Saturday, February 05, 2022

RIP Tim Skow

Tim Skow

by Rod Williams, Feb. 5, 2022-  I am so shocked to hear of the passing of my friend Tim Skow. He died in a home accident. He was the host of First Tuesday for many years and knew everyone. He was a tireless fighter in the battle advancing the cause of conservatism. He will be missed.

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Bill introduced in the State legislature to ban voting my non-citizens in Tennessee elections.

By Rod Williams, Feb. 3, 2022 - A Bill has been introduced in the State legislature that if passed would prohibit non-citizens from voting in elections in Tennessee. While it is ridiculous that such a measure should be necessary, unfortunately, I fear it is. New York City just recently passed a law to allow non-citizens to vote in city elections. Two cities in Vermont and nine in Maryland also allow non-citizens to vote in local elections.

Nashville would likely be the only city in Tennessee that would allow non-citizens to vote and I would wager that if not preempted by State law from doing so, some of our woke progressive council members would introduce legislation to allow non-citizens to vote in our local elections. I could venture a guess as to which Council member would be the lead sponsor of such a bill.  Probably, the same member who in 2020 tried to slash the funding for police. 

Whereas defunding the police was not successful, my perception is that Nashville is even more woke now than it was in June of 2020, and allowing non-citizens to vote in Nashville elections would be an easier sell than was defunding the police.  With New York having decided to allow non-citizens to vote in their elections, many of Nashville's woke, would not find the idea to be so radical. It would be viewed as what kind, open-minded, hip people, who are concerned with social justice do. If such a measure was introduced in the Metro Council, I would not be surprised if it did not pass. 

I hope the State bill passes.  The State of Tennessee needs to keep Metro Nashville on a short leash.

To view the bill, SENATE BILL 2245, follow the link. 

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Friday, February 04, 2022

We Need A Nation That Values Freedom - Interview w/ Robby Starbuck

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Wednesday, February 02, 2022

“Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell” with Jason Riley

Dear Rod, 

AIER's Bastiat Society of Nashville and The Political Economy Research Institute invite you to join us tomorrow at 5:00 pm for an in-person event with Jason Riley, Author and Wall Street Journal Columnist.

Thomas Sowell is one of the great social theorists of our age. In a career spanning more than a half century, he has written over thirty books, covering topics from economic history and social inequality to political theory, race, and culture. His bold and unsentimental assaults on liberal orthodoxy have endeared him to many readers but have also enraged fellow intellectuals, the civil-rights establishment, and much of the mainstream media. The result has been a lack of acknowledgement of his scholarship among critics who prioritize political correctness. In the first-ever biography of Sowell, Jason L. Riley gives this iconic thinker his due and responds to the detractors. Maverick showcases Sowell's most significant writings and traces the life events that shaped his ideas and resulted in a Black orphan from the Jim Crow South becoming one of our foremost public intellectuals.

This event is open to the public. Registration Required.

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Report: Nashville among bottom 10 large cities for its financial health

By Jon Styf | The Center Square, Jan 25, 2022 -Nashville ranked 68th out of the 75 largest cities in the U.S. in total debt per taxpayer, according to Truth in Accounting’s new Financial State of the Cities report.

TIA's analysis examined the financial health of America's 75 most-populous cities and calculated how much each resident would have to pay to cover all of their city's bills. The calculations were based on fiscal year 2020 audited financial reports.

The analysis found debt increased during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic despite federal funding being available. The total debt in the 75 cities increased $23 billion in 2020 to $357 billion total.

The report showed 61 cities, including Nashville and Memphis, did not have enough money on hand to cover their bills before the pandemic. Memphis ranked 39th in total debt per taxpayer.

“The bottom line is that the majority of cities went into the pandemic in poor fiscal health and they will most likely come out of it even worse,” said Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting.

Nashville taxpayers have a burden of $19,800 per taxpayer, and Memphis had a burden of $4,800 per taxpayer.

Memphis was given a grade of C for its financial health with its total $934.7 million in debt.

“The city had set aside only 90 cents for every dollar of promised pension benefits and 35 cents for every dollar of promised retiree health care benefits,” the report said.

Overall, the report showed the city had $1.9 billion in funds available but carried $2.8 billion in debt.

Nashville, meanwhile, was given a grade of D in the report and ranked in the bottom 10 for financial health.

“Nashville’s financial problems stem mostly from unfunded retirement obligations that have accumulated over the years,” the report said. “While the city had set aside 93 cents for every dollar of promised pension benefits, only four cents had been set aside for every dollar of promised retiree health care benefits.”

Nashville had $4.4 billion in funds available but carried $8.4 billion in debt.

Fourteen cities had enough money to cover their debt, led by a $1.3 billion budget surplus in Washington, D.C. The other end of the spectrum was New York City, which had the worst debt of any city ($71,400 per taxpayer) for the sixth consecutive year, followed by Chicago and it’s $43,100-per-taxpayer debt. The average burden for the 75 cities was $7,731 per taxpayer.

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Worst President Ever? Voters Rate Biden Below Trump, Obama

Wednesday, February 02, 2022 - Most voters think President Joe Biden is one of the worst ever to hold the office, and rank him below his two immediate predecessors in the White House.

A new national telephone and online survey by Rasmussen Reports and The National Pulse finds that 54% of Likely U.S. voters think Biden will be remembered as one of the worst presidents in American history. Only 15% believe Biden will rank in history as one of America’s best presidents, while 25% think his presidency will be remembered as about average. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

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Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Curbside collection of separated recyclables to resume Feb. 1. Does that mean recycling will be taking place?

by Rod Williams, Jan. 23, 2022 - Mayor John Cooper recently announced the collection of curbside recyclables will resume in Nashville on February 1. Not only will monthly collection of recyclables resume but Mayor Cooper says by the end of the year, collection of recyclables will increase to twice a month instead of once a month.

Collection of recyclables was temporarily halted on December 22.  This was due to Red River, a third-party contractor, filing for bankruptcy in October of last year and stopping operations in Nashville.  When that happened Metro had to collect the garbage that Red River had been collecting.  The city did not have the capacity to take on this new duty and continue collecting recyclables so it was necessary for Metro Waste Services to redirect efforts from recycling collection to trash collection for the health and safety of the community.

Many Nashvillians welcome the resumption of separated recyclables in Nashville.  I do too, except I doubt that recycling is even really taking place. If I was persuaded that the collection of separated recyclables was the same as recycling, I would be more pleased. I have no evidence that our separated recyclables are not in fact being recycled. I do have my serious doubts, however.  My doubt is based on knowing that the market for recyclables has changed.  China, which was the world's greatest purchaser of recyclables, has stopped almost all of such purchases and no other country has stepped up to fill the gap.  

Another reason to doubt that recycling is really taking place is that in other cities in cases where enterprising journalists investigated to see if separated recyclables were actually being recycled, the finding was often that they were not.  They were collected at the curb and then when there was no buyer for the stuff, it was dumped in the landfill. 

I wish we had some inquiring minds in Metro who were curious as to what happens to our recyclables once they are collected. I wish we had some enterprising journalist who would investigate. 

If you think it is baseless to have my concerns, please read the following stories. 

The Dirty Truth Is Your Recycling May Actually Go To Landfills

HuffPost- ... Two-thirds of U.S. states are facing a recycling crisis of our own making. ... Recyclables are ending up in landfills en masse. ... About a year ago, however, China abruptly announced its intention to close its borders to this trash influx. The country notified the World Trade Organization that it would be banning the import of 24 categories of solid waste, including several kinds of scrap plastic and mixed paper. It also demanded that other waste materials, like cardboard and scrap metal, have only 0.5 percent contamination from food and other sources ― a standard that American recyclers have said is “impossible” to meet. ... Prior to its new policy, China had been processing at least half of the world’s exports of waste plastic, paper and metals. ... “Overall, the value of a ton of recycling has declined by about 40 percent over the past year,

Some Inconvenient Truths About Recycling

Investor's Business Daily - ... evidence is piling up that recycling is a waste of time and money, and a bit of a fraud. ... Massachusetts has issued dozens of landfill waivers so recyclable material can be dumped in them. The Florida Sun Sentinel reports that in Broward County, Fla., up to 30% of the stuff residents put in recycling bins ends up in landfills. ... recycling is not only costly, but doesn't do much to help the environment. ... Since it costs far more to recycle trash than to bury it, governments are wasting money that could be more effectively spent elsewhere.

Your Recycling Gets Recycled, Right? Maybe, or Maybe Not

The New York Times - ... In recent months, in fact, thousands of tons of material left curbside for recycling in dozens of American cities and towns — including several in Oregon — have gone to landfills.

America Finally Admits Recycling Doesn’t Work

Foundation for Economic Education - ... the actions of hundreds of US cities suggest Americans are finally willing to entertain the idea that recycling is not a moral or legal imperative. 

How Useful Is Recycling, Really? The Atlantic - 

The Recycling Industry in America Is Broken EcoWatch ...The Reality: Most Recyclables Aren't Being Recycled 

What Percentage of Recycling Actually Gets Recycled? Green Matters - ...

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Lee proposes $1B increase in public education funding By Jon Styf | The Center Square 15 hrs ago

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his state of the state
address in the House Chamber of the Capitol building
 Monday, Jan. 31, 2022,  in Nashville, Tenn.

by Jon Styf, The Center Square, Feb. 1, 2022– Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee presented his $52.6 billion budget proposal Monday night during his state of the state address, adding $1 billion in recurring spending on K-12 public education.

The budget proposal was more than $10 billion higher than the $41.8 billion budget Lee proposed last year during the state of the state.

The state is projected to have more than $3 billion in surplus tax and fees collections this year.

“While Washington saddles our kids with trillions of dollars of debt, Tennessee’s strong fiscal position allows us to instead invest on their behalf,” Lee said. “Education, health care, infrastructure, and economic development – all areas where we can make smart and strategic investments that most states cannot.

“In Tennessee, we’ve also prioritized efficiency.”

Lee adjusted his budget proposal last year with more than $500 million in appropriations in the spring before the Legislature approved a $42.6 billion budget.

Tennessee is working to revamp its public-school funding system from the Basic Education Program (BEP), which was created in 1992. The state budgeted $5.6 billion for K-12 education in fiscal year 2022, and Lee proposed a $750 million recurring increase to that budget.

State Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, challenged Lee on Friday to put an additional $1.2 billion annually into education funding to match how much Alabama spends or $2.5 billion to match what Kentucky spends.

Dixie referenced a National Education Association report that ranked Tennessee 45th in the nation in per-pupil spending at $11,328 in 2020-21, saying matching what Kentucky spends would take Tennessee out of the bottom 10 states in school funding.

Since the new education funding formula will not begin until financial year 2024, Lee proposed using the $750 million increase in next fiscal year’s budget for career and technical education improvements in all high schools and middle schools ($500 million), moving 14 public schools out of flood plains ($200 million) and grants ($50 million).

The budget also included $32 million in facilities funding for Tennessee's charter schools, with half of it recurring, along with $25.5 million in recurring funds for summer learning camps and $6 million to establish the Institute of American Civics at the University of Tennessee. Lee called the institute a "beacon celebrating intellectual diversity at our universities and teaching how a responsible, civic-minded people strengthens our country and our communities."

The full details of the budget proposal are set to be released at 9 a.m. Tuesday by Tennessee's Department of Finance and Administration.

“Time and time again, we have heard the same message: we need a smarter, more transparent, accountable education funding formula, and the time is now,” Lee said. “A formula that prioritizes the needs of students above all else, and that pays particular attention to students with disabilities, rural students, low income-students, and students with other priority needs.

“If we do this correctly, we can create a funding formula that demands accountability and rewards districts for performance, but most importantly funds students and not bureaucracies.”

Lee also proposed $125 million toward teacher pay raises. Last year, $120 million was put in the budget for the same purpose while creating starting salaries of $38,000 and $41,605 for those with an advanced degree.

"Historically, funds put in the salary pool don’t always make it to deserving teachers," Lee said. "When we say teachers are getting a raise, there should be no bureaucratic workaround to prevent that.

"In our updated funding formula, we will ensure a teacher raise is a teacher raise."

"The actual budget doesn’t show that [money] hitting schools this year," Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, tweeted. "This isn’t the time to kick the can down the road or make funding contingent on a policy literally no one has seen yet.

"[Tennessee] schools are dramatically underfunded, and we should fix that now. Parents and teachers have heard big talk on education funding before. But they need to see real leadership and a real commitment."

The proposed budget also includes $103 million for the state’s FastTrack program. FastTrack grants are sent to local governments for specific infrastructure improvements or to companies to help offset the costs of expanding or moving into the state with the goal of increasing the number of full-time jobs and the average wages of jobs available in an area.

The proposal also includes $90 million for the state’s outcomes-based higher education formula, allowing a tuition freeze for public universities, as well as $200 million in infrastructure investments for Tennessee College of Applied Technology campuses.

Lee also committed to a $250 million investment to improve the physical infrastructure at Tennessee State University following a task force’s look at funding issues the university had faced.

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Monday, January 31, 2022

Robby Starbuck Posts F-bomb Laced Video After The Tennessee Star Questioned Him About His Primary Voting Record


by Rod Williams, Jan. 31, 2022- This is clever. It made me laugh out loud.  If you are deeply offended by the use of "the F word," this will probably not endure you to Robbie Starbuck, but if you are desensitized to some foul language then you will like this.  

Starbucks takes a segment from the movie The Wolf of Wall Street and superimposes his head and the heads of his prominent supporters over the heads of the actors in that movie.  The segment shows an under attack character being defiant. 

To read The Tennessee Star report on this, follow this link. 

To view the Twitter video, follow this link

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New Bill Would Monitor Teacher Training On Reading Instruction

 New Bill Would Monitor Teacher Training On Reading Instruction

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Students who were part of Tennessee pre-K program continue to trail peers who weren’t, study shows

 Students who were part of Tennessee pre-K program continue to trail peers who weren’t, study shows

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PREVIEW: Gov. Lee’s State of the State Defines “America at Its Best”

Press release, Monday, January 31, 2022, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee released the following speech excerpts ahead of his fourth State of the State Address that will be delivered tonight at 6 p.m. CT in the House Chamber of the Tennessee State Capitol.

The 2022 address will pay homage to 225 years of statehood by building on the state slogan “Tennessee – America at Its Best”.

Defining “America at Its Best”

Today, our country faces challenges of a different kind, but I believe now more than ever, Tennessee embodies America at Its Best. And in order to ensure that, I am proposing a budget and America at Its Best policies that reinforce freedom, innovation, exceptionalism and optimism.

Guarding Freedom

In recent history, big government has attempted to take over society instead of contributing to it. That’s no way to live, and Tennessee has pushed back on that big government. In fact, Tennessee has recently been ranked as one of the top five freest states in the country.

Protecting Life, Supporting Families

My office has proposed and supported some of the soundest pro-life legislation in the country. Thanks to our partners in the legislature, we passed thoughtful laws that protected the unborn and supported expecting mothers. If the federal courts return full authority to the states, Tennessee’s laws will automatically provide the maximum possible protection and offer a glimmer of redemption as America reconciles our troubled past. I believe Tennessee can be a major part of that reconciliation by offering both hope and resources to families in crisis.

Fiscal Stewardship

We pay a staggering $900 million dollars per day in national debt interest payments. This is a bipartisan problem working within a broken system, but states with balanced budgets offer a guide to what could be if Washington would just act. While Washington saddles our kids with trillions of dollars of debt, Tennessee’s strong fiscal position allows us to instead invest on their behalf.

Powering the Economy

Make no mistake – Tennessee is “Working People USA” and we will do whatever it takes to train and retrain Tennesseans so that both our businesses and our families can thrive.

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Sunday, January 30, 2022

Council approves new redistricting maps. Metro Council and School Board district redrawn.

by Rod Williams, Jan. 30, 2021- Metro Council gave final, unanimous approval to new council and school board districts maps at the last meeting of the Metro Council.  The new districts are now official.  However, elected officials continue representing the distinct that now represent until the next election which is August 2023.

Every ten years council and school board districts are redrawn so each district represents close to the same number of people. This determination is based on federal census data. Davidson County grew by about 89,000 people since the 2010 U.S. census. Those areas that grew the most in population had to shrink in geographic size so each district represents about the same number of people. Some areas that grew at a slower rate than other areas had to have districts that cover more geographic area.

If you want to know more about how distinct will shift and which incumbent council members will lose many of their current constituents, these links address some of that: link, link, link.

Below are the maps for Council Districts and School Board. To dig deep and see details follow this link.

New Council Districts

New School Board Districts

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