Friday, May 03, 2024

For Hillary and Melania

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Mayor O’Connell Proposes a no-tax-increase, ‘live within our means,’ $3.28 billion budget.

link, link, link

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A homeowner in Nashville pays a lower property tax bill than most other places in America.

by Rod Williams, May 3, 2024- Anytime a property tax increase is proposed, those supporting an increase will argue that Nashville has a low tax rate. Nashville's rate for the urban district, which is most of us living in Davidson County is $3.254. That is lower than the combined city-county rate in Knoxville which is 3.7096. It is considerably lower than Memphis at $6.09164, and also lower than many other places in Tennessee. I have not been convinced by this argument, however. I have argued that a comparable house in Nashville cost more than a comparable house in many other places and argued that the tax bill was what mattered, not the tax rate.

Well, I have discovered data that takes that into consideration. Compared to most urban areas in America, our property taxes are modest. 

First of all, one needs to understand what goes into determining the property tax bill. First, is the value of the property which is the appraisal. Many years ago, local appraisers had a lot of say into determining the appraised value and some kept them artificially low. Now, not so much. Local elected Property Assessors are supervised by the state and properties are appraised at or near market value and kept current with periotic reappraisals. The other factor is the assessment which is a percentage of the appraisal. Commercial, industrial and residential have different assessment rates. In Tennessee the assessment is 25% of the appraisal for residential property. The tax rate is rate adopted by the council and is applied to each $100 of assessment. Here is an example of how to calculate one's taxes:
To calculate the tax on your property, assume you have a house with an APPRAISED VALUE of $100,000. The ASSESSED VALUE is $25,000 (25% of $100,000), and the TAX RATE has been set by the Metro Council at $3.254 (Urban Services District) per hundred of assessed value. To figure the tax simply multiply the assessed value ($25,000) by the tax rate of $3.254. 

Urban Services District Tax Rate $3.254

$25,000 / 100 = 250 x $3.254 = $813.50

or  $25,000 x .03254 = $813.50) for a tax bill of $813.50

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy examines 74 large U.S. cities and a rural municipality in each state and arrives at an effective tax rate, that is, the tax bill as a percent of a property’s market, for each municipality.  Of all of the municipalities included in the study, Nashville ranks as the 30th highest tax rate. By comparison Memphis has the twelfth highest tax bill of the 74 municipalities.   

Nashville's effective property taxes are among neither the highest nor the lowest in the nation. 

Sometimes a low tax rate may nevertheless result in a high tax bill and vice versa. 

There is still an issue of how much of our county is in the urban services district and how that figures into our property tax burden compared to other counties. Our General Services District is the equivalent to what in other counties would be "county," not within an incorporated area. Even that comparison would skews toward lower a lower tax bill for Davidson County. Davidson County's General Services District tax rate is $2.922; Shelby County's tax rate is 3.39000.

None of this is to say that we are under taxed. However, compared to most other urban areas of the nation we pay lower property taxes. 

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Americans for Prosperity Tennessee will not oppose Mayor O'Connell's proposed Transit Referendum


by Rod Williams, May 3, 2024- The director of the Tennessee chapter of the libertarian-leaning organization Americans for Prosperity posted on X yesterday that AFPTN was unlikely to oppose the upcoming transportation referendum. I am not displeased to see this.

I am still waiting to learn more about the proposal but what I see so far, I am also not opposed. I am not yet ready to be a cheerleader for the proposal, but of all of the transportation referendum ever before us, this is the only one I have not immediately opposed. Unlike some previous proposals, it does not include a massive tunnel through Tennessee granite. It does not take a major throughfare and put fixed rail down the center of the roadway, devouring traffic lanes. It is a modest proposal. It is practical. 

Our bus system needs improvements, we need more sidewalks, and our traffic signalization is in need of a major overhaul. While I wish these things could be done out of current revenue and generally think we are overtaxed, the amount of the sales tax increase is minuscule. On the other hand, this will make Nashville have one of the highest sales tax rates in the county. On the plus side however, people from outside of Davidson County will be paying the bulk of the tax. One of the reasons a dedicated tax is necessary, is that in order to acquire federal grants for transportation improvements, a dedicated tax supporting mass transit is required. 

I would still like to see a market-driven transportation system and have some thoughts on what I would like to see happen if I had my druthers. I will explain my vision of transportation in a future post. After years of hoping for a market-driven system to emerge, it is not happening in any meaningful way on a large scale anywhere, and we need transportation and improvements now. 

Back in the mid 80's as a freshman member of the Metro Council, I, along with a libertarian political activist by the name of Roger Bissell, led an effort to defeat a one cent gas tax referendum. I am proud of that effort in defeating the proposal. That effort gave us an opportunity to promote ideas of market solutions to public issues. Some of what we proposed, such as deregulation of taxi service and the allowing of ridesharing competition and other transportation alternative have happened. Now, it is hard to imagine how Nashville would function without Uber and Lyft. While I remain an advocate of market solutions to public issues, there is nothing in Mayor O'Connell's proposal that would preclude further emergence of market solutions. 

At this time, I am not opposed to the proposal before us. I will most likely vote in favor. 

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Thursday, May 02, 2024

Transit Stat Napkin Math

 by MEGAN PODSIEDLIK, The Pamphleteer, April 29, 2024 - During April 19th’s transit unveiling, the mayor and his speakers dropped interesting statistics about Nashville— some about the new transit plan, some about the city’s makeup and demographics, and some that were a bit more questionable than others. For instance… 
  • More than 140 languages are spoken in Metro Nashville Public Schools.
  • 13 percent of the city's population is foreign born.
  • Metro Nashville is home to “hundreds of thousands” of immigrants, including Afghan parolees, Venezuelan asylum seekers, and Ukrainian refugees.
  • 80 percent of WeGo’s riders are picked up along 10 of the city’s busiest roadways.
  • According to the federal Department of Transportation, those who ride Tennessee public transit extend their commute time by 67 percent.
  • And, according to AAA, the average Nashvillian pays $12,000 a year to own and maintain a vehicle.
According to O’Connell, here's how things will change under the Choose How You Move Plan. 
  • The half-cent sales tax increase cost most Nashvillians about $70 per year.
  • About 60 percent of our sales tax is paid by people who live somewhere else.
  • One out of three Nashvillians will have direct, walkable access to a transit site.
  • 12 monitored transit centers in key locations throughout the city, adding routes that link neighborhoods without going through downtown.
  • 17 park and ride facilities will be added near high-capacity transit routes.
  • WeGo Star commuter rail services will be added for travel to special events.
  • 285 bus stops will be upgraded with weather covers and real time location tracking.
  • Up to 26 acres of land will be acquired by Metro to build affordable housing and parks near transit hubs.

And looking into the future...

  • Within five years, a traffic management center will be added and over 150 signals will be upgraded or modernized.
  • Within 10 years, 60 miles of sidewalks will be built or upgraded.
  • Within 15 years, 600 traffic signals will be upgraded, 86 miles of sidewalks will be completed, roadway safety projects will be completed within the 76-mile Vision Zero high injury network, and high-capacity transit will be established in all of Nashville's busiest corridors. 

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The Total Cost of Student Debt Cancellation

Committee for A. Responsible Federal Budget, April 29, 2024 - Including the Biden Administration’s new student debt cancellation plan, we estimate all recent student debt cancellation policies will cost a combined $870 billion to $1.4 trillion. That’s more than all federal spending on higher education over the nation’s entire history. The vast majority of this debt cancellation was put in place through executive actions under President Biden.

$620 billion of debt cancellation has already been implemented, including $275 billion from President Biden’s new Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) program known as SAVE, $195 billion from cancelling interest as part of nearly 41 months of repayment pauses since March of 2020, and roughly $150 billion from a variety of more targeted actions such as discharging debt for those who attended closing schools and making it easier to cancel debt under existing loan forgiveness programs. The President’s newest debt cancellation scheme could cost an additional $250 to $750 billion based on our preliminary estimates.

Our numbers differ somewhat from our previous estimates, mainly because the President’s plan to cancel $10,000 to $20,000 of student debt per person was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court and the cost of his newest plan remains uncertain.

To put $870 billion to $1.4 trillion in context, this range suggests the cost of recent debt cancellation is likely higher than:

  • All historic spending on higher education prior to the COVID-19 pandemic ($744 billion from 1962 to 2019)
  • All projected education appropriations over the next decade ($935 billion from 2025-2034)
  • The federal cost of offering universal pre-K and universal affordable child care ($750 billion)
  • The cost of tripling the Pell Grant program ($675 billion)

As we’ve explained before, most of these student debt cancellation policies have not only been costly, but also inflationarypoorly targeted, counter to the mission of lowering college costs, and not financially justified.

Instead of continuing down this road, lawmakers should work together on reforms that actually fix the student loan program and address the cost and quality of higher education.

Read the analysis.

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Lack of treatment options puts accused rapist back on the streets

 Carl Hamilton was arrested for rape a day after being released from jail

By: Ben Hall, News Channel 5, May 2, 2024-  A Davidson County judge says she was "absolutely devastated" when she learned a man released from jail after being declared mentally incompetent to stand trial had been charged with aggravated rape.

Judge Melissa Blackburn oversees Davidson County's mental health court and said Carl Hamilton, 34, was released last month because Metro did not have a treatment program for him. (read more)

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Bellevue Breakfast Club Welcomes Courtney Johnston, May 4


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Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Our Great Task

 May 1, 2024


The GOP has once again chosen Donald Trump, a man who betrayed our country by attempting to seize power by overturning an election. 

For the good of the nation and the Republic, he must be stopped. But make no mistake, if he has the chance, he’ll do it again.

I’ll explain more in a moment, but before I do, please consider chipping in $15 and show your support for Our Great Task and my effort to stop Donald Trump.

Rod, we know what Donald Trump is capable of because we've already seen it. 

Think about it. When Donald Trump woke up on the morning of January 6th, he was fully aware that he had lost the election. And yet he still thought he’d remain president after January 20th. 

It’s not hard to imagine another scenario in which he would try to delay the election (as he did during the pandemic) or lie, as he did after he lost, and say there was fraud so the election couldn’t go forward.

Donald Trump continues to use tactics of threat and attack to tear down our institutions.  He is using words he knows caused violence in the past to threaten members of congress and now members of the judiciary and their families.   And like all authoritarians, he cannot succeed alone.  He needs enablers, collaborators, appeasers.  He needs people who will spread his propaganda and who will threaten others on his behalf.  And he needs good people to look away, to let fear paralyze them into silence.  He needs enablers who will find rationalizations not to step up and stop him. 

And that's the most important thing to understand. Our system, our constitutional framework, depends on us all, especially our president, to defend it.

So, we're in real danger if we elect somebody like Donald Trump who won't.

Rod, the danger of a President who has already tried to steal a term is too great. We must not forget or downplay what he did — we must spend these next weeks and months working to ensure he never gets near the Oval Office again.

I’m ready to do my part, and I’d be grateful if you could show your support by contributing $27 or anything you can afford today.

Liz Cheney

Our Great Task

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Trump trumps himself again in saying idiotic things. You know why college protest are really happening, don't you?


by Rod Williams, May 1, 2024- Donald Trump says some idiotic things and everytime I think he can't get more idiotic he does. He continually breaks is own record. It is hard to fathom how a mind like his works. I think some of the protestors are protesting because they have empathy for the Palestinians, some are simply naive pacifist, some because they are antisemites, and some because protesting is fun and makes you feel like you are part of something big and important. I doubt a single student protestor reasoned that he would engage in campus protest in order to take the focus off of our southern border. 

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MNPD Expands Online Reporting Program

Metro press release, May, 1, 2024-  MNPD is expanding the Citizen Online Reporting program on

May 1 to include the following criminal activity:

Retail Scam:

Definition: Theft of money or merchandise from a retail/merchant location whereby a suspect uses deceptive and/or fraudulent methods to obtain them.

Examples: Fraudulent return scams, price tag switching, and money changing scams.

Bicycle Theft:

Definition: The theft of a bicycle from an outside location, not to include enclosed structures/sheds. This does not include motorized/electric bikes or scooters.

Examples: The bicycle was stolen from a bike rack, off the street, or other outside area.

Theft from a Residential Yard:

Definition: The theft of items from outside a residential location. This does not include theft of vehicles, theft of items from vehicles, or items stolen from enclosed structures/sheds.

Examples: A outdoor grill, lawn furniture, or lawn and garden equipment is stolen from the patio/yard.

To make a report online please visit How to File a Police Report Online where you will click on the icon representing each category. Still photos from home surveillance systems can also be uploaded.

Not all incidents can be filed online. If your incident is not listed in the category selection list, please call the Department of Emergency Communications at 615-862-8600 for non-emergencies. For ALL emergencies call 911.

As of April 29, the MNPD Records Division has approved 946 citizen online incident reports and received 3,218 minor crash reports.

Rod's Comment: Other types of incidents that already could be reported online include minor auto crashes, shoplifting and a few others. One can see the list at this link. While I am sure there are some who will see online reporting as an indication the city does not care about crime, and while actually talking to a police officer may be comforting to some if they are a victim of crime, it simply appears efficient to provide online reporting for minor crimes. However, it does seem there should be a value limit. Some bicycles may only be worth $20 and some may be worth $2000. Also, I would think that the value of the item shoplifted should correspond to the police effort to solve the crime. 

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Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Indiana file suit challenging new Title IX rules

By Jon Styf, The Center Square, May 1, 2024- Tennessee and West Virginia led a five-state lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education challenging the federal overhaul of Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act.  

The lawsuit is one of several filed nationally on the topic after Biden’s administration rewrote the Title IX statute to expand the definition of “sex” to include “gender identity.”

“The U.S. Department of Education has no authority to let boys into girls’ locker rooms,” Tennessee Attorney General Skrmetti said in a statement. “In the decades since its adoption, Title IX has been universally understood to protect the privacy and safety of women in private spaces like locker rooms and bathrooms.

“Under this radical and illegal attempt to rewrite the statute, if a man enters a woman’s locker room and a woman complains that makes her uncomfortable, the woman will be subject to investigation and penalties for violating the man’s civil rights.”

Skrmetti’s office said the DOE is essentially abolishing sex-based distinctions in educational activities and programs and forcing states to accept radical gender ideology in schools.

The lawsuit, filed in Kentucky, includes Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia.

"The Biden Administration’s new rule would rip away 50 years of Title IX’s protections for women and put entire generations of young girls at risk," said Kentucky Attorney General Russell Coleman. "It’s wrong, and we are joining our colleagues in Tennessee to lead this fight for our daughters, granddaughters, nieces and all the women of our Commonwealth.”

Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina joined in a similar lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Alabama.

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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Don't Freak Out over the Arming Teachers Bill.

by Rod Williams, April 26, 2024- A lot of people are freaking about the bill arming school teachers which was signed into law on Friday. School kids skipped school to protest the bill and parents protested in the House gallery, yelling “Blood on your hands” and “Vote them out!”. Anti-gun protestors even protested in front to the Governor's mansion

I believe the protest is more about making an ideological statement than actual practical concern about the bill. Of course, on the other hand, passing the bill may have also been more about making an ideological statement rather than the practical merits of the bill. 

The bill does not require teachers to carry guns. Teachers who want to be armed must go through 40 hours of training, a background check, fingerprinting, and a psychological evaluation. They also must also get approval from school leaders and the police.  Teachers do not get combat pay or any financial incentive for choosing to be armed. No local school system has to let teachers carry. Forty hours of weapons training is a lot of training. That is probably more than some war veterans, and more than the local police receive. This bill allows for arming teachers if the local school board and local school principal and local chief of police or county sheriff approve.  That is a lot of hoops to jump through. 

The Nashville School Board has said they will not approve the arming of any teachers. I would venture to guess that a year from now, in all of Tennessee we will have three armed teachers. Take a deep breath. 

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