Friday, March 22, 2019

Bellevue Breakfast Club guest speaker is Dr. Manny Sethi, April 6th

From Betty Hood

Dear BRBC Friends,

Dr. Manny Sethi will be our guest speaker at our monthly BRBC meeting.  It will be next
Dr. Manny Serthi
Saturday at 8:15 am at the Corner Pub in the Woods--8058 Hwy 100.

Hope  you will be able to join us then.


Dr. Manish “Manny” Sethi, a Republican, is considering running for Lamar Alexander’s U.S. Senate seat. An orthopedic surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Sethi also serves as director of the Vanderbilt Orthopaedic Institute Center for Health Policy. For more on Dr. Sethi, see this Nashville Post story.

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"This is a racist state," says Mary Mancini leader of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

Mary Mancini
by Rod Williams - Mary Mancini, Chair of The Tennessee Democratic Party, has said Tennessee is a racist state. She not only said it once but several times. As reported by the Tennessean, while speaking to the Coffee County Democratic Party, Mancini said, "We have a little bit of a problem in this state, and I'm just going to say it out right. This is a racist state."

She  later apologized and said, "My statement is not representative of how I or the Tennessee Democratic Party view the people of our state."  She said one of the times she said it, she was angry.  It is really hard to believe her words do not reflect her views.

Mary Mancini advocates that the party continue to put forward candidates who are less conventional in Tennessee, including Blacks,  Hispanics, millennials and those from the lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, transsexual and queer segments of society, commonly referred to a the "LBGTQ community." 

In the last several years the Democrat Party of Tennessee has shrunk from the majority party to small minority status. Republicans hold the governor's office, seven of nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 73 of 99 seats in the State House and 28 of the 33 seats in the State Senate. Republicans have also increased the number of county mayors and courthouse offices held by Republicans across the state. Except for the islands of Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee is Republican.

In recent statewide races, Democrats ran the party's best possible candidates and they still lost. In the last race for governor the Democrat candidate was former Nashville mayor Karl Dean. He lost to Bill Lee by a vote share of  59 percent for Lee to Dean's 39 percent.

In the race for U.S. senator the Democrats ran popular former Governor Phil Bredesen and Republican ran U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn.  At the start of the race Phil Bredesen had superior name recognition.  Blackburn beat Bredesen by a vote of 55 percent to 44 percent.

Tennessee at this time is a Republican state. The best candidates the Democrat Party have cannot beat a Republican.  While Mancini advocates that the Party not shy away from running minority and unconventional candidates for office, and while Democrats have been successful in getting Black voters to continue to elect Black Democrats, the only Hispanics elected to legislative seats  were elected by "racist" Tennesseans. Tennessee's Senator Dolores Gresham and Representative Tommy J. Vallejos are Republican. This must really gall Mancini.

Mary Mancini was re-elected by the state Democrat party's executive committee in January to her third two-year term as its leader. She was my choice for TDP chair.  I wish her continued good health and hope she continues to be reelected as chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Bill would ban panhandling in parts of downtown Nashville

A bill has been introduced in the Metro Council by Councilman Freddie O'Connell that would ban panhandling in parts of Nashville. Here is most of the text of the bill:

Section 1. That Section 11.12.090, Subsection B, of the Metropolitan Code of Laws is hereby deleted and that the following be substituted in lieu thereof:
B. It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in an act of panhandling when either the panhandler or the person being solicited is located in, on, or at any of the following locations:
  1. Any bus stop;
  2. Any sidewalk cafe;
  3. Any area within twenty-five feet (in any direction) of an automatic teller machine (ATM) or entrance to a bank;
  4. Any daycare or community education facility, as defined by Section 17.04.060 of the Metropolitan Code;
  5. Within ten feet of a point of entry to or exit from any building open to the public, including commercial establishments;
  6. Within the DTC and CF districts on (i) Second Avenue North between Broadway and Church Street, (ii) Commerce Street between Second Avenue North and Third Avenue North, or (iii) Symphony Place between Third Avenue South and Fourth Avenue South, or (iv) the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Street Bridge.
The first five places listed above are already in the code that says where panhandling is banned. All this does is add those parts of town listed in item six.  This would effectively ban panhandling in most places downtown. Item six puts large part of downtown off-limits and in many sections almost all of the businesses places are within ten feet of an entrance way.  Places that are privately owned, such as malls, can ban panhandling on their private property already. The tall office buildings that have plazas in front of their buildings can ban panhandling in those open plazas.

Other areas of town such as Hillsboro Village, Five Points and The Gulch and 12th South will likely see an increase in panhandling if this passes. When panhandlers realize they can no longer panhandle in the places they do now, they will move to other nearby places with high pedestrian activity. If I were a councilman of an area with lots of pedestrian activity, such as those mentioned, I would move to amend the bill to include that area. 

Selling of newspapers such as The Contributor would apparently not be banned under this act.  The section of the code that addresses panhandling says, "the sale of an item for an amount far exceeding its value, under circumstances in which a reasonable person would understand that the purchase is, in substance, a donation, shall be considered panhandling for the purpose of this section."  One could argue that The Contributor is not something priced to far exceed its value.

What is called "aggressive panhandling" is prohibited everywhere already. Aggressive panhandling is defined in the code section and includes blocking a person, touching a person or intimidating a person.

I support this bill. Apparently, panhandling has become a bigger problem in Nashville in recent months. There may, however, be a First Amendment freedom of speech issue with the bill. Open Table Nashville Executive Director Ingrid McIntyre has questioned the constitutionality of the proposal. I do not know how courts have ruled on these matters in the past. Since the code already bans panhandling in five of the six areas listed in the bill, I do not see how adding the areas listed in number 6 above would raise constitutional issues if they were not already raised by 1-5.  However, I am not an attorney.   As more information is available, I will follow up.

The bill passed First Reading on March 19th. It should be on  Second Reading, on April 2nd.  It is on Second Reading that most discussion takes place and committees will evaluate the bill prior to that April 2nd meeting. If the bill passes Second Reading on April 2, it would be on third Reading on April 16th.

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Monday, March 18, 2019

The National Debt still matters.

by Rod Williams - When President Obama was president, conservatives wrote news articles and scholarly position papers and produced memes and videos explaining the dangers of a growing national debt and it was an important Republican talking point. Democrats had no concern about the national debt. Now, things have changed. Just like the Republicans were the party concerned about the constitutional separation of powers and Democrats didn't; now, Democrats do and Republicans don't. Same with the national debt. Now Democrats care, and Republicans don't.

Answers about what to do about the national debt are not simple. The tax cuts may have contributed to the national debt, but that does not mean the tax cuts were bad. Tax cuts also spur economic growth and bring in more government revenue. Of course, economic growth is not just about bringing in more revenue to the government. Economic growth lifts people out of poverty and keeps people from losing their jobs and their homes and their savings. Increasing taxes may actually cause the National Debt to increase because higher taxes slow economic growth. We can't tax ourselves into solvency. If at the new tax rates, growth could be maintained at about 4% it is believed that government revenue would increase sufficiently to start bringing down the debt.

For more on the relationship to economic growth and the National Debt see,  CBO Shows Faster Growth Is Important for Fixing the Debt.  

Despite Republicans no longer caring about the National Debt it is still important. This article from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation explains why.

Top 10 Reasons Why the National Debt Matters

At $22 trillion and rising, the national debt threatens America’s economic future. Here are the top ten reasons why the national debt matters.
  1. The national debt is a bipartisan priority for Americans.

    Nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) agree that the managing the national debt should be a top-three priority for the President and Congress, including 71 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents, and 73 percent of Republicans.
  2. The return of trillion dollar deficits.

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the budget deficit will rise from $897 billion in 2019 to $1.4 trillion by 2029, resulting in a cumulative deficit of $11.6 trillion over the 10-year period from 2020 to 2029.
  3. Interest costs are growing rapidly.

    Interest costs are projected to climb from $383 billion in 2019 to $928 billion by 2029. Over the next decade, interest will total nearly $7 trillion. We will soon be spending more on net interest costs than we do in other essential areas such as Medicaid and Defense.
  4. Key investments in our future are at a risk.

    Higher interest costs could crowd out important public investments that can fuel economic growth — priority areas like education, R&;D, and infrastructure. In addition, growing federal debt reduces the amount of private capital for investments, which hurts economic growth and wages. A nation saddled with debt will have less to invest in its own future.
  5. Rising debt means lower incomes.

    Based on CBO projections from last year, growing debt would reduce the income of a 4-person family, on average, by $16,000 in 30 years. Stagnating wages and growing disparities in income and wealth are very concerning trends. The federal government should not allow budget imbalances to harm American citizens.
  6. Less flexibility to respond to crises.

    On our current path, we are at greater risk of a fiscal crisis, and high amounts of debt leave policymakers with much less flexibility to deal with unexpected events. If we face another major recession like that of 2007–2009, it will be more difficult to work our way out.
  7. Protecting the essential safety net.

    Our unsustainable fiscal path threatens the safety net and the most vulnerable in our society. If our government does not have sufficient resources, these essential programs, and those who need them most, could be put in jeopardy.
  8. A solid fiscal foundation leads to economic growth.

    A solid fiscal outlook provides a foundation for a growing, thriving economy. Putting our nation on a sustainable fiscal path creates a positive environment for growth, opportunity, and prosperity. With a strong fiscal foundation, the nation will have increased access to capital, more resources for private and public investments, improved consumer and business confidence, and a stronger safety net.
  9. Many solutions exist!

    The good news is that there are plenty of solutions to choose from. The Peterson Foundation’s Solutions Initiative brought together policy organizations from across the political spectrum to develop long-term fiscal plans. Each of those organizations developed specific proposals that successfully stabilized debt as a share of the economy over the long term.
  10. The sooner we act, the easier the path.

    It makes sense to get started soon. According to CBO, we would need annual spending cuts or revenue increases (or both) totaling 1.9 percent of GDP in order to stabilize our debt. If we wait five years, that amount grows by 21 percent. If we wait ten years, it grows by 53 percent. Like any debt problem, the sooner you start to address it, the easier it is to solve.
Addressing our national debt is an essential part of securing America’s economic future. These key fiscal and economic issues should be at the forefront of the policy conversation in Washington, and our leaders should seize the opportunity to pursue sensible reforms that will put our long-term fiscal trajectory on a sustainable path.

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Dr. Carol Swain has announced her candidacy for Nashville mayor.

 Dr. Carol Swain has announced her candidacy for Nashville mayor.

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Tennessee has lowest debt of any state!

While Nashville is ranked as one of the most debt-ridden cities in America for public debt, the state of Tennessee is ranked as the state with the lowest level of public debt. Below is the ranking as a percentage of state GDP.

 Looking at debt as a dollar amount per capita, Tennessee also ranks as the state with the least debt obligation.

So, how does Tennessee compare to the most debt-ridden states? Here is the states with the most debt as a percentage of GDP:

Here are the most dept-ridden states ranked by dollars per capita.

For more information, follow this link.

It matters who governs!

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Steve Glover announces run for at-large city council

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If you oppose men exposing themselves in the girls bathroom, you might be a Nazi.

Men, even a man wearing a dress and makeup and even a man who has tits, who use the women's bathroom could be guilty of indecent exposure if proposed bill HB1151 becomes law.  The bill has passed an important House committee.

The bill expands the offense of indecent exposure to include incidents occurring in a restroom, locker room, dressing room, or shower, designated for single-sex, multi-person use, if the offender is a member of the opposite sex than the sex designated for use. So, if this passes, a person with a penis could not shower with the girls even if he calls himself "Mary."

Libs are gong ballistic. The bill is sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge.  The Tennessean reports of protestors being on hand to protest the bill as it was being deliberated in Committee on Thursday. A protester called Ragan a "Nazi" as he walked out of the room."

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Putting school choice in parents' hands helps neighborhoods. How it works.

by Lee Barfield and Bartley Danielsen, Guest Columnists, The Tennessean - Gov. Bill Lee has a unique opportunity to combine good education policy with effective economic development and environmental policy for low-income communities across the state.

Public school assignment policies currently place heavy burdens on low-income neighborhoods. Since children are assigned to schools based on where they live, financially secure families leave areas with bad public schools and cluster in areas with good schools.

For example, the most recent census shows that Williamson County has 34 percent more children ages 5-to-9 than should be expected given the number of preschool children. Next door, Davidson County has 16 percent fewer 5-to-9 year olds than we should expect.

As wealthier families "vote with their feet" for high-quality schools, their neighborhoods thrive. Jobs are plentiful, incomes are higher, crime rates lower and grocery shelves are stocked with healthy options. Those left behind in concentrated poverty suffer from joblessness, lower incomes, higher crime rates and food desert conditions.

Children who grow up in these neighborhoods suffer life-long consequences, and it's not just because their schools are bad. Recent research finds that growing up in concentrated poverty is even more damaging than attending a high-poverty school, probably because we spend much more time in our neighborhoods than in our schools. You get the picture. When school assignments end up concentrating poor people in poor neighborhoods, everyone in those neighborhoods suffer.

Of course, there are solutions. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposes requiring suburbs to build more low-income housing so that inner-city families can be transferred into these communities.

This program has proven to be effective for younger children, but it is expensive to implement on a large scale.

Fortunately, a less expensive option exists - one with the environmental benefit of attracting middle-income families back into cities.
Recent research shows that school-choice programs have a significant positive impact on communities that lack good public schools because their programs allow families to disentangle housing choices from education choices.

When parents can choose their child's schools, they are no longer concerned about a bad school assignment. They can choose a more convenient neighborhood near work, enjoying a shorter commute (an environmental positive) and maintaining a higher quality of life.

And this effect is not limited to dense urban areas. Positive neighborhood effects from school choice programs have been found in suburban and rural communities too.

Tennessee legislators are now discussing whether (and how) to adopt Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs. From an economic development perspective, ESAs are the most flexible (and therefore most powerful) school choice tool ever developed. ESAs don't just allow parents to choose a better education option for their child, they allow parents to choose the absolute best option that they can find.

Recently, Environmentalists for Effective Education and the American Federation for Children have worked together to develop a blueprint for implementing "Tennessee Economic Development Zone ESAs."

This program would ensure that residents of low income neighborhoods have access to ESAs. Initially, almost all of the recipients would be low-income families because financially secure families have avoided these neighborhoods. But over time, these neighborhoods will benefit from increasing diversity.

Of course, some critics argue that only the poorest children should get an ESA. The children of doctors, nurses and engineers should be excluded. But this misses the bigger issue. We should celebrate when our communities are economically and culturally diverse. We all know that ending concentrated poverty benefits poor children and brings jobs for parents.

The best way to fix the problems of high-poverty neighborhoods is to reform how education is delivered in them. Economic Development ESAs are good education policy, good environmental policy and good job creation policy.

Lee Barfield is a retired attorney who lives in Nashville and serves on the board of directors for the American Federation for Children. Dr. Bartley R. Danielsen is president of Environmentalists for Effective Education, and a finance and real estate professor at North Carolina State University. 

Originally published in The Tennessean

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Mayor Briley Releases FY 2020 Budget Conversations Schedule

Metro Nashville press release -Mayor David Briley and Finance Director Talia Lomax-O'dneal today released the schedule of the FY 2020 budget discussions. These meetings provide an opportunity for Metro departments and agencies to present their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

The FY 2020 discussions will begin Monday, March 25 and conclude Thursday, March 28, with the exception of Metro Nashville Public Schools which will present on Wednesday, April 17. The discussions will be held in the first floor media room of the Metro Courthouse and simulcast on Metro Nashville Network.

A full schedule can be found below:
Mayor's FY 2020 Budget Discussions Schedule

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