Saturday, January 27, 2018

"Teacher vs. Unions: One Woman's Courageous Fight to Free Her Profession" with Rebecca Friedrichs

From Hannah Cox of the Bastiat Society:
Dear Rod,
We're kicking off the 2018 year with a Bastiat Society event featuring Rebecca Friedrichs. Friedrichs is a former teacher who took her battle against forced unionization all the way up to the supreme court. You won't want to miss our kick-off event!

Events are free and open to the public, but we do ask that you register so we can provide adequate food and beverages for all of our guests. 

6:00 pm Happy Hour
6:30 pm Speaker
7:00 pm Q&A

The Bastiat Society of Nashville is a project of the Beacon Center of Tennessee in association with the Bastiat Society and AIER.

Rebecca Friedrichs, a twenty-eight year veteran elementary school teacher, is the face of a national
Rebecca Friedrichs
movement by teachers and other public employees to end forced unionism.
The Friedrichs case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on January 11, 2016 and sought to bring "right to work" civil rights to all public employees in America.
The Court was poised to rule 5-4 for Rebecca and all public employees who want to be free from forced speech. But Justice Scalia died a month after oral arguments leaving our country stunned, and resulting in a 4-4 tied decision for the Friedrichs case.
Rebecca is currently building a national movement to restore proper authority to parents and teachers in our schools and to give voice to those abused by unions. Her network is supporting Mark Janus in his US Supreme Court case, Janus v AFSCME, which will be heard February 26, 2018, and also seeks to free workers from forced unionism.
Rebecca's editorials have been published around the country. She's the host of a successful Prager University video on the real reasons teachers unions attack school choice.
She's appeared on numerous radio, and television news outlets including CBS News, NBC, FOX News, FOX Business Network, and NPR.
Rebecca is happily married to Charles Friedrichs, Director of the School of Music and Dance at San Diego State University. She and Charles have two grown sons, Kyle and Ben.

When: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM CST
Where: ADS Security, 3001 Armory Dr #100, Nashville, TN 37204

Register Now!

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Keep up with what is happening in the Tennessee General Assembly

Tennessee General Assembly information, click HERE. For information on State Senators, including phone numbers and email addresses, click HERE; for House members, click HERE. For information on legislation, click HERE.
Don't forget that you can now watch the Senate committee meetings and floor sessions online by going HERE; House committee meetings and floor sessions online HERE.
Phone calls can go to the legislative Switchboard at 615-741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1 last four digits of office phone number (available online)

The above handy list was compiled by Tennessee Eagle Forum. Rod Williams

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Bill to create a citizen's Police Oversight Commission withdrawn

Bill BL2017-951  on Second Reading Tuesday night would establish a Community Oversight Board is withdrawn.

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Bill trampling property rights and stopping affordable housing deferred to July

by Rod Williams - Bill BL2016-219  the bill that tramples a person's property rights, partially taking property without compensation, and kills an affordable housing development is deferred until July 2018. The bill was on third and final reading Tuesday night and is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission which means when it is finally acted upon it will take 28 votes of the Council to pass.  This bill has been in the works for a very long time, being introduced in April 2016.   
Unlike most zone changes which allow someone to do something with their property they were previously not allowed to do; this bill is a "down zoning," taking away a right someone now enjoys.  The owner is already vested in the project having designed the development and arranged financing.  I am pleased this was deferred but it is unfair to keep this hanging over the head of the owner.  Doing so should be illegal in my view.  While I do not know anything about the project other than what has been reported by other media and what is public record, I would assume that the fact that the down zoning is pending affects financing.  A delay is a also a major cost in a project like this.  

Despite the bill not passing, Councilman Karen Johnson has been successful in stopping the project. Her delaying the project may result in the planned affordable housing never being built since by the time the bill is finally defeated, assuming it is, the market may have changed and affordable housing may no longer be the best use for this property. Instead of the affordable housing, which Karen Johnson opposes, gentrification may have reached Antioch and upscale condo's may be built instead.

For more on this issue, see Contact your Council member. Stop the trampling of property rights and the killing of an affordable housing development.

When the video of the Council meeting is available I will post it and provide a summary and commentary. Please check back

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Council passes Mayor Barry's Tax for Tracks plan, keeps lower cost figure in referendum

Nashville council votes to keep lower cost-figure in transit referendum

The Tennessean - The Nashville Metro Council voted 30-6 Tuesday to advance Mayor Megan Barry's proposed transit referendum, bringing the measure just one more council reading away from getting cleared for the May 1 ballot.  In doing so, the council elected to keep the mayor's proposed $5.4 billion cost-figure in the referendum language, shooting down an amendment to rewrite it as $8.95 billion.

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The Council approves phase-out of non-owner occupied short term rental in residential neighborhoods

Nashville council approves Airbnb phase-out bill for residential neighborhoods

The Tennessean -... the council voted 25-5, with seven abstentions, to phase out short-term rentals that aren't occupied by their owners from residential-zoned neighborhoods.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What's on the 1-23-18 Council agenda: The mayor's $9 billion transit plan, trampling property rights and stopping affordable housing, new Airbnb rules, and creating a Police Community Oversight Board

Update: This meeting scheduled for Tuesday January 23rd is the meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday January January 16th and was rescheduled due to bad weather.

By Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. The hot topics are the mayor's transit program, a bill to create a police citizen's review committee, the bill that would trample a person's property rights and kill an affordable housing development, and bills that would change the rules on Short Term Rentals such as Airbnb. If you are going to watch the Council meeting, you need a copy of the Council agenda and the staff analysis  or you really will not know what is going on. You can get the agenda and analysis at the highlighted links.

Mayor's mass transit plan.
Bill BL2017-1031  is the bill to adopt  the Mayor's transit improvement program and approving  the program, and requesting the Davidson County Election Commission to call a county-wide referendum election to be held on May 1, 2018 to approve the tax increases to support the program.  While this should be controversial, expect it to pass overwhelmingly. At a three and a half hour public hearing on January 9th the proponents vastly outweighed the opponents, supporters have been organizing for months, the proposal has the support of Chamber and other movers and shakers in town and the Council meeting as a special council committee composed of the entire body voted 29 to 1 to recommend it. A group called Transit for Nashville Coalition has gathered over 30,000 signatures in favor of a mass transit program for Nashville but the signatures were supporting mass transit not a specific amount of taxes to support mass transit.

Despite the vote in favor of approved this is already determined, I expect a few speeches in favor and look to Councilman Robert Swope and Councilman Jon Cooper to possibly speak against it.  While the bill says the price tag for the plan is $5.4 billion, when all cost are included the price tag is closer to $9 billion.  This assumes no cost overruns. With cost overruns typical of similar projects the real cost is more likely to be between $15 billion and $22 billion. While the vote on Tuesday night well be overwhelmingly in favor of the plan, I am not assuming it will be approved in a public referendum especially if organized resistance emerges.  Some Council members will justify their vote in favor by saying they are simply letting the public decide the issue. That is not what the bill does. It puts the Council on record endorsing the plan. To fully understand the issue see page 6-14 of the staff analysis.

Police Community Oversight Board
Bill BL2017-951  on Second Reading would establish a Community Oversight Board to conduct investigations and provide citizen oversight of officers of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.  It would provide for an eleven member board, seven nominated by citizens groups or by petition confirmed by the Council, two appointed by the Council and two appointed by the mayor subject to Council confirmation. The Board would have the authority to investigate allegations that MNDP officers have committed misconduct in violation of policy or criminal misconduct.The Board would hold regular meetings and have a staff of researchers and lawyers. This would cost about $386,000 a year. A previous Council staff analysis said there are due process concerns with the way the board would operate. In my view this bill needs to be defeated. This bill will probably not be voted on due to procedural issues regarding council rules. More than likely the sponsor will have to start over with a new bill.  Nevertheless, depending on how lenient the vice mayor is, expect some passionate speeches in favor.

Trampling property rights and stopping affordable housing

The Ridge Apartments
Bill BL2016-219   is the bill that tramples a persons property rights, partially taking property without compensation, and kills an affordable housing development. This bill is on third and final reading and it is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission which means it will take 28 votes of the Council to pass.  This has been in the works for a very long time. Most zone changes allow people to do something with their property they were previously not allowed to do; this bill is a "down zoning," taking away a right someone now enjoys.  The developer is already vested in the project having designed the development and arranged financing.  If this passes it is an outrage. There will likely be lawsuit which Metro will most likely lose and the state has threatened to withhold low income housing tax credits, an essential financing tool for most affordable housing developments.  For more on this issue, see Contact your Council member. Stop the trampling of property rights and the killing of an affordable housing development.

Changing the rules regarding Short Term Rental (Airbnb" or home sharing). 
Bill BL2017-608,  Substitute Bill BL2017-937Bill BL2017-981, and Bill BL2017-982   all concern short term rentals. I am supporting 937, the least offensive of the bills. The worst of the bill, which would phase out non-owner-occupied short term rentals in areas zoned residential is bill 608. Bill 937 is being supported by the the citizens groups of home sharing advocates. It was worked on for a very long time by a special Council committee and was the subject of numerous meetings. It is called the "compromise" bill but many of the more vocal neighborhood activist are not happy and want to abolish home sharing all together and favor 608 which would abolish non-owner-occupied short term rental. For a more detailed explanation of these bills follow this link, this link, or see the staff analysis starting on page 16.


Other agenda items:
There are seven mayoral appointees to Boards and Commission on the agenda for confirmation and as always they will be affirmed. There are no bills or resolutions on public hearing.  There are 10 bills on first reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda and they are not considered by committee until after they pass first reading.  Normally bills on First Reading are all lumped together and pass by a single vote. It is rare that a bill on First Reading is voted on separately. I normally do not read bills until they get to second reading.
There are 12 resolution on the agenda and all are on the consent agenda at this time. A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes  unanimously the committees to which it was assigned. Resolutions which receive negative votes in committee are pulled off of consent. Also any councilman may have a resolution pulled off of consent. Those remaining on consent are lumped together and passed by a single vote. Resolutions on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government, entering into inter agency agreements over mundane things, appropriating money from the 4% fund, settling lawsuits, or approving signs overhanging the sidewalk. Unlike a bill which requires three votes of the Council to pass, a resolution only requires one vote of the Council. None of the resolutions on this agenda are of much interest.

There are only four  bills on Second Reading and one of them is the bill to create a Police Community Oversight Board discussed above and another is the mayor's transit plan above. The only other bill on second reading of interest is this one:

Bill BL2017-941  would establish a a Commercial Permit Parking Program. The council would have to approve the geographic areas in which this applied. In those areas commercial vehicles could only park on the street if they had a permit to do so.  As we grow, parking become more of a problem with people parking on streets taking parking places that deny those spaces to those who have businesses or residence on the street a place to park. These seems reasonable.
There are 32 bills on Third Reading. One of them is the bill to trample property rights discussed above.  Others are the bill concerning short term rental discussed above. Bill BL2017-1026 is the only other bill of interest and it is only of interest because it is a bill disapproved by the Planning Commission and will require 28 votes to pass.  It changes from RS5 to RM20-A zoning on property located at 1308 Montgomery Avenue.

To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person but I wouldn't recommend it. There will be a mob of people for this meeting. You can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site and you can watch it live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel. If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video on this blog the day after or the day after that and provide commentary.

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(update) First televised statewide gubernatorial forum of the 2018 election is tonight 1/23/18 at Belmont U. Free tickets still available.

Tickets are still available for the first televised, statewide gubernatorial forum of the 2018 election, which will be held on Belmont University’s campus in the Curb Event Center on Jan. 23. Belmont , the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee and NewsChannel 5 are partnering to host the forum.

General admission tickets for the public to attend the forum are available here, and tickets for Belmont students, faculty and staff are available here.

The forum, which will air from 7-8 p.m. CT, will focus exclusively on education. All seven top-tier Republican and Democratic candidates are expected to attend.

For a better understanding of the education issues facing the next governor, you may want to read this article from The Tennessean: Money, testing and attracting teachers: 3 big questions for Tennessee's next governor. 

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Ten's of thousands march in Washington, Trump addresses the rally and declares Monday “National Sanctity of Life Day.”

Tens of thousands of people marched in Washington D.C. on Friday in favor of the right to life. If you only get your news from a mainstream news source you might have missed it.  One way the liberal media distorts the news is by deciding what is newsworthy.  Causes they support get headlines and front page treatment and causes they do not support go unreported or are reported but hidden.

Friday marked the 45th annual March For Life, which occurs each year on or near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that nationalized legal abortion making it legal in all fifty states.  This year President Donald Trump gave a history-making address by speaking to the crowd gathered on the National Mall by live video from the Rose Garden. In previous past years President Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush addressed the rally by phone call.

At the rally, Trump praised those attending and listed his accomplishments focusing on those that advance the cause of life, pledged to continue to advance the pro-life cause and declared Monday January 23rd as “National Sanctity of Life Day.” He pointed out that the United States was only one of seven countries in a group that includes China and North Korea that allows selective late term abortions. He endorsed the pending "pain-capable bill" which has passed the House but his held up in the Senate.  It would ban abortion for fetuses capable of feeling pain which is at about the twenty-first week of pregnancy. “Today, we focus our attention on the love and protection each person, born and unborn, deserves regardless of disability, gender, appearance, or ethnicity,” he said. 

Donald Trump has done more than any other president to advance the pro-life cause.  He put Neil Gorsuch who is a staunch conservative on the bench, he reinstated a policy called the Mexico City policy that prohibits foreign organizations that receive U.S. funds from providing or recommending abortions, he signed legislation allowing states to deny federal funds to organizations such as Planned Parenthood that provide abortions, and he has created a new office in the Department of Health and Human Services devoted to protecting health-care workers who object to participating in abortion procedures.

I have been very pleased with Trump's pro-life policies. I admit I was skeptical of  candidate Trump's pro-life stance. I thought Trump was an opportunist without values and whose pro-life conversion was politically motivated.  In 1999, he told Meet the Press he was “very pro-choice” and even supported partial-birth abortion. I am pleased to say I was wrong about Trump. His conversion appears genuine and is commitment is solid.

To see Vice President Spence's introduction of the president and President Trump's remarks watch the video; the mainstream press does not consider this newsworthy.

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

What I learned about the Nashville Women's march as reported by the media.

If you want to know what happened at the Women's March in Nashville, you can read about it in the Tennessean here and here. Be aware however that the reporting is more like celebratory  cheer-leading than news reporting. For WKRN channel 2 news report, which is less propagandistic, click here.  For WSMV channel 4 coverage and video follow this link. For Fox 17 coverage follow this link. You really don't need to watch it or read the articles. Really, they don't tell you much.

All of the media estimate the crowd at 15,000 or more than 15,000. My rule of thumb is that when the press reports a liberal cause drew 15,000, I assume it was really closer to 12,000 or maybe as low as 10,000.  When the press says 15,000 attended a conservative rally, I assume the crowd size is really 18 to 20 thousand.  There may be some reporters with integrity who report accurately, but I don't know which ones they are so I just make my standard adjustment.  I am not sure the liberal estimations are even intentional but the reporters bias may subconsciously lead to over and under reporting.  I also think there is a herd mentality among the press and if one outlet says 15,000 people attended a rally, the next report will accept that and rereport it.  So, the mainstream media reports 15,000 people attended the rally.

Mayor Megan Barry spoke at the rally but the reporting does not say what she said.  The news reports showed normal looking people and smiling moms with pretty children on their shoulders. The people who were interviewed seemed fairly normal and rational, even if I did disagree with their political view.  If it would have been a tea party rally or other conservative gathering, the press would have interviewed an overweight, ill dressed, ignorant person who used poor grammar and said something that indicated they really did not understand the issues, or the media would have found an odd ball fringe extremist to interview. I still thing reading mainstream news is important, you just have to read it critically and read between the lines.  Often the mainstream media does not make up the news they are just selective about what they report in order to create a false impression.

From reading the news reports we learn that one of the reasons for the rally was to protect "reproductive rights," which is the right to kill an unborn child (what they call "the product of conception") right up until the moment of birth. The march was also a protest against sexual assault unless of course the assault is committed by credibly accused rapist Bill Clinton who supports reproductive rights. All of these women who are so outraged about inappropriate actions by men behaving badly seem to still love Bill Clinton. The outrage is very selective.

The march was also against deporting illegal aliens, and it was about  "Black Lives Matter," and about gay rights and civil rights and social justice,  but what I got out of it was that it was a march by people who are still suffering from TURD, Trump Unacceptance & Resistance Disorder. One participant is quoted in the Tennessean article as saying she suffered from  PTSD, President Trump Stress Disorder. I thing TURD and PTSD are the same thing or at least they are closely related. 

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