Saturday, May 28, 2016

Bid to stop an affordable housing development and take away property rights advances.

Everyone likes affordable housing in the abstract but they don't want it their back yard.  Affordable housing has been a battle cry of Mayor Megan Barry, numerous council members, liberal pressure groups and advocates.  Saying you are for affordable housing is almost as popular as saying you are for clean air and water. It kind of ranks up there with being in favor of apple pie, motherhood, and sidewalks.

A planned 96-unit affordable apartment complex for the Antioch area is being opposed by perhaps the Council's most vocal advocate of affordable housing. The project itself is in Councilman Karen Johnson's district and she is trying to stop it. Karen Johnson has reached her annual limit on how many amendments to Planed Unit Developments she can propose, so the bill to attempt to stop the project is being sponsored by Councilman Fabian Bedne who chairs the council's Ad Hoc Committee for Affordable Housing.

The proposed project is currently allowed under the area's present zoning.  The ordinance backed by Johnson, sponsored by Bedne, would down zone the property so that only single family homes could be build on the property.  That would constitute a "taking."  The city does not actually have to confiscate your property and take title to be guilty of "taking."  If the current rights you have to something with your property are diminished then you have had your property rights taken away.  There is a stronger case that the city has taken your property rights if you have already exercised  those rights, that is if you already have a vested interest in the project under current zoning; if  you have already spend money toward a project and the city kills the project, then you have a strong case that your property has been taken.  By the time someone gets as far as having a site plan and arranging financing for a project they may have already spent ten's of thousands of dollars on the project. In my view, taking property without a public purpose and without compensating the owner is wrong and immoral.  If the city is going to down zone any property then the owner should be compensated for the loss of value caused by the down zoning.  In this case, if the property is down zoned, the owners will likely have a winnable lawsuit against the city.

developer of the property has been awarded $11 million dollars in low-income tax credits by the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency (THDA).  This awards are made on a competitive basis. Not everyone who wants these credits gets them.  THDA Executive Director Ralph Perrey is obviously displeased that this project may be killed. He said that when the THDA board meets in July, they may look at changing guidelines in rewarding these tax credits if this project is stopped. He said the board could opt to reduce the maximum number of low-income tax credits that could go to Nashville moving forward, among other possible actions.  At the same time that Nashville is trying to encourage more affordable housing, losing lon-income tax credits would be a serious blow.

“What concerns us in this instance is we gave tax credits to a place that was properly zoned a year ago, and this is an attempt to zone that place out from under the developer whom we’ve given the tax credits,” Perrey told the Tennessean. “If that succeeds, we will essentially have wasted an award of tax credits that we could have put to work in Greenville, Johnson City, Jackson, any number of other places,” he said. “And at that point, it raises some troubling questions for us, and then we and the board would be obliged to consider: Does it make sense to send tax credits that’s going to waste it in that matter?”

While I think council members should do the right thing and not take someone's property without a public purpose and compensation, I do understand the pressure on a council member to try to be responsive to their constituents.  Trying to be responsive to the desires of constituents however does not justify trampling on someone else's rights.

There are three issues at play in this situation, ones is property rights, the other is good zoning, and the other is how to develop affordable housing.  The argument against the project, other than we don't want more poor people in our neighborhood, is that it will lead to a greater concentration of poverty which proponents of killing the project says would violate the Fair Housing Act. There are already a couple other tax credit properties in the area. That argument is not persuasive to THDA's Ralph Perrey who said the proposed development is "not remotely comparable" to developments that were in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Tracey McCartney, executive director of Tennessee Fair Housing is not buying the argument either, in fact saying stopping the project may violate the Fair Housing Act because many of the potential residents of the project will be African-American.

The proposed project is targeted for people who make  60% of the area median income.  The project will not be income-based in that rent will be calculated off of a person's income, but rents will be set to be affordable for a person earning 60% of  the area median income. So, for a single mother with two children and no child support or other income, she would have to earn about $37,000 a year. Projects of this type have been shown not to contribute to crime.  These developments are not public housing. They will not be an eyesore. The people who live in this units will be people who work for a living.

From a zoning standpoint, the current zoning conforms to the general plan which calls for high density housing along major corridors.  This also simply makes good planning sense. If Nashville is to ever have good mass transit, we need greater density along major routes. On Thursday, the Planning Commission disapproved the down zoning request.  A disapproved bill must get 27 positive votes to pass the Council. This bill has 29 co-sponsors. Hopefully, some of the sponsors will have a change of heart now that the bill has been disapproved. This ought to be fun to watch. It is always fun to watch someone talk out of both sides of their mouth and watch the process of trying to square a circle. It should be interesting to watch an advocate for affordable housing, make an argument for killing an affordable housing project.

I hope this bill fails. It is wrong to take someones property without a public purpose and compensation and if we really believe in affordable housing we have to allow it to be built.

For more on this issue see, Antioch affordable housing project could get killed, and Bid to block Antioch affordable housing project disapproved

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Why I am totally disgusted with the Tennessee Republican Party.

I am pretty much disgusted with the Tennessee Republican Party.  I became disgusted several years ago when Mark Winslow worked as a paid campaign manager to elect to office Mellissa Blackburn who was running for Davidson County Judge Division II has a Democrat. She had four Democrat opponents and a Republican opponent named Marian Fodyce. Winslow served on the State Executive Committee of the Republican Party.  By virtue of his position on the State Party, he served on the Executive Committee of the County Party.  As such, he was in a position to know Republican strategy, have access to polling data, and a vote in determining how much funding to provide the Republican candidate. (For more on the Winslow story see  here, and hear.)

I would think anyone could see that, that situation is an obvious conflict. It also clearly violates Party bylaws. The Party could have removed him; but it did not.  The Party could have kept him from seeking reelection to the SEC; it did not. In disgust, for a couple years, I did not contribute to the Party or attend the Statement's Dinner.  As time passed however, despite my  disgust for the Party's failure to act to remove Winslow, I was ready to swallow hard and just accept it and reason that helping advance the Party and elect Republicans was more important than my resentment at this one failing. Then, however, the situation with Taylor Ferrell emerged. My disgust is renewed and stronger than before. While I am going to continue to support candidates and causes I believe in, I am withholding my support for the TRP until I feel there is some integrity returned to the Party.

Taylor Ferrell is a paid contractor with the TRP who is working to coordinate travel and other logistics for those delegates attending the Republican National Convention.  She is also married to Walker Ferrell who is the TRP Political Director.  Taylor Ferrell is also sole proprietor of Southland Advantage and Southland Advantage has clients who are running in the primary against incumbent Republican office holders. Twenty-seven Republican office holders signed a letter calling for Walter Ferrell's resignation due to this conflict. To see who signed the letter and for more on this follow this link.

I support those calling for Walker Ferrell's resignation and the termination of the contract with Taylor Ferrell.  Those defending Taylor Ferrell say she is not an employee of the Party but is a contractor doing work for the Party and is not violating Party bylaws by having clients seeking to defeat incumbent Republicans. That to me appears to be a distinction without a difference.  She is a "paid staff member" weather she gets a W-2 or a 1099 at the end of the year. Those defending Walker Ferrell claim it is his wife with clients, not he. That may also be true but husbands and wives share information and income.  That is an obvious violation of the spirit of the bylaws if not the letter of the bylaws. (For more on this see this link and this link.)

One of those leading the effort to get Taylor and Walker Ferrell fired and who escalated the conflict by calling for the immediate termination of Ryan Haynes as Chairman and  Brent Leatherwood as Executive Director is Jeff Hartline.  Jeff Harline has been a long time conservative activist and run in the Republican primary in 2010 for the Fifth Congressional District seat.  He is a a current member of the County Executive Committee of Wilson County.  Hartline also heads a consulting firm working to elect  conservative candidates in contested primaries. Is that not a violation of Party Rules? To read more about Jeff Harline's roll in this, follow this link

So, here we have two factions, both with conflicts of interest and both violating Party bylaws.  Winslow is part of the effort to get rid of Ferrell also.  This is a case of 'the pot calling the kettle black.'  No one has clean hands.  I am totally disgusted.  Those rallying around Ferrell are often considered "establishment" Republicans, whatever that means, and those like Harline and Winslow are considered "conservative," "hard line," or "tea party Republicans," whatever those terms mean. When Donald Trump who has very liberal views on various issues is favored by people who consider themselves more conservative than the establishment and "the establishment" ended up supporting Ted Cruz, I am not sure these labels tell us much. Anyway, I really don't care which faction one is aligned with, if one is using their Party position to earn money as a campaign consultant or is violating the rules or the intent of the rules, they should resign in shame or be removed. I say, a pox on both your houses. If any one I have mentioned, or anyone else feels I got the facts wrong please feel free to leave a comment or sent me a more lengthy essay and I will publish it. I want to be fair to everyone. If I should not be disgusted, tell me why.

From reading the bylaws, it appears to me that members of the State Executive Committee and staff of the Party and County Executive Committee members are not permitted to support a Democrat against a Republican or to support one Republican over another in a primary.  Now if this only means you can't use your title while doing so, then that needs to be clarified. I do not think that is what it means.  Below are excepts from the TRP bylaws with relevant portions highlighted. For a complete copy of the bylaws follow this link.  

For more on this conflict, here are some copies of Facebook exchanges:

Update:  Since posted the above, I have heard from Jeff Hartline who told me he has not violating any bylaws by engaging in his political activity, that County Executive Committee members are not included in the prohibition on endorsing in a primary. I have also spoken to a member of the SEC who said that what Taylor Ferrell is doing is not prohibited, saying "staff" included employees and not people who were self-employed that the Party contracted with to provide services. This SEC member also said Jeff Harline was not guilty of violating any bylaws.

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United Methodist turn pro-life

At its recent 10-day General Conference, United Methodist delegates voted 445 to 310 to repeal the denomination’s 40-year-old official resolution supporting Roe v. Wade. The denomination also withdrew from the pro-abortion Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.  I don't know how this happened. I thought the Methodist were a lost cause  and all of the bible-believing Methodist had left the denomination or died off long ago. Also, the Methodist failed to embrace same-sex marriage. Well, Hallelujah. For more on this see this link

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nashville Scene: State Republican Party's Internal Fracas Gets Ugly

By Cari Wade Gervin, The Nashville Scene, Wed, May 25, 2016 - Less than two weeks ago, the Tennessee Republican Party proudly proclaimed unity at its annual Statesmen's Dinner after a divisive primary season. ... .

Well, the party may have publicly rallied around Trump, but a vocal minority is now refusing to rally around Haynes. Following a letter by 27 House Republicans last month calling for the ouster of party political director Walker Ferrell, the Wilson County Republican Party adopted a resolution calling for a special meeting of the State Executive Committee (SEC) to consider firing Haynes, Ferrell and executive director Brent Leatherwood....

Party insiders say the tension between the more mainstream Republicans on the SEC and the more hardline right-wing ones dates back almost a decade, but it’s become much more divisive in recent years. ..... Hartline is not on the SEC, but he is one of the main people behind the push to oust Haynes over the hiring by the party of Ferrell's wife, Taylor. .... SEC member Jennifer Winfree writes: Jeff Hartline is violating the bylaws. He's a member of our county executive board,.... But Hartline has worked on at least 26 campaigns to defeat incumbents, says Gay, and attempted to run more. (link)

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Wilson County GOP calls for firing state party chairman

by Joel Ebert, The Tennessean - Wilson County Republicans drew a line in the sand with their party on Monday by passing a resolution calling for the executive committee of the Tennessee Republican Party to consider holding a special session in an effort to fire party Chairman Ryan Haynes and two other party officials.

In the resolution, the 11-member Wilson County Republican Executive Committee called for the termination of Haynes; Brent Leatherwood, the state party's executive director; and Walker Ferrell, the party's political director. The vote was based on the state party leaders' decisions surrounding a political consulting firm, led by Ferrell's wife, that was working with candidates challenging GOP incumbents in this year's primary.

The move comes one month after 27 House Republicans called for Ferrell to be fired after it was revealed that his wife, Taylor Ferrell, the founder of Southland Advantage, a Hendersonville-based political consulting firm, had been working for two challengers of incumbent Republicans.  (link)

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Firm with ties to Bob Corker under investigation for accounting fraud

by Dave Flessner,  Chattanooga Times Free Press,  May 25, 2016 - The Wall Street Journal reports that federal law enforcement officials are investigating CBL & Associates Properties Inc. for alleged accounting fraud related to their probe into investments by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. 

The Journal quoted sources who said the FBI and SEC are focusing their examination on whether CBL officials falsified information on financial statements to banks when applying for financing arrangements. The investigation stems from an ongoing review of investments made by Sen. Corker, who began his real estate career working at CBL and reported in Senate financial disclosures making numerous trades in CBL stock for himself and his children.
"Law-enforcement officials have talked to former CBL employees who allege the company inflated its rental income and its properties' occupancy rates when reporting those figures to banks," the newspaper said in a report published today. "The FBI and SEC officials have also separately asked questions about the relationship between the company and Corker, who is close with senior executives at the firm and has made millions of dollars in profits trading the company's stock in recent years."  (link)

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Tennessee joins states suing Department of Ed and Department of Justice over Title IX transgender polilcy.

Press release from Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery II, May 25, 2016 - Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today joined Texas and nine other states in filing a lawsuit against the United States Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). This is in direct response to recent actions taken by DOE and DOJ in connection with Title VII and Title IX. In the joint letter referred to as the “Dear Colleague Letter” sent by DOE and DOJ to school districts across the country, DOE and DOJ redefined the term “sex” as a person’s sense of gender identity and placed federal funding at risk for schools whose facilities and programs do not comply with the new definition.

Slatery said, “The Executive Branch has taken what should be a state and local issue [under the Tenth Amendment] and made it a federal issue. Schools that do not conform under the new rules risk losing their federal funding. This is yet another instance of the Executive Branch changing law on a grand scale, which is not its constitutional role. Congress legislates, not the Executive Branch. Our Office has consistently opposed efforts like this to take away states’ rights and exclude the people’s representatives from making these decisions, or at a minimum being able to engage in a notice and comment period under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). As the complaint describes, it is a social experiment implemented by federal departments denying basic privacy rights and placing the burden largely on our children, not adults. Sitting on the sidelines on this issue was not an option.”

In 1964, Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, making it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Eight years later, Congress took it a step further with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, expanding those protections to federally funded education programs.

Slatery added, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of “sex” – defined to be a biological category based principally on male or female anatomy. The Administration is incorrectly interpreting Title IX to include self-proclaimed gender identity. By issuing this change as a “guideline,” DOE and DOJ are sidestepping the APA and infringing on a legal territory reserved for the legislature. Tennessee is initiating this lawsuit with the other states to contest the action for all of these reasons.”

Other states joining in the filing are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

by Dave Boucher and Joel Ebert, The Tennessean, May 25, 2015 - Tennessee is one of 11 states that filed federal suit Wednesday against the Obama administration over recent guidance issued regarding which bathrooms transgender students may use.

The states filing suit argue the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education are usurping local control and trying to create a national social experiment by telling districts to allow transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender with which they identify.
"Defendants have conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights," states the lawsuit.(link)

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FACT President Commends Attorney General for Lawsuit

Press Release, FRANKLIN, Tenn. (May 25, 2016) – The following statement regarding the decision of Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery to join the lawsuit filed by the state of Texas and eight other states over Title IX can be attributed to FACT President David Fowler:

“Attorney General Slatery is to be applauded for taking affirmative action in response to the attempt by the Obama administration to use Title IX to tell parents that their children have to be exposed to a member of the opposite sex while in a state of undress. His office is doing exactly what it should be doing, fighting to protect the rights of parents to protect their children’s privacy and the right of our state to set its own domestic policies.

“It is particularly encouraging to see ten states joining North Carolina in suing the Obama administration for its outrageous overreach in using a mere ‘letter’ to change the law as it’s been interpreted for decades. This is the kind of unified pushback against the federal government that has been needed for years.

“With the Attorney General’s action today, the need for a special session to encourage the type of action that has been taken has been abated. Hopefully, the lawsuit will allow our state’s schools to operate in accordance with Title IX as it has always been interpreted without fear that they will be left to fend for themselves if actions against them are threatened.”

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit

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Tennessee to join lawsuit over Title IX barthroom directive.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery to join the lawsuit filed by the state of Texas and eight other states over Title IX.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Forbes ranks Tennesee #6 in best state for low tax burden ranking.

Forbes magazine has analyzed the fifty states and ranked them from 1 to 50 as the best to worst states for tax burden. Forbes not only included income taxes but property tax, sales tax, special taxes like real estate transfer, personal property taxes on some vehicles, and special tax district fees. They used a family income of $50,000 as the standard. Of course, if you make more or less than that then the ranking for your situation might be slightly different. Also, property taxes can vary considerably for those who pay only county property taxes and live in a low-tax county, compared to those who must pay city and county property taxes and live in a high-tax city. Nevertheless, as a means of comparison this is useful. 

The highest tax burden state is New York with a state and local tax burden of 12.6%. The state with the least tax burden is Wyoming with a state and local tax burden of 6.9%. Tennessee is ranked number 6 with a State and local tax burden of 7.6%. Other states ranked higher than Tennessee and their tax burden are these: #5 Louisiana, 7.6%; # 4 Texas, 7.5%;  #3 South Dakota, 7.1: and  #2 Alaska, 7.00%. For the complete list see Best and Worst States For Taxes.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Kathleen Starnes awarded the Governor Windfield Dunn Statesman's award.

Kathleen Starnes
Congratulation to Kathleen Starnes, former Chair of the Davidson County Republican Party, upon her being honored by being bestowed the Gov. Winfield Dunn Statesman's Award at the DCRP Carnival yesterday!

Due to health issues Kathleen was unable to attend the ceremony.  Kathleen was chair of the County Party from to During her  period as chairman, the Party experience rapid growth and elected several Republicans to office. Kathleen tirelessly worked to advance the Party and made it relevant in Davidson County. Kathleen is not only a great organizer and motivator but is one of the nicest and most caring people I have ever known. Congratulations Kathleen Starnes!

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Capitalism Gave Power to the People

By Robert Murphy

Robert Murphy
Several anticapitalist slogans riff on the contrast between people and profit, and nobody thinks John Lennon’s song “Power to the People” is a plea for unbridled laissez-faire. Even so, the free market economy does indeed decentralize decision-making authority in the only way that makes sense. In contrast, top-down political interventions are the epitome of social manipulation by the powerful elite. If “power to the people” means anything, it means a world of widespread respect for property rights. 

In “Airbnb: Regulation without Government” (, April 20, 2016), I explained how Airbnb and other “sharing economy” ventures exhibit the ideal way that the community could “regulate” business activities. The rise of the Internet, coupled with the ubiquity of smartphones, has allowed people to share information in new ways such that the traditional methods of hailing a cab or walking up to a hotel are growing increasingly obsolete.

However, businesses such as Airbnb and Uber (especially Uber’s surge pricing) are just the most obvious examples of the general pattern: voluntary market exchanges are the only sensible method of exhibiting social freedom. If “power to the people” means anything, it means a world of widespread respect for property rights, where powerful groups cannot appeal to political authorities to get their way.

However, we should not think that the salutary effects of commerce are only due to recent technological innovations. Economists have always known that the market economy disperses power among the masses, in a very legitimate sense. For example, Ludwig von Mises wrote lengthy treatments of “consumer sovereignty”:

The capitalists, the enterprisers, and the farmers are instrumental in the conduct of economic affairs. They are at the helm and steer the ship. But they are not free to shape its course. They are not supreme, they are steersmen only, bound to obey unconditionally the captain’s orders. The captain is the consumer.…
[The consumers], by their buying and by their abstention from buying, decide who should own the capital and run the plants. They determine what should be produced and in what quantity and quality. Their attitudes result either in profit or in loss for the enterpriser. They make poor men rich and rich men poor. (Bureaucracy)

Two of the main reasons people think we need a coercive state to guide social affairs are material scarcity and uneven human abilities. That is, nature by itself doesn’t provide enough food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and so forth to satisfy human desires. At the same time, not all humans are equally qualified to diagnose a problem and provide a path to improve the situation. In this context, it seems only natural that the elites would seize power and redirect spontaneous human activity, with the aim of helping people.

Voluntary market exchanges are the only sensible method of exhibiting social freedom.
Yet the literature on free-market economics shows that such intervention is unnecessary. For example, consider something as simple yet fundamental as the choice of occupation. In the medieval guild system, entry into the various professions was highly regulated. No doubt the intellectuals of the day would have thought such paternalism was “obviously” necessary. After all, suppose every young boy decided he wanted to be a blacksmith, and nobody wanted to grow up to be a farmer. Then they’d have a world full of beautiful swords, but nobody could enjoy them, because they’d have all starved to death.

From our vantage point, we can see how silly such worries would have been. So long as there is a freely functioning price system, we can allow individuals the freedom to enter whichever profession they desire. By their spending decisions, consumers implicitly send signals to their fellow men and women, indicating how much they would value their potential services in various occupations. If “not enough” (in a meaningful sense that we could precisely define in a more technical essay) people are becoming orthodontists, then the average salaries in this field will rise, making it more attractive to younger people who are broadly interested in medicine but don’t know exactly what to specialize in.
It is true that some people are far more intelligent and knowledgeable about a particular topic than the masses are. Yet this doesn’t justify coercive rule by the elites. No, would-be leaders must earn their followers through voluntary means. The 19th century thinker Mikhail Bakunin, though an anarchosocialist, put it well:

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest.

The market economy disperses power among the masses. 

The advocates of political intervention think that they ensure “consent of the governed” through the institution of democracy. But both history and theory show the naïveté of that belief. Suppose we had retained the medieval guild system, but with the tweak that the numbers of new entrants would be ultimately controlled by politicians who were elected every four years. Would that have solved the problem and given us a free labor market where people can choose their career paths?

In this world, it is impossible to have “total freedom” in the sense of being subject to no one else’s will — your behavior will necessarily affect others, and vice versa. But the institutions of private property and money allow for voluntary exchanges, with price signals communicating the information everyone needs to adjust his or her behavior. The system is not perfect, but it is the only coherent way to retain a meaningful sphere of individual autonomy while receiving feedback from others.

Robert P. Murphy is research assistant professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University. He is a former resident of Nashville, Tennessee and was a frequent attendee of Liberty on the Rocks. This article was originally published on Read the original article.

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UT disbands diversity office, eliminates four positions

By Megan Boehnke, Knoxville News Sentinel - The University of Tennessee has disbanded its Office for Diversity, including eliminating four staff positions and a $131,365 operating budget.

Image result for Christmas decorations
Safe for another year at UT
The $445,000 cut comes after Gov. Bill Haslam allowed a bill passed by the General Assembly that defunded the office to become law without his signature Friday.

The law, which reallocates the money to fund scholarships for minority students in engineering programs, is only in effect for one year. ... The university attorneys are still studying other provisions in the law, including whether the school can continue its annual Sex Week.....Chancellor Jimmy Cheek sent an email ... said he was "saddened" by the decision. (link)

My Comment: I am so proud of our State legislature for taking the action to defund the Office of Diversity.  At least for the next year, students will not feel pressured to use made up pronouns  "zir" and "Xan" and can safely use "he" and "her."  At least for this year, they can still have Christmas trees and serve eggnog at their Christmas parties. In fact, I don't think they will have to disguise their Christmas party as a winter holiday party.  At least for another year, Jesus, reindeer and Santa will be legal on the campus of the University of Tennessee.

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Wilson GOP demand meeting to consider termination of Ryan Haynes as Chairman, Brent Leatherwood as Executive Director, and Walker Ferrell as Political Director

The Wilson County GOP Executive Committee has sent a letter to the State Executive Committed of the GOP demanding that the State Executive Committee call a special session to consider the immediate termination of Ryan Haynes as Chairman, Brent Leatherwood as Executive Director, Walker Ferrell as Political Director and to terminate all contracts with Taylor Ferrell.  Taylor Ferrell is the wife of Walker Ferrell.  She has a consulting contract with the State Party and also has her own consulting business and has entered into agreements with several clients seeking to challenge in the Republican primary several sitting Republican office holders. For more on this see this link. Below is the letter.

May 23, 2016

Via Email:

Tennessee State Republican Executive Committee
Tennessee Republican Party County Chairs

To All Who Hold Transparency and Fairness Dear:

Whereas, the task of the Tennessee Republican Party is to promote the National Republican Party Platform and assist Republican Candidates in defeating Democrats, and;

Whereas, the State Republican Party under the leadership of Ryan Haynes and Brent Leatherwood have approved contracts with Taylor Ferrell to provide services to the State GOP, and;

Whereas, Taylor Ferrell is married to Walker Ferrell, who serves as an employee of the State GOP as its Political Director, and;

Whereas, Taylor Ferrell had from time to time been officing at the State GOP headquarters answering calls and speaking on behalf of the State GOP, and;

Whereas, Taylor Ferrell had access to hallway talk inside the GOP Headquarters and, as a result of her marriage to the Political Director, access to all kinds of information about political campaigns and strategies, and had access to phone lists and fundraising lists, and;

Whereas, Taylor Ferrell offered her services as a Consultant and in fundraising to Republican candidates running against Elected Republicans Rep. Scott DesJarlais, Rep. Judd Matheny, and Rep. Courtney Rogers, and;

Whereas, Chairman Haynes and Director Leatherwood, when confronted with this blatant conflict of interest chose to do nothing to correct this injustice against Elected Republicans, and;

Whereas, the Wilson County Republican Party, in carrying out its duties as a non-participant in Primary Processes as an entity, is prohibited by the State GOP By-Laws from engaging in similar behavior;

Therefore, as the Executive Committee of the Wilson County Republican Party, we immediately demand that the State Executive Committee call a special session to consider the immediate termination of Ryan Haynes as Chairman, Brent Leatherwood as Executive Director, Walker Ferrell as Political Director and to terminate all contracts with Taylor Ferrell and to issue public apologies on behalf of the Tennessee Republican Party to all Republican Incumbents affected by their actions, and;

We further encourage every Republican Party County Executive Committee to demand similar actions on the part of the State Executive Committee.

Affirmed by a majority vote of the Wilson County Republican Party Executive Committee, May 2016.

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Brian Kelsey for Congress


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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Watch the Council's budget hearings (update 4)

In this update, I have added below the last couple days of hearings.  I have sampled several of the hearings. Unfortunately, there is no one asking hard questions looking out for the tax payers money. 

Below are the video of the Council's budget hearings.  I am disappointing to see the B&F chair say that questions must be restricted to budget items.  A factor in determining to cut or not cut a departments budget may be how well they operate and how responsive they are to the members of the Council and the public. That line of questioning should not be prohibited. About the only tool the Council has to influence a departments operations is the power of the purse.

I am sure there are few who would want to watch all of the budget hearings.  I will not watch them all either but will sample those that interest me most. If anyone finds something that is of particular interest, please leave a comment and note the timestamp of what you think is worth watching.

The departments listed in bold typeface below are those that need close scrutiny. 

Day 1, May 9, 2016, 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

  • 4:00 p.m. Trustee. See Council Budget Hearings Trustee May 9, 2016
  • 4:15 p.m. Assessor of Property. (This is the year of a mass reapprasial which should make this hearing interesting. Also, the Department head making the budget request lost his reelection and will not be the Department head in the coming year. Assessor of Property is one of those State mandated "constitutional offices" that have has an elected office holder as head of the Department. While its funding comes from Metro Government, the Department has more autonomy than a department that reports to the Mayor. Register of Deeds, County Clerk and Sheriff or other similar offices.)
  • 4:30 p.m. Register of Deeds. See Council Budget Hearings Register of Deeds May 9, 2016.
  • 4:45 p.m. County Clerk (This Department gets much of its revenues from fees generated by the department for such things as marriage license and auto license plates.)
  • 5:00 p.m. Metro Water Services (Since metro water operates off their own funds, they get very little oversight and scrutiny. I do not know if things have changed in recent years but at one time Water was a dumping ground for employees that no one wanted but did not want to fire. When an agency operates off of its own fees, that they are not competing for the same dollars as other departments, so their is little pressure to hold down cost.) See Council Budget Hearings Water Services May 9, 2016
  • 5:15 p.m. Human Resources and Benefit Board. See Council Budget Hearings Human Resources May 9, 2016.
  • 5:30 p.m. ITS & Metro 3. See Council Budget Hearings ITS May 9, 2016.
  • 5:45 p.m. Election Commission. See Council Budget Hearings Election Commission May 9, 2016.   
Day 2, May 10, 2016, 4:00 PM - 6:15 PM 
      4:00 p.m. Municipal Auditorium (If Municipal Auditorium cannot break even, we need to sell this valuable piece of downtown property.)
    • 4:45 p.m. Convention Center4:30 p.m. Chamber of Commerce (Much of what they do benefits the whole region yet we pick up the tab.) 
    • 5:00 p.m. Planning Commission
    • 5:15 p.m. Historical Commission
    • 5:30 p.m. Codes Administration 
    • 5:45 p.m. Fairgrounds (It will be interesting to see if Mayor Barry continues the effort of Mayor Dean to abolish the Fair Grounds and dispose of the property. There is also the issue of gun shows at the Fair Grounds.)
    • 6:00 p.m. Farmers Market (Farmers Market continues to be money pit and cannot cover their operating cost. Unless they can do so soon, I think it is time for major changes at the Farmers Market, including perhaps moving it to the Fair Grounds and making it a real farmers market.
    Day 3, May 11, 2016

    Day 4 May 12, 2016 
    The Council Budget Hearings from May 12, 2016. Scheduled: State Trial Courts, General Sessions Court, JIS, Circuit Court Clerk, Clerk and Master, Criminal Court Clerk, Juvenile Court, Juvenile Court Clerk, Public Defender, District Attorney, General Services & Fleet Management
    Day 5, May 18. 23016
    • 4:00 p.m. Emergency Management
    • 4:15 p.m. Fire & EMS
    • 4:30 p.m. Emergency Communications
    • 4:45 p.m. Sheriff's Office
    • 5:15 p.m. Police
    • 5:30 p.m. Beer Board
    • 5:45 p.m. Office of Family Safety

    Day 6, May 19th, 2016
    •  4:00 p.m. Library
    • 4:15 p.m. Parks and Recreation
    • 4:30 p.m. Arts Commission
    • 4:45 p.m. Public Works
    • 5:15 p.m. Metro Transit Authority

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    Mayor Barry Releases Capital Spending Plan

    Press release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  Mayor Megan Barry has released the FY16-17 Capital Spending Plan to the Metro Council. The $475 million plan, which is funded through general obligation bonds, features significant investments in public education, transportation, and public safety.

    “These additions to our city’s infrastructure represent an investment in Nashville’s future, through better public schools, safer streets, and quality of life improvements with new parks, soccer fields, and improved facilities at the Fairgrounds,” said Mayor Barry.

    Mayor Barry is proposing $150 million in capital spending for Metro Nashville Public Schools, to include $105 million for building projects and $45 million for district-wide projects, which is the largest capital request for new projects for MNPS in recent memory. Projects include $40 million for renovations and additions at Hillsboro High School, $20.75 million for renovations to McMurray Middle School, $8.1 million to renovate Pennington Elementary, $6.9 million for additional classrooms at Antioch High School, $2.75 million for East Nashville Magnet School bleachers and concession stands, and $2.2 million for Glencliff High School track and concessions.

    “I’ve often said that kids know how adults value them when they walk into school every morning and see the conditions of their classrooms,” said Mayor Barry. “By investing $150 million to improve our schools and bus infrastructure, we are telling kids that we care about them and their success by providing a high-quality learning environment in which they can thrive.”

    Nearly $120 million has been allocated for transit and transportation infrastructure, including $35 million for street paving, $30 million for sidewalks, $24.5 million for roads and bridges, $20 million for MTA to fund bus replacements and an electronic fare system, and $10 million for traffic signalization improvements.

    For Public Safety and Criminal Justice infrastructure Mayor Barry is proposing a capital investment of $82 million to include $28 million for the Police Administrative Headquarters at Murfreesboro Pike, $20 million to complete the CJC reconstruction downtown, $20 million to fund administrative offices for the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office at a location to be determined following community input, $10 million for new fire halls, $3 million for renovations at the Justice A.A. Birch Building, and $1 million for the Juvenile Justice Center Masterplan.

    The spending plan also includes $12 million in funds to renovate and upgrade facilities at the Fairgrounds Nashville, the most significant investment in the Fairgrounds by Metro in many years. The renovations, which will have to be approved by the Board of Fair Commissioners and the Metro Council, will be based on the recommendations of a review team led by S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering at Tennessee State University, and Larry Atema, president and CEO of Commonwealth Development Group.

    “Five years ago, voters spoke loud and clear that they wanted to preserve the Fairgrounds for future generations,” said Mayor Barry. “This investment in the Fairgrounds will help to make the facilities more attractive for events and expos around the country, helping to boost the profitability and long-term viability of the Fairgrounds.”

    Mayor Barry is proposing $38 million for Metro Parks, including $7 million for the new Smith Springs Community Center, $5 million for the Centennial Park master plan, renovations and improvements, $5 million for Greenways, and $6 million for new soccer fields, half of which is being proposed to create soccer fields on underutilized land at the Fairgrounds.

    Additional expenditures include $6 million for a new Nashville Public Library branch in Donelson, $7 million for MDHA for infrastructure improvements around housing facilities, $5 million for equipment and upgrades at General Hospital, and $15 million for major fleet operations in General Services.

    Projects in the Capital Spending Plan are represented in the Capital Improvements Budget, a seven-year planning document representing desired investments in infrastructure by the Mayor’s Office, Metro Council, and departments and agencies within Metro.

    View the full capital spending plan

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