Saturday, August 05, 2023

I love polls. The Beacon Center releases its first quarterly poll. See what Tennesseans believe about education, who they support for president and more.

by Rod Williams, August 5, 2023- I love polls, but then I am a political junky and maybe I am not normal.  I like to know what people think. I trust polls.  Now, when I say that I trust polls I must qualify that. I don't trust all polls.  

There are push-pull polls designed to get a certain result. They are not really polls and are instead telemarketing techniques designed to get a certain result. These polls ask leading questions that push the person being polled to give a certain answer. Some political campaigns use this technique. The pollster may ask the polled person if they are aware that candidate X took such and such position on an issue. Then they may ask if knowing candidate X took that position are they more are less likely to vote for that candidate. Then they ask, in the upcoming election, for whom are you voting. 

This technique also often involves selective facts and relies on people not knowing how policy is made. A Congressman may vote for an amendment to a defense appropriation bill to ban transexual surgery for enlisted people. Assume the amendment to ban transsexual surgery fails.  Then when the Defense appropriation comes to a vote assume the Congressman votes for the bill.  His opponent may claim Congressman X voted to fund transexual surgery. In truth, the only way he could vote not to fund it was to not fund any of our national defense needs. This technique is used by people of all political persuasions to attack their opponents. 

There are also polls that are designed to get a specific answer based who is selected to participate in the poll.  Climate change skepticism has been spread by polls of "scientist" who question if man-made climate change is real. These polls of scientist have been around for many years, but less so in recent years.  When a poll says it polled "scientist," one needs to question who are these scientists? Are they relevant scientist or are they TV weathermen known as "climatologist" and are they chiropractors, or maybe they are legitimate scientist but in a totally unrelated field.  

When one's on side is losing in a campaign, supporters will often say, "well, no one ever polled me." That does not make a poll illegitimate. Polls use scientific sampling and if done right they are pretty accurate. It seems to be a go-to pollical position, that when the polls do not give you the answer you desire, to question the validity of the poll. 

Sometimes polls do miss the mark. In the run up to the 2020 election, quite a few polls showed Joe Biden with a significant lead, both nationally and in important swing states. While Biden did win, it was closer than polls showed it would be.  One explanation for this is that Trump supporters are more protective of their privacy than Democrats and less trusting of pollsters. Professional pollsters learn from this and adjust and makes allowances for this next time.  

Some critics of polls will argue that polls underrepresent certain people because certain people are less likely to answer calls from people they don't know, or certain voters are older and don't respond to text messages. Sometime people may argue that college graduates tend to respond to polls more than noncollege graduates so the polls are over representative of college graduates. If that is found to be true pollsters make adjustments for that. Good polling techniques take these issues into account.  

Sometime polling is not very informative and is open to interpretation. Take the question, are we headed in the wrong direction or the right direction on issue X?  Say the issue is crime; some could think we need more police to combat crime, and others could think we need more poverty programs and violence interveners. Both think we are headed in the wrong direction but have vastly different solutions for heading in the right direction.  That poll question is simply not that informative.

Sometimes polling is not very informative, sometimes it is designed to manipulate, or to deceive, or to influence and sometimes it is designed to tell people what they want to hear. Good polling, however, simply discovers what people think and shares that information.  Polling is not perfect, but if done right, it is pretty good.

The Beacon Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, independent organization dedicated to providing expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee. I have followed them and have been a supporter for many years. They do policy and do not do politics. They are good at what they do. To do good policy, one needs good data. To that end, Beacon has started deep public opinion polling on a wide range of issues. I trust them to not manipulate but to do it right and play it straight. 

Becon's polls are actually conducted by the Targoz group, a major public opinion and market research consulting firm located here in Nashville. 

In July Beacon Poll released the first quarterly state survey asking Tennessee voters how they feel about a variety of issues. In the first poll, Beacon found that 77% of Tennesseans agree that more public and private educational choices are needed, while only 9% disagree. When it comes to Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), the vast majority of voters (69%) said they believe that the program should be expanded statewide while only 17% disagree.  The poll shows that ESAs are extremely popular even with Democratic voters (61%-26%). The poll found that Donald Trump has a 21-point lead (55%-34%) over Joe Biden in Tennessee, while Ron DeSantis leads Joe Biden by 16 points (52%-36%). 

For a political junkie like me, I am pleased to have a poll that digs deep into public opinion and a poll I can trust. To see all of the poll questions, just the way they were asked, and the results follow this link

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Friday, August 04, 2023

Alice Rolli makes the runoff! Report from the Alice Rolli watch party and thoughts on the election.

by Rod Williams, August 4, 2023- I am so excited to see Alice Rolli make it to the runoff last night. She will face Council member Freddie O'Connell in a runoff in six weeks. O'Connell won yesterday's election with 27.13% of the vote and Alice Rolli came in second with 20.21% of the vote.  Other front runners followed with Matthew Wiltshire getting 16.97% of the vote, State senator Jeff Yarbro with 12.19% and Heidi Campbell 8.23%.

I was at the Alice Rolli watch party and had a great time. It is exhilarating to win, and last night a win was making it into the runoff. Just a few days ago, polls showed Alice Rolli and Matt Witshire neck and neck for second place. As we watched the returns come in precinct by precinct one could see the momentum build and confidence of victory grow.

I saw a lot of old friends and met people I had not known before. I met the reporters with the publication The Pamphleteer and enjoyed our conversation. I talked to David Fox, whom I had not seen since his election for mayor. I met Alice Rolli's mother and sister.  I met retired Tennessee National Guard Brigadier General Kurt Winstead who ran in the Republican Primary for the 5th Congressional District last go around. We had an interesting talk about the rising isolationism in the Republican Party. It was good to see Tony Watson, former candidate for the Metro Council in the same district that I used to represent which is now represented by the leftist firebrand Ginny Welsh. You can guess what we talked about. I talked to Council member Courtney Johnston, in my view one of the brightest, hardest working, and most principled members of the body. I am glad she was reelected to a second term.  I also met Dia Hart, unsuccessful candidate for District 31. I had supported her campaign and had talked to her on the phone but never met her in person. And there were lots of others.

The watch party took place at Coco's new event space. Coco's is long-time authentic Italian restaurant in town and one of my favorite places to eat. We were fed dinner and the cafeteria style dinner was just as good as what you order in the restaurant. The food was great, there was wine and a nice jazz band. I was there from about 7PM till 10:30PM.

In addition to the Alice win, another good outcome of this election was to see Councilman Russ Pulley make it into the runoff for an at-large seat. Russ Pulley is a voice of reason and a champion of public safety who last term beat back an attempt to cut the police budget

In the at-large race, Council Member at-large Zulfat Suara won over 10% of the vote, so she wins one of the five at-large seats outright. The next eight candidates will compete for the remaining four seats. Here is how, Suara and the next candidates scored: 
Zulfat Suara 10.66%
Delishia Porterfield  9.06%
Burkley Allen 7.97%
Olivia Hill 6.78%
Howard Jones 6.65%
Quin Evans-Segall 5.95%
Russ Pulley 5.88%
Chris Cheng 5.78%
Jeff Syracuse 5.42%

Despite the excitement of seeing Aice Rolli make the runoff and Russ Pulley make the runoff for at-large, they still have to win the next election. Also, it is generally disappointing to see what happened in the Council races.  I am pleased to see Davette Blalock make the runoff, but I was hoping she would win outright.  

I have not yet done a district-by-district examination of the council races, but I know the Council tiled further to the left. Here is part of what The Pamphleteer had to say:

Last night, ten of the fifteen candidates endorsed by the Nashville Justice League won their council positions outright, with three at-large endorsees advancing to the runoff. NJL is a progressive political organization that counts among its allies Sandra Sepulveda, Ginny Welsch, Delishia Porterfield, and Sean Parker—all of whom retained or won their seats and are fervent O'Connell supporters.

To get a sense of who these people are, here's a quick summary:

I'll do a deeper dive into the results of the election for individual council races soon. We need to make sure that those reasonable or conservative candidates who made it into the runoff, win the next round. The most important race, however, is the race for mayor. Despite Nashville having a large council, we have a relatively weak council. The real power lies in the mayor's office. 

We have a real clear choice in the upcoming election.  With such a crowded field, for many people it was difficult to tell the candidates apart in yesterday's election. With a choice of candidates narrowed to a choice between O'Connell and Rolli, there is a stark contrast and a clear choice. On crime, education, fiscal management, and taxes, I hope Nashvillians will choose the voice of sanity rather than to continue our downward spiral. 

While candidates and candidates' close supporters always appear cheery and optimistic, we need to face reality and realize this is an uphill battle for Alice to win this runoff. It will be a challenge to convince people who voted for Heidi Campbell in this election to vote for Alice Rolli in the runoff. While the contrast between the candidates is clear, Nashville is a progressive city. I am not so sure many Nashvillians would not rather be like Portland, Oregon and Chicago rather than Miami. It is disappointing but progressives have the edge. 

On the other hand, there is still a significant number of sane Democrats and Republicans in Davidson County. Trump was not a normal Republican, yet he got 36% of the vote in Davidson County. So, there is a sizeable number of voters who consider themselves conservative. In addition, I believe there are a sizeable number of Democrats who believe we are taxed enough, who believe we need more police instead of fewer, and who believe our schools can be better and the school board should be held accountable for better results. If one adds together Republicans and sane Democrats, I believe they constitute a majority. This election can be won by Alice Rolli, if sane Democrats and Republicans turn out and vote. 

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Wednesday, August 02, 2023

My endorsements for the Mayoral and Council races.

Alice Rollie
for Mayor
For Mayor:
Alice Rollimore info and more and more

For Vice Mayor: No Recommendation. Either choice would be OK. 

Russ Pulley
for CM at-large
For Council Member at-large: Russ Pulley. 
While one may vote for up to five candidates, it is not required. By voting for  fewer than five candidates, one's vote has more weight. To only vote for one candidate, is almost like voting for that candidate five times. My primary reason for supporting Russ Pulley is that he stopped the Council from slashing the police budget by $2.6 million. That money had been cut from Mayor Cooper's budget and was not in the council version of the budget.  He moved to amend the budget and had those funds restored. This effort only passed by one vote. Russ Pulley is champion of public safety. For more on this, follow this link. Also, on other issues, Pulley votes the right way. 

If you are inclined to vote for more than one candidate, I would recommend BURKLEY ALLEN who is an incumbent at-large member. There are two Republican running, both of whom I have met and talked to and both of whom I think would make good members of the Metro Council. They are STEPHEN DOWNS and GILBERT RAMIREZ.

District 1: No recommendation. Incumbent Jonathan Hall is not seeking reelection. Below are some facts about the candidates and some impressions. I would most likely narrow my choice to one between Rob Harris and Timothy Thompson. 
  • RUBY BAKER. From what she says on her website, I am not impressed. She says of development, "We don’t have to be in a hurry. We can progress in a more deliberate, sustainable way, that will slow the effects and minimize gentrification, increase affordability, and mitigate the impacts of climate change." One may make a rational argument against increased development, but inhibiting new development does not increase affordability but leads to less affordability. Scarcity drives up prices. Also, it leads to urban sprawl which contributes to more greenhouse gas emissions, not less. I am not impressed. more,
  • SEAN DAILEY. From his website, "Sean is not in favor of raising taxes on residents who've already suffered from round after round of property tax hikes." more
  • ROB HARRIS A Better Nashville, a political action committee with ties to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and John Ingram of Ingram Industries and Nashville SC, contributed a combined $5,000 to his campaign. He has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.  more
  • JOY SMITH KIMBROUGH Kimbrough contributed a $15,000 personal loan to her campaign. (link) She is the best funded of the candidates. She received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood which would disqualify in my opinion. 
  • TIMOTHY THOMPSON Craig Huey, a prominent conservative religious personality, endorses Thompson (link) more

District 2: No recommendation. KYONZTÈ TOOMBS is the incumbent and is running unopposed for reelection. 

Davette Blalock
For Council District 4
District 3: No recommendation. JENNIFER GAMBLE is the incumbent and is running unopposed for reelection. 

District 4: I am enthusiastically supporting Davette Blalock. She has previously served in the Council, is a solid conservative, has common sense, and works hard. Term limited Councilman Robert Swope supports her as his replacement. She is viewed 'favorable" by the Davidson County Republican Party. She has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Policemore, more

District 5: I am supporting TERRI LAINE KLINGNER. Her website says, "With a deep passion for our community and a commitment to fiscal responsibility, social values, and engaging our local communities, I believe I can contribute significantly to the betterment of Nashville, its residents, and my constituents in District 5."  Craig Huey, a prominent national conservative religious personality, endorses her. SEAN PARKER is the
incumbent and a very liberal member of the council. He received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood. 

District 6: (update) No recommendation, however, both CLAY CAPP and DANIEL MCDONELL received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood.  While that is not the only factor I would consider in choosing for whom I would vote, and is not automatically disqualifying, receiving that endorsement tends to make me less inclined to vote for someone, so I would look at BRANDES B. HOLCOMB to see if he is a viable and better candidate.   Brandes Holcomb's name will still appear on the ballot, but he is not campaigning and has endorsed Clay Capp. 

District 7: DANNY WILLIAM. He has an impressive record of community involvement. My endorsement, however, is a weak endorsement. His list of issues of concern say nothing about support for fully funding the police or keeping taxes low.  I perceive him to be the best of among the three candidates running for this seat but that's not saying much. 

District 8: MARTEZ COLEMAN. He has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police and his opponent has the endorsement of Planned Parenthood. 

District 9: TONYA HANCOCK. She is the incumbent and deserves another term.

District 10: JENNIFER FRENSLEY WEBB. I am impressed by her resume and agree with her support for improved public safety funding and other issues. She is running against an incumbent who needs to be defeated. 

District 11: SHERARD EDINGTON.  He has the endorsement of term-limited incumbent Councilman Larry Hagar. Hagar is one of the "good councilmen," and I am endorsing Edington primarily on the basis of Hager's endorsement. Edington also has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Firefighters Union. 

District 12: ERIN EVANS. She is the incumbent running unopposed. She has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police

District 13: No recommendation. Write in a name. RUSS BRADFORD is the incumbent running unopposed.  He has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. I am surprised he has the endorsement of the FOP.  Back in 2020, Bradford was one of 15 Metro Council members who signed on to a resolution calling for Cooper to oust police chief Anderson. Anderson's offense was that he issued arrest warrants for two of the riot ringleaders when rioters were threatening lives and destroying property in our city. He also is supported by the radical group called "Our Revolution.

District 14: No recommendation. Below are links to the websites of the two candidates and relevant facts. 
  • JORDAN HUFFMAN. He received $5,000 from A Better Nashville, a political action committee with ties to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and John Ingram of Ingram Industries and Nashville SC. He has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police and Firefighters Union but also Central Labor Council, SEIU, LINUA, and the Metro teacher's union.  Such strong union support gives me pause. 

Elect Alexa Little
for Council District 16
Council District 15: DAN JONES.

District 16: ALEXA LITTLE. This is easy one. Alexa Little is well-qualified and grounded inJohn Carden reality.  Her opponent is the most radical person to ever serve in the Metro Council, who among other things attempted to slash the Metro Police budget by 42%. Please cast your vote for Alexa Little.
District 17: TONYA ESQUIBEL more. I know her. She would
Elect Tonya Esquibel
For Council District 17

make a great council member. 

District 18: No Recommendation. Write in your own name. 
District 19: JONATHAN TURNER. I don't know the candidate and have not heard much about this race. That Truner received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, and that he served a policy analyst for the late Senator Douglas Henry causes me to favor his candidacy. Consider this a weak endorsement based on limited information. Here is information on the other candidates. 
  • JASPER HENDRICKS, III. He received $5,000 from A Better Nashville, a political action committee with ties to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and John Ingram of Ingram Industries and Nashville SC
  • JACOB KUPIN.  He received several union endorsements including The Central Labor Council, SEIU and the teachers' union. These endorsements do not recommend a candidate to me. When one receives these endorsements, they come with expectations. He received $5,000 from A Better Nashville, a political action committee with ties to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and John Ingram of Ingram Industries and Nashville SC
District 20: ROLLIN HORTON

District 21: BRANDON TAYLOR.  This is a reluctant endorsement, but Taylor looks good compared to his challenger. In fact, compared to his challenger he looks very good. Taylor is the incumbent. Taylor is progressive and I do not like his record, but his opponent is considerably more radical.  Brandon received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood (wish is a negative in my view) and he has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police (which is a plus in my view).  Taylor's opponent is JAMEL R. CAMPBELL-GOOCH and his website is all about Black power. He is active with Southern Movement Committee which advocates abolishing police and jails. He advocates a Metro funded guaranteed basic income for Nashvillians. Please vote for Brandon Taylor.
District 22: SHERI WEINER. She formerly served in the Council. She is running unopposed. She is a Republican and was a good member of the Council. I am pleased to see her return. 

Elect Thom Druffel
for Council District 23
District 23:
He has been a voice for responsibility and common sense on the Council and I see no reason to make a change. He has a challenger who I also like, but I am sticking with Thom Druffel. 
District 24: No recommendationBRENDA GADD is running unopposed, 

District 25: DAVID ACKERMAN.
District 26: COURTNEY JOHNSTON. Courtney is the incumbent and is running unopposed. She is one of the good councilmembers and I am delighted she will serve another tern. 

District 27:  ROBERT NASH. He is the incumbent, is running unopposed, has been a good council member and deserves a second term. 

District 28: DAVID BENTON. I don't know the candidate and have not heard much about this race so this is an endorsement made with little information so one may want to take a look at the other candidate also.  Craig Huey, a prominent conservative religious commentator has endorsed Benton and Benton has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. Benton's opponent is TRAVIS LONDON who has received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood. Based on just this limited information, I am supporting Benton.
Elect Michele Vetter
For Council District 29
District 29:
MICHELE VETTER. She has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. Also, Craig Huey, a prominent conservative religious commentator, endorses her. Looking at her three opponents' websites, it is clear that Vetter is the best choice. The other three spout liberal positions. JOHN REED's website features a picture of him taking part in the disruptive "Tennessee Three" demonstration in the State House Chamber. Please vote for Michele Vetter. 

District 30: No recommendation, write in your own name. Unfortunately, SANDRA SEPULVEDA is the incumbent and is running unopposed. She is a radical. I recommend casting no vote or writing in your own name.

Elect Dia Hart
For Council District 31
District 31: DIA HART. She is running against the incumbent JOHN RUTHERFORD who is always a dependable vote for the most liberal position. 

District 32: No Recommendation. JOY STYLES, the incumbent, is running unopposed.

District 33: No Recommendation. ANTOINETTE W. LEE, the incumbent is running unopposed.

District 35: JASON SPAIN. He appears to be qualified and a reasonable person. He received $7,500 from A Better Nashville, a political action committee with ties to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and John Ingram of Ingram Industries and Nashville SC. He has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. His opponent is CARSON SMART. I can find no website for him. He did not complete The Tennessean's Q&A sent to all of the candidates. I assume Smart is not serious about his candidacy. 

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Who is funding the 2023 Nashville mayoral race?

by Rod Williams, July 30, 2023- The Tennessean has done an excellent job reporting on who is funding the various candidates for mayor. You have to have a subscription to The Tennessean to access the article, but you can find it at this link: On the campaign trail: Who is funding the 2023 Nashville mayoral race?

The biggest player seems to be A Better Tomorrow which is a PAC financed by Southwest Value Partners, whose properties include Nashville Yards, Grand Hyatt Nashville, and Union Station Hotel. A Better Tomorow contributed $2,500 each to Heidi Campbell, Jim Gingrich (who has suspended his campaign), Freddie O'Connell, Matt Wiltshire, and Jeff Yarbro. A Better Tomorow also contributed $100,000 to "A Better Nashville," a PAC tied to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and John Ingram that contributed more than $200,000 to various candidates for the Metro Council.

Freddie O'Connell is the front runner in the race for mayor.  This is what The Tennessean says about his campaign fundraising: 

O'Connell has received at least $12,500 from six PACs, with the top three contributions coming from Waller Lansden PAC ($5,000), A Better Tomorrow ($2,500) and $2,000 each from Gresham Smith PAC and Tennessee Laborers' PAC.

O'Connell also saw second-quarter contributions from other elected officials' PACs and campaign accounts, including $1,100 from Venick for Council Campaign, $500 from Sandra Sepulveda for Council, $500 from Bill Beck for State Rep and $250 from Friends of Sheri Weiner.

Among O'Connell's contributions from LLCs and businesses are The Johnny Cash Museum ($1,800), an LLC connected to Nudie's Honky Tonk ($1,800), real estate businesses and law offices.

Notable donors include: John Ingram ($1,800), Stephanie Ingram ($1,232.70), Bridgestone Communications Director Emily Weaver ($1,800), Lisa Giarratana ($1,300), former Ryman Hospitality CEO Colin Reed ($1,000), JIGSAW consulting firm co-founder Sam Reed ($1,000), William Freeman of Freeman Webb ($1,000), former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry ($700), former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang ($500), Silicon Ranch Project Development Associate Patrick Ferrell ($425), Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms Executive Director Rebecca Ratz ($350), Judge William Higgins ($350), Judge Jim Todd ($250), and state Sen. Charlane Oliver, D-Nashville ($250).

I find it interesting that an entity would fund multiple candidates for the same office. This is not new; I have observed it for years. I don't get it.  Do not the contributions cancel each other out? I guess they are just making sure their future phone calls are returned no matter which of the candidates to which they contributed get elected. A Better Tomorrow gave money to all the leading candidates except Alice Rolli.  Could such financial support for multiple other candidates actually help Rolli? If there are multiple viable candidates does that not mean that the chance of any one of those candidates winning outright is lessened? Do more viable candidates not increase Alice Rolli's chances of making the runoff? 

The candidate with the most funds-on-hand at the end of June was Jeff Yarbro with $509,849; followed by Matt Wilshire with $491,177; and Freddie O'Connell with $419,109. Other candidates trail considerably behind. 

Wilshire loaned his campaign $349,000. Jeff Yarbro only loaned his campaign $50,000 and O'Connell did not loan his campaign any money.

When a candidate gives money to his campaign, he cannot recoup that money. When a candidate loans himself money, he can raise money to pay himself back. As a practical matter, only if you win will anyone want to give you money to pay off your loan to your campaign. People want to ingratiate themselves with the winner and the winner can have fundraisers after his victory. No one cares to ingratiate themselves with the loser. I find it a little unseemly that a winning candidate for office can solicit fund to repay a loan to his campaign. Those who are big donors to candidates are often people wanting something from the city. Contributions prior to the election seem like a gamble; after the election it almost seems like paying extortion.

Natisha Brooks who is a very nice person, but a person who I do not think has what it takes to be mayor, loaned her campaign $62,630. I hope she can afford to lose it. 

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If You think Slashing the Police Budget 42% is a good idea, vote to reelect Ginny Welsch.

by Rod Williams, July 16, 2023- When Portland, Oregon slashed their police budget, murders in that city surged by 2,000%.  We were lucky that that same thing did not happen in Nashville. If had been up to Council Member Ginny Welch, Nashville would have suffered the same fate. In 2020 she attempted to slash Metro's police budget by 42%. If crime is a problem now, can you imagine the mayhem visited upon our city, had she succeeded? 

Ginny Welsch is the absolutely worst Council member to ever serve our city.  She is the most radical member to ever serve and there is not even a close second. She is an activist who has supported all kinds of leftist causes over the years. Her campaign for Council was financed by radicals from out of State.  Contributors to her Council campaign included LIUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America) among other radical groups. She received the endorsement of The Nashville Justice League and Our Revolution. Welch was a founder of the low-power, left-wing radio station, Radio Free Nashville.

If you live in District 16, please vote for Alexa Little. If you do not, you can still help defeat Welch. While early voting started today, a contribution now, may still have an impact. Campaigns always need money and people to wave signs at polling places. Please help elect Alexa Little and help defeat the most radical person to ever serve in the Metro Council. 

Below is more on Ginny Welsch's effort to defund the police.

Radicals lose fight to defund police, instead Council increases police funding by $2.6 million.

Ginny Welsch.
Attempt to slash police budget.
by 42% failed.
Russ Pulley.
Successfully added $2.6 million
 to fund additional police.
by Rod Williams, June 18, 2020- While I would have preferred a no-tax-increase budget, our public safety functions are in need of additional funding. If I were creating the budget, I would have tried to modestly increase funding for these services. The police, the 911 call center, ETMs and fire fighters are all understaffed. I would have defunded, reduced or suspended funds for General Hospital, the Human Relations Commission, the Barnes Fund, non-profits, the arts, parks, MTA. the Chamber, the bike lane program, recycling, and the sidewalk program. I would have dropped the idea that no metro employee should ever lose their job. Beyond these cuts, I would have cut library branches, hours or days until the budget balanced. Leadership could have sold such a budget to the public. People can understand that when you lose income, you have to cut expenses.

General Hospital can't fill its beds and poor people have other options ever since Medicaid. Not every city has a charity hospital; it is not required. Even our former progressive mayor Megan Barry proposed closing General. Most recyclables goes to the land fill anyway and the price tag of the program went up $1.5 million this year. It should be suspended until we determine the future of recycling. No one uses the bike lanes, or almost no one. We can halt expansion and no one would notice. We spend millions on sidewalks and don't get new ones. We mostly replace barely deteriorated sidewalks with new clean sidewalks. We should suspend the program until we find out why. In a time of crisis, until revenue returns we can temporarily reduce library service. We could have balanced the budget. If we had leadership who made the case, people would have accepted less services durning a time of crisis.

To his credit, Mayor Cooper in his budget at least recognized the importance of funding the police. His budget proposal included a $2.6 million increase for police. That increase in funding would fund 46 new position. As the budget process advanced, what emerged as the most likely budget to pass was the Mendes substitute budget. His budget proposal cut the $2.6 million for police and put that money into funding step increases for Metro employees. His proposal kept the police funding flat at $209 million.

Meanwhile the radial left composed of Black Lives Matter, Our Revolution, Gideon's Army and a bunch of other organizations united behind this idea of defunding the police. Now, defunding the police does not mean exactly the same thing everywhere it is proposed across the country. Some want to simply reduce police funding and put the money into social services while some want to completely abolish police departments. Nashville's radical community operating under an umbrella group called Nashville People's Budget Coalition proposed slashing the police budget by 42%. Ginny Welch carried the water for the radicals.

Ginny Welsch is probably the most radical member of the Council. She is an activist who has supported all kinds of leftist causes over the years. Contributors to her Council campaign included LIUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America) among other radical groups. She received the endorsement of The Nashville Justice League and Our Revolution. Welch was a founder of the low-power, left-wing radio station, Radio Free Nashville.

Tuesday night, Welsch sponsored Amendment 26 to the Mendes budget. It cut the Police by $107,670,143 and the Sheriff by $3,473,855. It got only three votes in favor, a couple abstentions and everyone else voted in opposition. Nashville has a very progressive Council, but they are not totally, completely nuts. We are not yet Seattle or San Franciso. Thank God.

The council then came to Amendment D by Councilman Russ Pulley. Pulley is Chairman of the Council's Public Safety Committee, has worked as a firefighter, paramedic, police officer and state trooper, as well as an FBI agent. He moved to amend the Mendes budget to add back the $2.6 million that had been in the mayor's budget. A lot of people abstained and the amendment got 21 votes, the minimum necessary to pass.

While I am disappointed the Council approved a huge tax increase, I am glad that we did not slash funding for public safety and that we recognized the need to increase funding for our undermanned police department. I commend Councilman Pulley for his leadership. Once the minutes of the meeting are posted, I will report on who voted to fund the police and who voted against public safety funding.

For more on this see this link and this link.

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Council resolution funding Gideon's Army withdrawn.

by Rod Williams, August 2, 2023 - On the agenda of Metro Council last night was a resolution to provide, funding to Gideon's Army in the amount of $750,000. Gideon's Army is an organization with criminal ties and is rumored to be engaged in criminal activity. The funding was to be used for "violence interruption services." I have posted about the organization at this link

The resolution appropriating the funding was on the "consent agenda." A piece of legislation is placed on "consent" if it is deemed non-controversial.  When it goes to committee, if it passes unanimously the committee or committees to which it is assigned, it remains on "consent." All resolutions on consent are lumped together and pass by a single vote of the Council. 

The resolution funding Gideon's Army also provided $750,000 to another organization by the name of Why We Can’t Wait, Inc. In committee, Councilman Robert Swope questioned Why We Can't Wait about their qualifications for the grant. It was revealed that the organization was only founded in 2015 and their budget for that year was only $23,000. Since that year, they have been relatively inactive. Councilman Swope voted "no" in committee which took the resolution off of consent and the sponsors then withdrew the resolution. 

This was a victory for sanity. An organization with no experience managing such large sums of money should not be awarded three-quarters of a million dollars. An organization with criminal ties known to hire criminals as employees and with a reputation of being an active gang should not be awarded any Metro funds.  Also, "violence interruption" is hard to quantify and there is little reason to believe such programs work. With Nashville short by 200 officers from fully funding the police department, we should not, in my view, be funding programs of such dubious nature. We should instead be funding police.  $1.5 million would have funded about 15 police officers.

While last night's council action was a win, I don't expect those who advocate funding Gideon's Army or groups like Gideon's Army to give up. They will try again. It is my hope that we elect enough good council members, that this type thing cannot happen and that we elect a mayor who would not support this. 

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Tuesday, August 01, 2023

U. S. Rep. Andy Ogles (TN-5th) votes to abandon Ukraine in its war for survival

Andy Ogles
R, TN- 5th
by Rod Williams, August 1, 2023- U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett of Knoxville (TN 2nd Congressional District) and U. S. Representative Andy Ogles (TN 5th Congressional District) both voted in favor of an amendment, by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, to the recently passed national defense appropriations bill that would have cut all funding for Ukraine. The vote failed by a vote of 70 in favor of the cut and 358 opposed. 

Ogles, in addition, proposed an amendment to cut off lend-lease authority for Ukraine. That amendment failed by a vote of 71 in favor and 360 opposed to the amendmentGeorgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene proposed an amendment to strip $300 million in aid to Ukraine. It failed by 341-89.  Again, Ogles and Burchett voted for the cut to aid and this time they were joined by Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee's 1st Congressional District. 

The vast majority of Congress from both parties voted to support Ukraine and oppose Russian leader Vladimir Putin. However, all of the votes for cutting aid to Ukraine came from Republicans. It is hard for me to see how anyone would vote to help Putin achieve his objective of destroying Ukraine. 

Diana Harshbarger
R, TN- 1st

Tim Burchett 
R, TN- 2nd
While in the full House, 70% Republicans still opposed the first two amendments mentioned above and 60% opposed the Marjorie Taylor Green Amendment this is concerning. On this issue, the Democrats were unanimous in standing by Ukraine. Three of Tennessee's eight Republicans want to throw Ukraine to the wolves. 

All of my life as I have observed politics, it was Democrats who were the party of all-we-are-saying-is-give-peace-a-chance, peace-at-any-price, unilateral disarmament. Most appropriation bills were bipartisan, but when there was an "anti-war" vote it came from a Democrat. Now, if there is an "anti-war" vote or an "American First" vote you can count on it coming from a Republican.

When three of our eight Republican Representatives vote to surrender to Russian aggression, I cannot automatically assume Republican is the way to vote.  I am regretting my support for Andy Ogles and can no longer depend on the Republican label to inform by voting decisions. 

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(Update)Council to vote on funding Guidon's Army tonight. This needs to be stopped!

by Rod Williams, August 1, 2023- On the Council agenda tonight is a resolution to appropriate $750,000 to Gideon's Army for the purpose of providing "violence interruption services." The resolution is SUBSTITUTE RESOLUTION NO. RS2023-2295. It is on the "consent agenda." A piece of legislation is on "consent" if the committee to which the legislation was assigned votes unanimously to approve the bill. All resolutions on consent are lumped together and pass by a single vote. There will be members of the Council voting for this tonight and not even know what they are voting for unless this is pulled off of consent. 

Gideons Army has been described by some as thug enterprise. Members of the organization have themselves been involved in criminal and violent activity. If you talk to police officers and people who know what is going on, they will tell you Gideon's Army is itself engaged in criminal activity. Given the reputation of the organization it may even be dangerous for me to post this commentary. Gideons Army does not need to be receiving city funding.

Time is short to act, but if you are reading this, please contact your councilmember or all councilmembers and urge them to pull SUBSTITUTE RESOLUTION NO. RS2023-2295 off of consent and then vote against it. Even if this passes, we need to know who voted for it and who did not. You can find your own council member's phone number and email address at this link. It you do not know who your member is, you can look it up here. There is way to email all Council members at the same time but unfortunately, I cannot locate that link at this time. To contact all council members at one time, follow this link. In step 2 when it asks you to select from a drop-down box the council district, select "Entire Metro Council."

News Channel 5 has reported on Gideon's Army and a shootout in the public housing project nicknamed "Dodge City" where a member of Gideon's Army was seen with an AK-47 style assault rifle and seems to be a participant in the violence. For more on this see: What was an employee of a non-violence group doing in the middle of a shoot-out in North Nashville with an "AK-47 style" weapon?"

For my previous reporting on Gideon's Army, see the following: 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Gideon's Army 'violence interrupter' pleads guilty, faces four years in federal prison for firearms charges

by Rod Williams, Dec. 30, 2021- Charles Brooks, convicted in 2006 on state charges for voluntary

manslaughter, employed by Gideon's Army as a "violence interrupter,"  is facing four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to firearms charges as a result of his role in a shootout in a North Nashville public housing project in April of this year.

The shoot-out occurred at the Cumberland View public housing project where Gideon's Army was supposedly working to end violence.  This housing project has long had a reputation as one of the worst and is sometimes referred to as "Dodge City," or at least it used to be referred to by that name back some years ago when I working as a social worker in the area. My understanding is that it has continued to be a violent neighborhood. Gideon's Army had claimed it had completely eliminated violence in the neighborhood before the shoot-out involving their 'violence interrupter' occurred. 

Gideon's Army is a favored political activist organization among Nashville's progressive elites. Despite exaggerating their success in ending violence and despite anti-White racism rhetoric and calling Meharry College president a "house nigger," the white-guilt-ridden progressive of our city love them.  They have received city funding and their views are taken seriously. As this incident was unfolding the organization was mounting a public-relations campaign to get over $1 million in Metro funding included in the city's 2021-2022 budget for violence interruption.  I will not be surprised if they still do not get funded.

The above story comes from Channel 5 reporting by Phil Williams. Thank you Phil Williams for bringing this to light.  To see a video and read more follow this and this link. 

Below is my previous blog post on Gideon's Army see below:

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Gideon's Army tells the public that it's all about justice, peace and harmony. But, buried among social media posts by some of the group's front-line leaders, NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered a controversial side of the politically connected group that most of the public has never seen. 
Those posts include descriptions of white people as being a "pestilence" accidentally unleashed on the world by an ancient scientist, suggestions that police should be made to fear going into Black neighborhoods, even descriptions of Meharry Medical College's highly respected president, Dr. James Hildreth, as a "house n****r." (Read more

Many may be mystified that white and middle or upper-class people kowtow, romanticize, and fund radical violent activists, racist thugs. This is nothing new.  The current era is much like the era of the mid 60's to mid 70's.  At that time Hollywood elites and other hip new leftists, what we would now call progressives, did the same thing.  The radical Black Panther Party was a favorite of that era's new leftist.  For an interesting and entertaining work addressing this phenomenon read Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers by Tom Wolf.

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Sunday, July 30, 2023

Brandon James Smith, Chief of Staff for Attorney General Jonathan Skermetti, is guest speaker at the Aug. 5 Breakfast Club.

From Lonnie Spivak:

Greeting Breakfast Club Members,

Brandon James Smith
We have a great meeting scheduled for Saturday, August 5th. We will unwind the Metro Council and Mayoral elections, and discussed the next steps as we prepare for the Mayoral run-offs and 2023. We also have a great speaker you will all enjoy. We are honored to have Brandon James Smith, Chief of Staff for Attorney General Jonathan Skermetti.

Mr. Smith will give us updates on all of the legal battles facing Tennessee, and the numerous lawsuits the Attorney General has brought against the US Government to protect our rights as individuals and a state.

 We will meet at Plantation Pub, located at 8321 Sawyer Brown Rd. Nashville, TN 37221. Our meeting will begin about 8:30 am and we will wrap up around 10:00 am. 


Brandon James Smith serves as Chief of Staff to Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti. He previously served under Tennessee Attorney General Slatery as Assistant Solicitor General and Director of Policy and Federalism. Before moving to Middle Tennessee to join his parents and siblings, Brandon was a senior advisor to Governor Sam Brownback in Kansas and Governor Matt Bevin in Kentucky. He previously worked for the Federalist Society and as an adjunct professor at American University. He is a graduate of Abilene Christian University, the University of Kansas, and the George Washington University School of Law. He currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee. 

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