Saturday, May 23, 2020

Left-wing activist, led by Councilman Sean Parker, call for de facto permanent ban on evictions.

Councilman Sean Parker
by Rod Williams - Nashville has a slew of progressive activist organizations now.  We have always had some.  In the past, they were more of the civil-rights type or union affiliated.  In recent years we have seen a different type. These are more radical and some openly call for socialism.  In the last Council elections several of these left-wing groups endorsed and helped elect a much more progressive Metro Council.  These activist affiliated with these new organization are probably the same people organizing under different umbrellas, so the number of actual left-wing activist is hard to estimate.  A new organization had recently emerged called, "Red Door Collective."  It appears to be the same organization as the Middle Tennessee Democratic Socialist of America, simply operating under a different name.  This organization has recently called for moratoriums on evictions and utility shutoffs until the unemployment rate falls to its pre-pandemic level.

Nashville currently has a ban on evictions and has had for about two months.  In about two weeks this ban will expire.

 "Our demands are as follows: Evictions and utility payments suspended until Davidson County's unemployment rate returns to 2.8%," group spokesman Dylan Lancaster said. "And no retroactive evictions, late fees or penalties of any kind."

That is essentially a call for a permanent ban on evictions.  It is my understanding that prior to the on-set of the Coronavirus pandemic that our unemployment rate of 2.8% was the lowest it had ever been.  Who knows, it may never be that low again.

This is asinine.  This  is a demand that landlords provide free housing.  As it stands now, before a landlord successfully evicts a tenant, the tenant has already missed several months of rent payments.  It this should be enacted we would see a massive depletion of affordable housing and this would spur rapid gentrification.  Landlords would get out of the rental business.  As units became empty, landlords would sell the property to developers.  Affordable rentals would be replaced by expensive units for sale.

The organization is also calling for empty hotel rooms and apartments to be turned over to people experiencing homelessness.

Councilman Sean Parker has endorsed the call for a moratorium on evictions and plans to introduce a resolution in the Council to that effect. Sean Parker is the current Metro Nashville City Council for District 5, and is the first Democratic Socialist to sit in the Metro Council. Sean is also a founding member of the Middle TN Democratic Socialists of America chapter, and is actively involved in various left-wing activist groups and campaigns around Davidson County.

For more on this see this link, and this,

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Phase 2 Reopening starts Monday May 25

by Rod Williams - This would appear to allow Lower Broad to reopen.  I am not absolutely certain but believe that there are no "bars" on Lower Broad.  As far as I know all of the places on lower Broad serve liquor by the drink and bars cannot.  I think most of the establishments are "limited service restaurants." So while they may open, since most of their income is from the sale of alcohol and not the sale of food, they probably can't make enough money at 3/4 capacity.  I don't know what is there legal capacity, but I would bet that the honky tonks on lower Broad are  routinely at double or triple legal capacity on any weekend night and most week nights.  Just try to walk through Tootsies without body contact with other patrons. During the day you may be able to, but is impossible on a weekend evening.  I am not complaining.  I like the party atmosphere. Well, I liked it better when I was younger. However, I still don't mind it occasionally.   If I have unintended body contact with some hot young babe, I just put up with it and try not to be offended.

So while, the bars may be allowed to open; 3/4th capacity. no dancing, and only two performers on stage is not going to cut it.  Lower Broad cannot operate under these conditions.  I hope they do try it and push the limits and see what they can get by with.  In the mean time, I hope a lawsuit curtails the power of government of government to impose these kinds of limits on people. I think health official should educate and recommend but people should make their own decision as to what is an acceptable risk.  Rock climbing is dangerous. Bungee jumping is dangerous. Skiing can be dangerous. Riding motorcycles can be dangerous. Should these activities be prohibited?

When lower Broad does reopen, I won't be going.  I am in the age group that is vulnerable. Face it- I'm old!  If I were young and feeling invincible and actually at much less risk of catching the illness and more chance recovering itf I did get it, then I would be there.  I love lower Broad. Since I am my current age, I am not going to be the guinea pig and see how contagious this virus really is.  I am going to maintain isolation and evaluate the risk as time goes by and absorb more information as it becomes available.  I have taken some risk in my life and  I am not one to live in fear, but at the same time, I am prudent.

So, while I won't be going to lower Broadway soon, or to the grocery store, or to New Orleans to see my daughter and new grandbaby, I want the right to, if I should want to. It is time to reopen America and let people evaluate the risk for themselves.

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Local bar owner files lawsuit against Lee, Cooper; others. Says stay-at-home orders trampled Constitutional rights. .

by Rod Williams - A local bar owner, Geoffrey Reid, owner of "The Local Spot" has filed a lawsuit against Governor Bill Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper and several other State and local officials alleging the stay-at-home order violates his civil rights.  Specifically he says it violates the 14th Amendment Due Process clause, the 9th Amendment and "inalienable, fundamental rights, both enumerated and unenumerated in the U.S. Constitution."

Mr. Reid says he has followed the law and as a result as lost over $200,000 in revenue. He is seeking a declaratory judgement that the policy did violate his rights and injunctive relief seeking a prohibition of further enforcement of the policy.

The suit recognized that the State has broad authority to control communicable deceases but argues "law is clear that '[w]henever . . . epidemic diseases appear within any locality within the state . . .the commissioner shall prepare and carry into effect such rules and regulations as, in the commissioner’s judgment will, with the least inconvenience to commerce and travel, prevent the spread of the disease.' See Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-1-201(1)(emphasis added)."

Instead of following the law, the State locked down almost all businesses. Among other arguments is that the law provides that,"the medical director is to establish and maintain quarantine, isolation or use other methods of control of the infected individual."  Instead, we quarantined large segments of the population who were not infected.

The suite argues that sick people should have been quarantined and vulnerable people encouraged to quarantine but the State and City exceeded their authority by the lock down order.

I am pleased to see this law suit filed.  There needs to be clarity as to what power the government does have in a crisis.  While an extraordinary crisis may require and extraordinary response we cannot throw the Constitution under the bus.

To read the complete lawsuit, follow this link.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mayor John Cooper Signs Executive Order 7, Requiring Face Coverings in All Metro Buildings as Part of Citywide COVID-19 Response

Metro press release - Mayor Cooper today signed Executive Order 7, which requires all employees and visitors to wear a face covering inside any building or indoor space that is owned, managed, or leased by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

“The health and well-being of all Metro employees and the residents who visit our facilities is of paramount importance,” said Mayor Cooper. “Executive Order 7 is an important tool in our citywide COVID-19 response. But I want to remind everyone to continue wearing face coverings in all public settings, keep a safe distance from others, and frequently wash your hands. A coordinated response is the best response, so we must remain united in our efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus and ensure a sustained economy reopening throughout Davidson County.”

Metro employees working alone in their offices or workspaces are exempted from the requirements listed in the executive order. Also exempt from the order are:

  • Children under the age of two; 
  • Older children who are unable to wear a mask properly or safely; 
  • Persons who would jeopardize their health or safety by wearing a face covering; and 
  • Persons who request an exemption based on individual circumstances. 
Individuals visiting a Metro facility who do not have a face covering will be provided one, subject to availability. For more information about Executive Order 7, please visit

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

What's on the Council agenda for May 19th: Seeking State authority to require paid sick leave, requiring face mask, picking on Short-term rentals, and the budget ordinance and tax rate.

by Rod Williams - The Council meeting will occur on Tuesday May19th at 6:30pm. Again, most council members will participate electronically and will not actually be in the chamber. 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.

Resolutions. All resolutions are on the "consent" agenda. That means they are all lumped together and pass by a single vote.  Any member however, may ask for a bill to be taken off of consent.

Resolution RS2020-308 request a credit for all property and business taxes paid in advance or coming due for any period that a business was unable to operate due to government shut downs caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. This is on "consent" so should pass without opposition.

Resolution RS2020-315 authorizes the issuance of up to six hundred thirteen million dollars ($613,000,000) of interfund tax anticipation notes.  Metro has a lot of different pools of money for different functions, such as a Water and Sewer Fund and a Farmers Market Fund and a whole bunch of others.  It is normal to transfer money from one fund to another while waiting for revenue to replenish the funds. When Nashville's finances drew the attention of the Comptroller he said we must now formalized these fund transfers and this is what this does. Also this would authorized the mayor to borrow the money from a lending institution instead of interagency transfer. It is on the consent agenda. There are several other resolutions on the consent agenda authorizing issuing Tax Anticipation Notes and extending Metro's general obligation commercial paper program. This is routine stuff done this time of the year.

RESOLUTION RS2020-318 accepts a Coronavirus relief fund grant of $121,122,775 from the Federal Government. There is no required cash match for this money.  However, this money can only be used for unbudgeted expenditures related to preparation for, prevention of, and response to the coronavirus pandemic.  So, this cannot make up for lost revenue due to the pandemic. It is on consent.

Resolution RS2020-327 encourages private employers to provide paid sick leave to their

employees and urging Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly to repeal statutes that prevent the Metropolitan Government from requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. I oppose this.  If I were in the Council I would pull it from Consent and vote against it.  The first part is alright.  It is OK to "encourage" private businesses to pay sick leave, but many small businesses would go out of business if they had to.  I oppose asking the state to give Metro authority to require that private businesses provide sick leave.  A job without sick leave is better than no job.

Resolution RS2020-328 declares the Metropolitan Council’s intention not to approve any economic development incentive awards for a period of one year, and not until metrics are established regarding the awarding of such incentives.  I approve of this!

Bills on Second Reading

Bill BL2020-147 (as amended) concerns lobbyist registration. Anyone who is paid to influence Metro is supposed to register as a lobbyist. The current fee is $50. This would raise it to $100. It would also identify a new class of lobbyist called "volunteer lobbyist" and requires them to register. That is people who do not get paid to lobby but get reimbursed for expenses only. They would have to register but not pay the registration fee. I have reservation about this bill and fear we may be impeding the right of people to petition government for redress of grievances.

Bill BL2020-224 requires landlords to provide a 90-day notice to tenants prior to a sale of the property.

Bill BL2020-285 would require employees of essential businesses interfacing with the public to wear face masks. There is not even evidence that wearing a face covering does much good. I wear one but I don't want to force people to were one.

Bill BL2020-286 is the budget ordinance. It is amendable on third reading. The Council must adopt a substitute operating budget no later than June 30th or the budget as originally submitted by the Mayor becomes effective on July 1. For those who want a understanding of this budget, you may want to look at the staff analysis.

Bill BL2020-287 is the tax levy to fund the budget.  This will be deferred or passed an made amendable and a tax rate sufficient to fund whatever budget is approved will be adopted following the adoption of the budget on third reading.

Bills on Third Reading

Substitute 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.

BILL NO. BL2020-223 would permit a waiver from distancing requirements for liquor stores and their proximity to places of worship, residences and libraries. The waiver would have to be granted by resolution following a public hearing, the same way distance requirement waivers are approved for beer permits.

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