Saturday, December 01, 2018

What's on the Council agenda for Dec. 4th, 2018: Stopping the Amazon bribe, removing storage fees for stolen vehicles and a bill to ban kennels.

by Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, December 4th 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.  Without the agenda and staff analysis, watching the council meeting is as about as exciting as watching paint dry. With the agenda and analysis it is as exciting as waiting for water to boil.  You  don't have to watch it and yet you can still me informed, however.  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 exciting scenes.

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.

There are no mayoral appointments for council confirmation on this agenda. There are 18 bills on public hearing. Bills on public hearing are usually to rezone a particular piece of property or to change the text of zoning code.   I do not even attempt to understand the pros and cons of every zoning bill and they generally bore me and are of interest to only the people in the immediate vicinity of the rezoning. At public hearings almost all opposition come down to (1) concern about traffic, (2) water runoff and potential for flooding, (3) overcrowding of local schools and impact on infrastructure, (4) detrimentally changing the character of the neighborhood. You will hear the same agreements over and over. I am only pointing out the bills that I think will have an impact beyond the immediate neighborhood, infringe on basic property rights, have already been to the Planning Communion and failed to pass that body, or for some other reason are of interest. Bills on public hearing are on second reading. A bill disapproved by the Planning Commission may pass second reading by a simple majority but on third reading requires 27 positive votes to pass.

Bills on Public Hearing

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. 

Bill BL2018-1357 cancels a Planned Unit Development Overlay District on property located at 3419 Murphy Road and Bill BL2018-1358 changes from ORI-A to SP the zoning on that property to permit a mixed-use development. I happened to be visiting a relative on Richland Avenue recently and in about a three block section, about half the houses had signs opposing this development. I expect a lot of people to be at the public hearing opposing these bills.

Bill BL2018-1371 regards dog kennels and and stables. There are several things
wrong with this bill. I am not sure what the bill would do.  It defines kennels as only kennels that breed dogs. It requires kennels be located on ten acres. Where does that leave dog boarding facilities?  Could they continue to operated in the city? Ten acres seems like an awfully high threshold for having a kennel. If you live in the city and own a dog and are going out of town for the weekend and want to board your dog, would you have to go to Watertown or Dickson to board your dog? This was on the agenda on November 6th and deferred.  When on the agenda of November 6, I spoke to the sponsor and he essentially said this was a work in progress and he welcomed feedback and input. The bill has not been improved since then. I expect this will be deferred again. To offer your input on this bill, the sponsor welcomes your comments and you may contact him at

Bill BL2018-1399  changes from AR2a to CS zoning on property located at 1488 and 1492 Bell Road. I know nothing about the merits of this request but am simply calling attention to it because it is bill disapproved by the Planning Commission.
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 RS2018-1507 requests that Metro refrain from providing economic incentives to Amazon unless and until employees of the Metropolitan Government receive cost of living adjustments. This is co-sponsored by the most conservative members of the Council such as Steve Glover and Robert Swope and the most liberal members of the Council such as Freddie O'Connel and Brenda Haywood.  The administration and the Chamber of Commerce oppose this. I hope it passes.

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.

Resolution RS2018-1509  calls upon the Davidson County Election Commission to ensure that the voting machines it purchases in the future provide a voter-verifiable paper audit trail and that such functionality is implemented. This is memorializing and the Election Commission would not have to do it.
Bills on Second Reading:  There are 11. This is the only one of interest.
Bill BL2018-1404 removes certain storage and impound fees for recovered stolen vehicles. Storage fees for tow-in lots under the jurisdiction of the MNPD are currently waived for owners of stolen vehicles. However, fees are currently charged for vehicles at private towing and impound lots. This ordinance would waive fees at both Metro Government lots and private lots. While I feel sorry for the individual who must pay a fee to recover his stolen vehicle, we cannot expect private companies to just adsorb the cost of towing and storing the vehicles. If the owner of the vehicle does not pay the fee, then the city should pay the fee for the victim of auto theft.

Bills on Third Reading: There are 13. This is the only one I find of interest.
Bill BL2018-1283 (as amended)  says that Metro cannot use the proceeds from sale of surplus property to fund operating cost.  While it seems to make sense that one should not use one-time money to fund on-going cost, as we did this year, I am not sure that this flexibility should be taken away. There may be times when the city needs to do that. 
To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or 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. It is also available 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 hear and provide commentary.

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Ex-Judge Moreland sentenced to 44 months in prison

Judge Casey Moreland
Convict Casey Moreland
Ex-Judge Moreland sentenced to 44 months in prison


Rod Comment: Good! For more on this story see this link

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Kid Rock kicked to the curb. Out as Christmas Parade Grand Marshall

Kid Rock has been replaced at the last minute as Grand Marshall of the Nashville Christmas Parade after Councilman Freddie O'Connell and Mayor David Briley threatened to boycott the parade unless he was replaced. This occurred yesterday and the parade was this morning.

What prompted the call for his removal was comments he made in which he called Joy Behar, "bitch."  The full statement was this:

God forbid you say something a little bit wrong, and you get called racist, homophobic, or worse. People need to calm down, get a little less politically correct, and I would say love everybody - except, I'd say screw that Joy Behar bitch.
The show host, Steve Doocy, interrupted immediately and said, "No, no, no, no. You cannot say that. We apologize for that."

"I mean lady," Rock corrected himself.

 Fox News was in town live from lower Broadway at the grand opening of Kid Rocks new Broadway club, Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock & Roll Steakhouse.  The mood was fun and rowdy.  Watch the above video to see the full Kid Rock segment.

This shouldn't have amounted to that big of a deal, in my view.  Of course I agree with him. I never watch The View but have seen bits of it from time to time or excerpts from it. When I think of Joy Behar, I also think of "that Joy Behar bitch." I wouldn't say it aloud, but I think it, but I'm not Kid Rock.  In a spontaneous live setting, I can see how this might have been said. He immediately apologized and Fox News apologized.

We should not really be surprised of the city's response.  Nashville's powerful are politically correct liberals who are intolerant of dissent from liberal orthodoxy.  Kid Rock is a national celebrity and part-time Nashville resident with a home in the White Creek community who has made a major investment in downtown Nashville.  This comment should have been ignored. While I personally do not want to see the country music mecca of lower Broadway diluted by other musical genre, it is good for tourism, which of course is good for the local economy. 

The city powerful have always had an uneasy relationship with the music community. Kicking Kid Rock out as Grand Marshal of the Christmas Parade will not hurt tourism of course, but just demonstrates that the music community is really not part of the city's elite power brokers.  The city elite are  embarrassed by things like stock car racing, gun and knife shows, the state fair, flea markets, honky tonks, and Kid Rock.  The city is more comfortable promoting youth sexual deviancy than they are associating with someone who does not share their liberal political correctness.

To read The Tennessean's reporting on this story, follow this link.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Congressman-elect Mark Green Elected Republican Freshman Class President

Green elected unanimously by freshman colleagues

Mark Green
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Congressman-elect Mark Green (R-Tenn.) was unanimously elected President of the Republican Freshman Class last night. 30 Members-elect for the 116th Congress selected Green to lead the class.

“I’m honored to be elected by this distinguished group of colleagues as president of the Freshman Class,” commented Congressman-elect Green. “I ran for Congress to take our successful leadership in Tennessee to Congress, and am excited to be able to lead the freshman class.”

"Mark is a veteran and served our state as a leader in the legislature," said Congressman-elect Tim Burchett (TN-02). "As new members of Congress, we need someone advocating for us who understands the process. That's why I was honored to nominate Mark to be our freshman class president."

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Tennessee's next Speaker of the House, Glen Casada, is First Tuesday speaker, Dec.4th

 From Tim Skow:

1ST TUESDAY Members and friends,

 Fallout from Election Night has settled. NOW...tons of changes are about to start rippling across the TN State Government and especially the TN State Legislature. With a NEW Governor, the retirements of many State House icons including Beth Harwell, Gerald McCormick and our good friend Charles Sargent [ whose sadly was called Home] and roughly 30% of the House being composed of NEW members ... the key word(s) of the 2019 Legislature will be ... CHANGE! -- LOTS and LOTS of CHANGE!!

THE new key man in the Legislative storm will be Speaker of the House-to-be GLEN

Glen Cassida
CASADA. Just 3 hours after being selected by his Republican State House colleagues to become Tennessee's next SPEAKER of the HOUSE, Glen confirmed to our speaker on Tuesday, DEC 4th !!

HOW will all this impact YOU?
Come to 1ST TUESDAY on Tuesday !
Topics will include, but not be limited to:

1] Can Nashville's passing of Amendment 1 [ Liberals trying to take control of Nashville's Metro Police Dept ] be unraveled? roped in?
2] Is the medical marijuana fight coming again?
3] What about vouchers / school choice options?
4] Opioids are killing Tennesseans and the TN Budget. WHAT now?
5] With NO State House Reps from Nashville, who is going to make sure I-440 gets fixed?

What about Mass Transit in Nashville? AND MORE !! GET your seats secured today.. Visit our NEW ..[and still evolving website] at [click on EVENTS -see Glen's pic] IF ... you have website suggestions or pictures to offer, LETS SEE THEM !

 PASS the word, invite your friends, secure your seats and plan to join us on Tuesday, DEC 4th. The weather will be ''WARM-er''

Tim Skow

PS - remember 2019 Dues are DUE... BUT .. if you bring $50 or more for the Nashville Republican Women's toy fund drive for the TN National Guard ... YOUR 2019 DUES are waived ! HO HO HO from 1ST TUESDAY

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Briley proposed a new aggressive affirmative action program for minority and women contractors

by Rod Williams, Nov. 29, 2018 -Yesterday, Mayor David Briley proposed a new aggressive affirmative action program for minority and women contractors doing business with the city. He called it "leveling the playing field."  The proposal from the mayor is presented to the council as  BL2018-1419 which will be on first reading of the council on December 4th.

This proposed legislation follows the release in September of a disparity study that found that there were "statistically significant disparities,"  "likely caused by the race and/or gender status of firm owners."

Anytime there is a recognition of a racial disparity in employment in a specific field, or in-school suspensions of Black children, or traffic stops by police, or incarceration rates, or college admission rates, the official explanation is that it must be that Blacks are discriminated against. It must be because of the race of the person who is a member of the under or over represented group.  No one has the courage or common sense to say that maybe the Black person is less qualified, or commits more crime, or is a greater disciplinary problem in school.

I am not for a moment suggesting racial inferiority. It is not racial; but cultural. The Black segment of our society is, for the most part, disadvantaged.  A legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Great Society created a society of poverty, crime, welfare dependency, and destruction of the family.  A person born in a public housing project to a single mother where there are few positive roll models, does not develop the values and habits of successful people. In school they are more likely to be disciplinary problems, they are less likely to excel in school and more likely to go to prison.  The fact that they are disadvantaged and disparities exist, I do not think can be attributed to White people discriminating against Black people. At one time, that no doubt was a cause, but I just don't believe racial discrimination is any longer a significant factor in racial disparities. I certainly don't believe it is a factor in Black-owned firms getting fewer Metro contracts,

In Metro, firms owned by African-American received 5.54% of Metro funding spent on construction contracts, when 10.10% of available construction firms are owned by African-Americans. No one asks if the African-American firms, were as experienced, as financially stable, as qualified, or had as many satisfied customers as European-American firms. It is just assumed that if 10.10% of the firms are African-American, then 10.10% of the awarded contracts should go to African-American firms.

Bill BL2018-1419 calls the racial and gender disparity in Metro contracts "discrimination." That is a non sequitur. It does not follow that disparity exist and therefore discrimination is the cause. This illogical construct is the norm in today's society.

The bill calls for creating, "a non-mandatory annual aspirational percentage goal for overall MWBE  (Minority or Woman Owned Businesses Enterprises)  Prime and Subcontract participation in Metropolitan Government contracts."  Every year a report will be presented to the Council showing what progress has been made in reaching this goal.

One would be foolish not to know that in reality this is a program of quotas and reverse discrimination. If you are a Metro official awarding contracts knowing you are have an "aspirational" goal to meet, you will bend over backwards to make sure a MWBE firm gets the contract. Better qualified majority-owned firms will be passed over to select a minority-owned firm.

I fully expect this to pass the Metro Council.  This may be one of those issues in which there is no use taking a stand against it. A council member may reason, it is going to pass anyway and rather than having to defend yourself against charges of racism for opposing it, it may be better to not pick a fight and go ahead and vote for it.

The courts have wrestled with this issue of racial disparity and how to address it for decades and still are.  There is currently a case working its way though the courts involving Yale University’s admissions practices following accusations that it discriminates against Asian-American applicants so they won't be over represented in the student body.

In general, courts have ruled that discriminatory quotas are not appropriate but outcomes cannot show great disparity and "goals" are Ok to reduce the disparity.  In other words, there is a fine line to walk and to reach the desired racial balance outcome, policy makes should avoid making reverse discrimination obvious and should not admit to having quotas. Metro's ordinance was created following the recommendations of a firm that knows how to craft these type programs so they will thread the needle and pass constitutional muster.

For more on this story follow this link, this link, this link and this link.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Judge Lynda Jones drops all appearances of judicial impartiality in Poor People's Campaign case.

Lynda Jones
Declaring, "the first amendment won today," General Session Judge Lynda Jones dismissed all charges against members of the Poor People's Campaign arrested last May here in Nashville. For several weeks last April and May protestors disrupted downtown, blocking numerous streets creating traffic havoc.  They also occupied the hall outside the door of the governors office and disrupted the state capitol.

It appeared from their actions that the protestors were trying to get arrested but for weeks the police would not oblige.  Instead the police accommodated the protestors who were blocking streets without demonstration permits. The police accompanied the protestors and stopped traffic when the protestors sit down in the streets. Finally, the police did make arrest.  Twenty-one people  were charged with obstruction of a passageway and one of the demonstrators was also charged with resisting arrest.

Most of the protestors were not Nashvillians.  Of those arrested only eight were from Nashville. Some were not even Tennesseans.  The Poor People's Campaign was a national movement and similar disruptive demonstrations were taking place in other cities.

Obviously I  support the first amendment.  However, people should not be allowed to walk into the street and sit down in intersections and block traffic with impunity.  Trespassing, vandalism and blocking streets should be punished. The next time Lynda Jones runs for reelection as General Sessions judge, I hope she has opposition. If she does I will be pulling for her opponent.  I will be voting against her even it she has no opposition.  Maybe it was not inappropriate that charges were dismissed. Those arrested had to pay court cost and were inconvenienced. I am less concerned with the fact that charges were dismissed against the protestors than I am that Judge Lynda Jones dropped all appearances of judicial impartiality by her comment that "the first amendment won." I expect more from a judge.

For more on this story follow this link.

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Mayor Briley has halted several future public works contracts followng audit findings.

The Tennessean reports today that Mayor Briley has halted several future public works contracts for paving, sidewalks, and other capital projects following questions raised in a recent audit about the cozy relationship between some metro officials and a top engineering contractor. Briley also announced plans to hire the city's first-ever chief compliance officer who will work in the mayor's office. When hired, the compliance officer will review ethics in city's procurement process and will begin a compliance review of the procurement practices of the public works department. This is welcome news!  Mayor Briley is to be commended.

I have no direct evidence but suspect widespread corruption in Metro government.  One does not have to be an auditor to see that something is wrong when the city is booming like never before but is broke.  One does not have to be an auditor to observe that Metro rips up perfectly good sidewalks and replaces them yet does almost no sidewalk expansion. When the city spends $60 million on sidewalks and only gets three and half miles of new sidewalks, something is terribly wrong.  When Rich Reibling spent $135,000 for his close friend to do engineering work at the Fairgrounds, without approval from anyone, and still kept his job, something is wrong.

If I headed a news organization and had the manpower, I would pour over every campaign financial disclosure report and see who among candidates for mayor and candidates for the Metro Council got campaign contributions from people doing work for metro.  I would also dig into who may have a spouse or close relative working for those who do work for Metro and who had real estate transactions involving those who do work for Metro. Someone needs to follow the money and see how it is possible that so much money can be spent for so little benefit. Such a deep dive search for corruption may turn up nothing, but I would be surprised if it did not.

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

It's a Coalition Christmas Party!

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