Friday, April 10, 2020

(Update # 3) Now would be a good time to read a good book. Rod's recommended reading list.

by Rod Williams, April 10, 2020 - In this time of lock down and quarantine, it is a good time to put free time to good use.  Instead of watching reruns of Seinfeld, now would be a good time to catch up on some quality reading. Below is some recommended reading.

What I'm reading now.
The Book Thief, by Thief Zusak  
This is on a lot of "best books ever written" list.

"It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time."

What I recently read and recommend

Victory, by Peter Schweizer
This book tells the story of how Reagan's leadership led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The prevailing wisdom at the time Reagan took office was that the best the US could do in its cold war conflict with the Soviet empire was to contain Russia and we were not doing a very good job of doing that.  Reagan wanted to defeat the Soviet Union.  Under Reagan's leadership the U.S. engaged in economic warfare denying Russia hard currency. We tightened the screws on those who sold technology to the Soviet Union and we made it harder for the Soviet Union to steal Western technology. We supported the resisting mujahedeen in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan and  we helped support the Solidarity movement in Poland.  We kept Russia guessing as to weather or not the U.S. would use military might to stop Soviet aggression.  We engaged in a new round of weapons development in which Russia did not have the means to match our effort. It is no accident Communism was defeated.  If Jimmy  Carter had been reelected and then he followed by Walter Mondale, we would still probably be facing a menacing Russia and pursuing a losing policy of containment.  The book is well documented and the author interviewed a host of active players involved in the strategy to defeat Communist Russia.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
"For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North

Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens (link)."

This is good light reading.  I enjoyed it.  In addition to a good love story and murder mystery those who love nature will like this book.

Masters of the Cross Roads by Madison Smart Bell.
This is a great book. It is about the formation of the State of Haiti and exploits of the Haitian General Toussiant Louverture. It is fascinating to learn of the culture of Negro slaves and how people of mixed blood were viewed and the role of Voodoo in the society. The book is full of military strategy and shifting alliances and the role of international relations.  All Souls Rising also by Madison Smart Bell is  about the Haitian slave rebellion a few year prior to when Cross Roads occurs and it also a great book. Madison Smart Bell is a Nashvillian.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
This may make by "100 best" list.  This is a dystopian novel in the vein of Brave New World or
1984.  It is set in a future century.  People live in glass enclosed domed cities like giant bubbles. The society is called OneState and it is ruled over by "the benefactor." People have numbers instead of names, uniformity is maintained and individualism and human emotions are suppressed  and spies and agents of the secret police abound. It is not only a good book because it explores the issue of the conflict between the public good and individual identity and liberty but it is a good science fiction story.  It is interesting to see in the early 1920's what technology was envisioned. Also the prose is a joy to read. The author is Russian and wrote the book in 1921 but it was suppressed, the author exiled, and the book was not published in Russia until 1988.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
"In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Swiss Red Cross negotiator oachim Messner comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands. Days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months. Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds. Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves. Ultimately, of course, something has to give. " (link)

This book was a joy to read. You like the characters and do not want it to end. Ann Patchett lives in Nashville.

Home by Marilynne Robinson
"Home parallels the story told in Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead. It is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith (link)." This only barely made my recommend list.  It is slow paced. There is a lot of sitting around drinking coffee feeling self-conscious and wondering what the other person is thinking. You do not have to have read Gilead to enjoy this book.  In my view this is not nearly as good as Gilead.  If you have not read either book, read Gilead.

The best 100 books I ever read.
This list is a work in progress, so check back for more detail, reviews, links and additions to the list. The first and second books on the list are by far my first and second most favorite books.  The others on the list are not an ordered ranking, so I don't necessarily favor the thirteenth book on the list more than the thirtieth. None of the books on this list are on the list because they "ought" to be.  I did not list the Bible or Shakespeare or a great many other books that one ought to read.  These are book that I personally recommend that brought me joy, or hours of pleasant entertainment, or rewarding insights.

Atlas Shrugged, by  Ayn Rand

Witness, by Whitaker Chambers

Miracle at Philadelphia

The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck, or the Living Reed. I have read most of her books, I mostly read them as a teenager so I don't know if they would still stand up, but I loved them at the time.

The Gulag Archipelago, by Alexander Soltzenitzen.

The Quest for Community, by Robert Nesbitt
Follow this link for the Conservative book Club review.

Captain Cort├ęs Conquers Mexico, by William Weber Johnson

Our Enemy the State, by Albert Jay Nock
Nock argues that the State has no power except that that is surrendered by individuals or is taken from them and that it is the tendency of the State to accrue more and more power. He says that as the State takes more power it takes it from society and weakens community. He argues that their can be a great degree of social order without government power.  When the states takes over functions like welfare, as example, people tend to be less charitable and to exercise less social power. Nock also makes a distinction between government and the institution of the State. He addresses the issue of the nature of rights.  Do all rights belong with the individual and the State only has the legitimate power yielded to the state or does all power belong to the state and individuals have only rights granted to them. The concept of natural rights is addressed.

Where the Sidewalk Ends and/or Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein

In Defense of Freedom, by Frank Meyer
Frank Meyer is the author of "fusionism." There are many varieties and stains of conservative thought but the major divide is between those of the traditionalist order and virtue strain and the freedom of the individual stain. Meyer shows how these are not exclusive of each other buy complementary.

Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt.  There is so much ignorance of economics. This is one book that will erase some of that ignorance and cause one to think more clearly about economic matters.  While liberals seem much less knowledgeable of basic economics, the ignorance is wide spread.  This book is clearly written and one does not already have to be grounded in economic theory to understand it This book tackles  topics like rent control, tariffs, the function of profits, minimum wage laws, debt and credit and the fallacy of machines causing unemployment. Many people take strong positions on such topics and never think deeper than their emotional response causing them to support their position. 
Animal Farm by George Orwell and/or

1984, by George Orwell

Everything ever written by the husband and wife team of Will Durant and Ariel Durant.
Excellent books that explore the philosophy and cross currents of ideas and history of the period being studied.  Ones that I most highly recommend or The Age of Reason, and The Age of Revolution.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

The Road to Serfdom, by Henry Hayek
"In the book, Hayek warns of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning. He further argues that the abandonment of individualism and classical liberalism inevitably leads to a loss of freedom, the creation of an oppressive society, the tyranny of a dictator, and the serfdom of the individual. Hayek challenged the view among British Marxists that fascism (including National Socialism) was a capitalist reaction against socialism. He argued that fascism, National Socialism and socialism had common roots in central economic planning and empowering the state over the individual."

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Economics of  The Free Society, by Wilhelm Roepke
"Economics of the Free Society first appeared in Austria in 1937. Since then, nine German editions have been published, along with French, Swedish, Italian, Finnish, and English editions. The book's purpose is twofold: to provide a coherent description of the whole of the economic process, and to analyze current burning questions from an economic perspective. Written for the intelligent layman, as well as the student of economics, Economics of the Free Society is more than just an exercise in economic analysis, it is a masterpiece of economic wisdom and wit."

Huckleberry Finn, or Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
It has been a long time since I read them, but they are good books and a joy to read.

The Call of the Wild, by Jack Loundon.  I read it as a young teen. Loved it. I was later to learn that Jack Loundon had been a Communist but that does not distract from this being a great book.

Something by William Faulkner. Maybe,  As I Lay Dying or Absalom, Absalom! or The Sound and the Fury. It has been a long time since I read anything by Faulkner and I could not even tell you what these books are about but I remember enough to know that I recommend one read Faulkner.

Ideas Have Consequences, by Richard M. Weaver
This is a complex book and while compiling this list I realize I need to read it again.  Modern political thought, especially, conservative thought, has embraced economic freedom and individualism.  There is more to a good society than that argues Weaver. He explores the detrimental role of egotism, and materialism, and the abandonment of generalization for specialization, and the technological fallacy which says because a thing can be done, it should be done.  He argues for absolute truths, religious faith, honor, virtue, and tradition.

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

Something by Franz Kafka.  I like The Castle. Metamorphosis is his most famous work. Castle, like many of his works, is a story of frustratGene ion about forces beyond your control.  The impersonal bloated bureaucracy frustrates the protagonist at every turn. His novels make you feel like you are in a dream of running in thick mud in slow motion.

Lord of the Flies, by William Golden

Border Radio: Quacks, Yodelers, Pitchmen, Psychics, and Other Amazing Broadcasters of the

American Airwaves, by Gene Fowler
This is a fascinating story about the large radio stations located in Mexico that blanketed the United States.  XERF and XEG were two of the biggest and both were started by quack doctors to promote medical procedures not approved by the AMA.  The most power an American radio station could have was 50,000 watts; these had at one time up to a million watts. In the Texas towns near the border one could only get one station from one end of the dial to the other.  Fences hummed with static at times and it is claimed people heard the radio through the fillings in their teeth. These stations were not covered by the FCC, being in Mexico. This book especially appealed to me because my father, part of the Christian signing duo of Don and Earl, were on two of the station for years.  The status of the stations were constantly in doubt with the US government wanted them dialed back or closed and at times the stations were out of favor with the Mexican government. When I was twelve years old, my Dad's program was suddenly discontinued and Dad and his partner went to Mexico to try to get back on.  I went with them and it was adventure. They got back on. Some people my know of the stations by knowing Wolfman Jack the rock DJ who broadcast from one of the stations. A lot of Country Music artist rose to fame from broadcasting on these stations including The Carter Family.  Unfortunately my dad is not mentioning in the book but he should have been.

All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren
This is a fictional story based of Governor Heuy Long of Louisiana.

Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beaeher Stowe

We the Living, by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer

Helter Skelter

The Shining

Something by Cormac McCarthy.
His subject matter and style varies. Some are dark and brooding and deal with the perverted and marginalized. Others are entertaining tales of western lore, but no matter which you read it is worth reading. Some recommended titles are:
  • Blood Meridian
  • The Road
  • Suttree
  • All the Pretty Horses
  • No County for Old men
The Moviegoer, by Walter Percy

The Good German, by 

Rabbit Run, by John Updike 

The Spy who Came in from the Cold, by

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
"First published in the Soviet journal Novy Mir in 1962, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich stands as a classic of contemporary literature. The story of labor-camp inmate Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, it graphically describes his struggle to maintain his dignity in the face of communist oppression. An unforgettable portrait of the entire world of Stalin's forced work camps, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is one of the most extraordinary literary documents to have emerged from the Soviet Union and confirms Solzhenitsyn's stature as "a literary genius whose talent matches that of Dosotevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy"'--Harrison Salisbury

Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry

Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe

A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

This a draft of a work in progress. Check back for refinements and additions to the list.

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Thursday, April 09, 2020

Tennessee Democrat Party kicks Rep. John DeBerry off the Aug.6th ballot.

Rep. John DeBerry
by Rod Williams - The Tennessee Democrat Party has kicked Rep. John DeBerry, Jr. off the Aug. 6 primary ballot as a Democratic candidate. He was one of five that the Party removed the ballot but he was the only incumbent. When challenges are made to the candidacy of a person to the Democrat Executive Committee, the Committee takes up the challenge and votes if that person can run as a Democrat.  The vote on DeBerry by the executive committee was 41 to 18 with two abstentions.

The primary reason DeBerry was kicked off the ballot appears to be that he was pro-life. He voted in favor of a bill banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected.  Planed Parenthood had been very critical of  DeBerry and had put up big billboards in Memphis denouncing him for his pro-life votes.

Another reason is that he voted in favor of Glen Casada to be Speaker of the House after Glen Casada became controversial. The Speaker was going to be a Republican anyway simply because the Republicans greatly outnumber the Democrats in the House but the Democrat Party wanted to strip Casada of his position because of some racy text messages he had received that Democrats said demeaned women and some other issues.

Another charge is that DeBerry accepted donations from organizations and individuals who normally support Republicans. 

On his being removed from the ballot as a Democrat,  DeBerry said, “The Tennessee Democratic Party has decided that a 26-year Representative that spent 12 years as a committee chairman, conducted himself with integrity, served the party well, sponsored meaningful legislation and built bridges across the aisle to get bills passed is no longer a Democrat. And so, I’m not."

If the Republican Party was smart, they would explore inviting DeBerry to run as a Republican.  If he is not likely to publicly endorse Democrat candidates and will most of the time vote with the party and there is no big negative reason for not doing so, he should be welcomed as a Republican.

For source of quotes and more on the story see this link, this link, and this link.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2020

The Becon Center intervenes, advocating for parents, in Mayor Cooper's lawsuit to kill the Education Savings Accounts program.

From The Beacon Center - UPDATE as of March 6, 2020: Today, the Beacon Center was successful in its attempt to intervene in the ESA lawsuit on behalf of parents. Beacon will represent Nashville parents Bria Davis and Star Brumfield and bring their unique perspective to defending educational choice in court.

The Beacon Center of Tennessee filed a motion to intervene in Mayor Cooper’s Education Savings Accounts (ESA) lawsuit on behalf of Nashville families. Beacon is defending Nashville mothers Bria Davis and Star Brumfield, whose children would benefit from the recently enacted program.

Bria Davis is a single mother who lives in Nashville. She is the mother of two children, both of whom currently attend a public school in Nashville—a 9-year old boy currently in 3rd grade and a 6-year old girl currently in 1st grade. She is eligible to enroll her children in the ESA program and has taken all of the steps available to apply.

As a single mother, Bria is striving to put her children in the best position with the greatest opportunities. She believes that enrolling her children at Lighthouse Christian School is the best way to give them the opportunities that she never had growing up in Nashville public schools. As a single parent, she does not have the extra income that would allow her to easily send her children to a private school without help, but the ESA program would fully fund tuition at Lighthouse. Without the ESA program, she would either have to keep her children in public schools, hope a family member would help her out, or undergo financial hardship to send them to Lighthouse.

Star Brumfield is a single parent as well, raising six school-aged children. Her 11-year old child, in particular, is an exceptionally bright 6th grader in a Nashville public school but is frustrated by the education he is receiving. After touring Lighthouse, Star became convinced that the learning environment and individual teacher’s attention at Lighthouse would be a much better fit for him. It was at her tour of Lighthouse that she learned of the ESA program. She also learned that Lighthouse would participate, and the ESA would fully cover the cost of her child’s tuition. Elated by this opportunity, Star immediately began the process of enrolling her child at Lighthouse in the Fall of 2020. Star has another child who would benefit too who she would love to send, but she is unfortunately not eligible because she currently homeschooled. Without the ESA, she simply could not afford the tuition and her child would be forced to remain at his current school where he would not be getting the same opportunity to achieve his full potential.

The Legal Team: Braden Boucek is the Vice President of Legal Affairs for the Beacon Center.

For more information follow this link.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2020

What's on the 4/7/20 Council agenda: Scooter rules, Parking changes, Short-term rental rules.

by Rod Williams - The Council meeting will occur on Tuesday April 7th at 6:30pm. The following notice is on the agenda:

Notice of Electronic Meeting and Public Access
Members of the public may not attend this meeting in person in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Council Members will not be physically located in the Council Chambers, and will participate electronically. Everyone else may watch the meeting live online at Metro Nashville and Davidson County residents can also view Metro Nashville Network on Comcast channel 3, AT&T U-verse channel 99, Google Fiber channel 3 and streaming on the MNN Roku channel.
What the notice does not explain is how the Council will hear from the public. This is the first Tuesday of a month which is pubic hearing night on zoning and related matters. I have checked the Metro Council website, the Metro Clerk's website and the Metro press releases and do not find this addressed.  One would think this matter would be well publicized.  An unofficial but well-informed person told me all the bills on public hearing will be deferred till the May public hearing.

Here is a link to the Council agenda and the Council staff agenda analysis. Below I am providing a summary and some commentary on what I deem the most important items on the agenda.  I am skipping all the bills on public hearing.


Resolution RS2020-202 is "A resolution approving an intergovernmental agreement by and between the State of Tennessee, Department of Transportation, and The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, acting by and through the Metropolitan Department of Public Works, for signal maintenance for I-440 Traffic Operational Deployment of Blue Toad Spectra Power over Ethernet (PoE) Data Collection Devices, State No. 99111-4604-04; PIN 125652.00 (Proposal No. 2020M-004AG-001)." This would normally pass without controversy, however there is an issue that I thought may make this controversial. Many neighbors of the expanded I-440 corridor have complained of lighting pollution. Some have said that prior to the expansion that they were not bothered by the I-440 lighting but now it shines in their house like a spotlight. Normally the Council would have little leverage to influence the State to address these concerns. If I were serving in the Council I would hold up passage of this resolution until the concerns of constituents were addressed. I don't know if that is what is holding this up or not but it has been pending for months.  I do not know if it was deferred for the reason I suggested or some other reason.

Resolution RS2020-209 is, "A resolution requesting the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to support a change in state law to include stormwater utilities among the utilities covered under the Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority Act." The "whereas" section of the bill says "Metro is considering the creation of a new water and wastewater treatment authority to assume the assets and operations of MWS; and WHEREAS, a change in state law is needed to allow a Metro water and wastewater treatment authority to also operate a stormwater utility, … ." It then goes on to call for the change in law to include stormwater in the Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority.  A utility can change rates without getting legislative authority and usually I would be reluctant to transfer that authority to an independent body, but I am open to this change.  Because Water and Sewer operates off of their own revenue and saving money or wasting money does not impact the city budget, the Council pays little attention to what goes on at Water. Water and Sewer has been a source of wasted money as long as I can recall. Maybe having an independent board that the Water and Sewer service answers to would be a good thing.  All this does is ask for a change in State law.  I would not oppose this.  If I had a vote I would be open to being persuaded that sitting up Water and Sewer as utility might be a good thing to do.

Resolution RS2020-236 is a resolution approving an application for a Digital Curb Challenge grant from COORD.  I am not exactly sure what all curb management entails and the resolution nor the staff analysis explains this but from I have learned this sounds like a good deal.  Nashville is one of only three cities to be selected for this trial  program. Some of what curb management can do is manage curb loading zones rather than having permanent fixed loading zones, it can better manage ride sharing and ride hailing by sitting up zones and it can institute demand sensitive pricing for meters within a certain zone. Learn more here. From what little I know about it this sounds like a good thing. Anyway, the grant is free and the program is for a trial period.

Resolution RS2020-251.  "A resolution recognizing the retirement of Kay Bowers and her years of service as Executive Director of New Level Community Development Corporation." This is not of general interest but I want to give a shout-out to Kay  Bowers.  I know her through the affordable housing community. Our work was related. She is a good person and has a heart for helping people.

Resolution RS2020-257 expresses the Metropolitan Council’s support for SB2908/HB2013, currently pending before the Tennessee General Assembly, which would allow metropolitan governments to enact an impact fee or privilege tax on development. I do not know enough about this to have an opinion.  I am inclined to oppose impact fees.  The argument in favor, is that development does not pay for the stain they place on infrastructure and services. An opposing argument is that any additional cost and restraint placed on development further causes a loss of affordable housing.  The more overhead placed on construction, the less a developer can afford to build affordable housing. The reason I find this resolution interesting is that the Budget and Finance Committee recommended it be withdrawn.  That is unusual, so their must be good arguments against it but I did not watch the B &F meeting.

Bills on Second Reading

Bill BL2019-109 makes changes in the city policy toward scooters
or what is termed "shared
urban mobility devices."  This was on the agenda some months ago and deferred an excessive number of times and taken off of the agenda "by rule." It is back. This one has some provisions I like such as requiring more speedy response by fleet owners to complaints of overturned scooters and things and new rules establishing 'no sidewalk use' zones and slow zones. I like that it eliminates the restriction on number of scooter companies that can operate in Nashville, but I do not like that it cuts in half the overall number of scooters.  I think market demand should dictate that. The hatred of scooters seems to have abated somewhat or people have just leaned to live with them, but I still fear that if this does not pass something more restrictive, such as a ban, may pass. I would support this and vote for it if I had a vote.

Bills on Third Reading

Bill BL2019-78 – This ordinance requires a minimum distance for any new Short Term Rental Property that are Not Owner-Occupied, from churches, schools, daycares, and parks. No new STRP permit could be located less than 100 feet from a religious institution, a school or its playground, a park, or a licensed day care center or its playground, unless, after a public hearing, a resolution receiving 21 affirmative votes is adopted by the Council. In my view this is uncalled for. I oppose this bill. I live on a street with several short-term rentals and have never had a problem. I have one diagonally across the street from me. Maybe some people do have a problem but that indicates a need for more enforcement not making it more difficult to have short-term rental. There are hotels and restaurants within 100 feet of some of the same class of entities identified in this bill. This would place greater restriction on homes rented short-term than we place on businesses. There is a greater likelihood of complaints against owner-occupied housing and long-term rental housing that there is from short-term rental. To me this looks like just another unjustified piece of legislation to attack short-term rentals. This passed on second reading on a recorded vote of 20 in favor, 8 opposed, 4 abstain, and 8 not voting.

Bill BL2020-117 would remove the requirement for a minimum number of parking spaces for various uses for properties on multimodal corridors as designated in the major and collector street plan. There is not now a parking requirement for properties in the central business district and properties in urban overlay districts. If you drive down a thoroughfare and see separated businesses surrounded by parking lots, that is the result of our car-oriented planning which was considered wise planning in the period following WWII. A lot of what was considered wise planning then is now out of favor. Vibrant cities are build for people, not cars. The car-oriented planning has led to massive urban sprawl. This bill would not prohibit one from providing parking but would not require it along multimodal corridors. I support this concept but do not know which streets it would apply to. I could not find such designation in a search of the Panning Commissions website. Usually when one speaks of multimodal corridors it means a street that also has light rail or bus rapid transit. We don't have that in Nashville and I don't know which streets have that designation in Nashville. This was probably provided in committee.   I am surprised no one spoke against this when it was on pubic hearing, because cities without parking requirement have people competing for parking spaces. Residents have to sometimes get used to hunting for parking spaces on their street when a certain number of on-sight parking spaces are not required. It passed second reading with no opposition.

BILL NO. BL2020-149 would require landlords to provide at least 90 days’ written notice to tenants before increasing the tenant’s rent. This is likely to reduce the availability of affordable housing and raise rent prices. This type interference in the market hardly ever achieves the desired result. There is already the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) which requires a 30-day notice. Nashville should not have a more restrictive rule than other places in Tennessee. It would probably not be enforceable. This needs to be defeated. If it does pass, I hope the State invalidates it.

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Institute for Justice joins the fight to rescue kids from Tennessess's worst schools.

The Institute for Justice has joined the lawsuit to defend educational choice in Tennessee.

It is intervening on behalf of two parents, Natu Bah and Builguissa Diallo, to defend the program from a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.  IJ explains: 
The program provides scholarships worth up to $7,300 to families from Shelby County and Metro Nashville school districts to send their children to private schools.
To be eligible, children must come from households earning less than 200 percent of the federal free lunch program, which means there’s an income cap of about $67,000 for a family of four. As a result, 60% of Nashville and Shelby County families are eligible1. The program would be capped at 15,000 students but could be expanded by future legislation.
On February 6, 2020,  Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced a lawsuit against the program on behalf of Davidson County, Shelby County, and the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education alleging that the program violates the Tennessee Constitution.
There is more on this case at this link and the story of the parents IJ is defending is below.

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Dr. Ming Wang: Coronavirus crisis reveals our need for common ground.

Dr. Ming Wang, Guest Columnist, The Tennessean - The coronavirus outbreak has revealed how critical it is for all of us to find common ground in today’s polarized world.

There has been a dramatic difference in the success of various countries in fighting this virus. In South Korea, the leaders assembled quickly, resolved their differences, implemented essential measures and effectively controlled the infection. In contrast, discord and disunity in Italy led to inaction in the critical first few weeks of the outbreak, resulting in thousands of lives being lost.

In our society today, we are often incapable of overcoming our differences in order to find common ground. Our social climate is toxic. The merit of an issue is often not considered as important as power alliances — political, ideological or otherwise. (read more)

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Monday, April 06, 2020

Nashville schools asked to cut $100M from their budget due to the Coronavirus revenue shortage.

by Rod Williams - Mayor Cooper has asked the School Board to look at ways to cut up to $100 million dollars from their budget. This is necessary, he says, because the city is expecting a $200 million to $300 million reduction in expected revenue for the current fiscal year due to the Coronavirus business shutdown.

One hundred million dollars is a whopper of a big cut at a time when many feel the Schools are underfunded. Our schools are failing and there is a problem with retaining teachers. I am not so sure throwing money at the schools would fix the problem anyway but it would probably help with teacher recruitment and retention.  In the fall, the Metro School Board studied teacher pay and said  that to boost the salaries of Nashville teachers to match the city's median income would cost more than $100 million a year. Unions applauded the study. If the School Boards does  plan to ask for the money suggested in the pay plan study that would be $100 million they would need in addition to any other increases in operating cost. That would be an increase request like we have never seen. That would be a whopper of an increase!

The current Schools budget is $914 million.  If they were to add the $100 million called for in the pay study that would  put the schools up them up $1.014 Billion. The current 2019-2020 operating budget for Metro Schools at $914.5 million was a 3.2% or $28.2 million increase over the 2018-2019 budget.  However, the school district requested $76.7 million in additional funding or an 8.6% increase over the then current $886.3 million budget. The year before that, Schools requested a $45.7million increase and got a $5 million increase. So, if you take the current $914 million add the $100 million to fund the pay study, and add, say, another $100 million, the Schools would ask for $1.114 Billion. Are they going to be happy with $814 million?  It should also be noted that Cooper is asking the School Board to cut their budget by $100 million and that assumes he gets a substantial property tax increase. That may not happen.

Several of the current members of the Council, especially the progressives, run on a platform  to "fully fund" the School budget. What that means is they said they would write a blank check to the school board, in effect, and give the Board whatever amount they asked. With a large portion of the Council committed to that position, the School Board is more likely to aim high.  I hope that those who made that pledge will relay to the School Board that we now have a crisis and they are no longer bound by that pledge. The School Board needs to forget about a whopper of an increase in funding and figure out how to make substantial cuts.

For more on the topic see this link, and this link.

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