Saturday, June 04, 2022

Jim Gingrich, former AllianceBernstein COO, exploring campaign for mayor

Jim Gingrich, former chief operating
 officer of AllianceBernstein

By Adam Sichko  –  Senior Reporter, Nashville Business Journal, June 3, 2022 - Gingrich is the latest of multiple potential candidates for mayor to emerge in recent weeks — with the election itself still more than a year away. A driving force behind one of Nashville's most significant corporate relocations is exploring a run for mayor. ... confirmed to the Business Journal that he's "seriously considering" a campaign.

"I think I can make a difference," Gingrich said. "I believe I would bring a fresh, new, more creative perspective. It's time to start making real progress on issues we talk about every four years."  ...

Gingrich was a central decision-maker when AllianceBernstein relocated its global headquarters from Manhattan to downtown Nashville, which the company announced in 2018.  ... Today, AllianceBernstein has more than 1,000 corporate employees in Nashville. ... Gingrich retired from AllianceBernstein at the end of 2020. ... serves on the boards of United Way of Greater Nashville, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, among other organizations. ... 



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Tennessee's Starbuck granted injunction, back on 5th Congressional Republican primary ballot

by Jon Styf | The Center Square, June 4, 2022-  Robby Starbuck was ordered to be placed back on the Republican ballot for the Aug. 4 primary in the 5th Congressional District in Tennessee after a judge granted his request for a temporary injunction on Friday night.

Starbuck had previously lost a request for an injunction in U.S. District Court but was granted the injunction by Chancery Judge Russell Perkins in Davidson County Chancery Court.

Perkins ruled that Tennessee’s Republican Party violated the state’s Open Meetings Act by voting 13-3 against his Tennessee Republican bonafides at a closed meeting.

"All other appropriate public officials are expected to immediately take steps to treat the Defendants’ April 11, 2022, decision as a nullity and restore Plaintiff, Robby Starbuck Newsom, also known as Robby Starbuck, to the ballot," Perkins wrote.

Tennessee Republican Party Chair Scott Golden told The Tennessee Star Saturday that the party would appeal the decision.

Starbuck’s lead attorney Eric Osborne of Nashville's Sherrard, Roe, Voigt and Harbison had argued the case in front of Perkins on Thursday, requesting the injunction based on the state law portion of the prior suit, including an open meetings claim against Tennessee's Republican Party.

"During a call with Mr. Starbuck in March, the TRP first indicated its meeting to decide the merits of the complaint against him (which would eventually take place on April 19, 2022) would be public," the suit claimed. "However, just days before the April 19 meeting, the TRP informed Mr. Starbuck he could participate by Zoom — but it would not be a public meeting. And, in fact, within 24 hours of that meeting, the TRP informed Mr. Starbuck that his representatives could not join him if he attended. And, ultimately, on the day of the meeting, the TRP told him he could not participate, either."

"BREAKING: WE DID IT! WE WON our court case!," Starbuck tweeted. "The court has instructed @TNGOP to tell the state that their decision to kick me off the ballot is invalid! Tennessee needs a fighter and we've proven with my relentless pursuit of Justice that I'll be the fighter TN needs!

"Lastly I want to make clear that when I say WE WON, I mean you, me, my family, justice, goodness, free and fair elections and most of all, faith WON. Faith guided me against all odds and advice. I trusted God and WE WON! Tennessee's NOT Cuba and voters WILL decide our election!"

Trump-backed Morgan Ortagus and Baxter Lee were also removed from the ballot by the Tennessee GOP on the same day.

In mid-May, U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw denied Starbuck's request for an emergency injunction based on federal law and instead sent that lawsuit to a magistrate judge.

Starbuck had filed the case against Golden, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins.

In his ruling, Crenshaw said that there was a question whether Golden was a state actor in his position as GOP chair. He also said that the court was not in charge of the GOP's executive committee following its own rules on the vote to remove Starbuck and the others from the ballot and said that a new state law limiting which candidates could run for the position was irrelevant after Hargett said it could not be enforced because it became law after the candidate filing date.

That law is subject to a separate suit, which Crenshaw cited, on behalf of Ortagus in front of Judge Eli Richardson.

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Robby Starbuck is back on the ballot! Watch The Tennessean video interview.

The Tennessean, June 4, 2022 - A Nashville judge has ordered the Tennessee Republican Party to reinstate Robby Starbuck to the 5th congressional Republican primary. The ruling, issued Friday evening by Davidson County Chancellor Russell Perkins, stated the Tennessee Republican Party's executive committee violated the state open meetings act when it removed Starbuck from the ballot. 

In April, the state party removed Starbuck, Morgan Ortagus and Baxter Lee from the 5th congressional district primary for not meeting its bonafide Republican requirements. (read more)

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How America’s Recycling Program Failed—and Scarred the Environment

Like many problems in American history, recycling began as a moral panic.

by Jon Miltimore, Tuesday, The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), May 31, 2022 - In March 2019, The New York Times ran a shocking story exploring why many prominent US cities were abandoning their recycling programs.

“Philadelphia is now burning about half of its 1.5 million residents’ recycling material in an incinerator that converts waste to energy,” Times business writer Michael Corkery reported. “In Memphis, the international airport still has recycling bins around the terminals, but every collected can, bottle and newspaper is sent to a landfill.”

Philadelphia and Memphis were not outliers. They, along with Deltona, Florida, which had suspended its recycling program the previous month, were just a few examples of hundreds of cities across the country that had scrapped recycling programs or scaled back operations. Since that time, cities across the country have continued to scrap recycling programs, citing high costs.

By relying on government coercion, we ended up with a recycling system that made no sense—economically or environmentally.

“The cost of recycling was going to double, and the town wasn't going to be able to absorb that cost,” said Dencia Raish, the town clerk administrator for Akron, Colorado, which ended its program in 2021 and now sends “recyclables” to a landfill.

While many Americans likely are distraught about America’s failed recycling experiment, a new video produced by Kite & Key Media reveals that abandoning recycling—at least in its current form—is likely to benefit both Americans and the environment.

A Brief History of Recycling

Like many problems in American history, recycling began as a moral panic. The frenzy began in the spring of 1987 when a massive barge carrying more than 3,000 tons of garbage—the Mobro 4000—was turned away from a North Carolina port because rumor had it the barge was carrying toxic waste. (It wasn’t.)

“Thus began one of the biggest garbage sagas in modern history,” Vice News reported in a feature published a quarter-century later, “a picaresque journey of a small boat overflowing with stuff no one wanted, a flotilla of waste, a trashier version of the Flying Dutchman, that ghost ship doomed to never make port.”

The Mobro was simply seeking a landfill to dumb the garbage, but everywhere the barge went it was turned away. After North Carolina, the captain tried Louisiana. Nope. Then the Mobro tried Belize, then Mexico, then the Bahamas. No dice. “The Mobro ended up spending six months at sea trying to find a place that would take its trash,” Kite & Key Media notes.

America became obsessed with the story. In 1987 there was no Netflix, smartphones, or Twitter, so apparently everyone just decided to watch this barge carrying tons of trash for entertainment. The Mobro became, in the words of Vice, “the most watched load of garbage in the memory of man.”

The Mobro also became perhaps the most consequential load of garbage in history.  “The Mobro had two big and related effects,” Kite & Key Media explains. “First, the media reporting around it convinced Americans that we were running out of landfill space to dispose of our trash. Second, it convinced them the solution was recycling.” Neither claim, however, was true.

The idea that the US was running out of landfill space is a myth. The urban legend likely stems from the consolidation of landfills in the 1980s, which saw many waste depots retired because they were small and inefficient, not because of a national shortage. In fact, researchers estimate that if you take just the land the US uses for grazing in the Great Plains region, and use one-tenth of one percent of it, you’d have enough space for America's garbage for the next thousand years. (This is not to say that regional problems do not exist, Slate points out..). Mandated recycling efforts, meanwhile, have proven fraught.

The Economics of Recycling

During moral panics, it’s not uncommon for lawmakers to get involved. Recycling was no exception. Within just a handful of years of the Mobro panic, a recycling revolution spread across the continent. In a single year, more than 140 recycling laws were enacted in 38 states—in most cases mandating recycling and/or requiring citizens to pay for it. Within just a few years 6,000 curbside programs serving some 70 million Americans were created.

Some people saw problems early on in this approach. “The fact is that sometimes recycling makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t. In the legislative rush to pass recycling mandates, state and local governments should pause to consider the science and the economics of every proposition,” economist Lawrence Reed wrote in 1995. “Often, bad ideas are worse than none at all and can produce lasting damage if they are enshrined in law. Simply demanding that something be recycled can be disruptive of markets and it does not guarantee that recycling that makes either economic or environmental sense will even occur.”

The reality is recycling is incredibly complicated—something Discover magazine pointed out more than a decade ago. While it makes sense to recycle some products, there’s also circumstances where recycling makes no sense at all.

Take plastic. For various reasons, plastic is not conducive to recycling. A Columbia University study published in 2010 found that a mere 16.5 percent of plastic collected by New York’s Department of Sanitation was actually “recyclable.” That might not sound like much, but it’s actually much higher than the percentage of plastic that is recycled globally, according to other studies.

Physics has a lot to do with this. In most cases, it’s less expensive to simply make new plastic than to recycle old plastic. But the costs of recycling are not just economic.

The Environmental Costs of Recycling

Proponents of recycling often acknowledge its economic costs. These costs can run high and recently got even higher (more on that later), but they say those costs are necessary to protect the environment.

The argument ignores, however, that recycling—especially recycling done badly—also comes with severe environmental costs. It doesn’t just take dollars to recycle plastic but also energy and water (think about how much water you spend rinsing your recyclables for a moment).

For plastic in particular, the environmental costs are even more staggering than the economic costs.

“The newest, high tech methods of recycling [plastic] generate carbon emission 55 times higher than just putting it into a landfill,” Kite & Key Media says.

But greenhouse gas emissions aren’t the only environmental cost. Did you ever wonder how we got a patch of plastic in the ocean that is twice the size of Texas?

The Great Pacific garbage patch is a mass of debris in the Pacific Ocean that weighs about 3 million tons. How it got there is not exactly a mystery. It’s a collection of trash that came from countries in Asia, South America, and North America that researchers believe has increased “10-fold each decade" since the conclusion of World War II.

Americans who’ve spent the last few decades recycling might think their hands are clean. Alas, they are not. As the Sierra Club noted in 2019, for decades Americans’ recycling bins have held “a dirty secret.”

“Half the plastic and much of the paper you put into it did not go to your local recycling center. Instead, it was stuffed onto giant container ships and sold to China,” journalist Edward Humes wrote. “There, the dirty bales of mixed paper and plastic were processed under the laxest of environmental controls. Much of it was simply dumped, washing down rivers to feed the crisis of ocean plastic pollution.”

If Americans are serious about recycling to create a better future for humans, they’d get government out of the recycling business.

It’s almost too hard to believe. We paid China to take our recycled trash. China used some and dumped the rest. All that washing, rinsing, and packaging of recyclables Americans were doing for decades—and much of it was simply being thrown into the water instead of into the ground.

The gig was up in 2017 when China announced they were done taking the world’s garbage through its oddly-named program, Operation National Sword. This made recycling much more expensive, which is why hundreds of cities began to scrap and scale back operations.

China’s decision provoked anger in the United States, but in reality the decision was a first (and necessary) step toward improving the environment and coming to grips with a failed paradigm.

Means and Ends

Americans meant well with their recycling efforts. We thought by recycling trash instead of burying it in a landfill, we were doing some good. Instead, tons of it (literally thousands and thousands of tons) was thrown into rivers and other waterways, contributing to the ocean plastic pollution problem.

How did this happen?  There are several answers to this question. NPR says Big Oil—always a convenient scapegoat—is to blame for letting people believe that recycling plastic made sense. But I think basic economics and moral philosophy are a better place to start.

There was a reason Larry Reed, who today is president emeritus of FEE, sniffed out the false promise of recycling nearly 30 years ago. “Market economists—by nature, philosophy, and experience—are skeptical of schemes to supplant the free choices of consumers with the dictates of central planners,” Reed explained at the time.

The idea that mountains of refuse can just be turned into something of value with the right local mandates never smelled right, largely because we have centuries of evidence that show markets are smarter than government bureaucrats because markets use infinitely more knowledge.

The ends desired from recycling—a cleaner planet— were pure. The means we chose to pursue those ends—dictates of central planners—were not.

This might sound simple, but the Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman correctly observed it’s not.

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is that people operating separately, through their joint relations with one another, through market transactions, can achieve a greater degree of efficiency and of output than can a single central planner,” Friedman noted in a 2001 interview.

This is not to say recycling can never work. It can. Items like cardboard, paper, and metals (think aluminum) account for as much as 90 percent of greenhouse gas reduction from recycling, research shows, and they also make the most sense economically, since they are less expensive to recycle and offer more value.

The problem isn’t recycling, but the means we use to recycle. The author Leonard Read, the founder of FEE, was fond of a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem that touched on ends and means.

“Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed;” Emerson wrote, “for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end pre-exists in the means, the fruit in the seed.”

What Emerson and Read understood was that noble ends are not enough. If the means we use to achieve a desired result are rotten, the fruit itself is likely to be rotten as well.

The ends desired from recycling—a cleaner planet— were pure. The means we chose to pursue those ends—dictates of central planners—were not.

By relying on government coercion, we ended up with a recycling system that made no sense—economically or environmentally. And that’s why we ended up with tens of thousands of tons of recycled items dumped into the ocean. Putting government in charge of recycling was a big mistake.

If Americans are serious about recycling to create a better future for humans, they’d get government out of the recycling business and make way for entrepreneurs armed with local knowledge and the profit motive.

Instead of seeing recyclables dumped into our rivers and oceans, we’d see them creating value. That’s a win for humans and the planet.

Rod's Comment: 

I was an early proponent of recycling. Back before the days of curbside, I volunteered at one of the Saturday drop-off centers located at Krogers. I helped unload and dump recyclables in the right containers and made sure that improper mixing did not contaminate a batch and educated people on what could and could not be recycled. 

While serving in the Council, I sponsored or co-sponsored several pieces of legislation which helped put an end to Metro's disastrous trash incinerator thermal plant but which also made recycling more feasible. 

In recent years, I have become a skeptic of curbside recycling. I suspect most of what is collected actually ends in landfills, but since we have an incourious press and a compliant woke Metro Council, no one asks the question of what really happens to Nashville's "recyclables" once collected.  A simple Google search will show that in many other cities it has been revealed that what is collected ends up in landfills anyway.  Since China stopped buying our recyclables, for the most part, we now have to pay people to take our recyclables, in some cases, rather than companies paying us for them. 

I suspect there is a big scandal afoot about recycling but no one wants to slay a sacred cow. I still support recycling, when it makes economic and environmental sense. I now doubt that much of it does. 

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Friday, June 03, 2022

In the last 56 years, there have been 13 school mass shootings.

by Rod Williams, June 3, 2022- Since the tragedy in Uvalde Texas, I have consumed a lot of news about that tragedy and done a lot of reading about past similar tragedies and thought a lot about it.  I am tending toward a conclusion that something must be done. Maybe it is time for reasonable gun control or if not "gun control," other measures to lessen gun violence. However, I am not yet firmly committed to what should be done. It is a complex issue. 

One needs to be careful in understanding what one reads and be clear of one's definitions. Some in reporting on the problem of mass school shootings will conflate information and leave an impression of many more mass school shootings have occurred than have actually occurred. There is a difference between "school shootings," "mass shootings," and "mass school shootings." 

The best information I can come up with is from Reason magazine, that in the last 56 years, there have been 13 school mass shootings. This uses the definition of a shooting occurring at a school in which at least four people were killed or injured. Also, Reason points out that all mass casualty shooting events constitute less than 1 percent of all gun deaths. That does not negate that America is an outlier and compared to the rest of the countries of the developed world Americans kill each other at an alarming rate

This is by no means meant to minimize the tragedy. Mass shootings at nightclubs, churches, shopping malls, or Country music concerts in Las Vegas are also tragedies, but a clear understanding of the problem is necessary for clear thinking about the problem.  School children are still safer at school than riding to school in a car with their parents. Schools are still one of the safest places a child can be. 

NPR ran a piece titled, "27 school shootings have taken place so far this year." That is 27 school shootings with injuries or deaths this year. That is terrible, but that could be one person wounding another; not 27 Uvalde Texas-style mass shootings.

If you do a Wikipedia search on the topic you will find, "List of school shootings in the United States". It covers the period Feb. 2020 through May 21, 2022. It lists several hundred. Included in the list are entries such as: 

March 30, 2015, University City, Missouri Police said one person has been arrested for a shooting at Pershing Elementary School. The shooting occurred in the parking lot, with a 34-year-old-man being shot in the buttocks.

October 22, 2015, Nashville, Tennessee, One person was killed and three others were wounded in a shooting at an outdoor courtyard at Tennessee State University. The shooting may have stemmed from an argument over a dice game. A suspect has not been identified or arrested.

November 11, 2019, Baltimore, Maryland. A 19-year-old student who was outside Reginald F. Lewis High School was approached by a masked man who shot him in the leg.

May 9, 2022, Suwanee, Georgia, A woman fired 12 shots at a moving school bus. Nobody was shot but the bus driver was injured by shattered glass.

This is terrible, but getting shot in the leg by a masked gunman is normally not what one thinks of when they hear the term "school shooting." Two college students getting into a shoot-out over a dice game is not what one thinks about.

The tragedy of  Uvalde Texas was terrible. It is terrible enough as it is, one does not need to distort the magnitude of the problem to make that point. Truth should matter. 

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Thursday, June 02, 2022

Banning the Confederate flag at CMA.

by Rod Williams, June 2, 2022 -This year, CMA Fest is banning the Confederate flag. It joins a growing list of major country music events to ban attendees from displaying Confederate imagery.  

While the CMA is banning the confederate flag, it is not as if they are making a big deal out of it. If you go to the CMA website, you have to look for the list of banned items and are a couple of clicks away from finding the list.  Here is what the website says:

 The following items are prohibited from all CMA events. Exceptions will be made for medical equipment and medically necessary items after proper inspection.

  • Aerosol containers of any kind
  • Animals (service animals are permitted to assist guests with disabilities as defined by ADA standards; comfort animals are prohibited)
  • Bags that are prohibited by applicable Event Bag Policies
  • Balls, balloons or inflatables of any kind
  • Bikes
  • Cameras with a detachable lens
  • Camera attachments (such as tripods, monopods, selfie sticks)
  • Chairs of any kind
  • Any item that depicts language or imagery that violates the Code of Conduct
  • Confederate flag imagery of any kind
  • Coolers
  • Drones
  • Drugs or drug paraphernalia
  • E-Cigarette refill cartridges
  • Firearms, knives, other weapons or dangerous devices of any kind
  • Fireworks
  • Flags
  • Frisbees and projectiles
  • Car seat or carriers
  • Laser pointers
  • Lights
  • Noisemakers
  • Outside food and beverages, including alcohol
  • Poles or sticks of any kind
  • Scooters, including shared urban mobility devices
  • Seat cushions
  • Skateboards, rollerblades or hoverboards
  • Stickers
  • Umbrellas and other objects that obstruct another patron’s view
  • Video, audio and recording devices
  • Wagons or pull-carts
  • Walkie-talkies
  • Other items deemed disruptive, dangerous or offensive at the discretion of CMA and the venue. Visit venue website for additional prohibited items and restrictions before attending the Event. 

That is a pretty exhaustive list. I wonder to what extent it will be enforced?  I am betting that if someone shows up wearing a Hank Williams Jr tee shirt, or an Alabama tee shirt, or a Charlie Daniels tee shirt, or a Lynard Skynard tee shirt with Confederate imagery, they will not be required to turn it inside out. Maybe, but I doubt it. 

I have never worn any of the above tee shirts, but I have never worn any band's tee shirt. If you want me to advertise your band, you would have to pay me.  I am just not the band tee-shirt-wearing kind of guy. Most of my tee shirts are of losing political candidates and some causes I have supported over the years. I seem to have a habit of ending up with tee shirts of losing candidates and causes. 

I do not display the confederate flag from a flag pole in my yard, nor would I have a bumper sticker with the image on my car.  When South Carolina Nicki Haley had the Confederate battle flag removed from the grounds of the state capital building following the mass shooting at a church in South Carolina, I think she made the right decision.  I am, however, opposed to the removal of statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate heroes or statues of other men of achievement who offend modern sensibilities. 

The Confederate battle flag has always had an association with racism and was carried at KKK rallies and such. Recently, with the emergence of alt-right populist-nationalist, we are seeing the Confederate battle flag being again tied to, or more frequently tied to, fringe right-wing groups.

While the Confederate battle flag is sometimes used by unsavory political movements, it is most often, I think,  simply displayed as an expression of regional identity and pride. Many southern rock bands and country bands included confederate imagery in their album covers and merchandise. The popular TV show Dukes of Hazzard featured a car called General Lee with the rooftop painted with a Confederate flag. I don't think that was a symbol of White supremacy or racism. It reflected an identity of harmless, fun-loving, good-ole-boy,  rebelliousness. 

I remember as a kid, maybe early 60's, prior to Pegion Forge being the tourist mega that it is now, there was only a hand full of tourist attractions. One was called the Rebel Railroad. It featured a deep heavily accented southern voiced narrator and the train was attacked by Yankees. It was a lot of fun, but I was only a kid. I still think it was harmless. 

Back in the 1980's I attended several of the annual Charlie Daniels jams at the Municipal auditorium. I loved these events.  There were a sea of Confederate battle flags and smuggled in booze and dope-smoking and enthusiastic music lovers having a good time. These were concerts that lasted for six or more hours and featured mostly Country and Southern Rock bands but also some classical and spiritual and Soul and Rhythm and Blues groups. A lot of Black artists performed. I remember soul singer Dobie Grey, fiddler Papa John Creach,  Rufus Thomas, and one of my favorites was James Brown.  I never actually cared for his music but he was a fabulous entertainer. These Black artists, if bothered by the Confederate flag, did not show it and the audience showed appreciation for the artist. Maybe some would see the flag as a symbol of hate, but I did not perceive it that way.  I don't think James Brown perceived it that way or he would not have performed at the event.

While it may be time to discourage the display of the Confederate battle flag, and while bands are probably wise to phase out the use of its imagery on their record albums and other merchandise, I kind of resent the attitude that no one can be permitted to do anything or show any image that offends another. 

My father was deeply offended by alcohol use and would not shop at a store that sold alcohol nor would he not watch a TV show sponsored by a beer brand. That was his right. Thankfully, his being offended did not mean others had to hide their beer.

I tell you what would please me to see the CMA's ban; the  hate symbol commonly called the "Peace sign." It offends me. If I was on the you-don't-have-the-right-to-offend-me train, I would tell you it triggers anxiety and causes me emotional distress. I don't do that. I just feel disgust, push it down, and let it slide. I don't even tell people I am offended.  People who are offended by the Confederate battle flag should do the same thing. 

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Law abiding gun owners are arming thugs. So far this year, 625 guns have been stolen from vehicles in Nashville.

Metro press release, May 31, 2022- The Nashville Police Department strongly encourages Nashvillians to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables---especially guns, and remove the keys.

So far this year, 625 guns have been stolen from vehicles in Nashville. More than 70% of all guns reported stolen in 2022 (873) were taken from vehicles. Last week, 21 guns were stolen from cars and trucks.

Going hand in hand with vehicle burglaries is vehicle theft. A review of last week’s stolen vehicle reports in Nashville shows that 64% of the automobiles taken (28 of 44) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves.

Just like guns taken from vehicles, these stolen autos are also routinely involved in criminal activities, including carjackings and robberies.

Rod's Comment: I think it is past time to address this. Very few criminals buy their guns from a gun shop.  They buy stolen guns off the street, placed in circulation by irresponsible gun owners who left them in a vehicle. If one is going to leave a gun in a car, it should be secured in a gun safe that is bolted to the car frame or otherwise firmly secured to the vehicle. I am of the opinion that improperly securing a weapon should be a punishable offense. 

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Mayor Cooper continues the fight against Education Savings Accounts.

 Mayor John Cooper will convene Nashville leaders tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. at Warner Elementary to oppose improved educational opportunities for low-income people.

Metro press release, May 31, 2022 - Today, Metro Nashville filed a petition asking the Tennessee State Supreme Court to review its recent 3-2 decision that found the state’s school voucher program, known as the Education Savings Account Act (ESA Act), to be constitutional, effectively clearing the way for it to move forward. Metro Nashville previously challenged the law’s constitutionality based on the “Home Rule Amendment,” which says that an act of the Legislature that is local in its form or effect, applicable to a county or municipality in its governmental or proprietary capacity, is void, unless approved by a two-thirds vote of the local legislative body or by local referendum.

Alongside key Nashville leaders for our public schools, Mayor Cooper will host a press conference tomorrow to talk more about this filing and supporting Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). Details are below.

“Great public schools require consistent prioritization, because our kids’ future is our most critical investment,” said Mayor John Cooper. “The state already provides Metro Nashville Public Schools far less funding per student than almost every other county in Tennessee, and now a state voucher program threatens to syphon off even more money away from improving public schools and into the hands of private schools. We hope the Court will consider MNPS’ status as the public school system for both Nashville and Davidson County, and not allow the state to direct taxpayer money away from our schools without our consent.”

The court’s majority opinion, issued on Wednesday May 18, found that the ESA Act doesn’t violate the “Home Rule Amendment” because “the Act regulates or governs the conduct of the local education agencies and not the counties.” In other words, the court ruled that the ESA Act applies to school districts, not counties, and therefore local-government protections in our state constitution do not apply.

Metro Nashville is asking the Court to review the ruling because the reasoning provided by the majority opinion is wrong, particularly as it applies to Nashville. The newly filed petition argues that as a metropolitan government, Nashville and Davidson County included their combined school systems in the new metropolitan government when our citizens voted in 1962 to consolidate and adopt the Metro Charter.

Because Nashville’s public schools are part of Metro, the ESA Act applies directly to Metro, and the state constitution’s Home Rule Amendment therefore also applies, even under the Court’s reasoning.

“Metro Nashville, through the Metro Council or its voters, has the legal right to say whether taxpayer funds should be spent on private schools,” said Wallace Dietz, Director of Law for Metro Nashville. “Our state constitution demands no less. We don’t believe the Court’s reasoning for allowing the state’s voucher program to proceed should apply to Nashville, since we are a metropolitan government with a combined city and county school system.”

Dietz continued: “Additionally, The Court concluded that the Home Rule Amendment does not apply to the ESA Act because the face of the Act addresses school districts only and does not impose obligations on counties. Instead, the Act triggers existing county funding obligations by forcing school districts to include students participating in the ESA program in their enrollment counts, even though the students are not attending public schools. This ruling conflicts with other Tennessee Supreme Court cases applying the Home Rule Amendment to bills that did not on their face require counties to do anything, but triggered obligations in existing law.”

Additional background: For much of Tennessee’s history, local governments were viewed simply as creatures of the Legislature, subject to its control at will. That one-sided balance of power shifted dramatically in 1953 when Tennessee held a limited Constitutional Convention that focused primarily on state encroachment on local prerogatives. The main concern was the Legislature’s historic abuse of local legislation, the passing of laws that impacted only one or a small number of counties. The Convention overwhelmingly approved the Home Rule Amendment to the Tennessee Constitution. The Home Rule Amendment was approved by Tennessee voters in 1953 and has been a part of our state constitution ever since.

For a full copy of the filing, please email

Rod's comment: To say the least I have been very disappointed in John Cooper.  It is disappointing that liberals consistently fight policies that would provide students from low-income households with better educational opportunities.  

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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Americans for Prosperity Action (AFP Action) endorsed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles

MAY. 26, 2022 PRESS RELEASE, Nashville, Tenn. — Americans for Prosperity Action (AFP Action) endorsed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District.

Ogles was endorsed because of his track record supporting local, state, and federal policies that promote economic freedom and create opportunities that improve the lives of Tennesseans. 

AFP Action will leverage a wide range of tactics, including the country’s largest grassroots outreach, a full-time dedicated staff, and trained volunteers to educate and mobilize voters to support Ogles’ campaign.

Ogles served as state director of Americans for Prosperity’s Tennessee chapter from 2013 to 2017. 

“Andy Ogles is the kind of champion Tennesseans need in Congress – a tireless advocate for economic freedom and stopping government overreach,” said AFP Action Senior Advisor Tori Venable. “Inflation is crushing the American dream. Andy understands everyone is paying more and getting less because of Washington’s reckless spending. We can count on Ogles to uphold Tennessee’s values and stop the D.C. spending spree.

“As AFP state director, Andy worked to repeal the Hall tax and stop the gas tax hike,” she said. “As mayor, he supported balanced budgets and prevented the economic lockdowns that destroyed livelihoods for so many Tennesseans. In Congress, Andy will stand up to the big-government bureaucrats who are undermining America’s future.” 

AFP Action is a 527 political action committee focused on electing candidates who will drive policy change and facilitate the building of broad policy coalitions that remove barriers to opportunity and help people improve their lives. The organization has a strong, permanent grassroots presence, including highly motivated activists who volunteer during the election season by making telephone calls and knocking on doors in support of policy champions.

During the 2020 election cycle, AFP Action supported candidates nationwide with more than 8.5 million telephone calls, 1.5 million door knocks, and more than 49 million pieces of mail. AFP Action has unmatched direct voter outreach capability that is supported by a world-class data operation.

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Harwell gets endorsement of pro-life Susan B. Anthony List

Press release, NASHVILLE, TN – Today, pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony’s List (SBA) announced its endorsement of Congressional District 5 candidate and former Speaker of the Tennessee House, Beth Harwell.

Hon. Marilyn Musgrave, SBA List’s vice president of government affairs, said, “Beth Harwell is a faithful champion of the unborn who proves that pro-life is truly pro-woman. Beth’s dynamic efforts as House speaker led to a pro-life constitutional amendment, strongly approved by voters, paving the way for swift enactment of life-saving laws. She did not rest, but immediately put her support behind health and safety requirements to hold the profit-driven abortion industry accountable, as well as legislation to protect women’s right to see an ultrasound and hear their baby’s heartbeat. Finally, under her leadership Tennessee successfully defunded abortion businesses of taxpayer dollars[KM1] . In Congress she will stand up to pro-abortion Democrats for Tennessee’s pro-life values, and we couldn’t be prouder to support her.”  

Per SBA’s press release, “SBA List is a network of 900,000 pro-life Americans nationwide, dedicated to ending abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders.”

“Thank you Susan B. Anthony’s list for putting your faith in me to stand up for the lives of unborn Americans and expectant mothers in Congress. In this day and age, we should be celebrating the arrival of a new life and uplifting pregnant women with the resources they need to make sure their child is cared for. I look forward to fighting for the right to life on the floor of the U.S. House,” said Beth Harwell.

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Why should one get a free ride just because they are old?

by Rod Williams, May 31, 2022- The meme to the left has been appearing on my Facebook page again and again, obviously without the editing in red. It gets lots of likes, shares, and some confirming messages. I know most of my friends are of the conservative persuasion, so if this is showing up on my Facebook page it must be prevalent across the internet.

This is just wrong. Why should one not have to pay property tax just because they are 65 years old?  Many elderly people, me included, have more disposable income than they ever had.  If one was even moderately prudent, unless they had some unforeseen tragedy befall them, they should have had a paid-for house by retirement age and a paid-for car. If they were wise, by retirement age they should be debt-free.  I know not all people are fiscally responsible and some people have tragedies befall them that cause them to be financially insecure. Some people are simply low-income. There is help for people like that. Why should one get a free ride just because they are old? 

If all people over the age of 65 get excused from paying property taxes, then the burden is shifted to younger people.  I am of the view that property taxes are too high, but that is a separate argument from who should pay the taxes. Today's young people are finding it harder than ever to even purchase a house. They are likely to be the first generation in America's history to be worst off than the previous generation. Misguided fiscal and monetary policy and local zoning and land-use policies, as well as market forces, have pushed homeownership beyond the reach of many young couples. We do not need to compound the problem by shifting the tax burden to younger people. 

The greatest source of wealth accumulation in this country for most people is their home. We should make it easier for people to become homeowners, not more difficult.

If any age segment of the population needs a tax break it is younger people. We have reached the point where the American people are not replacing themselves. This has serious implications for the social security safety net as well as the ability to service other national debt. Probably the same people who "like" this meme are the same ones who "like" the meme that says social security is not an entitlement, which makes no sense since they claim it is something to which they are entitled. Social Security of course is not a funded retirement plan but a transfer payment. Today's wage earners, younger people, are paying for old people's social security. If we do not have population growth rates that replace ourselves, social security is in real trouble. We need to make it possible for young people to afford to have children.

I bet many of the elderly who are "linking" this meme are the same ones outraged about the proposal to forgive student loans. I share that outrage. Student loan forgiveness is lower-income people who did not go to college subsidizing wealthier people who did.  I share the view that there is too much welfare but then I do not turn around and ask to be excused from paying taxes simply because I am of a certain age. 

In Nashville, if you are over the age of 65 and make less than $45,090 you are probably eligible for a tax freeze. If you make less than $31,600 you are probably eligible for tax relief. If you don't qualify for this government assistance, you may qualify for a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages are not for everyone, but it is a way for many people who can not afford their home to stay in their home. 

Below is more information on the Tax Freeze and Tax Relief for Seniors programs. 

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First Tuesday Presents Senator RICK SCOTT IS ALMOST SOLD OUT ! RSVP TODAY !

1st Tuesday is proud to welcome Sen Rick Scott to Nashville. Rick Scott was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Rick Scott served two terms as the 45th Governor of Florida.

Join us for Lunch and learn about the Senators American Rescue Plan!


Jun 17, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM. LUDLOW & PRIME, 330 Franklin Rd Suite 226B, Brentwood, TN 37027, USA


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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Explaining the Gun Debate

by Rod Williams, May 29, 2022- The tragedy of another mass shooting has renewed and reinvigorated the gun debate and Kevin D.Williamson writing in National Review discusses some of the issues around that debate. In this post are paraphrasings and quotes from the article and my thoughts. If you are an NR subscriber or can find it elsewhere or access it through your library, I suggest reading the complete article.  

A lot of things people think about guns are simply not true or if true need context.  I know there are those who have their mind made up and are not going to budge from the position they have taken. On the one hand, there are those who think Americans should not have the right to bear arms and that all firearms should be confiscated. I assume readers of this blog know the rebuttal to that simplistic unrealistic point of view. On the other hand, there are those who think any restriction on the type of weapon, magazine capacity, reduction in the age of majority, or registration of arms, or licensing of arms dealers is a step toward confiscation and the end of America as a free country. 

My view is that somewhere between these two extremes there is room for reasonable efforts to reduce gun violence. I also admit that the issue is complicated. I don't have the answers but see a problem that needs to be addressed. I see no point, however, in window dressing and symbolic measures and meaningless legislation that will have no impact. That being said, there probably are incremental steps that could make an incremental difference. We should however not be satisfied with the status quo.  Also, we should not be afraid to engage with people whose views differ from ours. A good place to start any debate is with facts and good data. This article by Williamson contributes to a clearer understanding of the issues. Below are some highlights from the article. 

Q: They didn’t have to worry about this kind of thing 100 years ago, did they?

"Of course they did," he says. "We are coming up on the 100th anniversary of the worst school massacre in American history, which happened in Bath, Mich., in 1927, and saw the deaths of 44 victims plus the perpetrator."  

Williamson could have done a better job. He only gives this one example. I would like more data. How big of a problem was this a hundred years ago compared to now? How often did it occur? I know that in my youth schools had Rifle clubs. I never worried about a school shooting. Columbine was the first school mass shooting of which I was aware. I think this is a recent problem and want data to see if that is correct.

Q: So how important is access to guns?

He says that by most meaningful measures it is not very important. "So, guns don’t seem to be the important variable. ... Americans buy more guns today than they did in 1990 ... but violent crime has decreased radically since those years, ... homicides falling almost by half between 1991 and 2020 ... There isn’t much reason to believe that the increase in gun ownership led to less crime, but it is a matter of historical fact that it was not accompanied by more crime."

Q: But isn’t our country awash in guns?

No, he says. A relatively small number of households have more guns but more households do not have guns. "The number of Americans living in households in which there is a gun present has actually declined quite a bit over the past several decades." "In 1973, only a minority of Americans (49.5 percent) lived in a household with no firearm, but by 2014 almost two-thirds of Americans (64.3 percent) did. So the typical American is less likely to reside in a household with a firearm in it today than 50 years ago." Some people live in a household with 50 arms but he says the lone psychopath in a house with 50 guns is probably no more of a threat than a lone psychopath with one rifle.

I don't doubt the data. However, in my own case, I only became a gun owner fairly recently. When the Antifa/BLM riots and random attacks on white people began occurring, I felt it wise to be armed. I know there was a shortage of good handguns during this period. Gun shops sold out. His data is from 2014. I think updated data would show more people have guns. Maybe not as many as in 1973, but more than in 2014.

Q: So gun owners are basically a bunch of insecure white guys with basements full of AR-15s? 

No, he says.  He says a lot of the increase in American domestic gun ownership was the result of women’s acquisition of firearms. He gives data.

Q: But isn’t the United States an outlier compared to other countries?

He says "Certainly, though not in the way you may have been told." He then mentions the genocide in Rwanda. That is not relevant, in my view. We are an outlier by an enormous amount compared to other developed countries. To me that is relevant; not what happened in Rwanda.  He does however provide a useful comparison to Switzerland. 

Switzerland has more guns per capita than any country other than the United States and Yemen. Its murder rate is about one-ninth the U.S. rate. Switzerland has about 8.6 million people to Cook County’s 5.1 million, but Switzerland saw only 47 homicides in 2021 (14 by shooting) while Cook County saw more than 1,000. 

He then points out that while Americans shoot each other to death at a much higher rate than do citizens of most other countries, "they also stab each other to death, beat each other to death, burn each other to death, etc., much more frequently than do citizens of other countries. In fact, the number of murders committed by Americans armed with nothing more than their bare hands each year exceeds the number of murders committed by Americans with so-called assault rifles. The United States has unusually high rates of criminal violence across the board rather than just an unusually high rate of gun-related violence."

That is disturbing. I think he hits the nail on the head when he says. " The problem with America isn’t that it is full of guns — the problem with America is that it is full of Americans." 

Q: What is the point of allowing civilians to have military weapons?

He says, "we don't." To call semiautomatic 5.56mm rifles “weapons of war” is dishonest" and he explains the difference between a military weapon and a civilian weapon.

Q: But isn’t it easy to modify these rifles to make them fully automatic?

No, not really, he says and explains that while it can be done, it is difficult to do. 

Q: But aren’t these new rifles 200 times more lethal than the old Revolutionary War muskets that were being used when the Second Amendment was written?

No, that figure was simply fabricated and continues to be spread. He goes on to say that it is absolutely true that a modern semiautomatic rifle is a more effective weapon than a muzzle-loading musket.

Q: Isn’t the Second Amendment and all that militia stuff just outmoded in the 21st century?

This is his answer and is similar to something that I have said. "In my view, that is really the most honest line of argument from the gun-control lobby. But that isn’t an argument for ignoring the Second Amendment — the law doesn’t stop being the law because of the private subjective judgment of political activists. It is an argument for repealing the Second Amendment. We have a process for amending the Constitution, and the Second Amendment could be repealed if enough Americans believed that to be the wise thing to do. I wouldn’t support that myself, but it is the proper course of action for those who want to eliminate the Second Amendment protections of Americans’ right to keep and bear arms."

Q: Isn’t there anything else that we could do short of a likely doomed effort to pass a constitutional amendment?

He says, yes there is, and lists these two possible actions.

Stronger enforcement of “straw buyer” laws, which are laws against buying a firearm on behalf of someone who is legally prohibited from purchasing one himself. He Explains that when violators are caught they are seldom prosecuted and explains why. He says we need to aggressively enforce these laws.

Improve the federal NICS background-check system. This system used to screen gun buyers is poorly administered and often people who would fail a background check get a gun anyway because the data is faulty or the background check is not conducted within the prescribed three-day period. Also, when the mistake is discovered, no effort is made to correct the mistake and repossess the illegally purchased weapon. Also, people who knowing attempt to purchase a weapon, knowing they are ineligible are almost never prosecuted. The law doesn't work and it should and could be improved and enforced.

I think this is a good start. I think there is more that could be done or at least considered and debated and will address some of it in future posts. For more of what I have posted on the topic of guns, see the following.

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Bellevue Breakfast Club guest speaker is Kurt Winstead, June 4th, 2022

From Lonnie Spivak:

Greeting Breakfast Club Members,


 Can you believe we are only three months away from the August primaries? If you’re lucky enough to live in the 5th Congressional district, you have been witness to some of the craziest politics in recent memory, and even though we are down to nine qualified candidates, we are privileged to have some of the best candidates this district has ever seen—this month’s speaker is no exception. 

I hope you’ll join us on Saturday, June 4th, as we welcome Brigadier General Kurt Winstead, Ret. We will meet at CORNER PUB IN THE WOODS, located at: 8058 Highway 100, Nashville, TN 37221. Doors will open around 8:30 am, and we will begin around 8:45 am.


Kurt Winstead
After serving in the Tennessee Army National Guard for three decades, including deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kurt retired with the rank of Brigadier General. He understands firsthand the fragile nature of freedom and that we must protect America from the ongoing threats from Russia and Communist China. He understands that these threats are not just abroad, but also on American soil at our Southern Border and Kurt will do everything in his power to stop the flood of illegal immigrants crossing our borders. He knows the liberal left led by Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, and their do-nothing attitude about illegal immigration must end; now. He also understands the economic engine that drives our economy is failing as inflation and gas prices are stalling productivity. Kurt will always put the best interests of our country first and will lead the fight against the radical left who want nothing but to kick the can down the road. We know General Winstead has led the fight before and is not afraid to do it again.

 Kurt is pro-life, believes that every life is precious, and will fight to protect the unborn when elected to Congress. He is an avid hunter, gun owner and lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. Kurt understands that law abiding citizens are not the problem and that there is no need for more gun laws or restrictions. General Winstead fought to protect the 2nd amendment while serving in the military and he will defend it when elected to Congress. Kurt supported and voted for President Trump and will do everything he can to defeat Joe Biden and the Democrats in the next election.

General Winstead believes that America is the greatest country ever created, that freedom is precious, and that every generation has a mission to successfully complete for those that follow.

Kurt was raised in Tennessee in a home of educators and farmers who knew the importance of hard work, integrity and keeping your word. He served for more than thirty years in the Tennessee Army National Guard, including serving as Director of the Joint Staff, Tennessee’s Staff Judge Advocate, and Brigade Command Judge Advocate during Operation Iraqi Freedom III - all of this service to his country while also building a successful law practice in Nashville.

 Kurt is a graduate of Centre College where he was captain of the football team, and received his law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law in Virginia. He also holds a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Kurt and his wife Beth attend St. Matthew Church in Franklin. They are the proud parents of two adult daughters raised and educated in Williamson County.

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Why are there so few "In God we Trust" license plates in Davidson County?

by Rod Williams, May 29, 2022- It is not because we are a bunch of heathens, although we very well may be.  I was going to go with the God option but it requires going to the clerk's office in person or renewing by mail, and to me, it was not worth the extra effort, so I went with the easier no God option. (There is probably a sermon in that statement somewhere.)

When you visit the Davidson County Clerks office website, you get the following message.

Adding 'In God we Trust' to your new blue plate when your old green mountain plate didn’t include it, requires a plate class change.  There is no additional fee, however, this change requires a signature by the registered owner of the vehicle.  You may sign when renewing in person or include a note with your signature when renewing by mail.  Unfortunately, this change cannot be made when renewing online.

"Only 13.3% of Nashvillians getting new plates have opted for the trusting God plates making Music City a real outlier in the Volunteer State.  A majority of drivers in 86 of the state's 95 counties are choosing the "In God We Trust" plates as of May 16, according to numbers from the state Department of Revenue." Compared to the 13.3% of Nashvillians who went with the God plate, in Fentress County, 98.1% of the people did so. (1)

Apparently, not all counties offer online tag renewals which makes renewing tags easier but if it is like it is in Nashville that also means a person cannot choose the God option and also renew online.  The DMV website says, "For a list of counties that offer online registration renewals, please see the complete list provided on the TN DOR website." When you click on the link then you do not see such a list. You have to put in the County where your car is registered and the license plate number to see the next page and determine if online registration is available. Many counties do not offer kiosk renewals, so I am assuming the smaller counties do not have the online option either. 

I don't doubt that more rural counties have more religious people than more urban counties, but there is an additional reason why there are so few "In God we Trust," license plates in Nashville.  In addition to the online renewal option not offering the "In God we Trust," option, this report says the Davidson County Clerk's office had no sign posted announcing the option and did not tell those people renewing in person there was even an option. Many people did not know there was a choice. If people didn't ask for it, the default plate was the one without "In God we Trust."  I bet in Fentress County, people were made aware of the option. 

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