Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy New Year's from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving

New Yeaersby Rod Williams - New Year's eve is the favorite day of the year to drive drunk. A lot of people who do not normally go to bars and drink will be out drinking and going to private parties and getting drunk.  Getting drunk on for New Year's Eve is a tradition. Unfortunately, a lot of those people who get drunk will be driving and a lot of them are amateurs at driving under the influence. This  guide from the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving is provided  to help you improve your drunk driving skills or think about alternatives to drinking and driving.

(1) Don't Drive drunk. That is the number one rule: don't do it. Getting arrested for drunk driving is only one reason not to drive drunk.  The most important reason is you could kill yourself or someone else.  If you are lucky and don't kill someone else or yourself, getting arrested for drunk driving could cost you your job, your election, your social standing, custody of your children or visitation rights, a lot of money, and maybe your marriage.

If you overindulge, there are alternatives to driving drunk. Take a taxi, get a hotel room, call a friend or family member and ask them to come get you. If at a friend's house and you have had too much to drink, stay the night.  Use the ride sharing services like Lyft and Uber. These services are cheep, fast, and convenient.  To use these services you page a ride using your phone. To do that you must first download an app. Don't wait until you're drunk to try to download the app. Here is a link to the Uber app.

(2) Pick the designated driver before you start drinking.  If you are not going to rely on a commercial service such as a cab or Uber, and you know you are going to be drinking and you are going with other people, then have a designated driver. I prefer being the designated drinker, but someone needs to be the designated driver.
Despite the above advice I know there will be times when a person will have had too much to drink and not think they are too drunk to drive but will have had a sufficient amount of adult beverage that they could register drunk even though they don’t think they are drunk. I myself have probably driven many times when I would have registered drunk had I been stopped. I am not by any means advocating driving drunk, but if you are possibly driving impaired I am providing these below tips to help you increase your chances of getting home safely without getting arrested.

(3) Know that you don’t have to be “drunk” to register DUI. You do not have to be sloppy, falling down drunk to register as DUI. If you think you should not drive then by all means don’t. See the above tips. Often you will not know if you are drunk or not, so unless you know exactly how much you have had to drink and whether or not that would constitute drunk driving, then assume you are technically drunk. You do not have to appear intoxicated or have any of the symptoms that we think of as “drunk” to have a Blood Alcohol Content that legally makes you guilty of Driving Under the Influence. If you drink and you drive you have probably driven “drunk.”

(4) Track your consumption and don’t have “one for the road.” That is what often happens. If during the evening you are having dinner with friends and you have a pre-dinner cocktail and wine with dinner and an after dinner liquore with coffee, and a champagne toast, you might register drunk. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to a level that falls below the BAC limit.

On occasion, but not as often as I would like, I like to go to Lower Broadway to listen to live music and party. If I have 8, 12-ounce beers in a four-hour period I should have a BAC of about .068, however if I have 9 beers in four hours that means I have a BAC of .085 and am legally drunk. “One for the road” could put me over the limit. Actually, I seldom have eight in a four hour period, but it has happened.

A female can drink less than a male and a slender person can drink less than a heavy person. For a 115 pound female, three glasses of wine in two hours is drunk. Don’t try to keep up with the other people in your party. Know your limit. Skip a round. Drink slower. Some people assume that wine is less inebriating than tequila shots. That is not so. A 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of 100 proof distilled spirits have the same impact on an individual's BAC level.

Here is a calculator that will give you guidance on how much alcohol you can consume and an estimate of BAC. Please be aware that this is only a guide. If you are drinking on an empty stomach, your BAC may be higher than indicated in the calculator.

(5)  Point your car in the direction of home.  Plan your trip. A good car should be able to find its way home, with a little help.  Avoid places where the police might see you. In the days before Uber and when you could still park on Broadway, I would visit the honkytonk strip of Lower Broad. I never would  park on Broadway, however. I live on the south side of town, so I would park a block or two south of Broadway on one of the one-way streets heading south. That meant I did not have to circle a block and be concerned about traffic lights and stop signs. The less exposed one is to the police the less chance one has of getting caught. It is worth parking four or five blocks away to reduce your exposure.

(6) Be aware that you are impaired. If you didn’t keep track of how much you drank then assume you are may have had enough to register drunk and use your best drunk-driving skills. "Thinking" skills, like perceiving and evaluating risks, or processing information are not easily visible to outside observers, but they are the first skills to be adversely affected by alcohol. Be aware of this.

(7) Stop the Party. You are having a good time. You are joking and singing and laughing. You hate to end the party, but if there is any chance that you are driving with an elevated BAC, then stop the party. Say, “OK folks, we need to straighten up. I need your help in getting us home.” Don’t sing or engage in distracting conversation. Turn off the radio. Don’t talk on the cell phone. Give driving your undivided attention. Don’t let anyone in the car have an open container. You may be perfectly capable of driving, but if a drunk passenger is yelling out the window, the police may stop the car and give you a drunk driving test. The moment you get in the car the party is over.

(8) Check the checklist. Have a mental checklist. You don’t want to get stopped because you failed to use your turn signal. I was once stopped by the police on lower Broadway and forced to take a Breathalyzer. I knew I had only had two beers in a two-hour period so I was not concerned. The reason they stopped me is that I had not tuned on my headlights as I pulled out into the street. This was in a previous car, years ago when headlights did not turn on automatically. The downtown area is well lit and this was just an oversight. The police are looking for excuses to stop you; don’t give them one. Seat belts? Check. Adjust the mirror? Check. Turn off the radio? Check. Turn on the headlights? Check.

(9) Do not commit other crimes while driving drunk. If stopped for suspicion of drunk driving, don't compound your problems by being arrested for drunk driving and somethings else.  Don't smoke dope while driving drunk. Don't get arrested for drunk driving and for speeding, or possession of a controlled substance, or contributing to the delinquency of a minor, or soliciting prostitution. One crime at a time!

(10) Concentrate; pay attention. Be aware of your driving. Don’t relax. Keep both hands on the wheel. Don’t be distracted. Don't answer the phone. If you feel you must answer the phone, safely pull off the road. Don't even engage in conversation.  Make sure you do not weave. Are you staying within the lines? Drive just below the speed limit. Don’t tailgate. Pay attention to the car in front of you. If they put on their brakes, notice it. If you are approaching an intersection with a traffic light, pay close attention. Plan that traffic light stop. Don’t run a yellow light.

(11) Use your co-pilot. Ask the person in the passengers seat to help you drive. Ask them to tell you if you weave or tailgate or go too fast. Make them pay attention to your driving.

(12) If you get stopped. Unless you are certain that you have had less than the number of drinks it would take to raise your BAC level to the .08 level, then common wisdom holds that it is a good idea to refuse the breathalyzer test. It generally is more difficult to convict a driver of drunk driving if no chemical tests are taken.

Rep. Bill Beck
(13) Use your influence to get the charge thrown out. Be a State Representative or other person (link) with important friends who can get a judge to throw out the charge based on lack of probable cause for making the stop. Despite the police seeing you drive with wheels over the lane line and observing the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, and inability to walk straight and a despite the arresting officer saying you were "absolutely hammered," the judge may rule the arresting officer did not have probable cause for making the stop.

(14) Pray.

This is an additional tip suggested by a student of the Rod Williams School of Drunk Driving.

(15) If you are seeing double, close one eye. 

I have never been arrested for drunk driving but I admit I have been guilty of it. I guess I have been lucky. As a young adult I was more often guilty of it than I have been as an older adult. Nevertheless, from time to time, I still have probably technically met the blood alcohol level for being drunk.

Stay safe. Don't drive drunk. Drive careful. Happy New Year's.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Nashville student enrollment drops, again. This should be a wake-up call.

The Tennessean reported today that Nashville student enrollment drops, again. Enrollment dropped to 85,287 students in the 2018-19 school year. This is a drop of 115 students fewer than last year when enrollment was 85,399 students.  The 85,399 student enrolled in 2017-2018 was a drop of 1234 student from the  86,633 enrolled in the 2015-16 school year. The total drop form the number enrolled in 2015-2016 to 2018-2019 is 1346 students.

At the same time, the population in Nashville has been growing. We don't know exactly how many people live in Davidson County but the census bureau estimates that as of July 2017 there were 691,243.The census is only taken every ten years but the census bureau offers yearly estimates. July 2017 is the last estimate. The July 2014 estimate was 670,314.  I don't know how accurate those estimates are but one only has to drive down almost any street or maneuver in Nashville traffic to know they we are growing by leaps and bounds.  So in about the same time the population was increasing by about 21,000 people, school enrollment was dropping by about 1300. Something is wrong.

The schools board administration blames the enrollment decline on "gentrification."  I am not buying that explanation. Certainly the demographics are changing. Lower income people are moving out of many neighborhoods and more affluent people are moving in. However, density is increasing. Many lots with one house are being subdivided and two houses are taking their place.  If gentrification is the reason, it is that "gentry" are not going to send their kids to failing schools.

It may also be true that despite our growth there may be a decline in school age children. We need more data to know for sure.  Maybe most of the people moving to Nashville are childless couples.  If that is the case, that still is an indication that there is a serious problem with Nashville Schools.  The whole eleven county Metro Nashville Statistical Metropolitan Area is growing. It may be that people with school age children are choosing to live in surrounding counties where the schools are much better.  While Davidson County schools enrollment was shirking this year, Wilson County Schools grew by about 1,000 students. There is also massive growth in student enrollment in Williamson County where many schools are overcrowded.

I wish The Tennessean would have dug deeper and provided more insight on this story.  I would like to know if there is an increase in homeschooling and private school enrollment in Nashville.  If private schools are growing, are they growing  by leaps and bounds or experiencing modest growth. I would like for a reporter to interview parents who recently moved to the Nashville area and ask them if the poor quality of our public schools was a factor in where they chose to live.

These enrollment numbers should be a wake-up call.  People are voting with their feet and they are voting against Metro Schools.  When people no longer take pride in their public schools, they will be less civically involved.  They will be less inclined to support public schools.  Public school funding will take a back seat to other funding priorities.  Also, as is so often the case in large popular cities, there will be a greater social gap and cultural gap between the well off, and the less well off.  When people look at the public schools as the schools for only poor people it exacerbates a class division.  When public schools become the schools for the lower class, this leads to a lessened opportunity for upward mobility.

For those who can afford to send their child to a private school, this decline in public schools may be of little concern, but to the person of limited mean, worse public schools may mean their child falls from middle class status to lower class status with fewer options for advancement. Their circle of friends will be made up of people of lower income and the values they encounter will be different than when the schools have children from a mixture of socioeconomic backgrounds.

Something needs to be done. I would start by firing Director of Schools Shawn Joseph. I would then reinstate those programs such as International Baccalaureate and advanced placement classes that made public schools attractive to parent who want the best for their kids who may be tempted to leave the public schools system if their child cannot get a good education there.  We also need good people to run for school board who favor school choice and excellence rather than equal mediocrity. We need people who favor more money flowing to the class room rather than the administrative bureaucracy.  We need school board members more concerned with quality and discipline rather than social engineering and political correctness. 

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Lamar Alexander: My last two years will focus on cutting health care costs

by Lamar Alexander, The Tennessean -  Up to half of health care spending is unnecessary.

That’s according to Dr. Brent James, a member of the National Academy of Medicine, who testified before my committee that 30 percent, and probably as much as 50 percent of all the money spent on health care is unnecessary. ...the truth is we will never have lower-cost health insurance until we have lower cost health care.... the unnecessarily high cost of health care is that the health care system does not operate with the discipline and cost-saving benefits of a real market. (link)

Rod's Comment: I think everyone recognizes that the market is not working in health care.  Cost continue to soar.  There is not a "price" for health care services when who is paying the bill determines what is the price.  When a third party pays the bill no one cares what something cost.  We must bring cost under control. I wish Alexander success in the next two years as he focuses on cutting health care cost

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Kwanzaa, the made up holiday created by a drug addled radical thug that promotes values detrimental to the Black Community, started yesterday.

Yesterday was the start of the citywide celebration of Kwanzaa, now in its 36th year here in
Nashville. Through January 1st there will a large number of Kwanzaa events. The city even participates by lighting the Korean Veterans Bridge in Kwanzaa colors. To the uninformed, especially impressionable young people, they may think that Kwanzaa is a traditional African holiday and that it promotes something of value.  It is not and it does not.

Kwanzaa is a made up holiday created by Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga, a radical American Black Nationalists. Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga was born 1941 with the name Ronald McKinley Everett but adopted the African sounding name in the 1960's. He was active in the radical Black Power movement of the 1960's and was for a while was a member of the Black Panthers. When the Black Power movement splintered into violent conflict between different factions he was engaged in that struggle. He started a group called "United Slaves" which positioned themselves as more radical than the Black Panthers.  Member of US and Black Panthers killed each other during the violent struggles for control of the revolution. We know that in the sixties, the FBI was engaged in promoting divisions within the Black Power movement. Some allege that Karenga was funded by the FBI to further that division but the truth is unknown.
In 1971, Karenga was sentenced to one to ten years in prison on counts of felonious assault and false imprisonment. He thought two female followers of his were conspiring to betray him and he took revenge. This is how the Los Angeles Times described the case.
Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis' mouth and placed against Miss Davis' face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said. They also were hit on the heads with toasters.
Even if Karnega was not a made-up holiday created by a drug addled radical thug, it would not be something worth celebrating.  The principles of Kawanzaa are not admirable. The first principle is Umoja (Unity). That is not unity among all people however but  unity in the family, community, and race. The second principle is Kujichagulia (Self-Determination). It calls for the right to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. Keep in mind this is for Black people to do. It is not a call for cooperation with others or to be accepting or cooperative with others; this is a call for radical Black power.

It doesn't get better. The fourth principle of Kwanzaa is Ujamaa which is "cooperative economics,"  perhaps the last thing the Black community needs. Ujamaa was the 20-year experiment with African- style socialism in Tanzania. It failed miserably. "Cooperative Economics" never works. Voluntary collectives always fall apart. To urge collective or cooperative economics for the Black community is to urge them to remain poor. The Black community needs a good dose of capitalism, not socialism.

I know Christmas is made up also. All holidays are made-up or declared by a proclamation as a day to honor an event or a person. Christmas evolved over time and customs and traditions and elements were added one on the other. The message of Christmas is a positive message however and embraces all mankind. The message matters and any thing that evolves over time, to my way of thinking, has more legitimacy than something someone just set down one day and made up.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

TN Senator Lamar Alexander says government shutdown 'will produce a success for no one'

"I want to make sure Tennesseans know, as I have said from its beginning, that I believe there is no excuse whatsoever for this partial government shutdown. When the government shut down under President Obama, I said that I was elected to make the government work for taxpayers, not to shut it down. The same is true under President Trump. " (link)

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas 
A Disgruntled Republican

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

RIP Bob Ries

Bob Ries
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Bob Ries.  He was a bigger than life character. He lit up the room when he was present. He was a former Chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party and a  Republican nominee for the 5th Congressional District, a military veteran and small business owner.  He was a patriot and an advocate for conservative principles. He will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

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Sen. Bob Corker says President Donald Trump pushed the government into partial shutdown as an act of political posturing.

Please watch the video and consider what Corker says before you have a knee-jerk reaction to blast Corker and defend President Trump. Corker explains that not long ago Trump could have had $25 billion for border security in exchange for settling the dreamer issue and Trump would not accept it.

Corker says this government shut down is a made up fight so Trump can look like he is doing something. I agree. Corker says even if Trump should win, our borders would still not be secure. Listen to his explanation as to why.

Corker also explains why Trump's sudden pull out of Syria without consulting allies is a mistake and why Gen. James Mattis is right.

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

What happened at the 12-18-18 Council meeting: Good discussion on how capital improvements get build, NES bill "round-up" deferred, aggressive affirmative action program passes 2nd reading.

by Rod Williams - Above  is the video of the Council meeting of Tuesday, December 18, 2018. It is just short of three hours long. If you are going to watch it, it will make a lot more sense if you can follow along with an agenda. To access a copy of the agenda, the agenda staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.

Six council members were absent from this meeting. They are Erica Gilmore, Bill Pridemore, Holly Huezo, Mike Freeman, Mary Carolyn Roberts and Ed Kindall.

Following the call to order, invocation and pledge of allegiance, Alan D. Valentine, Director of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra addresses the Council  and introduces the Symphony Brass Quintet which performs some Christmas music for the Council. Nashville is fortunate to have a symphony of the quality we have.  Not many cities can boast of a symphony that has won multiple Grammy's. We also have one of the most highly acclaimed symphony halls in the country.  I have not attended many performances of the symphony, but before my wife became home bound, we would go on occasion.  I get of sense of civic pride from living in a city with such a renowned symphony.

Following the musical performance there is the presentation of a resolution honoring the retiring Speaker of the House of Representatives Beth Harwell and then she addresses the Council.  Following that is a presentation honoring some Parks Departments employees for their accomplishments.

The Council then hears from Council Committees reporting on matter other than legislation.  This is something new the Council does. There are several committees tasked with examining different issues. The only report is form Council Member Rhoten of the Budget Subcommittee which reports on expenses and revenues from the first quarter of fiscal year 2019. Nothing of significance is reported but I think it is good that the financial status of the city is getting this ongoing additional scrutiny. Next is confirmation of mayoral appointments to boards and commission and they are approved. Following that, is the public comments period and the Council hears from two individuals, but there is nothing of significance to report.

Public Hearing on West End Avenue rezoning bill Bill BL2018-1398.
This is a  zoning bill approved by the Planning Commission that would change from MUI-A to SP zoning on property located at 2004 and 2012 West End Avenue, to permit 360 multi-family residential units, 6,500 square feet of retail or restaurant space, short term rental property (STRP), owner occupied, and short term rental property (STRP), non-owner occupied. People speak both in favor and in opposition and it is approved on a voice vote.  This is in the vicinity of 20th Ave.  This is not the more controversial rezoning further out West End near I-440 which is pending which has proved very controversial and has united several neighborhood groups in opposition. I have no opinion on the merits of the zoning bill and simply point out those that appear to generate controversy or for some other reason I find of interest.

Resolutions. There are 18 resolutions most of which are on the consent agenda.  Below are the resolutions of interest.

Resolution RS2018-1455  would approve the issuance of $25 million in General Obligation bonds to fund certain projects.  Some of the projects are not listed in the Capital Improvements Budget adopted by the Council. The Council cannot approve funding of projects not in the CIB. The CIB can be amended however, but that would take a separate action.  Also, to put this in the CIB, something else would have to be taken out or the amount of money allocated to debt service would have to be increased.  One cannot simply issue new bonds without the money to pay the debt service. The debt service could be increased if we had excess revenue but that is not the case. This issue is resolved however. The sponsor offers an amendment to take out all of those projects not in the CIB. The amendment passes. With those projects out my primary objection to this bill is removed. However, problems remain. There are many more projects in the CIB than can be funded with available debts service.
Normally, the administration initiates resolutions like this and determines which projects in the CIB get funded. Normally, resolutions like this do  not originate with the Council. However, the timing of the actual sale of the bonds would not be impacted by this resolution and simply authoring the funding for these projects would not mandate that these were the projects that got built. The administration could bring forth a resolution authorizing different project, I assume.  This could also create disorder as other council members may bring forth resolution to do the same for projects in their district if this would have passed. In the end, I am not so sure a little disorder would be a bad thing.  I have often felt that some districts were favored over others and the executive branch had too much power despite the Council controlling the purse strings.  Some good discussion ensues.  If I served in the Council, as amended, I would probably vote for this. Maybe it would be a good thing to change the way decisions are made as to which projects get funded. To see the discussion see timestamp 1:01:40-1:34:53.
The resolution fails on  roll call vote. Here is how members voted:  Yes (10): Cooper, Mendes, Hurt, Hall, Hastings, Haywood, Swope, Scott Davis, Pardue, and Glover; No (22): Withers, Anthony Davis, VanReece, Hagar, Rhoten, Syracuse, Sledge, Allen, O'Connell, Weiner, Mina Johnson, Murphy, Pulley, Elrod, Blalock, Vercher, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, Lee, Henderson, and Rosenberg; Abstain (0).
Resolution RS2018-1508 would encourages a change in the NES policy of collecting contribution to its weatherization program for low income property owners from an opt-in policy to an opt-out policy. Currently if your electric bill is so many dollars and so many cents, you may select to have your bill rounded up to the next dollar and that odd cents amount goes to a fund to pay the cost of low income property owners to have work done on their home such as insulation to improve energy efficiency. This would change that policy so that your bill was automatically rounded up unless you opted out of that process. I adamantly oppose this.  I contribute routinely to causes and charities I support, but I don't want someone automatically rounding up my bill without my specific informed consent. This is memorializing.  It "encourages" NES to adopt this policy; it would not have to do so but if this passed, NES would probably do it. This was on the agenda last meeting and deferred to this meeting. It is discussed and Councilman Rosenberg raises objections. See timestamp 1:35:05- 1:45:15. It was deferred again on a roll call vote.

Resolution RS2018-1530  by Councilman Bedne ask the Tennessee General Assembly to establish a fund to cover property owners’ losses from diminished property values following the preemption of Ordinance No. BL2016-234. This is meaningless. The state is not going to do it. BL2016-234 was a bill from year 2016 that would add “natural gas compressor stations” to a list of facilities regulated as a “major source” of air pollutants which require a local permit and would do some other things. This was a part of an attempt to stop a proposed natural gas compression stations planned for Joelton and Antioch.  Federal law says that local government can not stop these developments and the Federal government has the right to permit them. Council passed 234 anyway and then the State nullified it. I wish the Council would reject these meaningless feel-good pandering measures but they won't. This worthless resolution passed on the consent agenda.
At timestamp 1:54:48 the Vice Mayor announces he will be reading the names of all of the people nominated for position on the Police Citizens Oversight Board. This would have been done at the start of the meeting but this whole time the Clerk has been checking names to make sure she had a complete list. Councilman Swope ask, why to we need to read the names. The Vice Mayor says because we said we would and we are trying to be transparent. Then, all the names are read. It looks like many of the council members take a break while the names are read.

Bills on Second Reading:  There are 8. This is the only one of interest.
Bill BL2018-1419 is a new aggressive affirmative action program for minority and women contractors doing business with the city. I addressed this issue in this post: Briley proposed a new aggressive affirmative action program for minority and women contractors. For details of this issue, read what I previously wrote and the staff analysis.  This passes on a voice vote.
Bills on Third Reading: There are 16. Most are zoning bills approved by the Planning Commission. I skip through zoning bills rapidly because most of the time they do not interest me and most of the time only are of interest to nearby neighbors. If you think I may have missed something that interest you, you may want to watch the meeting for yourself.
Bill BL2018-1288 (as amended) is intended to stop the owner of a commercial establishment from giving away or leasing their parking spaces.  One of the causes, perhaps the major cause, of sparse development along major corridors and for urban sprawl is the requirement that owners provide parking for their customers. The codes require so many parking spaces per so many seats in a restaurant and so many parking spaces per so many square feet of different types of retail. Some developers of  commercial property have met the requirement and then turned around and leased out their parking spaces, defeating the purpose of the requirement. This is an attempts to stop that. My view is that we should give up on this attempt to cater to the old model of car-oriented development and let the market work it out. If someones wants to open a restaurant with 2O tables and only supply five parking spaces, let them. It passes on a roll call vote of 28 in favor and two opposed.
Bill BL2018-1399 (as amended) is a disapproved zoning bill in Councilman Bedne's district. I know nothing about the merits of the bill and simply pointing it out because it is a disapproved bill and would have required 27 votes to pass. Council Member Bedne offered a substitute ordinance and moved that it be accepted for filing, which motion was seconded and it was approved by a voice vote of the Council. The substitute then passed by a vote of 29 to zero.There was some discussion but it does not interest me much.  Since it was still a  disapproved bill, it still required 27 votes to pass but it passed.

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

180 people were nominated for seats on the Police Community Oversight Board

Among those nominated were Waffle House hero James Shaw Jr. and Sheila Clemmons Lee, mother of Jocques Clemmons who was shot and killed by police when he ran from police after a traffic stop and refused to drop a gun he was carrying.

What will happen next is that all of the nominees will be sent a questionnaire which must be returned to the Clerk's office by January 4th.  Then, at the January 15th meeting of the Metro Council's Rules and Confirmation Committee, the Committee will review the nominees and make recommendations to the full body. The Council will then select eleven member who will serve on board. Two of the board members must be people nominated by the mayor, two must be people nominated by members of the Metro Council, and the remaining seven seats must be people either nominated by community organizations or nominated by petitions signed by 50 residents of Davidson County.  Four of the seven must be from economically distressed census tracks.

The charter amendment does not define terms. The fifty signatures to nominate someone does not require that the signatures be those of adults, voters or citizens. This charter amendment is poorly drafted and I suspect that it will either be overturned by a court or, more likely, invalidated by an act of the State legislature. 

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Councilman Robert Swope on the move to return NASCAR to the Fairgrounds.

12-20-2018- The Tennessean this morning reported that Speedway Motorsports has struck a deal with the fairgrounds racetrack operator Tony Formosa that paves the way for the return of NASCAR to the fairgrounds. While there are still details that remain to be worked out and while it is not yet a done deal, today's announcement is significant.

While many people have fought to save the fairground, Councilman Swope deserves the bulk of the credit for saving the historic Fairgrounds racetrack. Giving this latest development, I asked Councilman Swope for his thoughts. Here is his statement: 

Robert Swope
For months I met with dozens of parties that all have a vested interest in the Fairgrounds.  The Speedway, Flea Market, TN State Fair, Christmas Village, Hunters Car Show, and countless others were all given what I believe was a fair chance to speak up about what worked best for their individual interests.  This was done so that moving forward, as many concerns as humanly possible could be incorporated into the final master plan IF a MLS stadium were to be approved.

What become apparent early on in this year long process was that unless the racetrack was protected for the long term, the administration would continue to chip away at eventually removing it from the property altogether.  I began to speak about the racetrack being the elephant in the room.... and in order to protect an elephant, we needed to find a bigger gorilla than the MLS group.

Enter SMI and Bruten and Marcus Smith.  A VERY large Gorilla.

For the past 9 months, a number of us have worked very hard to 1) Protect the racetrack for at least 30 years, 2) Protect the Formosa family racing interests and 3) create a Fairgrounds Nashville that everyone in Middle TN could be proud of for decades to come.

My yes vote on the MLS deal was predicated solely on a trust and a promise that SMI would protect and honor the existing agreements with Formosa , and when such time that SMI and Formosa reached an agreement to work together, the Mayors Office would enter a 30 year agreement with SMI to rebuild/upgrade the track, return NASCAR to Nashville, and work together with all parties at the Fairgrounds for the continued operations of all other existing functions at the facility.

It seems that the first, and largest step in this plan has been agreement between Formosa Promotions and SMI......  and I personally am thankful for the honest integrity shown by all parties to date.  We should all see an agreement between SMI and the City very soon, thereby accomplishing the original goals set out over a year ago.

I believe that with the Speedway rebuilt and protected for the next 30 years, Fairgrounds Nashville will become a crown jewel in our city with all current and future events existing together and complimenting one another.

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The Council Meeting of 12/18/2018

 Please check back for my summary and commentary.

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NASCAR is headed back to the Fairground! Speedway Motersports struck a deal with Formosa. Other obstetricals remain to be resolved.

by Rod Williams - The Tennessean reports this morning that Speedway Motorsports has struck a deal the fairgrounds racetrack operator Tony Formosa that paves the way for the return of NASCAR to the fairgrounds. While there are still some details to work out and while the deal must be approved by the Fair Board, this is significant.  It is reported that Tony Formosa would continue to offer eight races a year at the fairgrounds.

It is not known what kind of improvements would have to be made to the historic track to meet NASCAR standards or who would pay for them.  There is already approved $1.7 million for track improvements by Metro, but that would not be sufficient to upgrade the track to the desired level.  For years the city has ignored the track hoping, many believe, that if would eventually deteriorate so badly that it would be prohibitively expensive to continue offering racing at the track. If Speedway Motorsports is granted a long-term lease, there is speculation they would pay for the upgrades.  Speedway Motorsports is one of he largest owners of NASCAR tracks in the country including Bristol Speedway.

Opposition to the track centers around noise complaints.  When races are going on they can be heard miles away. I live very near the track and think the noise complaints are exaggerated. Some people just love to complain.  Currently the number of races permitted at the track are capped at ten per year.  One can expect that some will fight to keep the ten-race cap.  It is unknown how many races would have to occur at the track for the deal to be viable.  In addition to noise, I am convinced that there are those who want to demolish the track because it does not fit the image they would like for a progressive Nashville.  There are those who seem embarrassed by anything that smacks of  Nashville's old identity.  They seem to be embarrassed by gun and knife shows, flea markets, country music and stock car racing. Former Mayor Karl Dean tried to have the track destroyed as part of his plan to sell off the fairgrounds property to private developers.

If the return of NASCAR is successful, much of he credit must go to Councilman Robert Swope. Speedway Motorsports had expressed an interest in the racetrack a long time ago, but city officials would not give them the time of day or even return their calls.  Swope got involved and made the city entertain proposals from Motorsports and he got Formosa and Speedway Motorsports negotiating.  For more on how Swope got us to this point, follow this link. Unfortunately, The Tennessean does not even mention Swope's name in their article.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Tempers flare and emotions spill over at School Board meeting. Calls for the firing of Dr. Joseph.

I have sometimes said Metro Council meetings are about as exciting to watch as watching paint dry. Most of the time that is true and it is also usually true of Metro School Board meetings.  Well, it was not true of the last school board meeting.  This meeting was reported in the Tennessean as, Nashville schools board tensions fly in contentious night as group calls for Director Shawn Joseph's ouster.

I have not watched the meeting in detail but skimmed and skipped looking for the good parts.  If you want to watch the meeting it helps if you have an agenda. You can get the agenda at this link.

The meeting starts full of good cheer and cordiality but then deteriorates. Below are timestamp notations of the good parts. I use the term "good parts," meaning the most interesting parts, not as parts that exemplify harmony and good behavior.

Timestamp 25:54: Erick Huth president of the teachers union speaks to the board lamenting the schools finances and that the school board has to sell property to fund day-to-day operating expenses, that instead of a qualified teacher in every class room many class rooms have substitute teachers, that the city instead of paying money to hire new teachers  the city pays money for millionaires to move to town, lack of support staff the schools need, and lack of text books. I know unions are always going to want more funding, but this sounds more serious than usual. He says the schools are drastically underfunded.
Continue watching: Kelly Watlington does not say who she is with, but talks of the findings of a recent school audit. She says there are several areas where there is potential for money to be misspend. Some checks that require two signatures only have one, gift cards are issued with no record of what was purchased with them or who they were given to, voided checks are missing.  She says the director of schools has not fixed the problems, will not take advice from his staff and she calls for his firing. She gets a round of applause.

Continue watching: Laura Leonard, a teacher, says teachers are not respected, they are abused and forced to work for free and other complaints. Other speakers also voice similar complaints.

Timestamp 1:36:50: In a discussion over surplussing a piece of property in Amy Frogge's district she argues against it and Will Pinkerston argues in favor. Members show frustration and tempers flare. Board members accuse other board members of not showing them respect.

Timestamp 2:50:51: In discussion following presentation on a reading program called CKLA, Amy Frogge says the program is experimental, our kids are being used as "guinea pigs,"  pressure is put on principals to use the program even though they don't want to do so, teachers are forced to sign consent forms and when they try to opp out of the program they are told they can't. She said it is a "lie" that teachers want to participate in the program. She said in truth teachers hate the program. She says teachers are pressured to say they like it. She says the program does not work. She appears bitter and disgusted not only about this issue but says last years they were lied to about improving test scores when scores are really flat. She says presentations are often deceptive "dog and pony shows."

Timestamp 3.9.36: Rachel Anne Elrod, gets emotional  and can hardly talk.

It is obvious that there are serious problems at the Metro School Board and that our schools are failing. Two things testify to this. Despite Nashville's population growth, school enrollment is declining. Either people with school age children are sending their children to private schools or they are locating in surrounding counties to avoid Nashville's pubic schools. The other indications that things are not gong well is that the number of Nashville schools classified by the State as failing schools is growing.

I hear from some council members and others who are engaged in civic affairs that Dr. Joseph is not a good leader, that he is manipulative, waste money, does not manage in a collaborative manner, and is not respectful of teachers and many say he needs to be fired.

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Haslam giving Senate bid 'serious consideration'

Haslam giving Senate bid 'serious consideration'

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Mayor Briley Nominates Phyllis Hildreth and Bob Cooper to Police Community Oversight Board

Press release - Mayor David Briley today announced his nominations of Phyllis Hildreth and Bob Cooper to serve on the Community Oversight Board (COB). The recently enacted charter amendment allows the Mayor to appoint two members to the 11-member COB.

Ms. Hildreth currently serves as Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Strategic Partnerships at American Baptist College. Mr. Cooper, a former Tennessee Attorney General, is a member of the Compliance & Government Investigations Practice Group at Bass Berry & Sims.

“Ms. Hildreth and Mr. Cooper each bring a unique blend of skills and expertise that will be critical assets to the COB,” said Mayor Briley. “I am 100 percent committed to making the COB as effective as possible, and these two nominees will go a long way in ensuring that. Both have experience in the creation and management of new organizations dedicated to the pursuit of justice, and I look forward to their swift confirmations by the Metro Council.”

Ms. Hildreth’s experience includes serving as Chief Counsel in the Office of the Public Defender for the State of Maryland, as Deputy Secretary for the State of Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice, and as Managing Director for the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from the University of Maryland.

Ms. Hildreth currently serves on the Metro Human Relations Commission, a position from which she will step down so that she may serve on the COB.

Mr. Cooper held the position of Tennessee Attorney General from 2006 to 2014 and served as legal counsel to Gov. Phil Bredesen from 2003 to 2006. Mr. Cooper chaired the Southern Region of the National Association of Attorneys General in 2012-2013 and Metro’s Charter Revision Commission.
He also taught Campaign Finance and Elections for almost 20 years as an adjunct professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School. Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Cooper served as a law clerk for The Honorable Louis F. Oberdorfer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

A member of the Tennessee bar since 1984, Mr. Cooper earned his law degree from Yale Law School and his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.

Rod's Comment: I do not know these people but at least they appear to be people with a good education and credentials.  I would assume the mayor's two appointees will be confirmed. I will follow with interest who is nominated for the other nine seats on the eleven member board.

Today, December 18th, is the deadline for submitting nomination.  After nominations are received a questionnaire will be sent to all nominees and the questionnaires must be returned by January 4th.  Candidates will then appear before the Rules committee of the Council for interviews and the committee will make recommendations.  I don't know, but I suspect that rather than make a choice among the nominees, the Rules committee will recommend everyone who meets the basic requirement. 

On January 15th, the Council will then select from the nominees the nine remaining seats of the eleven seats to be filled. Seven of the Board members must be people who are nominated by "community organizations" or by private petition signed by 50 Davidson County residents. However, at least four of these seven  members must reside in "economically distressed communities."  The text of this charter amendment does not define either "community organization" nor "economically distressed communities." There is no requirement that the petition signers be voters or even citizens and there is no age requirement for the petition signers.

Two other of the members must be people nominated by Council Representatives. No one with a law enforcement background or closely related to a law enforcement officer is eligible to serve.

This legislation is poorly written. I suspect that before it is all over this charter amendment will be subject to a legal challenge and be negated by a court or be nullified by the state legislature.

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Monday, December 17, 2018

A Christmas humor break: Many years ago, before the demise ...

Many years ago, before the demise of the old Soviet empire, there lived a Party member government official in the cold, cold town of Moscow. One winter's eve, as he and his wife set by the fire they discussed going out for the evening. His wife wanted an evening out but Rudolf was tired from persecuting dissidents all day and wanted a quite evening at home with a glass of vodka in front of the fireplace.

His wife said, "Rudolf, we haven't been out in a while. Let's go have some fun."

Rudolf said, "I really don't think we ought to, dear.  It is too cold and anyway, it is starting to snow and we don't won't to get stuck in the snow."

His wife went to the window and peered out and replied, "It's not snowing, It is just a little rain."

Rudolf replied, "Yes it is. Look closely."

His wife replied, "Oh well, that's not really snow. It's just a little rain mixed with a little bit of sleet."

Rudolf replied, "No, it is snowing!"

In a soft pleading voice his wife responded, "That's not really snow. It's just a little rain."

"No, it is not. That is snow,"  he responded. "Rudolf the Red knows rain dear."

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Senator Lamar Alexander not to seek reelection in 2020

Press release, NASHVILLE, Tenn., December 17, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement:

I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate in 2020. The people of Tennessee have been very generous, electing me to serve more combined years as Governor and Senator than anyone else from our state. I am deeply grateful, but now it is time for someone else to have that privilege. I have gotten up every day thinking that I could help make our state and country a little better, and gone to bed most nights thinking that I have. I will continue to serve with that same spirit during the remaining two years of my term.
Alexander is the only Tennessean ever popularly elected both Governor and U.S. Senator.  His 2008 general election vote total of 1,579,477 is the largest ever received by a statewide candidate.  Alexander is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He authored opioids legislation signed into law in October which President Trump called “the single largest bill to combat a drug crisis in the history of our country.”

In 2016, he wrote the “21st Century Cures Act,” which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called “the most important law of this Congress.”

In 2015, Alexander authored the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” fixing “No Child Left Behind.” President Obama called the new law “a Christmas miracle,” and the Wall Street Journal said it was the “largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter century.”

As chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations subcommittee, Alexander provided four years of record funding for national laboratories, supercomputing and waterways, including restarting Chickamauga Lock.  

You can read more about the senator’s work here.

A seventh-generation Tennessean born and raised in Maryville, Alexander was twice elected governor of Tennessee.  He was chairman of the National Governors Association and of President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on Americans Outdoors. He then served as president of the University of Tennessee and U.S. Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush.   In 2002, he was elected to the United States Senate and was re-elected in 2008 and 2014.  His Republican colleagues elected him three times to be chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

He is a country and classical pianist who has performed on the Grand Ole Opry and for the Billy Graham Crusade. When not in public office, he co-founded a law firm and two successful businesses. He and Leslee Kathryn [Honey] Buhler married on January 4, 1969. They have four children and nine grandchildren.

 Rod's Comment: I remember when Lamar Alexander was publicly sworn in as Governor. A mass of people walked up Charlotte Avenue to the Capitol and I was among them.  Along with many others, I wore a red plaid flannel shirt and a button that read, "I walked the last mile with Lamar Alexander," or something like that.  For those who may not know, Lamar ran a very unusual campaign and walked the full length of the State, starting in Mountain City and ending in Memphis.  After being elected he was privately sworn in early to stop outgoing Governor Ray Blanton from making massive last minute prison pardons.  Blanton was extremely corrupt, selling liquor license and pardons and engaging in other corruption. Lamar Alexander was young, handsome, and wholesome and a breath of fresh air.

I think Lamar Alexander has served the people of our state well. He may not be a partisan bomb thrower but he is a good legislator and is thoughtful, principled, and respectful.  Those seem to be qualities not in high demand these days.  While I have respect and admiration for Lamar, everyone at some point probably ought to retire. It is time to let a younger generation have a seat at the table. I wish Lamar Alexander the best in his retirement.

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Sen. Lamar Alexander skeptical Supreme Court will agree with ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional

by Joel Ebert, The Tennessean - One day after a federal judge in Texas issued a decision in which he deemed the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, a key Tennessee lawmaker expressed skepticism that the nation's high court would concur. 

In a statement issued Saturday, Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said, "If the U.S. Supreme Court eventually were to agree that Obamacare is unconstitutional — which seems unlikely, however poorly the law was written — I am confident that any new federal law replacing it will continue to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions who buy health insurance." (link)

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Alexander at Axios Event: The Debate Should Move From Health Insurance to Health Care Costs

 “I'm going to focus on making the system more of a market, getting rid of barriers, and—if I could—find a way to make it possible for those of us who buy health care services every day to know the price of what we're paying for.” – Sen. Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, December 12, 2018 — Senate health committee Chairman Lamar
You can watch Senator Alexander’s discussion
with Axios’ Mike Allen here
Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the health care debate should “move from health insurance to health care costs.”

At an event hosted by Axios today, Alexander discussed his 2019 health care policy priorities, specifically reducing the cost of health care, with Axios co-founder and Executive Editor Mike Allen.

“My focus over the next two years is to see if we can do one or two big things to reduce health care costs and maybe 10 or 12 little things and try to move the whole debate from health insurance where we've been stuck for eight years arguing about six percent of the health insurance market, that's Obamacare, to health care costs,” Alexander said. “You'll never get lower-cost health insurance until you have lower-cost health care.”

He added: “We've had five hearings on reducing health care costs and Dr. Brent James, who is a member of the American Academy of Medicine said that 30 to 50 percent of what we spend on health care is unnecessary. So I was so startled by that, that I asked the other witnesses, they agreed with him, and I asked the next panel of witnesses and the next, and they agreed with him too. That means that, of the huge amount we spend on health care, we unnecessarily spend an amount of money that's more than the gross domestic product of every country in the world, but nine.

Mike Allen: You said that one of the biggest problems is people don't know the true cost of their health care.

Alexander: “Well, that's it. The first thing is to get rid of the barriers in the way of innovators, but nobody knows the cost. Secretary Azar is going to be here. He's got a great story about how he went for a procedure and found out it costs several thousand dollars and he got on the website and checked around and found out he could get it for $550 in the doctor's office. So the way our system is set up, you don't know the price and if no one knows the price, prices aren't going to come down.”

Mike Allen: Now you talked about the next two years, and in January, we're going to have divided government… What is one big thing that you believe you can accomplish next year as Chairman?

Alexander: “Well, I've talked already with [Senator Patty Murray], and on my short list is reducing health care costs. … I'm going to focus on making the system more of a market, getting rid of barriers, and if I could find a way or ways to make it possible for those of us who buy health care services every day to know the price of what we're paying for, that would be the single most important thing I could focus on for two years. I mean, we should do that. The Members of Congress should not sit around with the facts in front of us that we're spending $1 to $1.8 trillion unnecessarily on health care and not do anything about it.”

In a Senate floor speech yesterday, Alexander announced he will be seeking specific legislative, regulatory, or sub-regulatory solutions to help lower health care costs. During the speech, he said, “Up to half of health care spending is unnecessary.”

Alexander yesterday sent a letter to leading health care experts at the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, economists, doctors, nurses, patients, hospital administrators, state regulators and legislators, governors, employers, insurers, and innovators asking them to identify specific ideas about how to reduce health care costs for taxpayers, employers, and families after concluding a series of five Senate health committee hearings exploring the same topic.

At the first hearing of the series, the committee established a common understanding of how much health care costs; at the second hearing, the committee explored ways to reduce unnecessary health care spending; at the third hearing, the committee focused on ways to reduce the administrative burden on doctors and hospitals; and at the fourth hearing, the committee focused on finding ways to improve access to information about the cost and quality of health care for patients. At the fifth and final hearing of the series, the committee examined what the private sector is doing to encourage innovation and what Washington can do to get out of the way to lower costs.

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

What's on the Council agenda for 12/18/18: new affirmative action program for minority and women contractors, $25 million in General Obligation bonds w/o debt service $, asking NES to automatically "round up" electric bills.

by Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, December 18th at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along. If you are going to watch it, it is more interesting if you have the agenda and agenda analysis.  It is still not very interesting but more interesting if you know what the heck is going on. You don't have to watch it and yet you can still me informed however, because  I will watch it for you and then a couple days later post a summary of the most important Council actions and I will post a video of the meeting and highlight the interesting parts, if there are any.

Below is a summary of the agenda, highlighting what I deem to be the most important items.

After the call to order, invocation and pledge of allegiance, there will be a report from committees reporting on matters other than legislation. These various committees will be reporting on budget,  contract procurement, innovation and school safety. The council has a special budget subcommittee to look at the budget crisis facing the city including the role that tax increment financing plays in our budget woes.  A new initiative has been launched to "level the playing field," as Mayor Briley calls it, when it comes to minorities getting their "fair share" of Metro contracts. More on this at this link: Briley proposed a new aggressive affirmative action program for minority and women contractors.
Last meeting these committees reported that they were meeting but had nothing to report.

Kay Bowers
There are three mayoral appointments for council confirmation on this agenda. These always get approved. Two are to the board of the Metropolitan Development & Housing Agency (MDHA).  This board  has come under a lot scrutiny recently. In a Tennessean article titled MDHA board awards millions to developers with little oversight or transparency, the body of the article elaborates on the a title. One of the nominees to this board is Kay Bowers, who is the executive director of New Level Community Development Corp. From my work affordable housing field, I am acquainted with Kay Bowers and have respect for her. She will be a good addition to the board. Working at her level with a non-profit, I would expect her to be an advocate for the affordable housing component of MDHA's mission and less of an advocate for corporate welfare.  I hope the Rules Committee stressed to the new appointees the need for more transparency and oversight of MDHA.

Resolutions. There are 18 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda at this time. A resolution is on the consent agenda if it passed the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda. Below are the resolutions of interest.
Resolution RS2018-1455  would approve the issuance of $25 million in General Obligation bonds to fund certain projects.  Some of the projects are not listed in the Capital Improvements Budget adopted by the Council. The Council cannot approve funding of projects not in the CIB. The CIB can be amended however, but that would take a separate action.  Also, to put this in the CIB, something else would have to be taken out or the amount of money allocated to debt service would have to be increased.  One cannot simply issue new bonds without the money to pay the debt service. The debt service could be increased if we had excess revenue but that is not the case.  I suspect this will be deferred again. I suspect the sponsors, Jonathan Hall, DeCosta Hastings, and Brenda Haywood know this is a futile effort and are simply doing this so they can tell their constituents, "we tried."

Resolution RS2018-1508 would encourages a change in the NES policy of collecting contribution to its weatherization program for low income property owners from an opt-in policy to an opt-out policy. Currently if your electric bill is so many dollars and so many cents, you may select to have your bill rounded up to the next dollar and that odd cents amount goes to a fund to pay the cost of low income property owners to have work done on their home such as insulation to improve energy efficiency. This would change that policy so that your bill was automatically rounded up unless you opted out of that process. I adamantly oppose this.  I contribute routinely to causes and charities I support, but I don't want someone automatically rounding up my bill without my specific informed consent. This is memorializing.  It "encourages" NES to adopt this policy; it would not have to do so. This was on the agenda last meeting and deferred to this meeting. 

Resolution RS2018-1530  by Councilman Bedne ask the Tennessee General Assembly to establish a fund to cover property owners’ losses from diminished property values following the preemption of Ordinance No. BL2016-234. This is meaningless. The state is not going to do it. BL2016-234 was a bill from year 2016 that would add “natural gas compressor stations” to a list of facilities regulated as a “major source” of air pollutants which require a local permit and would do some other things. This was a part of an attempt to stop a proposed natural gas compression stations planned for Joelton and Antioch.  Federal law says that local government can not stop these developments and the Federal government has the right to permit them. Council passed 234 anyway and then the State nullified it. I wish the Council would reject these meaningless feel-good pandering measures but they won't. This will pass, but is worthless. 
Bills on Second Reading:  There are 8. This is the only one of interest.
Bill BL2018-1419 is a new aggressive affirmative action program for minority and women contractors doing business with the city. I addressed this issue in this post: Briley proposed a new aggressive affirmative action program for minority and women contractors. For details of this issue, read what I previously wrote and the staff analysis. 
Bills on Third Reading: There are 16. Most are zoning bills approved by the Planning Commission.
Bill BL2018-1399 (as amended) is a disapproved zoning bill in Councilman Bedne's district. I know nothing about the merits of the bill but am simply pointing it out because it is a disapproved bill and will require 27 votes to pass.

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Keep Mary Mancini Chair of the TN Democratic Party!

Mary Mancini
by Rod Williams - On January 12th the Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee will meet to choose a party chairman.  I am urging my Democratic friends to stick with Mary Mancini.

I know Democrats have not had a lot of success in Tennessee in recent years. The Republicans now control the governor's office, hold the two US senate seats and seven of the nine House of Representative seats and have super majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

The recent race for governor between Republican Bill Lee and Democrat Karl Dean was supposed to be close but Lee won by a landslide of 60 percent to 39 percent.  Many national pundits thought the Democratic candidate for US Senate, former governor Phil Bredesen, would beat Congressman Marsha Blackburn but it didn't turn out that way. Blackburn soundly defeated Phil Bredesen 55 percent to 44 percent. 

In the State legislature House, Republicans hold 73 seats to the Democrat's 26 and in the Senate, Republicans hold 28 seats to the Democrat party's five. However, Democrats did gain one House seat, and that's something. Democrats picked off the seat formerly held by Beth Harwell.

Winning isn't everything, however.  By keeping Mary Mancini as Chairman, Democrats can keep the party pure.  With Mancini as Chair, those socially conservative, New Deal type rural voters will not make inroads into the Democratic Party.  They will not be tempted to leave the Republican Party and return to their former Democratic home. Many of these people may believe in big government solutions for some problems and they love their farm subsidies, but they are not comfortable with identity politics and they may believe in the Second Amendment and may be pro-life.  They should not be made to feel welcome in the Democrat Party.  To keep the party moving in the direction of Bernie Sanders and the progressive left, these lapsed Democrats cannot be allowed to gain a foothold in the Party. I know Democrats want their vote, but they cannot be allowed a seat at the table.

Also, to be honest, I don't know if anyone could have done a better job than Mary Mancini.  Tennessee voters are just not into Democrats these days.  Tennesseans believe in things like the Second Amendment and border security and they like rising employment and prosperity and lower taxes.  Maybe someone else could have been a better salesman than Mary Mancini but I doubt it.  You can put lipstick on a pig and it is still a pig.

There are two challengers to Mary Mancini. If you ask me, they are both DINO's.  I know Dino does not have the same nice ring to it and cartoon potential as Rino, but I think these two challengers to Mary Mancini are Democrats In Name Only.  One is Holly McCall who is chairwoman of the Williamson County Democratic Party and the other is Christopher Hale.  Christopher Hale is even pro-life.  Surely there is not room in the Democrat Party for someone who is pro-life.

Stick with Mary Mancini.  Keep the Tennessee Democrat Party the party of minorities, and urban elites.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Congressman-elect Mark Green to Hold Six Town Halls This Week

Green also launches issues survey for TN07 constituents

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Congressman-elect Mark Green (R-Tenn.) is holding six town halls across Tennessee’s 7th congressional district this week. Green will discuss the issues facing the 116th Congress and hear from constituents. All residents in the 7th district are invited to attend and participate.

“As a state senator, I held town halls across my district before session every year to hear from constituents so I can better represent them. I’m excited to continue these as we head to Congress. I hope everyone will come and let us know how they feel about the issues,” noted Green.

Congressman-elect Green also launched an issues survey for constituents of the district to fill out:

December 11, 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Williamson County Administrative Complex
1320 West Main Street
Franklin, TN

December 12, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Samuel's on the Square
117 North Court Square
Waverly, TN

December 12, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
William O. Beach Civic Hall
350 Pageant Lane, Suite 201
Clarksville, TN

December 13, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Square-Forty Restaurant
40 Public Square
Lawrenceburg, TN 38464

December 13, 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Watson Building
50 Natchez Trace Dr.
Lexington, TN

December 13, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
The Latta Theatre
205 W Court Ave.
Selmer, TN

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Planned Parenthood, the only abortion provider left in Nashville, suspends abortion services

Planned Parenthood, the only abortion provider left in Nashville, suspends abortion services 

The Tennessean -  The only remaining abortion clinic in Nashville has ceased offering abortions, instead referring patients to clinics hundreds of miles away in Knoxville and Memphis. 

Rod Williams' comment: 

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Saturday, December 08, 2018

Open primaries have been good for the TN GOP. Why change what works?

Last week the Republican Party state executive committee passed a resolution calling for a change in the law to close party primaries.  As it stand now, when you go to vote you can, at the moment you walk into the voting location, decide if you want to vote in the Republican primary or the Democrat primary. In Tennessee there is no such thing as a "registered Republican" or a  "registered Democrat."

Currently there are 23 states with "open primaries" such as Tennessee has and the others are "closed." The closed primary states vary in how difficult and how soon before an election you may change your party affiliation.

The argument Republicans make for closing the primaries is that Democrats should not be allowed to help pick the Republican nominee. Some argue that Democrats vote in Republican primaries and vote for the weakest Republican so the Democrat can run against a weak Republican. Others, don't make that argument but say that when the Democrat Party has no candidate of stature running or no serious challenger to an incumbent and the enthusiasm is in the Republican Party, Democrats will vote in the Republican Party and vote for the candidate they like best.  However, this, critics claim, results in the Republican candidate being more moderate than he would be if only Republicans voted in the Republican primary. This gives us candidates who are Republican in name only- the dreaded "RINO."

I am not in favor of closing primaries in Tennessee. Tennessee has done extremely well with open primaries. We have a Republican governor, two Republican senators, and seven of our nine U. S congressmen are Republicans and we have a super majority in the State legislature in the House and the Senate. You can't do much better than that. I don't see why we would want to change a system that is working to our benefit.

Over the years, more and more Tennesseans have identified as Republican and have voted for Republican candidates. Would this have happened without open primaries? I doubt it.  I don't think many people change party affiliation all at once. If Independents or even Democrats vote in Republican primaries a few times, then I suspect, after a while, they will began thinking of themselves as Republicans. Why would we want to freeze them out from making that transition.

Also, I think our system has produced good rational, sensible people such as Corker, Alexander, and Haslam, and Fred Thompson. These people are considered too moderate by some Republicans, however,  and they want to nominate "more conservative" candidates. If we nominate people too far to the right, or nut-job Republicans like Joe Carr, I fear we are likely to lose our political dominance.

Here is an argument made made in a Facebook post by former State House Representative Debra Maggart.

Debra Maggart: Now that we have a super majority, why do we want to put a roadblock in front of Independents (who we desperately need ) and other Converts to our way of thinking?
I carried this bill long ago and I can debate it both ways. But I thought it was a good idea when we were in the minority. However, I don’t  think this anymore because we have a very different landscape now.
The Democrats have never organized their people to vote in our primaries - that’s never been proved - heck, they can’t even organize themselves to vote for their own, much less our people. That’s an old wives tale- if they voted in droves in our primaries you could look it up - but they don’t. You couldn’t get me to vote in their primary for a million bucks. So, who are these mysterious Democrats voting in our primaries??
If they tried to organize, we would know it. We’d get their mailers or phone bank calls, GOTV texts, emails, etc.
The better play is to get more Republicans and R-leaning Independents who only vote in November to also vote in August and grow the party that way. Our focus and funds should be on that idea.
I think we are limiting our numbers of voters by closing the primaries.
Having open primaries has worked pretty good so far- why change now?
We already know our numbers of voters who actually vote is shrinking anyway.
I’m sure I’ll be called a RINO for asking these questions, but I’ve served on both the SEC, the TGA, and I can’t count the campaign’s I’ve been involved in. I was the Whip when we picked up the 14-seat Majority in charge of protecting our incumbents and Caucus Chair when we expanded our numbers further.
I really want to understand why a party purity test is a good idea when we should be in the business of changing hearts and minds over to our side.
I think she is exactly right. It is a myth that Democrats organize to vote in Republican primaries. The lone Democrat may do so, but there is no evidence that it happens in large number or that there is an organized effort to do so. Instead of freezing people out, we should be enticing them to join us
Here is a Facebook comment from by friend Tim Skow , organizer of the First Tuesday group and a political activist.
Tim Skow: To our ''Closed primary supporter friends'' -- Lets ask you HONESTLY to evaluate this -- '' Had ALL states primaries been ''Closed'' in 2016 ... Can we AGREE... that 1] Donald Trump [supported significantly in primaries by Independents, first time voters and even some supposed ''Dems'' mad a Obama''] would NOT have won the Republican Primary for President without them? 2] ThatTed Cruz likely would have been nominated? AND... 3] that Hillary would be President today after beating Cruz LIKE A DRUM?!!!! .... IF...Anyone cannot honestly recognize this ... are a blind novice, political fraud ... or simply BSC !
Think about it. Tim is right. Donald Trump got the nomination because he was able to attract people who do not normally vote in Republican primaries to do so. Well, I am not going to think about that too hard because I did not want Trump to be the party's nominee. However, the process resulted in a Republican win which if Democrats and Independents had not been able to vote in Republican primaries, we would most likely would not have had and we would now have Hillary Clinton as president.

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