Saturday, April 06, 2019

Geric Smith for Council event Tuesday April 9

For more information on Ceric Smith, visit his website at this link.

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What makes Tennesseans so fat?

Ten Fattest States
by Rod Williams - Recently there was a story carried in major newspapers across the country that listed the states with the fattest populations. Tennessee had the dubious embarrassing distinction of being among the top ten fattest states. Tennessee was, in fact, the third fattest state. The only states with a fatter population were Mississippi and West Virginia.

Why are we so fat? Looking at the list, one thing you notice immediately is that most of the fat states are Southern states.  Of the top ten, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Indiana are also in that number. One could argue Kentucky and West Virginia are southern states but not Oklahoma and Indiana.  Looking at the whole list, however, not all of the southern states are among the fat states. The least fat southern state is Virginia at number 38.  If you know anything about Virginia however, then you know that northern Virginia is cosmopolitan and not populated by many native Virginians and northern Virginia is more heavily populated that the rest of the state. So an examination of the list shows some fat states that are not southern states and a southern state that is not fat, but generally most of the fat states are southern states.

African-American proportion
of state populations

Other than being southern, are there any other factors that the fat states have in common" I started thinking of other possible correlations.  I love statistics and charts and rankings but one has to be skeptical and interpret data.  Cause and correlation are not the same thing. When looking at someone else's interpretation of facts, keep this in mind: People who carry cigarette lighters have higher incidents of lung cancer.

A look at demographics shows that there seems to be somewhat of a correlation between the proportion of African Americans in a state and how fat the state is.  The correlation is not perfect however. West Virginia is the second fattest state but they rank 38th as a state with a high proportion of Black residents. DC is number 1 in proportion of African American yet is only the 39th fattest "state."

Maybe there is a correlation between poverty and fatness. Maybe it is not race but poverty that will indicate how fat a state's population is. One may reason that healthy food cost more than unhealthy food and if you can't afford healthy food that causes you to be fat and the poorer a state is the more fat people it has. That correlation is no more solid than a race correlation.  D. C is the 7th poorest "state" and yet the 39the fattest. Alaska is the state with the 8th least rate of poverty but the 21st fattest state. Still, in general, poverty and being fat correlate.
List of U.S.  states 
by poverty rate

What about education?  One could reason that the better educated a person is the more knowledge they have about the benefits of eating healthy and the benefits of staying fit and they have exhibited the self discipline to get an education so maybe they have the knowledge and character to not be fat. In looking at a list of states by education attainment, one sees about the same correlation.  Nevada is an anomaly. It is only the 45th fattest state and yet it is the sixth least educated state. Most states however line up pretty close.

What about religion? Are religious people fatter than non-religious people? It seems to be so. Utah however, breaks the mold.  Utah is ranked as the 49th fattest state and yet the third most religious. Why would religious people be fatter than non-religious people? For more on the ranking of a state by the state's religiosity, follow this link.

What about bankruptcies?  Sometimes people need to file bankruptcy because of circumstances beyond their control.  The leading cause of personal bankruptcy is excessive medical bills.  However, a lot of bankruptcies are a result of moral failings; people borrow money and don't pay it back. Bankruptcy can indicate a person has a lack of a sense of responsibility, and self discipline. Many people have never learned to manage their money and never learned delayed gratification.  There is a correlation between number of bankruptcies in a state and how overweight the people of that state are.
States with the most personal  bankruptcies

A look at a comparison of cities instead of states sheds more light on the issue.  While Tennessee ranks as the third fattest state, in a comparison of cities Nashville only ranks 23rd fattest of 100 ranked cities. That is not good, but a much better ranking than the State's ranking. Knoxville is tenth fattest, Chattanooga is sixth, and Memphis is the second fattest city in America.  As in a lot of state rankings, Memphis brings down the state average of Tennessee.  Does Nashville rate less fat because there are fewer native Tennesseans in Nashville, than the rest of the state?  Has the influx of northerners improved Nashville's ranking?

In conclusion, the fattest states are southern states and they are also the poorest, the Blackest, the least educated, most religious and more prone to file bankruptcy. That however tells us the characteristics of states with a fat population but not why.

I know that not being fat often takes effort. Individuals differ and loosing weight is tough. I never had to watch my weight until I hit 50 and then my weight starting edging up.  For the last few years my weight has yo-yo ed. If I stop paying attention, I can easily put on the pounds. I do try to watch it however, if I did not I could easily be obese. I have a close relative who has struggled with her weight her whole life and she has tried.  I do not mean to be insensitive in writing this article. For any individual being fat may not be a moral failing. However, there has to be a reason that some states have a lot of overweight people and others do not. Somewhere in these correlations, their may be a key to why some large groups of people are fatter than other large groups of people.

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Friday, April 05, 2019

What you need to know about Shawn Joseph’s controversies

This is a concise summary of the controversies surrounding Dr. Shawn Joseph by Phil Williams of News Channel 5: What you need to know about Shawn Joseph’s controversies.

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Minority Caucus and resigning school board member call attacks on Nashville schools director racist

by PRIDE Newsdesk - On Tuesday, the Nashville Metropolitan Minority caucus called a press meeting at the courthouse to address the actions of the Metro Nashville School Board and its Director of Schools.

In a release, the caucus said, “The Metro Council Minority Caucus champions effective, equitable governance. One of the critical responsibilities of the Metro Council is the funding of Metro Schools. The Minority Caucus must have confidence that Nashville’s tax dollars are not going to a dysfunctional MNPS Board plagued by institutional racism.”

Minority Caucus President, Councilman Scott Davis called Dr. Joseph, “A man who dedicated his life to education and improving the lives of not just some children but all the children at Metro Schools. Despite others placing stumbling blocks in front of him, Joseph has continued to take the high road.”

Davis made it clear that he and his caucus support Dr. Joseph. “We will not stand for the treatment of Dr. Joseph. We will not deal with it, and more importantly we will not let the children in metro schools be treated this way and have their leader thrown out on the streets like some garbage.” some garbage.” (link)

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Leadership Institute’s Youth Leadership School coming to Sevierville Tennessee. Very affordable.

From an email from David Blair of Leadership Institute - What do Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips, 27-year-old Florida State Representative Jennifer Sullivan, and the campaign youth coordinators for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Rand Paul have in common? They graduated from the bootcamp of politics -- the Leadership Institute’s Youth Leadership School.

On April 26 and 27, I will host the Youth Leadership School in Sevierville, Tennessee. The Youth Leadership School (YLS) is a comprehensive, two-day training which teaches young conservatives and libertarians how to be more effective activists and win for candidates and causes of their choice. Upon graduation, you will be entering the ranks of elite activists who have shaped the conservative movement for decades. You will learn to:
- Organize large numbers of volunteers and voters for your candidates and causes
- Increase the size and effectiveness of your groups
- Host speaker events
- Develop eye-catching signs and literature to attract others to your cause
- Gain earned media coverage for events
- Implement activism projects you can use immediately 
The Youth Leadership School opens doors to numerous career opportunities as well!

Your registration fee includes course materials, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for both days, hotel accommodations if you're traveling more than an hour to attend, and up to $100 in gas reimbursement if you're traveling with 3 or more students in your car. The Leadership Institute is hiring graduates of this training as interns and field representatives. Countless campaigns have used YLS graduates to lead their youth efforts, including Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, and President Donald Trump. This training goes all the way back to Ronald Reagan’s Youth Director and Leadership Institute's Founder and President, Morton C. Blackwell.

Please find the link to register below:
Rod's Comment: I have often wished that I would have had a career in politics, either as an elected official or working in campaigns or advocacy.  If you are a young person who has a passion for politics and public policy, this may be an opportunity to get the training that can put you on the path to living your dream.  At only $30 this is super bargain and it is a great time of the year to see the beauty of the foothills of the Smokey's.  I have taken a course from Leadership Institute. They know what they are doing and provide first class training.  If you know a young conservative that this may interest, please pass this along. 

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Sen. Blackburn discusses the urgent need to secure our southern border

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Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Mayor's Budget "Discussion" with Metro Schools is April 17th. This ought to be interesting.

by Rod Williams, 4/3/2019 - Mayor David Briley and Metro Finance Director Talia Lomax-O’dneal have released the schedule for upcoming meetings related to the 2019-20 budget. The Mayor's Budget "Discussions" will be aired live on Metro Nashville Network and All budget discussion videos will be archived and available on YouTube and shown throughout the following weeks on Metro Nashville Network.

 Schedule for Wednesday, April 17, 2019: 8:30 a.m. – Metro Nashville Public Schools.

This may not be the friendly little chat like most budget "discussions."  It may be tense. Last year by a School Board vote of 7-2, the Board requested a $924 million budget for the school district, or a $44.7 million increase.  Schools only got a $5 million increase (link).  Revenue projections for this year or not available and while there has been some increase in revenue, the mayor has already pledged to give metro employees their promised cost of living increase, to spend a lot of money to equip police with body cameras and to spend more for affordable housing. Again the mayor has said he would not raise taxes this year, so schools are not going to get anywhere near what they want.

What the School board wants is $76.7 million dollar increase or 8.6 percent increase over the current $886.3 million budget. This increase request coincides with an increased number of failing schools and a decrease in the number of students being served. The schools board is asking more than twice as much as Director Shawn Joseph has asked the School Board to request. Joseph was asking for only $31.7 million in new funding.  School Board Will Pinkston who is scheduled to leave the School Board April 12th and who had been chair of the Boards Budget and Finance committee until he abruptly resigned that position on March 25, had been pushing for a budget request reflecting a lower amount similar to what Joseph was requesting.  The argument for asking for the lower amount is not that the Schools do not need the higher amount but that given the reality that taxes are not going to be increased, that the lower amount is more realistic.  Pinkston addressed this in his resignation letter when he wrote the following:
I cannot in good faith, or with a straight face, proffer a budget to the Mayor and Council that is shaping up to be pure fiction and ignores the city’s current revenue constraints. Attempts to develop thoughtful budget-advocacy initiatives and realistic multi-year budget and compensation plans have been consistently thwarted by board members who lack the intellectual capacity to focus on large-scale change and instead are determined to destroy confidence among taxpayers and our appropriating authorities.
Rather than working collaboratively with the Mayor and Council to explore new revenue structures and targeted investments, the board is now angling for instant political gratification by making empty promises to teachers and staff — and passing on the buck to our colleagues at the Metro Courthouse during an election year. This is unprofessional, unrealistic, and ultimately unkind to the school system’s employees who will be deflated by the final outcome.
So, not only is the Board and the Director not on the same page in their budget request, and the Board in disarray and an unrealistic budget request being made, the mayor has expressed his displeasure with the School Board over the divided Board's move to oust Director Joseph.  He has essentially called the Board members who want to remove the incompetent director of schools, racist.  He was not that blunt but almost. He said, “Some of our school board members have not acknowledged why their actions area are seen through a racial lens. They have failed to acknowledge the legacy of racism and the legacy of systemic racism in Nashville.”

The mayor expressed  frustration over the "fractured nature of the school board," and said "my administration must and will be involved moving forward.” The mayor and the council have no direct control over Metro Schools. They do appropriate the money but management of the Schools is up to the School Board. The mayor could attach strings to funding, I guess, and that appears what he intends to do.  In the past any influence exerted by the mayor or council has been exerted gently and subtly.

The mayor's threat to get his way with the school board did not go over well with some members.  Also, blaming displeasure with Dr. Joseph on racism did not go over well. School Board Fran Bush, who is herself Black, said race isn't the issue; poor leadership is.  She said Briley's speech made the tension between the board and city worse. “As a mayor your bridge those type of problems,” said Bush. “You bring people together. You bring the city together. Today he did not do that.”

For more on the issue and source material, follow these links: linklink, link.

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Tuesday, April 02, 2019

The Black community support for Dr. Shawn Joseph

That Blacks rally to the defense of other Blacks even when they are known to be incompetents or corrupt or immoral is nothing new.  My earliest awareness of this may have been in the case of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell who was a politician and a Baptist preacher who engaged in morally scandalous behavior and illegality. Finally, the Democratic Party refused to seat him but his constituents reelected him anyway.  Over the years, this is the pattern time and time again. Here in Tennessee we have the case of the notorious Ford family of Memphis. Corruption and outrageous behavior characterized members of that political dynasty yet it did not impact their electability.

Nationally, from Reverend Al Sharpton and his involvement in the Tawana Brawley affair and his tax issues, to Representative Charlie Rangle and his various ethical and tax problems it, unfortunately, seems there are many ethically-challenged and incompetent Black political leaders. If one names off all of the Black political leaders one can think of and then analysis the names on the list, a large percentage of them will prove to be crooks or people of severe moral lapses.

It should not be necessary to say, that I am not referring to all Black leaders but it is. To even bring up this observation opens one to charges of being a racist.  I am not referring to all Black political leaders. I was pleased that President Obama had no ethical or moral challenges associated with him.  I didn't like his politics, but he appeared to be a moral and an ethical person. Off the top of my head I can think of Mia Love, J. C.Watts, Tim Scott, Condolezza Rice and Colin Powell as Black leaders without a trace of scandal. It shouldn't be necessary to name honest Black leaders to show that I am not saying all Black politicians are crooks. I accept that it is the minority of Black leaders who are crooks. I am sure across the nation there are thousands and thousands of good, honest and competent Black elected officials.

Some will say what about Spiro Agnew, or Boss Tweed, or Ray Blanton or Huey Long. Certainly, there are corrupt white politician.  The difference is, it seems to me, that when corruption is proven or credible allegations of corruption are made, voters do not keep reelecting these white politician. Their constituents do not keep supporting them when they are known to be corrupt or incompetent.  My perception is that many Black voters, defend Black leaders and just accept that the leader is corrupt or incompetent.

This brings me to the case of our Director of Schools Shawn Joseph. There has not been allocations of corruption against Joseph. However, there is plenty of evidence of incompetence and mismanagement and serious allegations of bullying and arrogance. Yet, he still has his defenders and the only reason I can see his defenders are still defending him is because he is Black.

The Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship, a Black ministerial group has rallied to his defense as has the NAACP and the Nashville Black newspaper, The Tennessee Tribune.  An article by the Nashville Voice in the Tribune said, if Joseph is removed from office, Nashville will remembered  as '“that racist city that forced the first ever Black Director of Metro Schools out of office.”'  This is the same line of argument being made by Joseph's white liberal defenders. They simply believe that performance and behavior that would be disqualifying if done by a White person must be excused and overlooked if done by a Black person.

If is unfortunate that so many are judging Joseph though this lens that expects less from a Black person. Fortunately, not all of Nashville's Black leaders are doing so. One of the School Board members who is a harsh critic of Joseph is Fran Bush who herself  is African-American.  As more an more bad stuff is coming out about Joseph, more members of the Black community are starting to break rank and putting the educations of Nashville's children first. Below is the report on this development from Phil Williams of Nashville's News Channel 5.

Debate over MNPS director's future divides black community

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For months, the Metro School Board has been bitterly divided over the future of Dr. Shawn Joseph.
Now, the controversy over Nashville's first African-American director of schools is dividing the city's black community.
"To me, it is not about Joseph," said Rev. Venita Lewis, a local community activist.
"It is about our children who are not getting a fair education, who are suffering, who now have moved out of the school system and into the street - and we have failed them."

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Monday, April 01, 2019

The new affordable housing initiative, "just a touch misleading."

Bob Mendes
by Councilman Bob Mendes - A lot of people are asking me what I think about the Mayor’s newly announced affordable housing plan. His press release is here. And his office has set up a web site that basically says the same thing. If you made me boil it down to a single thought, it would be: “There are parts of the plan I think I might like…doesn’t sound like anything is going to happen before FY21…let’s talk then.”

... The numbers in the press release are cleverly phrased, or generously characterized, or possibly just a touch misleading. The $500 million in the press release counts about $350 million that the city was probably going to spend anyway. ...  people need to not buy into the idea that this plan commits a half a billion dollars in new spending. ... But, by the time we get to a future budget season where this plan will require spending, I’ll want to understand whether MDHA would build the majority of these units anyway without Metro money, or if the Envision projects are a pipe dream without Metro dollars. (link)

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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Who has picked up qualifying petitions to run for the office of Mayor, Vice Mayor, At-large Council person, and District Council person.

by Rod Williams - Below is the list of those who have picked up qualifying petitions to run for the office of mayor, vice mayor, at-large and district council seats as of Friday, March 29th.  Circled are the names of those I would vote for if these were the only choices and the elections were today and I could vote in that contest.  We know that these will not be the only choices so my selections are very preliminary.  I may be changing my mind, depending on who else gets in the race. Some choices I have not made because I do anticipate someone else to get in the race who know I would prefer. Some incumbents who have said they are running have not yet picked up a qualifying petition as of Friday. There are some other challengers I know about who have not yet picked up qualifying petitions.  The list of those who have picked up qualifying petitions is updated every Friday by the election commission. You can access that list at this link.

The first day to pick up a qualifying petition was March 18th. One cannot just submit a qualifying petition unless one has signed to get a qualifying petition.  One may pick up a qualifying petition up until the deadline for turning in qualifying petitions. The last date by which one may submit a qualifying petition is noon May 3rd.  Once a qualifying petition is submitted and the petition is approved, then a candidate may withdraw his name up until noon May 23rd. In that case the name would not appear on the ballot. If a candidate decides not to seek the office after the May 23rd deadline, the candidate's name would still appear on the ballot.

Why would one get qualified and then withdraw?  Sometimes a person my share the views of someone else who qualifies and decides he will withdraw and defer to the other candidate. Other times, a person who qualifies may then see who the opposition is and decide there is no way he can defeat the better known, better funded candidate and withdraw.  Also, of course, there are all kinds of personal reasons that may cause one to reconsider.

Early voting will began July 12, election day is August 1, and if a runoff is necessary it will be September 12th.

Among those who have picked up qualifying petitions for at-large, I would like to see Steve Glover and John Cooper elected.  Also, there is a young man named Matthew DelRossi, who I would like to see serve.  More than likely however, I am  going to vote for Steve Glover, only.  One may vote for up to five candidates but to do so weakens the influence of your vote.  I will explain this in more detail in a later post. I wish John Cooper would have ran for mayor.  If he would have, I would have supported him and I would hate to see him not win reelection to an at-large seat.  Depending on the strength of the candidates and who else is running, I may vote for both Cooper and Glover, but more than likely, I will be voting for only one candidate and that will be Steve Glover.

Please look over this list.  It is not too late to run.  Ideally one should have started campaigning months ago but it depends on who else is running in your district.  Sometimes, on rare occasions, people waltz right in without opposition.  If you are thinking about running, it does not hurt and it doesn't cost anything to pick up a qualifying petition. If you then find someone else who you could support is running, you could not turn in the petitions. If you turn in the petition and then some other good candidate also qualifies or you determine the opposition is just too formidable, you can always withdraw your petition.

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Ben West, Rest in Peace.

From The West Family:
With heavy hearts the West family is sad to announce that today March 30th 2019 Ben West Jr. passed peacefully of natural causes in his Hermitage home. He will be greatly missed by his wife Phyllis West and all of his children grandchildren and great grandchildren, along with many others who loved him dearly. Funeral arrangements will. be posted as soon as they are available. Thank you for respecting the privacy of the family during this time of grieving. God Bless you all!!
If Ben could post he'd definitely say "say good night Ben" to all of us.
Rod's Comment:

I never knew Ben West well, but knew him.  He had a warm personality and really cared about people and was someone you liked immediately. He was a good man who loved his country and community.  He was well-respected by everyone. He was a Democratic member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, representing the 60th District from 1985 to 2010. District 60 is the  Donelson, Hermitage and Antioch area. West was the son of Nashville Mayor Ben West who served as mayor of Nashville from 1951 to 1963.

Ben was a conservative Democrat, which, if there are any left, is a dying breed.  In 2010 I was active in the Davidson Country Republican Party organizing breakfast groups across the county.  Ben and his wife often attended these groups and that is when I got to know him. He would often speak out at these breakfast groups and his views were solidly conservative. Since we do not have party registration in Tennessee, Ben did not have to declare himself a Republican but his political views aligned with the Republican Party.  He endorsed Republican candidate Jim Gotto  who succeeded him in his House seat. He also endorsed Josh Sites in a Council election. While Council elections are non-partisan, Sites was an outspoken conservative.

Ben West, Rest in Peace.

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