Saturday, December 30, 2023

Nashville spent nearly $700,000 out of pocket on four lawsuits challenging state laws this year

By Jon Styf, The Center Square, Dec 28, 2023 - Nashville spent nearly $700,000 out of pocket on four lawsuits challenging state laws this year along with 1,645 hours of the department’s time, according to a new report from The Tennessean.

The $682,949 in out-of-pocket expenses included paying for outside counsel, expert witnesses, filing fees and court reporters, the newspaper said.

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office showed it spent $2,096.08 for court reporters, transcripts and filing fees for the four lawsuits but told the newspaper that it does not track the specific number of hours its attorneys spent on specific cases.

The first law is set to reduce the size of Metro Nashville’s council from 40 to 20 members. It was blocked for the most recent election but set to become law in 2027.

The second was a law intended to stop Nashville’s super-majority requirement for demolition at the Fairgrounds Speedway. The bill was later blocked by a three-judge panel.

A third law changing who had the power to nominate members of the Nashville Airport Authority board was also blocked. The bill intended to move authority for nominees from Nashville’s mayor to an eight-member board with two appointees each for the mayor, governor, House speaker and Senate speaker is unconstitutional and that new board is now vacated.

A similar bill changing appointments for Nashville’s Metropolitan Sports Authority is currently blocked through a temporary restraining order, the paper reported.

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50 Year Old Advice Still True Today

Click pic to see video.


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Friday, December 29, 2023

Ginny Welsch is lone Council member to oppose terrorist fighting tools for the Metro Police Department

by Rod Williams, Dec. 28, 2023- At the most recent Metro Council meeting, the Council approved the acceptance of a Homeland Security Grant of $740,450 that will provide the city with new equipment for the Office of Emergency Management and the Metro Police Department. The grant also included training in use of the equipment. The purpose of the grant was to "fund efforts to prevent, prepare for, protect against, and respond to acts of terrorism and other catastrophic events."

Among the equipment funded are atmospheric monitors, handheld spectrometers, pneumatic tools, portable radios and a Boston Dynamics Spot Robot. Usually accepting a grant from the Federal or State government is not controversial. Metro accepts grants almost every meeting. 

The part of this grant that was controversial was "Spot."  The robotic dog has specialized sensors that can detect possible chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats from a safe distance and is capable of investigating suspicious packages and suspected explosives. 

I am pleased to see Metro get this equipment including Spot.  We live in a dangerous world. It has been 21 years since 9-11. I am not going to surprised when we are next hit with a terrorist attack.  With our national borders unsecured and about 2 million unknown people walking into our country every year, I do not expect the next big attack to be airplanes flying into buildings but an attack on a well-attended public gathering by people who walked across the border. Events like Nashville's New Year's Eve bash would make prime targets. 

We do not only have a threat of international terrorism aiming at big targets to be concerned about, but we have the growing threat of home-grown antisemitic terrorist that are making threats against synagogues as well as a growing danger from right-wing anti-government groups. If a mysterious package is found planted in a local synagogue, I would much prefer being able to send in a robotic dog to investigate than a police officer.

Durning the debate on the resolution, Council Member Jordan Huffman explained the importance of the robotic dog for the MNPD’s hazardous device unit: "This will be utilized by the hazardous device unit by MNPD. I stated before that there have been over 300 [individual] bomb threats this year. If one of those is actually a bomb, then what we’re doing here tonight is worth it."

Huffman went on to explain the use for the atmospheric monitors, which he said will be placed in and around large crowds during events in Nashville to detect any harmful substances like anthrax that could potentially be thrown into the air.

Approval of this grant seems like a no-brainer to me. Why the opposition? Opponents apparently fear the robotic dog will be used to attack people and to spy on people. Watch the above video to see the debate. 

Ginny Welsch
cast lone vote against 
bomb-sniffing robot
District 22 Council Member Sheri Winer made a passionate plea for passing the resolution referencing the bomb threat that was made to Congregation Micah synagogue the weekend prior to the council meeting.

“My grandson and I are Jewish, as many of you in the room are,” said Weiner.  “I got a phone call as I’m walking out the door to take [him] to Sunday school, and my son-in-law with a quivering voice says to me, ‘Don’t take him, they’ve closed Sunday school.’ There was a bomb threat.”

Despite the resolution being thoroughly discussed and approved in committee, a move was made to defer action on the resolution. The move to defer failed by a vote of 15 in favor and 24 against. After more discussion the measure passed overwhelmingly with only one "no" vote and four abstentions.  District 12 Council Member Ginny Welsch was the only "no" vote. 

That Ginny Welsch would vote no is no surprise. While we have a lot of left-leaning progressives serving in the Metro Council, thankfully there is only one Ginny Welsch. While the Council is liberal, it is not totally nuts.  Ginny Welsch is by far the most radical member of the Metro Council. She has a consistent history of attempting to defund the police and votes against the police at every opportunity. There is no vote that she could cast that would surprise me. In 2020 she sponsored a budget amendment that would have slashed the funding for the Police by 40%.  Thankfully, she is one of a kind and no one is following her lead. She did not speak during the debate on the bill. 

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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

If you were forced to build a public sidewalk or a make payment to the in-lieu of sidewalk fund, you are eligible for a refund.

 by Rod Williams, Dec. 27, 2023- If you were forced to build a public sidewalk or a make a payment to the in-lieu of sidewalk fund, you are eligible for a refund. Follow this link to claim your refund. 

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Tuesday, December 26, 2023

U.S. national debt soars in 2023; per-taxpayer burden reaches $100,000

By Casey Harper, The Center Square, Dec.26, 2023- The U.S. national debt continued to soar in 2023, surpassing $33 trillion.

It's still rising rapidly.

The U.S. Treasury Department estimates the national debt at $33.87 trillion, but the deficit figures for December could put the figure over $34 trillion.

For fiscal year 2023, which began on Oct. 1, 2022, and ended Sept. 30, 2023, the deficit rose about $1.7 trillion. The federal government spent $6.13 trillion while total revenue was only $4.44 trillion, according to the Treasury Department.

While the Treasury normally tracks the deficit by the fiscal year, a look at the monthly Treasury Department reports shows the federal government borrowed about $1.65 trillion this calendar year, not counting the unreleased data from December.

Deficits have spiked in recent years, topping a trillion dollars per year during the COVID-19 pandemic. While deficits have decreased from that peak, they still remain higher than before the pandemic began.

As The Center Square previously reported, the rough debt estimate and rough U.S. population estimate means every American would owe about $100,000 just to pay off the debt in full and not including ongoing operations of the federal government.

Interest payments on the national debt alone will soon be the biggest expense for the federal government. Several federal programs face insolvency in the coming decade, such as the trust funds for Medicare, Social Security and highway maintenance.

Federal projections show the national debt will be twice as large as the U.S. economy within 30 years.

“By the end of 2023, federal debt held by the public equals 98 percent of GDP,” the U.S. Congressional Budget Office said in July. “Debt then rises in relation to GDP: It surpasses its historical high in 2029, when it reaches 107 percent of GDP, and climbs to 181 percent of GDP by 2053.”

Experts did celebrate the passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, a bipartisan bill the president signed in June that cut spending over the next 10 years.

“In 2023, Congress and the President approved $1.3 trillion of ten-year deficit reduction – consisting of more than $1.6 trillion of savings and roughly $350 billion of costs,” the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said in a statement. “This has been a monumental year for fiscal policy with the enactment of the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act – the largest deficit reduction measure implemented in a dozen years.”

Despite the growing burden on taxpayers, the federal debt has not been a primary topic of debate among 2024 presidential candidates.

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