Saturday, July 23, 2016

We need a "None of the above" option.

Now that it is clear that Trump is the Republican nominee and Hillary will be the Democratic nominee, I wish more than ever that we had a "none of the above option." If we had such an option I believe none-of-the-above would win this election.  The way I envision it is that if none-of-the-above won, the parties would have one month to put forth a new nominee and one month after that we would have a new election.

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Not voting or voting for a third party is not a vote for Hillary.

When I tell my Republican friends or mention on Facebook that I may not cast a vote for president or may cast a protest vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the immediate response is "not voting or voting for a third party is a vote for Hillary Clinton."  That is not true.  Obviously it is not factually true. Not voting is not voting and a vote cast of Gary Johnson is a vote cast for Gary Johnson, but I know what they mean. They mean that by not voting, I am denying a vote to Donald Trump, but that assumes I would be voting for Trump if I were voting.  Saying a vote for a third party is a vote for Hillary, also essentially is making the same assumption. That is most likely a good assumption because if I had a gun put to my head and were forced to vote and forced to vote for one of those two bad choices, then as of today, I would reluctantly, while holding my nose, vote for Trump.

The not-voting-for-Trump-is-a-vote-for-Hillary argument assumes that my vote is important. It assumes that my vote affects the outcome.  It does not. I am not surprised that low-information voters don't understand this but even informed people will make this argument. For it to matter whether I vote for Trump versus not voting or casting a third party or write-in vote, assumes that whoever gets the most votes for president gets elected president.  That is not the way it works.  Our process of electing the President reflects the nature of our form of government. We are a democratic republic not a popular democracy. We do not have national elections for President; we have 50 state elections for president.

I am virtually certain that Trump will overwhelmingly carry Tennessee. In the Republican primary, he carried every county except one.  Something terribly dramatic would have to happen for Tennessee to vote for the Democrat nominee. Polls are pretty reliable and we can know Trump is going to carry Tennessee before the votes are ever cast.  Since I am certain Trump will carry Tennessee and since Tennessee's system of assigning electoral votes is "winner take all," I can safely vote third party, cast a write-in for Marco Rubio, myself, or whomever or just vote down ticket and skip voting for President. The national popular vote is irrelevant.  If Trump carries Tennessee, he gets all of Tennessee's 11 electoral votes. My not voting or voting for someone other than Trump does not change that outcome.

Having the luxury of not voting for Trump without it helping Hillary would not apply if I lived in some other states. If I lived in a swing state then the effect of not voting for Trump would be to help Hillary get elected.  Each state's law determines how that state's electors are selected, and which candidate they vote for. Most states are like Tennessee and "winner take all," but some are not. Some states require that all but two of their electors vote the way each separate congressional district votes. If your state had that district system and you live in a swing district then your vote would matter. If you live in a state that assigns votes by district and your district might vote for Hillary, then the effect of not voting for Trump is to help Hillary's election. Several states have adopted a system that requires the state's electoral votes to be cast for the person who gets the most popular votes nationwide regardless of who carries their state. In that case, your not voting for Trump has the effect of helping Hillary's election.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Nashville fire EMS chief under fire over politically incorrect Facebook post

The Tennessean - Tim Lankford, a nearly 30-year veteran with department, was placed on desk duty last month after department officials learned about several posts on his Facebook page perceived as racial, stereotypical and or threatening toward some members of the public, according to a two-page letter signed by Nashville Fire Department Deputy Director Steve Holt. (link)

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Join me in supporting Brian Kelsey for Congress

Brian Kelsey
In the U. S. 8th Congressional District of Tennessee I am supporting Brian Kelsey for Congress.  He is running for the seat being vacated by Representative Stephen Fincher who in February announced he would not be seeking re-election for a fourth term. Fincher who won the seat in 2010 did not give a  specific reason for not seeking reelections simply saying, "I never intended to become a career politician. .... I will be returning to Frog Jump and my family and business, but intend to stay involved to the extent I can." 

While I hate that that decision opens the seat up for possibly being retaken by a Democrat, it is refreshing that someone leaves the private sector to serve in Congress for a few years and then returns to the private sector. I think that is the way the founding father intended things to work.

I have not studied all of the candidates seeking this office but I am familiar with Brian Kelsey's record representing the Tennessee 31st Senatorial district. He has been a solid common sense conservative.  Last year while attending the American for Prosperity event in Cleveland, I traveled on the bus with Brian and also spend some time one evening talking politics and issues with him and a few other people. He is smart, thoughtful, well-grounded  and just a likeable nice guy.  

With 2016 shaping up to perhaps not being a good year for Republicans, there is some doubt that Republicans can hold all of the gains they made in 2010.  Someone who has already held public office and already has name recognition will more likely have a chance at holding that Congressional seat than a challenger who has never held public office. For a list off all of the candidates running for that seat in both parties and to learn more about the candidates and the district visit Ballopedia at this link

In addition to liking Brain Kelsey and thinking he has the best chance at keeping the seat in Republican hands, these are other reasons for supporting Brian Kelsey taken from his website:
Please join me in making a contribution to the Brian Kelsey campaign at this link.

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(udate) What happend at the July 19th Council meeting: Bill to take property rights and stop affordable housing development in Antioch deferred, Fontanel zoning vote delayed, ...

BILL NO. L2016-219 that would strip property rights from a property owner in Antioch in

proposed The Ridge at Antioch
order to stop the development of an affordable housing development which was back on the agenda July 19th, was deferred until the meeting of  November 1st. To see my previous commentary on this issue follow this link

Today I spoke to Council member Karen Johnson about this issue. She explained to me that the Planned Unit Development on the property was approved in 1985.  Inactive PUDs can go away if after a certain period of time no action is taken to develop the property. The lifting of the PUD is not automatic however and is subject to a review process. The PUD on this property was undergoing such a review and most likely would have been lifted.  Without anyone informing the Council member, the developer had an action placed on the Consent agenda of the Planning Commission which further vested the property owner in the property rights associated with the PUD.  

Council member Johnson says she does not oppose development of affordable housing but does not want several affordable housing developments clustered in close proximity.  While the mere act of having a pending bill to downzone the property and lift the PUD may not stop the owner from exercising his current property rights, legal action has been taken to challenge the process of the Planning Commission. Until that legal challenge is resolved the project is on hold, Council member Johnson told me.   Johnson also said that discussions with THDA had resulted in the tax credits remaining available. She says Bill 219 would not have been necessary if the developer would have worked with her.

While I understand the frustration of Council member Johnson, I remain steadfast in my condemnation of this proposed lifting of the PUD and down zoning.  Bill 219 would lift the PUD which permits the development of the proposed 96-unit apartment complex but would also downzone the property from R-10 to RS-10. R-10 permits duplexes and RS-10 is single family only. In my view, property rights are as important as any rights we have and an owner's property should never be downzoned without their consent. A downzoning is a taking of property rights. Property should only be taken for a public purpose and the owner should be compensated.

If something inappropriate happened at the Planning Commission then the legal challenge is the appropriate way to deal with that.  This is complex and I myself do not understand all of the nuances of the issues surrounding the vesting of  PUD development rights and do not have a clear understanding of what happened at the Planning Commission that may have vested the owners PUD development rights which apparently were set to expire.  It does seem logical that at some point an inactive PUD should expire.  For those wanting more knowledge about the vesting of property rights, I suggest reading this article in the Tennessee Bar Journal Stick to the Plan, about the Vested Property Rights ACT of 2014.  If Council member Johnson, the property owner, or any other person knowledgeable with this issue would like to offer insight, I would welcome posted an essay. 

BILL NO. BL2016-266  which would amend the Mansion at Fontanel Specific Plan District to let Fontanel Properties add 136 rooms to the six-room Inn at Fontanel bed and breakfast-style luxury boutique hotel.  This proposal has has created considerable community opposition. At the July 19th meeting the bill was on third reading and deferred one meeting.  Here is The Tennessean's report: Fontanel zoning vote delayed.

To access a copy of the agenda and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link. As of the last time I looked on the day prior to the meeting the agenda analysis was not available, but it now is and you can get it at this link.

Here is the video of the meeting:
With the Republican National Convention going on this week and some work obligations and other interference,  I have not yet watched the video.  There is not much else of interest on the agenda and I simply may skip watching this meeting.  If I do update however, it will be "update 2."

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District 61 Challenger is Intentionally Deceiving Voters, Sargent Says

Press release - With the support and endorsement of organizations as varied as the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Rifle Association, Tennessee Right to Life, the Tennessee Men’s Health Network, the state and local Firefighters associations – and perfect voting scorecards from policy groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Family Action Council of Tennessee and the American Conservative Union – Rep. Charles Sargent’s conservative credentials should be clear.

But District 61 challenger Steve Gawrys has taken a novel approach: lying to the voters in an attempt to gain their support.

“This man refuses to debate, won’t tell anyone what he stands for, is largely funded by a fringe group and has spent months openly lying about my legislative record,” said Charles Sargent, the Republican state representative from Williamson County who serves as chair of the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee. “This is the disheartening side of modern politics, when people are willing to take whatever means to pursue their objective. Fortunately, the citizens of Williamson County are smarter than that.”

The examples are many: Gawrys says Sargent supports Planned Parenthood, yet Rep. Sargent has the endorsement of Tennessee Right to Life, and was a key leader in a move that resulted in Planned Parenthood losing the vast majority of their state funding.

Gawrys says Sargent supports ObamaCare, because as House Finance chair he sponsored legislation forced under the mandate of the federal government that would have had a major impact on the state budget; a week later the mandate was deemed legally unenforceable, and the bill was pulled. Sargent was a prime sponsor of the Tennessee Health Freedom Act, written to combat the strong-arm tactics of the federal government and maintain state control, which was passed into law later in that session.

Gawrys says Sargent voted for driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, when the bill actually strengthened penalties for illegal drivers. That bill passed 96-3 in the House.

Gawrys says Sargent is soft on guns, but Sargent has a perfect A rating from and the formal endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

Gawrys says Sargent tried to block the repeal of the Hall income tax, despite Sargent being chief sponsor of the bill that passed this year in a historic tax-cutting session. By 2022, Tennesseans will be paying $2 billion less in taxes, as Sargent also led the successful efforts to eliminate the death tax, to repeal the gift tax, and to cut sales tax on food.

“Legislative records are available online, including video from each and every committee hearing and floor session. It’s astounding that he thinks he can get away with just lying about all of these important issues,” Sargent said. “You have to question the motivations of a person like Steve Gawrys who is willing to say or do anything to try to get elected to public office. That’s a dangerous thing.”

Early voting in the Republican Primary is ongoing through July 30. Election Day is Thursday, August. 4.

For more on Rep. Charles Sargent, including endorsements, policy positions and voting history, please visit

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Congressman Trey Growdy Endorces Diane Black

Press release, July 19, 2016, GALLATIN, TN – Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC-04), known for his tough oversight work to hold Obama Administration officials accountable, traveled to Gallatin, Tennessee today to endorse Congressman Diane Black for reelection. 

Gowdy spoke to a crowd of over 125 people at the Epic Event Centre, including Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown, State Senator Ferrell Haile, and State Representative William Lamberth, to urge support for Congressman Black’s campaign. Gowdy hailed Black’s work as a “respected” conservative and a “leader” on the House Ways and Means Committee. 

“I can’t imagine serving without her . . . I do not want to imagine serving without her. I not only want her to win on August 4th, I want her to win in such a way that it sends a message that we like how she votes, we like how she acts, and we like how she represents the people of Tennessee,” said Congressman Trey Gowdy in his remarks.

“Today’s event highlighted the vast differences between Diane Black’s campaign and that of our opponent,” said Diane Black campaign spokesman Jonathan Frank. “While Joe Carr’s campaign coffers are running dry and he now relies on a dark money group to do his bidding, the momentum for our campaign is growing by the day. This endorsement from Trey Gowdy, a conservative powerhouse in his own right, follows endorsements from the NRA, NFIB, National Right to Life, and many other organizations that Tennesseans know and trust. With election day just over two weeks away, it is increasingly clear that Joe Carr is headed for his fourth failed campaign in a row.” 

Early voting runs now through July 30th and Election Day is Thursday, August 4th. 

To view a Dropbox folder of more pictures from today’s event, click HERE

 For the record, I am supporting Diane Black. Rod Williams

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Monday, July 18, 2016

(update) What's on the Council agenda July 19th. Bill to take property rights in Antioch and stop affordable housing development, back on the agenda.

BILL NO. L2016-219 that would strip property rights from a property owner in Antioch in order to stop the development of an affordable housing development is back on the agenda of the Tuesday July 19th Council meeting on Third Reading.

Two weeks ago at the July 5th meeting at the conclusion of the public hearing on the bill, Karen Johnson, the district council member, passing the bill on second reading and then moved to defer the bill indefinitely.  A bill deferred indefinitely can be brought back up but Council members have to be given a week's notice. I do not know that a bill deferred indefinitely cannot be placed on the very next agenda, but it is highly unusual. At the time of the July 5th meeting, she said she planed to bring it back and have it placed on the October 18th agenda.

In an article that appears in the Tennessean the next day following the July 5th meeting, Johnson said that while her proposed ordinance is considered still active, the indefinite deferral would prevent the developer from getting permits needed to begin construction on the project. I did not see the logic of her reasoning since the owner already has all of the rights he needed to proceed with his development.  Metro Planning Director Doug Sloan apparently also did not see Johnson's logic and told The Tennessean that because the owner's  rights are vested, the developer should be able to move forward with getting permits approved. I would have to assume Council member Johnson realized she was mistaken in thinking that by simply proposing to take away a person's property rights that that would in fact take away their property rights.  I would assume that is why the bill is back on the agenda at this time.  This is a bill that is disapproved by the Planning Commission bill and will take a 2/3rd positive vote of the Council to pass.

While we now have the most liberal council in Nashville's history, I suspect that even this liberal Council is not prepared to trample private property rights to this extend.  If not motivated by a respect for private property rights, they may be concerned by the threat of The Tennessee Development and Housing Agency (THDA) that if this passes, the agency will withhold future tax credits from Davidson County. Tax credits are one of the major means of financing affordable housing.  Tax credits have been awarded for this development and if Metro kills the project, it will be too late to award those credits to some other project. They will have been wasted. Tax credits are limited and not easy to come by.

If unconcerned about trampling of private property rights or loss of tax credits for affordable housing development in Davidson County, some council members may be concerned about sitting the city up to be sued in a law suit the city is bound to lose. To learn more about the issue and view the discussion of the bill at last council meeting follow this link. The discussion is at  timestamp 16:47- 1:00:45 in the video.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, July 19th at 6:30 PM.   Council meetings are really boring and I watch them so you don't have to. I will post a video of the council meeting and point out the interesting parts. If you are going to watch a council meeting, you really need the agenda and  the Council staff analysis or you won't even have a clue about what is going on.  Unfortunately the staff analysis is not yet posted so, I am providing my commentary without benefit of it. I will update when it is available. At 7PM on Monday July 18th the staff analysis is still not posted. If you want to check for yourself and see if the staff analysis is available follow this link. Most likely I will not have an opportunity to update this post again prior to the Council meeting.

Resolutions. There are 30 resolutions on the agenda, all on the Consent Agenda at this time. Most of them are routine things such as approving acceptance of grants or approving allowing signs to overhang the public sidewalk. If a resolution has any negative votes in committee it is taken off of consent.  Also any council member may ask to have an item taken off of consent or to have his abstention or dissenting vote recorded. All items on consent are passed by a single vote instead of being voted on individually. Below are the Resolutions of interest.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-307  appropriates $17.4 million from the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various departments of The Metropolitan Government.  This is normal. That is how the city pays for building maintenance and purchasing equipment.  Some equipment that will last a long time may be funded through  the normal budgeting process but equipment that will wear out in a few years is normally paid for from this fund.  4% of the cities revenues are set aside for this reserve fund. This is where the Council needs to be vigilant and make sure that Departments are not abusing this fund.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-308   appropriates $2.15 million from four accounts of the General Fund  to various nonprofit organizations selected to receive community enhancement grant funds. This grants are for such things as after school programs, domestic violence programs and literacy programs. A whole bunch of local non-profits get a piece. To see a list of all of the agencies getting some of these funds and how much they are getting, follow the link above.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-317  request the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Empowerment to work with the Metropolitan Council’s Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to address the issue of housing affordability in Nashville and Davidson County. This is a harmless resolution.  Since this was placed on the agenda, the mayor has proposed a new plan for affordable housing that is based on grants and is not punitive nor does it place mandates on developers. There are also a couple other bills pending that also address affordable housing. One is similar in intent to what the mayor has proposed and one is a bill that is considerably worse.
Bills on First Reading. There are 14 bills on First Reading but I usually don't review bills on First Reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda. They are not evaluated by committee until they are on Second Reading. All bills on First Reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote.

Bills on Second Reading. There are ll bills on Second Reading. None of them are of particular interest.

Bills on Third Reading. There are 39  bills on Third Reading. Most of them are boring zoning bills. In addition to BILL NO. L2016-219 discussed at the top of this post, these are the bills of interest:
BILL NO. BL2016-240 establishes new rules and fees for developers who close streets or sidewalks during construction. This is more complex than it sounds.This would attempt to fix what is a real problem.This was on Third reading last council meeting and deferred one meeting.
BILL NO. BL2016-297  is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission. It is a downzoning, without the property owners consent of 19 acres, essentially a "taking" of property. It is opposed by the Chamber and various other pro private property rights groups. 
BILL NO. BL2016-298 in Scott Davis's district would rezone 46 acres consisting of a bunch of properties from various current zonings to RM40-A which is a high density residential zoning allowing 40 units per acre. I do not know if this has the support of the property owners or not. This bill needs scrutiny to make sure it is not a taking of property rights.

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License to Rock and Roll?

Steve Dickerson: Did you know that thousands of Tennesseans have to get government permission just to work? That's why I co-sponsored the Right to Earn a Living Act, to make sure we are removing government barriers to employment here in Tennessee. ‪#‎nolicensetorockandroll‬

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