Thursday, December 31, 2020

On January 1st, Tennessee will really be an income tax-free state.

On January 1st, Tennessee will really be an income tax-free state. Tennessee’s Hall Income Tax will finally be laid to rest! Thanks to the Beacon Center which was a leading advocate of abolishing the tax, to various other citizens and organizations who were relentless over a long period of time calling for an end to the tax and to all of our Republican leaders who fought so hard to make this a reality. 

I would like to see us now amend the Tennessee constitution so the idea of an income tax stays dead.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

How Tennessee’s Congressional delegation voted on $2,000 stimulus checks

by Rod Williams -  I am pleased all of Tennessee's Republican congressmen voted against the $2000 stimulus check, except for Phil Row who abstained.  Tennessee's two Democrat congressmen, Rep. Steve Cohen and Rep. Jim Cooper, voted for it.  The measure passed the House by a vote of 275 to 134, To read what individual members of Congress said on the issue follow this link

In the Senate, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell blocked a request for unanimous consent for the CASH Act from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Unanimous consent enables a bill to pass without a recorded vote. President Trump is pushing the $2,000 direct payments,  All Democrat Senator are supporting the bill. (link

It is weird that a Republican President is pushing this spendthrift bill favored by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. One would normally expect a Republican president to be more fiscally responsible than Democrat legislators. I think this is an indication that either Trump has lost touch with reality or he is so focused on his wounded ego from losing the election that he is burning the house down on his way out the door. It will only require 12 Republicans to vote with the Democrats for the bill to pass.  I hope Republicans stay true to their principles and vote against this bill. 

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Will President Trump declare martial law to hold on to power?

by Rod Williams - I am apprehensive about the immediate future and will not rest easy until after Joe Biden is inaugurated and Donald Trump is out of the White House. I fear Trump may use military force to stay in office.  I never thought I would need to be concerned about something like this.  What has been unimaginable is now a real possibility. 

Let me make it clear that I voted for Donald Trump in the last election.  While I have disapproved of some things he has done as president; not many.  My problem with Trump is more his personality than his policies.  He is not sensitive or compassionate and he is a bully and a jerk and he has trouble with the truth.  Our president is not only the chief executive but also the head of state.  I think Trumps fails in the head of state role.  He is not good at the I-feel-your-pain stuff.  He is not good at the ceremonial stuff. However, he can be good at it when he stays on script. When I vote, however, I am not voting for a spouse or a daddy or a Sunday School teacher.  His personality does not bother me all that much.  

Trump has brought us prosperity, reduced inequality, decreased Black unemployment to the lowest rate ever, turned back the tide of illegal immigrants, made Europe pay a greater share of their own defense, took seriously the threat of China's expanding military might, called China to task for unfair trade practices, destroyed Al-Qaida,  cut back drastically on stifling and overreaching regulations, appointed hundreds of justices who respect the Constitution, advanced peace in the Middle East for the first time since 1979, quieted North Korea, made America energy independent, and more. Not a bad record. 

I wish he would have been reelected.  Not only do I like his record, the Democrat threat of packing the Supreme Court, the Green New Deal, nationalizing health care, statehood for D. C and Puerto Rico. the threat to the Second Amendment, reimposing massive stifling regulations, raising taxes, opening our border to a flood of illegal immigration, reversing energy independence, and other policies may destroy America. So, yes, I voted for Trump and wish he would have won. 

Do I believe there was widespread fraud in the last election? Yes.  Enough to change the outcome of the election?  Maybe. Does that justify declaring martial law and suspending the constitution? Hell NO! That some are even entertaining doing so is appalling. 

My view is we should follow the Constitution.  There is no constitutional provision for a military take over and then soon having an election do over. In some countries, the military steps in every few years and rules for a while.  It is not uncommon in Turkey, Thailand, various central and South American countries and has happened in Greece and eastern European nations and is commonplace in Africa. We have prided ourselves as being governed by a constitution.  Our peaceful transfer of power and stability has made us the envy of the world and an example other countries aspire to.  We have been that shining city on the hill.  If we allow a military take over, then even if there is an election to clarify who actually would win in a fair election, we have opened the door to military take overs always being an acceptable part of our system of governance. 

Some will ask of me, so, if the Democrats stole the election we should just let them?  Unless our constitutional remedies can correct what is perceived by many as a stolen election then, yes, we follow the constitution. We do not break the mold of being a constitutional  republic.  I still believe that in the Nixon-Kennedy election, that the Democrats stole the election. There was enough fraud in Mayor Daley's Chicago and Lyndon Johnson's Texas to change the outcome.  I am glad Nixon chose to allow Kennedy to take office rather than have a military coup.

Sometimes there is a miscarriage of justice but preserving the framework of rule of law is more  important the particular outcome of one case.  The Trump team has been unable to legally win this election.  They have not prevailed in the courts.  It is time to accept the results.  I compare this to the criminal justice system.  There are times when the guilty go free and worst than that, there are times when the innocent are found guilty.  No system created by man is perfect.  Because there is the occasional miscarriage of justice do I want to replace it with mob rule?  No! Assume a despicable person has been charged with a horrendous crime, say rape of a child, but because of police misconduct in the investigation, he is likely to be found not guilty.  Would I support a mob breaking into the jail, dragging him out and stringing him up?  No.  The legal system, imperfect as it may be, is more important than the possible miscarriage of justice in one particular case. 

Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, retired, has joined retired United States Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn and some others in calling on Trump to declare martial law and to void the election. There have also been other voices urging this course of action. I do not believe this will happen, but am concerned that it might. It is a real possibility and that is frightening.  Also, I am not sure Trump is thinking rationally. He seems to be acting on emotion rather than principle or logic. Of course, I think he often does so.  If reports are to be believed he has narrowed the number of people who have access to him.  I am not sure he has any advisors who do not tell him what he wants to hear.

Vallely is somewhat of a nut who has endorsed the Q-annon nonsense, but then Trump would not denounce Q when offered an opportunity to do so, so Trump may be listening to people like Vallely.  Sometimes I get the feeling Trump is delusional.  He may believe the Q-annon theory himself but even if  he doesn't believe it, he may not discount Vallely's opinion simply because Vallely believes it.  

Between now and when Biden takes office, is a scary period. Foreign advisories may see us vulnerable during this period.  The threat that Trump may actually declare martial law is frightening.  If that happens we may never return to being a nation of laws.  

On January 6th the Congress will confirm the electoral college vote. If there is a military action to keep Trump in office it will most likely be after January 6th. At this point Trump is banking on January 6th to hold onto power. When that fails, then we need to watch carefully for military mobilization. Republicans need to speak out and tell Trump to accept the election results. The military needs to consider any call for martial law an illegal order. Republican leadership needs to be privately telling military brass to refuse such an order. The Congress needs to be ready to invoke Article 25 if there is military mobilization. 

I have been dismayed that so many of my Facebook friends are advocating Trump declare martial law. I hope they are a miniscule minority.  However, I am getting the distinct impression they are not.  I posted something similar to this post on Facebook and got over 160 responses, most of them supporting a call for martial law.  I know a lot of these people and others I know though Facebook over several years.  Frankly, I am shocked.   I have been unfriended and called a traitor. So many are so adamant that they will not accept a Trump loss, that I think if Trump told them to use force to stop the inauguration of Biden, many of them would take up arms.  I am afraid many Trump supporters are willing to start assassinating "traitors" to keep Trump in office. 

It is sad that they are putting loyalty to Trump above loyalty to their country. 

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Congressman Mark Green: The push for $2,000 checks is selfish and irresponsible.


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Friday, December 25, 2020

The Beacon Center's 12 days of pork, #12: Chattanooga spending needs a red light.

The Beacon Center -In an interesting “whodunit” in Chattanooga this year, city auditors discovered that, well, city officials might need to keep closer tabs on the gadgets that they’re spending millions of taxpayer dollars to have. 

Way back in 2013, the city purchased over $6 million worth of new street lights from Global Green Lighting (GGL), but according to City Auditor Stan Sewell in an interview with the Chattanoogan, “The lighting project…was never fully implemented and the city no longer has possession of the light fixtures.” 

That’s right: when auditors in 2018 went to the warehouse that was supposedly storing these lights to get an inventory, they were nowhere to be found. Where did they go? After consulting another employee in the warehouse building, it was discovered that $5.59 million worth of lights were picked up from the warehouse by the CEO of the company who sold the lights to them in the first place. After a city employee unlocked the warehouse for the team from GGL to enter, they left, leaving non-government employees alone to reclaim government-paid-for lights. The Washington Post says “Democracy dies in darkness.” So too does our trust in our elected officials and bureaucrats. 

Solution: Increase detailed—and public—budget reporting in cities so taxpayers know how their dollars are being used…or not used. 

 on the twelfth day of Christmas, the government gave to me… some lightbulbs used by nobody

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The Beacon Center's 12 days of pork, #11: The Hyenas may be laughing but the taxpayers sure aren't.

 The Beacon Center - The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a similar cycle: Government officials issue a lockdown, unintended consequences ensue, governments have to spend money to make up for their mistakes, and taxpayers suffer. 

Despite giving $1.4 million to Zoo Knoxville in the Knoxville city budget, city and county officials are having to pony up more money to keep the zoo afloat. When 75% of its revenue comes from ticket sales, a safer at home order makes it difficult for one of the area’s largest tourist attractions to keep the money flowing. As a result, the city is giving an extra $700,000 in taxpayer dollars to the zoo. Meanwhile, the county is giving an additional $500,000, but at least as a loan. This is what happens when governments start getting involved in non-core services. Costs can rise, and the old saying “in for a penny, in for a pound” ends up being true. City and county officials could look to other business models like Chicago’s famous Lincoln Park Zoo, which operates without government assistance by relying on donations.

Solution: Focus on core government services, privatize existing city-owned enterprises, and utilize loans instead of grants for nonprofits, if absolutely necessary. 

 on the eleventh day of Christmas, the government gave to me… a handout that is beastly

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The Beacon Center's 12 days of pork, #10: Eastround and Down.

The Beacon CenterThe Johnson City Commission recently decided to round up their property tax rate to the nearest penny after the recent property reappraisal. City staff claimed that had they rounded down instead, the city would have lost over $143,000. 

What did the city do with that retained money? They gave nearly $150,000 of taxpayer money for a new piece of public art completed by two California artists. So instead of giving taxpayers a small cut on their property taxes, they are turning around and giving that money to out-of-state artists in order to create an unnecessary piece of public art. We have our issues with tax dollars going to public art in the first place, but it is even more frustrating that a government would choose two California artists over a tax cut for their own constituents. 

Solution: The government should not use tax dollars to fund public art. There are plenty of foundations and individual benefactors who have funded and continue to fund public art across the country. 

 on the tenth day of Christmas, the government gave to me… a local government spending spree

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Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Beacon Center's 12 days of pork, #9: Clarksville on thin ice with taxpayers.

The Beacon Center- Where are you going to hold your next ice skating party? 

Apparently the Montgomery County Commission  thinks it’s Clarksville. The commission approved construction of a multi-purpose event center with two ice rinks and a $130 million dollar plan to borrow the money to pay for it. Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett led the push for the 250,000 square foot compound in the middle of downtown Clarksville. While the massive complex is impressive, we doubt the bill taxpayers eventually receive will go over so well. 

Solution: Montgomery County leaders should focus on core government activities, not leisure activities. The private sector is there to meet these needs and taxpayers should not be forced to shoulder years of debt for “build it and they will come” plans. 

 on the ninth day of Christmas, the government gave to me… a skating rink with a hefty taxpayer fee

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Reposted from Facebook

Event by Mark Smith
Jan 5, 2021 at 9 PM CST – Jan 7, 2021 at 4:30 AM CST 
Price: Free · 
Duration: 1 day 
Public · Anyone on or off Facebook 
Have you had enough yet? Feeling like you want to be part of something that makes the difference in your country as it is being taken over by leftists and Marxists? Tired of doing all the driving? Have I got a bus ride for you!! There is a Chartered bus leaving out from Nashville Tennessee. (EXACT LOCATION WILL BE GIVEN AT REGISTRATION) and we are riding up to Washington DC because our President is calling us to come and protest along side him as he pursues the legal options to regain his rightful place as the President of the United States of America. There is surely more to say about all that at some point. The bus holds 56 folks. We are going to fill it and when we do, we will start working on filling another. THIS IS TRICKY. The cost is $120.00 per seat if we sell all 56 seats. So we really need everyone to push this out. I don't want to be telling anyone that the bus is not able to leave the station. HELP ME SHARE THIS EVENT PLEASE. BELOW IS THE SCHEDULE: JAN 5th -leave Nashville at 9:30 PM get to DC at 9:30 AM -JAN 6th Get back on the bus at 6:30 PM after an awesome day with fellow patriots and will arrive back in Nashville at 4:30 AM on JAN 7th. TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW - SHARE IN EVERY GROUP YOU CAN. We have to fill this bus full of patriots! Who's in? If you click on the INTERESTED button you will receive a FB message to establish contact and answer any questions that you may have. God Bless your journey! #TRUMPWINS CONTACT: Lee Miller - 931-305-0626 NOTE: The bus trip is not Chase Matheson's bus trip. But his is going to awesome too! 

As the author of A Disgruntled Republican I often post items which I think may be of interest to the conservative, Republican, libertarian or the greater community. Posting of a press release or an announcement of an event does not necessarily indicate an endorsement. Rod

Rod's Comment
I will not be taking part. I will not be taking the bus trip to Washington.  I also do not support the effort to have Congress refuse to accept the results of the electoral college vote.  I believe that fraud occurred in this election but the Trump campaign could not make their case in court.  Also, I am not sure the fraud rose to the level to change the outcome of the election. I think it best to let this play out in the courts and congress without public pressure.  I support a peaceful transfer of power.

While the Trump team is floating ideas of a declaration of marital law and suspending the constitution, I do not want to associated with a massive protest that would seem to support the Trump effort to keep fighting to hold onto power.  

Many of my friends are still supporting Trump's attempt to hold onto power by any means.  I know some of you are signing up for this protest bus trip. I wish you a safe trip. I hope we remain friends but I cannot endorse this effort to continue fighting to hold on to power. Some of my friends are even ready to support a military coup or secession.  Not me.  I am not manning any barricades or taking up arms. 

I think it is time, past time, to admit Trump lost the election and he has failed to make the case the election was stolen.  I favor a smooth transition to the next administration, continuing to be the loyal opposition, winning the Senate seats in Georgia so we can blunt the worst of the next administration's policies, and then retake the House in 2022 and the White House in 2024.  Even if we suspect the election is stolen, I do not want to become a banana republic where a military coup is a common occurrence.  We should exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy and then accept the results. 

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Can the people who build homes in Nashville afford to buy them?

by Rod Williams - Most could not. The income of the average carpenter household would support purchase of only 39.9% of the Nashville homes considered starter home. This standard for determining  affordability is based on something developed by American Enterprise Institute called "the carpenter index." Here the index is explained: 
The Carpenter Index starts with average carpenter wages at the metro level, which is around $48,000. It then assumes a household income that totals 150% of the carpenter’s wage, which is roughly the national average. This yields a typical total carpenter household income of $72,000. A common rule of thumb is that, to be considered affordable, a household should purchase a house no more than three times household income. The typical carpenter household could then afford a home of up to $216,000.  To complete the index, it is determined what percentage of starter homes would $216,000 purchase.
If you plug in the average carpenter wage for the Metro Nashville area and the range of prices of a starter home in Nashville area and do the calculation you come up with the carpenter index for Nashville which is currently 39.9%

Starter homes may be a new homes or an existing home. It is considered a starter home if it would typically be the first home one buys. This excludes those homes generally sold to people who are selling an existing home and taking the equity to purchase a more expensive home. A Carpenter Index of 50% or greater is considered affordable since the average carpenter household is able to purchase the median entry-level home. The lower the index is, the more unaffordable a metro area becomes. 

This of course is a rough calculation but provides insight as to the affordability of Nashville area homes. This does not tell you what that home may be like. If two metro areas both had a Carpenter Index of 50, in one metro area the home could be twice the size of what is a starter home in another metro area. This only looks at affordability not how much house you can get for your money. 

Also, the metro area is usually a multi-county area so for the 13-county metro Nashville area the carpenter may have to consider a home in Burns or Watertown or Bethpage. That is not unrealistic.  Housing near the center of a popular metro area is expected to be more expensive than those in the suburbs. To expect that everyone can afford a house within the city limits or even the largest county of the area is not realistic. Many working people are willing to move to a suburb of Nashville to buy their first home and some prefer it.  Also, not all work is centered in downtown Nashville.  

Of course, the assumptions may not hold for everyone either. This assumes the carpenters income is 66% of the household income. That is based on an average but if the carpenters spouse makes more than the carpenter then that household could afford more house. Also, in a metro area like Nashville, there are a lot of service workers who often make less than the wage of a carpenter. They would have fewer options. And, this does not address the lack of affordability of housing for low-income people. Despite these caveats, I think this is a useful way to look at affordability. 

How does Nashville stack up to other cities?
In San Diego the index is only 6% meaning a carpenter household could only afford to buy 6% of the starter homes.
In Pittsburg the index is 100% meaning a carpenter household could afford to buy 100% of the starter homes.
Austin Texas, 17%
Knoxville, 75.6%
Atlanta, 80.1%

How has Nashville fared over time? We have become less affordable.  Here is the index calculations for Nashville since 2012 when the index was created:
2012, 76.5%; 20013, 72.3%; 2014, 68.6%; 2015, 68.8%; 2016, 58.8%; 2017, 50.2%; 2018, 43.7% and 2019, 39.9%.

What causes lack of affordability? The report examines the causes of the loss of affordability which is essentially supply and demand but factors that impact those factors are policies that reduce supply such as single-family zoning and other land use restrictions and easy credit which inflates prices. 

To see the full report follow this link

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Monday, December 21, 2020

What is middle class? In Tennessee $21,573- $98,679.

by Rod Williams -
How much money does it take to be considered middle class?  It depends on which definition of middle class you are using and where you live.  We are a big country and in some parts of the country people earn a lot more money than they do in other parts of the country.

24/7 Wall St did an analysis and came up with an answer for every state.  They determine that in Tennessee middle class for household was $21,573- $98,679.

The methodology of 24/7 Wall St was to look at the household income ranges divided into quintiles and take the "lower boundary of the second quintile and the upper boundary of the fourth quintile" and consider that middle class.  This represents represents about 60% of American families. That sound about right to me. Looking at all of the ranges across all states, middle class can be as low as $15,165 and as high $295,250.  

The study is presented with information for each state but does not have a spread sheet for easy comparison state to state, but here are some sample states.
  • Alabama - $17,807 – $91,778 
  • Alaska - $35,393 – $151,683 
  • California - $36,996 – $187,706 
  • Hawaii - $41,532 – $181,202  
  • Louisiana - $16,721 – $95,787 
  • Mississippi - $16,721 – $95,787 
  • New York - $30,797 – $176,842
To read the report, follow this link

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Sunday, December 20, 2020

Tennessee experiences year-over-year tax revenue increase through first 3 quarters of 2020

By Vivian Jones, The Center Square, Dec 18, 2020- Despite economic turmoil caused by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tennessee collected 2.3% more in tax revenue during the first nine months of 2020 than in the same period in 2019. (link)

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State lawmakers questions health commissioner on $26.5M no-bid contract

By Vivian Jones, The Center Square - Lawmakers on a financial oversight committee questioned Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey and other officials Thursday about a $26.5 million no-bid contract for COVID-19 testing supplies that turned out to be unusable. 

The contract, signed by state officials May 1, was with Utah-based health care startup Nomi Health. The state withdrew from the contract June 12 after the coronavirus test kits did not measure up to state standards. Tennessee remained responsible for $5.9 million to pay for some personal protective equipment, technology and a management fee. (read more)

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Saturday, December 19, 2020

The mayor's $1.6 million transportation plan is the wrong plan for Nashville.

by Rod Williams - Last week, the Metro Council passed a $1.6 million transportation plan. The Executive summary says, "Mayor Cooper is delivering on his commitment to produce a new people first transportation strategy within his first year of office: Metro Nashville’s Transportation Plan proposes $1.6 billion in critical projects for community resilience, neighborhood livability, shared prosperity, and system preservation and performance."

What that pablum means is a better bus service, 19 miles of Bus Rapid Transit, more sidewalks and crosswalks, a Traffic Operations Center and signal synchronization, bikeways, greenways, improvement to enhance pedestrian safety, road maintenance, some green strips along some roads and a few other things. 

The report is chocked full of liberal pablum and woke political correctness telling us, "... while the national movement for racial equality seeks change that addresses past injustices, including our investments in mobility and use of public spaces. Equity goes beyond jobs, attainable housing, and educational opportunities. It also means ensuring that our streets treat all modes of travel with equal care."  In another place the plan tells us, "It is not surprising that some of the most important moments in the fight for equal rights throughout this country’s history have taken place on buses, bridges, and streets." On tone alone and woke gobbledygook, I would almost have to vote against it had I a vote.

The plan spends no money but that does not make it harmless.  Metro intends to pay for these improvements with annual capital budgeting and with state and federal grants.   With a plan in place we may be eligible for some grants and the grants will likely be matching grants and then the argument will be we already have an approved plan, so we have an obligation to fulfill the plan.  We can't reject the grant to fund our plan, we have to welcome the money and fund the match. 

I oppose this plan and would have voted against it, if I had a vote.  First of all we can repair roads without saying so in a plan so some of this is useless. Secondly, we should not even be talking about sidewalks unless it is to talk about why our current sidewalk plan is a failure.  We routinely rip out sidewalks showing only minor ware and tear and replace them with new clean sidewalks.  We spend millions on sidewalks already and get almost no new sidewalks to show for it. Rather than come up with a plan for more sidewalks, we should investigate why we waste so much money with almost no sidewalks to show for it.

Thirdly, we just had a 34% tax increase and if we keep spending money and committing to spend more money, we will have to have another tax increase.  Now is a time when we should be looking for ways to save money, not spend more.  Also, there is a move afoot to roll back the 34% tax increase.  Enough signatures were gathered to put that proposed roll-back on a public referendum but a court ruled the wording  to be technically inadequate and the proposal did not make it to the ballot.  That fight may not be over.  The wording of the proposal has been reworked to address the judges concerns and the drive to gather petitions signatures to put the question back on the ballot may began soon after the first of the year.  The city should be looking at ways to get by with less, not new ways to spend money.

Fourth, in my view, large buses on a fixed route is yesterday's way of moving people. New technologies are going to make fix-route mass transit obsolete.  If one notices almost any bus, except in the morning rush hour, you will see an empty bus or a bus with one or maybe two passengers.  We still may need some rush hour buses on major corridors but the service needs to shrink, not expand.  The Covid-19 pandemic indicates that it is not wise to confine a large number of people in a container with no air circulation.  The Covid-19 pandemic also may have reduced the need for mass transit and added roadway capacity with more people working from home.  Post-Covid-19 this trend of people working from home is likely to continue.

Fifth, where the plan could have been bold and called for what is sometimes called "smart traffic," instead it only calls for an upgrade to our existing system of traffic light synchronization. Smart traffic is a system in which the whole system is adjusted in real time so that one does not set at traffic lights that are red when there is no cross traffic.  These systems are working to amazing success in some parts of the world, reducing travel times and need for roadway expansions. For links to more on "smart traffic, follow this link

There is much wrong with this plan.  I think we have made traffic worse in recent years by taking roadway capacity and turn lanes for bike lanes that are almost never used. We have also taken many streets and reduced the number of lanes and attempted to do so on other streets but backed off in the face of public opposition. In my part of town, we reduced roadway capacity on Belmont Blvd., 12th Ave South, 10th Ave. South and tried to do so on 8th Ave. South.  As a result 12th Ave South as become a lively commercial community.  I like it.  However, when you take away that many options for heading south out of town, you slow traffic and create traffic congestion. That should be studied and the policy reversed before we move forward with more plans to spend more money. 

 I also wonder how much we spend on the name change from "MTA" to "WeGo" for our buss system.  If that is how we spend our transportation dollars, we don't need to be giving the city more money to spend.  I like the part about repairing roads but we don't need that to be part of some new plan.  It is a budgeting priority issue.  I like the new emphasis on pedestrian safety.  I walk almost every day and cars just ignore the pedestrian signaled crosswalks.  One is taking their life in the hand crossing a street. We needs enforcement of existing laws.  Police need to write tickets when people turn on yellow or turn while a pedestrian is in the crosswalk.  I am not sure we need a new comprehensive plan to improve pedestrian traffic safety. 

I have not read the full report but read enough to know I do not support it. For more of my thoughts on transportation see, What to do about Mass Transit and traffic congestion.
To read the complete 384-page plan follow this link.
For news reports on the plan see link, link, link. and link

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Friday, December 18, 2020

Federal judge denies Nashville bar owners' second request to halt COVID-19 restrictions

Federal judge denies Nashville bar owners' second request to halt COVID-19 restrictions

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Families Flock to the Nashville Suburbs for Good Schools, Low Taxes and Some Southern Charm

By Beth DeCarbo, Wall Street Journal,  Dec. 17, 2020 11:00 - In downtown Franklin, Tenn., a giant Christmas tree and Victorian-era storefronts draw flocks of shoppers in search of very merry merchandise. This chic charm is wooing scores of new home buyers, too. 

 “We love the downtown,” says Daniel Piraino. “We love being outside, walking early and late and feeling secure.” He and his wife, Laura Piraino, moved from Wilmington, Del., to Franklin last year and recently paid $2.1 million for a roughly 6,000-square-foot brownstone that is located just off Main Street. Young families relocate to Williamson County because it has some of the highest-ranked schools in the state, Ms. Stanton adds. According to the Tennessee Department of Education, in 2018-19, 77.9% of high-school students in Williamson County demonstrated readiness for college and careers. Statewide, 40.7% of high-school students demonstrated such readiness. (link)

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

How members of the Council voted on derailing the closing of Bordeaux Nursing Home.

by Rod Williams - On the December 1st agenda of the Metro Council was a resolution asking the mayor to stop the process of winding down the closing of the Metro-owned long-term care nursing home in the Bordeaux community of Nashville. The facility at that time had less than 15 people remaining at the site. Metro has been in the process of finding other homes for the residence since September and has placed approximately one hundred residents elsewhere. It is not anticipated there will be difficulty in finding beds for the remaining patients at Bordeaux as there is adequate capacity at nearby facilities. The rational for halting the closing of the facility was to keep the residents safely in place during the pandemic.

In my view, this effort to slow the closing of Bordeaux was wrong and the pandemic was just an excuse. If they had successfully delayed the closing, there might have developed a move to "save" Bordeaux and it might have never closed. This nursing home should have been closed long ago and, in fact, Metro should never have gotten in the nursing home business in the first place.

Medicaid was passed into law in 1965. By that act, the poor were no longer dependent on charity. The poor were given choices. At that time, Metro operated a charity hospital. We still do. Bordeaux did not open until 1967. We should never have gotten in the nursing home business. With the passage of Medicare we did not need to provide this service. Metro subsidizes Boudreaux nursing home to the tune of $6 million a year. 

With the failure to pass this resolution, it finally looks like we are finally getting out of the nursing home business. There is no talk however of closing Metro's charity hospital. With Nashville broke and Metro General a big money pit, unable to fill its beds, and an unnecessary expense, now would be a good time to close General also. Unfortunately, instead of finding ways to cut expenses, the Mayor and the Council would rather just keep raising taxes. Former Mayor Megan Barry half-heartily tried closing General but apparently was too distracted by her affair with her police body guard to do the heavy lifting necessary to make it happen. At this time there is not even any talk of closing General. In fact, Metro General is laying the ground work to ask to build a new facility to replace the current hospital. 

Signature HealthCARE has been the operator of the Bordeaux nursing home for the last six years and their contract is expiring in January. Prior to 2014, Metro actually operated the facility and the staff were metro employees. In 2014 the city had the good sense to privatize the operation of the facility and it is now operated by Signature. Metro sent out an RFP for an operator and neither Signature nor anyone else submitted a proposal. No private company wants to manage Bordeaux. Bordeaux has been unable to fill its beds and before the start of the winddown was operating at only one-third of its licensed capacity. 

Bordeaux is rated 1-out-of-5-stars by CMS. That means it is one of the worst nursing homes.  It is the bottom of the barrel. We should be ashamed to be associated with such a facility and pleased to see it closed. Finally, Metro is closing the Boudreaux nursing home and the site will be redeveloped.

The correct vote on this resolution was to vote "no."  

Here is how members of the Council voted:

Yes: Rosenberg, Hurt, Toombs, OConnell, and Taylor,  

No: Mendes, Allen, Parker, Withers, Benedict, VanReece, Hagar, Evans, Bradford, Rhoten, Syracuse, Cash, Hausser, Druffel, Pulley, Johnston, Nash, and Rutherford 

Absent: Henderson, Glover, Suara, Hall, Gamble, Swope, Hancock, Young, Welsch, Sledge, Vercher, Porterfield, Sepulveda, and Styles 

Abstain: Roberts, Murphy, and Lee

If you are not sure who your council member is you can use this look up tool to find out.  If you want to put a face with the name, follow this link

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Only 15 percent of Tennessee Republicans believe Biden won election

By Carrie Moore, Vanderbilt University - Only 12% of Republican voters in Tennessee are confident that nationwide votes were counted fairly and accurately, as compared to 97% of Democrats. Even when assessing the accuracy of the vote count within the state, Republicans still expressed more doubt about the accuracy of the results than did Democrats.

Such a finding suggests that Trump’s attacks on the process extend to red states and his own supporters.

Almost a month after Election Day, only 15% of Republicans polled think Joe Biden is the legitimate winner of the presidential election, while 70% think Biden is trying to “steal the election.” 

By contrast, 95% of Democrats polled think Biden is the legitimate winner, and 70% think President Trump is trying to steal the election. In addition, 35% of Republicans did not think President Trump should concede after the Electoral College certifies their votes. 

“In no other time in recent history have we seen voters so skeptical and dissatisfied with election results,” Geer said. “Even those voters satisfied with the outcome remain concerned that the opponent is trying to steal the election. Such obstinance must be curbed or could result in a long-term decline in the public’s faith in democratic institutions.” (link)

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Beacon Center's 12 days of pork, #8: Valets should pay.

The Beacon Center- At a time when Nashville has abused our tax dollars in the midst of a crisis and is now hitting up taxpayers for even more money, we hate to be the bearers of bad news but it gets even worse. 

Because of a poorly-negotiated and even more poorly-executed deal, Nashville is losing out on even more money than we originally thought due to its own negligence. If you’ve been in downtown Nashville anytime recently, you’ve probably noticed that valet stands have started to replace metered parking spaces. What you probably don’t realize is that per metered parking space, Nashville collects on average over $6,000 annually. Each valet stand takes up about three spaces, which is over $18,000 per stand per year that the city could be taking in each year to offset some of their more egregious expenses. 

The law does state that the business that’s utilizing the valet stand must pay the city the amount that is lost, plus a $50 fee per stand. Unfortunately, Nashville isn’t actually collecting the money. That’s right, the city has never collected the revenue that is due to them. So next time you get a tax bill from Nashville, do the math and see how many lost parking spaces it would take to cover it for you. 

Solution: City governments should honor taxpayers above all else in deals they make with private entities, from the front-end when making the deal all the way through enforcement. 

 on the eighth day of Christmas, the government gave to me… parking spots that are basically free

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Tennessee is the top state for fiscal stability

by Rod Williams - US News and World Repot in its  Dec. 11, 2020 editions ranks Tennessee as the top state for fiscal stability. It’s followed by Florida, South Dakota, North Carolina and Utah to round out the top five.  The study looks at things like government credit rating scores, pension fund liability, budget balancing and liquidly. 

While some states are on the verge of bankruptcy, Tennessee is not. We are the most fiscally sound state in the nation.  Unfortunately, if Democrats get complete control of the federal government we who live in states that managed our finances well will no doubt have to bail out those that did not. 

As a city, Nashville would not rank well in a similar ranking except that most cities of any size are controlled by Democrats also and the majority are mismanaged. So despite Nashville's mismanagement, by comparison Nashville might not rank so terrible. We might be less bad than some other poorly managed Democrat governed cities.  

Nashville does not calculate as a liability its health care benefits to retried employees and our pension liability continues to grow and our response to increased cost for services is to raise taxes rather than control spending and we have allowed our reserve funds to shrink to dangerously low levels.  

Luckily, Nashville's mismanagement does not impact the State's ranking.  The state and the city are different entities. The State is not responsible for the fiscal management of the cities, so as citizens of the state of Tennessee we have good fiscally responsible governance, while as citizens of Nashville we have fiscally irresponsible governance. 

I am proud of the job our Republican-led State is doing.  It matters who governs. 

For more information follow this link

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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Rev. Al Sharpton hired by TSU as a Distinguished Guest Lecturer to teach in the area of political science grounded in social justice.

Tennessee State University announced it has hired MSNBC host and progressive activist Rev. Al Sharpton as a Distinguished Guest Lecturer.

Beginning in January 2021, Sharpton will teach “in the area of political science grounded in social justice during the academic term.” (link)

by Rod Williams- This is an embarrassment. Al Sharpton is an anti-Semite, a race-baiter, and a con artist.  The State legislature should reduce any appropriation to Tennessee State University equal to the amount of money paid to Al Sharpton. 

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The Road to socialism should not run through Georgia. Now is the time to step up to the plate. Freedom hangs in the balance.

by Rod Williams, 12/15/2020 - Yesterday early voting started in Georgia for the January 5 Senate runoff elections.  Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock are challenging incumbent GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. These races weren't decided in November's elections because no one received a majority of the vote in either contest so the top two vote-getters in each race are in a runoff. Early voting ends on December 31. 

One has heard so often that a particular election is the most important election of our lifetime that after a while it just becomes empty noise. They can't all be the most important. But this time, I really believe that the Georgia runoff elections for Georgia's U. S. Senate races may very well, in fact. be the most important election of our life time.  If we lose Georgia there is nothing stopping the Democrats from adopting their radical agenda. While I don't think Biden is the most dangerous candidate the Democrat Party could have nominated, he will not buck the radicals in the Party. He has already essentially adopted their agenda. 

 The whole party has moved to the left and they will adopt policies that will destroy America if they have the votes. If David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lose their races for the Senate in Georgia, Democrats will take complete and total control of Congress. Chuck Shumer becomes the Senate Majority leader.

 I don't tend to be an alarmist. There is often a kind of ebb and flow to politics. But I see our Republic as hanging by a thread. If we lose Georgia, we may be on the road to becoming Venezuela. Georgia stands between us and America becoming a socialist nation. We may never have another competitive fair election. Stacking the deck by giving statehood to D.C and Puerto Rico combined with the institutionalization of massive use of mail-in ballots and things like same-day voter registration and practices that prohibit making voters prove who they are, may mean Republicans never again win national elections. 

What can we look forward to if Democrats gain control of the Senate? Packing the Supreme Court, Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, loss of our Second Amendment rights, statehood for Washington D. C. and Puerto Rico, open borders and the most massive wave of illegal immigrants we have ever experienced, student loan forgiveness and free college tuition, higher taxes, cuts to military funding, a revival of the long dormant Equal Rights Amendment, abolishing the electoral college, defunding the police, a universal $15 an hour minimum wage, ending the filibuster and more. It also means no investigation of the Biden family influence peddling in Ukraine, China and Russia. 

The Green New Deal alone would impoverish the nation and destroy our economy. With the Green New Deal passed, government will grow to alleviate the misery caused by the policy.  Government will respond to the economic crisis caused by the Green New Deal with more redistribution, wage and price controls and more tax and spend. What is left of a free market economy will disappear and a growth in police state authority will follow. 

 "Wait a minute," some will say.  "Some of what you say will happen, they can't do. It would take a constitutional amendment to curtail the Second Amendment and abolish the Electoral College and the States would have to ratify statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico."  Normally, that would be true, but if Democrats control the Senate and they pack the Court, they can do whatever they want to do.  A Supreme Court dominated by liberal jurist will find ways to accommodate the desires of a Democrat Congress. 

Curtailing the Second Amendment will be accomplished by a mandatory "buy-back" program and liberal jurist will find it compatible with the Constitution.  Liberal jurist are not so immoral that they will just let Democrats do what ever they please, but the judicial philosophy of liberal jurist is that the Constitution is a living document. This judicial philosophy holds that the Constitution was intentionally written using broad language and concepts which should evolve as society evolves.  Liberal jurist look not to what the meaning was of the original text but what was the underlying purpose of the constitutional provision. This view can essentially remove any restraints on Congress. A Court packed with activist judges will find a way to allow curtailment of the Second Amendment, abolishing the Electoral College and Statehood of D. C. and Puerto Rico. With the Court packed there are no constitutional constraints. 

Liberals are going all out to win Georgia.  Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said herself that she is putting every effort into winning Georgia so she, “doesn’t have to negotiate with Republicans.” Democrats are pouring millions of dollars into Georgia to win votes.  An army of Democrats are pouring into the state to door knock for the Democrat nominees. They are even encouraging people to move to Georgia and register to vote.  While few Republicans could do that, there are a lot of young people without roots or jobs that tie them down that may very well temporarily become Georgians just so they can vote in this election.  

Republicans also have a disadvantage in this election, in that Georgia has permitted voter fraud to occur. Georgia is not the worst offender among the states that made it easy to cheat but this run off election may be so close that  little cheating goes a long way.  We have to win Georgia by enought votes to make up for the voter fraud margin. Georgia has not adopted mail-in voting, but has liberally allowed absentee voting. Over 150,000 people in Georgia voted absentee in the November election. There were proven incidents in Georgia of over 1000 people voting twice; voting absentee and then also voting in person. There is no way to know how many actually did this; 1000 were detected.  

Georgia also allowed "ballot curing."  This is the practice of allowing one whose absentee ballot has been rejected due to a missing signature of for some other reason, up to three days to correct the mistake.  This is not fraud per se but Democrats had trained activists to help people “cure” ballots that had been rejected on Election Day."  I think this practice should be banned, but if it is not, then I hope Republicans also have an army of people available to help Republicans "cure" ballots. If Republicans do not get up to speed and commit to matching the Democrats in "curing" ballots, Democrats may win in a close election. I have not heard of Republicans training people in this unsavory practice but I hope they have done so. 

Republicans must pull out all of the stops to win Georgia. They have stepped up their game, thank goodness, but is it enough?   They have more and better trained poll watchers and more lawyers standing by.  I don't know who is ahead in fund raising in Georgia but Republicans are spending a vast sum.  I am doing my part.  I give money to candidates in races I care about from time to time, but my contributions are usually like a hundred dollars here and a hundred dollars there.  In this race I am doing more.  I have already given close to $3,000.   I am not revealing this to get a pat on the back but to encourage you to do the same. If I can do it, you can too.   I am not a wealthy person.  I am of modest means. I am retired and have a modest income.  But, I really believe this may be the most important election of my lifetime.  There are some probably reading this, who could give $10,000 or $20,000 and not miss it.

If you can't give much money, there are other ways to help.  One can go to Georgia and knock on doors. I have several friends who are in Georgia now doing that. Contact your local or State Republican Party and ask how you can volunteer.  If you can't pay your own expenses for this, the State Party or the campaign of the candidate may be willing to pay your expenses. Ask. In addition to the Party sending volunteers to Georgia, organizations like Heritage Action are also doing so. 

Another way you can help, besides giving money, is to sign up to make phone calls.  Sometimes this would be from a party headquarters, but often one can do it from the comfort of one's home.  I have done this.  Computer programs give you the name and address of who you are calling, the list has been developed so one is calling Republicans or persuadable voters, and the computer program dials the next number for you. You then enter the results of the effort in the data base. This may be even more important than a cash contribution.  

Ever year about this time I give money to various causes other than just political causes.  Within the next couple days or so, I will be doing that.  One thing I usually give money to are agencies that help the homeless.  What better way to fight future homelessness than to join the fight to keep America from becoming the next Venezuela. I have already decided some organization I have supported in the past are not getting a check from me this year. Most of my year-end giving is going to Georgia.  This year, I think giving money so Republicans hold Georgia is more important than a contribution to the Alzheimer's Association or the local Republican Party. I may dip into my child's inheritance.  I would rather leave her a free America than an extra thousand dollars. 

Some of you reading this, I know do more than I do, but some of you who could do something, don't.  If  you are an armchair opinionated Facebook patriot or a scholar of conservative thought but do not give money to things you profess to believe, now is the time.  Your country needs you. 

There are a lot ways to give money. The candidate's have their campaigns, which is how I have given most of my money, but there are also independent PAC's.  Newt Gringrich has a PAC, Mitch McConnell has a PAC, Rand Paul has a PAC and a bunch of other people all raising money off of the importance of saving. Georgia.  The problem with a PAC is that their fund-raising letter may say it is for the Georgia campaign but they may save the money to spend on different races.  I am giving to the candidates and here are links to their campaigns. 
Georgians for Kelly Loeffler, the candidates campaign. 

Please give.  The road to socialism should not run through Georgia, Please do it. Freedom is in the balance. 

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Robert Duvall, Rest in Peace

12/15/2020- Robert Duvall passed away yesterday from complications following surgery. He was 70 years old. He was a Republican State Executive Committee member, a former Metro Nashville Councilman, and a past Chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party. He served in the Council from 2007 to 2015 representing the Antioch area. During his time on the Council he was a leading conservative in that liberal body. 

Robert was a big personality. He had a ready smile and a firm enthusiastic hand shake. He was a good man and did much to promote conservative policies and values. His wife had been and invalid for many years and he cared for her at home. He was a good man. Rest in Peace.

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Monday, December 14, 2020

Only an idiot would require a sidewalk to be build like this. Why can we not sanely build sidewalks?


by Rod Williams, 12/13/2020- Please look at these pictures.  This was taken yesterday while I was taking a walk, on a street that runs between Belmont Blvd. and 12th Ave. South.  Out of many city blocks with sidewalks, this is the only lot with a portion of the sidewalk not aligning with the existing sidewalk.  it sticks out like a sore thumb. This is nuts!  

Not only do we tear up perfectly good sidewalks to replace them with clean new sidewalks, and not only do we spend millions on building sidewalks but get almost no new sidewalks where sidewalks did not exist before to show for it, and not only do we burden homeowners who want to remodel there home by making them pay for new sidewalks, and not only do we increase the cost of housing and hasten the demise of affordable housing by our sidewalk policy, we also build sidewalks stupidly. 

For more on our inability to sanely build sidewalks see the following:

Perfectly Serviceable Sidewalks being Ripped up and Replaced with New Sidewalks!

Why are they tearing up perfectly good sidewalks?

Replacing good sidewalk with new sidewalks; no wonder we are broke.

Nashville has allocated $60 million for sidewalks. Only 3.5 miles of new sidewalks!!

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The Beacon Center's 12 days of pork, #6: Freezing out the taxpayers. Shelby County's freeze on new hires only lasts one month.

The Beacon Center - In a year when thousands of Tennesseans have lost their job and many more are scared of their economic situation, it’s comforting to know that at least one local government was willing to make sacrifices as well. Well, sort of. 

After the Shelby County Mayor’s Office put out a report highlighting the dire financial situation the county was in, county commissioners agreed to a freeze on new hires and promotions. Not actual cuts, but hey, at least it’s something? Except all it took was one month for county commissioners to go back on that plan, lifting the freeze

This is the problem with government finances. When times are tough, families have to dig deep and make tough decisions. But for governments, tough times are merely an inconvenience. Governments at all levels are able to kick the can down the road (like the federal government) or ask struggling taxpayers to bail them out (like Nashville). Our leaders need to remember that they are charged to be stewards of taxpayer money, not treat it like monopoly money. 

Solution: Shelby County should cut unessential services and enact a spending cap tied to economic growth to curb excessive government growth. 

 on the sixth day of Christmas, the government gave to me… more money for government employees

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Sunday, December 13, 2020

Tennessee businessman with son in Congress gets $500k in COVID-19 loans to support one job

Tennessee businessman with son in Congress gets $500k in COVID-19 loans to support one job

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The Beacon Center's 12 days of pork, #5: Bluff City Flaw. A $1.4 million subsidy for a show cancelled after one season.

The Beacon Center - A few years ago, when Memphis and the state handed millions of tax dollars to the upcoming show “Bluff City Law,” we told them what would happen. 

Film incentives are a worse investment than an Eiffel 65 reunion tour, and somehow governments across the country keep giving our hard-earned tax dollars to these ventures. Even government studies, which always tend to exaggerate or flat-out make up numbers to show the “benefit” of corporate welfare deals, show that these are a bad investment for taxpayers. 

Add in the fact that “Bluff City Law” was about the three millionth courtroom drama, and you have a recipe for disaster. Predictably, the show was canceled after just a single season, yet Memphis taxpayers are still on the hook for $1.4 million in 2020, despite the final episode airing in November of 2019. 

Because of the incompetence of the Memphis EDGE board, Memphis taxpayers are left holding the bag while politicians try to explain away the bad decision and talk about all the “unseen benefits” that the short-lived show created for the city. Film incentives are always problematic and should be eliminated entirely. 

Solution: Stop giving out film incentives of any kind. 

on the fifth day of Christmas, the government gave to me… another canceled show on TV

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Thursday, December 10, 2020

Nashville health director Michael Caldwell resigns after sexism investigation and 21 Council members call for his ouster.

Dr. Michael Caldwell
by Rod Williams, 12/10/2020 - Under threat of being fired if he did not resign, Nashville's Health Director Michael Caldwell resigned today after a city investigation substantiated some allegations of discrimination against women in his agency. Among the allegation against the doctor was that he attempted to fire a pregnant employee and questioned her “emotional stability.” 

At first he resisted resigning. He groveled and said if he exhibited bias it was “unconscious,”  "I ask that you focus on the actual findings in the report and know that they have shaken me to my core, fundamentally, and changed my point of view," Caldwell said.  "This is a wake-up call for me, both personally and professionally." He insisted he was still “redeemable.” With the writing on the wall, he resigned and agreed to serve in an advisory role, with pay, until the end of the year. The board accepted his resignation 6-0.

Before the board met today, 21 Nashville council members signed a letter urging the board to remove Caldwell. In addition to citing the alleged discrimination, the letter criticized the director for his handling of the city's Covid-19 response. The letter states Caldwell's leadership as the city combats the coronavirus has fallen short as the city has received "confusing and inadequate information regarding COVID-19 safety measures." 

The most vocal member in calling for Caldwell's resignation was Council member Ginny Welsh.  This is a list of those who signed the letter: Colby Sledge, Delishia Porterfield, Sandra Sepulveda, Kathleen Murphy, Ginny Welsch, Joy Styles, Sharon Hurt, Antoinette Lee, Emily Benedict, Zulfat Suara, Jennifer Gamble, Kyonzté Toombs, Tanaka Vercher, Angie Henderson, Dave Rosenberg, Russ Bradford, Zach Young, Freddie O'Connell, John Rutherford, Brandon Taylor and Sean Parker. 

 If you look at who signed the letter, it is the most liberal of our liberal Council except for one or maybe two names. None of the "good" councilmen signed the letter. Robert Swope, Stove Glover, Larry Hager, Thom Druffel, nor Cortney Johnson signed it. 

Given the absence of any of the reasonable councilmembers signing the letter, and given that Ginny Welsh was the apparent leader of this attempt to oust Caldwell and given the era of extreme political correctness in which we live and the craziness of of the "me-too," movement, I give the benefit of the doubt to the accused in a case like this unless I have more information than that provided in the news accounts. 

News reports do not report what the employee did that caused the director to think she needed to be fired. Maybe the investigation found evidence to support the finding but if it does, it is not reported by news sources. 

I would fault the Director, however, for not being savvy enough to the perils of the age in which we live to know that one does not bluntly state that a women may be "emotionally unstable," pregnant or not. I would never do that. I might think it, but some things you just don't say. If he wanted her fired, he should have developed a case for her dismissal. 

If more information comes to light on this matter, I will post it.  To read more on this and see the source of the quotes see link, link, link.

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The Beacon Center's 12 days of pork, #4: "Caught Stealing," Jackson, Tn tosses money to the team.

The Beacon Center- The Jackson Generals are a Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Arizona
Diamondbacks. And the West Tennessee city’s taxpayers have been getting played. Intrepid reporting by the Jackson Sun earlier this year revealed that for every $50 collected by the city in taxes, $1 went to the team. The city tossed money to the team in four different ways: 
  • Utility and maintenance payments for the Generals’ stadium, totaling over $700,000 last year alone.
  • Capital improvements at the ballpark, which have ranged from a low of $12,000 last year all the way up to $365,000 in 2011. 
  • Almost $400,000 last year on marketing and advertising for the team, which was actually hidden in the city’s budget and not reported to taxpayers. 
  • Servicing on the $6.5 million loan the city took out to build the stadium, which the Sun estimates to cost about $213,500 a year. 
Talk about getting caught stealing. 

Solution: Sports teams and their millionaire and billionaire owners should build and pay for their own stadiums. 

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The Beacon Center's 12 Days of Pork, #3: "Can't mask the pain," no-bid mask contract for mask that don't work.

The Beacon Center- We have all heard of—or had—buyer’s remorse: when you purchase something, get home, and realize you made a mistake. But the term “buyer’s remorse” doesn’t seem to do justice to an $8 million expenditure that left taxpayers and mask-wearers scratching their heads.

That’s exactly what happened earlier this year when the state entered into a no-bid contract with a sock manufacturer for five million masks for Tennesseans. The controversy about the material of the masks being able to adequately protect wearers from COVID-19 might not exist if the state had taken proposals from more than one manufacturer before deciding who would make the official face mask of Tennessee.  While contrary to popular belief, the masks aren’t actually poisonous, but the no-bid process was harmful to taxpayers. 

 If the government is mandating, or even suggesting, that we should all be wearing face masks, they should certainly be made available at no cost. But when the cost falls on taxpayers, and no bids were secured to get the best deal, that’s a blunder too big to cover up. 

Solution: End no-bid contracts when taxpayer dollars are on the line.

on the third day of Christmas, the government gave to me… a mask contract given too quickly

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The Beacon Center's 12 Days of Pork, #2: "Once you pop, you don't stop," Giving tax dollars to private companies.

The Beacon Center - Every year, Tennessee taxpayers are asked to give up millions of dollars to private companies through the state’s main corporate welfare program: FastTrack. 

This year’s edition of the Pork Report includes recipients like AutoZone, Accenture, and Pringles. Since last year’s edition, the state has given companies like these over $39.6 million in taxpayer dollars while in the midst of a major budget crunch due to COVID-19. The overwhelming evidence shows that these types of programs make little difference in company relocation and expansion decisions. Estimates indicate these handouts sway companies as little as two percent of the time. 

Do we really think when Pringles is investing over $200 million to expand its factory that giving it $400,000 is really necessary? Additionally, once the government gives companies these types of deals, they demand more money to keep them here in the future; other companies then expect to receive deals as well. So once it starts, it’s hard for the government to stop. 

Solution: Repeal the FastTrack program and focus taxpayer funds on economic development that works for all, like education, workforce development, and infrastructure. 

 on the second day of Christmas, the government gave to me… more taxpayer dollars to companies

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Tennessee joins in legal brief supporting Texas voting lawsuit against swing states. Understanding what all of this means.

Tennessee joins other red states in legal brief supporting Texas voting lawsuit against swing states

by Natalie Allison, Nashville Tennessean -

There is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about the law suite before the Supreme Court. The below was posted to Facebook by Judson Phillips, a highly respected local attorney whose expertise I respect.

By Judson Phillips. 
There is a lot of misinformation floating around about the Texas case in the Supreme Court. 
1. Texas has NOT filed suit against the defendant states. 
2. What Texas has done is ask the Supreme Court for permission to file the lawsuit. 
3. The case is on the docket now, but that does not mean the Supreme Court will necessarily hear the case. 
4. The Supreme Court has ordered (6-3) that the respondent states file their answers by 3PM Thursday.
5. Presumably late Thursday or early Friday, the Justices will have a conference. There are several possible outcomes. 
6. The first outcome is the Supreme Court denies Texas' request to file suit. If that happens, Biden has pretty much won. 
7. They could grant the request to file the suit in the Supreme Court. That is important ( given the 6-3 vote). Ordinarily for the Supreme Court to grant certiorari (agreeing the hear an appeal), it takes 4 justices to vote for the petition. Because the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in a lawsuit between the states, I am not sure if they will need 4 or 5 votes. 
8. The really important issue here is that Texas is asking for an injunction to prevent those states from submitting the disputed electors to the electoral college. If the Justices do not agree to an injunction, the Electoral College will meet on Monday and Joe Biden will officially be the President elect. 
9. If they enjoin the states from submitting the disputed electors, either the state legislatures will have to submit electors or neither candidate will have 270 votes and the matter will go to the House of Representatives for contingent election. 
10. The Electoral College is a creation of the Constitution. The Supreme Court cannot change that. But the date the Electoral College meets is set by statute, and the Supreme Court can enjoin that. 
11. The injunction issue is the big issue to watch here. Because the Electoral College is set to meet on December 14 (Monday), the Supreme Court will have to issue some ruling, most likely on Friday. 
Again, if the injunction is granted, that is a pretty good signal that Texas (and Trump) will prevail. If not, it will be Biden Harris on January 20.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Survey: Majority of Metro Nashville public school families want in-person learning in spring

Survey: Majority of Metro Nashville public school families want in-person learning in spring

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The Beacon Center's 12 Days of pork, #7: "Covering a bullet hole with a band-aid," Nashville's 34% property tax earns the “Pork of the Year” award for 2020.

Reposted from The Beacon Center - COVID-19 aside, the city of Nashville is having a moment with a booming economy fueled by tourism and hundreds of people moving to the city every week, fleeing from high tax cities like New York City or Los Angeles. And somehow, despite skyrocketing tax revenue, the city is effectively broke. 

Of course, instead of evaluating how the city could possibly be in debt when bringing in so much money (see: hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate handouts, excessive spending, and a bloated and oversized city government), the mayor and City Council decided to raise the property taxes of hard-working Nashvillians by a whopping 34% while making very few sacrifices themselves. 

No changes to the unbelievably generous pension system, no spending cap, and of course no repeal of the uniquely egregious lifetime health insurance benefits for City Council members. At a time when many people are coming to Nashville because of its low taxes, Mayor Cooper and the city council seem hell-bent on making sure the growth comes to a screeching halt so that we end up like another Chicago. 

For that reason, the pending 34% property tax increase in red-hot Nashville earns the “Pork of the Year” award for 2020. 

Solution: Instead of raising property taxes, Nashville should reform its pension system, reform healthcare and post-employment benefits, rightsize the government workforce, renegotiate and reign in corporate welfare deals, and enact a spending cap. 

 on the seventh day of Christmas, the government gave to me… an unfair tax hike with which we disagree 

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Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Why Republican state legislative leaders and governors not supporting President Trump's fight against election fraud

Rebecca Anne Burke
By Rebecca Anne Burke- Why are Republican state legislative leaders and governors not giving much support to President Trump's team fighting election fraud?  I think there are many reasons and few have to do with the President himself. 

One, I think governors and secretaries of state are, frankly, afraid of the outcome of finding for the President or taking measures that throw the election into uncertainty. They are cowards. They don't want the riots in the street that would likely erupt. Not on their watch do they want to hurt their own political futures. 

That brings me to point two, their lack of moral courage to do what is right. Everyone in politics knows that fraud goes along with voting. Fraud goes with politics like jelly on the peanut butter. Not saying I like it or can even tolerate it. I even thought about writing a book about my small potatoes election bid, and all of the unethical and borderline illegal things that went on. Politicians assume that this will happen, you just work harder to improve your margin of victory to counter it.  Those days have to stop. In this election, the fraud, not errors, fraud was very likely so massive that it overturned an election in which the President earned a historic number of votes, far in excess of his landslide victory of 2016. Politicians are cowards. They will fight tooth and nail to ensure self-preservation even if it bankrupts the integrity of a federal election. That's a very harsh statement from me, but one that I believe. 

Three, too many of the states' governors and Republican elected officials, such as Secretaries of State were of the "Never Trumper" breed. President Trump was fine as long as he stayed out of their wheel house and kept the federal money coming. I think they feared him, he was not one to be bluffed. They did not like supporting someone who could turn against them and "counter punch" with the best of them. Intimidation typically does not cultivate support that can be counted on later in a crisis. 

Four, to admit that they opened the door to a corrupt voting system, for which they paid millions, would be to ensure the erosion of trust in them! I am sure there are plenty shaking in their boots when they have to admit they invited Dominion in the front door, including Tennessee, when there was already an abundance of literature about their software and flaws that made it easy for foreign players to hack and change votes. We have to hold them accountable. Now, this presumes that their selection of Dominion was not because they were "paid off" or offered the ability to have fraudulent protection for their own election. I believe there is some of that going around. To admit that their state's election was rife with fraud because of a voting system they selected, is like showing your mother, your filthy hands when you claim you just took a bath. They took a bath alright, in bribes and perks. They are so good at it, they likely skirted weak legislation that they wrote to get away with it. 

Five, they just want to get on with it. They are not locked into any candidate. As long as it is hands off in their states, they believe they can tolerate any regime change. They don't want to hear that they failed to protect the vote. They don't want any legal teams probing around in the mess they allow, equating that to third world countries. They would just assume that the digging stopped before it ended at their doorstep. 

Six, politicians don't like to be held accountable, for anything. Sorry, again, I do feel that way. I have latched onto supporting some extraordinary individuals because I found out they were one of the few that breaks that mold. The coast to coast outrage IS seeking to hold them accountable and they hate it. They want it to go away. 

Those, my friends, are the major reasons why, in my eyes, we are not getting the support we should have earned from Republican governors, Constitutional officers and legislatures.

Rebecca Ann Burke is an astute political observer and one whose opinion I respect. She served as a member to the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee for District 23 from 2014-2018. She is the past president of America First Federation. The above essay first appeared in Facebook.

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