment to cover a dinner that Kent Wall, Administrator of Elections and Ron Buchanan, Chairman of the Election Commission, had at Sperry’s restaurant in Belle Meade. Mr. Buchanan did not like the way the reporter was asking the questions or did not like the questions and called the reporter a "bitch."  He was unapologetic, defended the expenditures as appropriate and announced he was resigning his position.

Nashville election chairman calls TV reporter 'b----,' quits

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