Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Mayor Cooper appoints former TN Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr as Law Director.

Metro preast release - Mayor John Cooper today announced the appointment of former Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr. as Director of the Metro Department of Law effective Monday, November 4, 2019.

As law director, Cooper will supervise Metro Government’s legal work and advise the Office of the Mayor and Metro Council on issues facing the city.

Cooper served as Attorney General from 2006 to 2014. As Tennessee’s chief legal officer, he represented the state in areas such as environmental enforcement, antitrust violations, Medicaid fraud, and consumer protection. He successfully protected the interests of the state’s taxpayers in high-profile litigation and helped negotiate a $25-billion multi-state and federal mortgage servicing settlement in 2012 that brought almost $240 million in relief for struggling Tennessee homeowners.

“I am delighted to join the excellent team that Mayor Cooper has assembled, and I look forward to supporting Metro Government in the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” Cooper said. “This is a pivotal time for our community, and I’m honored to serve.”

Prior to his appointment as Attorney General, Cooper served as legal counsel to Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen from 2002 to 2006. He is a member of the Metropolitan Community Oversight Board and will step down upon taking office as law director.

Cooper currently works in the Compliance & Government Investigations Practice Group at Bass, Berry & Sims in Nashville, applying his expertise in compliance and enforcement issues. Before joining the law firm, he worked as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer in Washington, D.C. Cooper has also taught at Vanderbilt Law School as an adjunct professor of law. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, Tennessee Bar Foundation, and Nashville Bar Foundation. Cooper holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was managing editor of the Yale Law Journal.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

But why are there discipline disparities in Metro Schools?

From The Tennessean.
By Rod Williams - Sunday's Tennesseean had an article that started on the front page taking two-thirds of the page and continued for two full pages on the inside of the paper called, "Discipline Disparities." The article makes the point with text, data, and charts and illustrative pictures that Black children are suspended from school at a much higher rate than White children.  The whole tone of the piece is that this is somehow unfair and something that must be corrected.

The article explains that Metro Schools spent five years trying to close the racial gap through an initiative called Passage and other reform efforts and spent more than $2 million in the process but instead of the gap narrowing, it got worse.  The program focused on training teachers on alternative forms of discipline and tightening guidelines on when administrators could suspend a child. It worked in that suspensions decreased. Last year 8,500 students received out-of-school suspensions, down from 11,000 in the 2013-14 school year.  However, there was a greater decrease in the number of white students suspended than the decrease in the number of  Black students suspended.  The result was the gap widened rather than narrowing.  In the 2013-14 school year, black students were 2.7 times more likely to be suspended than white students but by 2018-19, they were 3.1 times more likely.

School officials could offer no explanation as to why there was such a gap. It seems they are clueless. I am going to go out on a limb and take a wild guess that has not even occurred to the Tennesseean or Metro School officials. Here it is: Black students have more disciplinary problems than White students. 

Does that seem so far fetched that it is not even discussed in a lengthy article?  It is not only true of children but when it come to adults, Blacks commit more crime than White people. In 2017, blacks represented 12% of the U.S. adult population but 33% of the sentenced prison population. Whites accounted for 64% of adults but 30% of prisoners. And while Hispanics represented 16% of the adult population, they accounted for 23% of inmates (link). Do liberals think this is just a result of discrimination or do they recognized that Blacks commit more crime?

Wikipedia link
The article did not at all examine gender gap disparities, but I don't doubt anyone would be surprised if data showed that  boys get suspended at a higher rate than girls. I don't think the cause for this is discrimination against boys, but I suspect girls are less of a discipline problem.  Why can we not even recognize that Black children are more of a disciplinary problem than White children. 

We need to recognize the fact that Black culture is dysfunctional. I am going to venture an explanation as to why. Seventy-two percent of black children are raised in single-parent households, and the national average is only 25 percent (link). Most of the single-parent households raising children are single mother-headed households.  I fervently believe that 'when it comes to raising children, that's a job meant for two.'  Young boys with no father in the household are more likely to display disciplinary problems.  There may be a variety of reasons why the Black family has broken down, but I believe the growth of the welfare state beginning with the Great Society in the 1960's made fathers a liability rather than a asset. We often hear people say we need to have an honest conversation about race in America; we do.

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What's on the 10/15/19 Council Agenda: Electing Pro Tem, Honoring Gay "coming out," raising parking fines, spending $11.2 million.

by Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, October 15th 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.  It is still not very interesting but more interesting if you know what the heck is going on. You don't have to watch it and yet you can still be informed however, because  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 interesting parts. Below is a summary of the agenda, highlighting what I deem to be the most important items.

Nominations and Elections
The first order of business will be the filling of some vacancies. The most important of these, or most high profile, is President Pro Tempore. Nominations will be made from the floor and then voted on. This is for a one year term expiring August 31, 2020. The President Pro Tem's only duty is to conduct the council meetings in the absence of the vice mayor.  Should the vice mayor's office become vacant, the President Pro Temp would fill that roll. Sometimes members aggressively seek the post lining up their votes; other times it is less sought after and not contentious. The major desirable characteristics for someone holding this office is being fair and being knowledge or parliamentary procedures. Nevertheless sometimes who lines up behind which candidate indicates the division lines in the council.

Other positions to be filled by members of the Council is a seat on the Traffic and Parking Commission and a seat on the Planning Commission.  Other position filled not by council members but by members of the public who are nominated and elected by council members are two vacancies on the Audit Committee of the Metropolitan Government; three vacancies to the Community Education Commission, three positions on the Industrial Development Board, and appointment of the Finance Director.

Public Comment Period: Community activist have not in the past abused this opportunity to address the Council the way I feared they would when the Council instituted this practice. Since this is the first time for the public comment period since the new council took office, there may be some members of the public who take the opportunity to  plead their point of view to the new body.

There are 15 resolutions on the agenda. Most are routine non-controversial things like accepting grants and settling law suits or approving signs overhanging the sidewalks. One resolution approves the employment of Jon Cooper as Special Counsel and Director of the Council Office. Below are two resolutions of interest:

Resolution RS2019-39  appropriates $11.3 million out of the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various Metro departments. That is a lot of money but this is normal. The administration should make sure the request are legitimate before the bill is presented and the Budget and Finance Committee of the Council should then examine the request to determine that the individual request are legitimate. My view is that if the Budget and Finance Committee recommends it and there is no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the request, the Council should approve the request.
Resolution RS2019-49  recognizes October 2019 as LGBT History Month in Nashville and October 11, 2019 as National Coming Out Day. I don't think "coming out" is anything to celebrate and would vote "no" or at least vote "abstain," if I were serving in the Council. Note that this resolution designates October 11th as National Coming Out Day and the Council does not meet until October 15th. The day will be over when this passes.  This spends no money and takes no action except expressing the opinion of the Metro Council, so it is really not that important.
Bills on First Reading: There are only twelve. I normally do not even look at them until after first reading but I read the caption of these since this is a new Council and I wanted to see if there was anything outrageous filed. There is not. Most are zoning bills. Bills on First Reading are lumped together and voted upon. They are not examined until they get to committee and then considered individually on Second Reading.

Bills on Second Reading: There are 16. These are the ones of interest.
Bill BL2019-1 raises the parking violation fee for most parking violations from $10 to $25. This seems reasonable to me.  With the scarcity of parking places and the increase in the value of parking space it seems reasonable to increase this fee.

Bill BL2019-4 prohibits aerial advertising. Why we are proposing doing this I do not
know. There is no "whereas" section of the bills that says why and the analysis does not say why. I always like seeing aerial advertising. Unless there is a real good reason to vote for this, if I served in the Council, I would vote against it.
Bills on Third Reading: There are none.

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 here and provide commentary.

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Whistleblower Party Republican Mix & Mingle

From DCRP:


Join Us for a GOP Mix and Mingle!

Click HERE to RSVP

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NEW TV AD: Immigrant Son Manny Sethi Saying What No Other Republican Will on Illegal Immigration

Sethi: “We’re gonna have an illegal immigrant invasion if Republicans don’t win in 2020. Democrats are going to give this country away. Let ‘em try to call me racist.”
Press release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Republican Senate candidate and conservative outsider Dr. Manny Sethi’s campaign released the first ad of the 2020 Tennessee Senate campaign.
The ad, entitled “Invasion,” will air statewide, and in Washington, DC beginning October 15. It highlights Dr. Manny’s mom, Dr. Chander Sethi, her experience to immigrate to the United States, and the need for Republicans to win in 2020 in order to stop illegal immigration.
Dr. Chander Sethi: My husband and I were young doctors in India who wanted to come to America. We followed the law and immigrated legally. It took seven years. We were country doctors in Tennessee for twenty-five years. I delivered thousands of babies, worked hard to be a good citizen. So why do others come here illegally, take all the benefits and then if you dare say that’s wrong – you are called racist? My son, Manny, is a Tennessee surgeon, he’s now running for U.S. Senate. And he knows this is wrong.
Dr. Manny Sethi: We’re gonna have an illegal immigrant invasion if Republicans don’t win in 2020. Democrats are going to give this country away. That’s why I’m running. Let ‘em try to call me a racist.
“There’s only one candidate in this race with the courage to take on the Left on immigration, and who won’t back down. That’s Manny Sethi,” said Chris Devaney, Chairman of the Sethi campaign. “He’s not afraid of offending Left wing elites. He’ll fight for this country.”

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Mayor Cooper Rescinds Flawed Briley Immigratioon Executive Order

Metro Press release, 10/14/2019 - Mayor John Cooper today released the following statement regarding Executive Order No. 11:

“I am rescinding Mayor Briley’s Executive Order No. 11. The order, as written, provides insufficient clarity for either immigrant families as well as Metropolitan Government employees, as many have noted, including immigration advocacy groups.
“I am taking action on Executive Order No. 11 this week because the State of Tennessee has given Metro Government an extension to address this issue by October 18th or risk losing four grants totaling over $1.1 million.

“We will be convening a task force of leaders from across the community and Metro Government to ensure my administration is aware of requests made by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and knows how to respond appropriately. The task force will be responsible for making recommendations for how Metro employees should interact with federal immigration authorities in a manner that: (1) respects the very separate roles of federal, state, and local governments, (2) complies with state and federal law, and (3) protects the safety and well-being of everyone in our immigrant communities.

“Recent activities by ICE in our city – including at a Metro school – demonstrate that neither city agencies nor residents have received sufficient guidance on how to report or respond to requests for assistance from federal agencies like ICE. This task force is intended to address that issue from the ground up, with guidance crafted by this diverse group of Nashville’s leading voices on immigration and local law enforcement policy.

“I have said frequently that I want Nashville to be a city for everyone, and that certainly includes immigrants. Our city benefits greatly from the many contributions of our immigrant neighbors. I am deeply aware that our success as a city depends on everyone both feeling safe to participate and having access to opportunities. To get there, we need to make sure that all Nashvillians feel safe when interacting with our city agencies.

“It is up to the federal government to both make and enforce our immigration laws. It is my job to make sure that our city runs well. Our city agencies have limited resources and cannot be expected to do the work of the federal government.

“The following task force will provide recommendations within the next 60 days:

  • Shanna Hughey, ThinkTN, Founder and President (CHAIR)
  • Juliana Ospina Cano, Executive Director Conexion Americas
  • Hank Clay, MNPS Chief of Staff
  • Ana Escobar, General Sessions Judge
  • Mike Hagar, MNPD Deputy Chief
  • Daron Hall, Davidson County Sheriff
  • Mary Kathryn Harcombe, TIRRC Legal Director
  • Victor S. (Torry) Johnson III, Former District Attorney General of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County
  • Sandra Sepulveda, Metro Councilwoman, District 30 
  • Zulfat Suara, Metro Councilwoman At-Large

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I think It was all just a big misunderstanding. ICE visits Metro School.

ICE Agent
by Rod Williams - I think it was all just a big misunderstanding.  Someone went to Una Elementary School and said something about ice and wanted to see something.  The principal thought they were from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.  The principle, if it really happened, correctly, in my view, refused to hand over student records.  

I believe in privacy and the fourth amendment and school records should not be shared with law enforcement without a court order.  Some of my conservative brethren have reacted and criticized the school for not handing over the records. It seems some have let their desire to cure the problem of undocumented immigration override their concern for constitutional protections.  I bet they would want the school system to protect student records if it was the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms asking for records or the Internal Revenue Service or any number of other agencies except ICE.
Ice machine repairman

Following the incident, which may or may not have occurred, there were lots of congratulatory pontificating by the Tennessean and local politicians and advocates of illegal immigration for the school's refusal to cooperate with ICE.  

I thought the whole incident was a little weird because the report was very sketchy and ICE, as a matter of policy, does not conduct enforcement in schools or hospitals.  Metro Public Schools said that two uniformed men visited the school though they had no specifics on the appearance of uniforms the men wore.   School employees said the two men were wearing "official-looking uniforms," stated that they were government agents, and presented official-looking IDs. They say the men presented a list of student names and demanded those students records. The school employees said the men behaved in an intimidating manner, and claimed they were entitled to see the records. School officials say they denied the request and sent the men away.
According to ICE it didn't happen. The school did not report the incident at the time and it kind of came to light by accident.  The school has security cameras but after a month passed since the incident occurred, footage of that day was no longer available. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement denies the report. They say they have no record of any ICE agent visiting a school.  ICE says their sensitive locations policy specifies that enforcement actions at designated sensitive locations should generally be avoided. Schools are listed as one of the sensitive locations.

I think what may have happened is that someone showed up at Una and said they were sent to look at the schools ice machine and wanted to see the ice machine maintenance records. They were probably wearing the uniforms of the appliance repair company for whom they work.

For more on this see these links: link, link link

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Mayor Cooper rescinds former Mayor Briley's immigration executive order, creates task force

"The order, as written, provides insufficient clarity for either immigrant families as well as Metropolitan Government employees, as many have noted, including immigration advocacy groups," said Cooper in a statement.

Briley's order called on Tennessee lawmakers to repeal a controversial law banning sanctuary cities. (read more)

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Did you know there was a Veteran's Caucus of the Metro Council?

by Rod Williams - I did not, until I saw the below notice.  If there is anyone involved in serving veterans in some way or advocating for veterans' causes, this may be good information to have and members of the caucus would be good people to get to know. I think this is new.  I do not think there has previously been a veteran's caucus. 

Veteran's Caucus Meeting
3:30 PM

The Veterans Caucus will discuss and recommend transition opportunities, networking programs, recognition of service, and other activities of special interest to our Davidson County military veterans and their families.
Facilitated by: District 9 Council member Tonya Hancock
Metro Historic Courthouse
One Public Square
Committee Room 2
Nashville, TN 37201

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