Saturday, May 20, 2023

The full Donald Trump CNN Town Hall can be viewed here. It reveals to me that Trump is more dangerous than ever.

by Rod Williams, May 20, 2023. If you missed the May 10th much-talked-about CNN Donald Trump Town Hall, here it is. I missed it. I have seen excerpts and read commentary about it but am just now seeing the full event.  It reveals to me that Trump is even more dangerous now than he was before. 

In the Town Hall we see some typical name calling and bluster that his loyal follows seem to love.  I am a severe critic of Trump and think he is a dangerous man, but he is certainly an entertainer. I even got a chuckle or too.  When it comes to policy discussion, I agree with Trump on most issues. I agree with Trump's explanation of how he made America energy independent and then Biden's reversing that gain. And, I agree with what Trump has to say about the border. I am with Trump on most policy. It is not policy that concerns me with Donald Trump 

Trump continues to say the 2020 election was a "rigged" election and makes his case for that claim. Despite overwhelming repudiation of this claim, from his own advisors, from other observers, and in numerous court cases, he spreads the lie and people still buy it. Undermining our democracy concerns me. 

Regarding the January 6th attack on the capitol, he says if reelected he will pardon most of the rioters and says January 6th was “a beautiful day” and says many of the rioters had “love in their heart”. I don't agree, of course, but do find it hypocritical to want to throw the book at Jan. 6 rioters when ANTFA rioters who were more violent and more destructive were handled with kid gloves. I think the proper view is that all rioters who commit acts of violence and destruction should be punished regardless of the political affiliation. That ANTIFA got off the hook for acts of violence is no justification for excusing  Trumpinista violence. 

I am particularly concerned with his response to a question about Ukraine. He says if he is reelected, he will have the war settled on day one, "in 24 hours."  What does that mean? Is he going to force Ukraine to surrender? Is he going to drop the big bomb? He also will not even say he wants Ukraine to win the war. After seeing this interview, I am fearful than under a Trump administration, Putin will be allowed to reassemble the old Soviet empire. 

I fear for our Democracy and the world Trump should be reelected. 

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Lee signs bill changing appointment authority for Nashville airport board

By Jon Styf | The Center Square, May 19, 2023 - The Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority will now have a new makeup with appointments from state leadership after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill to change the way board members are appointed.

The new structure will make it an eight-member board with two appointees each for the mayor, governor, House speaker and Senate speaker.

Kirk Schaffer, former associate administrator for airports for the Federal Aviation Administration, testified in committee the change could also create issues for the airport in terms of FAA funding grants if a legal battle occurred between the city and state.

The bill is one of several impacting Metro Nashville, including a bill to lower the number of Metro council members from 40 to 20 in 2027, a bill to change who appoints sports authority board members, a bill to eliminate a supermajority vote requirement for demolition at the fairgrounds and a bill to block Nashville from transferring excess funds in the Music City Center tax capture to Nashville’s general fund. 

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How Should Metro Spend $10 Million?

by Rod Williams, May 20, 2023- Here is what the PBNashville website says about participatory budgeting: 

Participatory Budgeting is a chance for communities to decide together how government money is spent. You can submit an idea for a project or improvement through June 1, and then the community will vote for their favorites. After the votes are counted, Metro will implement the voted projects and our community ideas will come to life.

I am a sceptic. For one thing, I believe representative democracy is better than direct democracy. Representative democracy tampers the immediate and temporary passion of the masses. Representatives can look at the whole picture and consider cost and benefits, and alternatives between choices, and best practices. They can do the background study and hear from knowledgeable experts.  Sometimes what the mass of people want is simply not workable. While ever person who has watched it rain thinks they know how to fix flooding, a storm water management expert can explain why certain approaches are just unworkable. The same with homelessness, traffic, crime, education and almost everything the government does. Representative government, although often imperfect involves, or at least it should involve, gathering information, deliberation and persuasion and compromise. 

Okay, I may have overstated the case.  What is before us is not a choice between representative government and mob rule, but simply letting "the people" decide how to spend $10 million. Still, I do not like the concept.  I have served as a neighborhood organization chairman and as a board member of a neighborhood group and as councilman I worked with lots of different neighborhood groups.  When anything is decided by "the community," or "the people" it is not really the community or the people who decide but the activist in the community.  A lot of people who work forty hours a week, keep the house running, and help kids with homework do not have the time to study issues and attend meetings and organized their neighbors. Often a decision by "the community" or "the people" is not what the most people want but what people with more time and on their hands and more passion want. 

We have a process for funding projects, that involves a planning document called the Capital Improvements Budget.  It lists capital projects such as sidewalks, and schools, and road widening, and playgrounds and all kinds of other capital improvements.  Projects get in this document by recommendation from department heads, councilmembers and others who perceive needs. The projects are rated as to urgency and sources of funding and this list is then voted on by the Council following a public hearing. Then when the Council passes a budget, an item in the budget allocates a certain amount for capital spending and projects are funded from the list which has already been established. This is an orderly, thoughtful, impassionate process. I see no reason to supplement this process with a supposedly more democratic process. 

I went to the website to submit my idea, but the website would not let me. The deadline is not until June 1st. Maybe I will try again tomorrow.  I was going to submit the idea of putting the $10 million into additional funding for the Captial Improvements Budget. A list of submitted ideas is available but putting the $10 million into funding the Capital Improvements Budget is not one of them. 

To learn more about Participatory Budgeting, follow this link

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Bill Haslam will serve as the national co-chair of Tim Scott's 2024 presidential campaign.

by Rod Williams, May 18, 2023 - The Tennessean reports that former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will serve as the national co-chair of Tim Scott's 2024 presidential campaign. (link

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Nashville mayoral race analysis: Candidate platforms come into focus in crowded field

The Tennessean, May 20, 2023-  Nashville mayoral race analysis: Candidate platforms come into focus in crowded field

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This is who is running for Mayor. (update)

by Rod Williams, May 20, 2023 update. Fran Bush has now had her qualifying petition verified and is a candidate for mayor. 

by Rod Williams, May 18, 2023- The qualifying deadline to run for Mayor, Vice Mayor, and Metro Council in the August election was today at noon.  As of this posting, the last Election qualifying petition update was 11:30PM yesterday, so this may not be the final list. Someone could have turned in their petition this morning. However, this is the list of those who had turned in a petition as of last night. I will update when the final list is posted. To see the petition list, follow this link

If a candidate qualifies and then has a change of mind, they may withdraw from the race up until May 25th at noon.

This is the list as of now of who is running for Mayor. Also, I have posted links to the candidate's campaign website if I can fine it and other news about the candidate.

Natisha "Our Miss" Brooks, ran in the Republican primary election for the U.S. House to represent the 5th Congressional District. link, link

Fran Bush, former school board member representing southeast Davidson County. linklink, link

Heidi Campbell, state senator representing south and west Davidson County. link, link

Bernie Cox, business owner, entrepreneur, previously ran for mayor in 2019.  link

Jim Gingrich, Nashville newcomer and former Alliance Bernstein COO. link, link 

Sharon Hurt, at-large Metro Council member and former nonprofit executive. link, link 

Stephanie JohnsonCreative Director for a skincare company. link, link

Freddie O'Connell, two-term Metro Council member representing Germantown, downtown and Music Row. link, link

Alice Rolli, businessperson and neighborhood activist, served in former Gov. Bill Haslam's administration and as former Sen. Lamar Alexander's campaign chief. link, kink

Vivian Wilhoite, Davidson County property assessor and former Metro Council member. link, link

Matt Wiltshire, former Metro official working on economic development and affordable housing issues. link

Jeff Yarbro, state senator representing Sylvan Park to Antioch. link

In addition to the above list of those who have had a petition verified, these are candidates who have had a petition issued but as yesterday had not turned in their petition.

Michael Rowan

Wisdom Zerit Teklay, link

By now you probably know who is definitely not running for mayor: Mayor John Cooper, former mayor Megan Barry, State Rep. Bob Freeman, Council Member Bob Mendes, progressive activist 0dessa Kelly, Scarlett Foundation CEO Tara Scarlett, and anyone else who was speculated to be running. Stay tuned for an update.

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Thursday, May 18, 2023

The Nashville Mayoral Debates debut on May 18

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2023 Nashville mayoral debate: Key moments as candidates seek to set themselves apart

 by Cassandra Stephenson and Vivian Jones, The Tennessean, May 18, 2023- Core city services and restoring Metro’s relationship with the state were key points of debate as candidates vying to lead Nashville as mayor sought to set themselves apart during the first of The Nashville Mayoral Debates on Thursday evening. ...

 Eleven candidates qualified to be on the ballot .. Two other petitions are still undergoing verification. Nine candidates were invited to participate in the debate based on their fundraising totals and elected positions: 

  • Natisha Brooks, former educator
  • Heidi Campbell, state senator representing parts of Nashville
  • Jim Gingrich, former chief operating officer of AllianceBernstein
  • Sharon Hurt, at-large Metro Nashville Council member
  • Freddie O'Connell, Metro Nashville Council member representing Nashville's downtown district
  • Alice Rolli, business and education strategist, and former political aide to former Gov. Bill Haslam
  • Vivian Wilhoite, Davidson County assessor of property
  • Matt Wiltshire, former economic development director with experience in affordable housing
  • Jeff Yarbro, state senator representing parts of Nashville

.. Here are some of the top moments of the debate. ... 

“We made most of our affordable housing less affordable when we raised property taxes,” Rolli said. “We contributed to the housing costs of our older housing stock, which is by definition more affordable.” ....

... Rolli also took a swing at current city leaders — including several candidates on the stage — for dragging Nashville into national issues. “We need to get out of the business of nationalizing city hall,” Rolli said. “In my city hall, we will not have a pro-life rally, and we will not have a pro-choice rally. We will be completely focused on a pro-first graders reading rally, and a pro-filling the potholes, and pro-fixing our debt. That is the job of the city.” (There is too much info to fairly pick and choose what to repeat from this article. If you subscribe to The Tennessean, read it at this link.)

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Gov. Bill Lee signs bill preventing teachers from being fired for not using a student’s preferred pronouns

 my comment: YES!

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Join us for lunch on TUESDAY JUNE 6th at Ludlow & Prime in Brentwood!

We have confirmed Alice Rolli, Matt Whiltshire, Natisha Brooks,
Sharon Hurt, Freddie O'Connell, 
and Jim Gingrich

Guaranteed to be a robust conversation!



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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Tennessee will no longer serve as dues collector for teacher's unions and will increase teacher pay.

By Jon Styf | The Center Square, May 17, 2023- Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that will raise the minimum wage for K-12 teachers and end the collection of dues for professional employee organizations as an automatic payroll withdrawal.

Senate Bill 281 will go into effect July 1.

The minimum teacher pay will increase incrementally from the current $40,000 to $50,000 for the 2026-27 school year by bumping the minimum to $42,000 in the fall, $44,500 the next year and continuing to rise.

A fiscal note on the bill said it would require $125 million of the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement funding formula to be restricted for the pay increase starting next fiscal year and would result in a $1.6 million increase in combined local expenses starting in financial 2026-27.

Lee had proposed the bill and putting the two elements together, so he was expected to sign it.

Bill sponsors argued the Tennessee Education Association is a political organization and public entities should not be collecting their dues. They said TEA donated $529,000 to candidates in the 2018 election cycle and had assets of $11.5 million with $9.2 million in revenue and $10.9 million in expenses that year.

"The Paycheck Protection Act will increase teachers salaries and prevent automatic deductions from their paychecks," Americans for Prosperity Tennessee State Director Tori Venable said previously. "We thank Gov. Lee for putting these proposals forward and every member of the legislature who voted to prioritize students and teachers over unions."

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Moms For Liberty Williamson County Legislative Recap and my thoughts on the bills.

by Rod Williams, May 16, 2023- The following are a list of bills that were passed and enacted in the just completed legislative session.  This list comes from Mom's for Liberty and was in its May 13 newsletter. Clicking on the bill number will not take you to the bill as this is a cut and paste from Moms email letter.  To find the bill follow this link and enter the bill number. 

I support almost all of these bills and have added my comments. 

The above passed unanimously in both houses, so I assume this is a good bill.

The first three of the above seem to be common sense bills and were not controversial. 

 HBO437 amended the 2021 reading law by putting fewer third graders at risk of being held back this year. The change was necessitated due to the COVID-19 shutdown which resulted in drastic student learning loss.  Last year, around 65% of third graders statewide did not meet the threshold. In the House this bill passed 73 to 21. Republicans favored it and Democrats opposed. Here is some background on this bill as explained by a Knox.News article: 

In January 2021, Tennessee legislators passed a law requiring third graders who do not score “met” or “exceeded expectations” on TN Ready tests to attend a summer reading camp or tutoring program, or to repeat the grade. English language learners and those who have already been held back a grade are exempt. Students at the end of third grade right now are facing this issue.

After pushback, the law was tweaked. Next year, third graders won't have to face the worry of one test determining their fate. Gov. Bill Lee signed a law that will go into effect for the 2023-24 school year altering how third- to fourth-grade promotions are handled.

The new law takes another benchmark test into account when considering whether kids get held back, streamlines the retention appeals process and tracks summer school, tutoring and retention data to allow the state to measure the policy’s success. (There is more to it and to learn more follow this link.)

I am not sure what Democrats wanted exactly but they wanted a change that would result in even fewer retentions. I know COVID was rough, and I know canceling that beach vacation so your third grader can go to summer school is a bummer, but we must have standards. If we advance students automatically, we will return to a time when kids graduated high school unable to read. 

Given the heavy-handed abuse of parental rights by DCS, I have concerns about HB1109. I wonder if this bill was not a result of the case involving attorney Connie Reguli
I wholeheartedly support HB1269. It passed in the House by a vote of 72 to 22. Republicans in favor; Democrats opposed.

SB0300 is addresses the same issues as HB0437 above. Republicans favored; Dems opposed. 
I support both of the above. Certain divisive concepts such as that one race is inherently superior or inferior to another race should not be taught in our schools. 
I support. Dems opposed this bill.
Good bill!
Good bill!
I have reservations about HB0841. First of all, I doubt the necessity of the bill. I doubt there are publishers who knowingly distribute materials that violate state obscenity law to public schools and school districts. If that is a real problem, I could be persuaded this bill is needed. To read more about this issue follow this link

I doubt that the problem of harmful obscenity in public schools is a serious problem. Maybe it has occurred, but I think it is rare.  I have attended a Moms event where they displayed blown-up pages from books Moms found objectionable, and I did not find what was exhibited objectionable. 

There are books that address adult topics, but they are not addressed in a manner designed to arouse or titillate. I assume that if students can read at the reading level required and have the interest to read a book like The Kite Runner, they have the maturity to handle the subject matter. The book should not be required reading, but if a student decides to read the book, I am glad he is reading rather than watching Tic Tok or playing video games. 

While I am concerned about books that normalize deviancy being available to young children, I think we need to be cautious in banning books. There is a book in probably all school libraries that includes reverences to infidelity, having multiple wives, genocide, infanticide, bestiality, and gruesome torture. It is the Holy Bible. I would not want it removed from school libraries. 

I support HB0306.

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Monday, May 15, 2023

Beacon Center Young Professionals May Happy Hour, Tuesday May 22.


For more information, follow this link.

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Sunday, May 14, 2023

Connie Reguli's client Wendy Handcock has her conviction overturned.

by Rod Williams, May 14, 2023- Attorney Connie Reguli's conviction for facilitating custodial interference and two counts of accessory after the fact will almost certainly be invalidated because the conviction of the person who allegedly committed the crime had their conviction overturned by the Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals on Friday. The court ruled that the prosecution failed to allege all of the elements of custodial interference and the trial court gave improper instructions to the jury. 

Connie Reguli's conviction steams from her role in a 2018 endangered child alert that resulted in a missing child being located in Ms Reguli's home. To me it is clear that Reguli was not trying to keep her client from turning over the child to DCS. She was working on appealing DCS's custody of the child. Neither Hancock nor Reguli were aware that there was a warrant issued for Handcock to surrender the child. This story in The News provides details of how Reguli was trying to communicate and work with DCS. 

Wendy Handcock 
and Connie Reguli
I sat through the trail of the mother, Wendy Handcock. I reported on it at the time, and you can read my post at this and this link. At stake in the trail of Wendy Handcock was also the fate of charges against Connie Reguli. Should Wendy of won her case then the charges against Connie would have been dropped. If Wendy would have been found not guilty, then charges would have been dropped against Connie because that would mean there was no custodial interference and thus no crime to which Connie would have been an accessory. Unfortunately, Wendy Hancock was found guilty. The State then proceeded with the charges against Connie Reguli. In April 2022 Connie Reguli was convicted. If not for this action overturning Hancock's conviction, Connie Reguli could have lost her law license and could have faced one-to-two years in prison. or a suspended probationary sentence.

Connie Reguli is a long-time critic of the Department of Children's Services and is an outspoken advocate for parental rights. My observation is that Connie Reguli is a thorn in the side of DCS and the prosecution of her was revenge for her relentless defense of victims of DCS abuse and her activism for parental rights. She has testified before state lawmakers, calling for DCS reform. She also is a national spokesman for children and parental rights and often speaks at conferences across the country. Connie Reguli heads a national group called Family Forward Foundation. The mission statement of the organization says: "The Family Forward Foundation is a national organization dedicated to the rights of familial integrity, and the rights of parents and children to be free from unreasonable intrusion of the government, as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution."  

 I had met Connie Reguli through political activity but became aware of her fight for parental rights through a friend who had a long involvement with the courts is trying to regain the right to mother her child. 

I have long had an interest in the issue of parental rights, stemming from my own experience as a divorced father who had to fight for his right to have regular visitation with his young daughter. While I never got entangled with DCS or had my parental rights or visitation rights revoked, I had to fight to have regular visitation enforced. During this time, I got involved with a couple of parents' rights groups, one called DAD (Dads Against Discrimination) and another called PARENT (I can't recall the acronym). While in these groups, which were as much self-support groups as political activist groups, I heard many stories of the system abusing parental rights and acting in what certainly did not seem to be the best interest of the child. Many of these stores were heartbreaking.  Thankfully, since that time, there has been meaningful reform that levels the playing field for fathers who want to remain active in their child's life. While that is a good thing, there are still horror stories of DCS abuse and parents cavalierly losing their parenting rights. 

I am delighted to see this development. Our justice system often fails to provide justice and I am glad there are people like Connie Reguli fighting to for the rights of parents and children and a more just society. I am happy for Wendy Hancock and Connie Reguli and an outcome that tilts toward justice. It is good to see an injustice reversed. It needs to happen more often. 

Below is the Court order overturning the conviction of Wendy Hancock:

 State Of Tennessee V. Wendy D. Hancock

Case Number:M2022-00483-CCA-R3-CD

In August of 2018, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) secured an ex parte order placing B.B.,1 the minor daughter of Wendy Dawn Hancock, Defendant, in the custody of DCS after a referral prompted an investigation. During the span of severaldays, Defendant and B.B. stayed at both a hotel in Lebanon and Defendant’s attorney’s, Connie Reguli’s (“Ms. Reguli’s”) home in Brentwood without ever being formally served with the ex parte order. Police eventually located B.B. and Defendant in Brentwood.

Defendant was indicted for one count of custodial interference, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-306. Ms. Reguli was also charged with several offenses for her actions. Defendant sought a dismissal of the indictment before trial. The trial court denied the motion. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of custodial interference. She was sentenced to two years on supervised probation. The trial court denied the motion for new trial; Defendant appealed. On appeal, Defendant argues that: (1) the indictment should be dismissed because it fails to allege all of the elements of custodial interference; (2) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on the elements of custodial interference; (3) the trial court improperly instructed the jury that the ex parte custody order was “valid and enforceable”; (4) the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction; and (5) Tennessee should adopt an advice of counsel defense for specific intent crimes. Because the trial court improperly instructed the jury essentially removing one of the elements of the offense and lowering the burden of proof, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and vacate Defendant’s conviction. We remand the case to the trial court for any further proceedings that may be necessary.

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