Thursday, June 07, 2018

Phil Bredesen bankrolls liberal Democratic candidates

Phil Bredesen gave $36K to Hillary campaign
Washington Examiner - ... Bredesen has showered the party’s anointed with cash. He gave $4,000 to campaign and leadership committees. He spent $9,000 supporting both of former Vice President Al Gore’s failed presidential campaigns. He dropped former President Barack Obama a $5,000 line and then gave another $30,000 to Obama’s affiliated victory fund. When Bredesen was "with her" though, he was especially generous. The Democrat gave ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton $2,700 then turned around and sent a whopping $33,400.00 to her victory fund.
former President Bill Clinton’s

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Metro Councilman Robert Swope Proposes Autonomous Shuttles

Metro Councilman Robert Swope has come up with what he's calling "the intelligent transit plan” to get people around Nashville. It would be an all-electric, driverless,  extended bus system intended to reach outside of Davidson County.  To watch the News Channel 5 report follow this link.

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Teachers, unions push property tax hike as Nashvillians sound off on budget woes

The Tennessean gives an accurate report of the public hearing on the budget in this article: Teachers, unions push property tax hike as Nashvillians sound off on budget woes.

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Monday, June 04, 2018

What's on the Council Agenda for 6/5/2018: public hearing on the budget, addressing Metro pension mismanagement, the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan, stopping the fairground giveaway.

By Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a copy of the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along.  Below is a summary of what is on the agenda and what I perceive to be the most important.

Nominations to the Industrial Development Board:  Nomination are made from the floor for seats

on the board and then at the next meeting the council elects members from among those nominated. I believe there are four seats to be filled. This is not generally something the public cares much about but these seats are highly sought after and among business interest this is of considerable interest. This Board controls a lot of money. It develops property then leases it to businesses. This is one of ways the Council bribes companies to locate in Nashville by giving sweetheart deals to favored companies. Another way of looking at it is that this is a tool to incentivize companies to locate in Nashville.  Since the property remains the property of Metro Government and thus exempt from property taxes, companies awarded these deals do not have to pay property taxes but instead pay "payment in lieu of taxes" or PILOT, which is often much less than they would pay in taxes. Also, the IDB may do the same for developers of affordable housing.

Confirmation  of mayoral appointments to boards and commission: There are a total of  eleven appointments to be confirmed. Normally this is a routine matter and the council rarely rejects a mayoral appointment. 

Public Hearing on the operating budget and the capital improvements budget: Bill BL2018-1184 is the operating budget and Bill BL2018-1196 is the capital improvements budget.
The current Fiscal Year 2018 budget is for  $2.21 billion. The mayor’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019 represents an overall increase of $20.4 million. This year's budget does not call for a tax increase.

At the budget hearings expect person after person to call for more spending for schools, parks, libraries, sidewalks, General Hospital, and other pet projects. Unfortunately, Nashville's conservatives  are not very active and seem not to care a great deal about local government.  They only get motivated about once ever eight years or so to oppose a proposed tax increase.  While liberals are active day in and day out and are at every budget hearing asking for more spending, conservatives are not to be seen calling for less spending except in the years of a proposed tax increase. It is not surprising that liberals always win.

This public hearing would be a great opportunity for people to voice concern about our massively expensive sidewalk program that builds very few sidewalk, our continued funding of the unnecessary General Hospital and the scam of excessive police and firemen overtime pay and the giveaway of ten prime acres of fairground property.

This year expect to hear from a lot of metro employees upset that the budget does not include funding for their promised cost of living pay increase and from school advocates upset that the schools requested budget was not fully funded.

One thing to note about this budget is that it anticipates insufficient money held in reserves.  The budget is broken into six separate funds such as the General Services General District General Fund and the School Debt Service Fund and four others. Metro has a policy that the city should maintain a balance of at least 5% reserves in each of these funds.  This is simple prudence and sound money management.  This budget does not do that. The Urban Services District Debt Services Fund would drop to as low as 2.3%.  Metro is like a household that is one unexpected auto repair bill from missing a mortgage payment or getting the light cut off. With the pension liability of the city and retiree health cost liability as well as debt obligations,  if we have a natural disaster or lose an existing sports franchise or if Trump's promised trade war causes an economic downturn, Metro could face some very hard choices. For a more detailed explanation of what is in the budget see the staff analysis. To become an expert on the Metro budget, see Citizens' Guide to the Metro Budget.

The capital improvements budget is not really a budget. It appropriates no money. It is a planning documents that prioritizes capital spending projects and list the source of the funding. Before something can be funded by the Council, it has to be in the Capital Improvements Budget. A lot of items in the CIB will never be funded. How many of those listed as a high priority get funded depends on  how much money  the Council puts into debt service to finance projects. Putting something in the CIB does not necessarily mean it gets build, but if it is not in the budget it certainly doesn't.

Resolutions:  There are 29 resolutions on the agenda. All resolutions are on the "consent agenda" initially but if there are any negative votes in committee they are taken off of consent.  Also any council member may ask to have an item taken off of consent or to have his abstention or dissenting vote recorded. All items on consent are passed by a single vote instead of being voted on individually.

There are several resolution to accept grant money.  Some of them require a local match and some do not.  There are a couple resolutions to settle law suits out of court.  None of the resolutions on the agenda are particularly controversial or of particular interest. Here is one of interest.
Resolution RS2018-1180  proposes three amendments to the Metro Charter. If approved by the Council they would go before the public to be voted on in a referendum. The first concerns the line of succession in the event of a vacancy in the office of mayor. The second changes the way we elect someone to fill a vacancy in the office of vice mayor or district council member by speeding up the process and the third would establish  the positions of President Pro Tempore and Deputy President Pro Tempore of the Metro Council within the Charter. Currently, these positions exist only as designations within the Council’s Rules of Procedure. I don't have strong feeling pro or con about any of these.
Resolution RS2018-1243 by Robert Swope and Steve Glover is an attempt to do something about Metro's money mismanagement. It ask the "Investment Committee
of the Metropolitan Employee Benefit Board, the Metropolitan Finance Department, and the Metropolitan Office of the Treasurer to review contracts pertaining to the management of Metro’s pension fund and to explore other options for pension fund management that would lower management fees and other expenses related to the pension fund. This should include exploring whether Metro’s pension fund could be managed by the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System.

In the "whereas" clauses this resolution reveals the fact that the "pension fund, as of June 30, 2017, had assets of nearly $3 billion," and "investment expenses associated with Metro’s pension fund totaled over $39 million." I suggest those who care about the financial well being or our city to read this resolution. 

Resolution RS2018-1245  is "resolution supporting and encouraging economic equality for women." It repeats the often made deceptive claim that women are underpaid compared to men because women earn only 79% of what men do. It ignores that women make different choices. When other variables are held constant, there is no pay gap. For more on this see The ‘Wage Gap’ Myth That Won’t Die - WSJ,  or The Gender Pay Gap is a Complete Myth - CBS News. This is a meaningless resolution and accomplishes nothing, so it may not be worth wasting council time trying to debunk the myth, but it is galling that the Council continues to support such nonsense. I wish someone would challenge this resolution but I don't expect it.  If I were in the Council, I may not would take to the floor to argue the issue but I would at least be recorded as abstaining.
Bills on Introduction and First Reading: There are 48 bills on first reading. Bills on First Reading are normally considered as a group and are seldom discussed. First reading is a formality that allows the bill to be considered. Unless a bill is ridiculously atrocious it should be passed on first reading. Bills are not assigned to committee or analyzed by council staff until after they have passed first reading. I have not carefully reviewed the bills on first reading, but will before second reading. There is one bill on First Reading that is very significant. Bill BL2018-1205  would save the fairgrounds by prohibiting the giveaway of the tea acres that is slated to be given to the developers of the planned soccer stadium. This is a good bill. I don't think anyone would try to kill it on first reading but they may.

Bills on Second Reading: There are 13 bills on Second Reading. Here are the bill of significance:
Substitute BL2018-1139 approving the Donelson Transit-Oriented Redevelopment Plan. There is a new authority given to cities to plan, facilitate and guide develop around transit stops to encourage a certain kind of development around those stops and to give cities the authority to issue Tax Increment Financing bonds for improvements in the designated area. This would be the first time this authority has been used. This designation would apply to the Donelson stop on The Nashville Star line. There is a lot of detail in the staff analysis for those who want to know more. I have no problem with this concept.  Previous I had expressed a concern is that this might confer the power of eminent domain to MDHA for use in this area.  I have since spoken to the sponsor and have been assured this is not the case. With that assurance, I support this bill.
 Bill BL2018-1157  establishes a 50 foot floodway buffer along the Cumberland River and
A House on a cliff on the Tennessee River
prohibits variances.
The floodway is the river channel and adjacent low lying areas that would be underwater in a 100 year flood. No new construction could occur in this area and no existing building could be expanded. Suppose within the fifty foot buffer, the property sit on a high cliff a hundred foot drop to the river. Should that property not be allowed to be developed?  That property could have less impact on the river than a property miles away.  Also, building in the area adjacent to a 100 year floodway does not add to the potential for flooding if displacement is applied. Displacement means that if any capacity for the land to hold water is decreased on one part of a parcel, then more capacity must be added elsewhere. As an example, if a home is build and near the front of the property, the lot is build up by adding so many cubic yards of dirt to a low area, then the same amount of earth would have to be removed elsewhere.
This would also appear to be a  "taking" property. If someone has a right to develop their property and that right is taken from them,  that is a "taking" even if the owner retains legal title. If property is taken the owner should be compensated and it should only be taken for a public purpose. The public purpose may be to reduce flood risk. That may be a valid public purpose, but the owner should be compensated if his land is now worth less because it cannot be developed. Also, there is a proposed development of a boat-oriented development along the Cumberland with canals and boat docks. This type of development could not occur if this rule was in place and if there were no variances permitted.
Bill BL2018-1185 sets the tax levy which does not change the current tax levy so does not raise taxes.

Bill BL2018-1186   is essentially an extension of an existing tax relief program that has been in existence for many years. This is a good bill. It allows elderly homeowners to stay in their home and not be forced out because of increased property taxes.
Bills on Third Reading. There are  11 of them. Most are rezoning bills and of little interest.

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Sunday, June 03, 2018

1st Tuesday meets June 5th. Guest speaker Andrew Puzder.

From Tim Skow:

Nashville is still buzzing following President Trump coming in support of our 1ST TUESDAY friend Marsha Blackburn!

AND ... now the world is buzzing as President Trump prepares to meet face-to-face with ''Little Rocket Man''

Given on Tuesday, June 5th our special guest for 1ST TUESDAY will be President Trump's good friend and his original nominee for Secretary of Labor, Mr. Andrew Puzder!

Mr. Puzder spent 16 years as CEO of CKE Restaurants, growing it to over $4.5 billion in sales. He knows President Trump very well. NO DOUBT, he will have a slew of insights to share about President Trump, the booming economy and more as President Trump prepares to sit down with ‘’ Little Rocket Man’’.

Mr. Puzder has recently released his new book: ‘’The CAPITALIST COMEBACK, The Trump

Boom And The Left’s Plot To Stop It’’

I can attest, it is an extremely good read. Those wishing for an autographed copy can acquire one following lunch for $21. Expect a 1ST TUESDAY event unlike ANY other!

As usual, doors at WALLER Law [511 Union St – 27th floor] open at 11:00AM. Event is $20 for Members and $25 for Guests. Lunch begins at 11:30. Program at NOON with a fascinating Q & A session concluding at 1:00PM. Secure seating for you & guests via the 1ST TUESDAY website at , then click on ‘’Join Us’’. [good news …our new website comes on line next month !! IF... the Guest icon is troublesome, go ahead and use the $25 Dues icon for this event.. GOOD news it will be the last time]

Pass the word, forward this to those you know and secure seating ASAP ! See you on the 1st Tuesday ... at 1ST TUESDAY ! [yes..1ST TUESDAY is on a 1st Tuesday]

Tim Skow

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Metro General Hospital Board renews CEO's contract w/o a written contract or performance reveiw

As dismal has has been the performance of Metro General Hospital and given how close it came to being shut down, one would think the Hospital Board would not do outlandish things to call attention to itself and to create hostility, but they did. This action has generated  public criticism from at least two council members.

Last Thursday, the Hospital Authority Board, which oversees Metro General voted 5-1 to extend CEO Joseph Webb's contact for three more years.  Although since there is not now a contract, I am not sure how you extend something that doesn't exist.  Anyway, they voted to retain him for three more years and said they would work out detail such has how much he will get paid in the future.  They also did this without benefit of a performance review.  Metro General has failed time and time again to live within the budget provided by the city and has had to go hat-in-hand repeatedly to the Council asking for more money. One would think that that failure to live within budget would be a factor in a performance review. I don't know if this is a negative reflection on Webb or not.  It may very well be that he is such a great administrator that General would have been asking for even more money without Webb's leadership. I don't know.  One would think however, that given what a mess General is in that the board would want an objective official performance review before extending his contract.

This action to extend his unwritten contract was 5 to 1. While that constitutes a quorum, two members were absent and at the time there were two vacancies on the Board. There are now three vacancies on the Board. One member who was present at that meeting and did not vote resigned at the end of the meeting. One of the reasons given for not having a performance reveire, is that the board member who was in charge of the performance review resigned last month before completing it. Three board members have resigned in one month.

Metro General is an unnecessary enterprise.  There is no State requirement of Metro Charter requirement that Metro provide a charity hospital. Despite Metro employees being given an incentive to use General and prisoners in the metro jail without insurance being sent to General, the hospital cannot fill its beds.  Ever since the advent of medicaid, poor people can go to the hospital of their choice.  General should have been closed about fifty years ago. The real reason we keep General is because, it is a source of pride in the Black community.

The current city subsidy to General Hospital is $11 million. Briley's proposed budget for next year would give the hospital a $46.million subsidy.

For more on this story see the Tennessean's coverage at this link

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