Saturday, May 07, 2016

Director of Schools candidates list narrowed to three. Now is the time for public involvement. week, the Metro Nashville School Board received a slate of six candidates for the position of Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools. The slate was selected by Jim Huge, a candidate recruiter hired by the Board.  On Thursday, the school board interviewed each of the six. Amy Frogge and Jill Speering unsuccessfully tried to add a seventh candidate because none of the six were  female. Of course, none of the six were Asian or Hispanic or gay or transgendered, as far as we know.  I don't know about their geographical, religious. political, economic, marital status, involvement with the criminal justice system,  or food preference or music preference diversity. With only six candidates you can't cover the full gamut of diversity factors. Also, one doesn't know how diverse was the pool from which the recruiter could pull. Friday, the school board narrowed the list to three finalists.  Prior to narrowing the list, one of the original six withdrew. His reason for withdrawing was not stated, but speculation is that the antics of Frogge and Speering may have  been responsible. School Board Chairman Sharron Gentry expressed her disappointment at the attempts of Frogge and Speering to disrupt the selection process.  “It was reminiscent of some of the things from last year,” Gentry said. “I was irritated and very disappointed in our behavior.”
Last year after a long search for a replacement for Jesse Register, the departing Director of Schools, the board was unsuccessful in filling the position. The Board was disappointed in the candidates submitted by the search firm, but ended up offering the position to Williamson County Schools Director Mike Looney who ended up turning down an offer. Many say having such a divided School Board may have made candidate recruitment difficult. After failing to fill the position last year, the Board decided to put off the search until after the mayoral elections.

The decision on Friday to cap the list to only three candidates was not unanimous. Board members Mary Pierce and Elissa Kim dissented. To see The Tennessean's coverage of the issues surrounding the process of narrowing the list to final three candidates, follow this link.

The three final candidates are picture on this page. To view a profile of a candidates click on the candidate's picture.

These candidates will now move on to a second round of interviews. There will be various opportunities for public engagement and input into the search process and one may ask questions to Board members and the candidates.This is a link to the MNPS website were you may  Submit your questions and comments in this short online survey.

The Board will host a series of community forums with the finalist candidates May 10-12. The forums will each feature a different candidate for an hour-long interview with parents, teachers and members of the community. The forums will be hosted at Metro middle and high schools around Nashville.

During the forums, a panel of representatives will ask questions of the finalists directly and audience members will submit questions for use by the moderator. Citizens can also submit questions online.  A selection of these questions will be drawn at random each night for candidates to answer. Those who attend the forums will be asked to provide feedback for the Board at the end of each forum.

Below is a video of the Board interviewing the candidates.

This is the video of Friday's meeting that narrowed the candidates list to three finalist.

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Reflections on Trump's winning the nomination.

Watching Donald Trump win the nomination has sort of been like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I just could not believe it was happening. When it did, it was still a shock. I remember when

Trump first stated flirting with running, I thought it was a joke.  I thought it was a publicity stunt.   When he announced and started drawing large crowds I thought it was a fluke.  "Give it six weeks and it will be over," I said.  That shows you how much I know.

Now that Trump is going to be the nominee I would like to rally behind the Party and support him. I just can't do it.  My concern is that he is an unknown. Rather than believing he really does mean to build a wall along the southern border, I don't think I know anything else that I think he really believes. There is every reason to believe he is a liberal based on whom he has supported in the past and positions he has taken. He still thinks eminent domain is a great tool to be used to facilitate economic development, he has been pro-abortion, pro-Planned Parenthood, and pro-gun control. He as said contradictory things about Obamacare. He has not been an advocate for cutting the debt, balancing the budget or for cutting the size of government. He has praised Russian dictator Putin

In some ways Trump scares me more than Hillary. Sort like with Obamacare, it had to be passed before we knew what was in it; with Trump we would have to elect him to know what he really believes. I suspect that Hillary Clinton will not abandon free trade and start  trade wars. I fear Donald Trump may. We know Hillary and we know she is bad for America. With a Hillary presidency we can expect a continuing policy of more intrusive government at home, larger budget deficits and national debt, and a weakened America in the world. We can expect a more aggressive Russia and China and a nuclear Iran. As bad as that is, Trump could be worse.  I almost think sticking with the devil we know is better than the one we don't know. 

As of today, I cannot support Trump. If he chooses a running mate I like, if he begins talking more reasonable, if he convincingly takes position with which I agree, and if he wins the support of people I admire and whose opinion I respect, I might could support him.  If people like George Will and publications like National Review come out in favor of Trump, then I could be persuaded.  I doubt that will happen. As of now, I cannot vote for Trump.  It would however be very difficult to pull the lever for Hillary Clinton and don't want to stay home. 

Luckily I won't have the deciding vote in who will be the next president. Tennessee will go Trump, so I can safely not vote or vote for a third party without affecting the outcome. If Tennessee was in play I would have a much more difficult time deciding what to do. If the election was today, I would vote Libertarian, assuming the nominee is Gary Johnson. If the Libertarians nominate some clown, I will probably vote for the some other third party.  

My greatest concern is that if conservatives stay home, we will lose "down ticket." If we lose both houses of Congress, Hilary could have a free hand to enact single-payer health care and further balloon the national debt and expand government an appoint the most liberal person she could find to the Supreme Court.. If we can hold congress, then she will have to moderate her Supreme Court pick and most of her major proposals can be stalled. Most likely Hillary will only get one term.  It is very unusual for the party in power to get a third term and it almost never happens that the party in power gets a fourth term. I believe Hillary will be the next President, I just hope we can hold the Congress. 

Below are some other opinion gleamed from the Facebook and elsewhere worth sharing.

From Vincent Kreul as posted on Facebook:
Many of my friends vote by the Buckley rule (most conservative that can win). Some of you vote based on polls. Some of you vote because you personally know candidates. Some of you have voted or intend to vote for Donald Trump. I still love you. I expect you'll still be along side me in the fight for conservative principles long after this election has passed us. I'm very much struggling in my conscience to vote for a man who supports, or has recently supported so many things contrary to the steadfast conservatism that has guided me through decades of activism, education, and a career. Can someone who thinks I should vote for Trump, politely and factually, explain to me how doing so does not contradict my core principles of Pro-Life, Pro-Gun, Anti-Tax, Anti-Cronyism, Pro-religious-liberty, Pro-military (not pro-war), pro-civil-rights, and pro-equality for all races and both genders. Make the sales pitch, but know that I need evidence, facts, and logic. Hillary being bad isn't enough... Convince me that Trump isn't bad too.
“If we must have an enemy at the head of government,” Alexander Hamilton said in exasperation, “let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible.”
Vincent Kreul is Tennessee Grassroots Director at Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
From Dan Turklay as posted on Facebook:
Some of the best advice my Dad, Dan Turklay, ever gave me was that if somebody warns you they're going to react a certain way if you do something, don't be surprised if they do exactly what they said they would.

Alas, Donald Trump had been given more than sufficient warning that the conservative GOP base would not turn out for Trump in November if you shoved a Democrat onto the ballot as the GOP POTUS nominee, and now you have no right to be mad when that base does not show up in November.

Trump is going to get plastered by Hillary and I will take absolutely no joy in that. I do hope that Trump voters find the dismal results in November educational as to what happens when you sacrifice principle for bumper sticker slogans. But understand, the blood will be on your hands. It will not be on the hands of the conservatives who did everything we could to stop this from happening in the first place.

As for myself, I don't know exactly where I will land. I'd be lying if I said I knew for sure I won't end uo voting for him, but I can say for sure that if I had to choose right now the answer would be a resounding "Absolutely Not!"

I will figure that out for myself some time between now and the second Tuesday in November. Even though I have the luxury of living in a state that will undoubtedly go red, I will still take my decision very seriously as to who or if I vote for POTUS this year.

It's such a shame it had to come to this, Trump voters. Your justifiable anger was used to push an unjustifiable solution. Just know that when the votes are tallied, it will not be that the conservatives you were counting on abandoned were merely warned in the most unambiguous of ways and chose to ignore it.

Best of luck with that. ‪#‎NeverTrump‬ ‪#‎NeverHillary‬ ‪#‎AlwaysPrinciples‬

Daniel Truklay is an attorney,  having recently passed the bar, is a member of The Federalist Society and a friend of mine from Liberty on the Rocks.
From Richard Upchurch as posted on Facebook:
Here is the difficult and painful truth, FB friends. No longer the "Shining City on the Hill". Out of 300 million, one of these two reprehensible specimens is going to be our next president? Incredible. The profound shame, insofar as can tell, is not in who and what these two are, but that the voters seem to be choosing them.

Richard Upchurch is my uncle and a smart wise old man. 
From Gene Wisdom as posted on Facebook:
They're both liars, they're both liberal Democrats, they both hunger for power. Pick your poison. Personally, I'm not ready to drink the hemlock.

Gene Wisdom is a local political activist and close friend. 
From National Review: A Dark Time in America
As of tonight, we might know whether Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential candidate. And barring unforeseeable events, it is certain that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. Those are two reasons (of many, unfortunately) why — other than the first years of the Civil War, when the survival of the United States as one country was in jeopardy — there was never a darker time in American history. 
The various major wars — the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars — were worse in terms of American lives lost. The Great Depression was worse in economic terms. There were more riots during the Vietnam War era. But at no other time was there as much pessimism — valid pessimism, moreover — about America’s future as there is today. 
Among the reasons are: Every distinctive value on which America was founded is in jeopardy. (link)
From National Review: No, Trump Isn’t Actually Better than Hillary
Those of us who’ve pledged that we will never, ever vote for Donald Trump always get the same response: “You’d put Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office instead?”

Clinton’s name is spoken like an epithet, as if it’s unthinkable that any conservative would take any single action that could facilitate her election. I will not, under any circumstances, vote for Clinton, but I also do not believe that Trump would make a better president. Not because Clinton isn’t as bad as you think, but because Trump is worse than you imagine.

There’s no real difference in character between the two. They lie as easily as they breathe: habitually, transparently, shamelessly. Hillary lies like a lawyer, always parsing her words to provide a legal escape route. Trump lies like a thug, contradicting himself with each successive breath and daring anyone to call him on it. They both seek to destroy their political opponents, and they’d probably both wield the levers of power to do so and to reward their friends. In other words, they’re both fundamentally corrupt.

We know what we’ll get from Clinton when it comes to foreign policy. She’s an internationalist interventionist with more muscular instincts than Barack Obama and less resolve than George W. Bush. (link)
From George Will in the Washington Post: If Trump is nominated, the GOP must keep him out of the White House
Donald Trump’s damage to the Republican Party, although already extensive, has barely begun. Republican quislings will multiply, slinking into support of the most anti-conservative presidential aspirant in their party’s history. These collaborationists will render themselves ineligible to participate in the party’s reconstruction.

Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states — condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life. Second, conservatives can try to save from the anti-Trump undertow as many senators, representatives, governors and state legislators as possible.

If Trump is nominated, Republicans working to purge him and his manner from public life will reap the considerable satisfaction of preserving the identity of their 162-year-old party while working to see that they forgo only four years of the enjoyment of executive power. (link)

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Southeast Nashville Breakfast Club, Sat. May 21st: Sch. Bd District 7 candidates & Senator Mae Beavers on the Convention

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Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee workshop set for Monday May 16th

The Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee invites all interested stakeholders to their second workshop to discuss proposed legislation to preserve and provide workforce and affordable housing. The workshop is scheduled for
Monday, May 16 at 5:30
in the Jury Assembly Room in the Metro Courthouse
The committee members have been working on companion bills to BL2016-133 (the inclusionary zoning bill introduced in February) to ensure that the whole picture of affordability is addressed. These include:

* Resolution calling for a comprehensive plan to look at the full range of issues
* Ordinance to expand the options for using PILOT for housing funding
* Ordinance to create a grants program to provide incentives for inclusionary zoning
* Ordinance to expand the responsibilities of the Barnes Fund Commission and provide a process for reporting regularly to the Metro Council
The objective of the meeting will be to present information about each of the companion bills and to gather feedback on the latest revision of BL2016-133.

For more information, follow this link.

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Friday, May 06, 2016

In a sweetheart deal, Metro Plans Sale of Ben West Library to TEA Union.

Plans involve adaptive reuse of the building, preserving its architecture and original educational purposes and a sweetheart deal that subsidizes the purchase by teachers union.

 Metro Press Release, 5/5/2016, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Metro officials are nearing completion of

a sale of the Ben West Library to the Tennessee Education Association (TEA), which will allow for the renovation of the facility in a way that preserves the history and architecture of the building and allows for public use.

“When I found out that TEA, which represents so many of our great public school teachers, was interested in purchasing the property, I was excited about the opportunity,” said Mayor Megan Barry. “This is a win for historic preservation advocates, public school advocates, and the city of Nashville as a whole.”

In the proposal submitted to Metro, TEA plans for the first floor of the building to function as a large auditorium, meeting, and display space for use by students, teachers, and others involved in education. TEA will preserve the second floor theater for similar educational purposes. As part of the deal, TEA will make the Ben West Library Building’s proposed conference and event space available to Metro Schools 50 days each year for meetings and events, plus 12 days extended to Metro.

“We are excited to have a collaborative partnership with Mayor Barry and Metro Nashville to ensure that the Ben West building is preserved in a way that will serve as an important resource for teachers and public schools across Tennessee,” said Jim Wrye, government relations manager with the Tennessee Education Association.

“Once renovations of the building are complete, we will be able to move our annual TEA convention from Franklin to Nashville, which is great for our members and will be an economic boost for the city.”

Terms of the sale of the Ben West Library include: $2 million to the McLanahan heirs in order to satisfy terms of the deed restrictions on the original property. $2 million to Metro Nashville, $750,000 of which will be paid at closing, with $125,000 per year for 10 years. Estimated $8,500,000 in renovations by TEA to create a “state of the art” facility for use by Metro Schools, teachers, educators and Metro. Total preservation of the historic building, with no modifications to height or façade. A total investment of TEA in the amount of $12,500,000. Purchase of the Ben West Library will coincide with the successful closing of the sale of the existing TEA facility at 801 2nd Ave North.

My comment:  This is a sweetheart deal and the teachers union is not a good sweetheart.  We should not be so closely aligned to a union which stands in the way of educational reform. Why did this property not have to go to auction or be sold through a listing? Is $4 million really fair market value?
Also, allowing TEA to pay what it owes to Metro, $2 million, over 10 years, means that Metro is basically acting as a lender on this deal (subsidy). At 4% interest, the current value of $4 million spread over 10 years is $4.86 million. I hope this deal gets close scrutiny from the Metro Council. I don't know if we are selling the property for less than what it is worth or not, but we must be or part of the deal would not include allowing Metro Schools use of the building.

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Thursday, May 05, 2016

A message from Tim Skow, host of 1st Tuesday

From Tim Skow
May 4

There are some GREAT Events coming to you ... AND SOON !!! Below includes info and some attached invites for: 1ST TUESDAY [yes, on Monday, May 9th ] featuring TENNESSEE TITANS General Manager Jon Robinson ... and some special guests ! After the NFL Draft, this will be an incredible ''political break'' and MUCH fun ! For seating, visit our website at 1st Tuesday Nashville and click on ''Join US'' 1st Tuesday Nashville Welcome to 1st Tuesday-Nashville. The greatest civic minds in Nashville and the State of Tennessee convene here ... 


Nashville Republican Women ANNUAL SPRING LUNCHEON AND SILENT AUCTION FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2016 Richland Country Club One Club Drive just off Granny White $35 per person 10:00 am - Registration & Start of Bidding [ GET SOME GREAT STUFF !!!! ] 11:00 - Program


The TN State Republican Party annual STATESMEN'S DINNER Friday May 13 -- Features South Carolina Gov Nikki Haley and Will HONOR one of finest men in TN politics I ever met, Sen. Fred Thompson Invite here. 

The 2016 Davidson Co. Republican Party annual Summer FUN event May 22nd - Invite attached will lead you to tickets. Connie Hunter is the ''FUN Queen'' this year and will be at lunch on May 9th Invite below


The TN Minority Coalition - Hosted by Tony Roberts &Dan Davis May 26 - Featuring the remarkable Dr. Omar Hamada. Meeting this month will be held at Logan's Steak House of Elliston Place off of West End Avenue near Vanderbilt University. The meeting will be held on Thursday May 26, 2016 at 5:30 for networking and the meeting from 6:00 to 7:00. Dr. Hamada speaks multiple languages, including Arabic, French and Italian. Omar L. Hamada, MD, MBA, (FAAFP | FACOG | FICS), USASOC, a heavily decorated, veteran Major of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne), is an accomplished physician and business executive in both civilian and military healthcare markets.

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40th annual TN GOP Statesmen’s Dinner May

Dear Friend,
It’s not too late to reserve your seat at the 40th annual Statesmen’s Dinner with Governor Nikki Haley.  Governor Haley will be joined by Governor Bill Haslam, Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and members of Tennessee’s state and federal delegations. This year’s dinner will also include a tribute to the late Senator Fred Thompson.
The dinner is Friday, May 13th at the Music City Center in Nashville. Receptions begin at 5:30, and the dinner program begins at 6:30.
For information or to purchase tickets, please contact Anna McDonald at 615-269-4260 or
Thank you for your support of our Republican candidates!
Ryan Haynes
PS: If you've already purchased tickets, we look forward to seeing you there!
I don't think I am going to attend. I may but, I don't think so. I just can't get in the mood.  I am not exactly boycotting the Tennessee Republican Party, but I just can't get very excited  about attending. I don't like the practice of people who are supposed to be working to advance the goals of the Party using their position to advance their own financial interest which hurt the Party.  This applies to husband and wife team of Walker and Taylor Ferrell, one of whom is soliciting clients to hire her to help them defeat incumbent Republicans  while the other is the Political Director of the Party. In my view that stinks.

My displeasure with the Party for have people in official position in the Party who engage in slimy double dealing and dual loyalty also includes Mark Winslow who is an elected member of the SEC with access to party information and a vote on how much to fund Republican office seekers, yet gets paid to help a Democrat win an election against a Republican.  In both cases I do not believe you can serve two masters. I was about ready to just ignore the revolting situation of Winslow and attend this annual fund raiser anyway, then the news of the equally slimy situation of Walker and Taylor Ferrel arose.

I think I will just stay home.

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What happended at the Council meeting on 5/3/16: Not much.

To access my analysis of the meeting agenda, the agenda and the Council staff analysis, follow this link.

If you want a good understanding the issues before Metro Council you gain more insight by watching Budget and Finance Committee meetings than Council meetings.  This is a pretty boring meeting with not any really controversial items on the agenda.

Below is the video of the B&F committee meeting.

Below is the Council meeting:

Here is The Tennesseans report on the meetng:

Hillsboro Village is a step closer toward getting new apartments — and a little denser — after the Metro Council gave preliminary approval to plans for a 76-unit apartment development in the area. .... apartment project on property at Wedgewood and Belcourt avenues.... handful of residents bemoan the setbacks, size and scale and parking for the project.  Among them was former Councilwoman Betty Nixon...(link

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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

John Kasich responds to news Cruz threw in the towel

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Graham rally draws 8,600. Graham says Christians must repent, pray, vote, run for office.

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Christians cannot restore America by rallying behind political parties, but must pray, vote and engage in politics to uphold biblical principles, evangelist Franklin Graham told a crowd of about 8,600 gathered at noon today (May 3) in front of the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville.

It was the largest crowd to date in his Decision American Tour 2016 with Franklin Graham -- a series of sermons and prayer rallies at each capitol in the nation that began Jan. 5 in Des Moines, Iowa -- and is scheduled to end Oct. 13 in Raleigh, N.C. ........

Ladies and gentlemen we need leaders in high places, we need leaders in public office who are not afraid or scared to honor almighty God," Graham said. "America is being stripped of its biblical heritage and its God given foundations."
Too many leaders, Graham said, are more concerned with political correctness than biblical truth, and should be willing to stand on God's Word in the marketplace.

"It's time for Christians to take a stand and if they want to sue, bring it on, come on, sue us. But we're not going to shut up, we're not going to back up, because Jesus said if they did that to me, they're going to do that to you," Graham said. "So He's already warned us, so let's just go ahead and take a bullet, right? I'm just saying we take a stand for the Lord Jesus Christ, for what He taught."

He encouraged Christians to vote not only in the presidential election, but also in local and state races.

"Take your communities back. The devil's got them, let's get them back. And it could be done by the Christians, because they're more of us than there is of them. We just cannot afford to be silent anymore," he said. "We may not have another opportunity as a nation like this again. So you've got to vote."
Graham did not endorse a candidate nor promote a political party. (link)

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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

TN GOP consultant Taylor Ferrell ends two contracts but that does not end the controversy.

Taylor Ferrell in an apparent attempt to placate her critics has announced that she is ended two contracts with clients.  These are assumed to be clients who are challenging sitting Republican members of the State legislature. She said she was cancelling the contracts, "Due to some wrong information and false allegations" and to protect her clients.

To summarize what this is all about, Walter Ferrell is the Political Director of the TNGOP and he is married to Taylor Ferrell.  Taylor Ferrell has a contract with the Party to provide logistics support for the Party, having to do with the upcoming convention, things like arranging travel and such.  Taylor Ferrell also has a political consulting business called Southland Advantage that raises money for candidates seeking office.  Some of her clients are running in the primary against incumbent Republican office holders. Twenty-seven Republican office holders signed a letter calling for Walter Ferrell's resignation. To see who signed the letter and for more on this follow this link.

Ferrell's announcement that she was cancelling  two contracts has not quelled the storm.  Rep. Judd Matheny in a letter to Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes has said that action does not resolve "the ethical dilemma presented first by employing a husband and wife team and the subsequent very serious ethical breach facilitated by you, remains unchanged."

I agree.  With Walker Ferrell serving as Political Director of the Party and his wife a consultant seeking to represent people seeking political office or people seeking to retain a political office, that is a conflict.  Either Walker Ferrell should resign or Taylor Ferrell should close shop.  To see The Tennessean story on this follow this link.

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Monday, May 02, 2016

Beacon Center Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against the State Government

In its first statewide legal challenge, the Beacon Center Legal Foundation has filed a civil rights

Tammy Pritchard prohibited by the
State of Tennessee from working
washing hair.
lawsuit on behalf of Memphis resident Tammy Pritchard. The lawsuit is in response to Tennessee's unfair and unconstitutional occupational licensing regulation on shampooing.

The state of Tennessee forces hair washers to get a license before they are legally allowed to shampoo anyone's hair, if they get paid for it. Due to the state's licensing requirement, residents must spend hundreds of hours in educational programs that cost thousands of dollars before they are able to carry out this simple task of washing someone's hair. Now, I am not opposed to all licensing. I want my doctor to be licensed. Maybe even the beautician who is going to put harsh chemicals on one's hair needs licensed. But the hair wash girl? There is no health and safety justification for requiring African hair weavers, or flower arrangers, or hair wash girls or lock smiths to be licensed.

 Even worse in the case of the requirement to be licensed to wash hair, no one can currently acquire a license to shampoo hair in Tennessee. This is because there is currently no school in the entire state that offers the course that is a mandated component of the hair washing license. That means that unless you already have a hair washing license from years ago or from another state, you are unable to wash hair in Tennessee without obtaining a full cosmetology license, something that requires 1,500 hours of schooling and costs as much as $35,000 in tuition.

Beacon Director of Litigation and former U.S. Justice Department Attorney Braden Boucek stated, "The idea that a person needs to have a license to do something as simple as washing hair is not just foolish, it is unconstitutional.  These laws are designed by people already in the business who are attempting to unfairly shield themselves from competition at the expense of hard working Tennesseans. That’s not what laws are for. People want to work, and this regulation hurts the very people who need a job the most. The government is preventing low-income Tennesseans from getting a good a job, and we at the Beacon Center are ready to put a stop to that."

Boucek went on to note, "The worst part of this regulation is that the state requires you to go to a school to get a license but is unaware of any school that actually offers the program."

I hope the Beacon Center succeeds in this effort. I will be increasing my financial support for the Beacon Center. It is a shame they have to file suit to overturn this licensing requirement. I am very disappointed that our state legislature has not addressed this. Better than spending their time on making the Bible the official book or passing a state law to solve a bathroom problem that I am not sure even exist, I think the State legislature' energy would be better spend identifying and removing needless license requirements. I think the State legislature should examine ever license requirement of the state and ask (1) Does this occupation need a license, and (2) is the amount of training required appropriate or excessive? I think each license requirement should also have a sunset provision so they are revisited every two years or so.

Back in 1980 when I began serving in the Metro Council, one of the first issues I had to vote on was whether or not to repeal a license requirement that required movie theater projectionist to be licensed. For some of you, 1980 was before you were born, but even in 1980 running a movie projector was already an easy task It involved inserting a movie cassette in a machine. If a multiplex had ten screens, they were supposed to have a projectionist for each screen. I understand that in the early days of the movie industry running a movie projector was a job that required skill and movie projectors could be a fire hazard. That had not been the case in many years. The unions had been trying to force the movie theaters to follow this license requirement and the movie theaters sought to have the law repealed. It was repealed but it was a hotly contested issue and organized labor fought the repeal.

While there may be some justifications for some professional license, often a professional license serves no purpose except to protect those already in business from competition.

To support the work of the Beacon Center follow this link

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Update. What's on the Council agenda for May 3rd: Saving Tennessee State Prison, banning smoking at Ascend,

The Metro Council meets Tuesday night May 3rd  at 6:30PM.  Council meetings are televised live on Comcast Channel 3 or the next day one can catch it on the Metro YouTube channel and I report the meetings here. I will summarize the meetings and give a time stamp notation pointing out the good parts, if there are any good parts. Usually there is no good debate or grandstanding or tension or clever parliamentary maneuvering. Most Council meeting are real boring but I watch then so you don't have to. If you want to know more about the operation of city government, most of the important decision are made at the Budget and Finance Committee meetings and you learn more from watching a meeting of B&F than you do the Council meeting itself.

It you want to know what will be before the Council, you need a copy of the agenda and the agenda analysis.  If you are going to watch the council meeting without a copy of the agenda, you won't know what the Council is voting on and you will be wasting your time.  Here is a link to the agenda and the staff analysis.

I am only listing those items that I think are significant or are important to me.  I may miss something, so if you really care, you may want to read the agenda for yourself.  There are 16 bills on public hearing, most of them zoning bills and, for the most part, those bore me and I don't even attempt to gain an understanding of the pros and cons of every zoning bill.  I do not generally watch meetings of the Planning Commission either, so I am not the most informed person in Metro regarding zoning issues. Most zoning bills impact only nearby residence, so while a particular zoning issue may be very important to a few people, I am only going to point out those that I know to have created a lot of controversy or have an impact beyond one small neighborhood.

Bills on Public Hearing

BILL NO. BL2016-199   in council member Sharon Hurt's district  applies a Contextual Overlay District to 232 acres. The provision for a  Contextual Overlay was established in August 2014 as 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. A Contextual Overlay does not affect the base zoning of a property. In essence this mean you cannot build something too far outside of the norm of what is already there. The specifics are not attached and I am not sure how the public would know the specifics of what they were getting with the Contextual Overlay.
The Castle, Tennessee State Prison
BILL NO. BL2016-201   would apply a Neighborhood Landmark Overlay District to property located at 6404 and 6410 Centennial Boulevard.  This is the old State prison.  This legislative act is one step in a process to try and find a way to save the old building.   

None of the resolutions appear controversial. 

There are 13 bills on First Reading, but I don't read them until they get to second reading. First Reading is a formality to get them on the agenda.

Bill on Second reading:
BILL NO. BL2016-205 would prohibit smoking at the outdoor Ascent amphitheater.
BILL NO. BL2016-206  would authorize by permits private snow plow services. This applies to public property. Those providing this service on private drives or parking lots would not have to have a permit.  An example of where this might apply is if an Homeowners Association wanted to contract with some one for snow removal. 

None of the bills on Third reading appear controversial.

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The MTA bus terminal is a gun-free zone.

Following the tragic shooting recently at the downtown MTA bus terminal, I wondered if the facility

was a gun-free zone, so I asked. It is.

Could you please tell me the MTA policy on guns. Do you have a policy? If a person has a carry permit, may they carry their firearm on an MTA bus. Is the MTA terminal a gun-free zone. Are "no guns" signs posted?
Thank you.
 Rod Williams
A Disgruntled Republican

To Rod Williams
 Apr 29 at 2:45 PM
Thank you for contacting Nashville MTA/RTA. Mr. Williams, it is. MTA Code of Conduct states, “Individuals may not possess a weapon…..This policy applies to all MTA buses, bus stops and headquarters…”
Bryan A. Williams
Lead Customer Care Rep 

I still don't know if they have the policy stated and posted and if they have the little "no guns" sticker on the door or not, but it doesn't matter. Criminals do not follow the law. A gun-free zone simply means that people who follow the rules will be unarmed and only criminals will be armed.

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109th General Assembly adjourns with tax reduction and public safety highlighting final week of legislative action

 Several members of the State legislature produce an email newsletter with almost the same verbiage word for word. This is from Senator Jim Tracy.

The 109th General Assembly adjourned on April 22, 2016 to become a part of Tennessee history with the last week of legislative action seeing passage of some of the most important bills of the 2016 session.  This includes legislation to phase out the Hall Income Tax, a bill to aid 100 percent service-related disabled veterans and the elderly disabled with property tax relief, the Public Safety Act to reduce crime and improve public safety, and the Rural Economic Opportunity Act to spur economic development in some of Tennessee’s most economically distressed counties.  The Senate also approved major legislation cracking down on drunk drivers and a key bill to address opioid abuse in Tennessee.
On the final legislative day, the General Assembly approved historic legislation reducing the Hall tax rate from 6 percent to 5 percent, a seventeen percent cut from the total dollars collected by the state for fiscal year 2016.   Senate Bill 47 calls for an annual reduction of at least one percent until the tax is eliminated.  Furthermore, the bill provides that by January 1, 2022, the Hall Income Tax will no longer be collected and eliminated as a legal means of taxation in Tennessee.
The General Assembly also approved Senate Bill 1796 before adjourning, which increases property tax relief for 100 percent service-related disabled veterans, and/ or their widows or widowers, by repealing the income cap that was put in place last year.  The legislation also raises the property value limit for the elderly disabled from $23,000 to $23,500.
2016 legislative session see passage of major legislation strengthening Tennessee’s DUI laws
The State Senate passed legislation in the closing week of the 2016 legislative session creating stricter penalties for DUI offenders in a year that has seen major legislation strengthening Tennessee’s drunk driving laws.   Senate Bill 2065 requires a judge to order an ignition interlock device for all convicted DUI offenders unless the judge provides a finding of fact for not ordering the device.  
Although Tennessee currently mandates the use of ignition interlock devices, there is only about 15 to 20 percent compliance rate with the law because judges must provide a reason why the device should be placed on a DUI offender’s vehicle.  This legislation flips that requirement by providing that a judge must state findings of fact on why an interlock device should not be installed on the offender’s vehicle.  
Under the bill, offenders must have the ignition interlock devices in their car and operating for 365 consecutive days or for the entire time their license is revoked, whichever is longer.  To ensure compliance, the legislation establishes penalties for the unauthorized tampering or removal of the interlock device.  If the device is removed during the 365-day period, the offender must start over until it is served consecutively.
Similarly, if there has been any tampering with the device in the last 120 days of the sentence, the legislation provides that the period for which the interlock system is required will be extended by another 120 days.   
The bill prescribes an additional $12.50 fee to the offender for administrative costs.
The Tennessee Senate also passed Senate Bill 35 this week prohibiting those convicted of vehicular homicide by intoxication from being eligible for probation. 
Other key bills addressing drunk driving offenses approved by the legislature this year include:
  • ·      Senate Bill 1572 which elevates a DUI offense for those convicted six or more times from a class E felony to a class C felony and requires prior convictions for alcohol-related vehicle offenses, including those committed out-of-state, to be counted as prior convictions;
  • ·      Senate Bill 2576which requires immediate sharing of an impaired driver’s DUI arrest and conviction history with law enforcement, the courts and the National Crime Information Centers, making the information accessible by law enforcement officers in their squad cars to check the criminal background of arrestees;
  • ·      Senate Bill 2577 which calls for timely transmission of fingerprints taken for vehicular impairment offenses;
  • ·      Senate Bill 1582 which allows judges to order any device necessary to ensure that the offender complies with probation conditions and a clinical assessment to better cover driving under the influence of drugs;
  • ·      Senate Bill 2399 which authorizes the use of the state’s Interlock Assistance Fund for transdermal monitoring devices or other alternative alcohol or drug monitoring devices when a court determines that an offender is unable to pay for it; and,
  • ·      Senate Bill 1730 which creates a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) memorial signing program to erect and maintain memorial signs on the non-interstate highways commemorating residents who died as a result of DUI related incident.
In 2015, 267 people died on Tennessee roadways from alcohol related deaths, accumulating 27.8 percent of all traffic fatalities that year. 
Major legislation to reduce crime passes legislature
The Tennessee Senate approved major legislation this week which aims to reduce crime and improve public safety.  The Public Safety Act of 2016 addresses the most serious offenses driving Tennessee’s violent crime rate by establishing mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of three or more charges of aggravated burglary, especially aggravated burglary, or drug trafficking.  A burglary is considered especially aggravated if the victim suffers serious bodily injury during the offense.
Under current law, those convicted three times or more of aggravated burglary and especially aggravated burglary must serve only 30 percent of their sentence before being considered for release or parole.  The act sets the mandatory minimum period of incarceration to 85 percent for third and subsequent convictions for aggravated burglary, especially aggravated burglary and Class A, B, and C felonies for the sale, manufacture, and distribution of controlled substances. 
To update the law and help control costs, the legislation also changes the felony thresholds for property theft for a Class A misdemeanor from $500 to $1,000, Class E felony from $500 to $1,000 to a range of $1,000 to $2,500 and a Class D felony from $1,000 to 10,000 to a range of $2,500-$10,000.
On domestic violence, the legislation will allow a law enforcement officer to seek an order of protection on behalf of a domestic abuse victim. Additionally, if a law enforcement officer makes an arrest for a crime involving domestic abuse, then an automatic order of protection will be issued when there is probable cause to believe that the alleged assailant used or attempted to use deadly force against a domestic violence victim. A hearing should be held within 15 days of the automatic order of protection being issued.
A third and subsequent domestic violence conviction would change from a misdemeanor to a Class E felony under the legislation. This change maintains the current minimum 90-day sentence for a domestic violence conviction.
In addition, the measure retools community supervision to reduce the number of people returning to prison for probation and parole violations when their noncompliance does not rise to the level of a new criminal offense.  The move is expected to save the state $80 million. 
Of the 12,588 people entering state prison last year, 40 percent were probationers or parolees sent to prison because they violated supervision conditions.  This legislation authorizes the department to utilize a robust, structured matrix of both sanctions and incentives to facilitate compliance with the conditions of supervision by the more than 71,000 state probationers and parolees.
The bill is funded by an $18 million appropriation in the state budget which passed the General Assembly last week. 
In Brief…
Pharmacies / Robberies -- The State Senate passed legislation this week to help tackle the issue of drug abuse and pharmaceutical robberies across the state.  Between 2006 and 2010, pharmaceutical robberies rose 81 percent nationally and Tennessee is ranked 5th in most cases.  Senate Bill 593 will enhance the sentencing of robbery, aggravated robbery or especially aggravated robbery on the premises of a licensed pharmacy with the intent to obtain controlled substances unlawfully.  The bill comes after a series of robberies, including one in Bean Station in 2013 that resulted in the deaths of a pharmacist and patient and left two clerks severely injured.  States with similar laws indicate a massive reduction in these types of robberies.  The bill is now awaiting the signature of the governor before becoming law. 
Rural Economic Opportunity Act -- The General Assembly passed significant job creation bill in the last week of legislative action to spur economic development in some of the state’s most economically distressed counties.   Twenty-one of Tennessee’s 95 counties are considered economically distressed, meaning that they are in the bottom 10 percent nationally in terms of unemployment, per capita income, and poverty. 
The “Rural Economic Opportunity Act of 2016” has two components that aim to alleviate unemployment in these areas by supporting jobs and economic development.  This includes implementation of the “Propelling Rural Economic Progress” (PREP) program that would create a grant fund to aid rural counties in building sites and infrastructure to incentivize businesses to develop in their region.
The second component of Senate Bill 2538 restructures the county tier system used for determining whether a company looking to locate or expand operations is eligible for job tax credits.  This legislation would lower the job creation threshold to 20 in tier three counties and 10 in the additional fourth tier, used for the economically distressed countiesTax credits help fuel company expansion by rewarding job creation based on the number of positions created, amount invested, type of business and location.
Small Business / SBIR / STTR Grants -- The Senate passed legislation this week to aid small technology businesses across the state.  Senate Bill 2606 seeks to take advantage of small business innovations and federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.  It would allow the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, now known as LaunchTN, to have the authority to establish an applied research and developmental finance program to provide matching grants to small technology businesses.  Fifteen other states, including Virginia and Kentucky, have taken advantage of the US Small Business Administration match-granting program and this legislation will make Tennessee more competitive with the neighboring states. 
STEM Schools – The last week of legislative action saw passage of Senate Bill 1598 which simplifies the transfer of students, and the BEP funding that follows them, to regional Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) Schools.  Strong student performances in STEM education are vital to Tennessee’s future well-being. STEM knowledge is a core requirement for careers in some of the fastest-growing industries across the Volunteer State and is closely linked with our economic strength and competitiveness.
Federal Refugee Program – The Senate adopted a House amendment and sent to the governor legislation which urges Tennessee’s Attorney General to commence legal action in response to the federal government forcing Tennessee to spend state dollars for the Refugee Resettlement Program.  If the Attorney General does not commence civil action, Senate Joint Resolution 467 gives the General Assembly the authority to retain outside counsel for this purpose.  Recently, high ranking officials in Washington have cast doubt on the screening process.  Instead of the vetting process taking 18 to 24 months which the Obama administration said was proof of how through the process was, it has now been announced that Syrian refugees will be on American soil within 90 days
Lifetime Handgun Permits -- Legislation passed the General Assembly this week that reduces the lifetime handgun permit fee.  Senate Bill 1477 reduces the fee from $500 to $200 for current permit holders.  First-time applicants would pay the $115 fee currently in effect, plus $200 for a lifetime handgun permit.  The legislation takes effect January 1, 2017 in order to make the changes necessary to the computer systems in order to properly process the permits. 
Retail Accountability Act – Legislation passed the State Senate this week making changes to the state’s Retail Accountability Program (RAP).   The law was first passed in 2012 to ensure that the taxes paid by consumers for beer and tobacco products are properly submitted to the state by requiring wholesalers to report to the Department of Revenue what is sold to retailers.  In the first two and a half years of the program, the state has collected an additional $60 million in previously unreported sales tax revenue, which prompted an expansion of the program last year.  However, the Department of Revenue’s implementation of the expanded program was more far-reaching than legislators intended. Senate Bill 2570 more clearly defines the scope of the program, including exempting perishable groceries and frozen foods from the reporting process and creating a sunset deadline for the legislature to evaluate the program’s effectiveness at a later date.  It also calls for a change from monthly to quarterly reporting. 
Marijuana Oils and Concentrates -- Legislation passed the State Senate this week clarifying that marijuana concentrates and oils are defined as marijuana and are under the state’s Tennessee Drug Control Act.   The existing statute is not current with the recent increase in different and dangerous forms of the drug.  Senate Bill 1189, which works to correct that, now goes to the governor for his signature.
UTK Office of Diversity / Minority Scholarships -- This week, the Senate Education Committee passed legislation taking $436,000 from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK) and using it for scholarships in a minority engineering scholarship program.  Senate Bill 1912 reallocates the salaries of the four employees in UTK’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion for the fiscal year of 2016-2017 for the purpose of awarding scholarships to minority engineering students.  The money may help up to 100 minority students in the engineering program receive a scholarship. 
The bill also provides that state funds shall not be expended by the University of Tennessee to promote the use of gender neutral pronouns, to promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays or fund or support “Sex Week.” 
In August, UTK came under fire by lawmakers, alumni and the general public for an Office of Diversity and Inclusion post on the university’s website asking students and faculty to toss out “he” and “she” when addressing students for gender-neutral pronouns like “ze” and “zir.”  In December, the office posted guidance to students and faculty to ensure holiday parties at the campus are not a Christmas party in disguise.  These actions follow several years of widespread disapproval over the university’s “Sex Week” which included such events as drag shows, lectures given by a porn actress, and condom scavenger hunts.  Sex week has continued despite objections with an acceleration of objectionable content in this year’s list of courses. 
Worker’s Compensation -- This week the Senate passed a measure improving the worker’s compensation reforms adopted in 2013.  The legislation was brought by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and approved by the Worker’s Compensation Council.  Senate Bill 2582 changes the injury notification requirement for workplace injuries from 30 days to 15 days to encourage workers to more timely notify their employer if they have been injured on the job.  It also provides additional protections for workers by authorizing a worker’s compensation judge to award medical and/or disability benefits that have been wrongly denied during an expedited compensation hearing.  The legislation encourages more employers to participate in the Tennessee Drug Free Workplace Act by authorizing employers to offer annual acknowledgment or notification to all employees of the provisions in that program rather than require the one hour annual training. Approximately 4,000 employers use the drug free workplace act out of 120,000 estimated employers and this law aims to create more participation.  In addition, the legislation allows the Division of Worker’s Compensation to hire attorneys as ombudsman to help navigate the system.
Native Species Lumber Act -- The Senate passed Senate Bill 822 this week allowing Tennessee lumber mills the ability to sell native timber for agricultural buildings, including barns and sheds.  The Tennessee Native Species Lumber Act will create a certification program offered by the agricultural extension of the University of Tennessee for owners or representatives of sawmills.  The mill is then certified to grade lumber and to certify in writing to the purchaser that the quality and safe working stresses of the lumber are equal to or better than No. 2 grade.  The program will be offered biannually and in each of Tennessee’s three grand divisions at a nominal cost. 
Gang Violence -- The General Assembly approved legislation this week providing clarity to a 2012 law calling for enhanced penalties for crimes committed in association with gang activity.   Senate Bill 1558 requires an offense be punished one classification higher than the classification established by the offense if the defendant was a criminal gang member at the time of the offense and the criminal gang offense was committed at the direction of, in association with, or for the benefit of the defendant's criminal gang or a member of the criminal gang.  If the defendant was a leader or organizer of the criminal gang, then the offense shall be punished two classifications higher.  The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals recently ruled the 2012 law was too broad and that in order to meet constitutional standards that the offense committed needed to be related to gang membership in order to eligible for an increased charge. 
Aeronautics -- State Senators has approved legislation to create the Aeronautic Economic Development Fund.  Under Senate Bill 750, grants may be made in all counties to the local government or their economic development organizations, after approval by the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  The fund is not appropriated in this year’s budget, but will instead be funded at a later date.  Once funded, grants will be made to benefit aeronautical programs and infrastructure across the state, principally at airports. 
County Commissions -- Legislation designed to protect the integrity of county commissions and the confidence county citizens have in their commission has passed the General Assembly.  Senate Bill 466 prohibits any county employee that is simultaneously serving as a county commissioner of the county by which they are employed from voting on any matter that would increase the pay or benefits of that member or that member’s spouse.  The legislation also applies to members of the legislative body of the county who are also employed by that same county or whose spouse is employed by that county.  The employed commissioner would be able to vote on the budget, appropriations or tax rate resolution unless the vote is on a specific amendment, appropriation, or resolution
which the member has a conflict of interest.

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Not a single Cruz delegate elected to a leadershp position among TN delegation to GOP Convention.

The Tennessee GOP delegation to the Republican National Convention held their election of
Former Gov. Don Sundquist campaigns
for former foe, a Trump delegate, to beat
a Cruz delegate.
delegates to the standing Convention committees and the election of the delegation chair, on Thursday at 3:30 pm via a conference call. Only delegates were allowed to vote, to select from among their own, those who would represent Tennessee at the convention on the standing committees. Of the 58 Tennessee delegates, 57 were on the phone for this election, the governor being the only absent delegate.

Each state gets to elect two delegates, one male and one female, to serve on each of the four standing Convention committees. Below is the list of who was elected to those committees and who was elected chair of the delegation.

Rules Committee: John Ryder and Betty Cannon. John Ryder is the legal counsel to the Republican National Committee and a sitting RNC committee man. Betty Cannon is Vice Chair of the Tennessee Republican Party. Both Ryder and Cannon are Trump delegates.

Credentials Committee: Chris Hughes and Linda Buckles. Chis Hughes is the husband of Scottie Nell Hughes who is a nationally known political commentator and who is a  national spokesman for the Trump campaign. Linda Buckles is a sitting SEC member and President of the Tennessee Federation of Republican Women. They are both Trump delegates.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. Charlie Cato and Laura Beigert are both Cruz delegates and were also running for seats on the Credentials Committee. Enter former Governor Don Sundquist. Remember Sundquist who is known and dishonored as the Republican governor who almost gave Tennessee a State Income tax? Although not loved by the rank and file Republicans he still has friends and influence in east Tennessee. He made calls and lobbied delegates to support Chris Hughes.

Remember, the State income tax fight? Scottie Nell Hughes, wife of Chris Hughes, at that time worked for radio talk show host Steve Gill.  Steve Gill was a leader in the anti-income tax battle and unmercifully denounced and attacked Gov Sundquist on his radio talk show.  Now the former governor resurfaces to help defeat a Cruz delegate and campaign for Scottie Hughes husband. Politics makes strange bedfellows !! Who would have ever put Steve Gill, Don Sundquist, and Chris and Scottie Hughes in the same bed?

Permanent Organization: Beth Campbell and Chad Blackburn. Chad Blackburn is Marsha Blackburn’s son. Beth Campbell is a sitting SEC member. Beth Campbell is a Rubio delegate and Chad Blackburn is a Trump delegate.

Platform: Victor Ashe and Connie Hunter. Victor Ashe is the former mayor of Knoxville and the former United States Ambassador to Poland. Ashe is a Rubio delegate and Hunter is a Trump delegate.

Delegation Chair: Senator Mae Beavers. Senator Mae Beavers and Senator Bill Ketron were both nominated for this position and as I understand it the Trump leadership did not really want Mae Beavers but she pulled it off. Both Beavers and Ketron are Trump delegates.

Of the delegates elected to leadership positions by the delegation, all were elected delegates except for John Ryder, Better Cannon, and Linda Buckles. They were delegates appointed by the Party to be Trump delegates.  Also, while the term is hard to define, one might say all of the delegates elected to these positions were “establishment” except for Chris Hughes.

The big take away from this election of delegates to the committees, other than the roll of Don Sundquist, is the slight of Cruz delegates. Not a single Cruz delegate was elected to any of these positions. Of the eight committee positions and Chair, all but two were Trump delegates and those two were Rubio delegates.

This was a great opportunity for the Trump campaign to start building bridges but missed the opportunity by not having a single Cruz delegate on any of these committees. Remember, Trump won 33 delegates, Cruz 16 and Rubio 9 in our primary on March 1. Cruz delegates should have been given a seat at the table.

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