Saturday, August 30, 2008


I've been amused at what seems like sheer panic on the left side of the political aisle over Palin's being McCain's Veep. I interpret that to mean McCain picked the right person.

RedHatRob, who has a bit of executive experience himself, explains what kind of experience is really important and why Sarah Palin's is the kind we should vote for.

"In fact, Sarah Palin is perhaps the BEST qualified of the four (Obama, Biden, McCain, Palin) to assume the duties of the presidency."

Friday, August 29, 2008


It's Sarah Palin!!! THIS works for me! I'm feeling a good bit like "Take THAT Dems!" I'm very jazzed. I was out to restock the refrigerator and had to listen to much of the anticipation and McCain's introduction via Michael DelGiorno's radio program and just managed to make it back home in time to see McCain on TV actually say her name and then hear her acceptance speech. I was amazed as I was listening to the listing of her qualifications and life experience. She hits just about every right note with me.

  • Female
  • Married
  • Mom
  • Hockey mom (soccer...please)
  • Son currently in the Army and headed to Iraq
  • Special Needs mom
  • 3 daughters
  • Beauty Queen
  • Basketball player
  • Husband works for a living
  • Raised in a small town
  • Lifetime NRA member
  • Pro-Life (who walked the talk that every life is valuable)
  • Governor of her state after being a city councilman and mayor
  • Wants us to Drill Here, Drill Now
And that's just the start. McCain had my vote, reluctantly. Now he has my support.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ford hearing postponed

I just got a call from Joy Ford of Country International Records. She told me that within the hour her attorney, Scott Bullock of Institute for Justice was notified by Nashville’s MDHA that they were postponing their motions scheduled to be heard in court tomorrow. Bullock also told her that MDHA had just faxed him other papers that they were filing but since Bullock was 10 minutes from leaving for the airport to come to Nashville he hadn’t had time to thoroughly read them and opine. He is still coming and will meet with Miss Joy this afternoon about this sudden change of plans by MDHA.

In my life experience it’s not unusual at all for these sorts of postponements to occur, especially if there is a chance the outcome is one they don’t want. It’s frustrating to be sure but it’s part of the game. What’s galling is the further abuse of Miss Joy who isn’t used to such shenanigans and feels badly that her supporters are being inconvenienced. I assured her that most of us probably half expected this turn of events and we wouldn’t hold her accountable for MDHA’s tactics. It’s my opinion that it makes them look even worse.

I also asked Miss Joy if she’d ever gotten that ‘compromise’ MDHA proposal of several weeks back and she said that a nearly illegible drawing of how much property MDHA was willing to leave Miss Joy had been faxed to Bullock but nothing came of it since it left her not but three feet outside her back door. Miss Joy said she never got anything directly from MDHA.

So, hold off on rushing to Nashville in the morning and pass this news on to those you may have encouraged to come. Miss Joy said she’d touch base after her conversation with Bullock this afternoon. Stay tuned.


The lead in the Nashville City Paper this morning just takes the cake.

Despite a compromise proposal which would allow Joy Ford to keep her Music Circle property, the independent country music label owner’s attorneys sent out a press release Wednesday vowing to challenge the Metro Development and Housing Agency’s eminent domain claim on her Music Circle property.
"Despite a compromise" which comes across as if Miss Joy is the one being stubborn and uncooperative by not agreeing to it. Of course, I haven't seen the actual proposal, who actually has, but where is it written that just because an offer is made it has to be responded to, let alone accepted? To paraphrase from a well known TV show: "If she doesn't call, she's just not that into you." Lionstone Group won't accept no for an answer and brought in the Nashville's Metropolitan House and Development Association as enforcers to ensure they get every bit of that corner for their proposed develeopment. I heard Miss Joy testify that her husband hadn't been dead two weeks before the vultures, who had obviously been circling them for some time, swooped in and started annoying and scaring her with persistent offers to purchase property she made clear she wasn't going to sell.

"Keep her property?" Just a part of it. According to published reports MDHA is willing to let Miss Joy keep her building but wants her parking lot. Here's a "compromise" for you...I'll take half your bank account balance and leave you the rest. How's that? No? OK, I'll let you have 65%...that's more than half, seems fair to me. Surely you can continue on with 35% less.

And then there's the 'allow Joy Ford to keep'---there you have it folks, the bottom line. MDHA, may their name be praised, is believed to have the right to 'allow' anyone to keep their property. It's my prayer and hope that tomorrow morning Judge Barbara Haynes will make it very clear the MDHA, Lionstone Group and the rest of the nation that Nashville values property rights. That Nashville doesn't browbeat little old ladies to benefit the community treasury and the bottom line of Houston Developers and that we will honor the heritage of Music Row by allowing Miss Joy to continue to mentor musicians, one of whom may be working on the next big hit today.

A good crowd in Judge Barbara Haynes courtroom, Room 510 of the Metro Courthouse at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, August 29th, will go a long way toward sending a message to an unaccountable MDHA that citizens are not going to stand for their thieving tactics.

Nashville also needs to take a hard look at this unaccountable MDHA board and let them know that it's time the MDHA Board reigned in their employees.

Here's the MDHA board

J. Chase Cole, Chair
Mr. Cole is a partner with the law firm of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis and was appointed to the Board in November 1996. Mr. Cole was elected Vice Chair in December 1997 and elected Chair in December 1999.

Term: 12/19/2006 11/05/2011
2700 Nashville City Center
Nashville TN 37219-1760

Leigh Walton, Vice Chair for Housing
Ms. Walton is a senior partner with the law firm of Bass, Berry & Sims and was appointed to the Board in January 2001.

Term: 02/07/2006 11/05/2010
315 Deaderick Street, Ste. 2700
Nashville TN 37238-0002

Roland L. Jones, Vice Chairman for Development
Mr. Jones is a consultant to the hospitality, food and retail industries. He was appointed to the Board in May 2002.

Term: 11/16/2004 11/05/2009
PO Box 150286
Nashville TN 37215-028

Gayle Fleming was just appointed last week as the second public housing representative. I called MDHA's executive office and they didn't have any contact information for Ms. Fleming. This from the Metro Council minutes of August 19, 2008:
Appointment of Ms. Gayle Fleming for a term expiring July 1, 2013. The Rules-Confirmations-Public Elections Committee recommended the appointment and Mr. Ryman moved for confirmation, which motion was seconded and adopted by a unanimous vote of the Council with Mr. Gotto “Abstaining.”

Mary J. Southall, Commissioner
Ms. Southall is retired and serves as one of two housing residents on the Board. She was appointed to the Board in June 2000.

Term: 07/03/2007 07/01/2012
106 31st Avenue South, #106
Nashville TN 37212
Representing: Public Housing

Melvin C. Black, Commissioner
Mr. Black served as a teacher and coach in the Metro Nashville public school system for more than 30 years. Following his retirement, he served two terms on the Metro Council, from 1996 to 2003. He was appointed in January 2004.

Term: 01/20/2004 11/05/2008 (Note his term is just about up.)
747 Work Drive
Nashville TN 37207

Ralph Mosley, Commissioner
Mr. Mosley is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Southwestern/Great American. He was appointed to the Board in November 2007.

Term: 11/20/2007 11/05/2012
3830 Whitland Avenue
Nashville TN 37205

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MDHA v Ford hearing on Friday

No word from MDHA on what happened to that compromise they said had been worked out between them and Joy Ford of Country International Records, but this press release from the Institute for Justice reminds folks that there was no compromise and there is an important hearing is THIS Friday in room 510 of the Nashville Metro Courthouse.

This is an important step in this effort to save everyone's property from government takeover. The city's only focused on the increased tax revenue they hope to get from the property

  • if Lionstone Group develops the property as promised,
  • if their business plan is a success and
  • if Meto hasn't given the farm away via tax incentives.
Citizens should support Joy Ford in her effort to save her property because in saving hers, we save ours from being stolen in a similar fashion some day down the road. Please arrange your schedule so that you can be in that courtroom Friday morning at 9:00. If you're new to this strong arm tactic of the Metro government please read through the old posts on this Eminent Domain issue and see that the city isn't condemning blighted property it's stealing a small business woman's land in order to line the pockets of Metro and developer Lionstone Group.


First Court Hearing in Joy Ford Eminent Domain Case

Nashville Redevelopment Agency Seeks to Deny
Joy Ford Her Day in Court by Asking Judge
To Hand Over Her Property Without Discovery or a Trial

9 a.m./Friday, August 29, 2008

Courtroom of Judge Barbara Haynes,
Room 510, 3rd Circuit Court
Metropolitan Courthouse
1 Public Square
Nashville, Tennessee 37201

John Kramer, Vice President for Communications, (703) 682-9320

On Friday, August 29, at 9 a.m., Joy Ford will appear in court for the first time, along with her lawyers from the Institute for Justice, to fight to save her small country music recording and publishing business from an illegal and unconstitutional eminent domain action.

In June 2008, Nashville’s redevelopment agency, Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA), filed a condemnation petition against Country International Records located on storied Music Row. MDHA wants to give the property to a Houston-based private developer to put up a generic office building.

Now, in an audacious and unfounded move, MDHA’s lawyers—who are being paid by the private developer that will benefit from the condemnation—have filed a “motion for judgment on the pleadings,” asking the court to hand over Ford’s property on the basis of the four-page condemnation petition filed by the agency. MDHA seeks to deny Ford any discovery in the case and wants the judge to order possession immediately rather than hold a trial and hear evidence.

“If MDHA gets its way, it will become impossible for any home or small business owner in Tennessee to prevail against an abuse of eminent domain,” said Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, a national non-profit, public interest law firm located in Arlington, Va., that serves as the nation’s leading legal advocate against eminent domain abuse.

Bullock added, “Courts should actually review evidence in eminent domain cases rather than merely rubber-stamping what the agency wants. We are confident MDHA’s motion will fail.” Bullock argued the Kelo v. New London eminent domain case before the U.S. Supreme Court and was co-counsel in the first post-Kelo state supreme court case that ended eminent domain for private gain in Ohio.

# # #

[NOTE: To arrange interviews on this subject, call John Kramer, the Institute for Justice’s vice president for communications, at (703) 682-9320 ext. 205 or in the evening/weekend at (703) 587-1992.]

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

At least he wasn't drunk

Proof that Tennessee House committee assignments are not made on the basis of understanding the topic might be found in today's Memphis Commercial Appeal story that Rep. G. A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) was arrested in Mississippi for driving on a suspended license and not having proof of insurance. Hardaway was on the Transportation and Public Safety Committees last legislative session.

Hardaway said in a telephone interview today that he didn’t know his license had been suspended. “If I had known, I wouldn’t have been driving,” he said. The legislator said that he had his attorney check into the matter today and that it is still unclear to him why his license was suspended.

“I was told it was for ‘obedience to devices’ and your guess on what that is, is as good as mine. I got a notice about a year ago saying that I had a violation that needs to be taken care of. I thought it had been. I’m not laying blame on anybody; I accept full responsibility.”

It does make you wonder, though, if it's possible for Democrat legislators from Memphis to stay out of trouble.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Eminent Domain motions still set for Friday

We can only assume that the 'compromise' that MDHA had the news media believing was imminent between MDHA and Joy Ford of Country International Records was weeks premature. I heard from Joy Ford this weekend. The hearing regarding her and MDHA (on behalf of Lionstone Group) is still on for Friday.

Miss Joy tells me that Institute for Justice attorney Scott Bullock said supporters should be in place by 9:00 a.m. on THIS Friday August 29th. The hearing is in Judge Barbara Haynes Third Circuit courtroom at the Nashville Metro Courthouse, One Public Square. I'm going to do my best to find one of Miss Joy's signature scarves to wear that morning. I don't think I can pull off the hat as well as she does.

I did notice a couple of weeks ago that the barrier closing the old alley on the right side of Miss Joy's property had been shoved aside far enough to allow vehicle traffic to pass through. Last week I noticed the barrier had been moved and was over by the hotel fence and out of the way entirely. As of yesterday, Lionstone's property is still an eyesore and there has been no obvious effort on their part to clean up and tend to the property they already own.

And speaking of the hotel, Lionstone Group wanted the hotel's land also but the hotel managed to win their court battle and keep Lionstone Group on the other side of the fence. I certainly hope Lionstone loses again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Part of a Campaign

If House Speaker James O. "Jimmy" Naifeh (D-Covington) is right, "It's just part of a campaign" why did we waste all that time fussing about Watergate? Seriously. If we forced a president out of office over a something like this, shouldn't a few state legislators be sent packing?

Hat tip: Truman Bean
and the TN GOP

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Plain English

The Davidson County Election Commission has certified that the English First initiative has enough valid signatures to be placed on the November 4 ballot. But before voters get a chance to push the button for or against some 'citizen advocates' will be parsing every word of the Metro Charter amendment which allows this amendment looking for some way to keep citizens from getting the chance to vote on it.

"I am confident that any one else who can read and understand English can understand that we have met the charter's terms," said [CM Eric] Crafton.

Others disagree.

"There's good legal argument that 'submitted' means 'submitted to the voters,' " said Greg Ramos, a Nashville attorney who opposes the English-first initiative. "How do you submit something to the people for approval? You put it on the ballot." Tennessean

I keep saying it...the English speakers among us have a hard enough time interpreting our laws written in English right's only going to get messier if we have to interpret to and from who knows how many languages and cultural frames.

Below is the pertinent code with the snip opponents keep quoting in red. By their point of view the election date is the one that counts, not the filing date, and the effort is 3 days short of compliance. Or is that just 2 since this is a leap year? Regardless, all this needs to be read in context.


Sec. 19.01. Amending Charter by resolution of council or petition and popular vote.
This Charter may be amended subsequent to its adoption in the following manner:
An amendment or amendments may be proposed

(1) by the adoption of a resolution by the council favoring the same and submitting it or them to the people for approval. The affirmative vote for adoption of such resolution in the council shall be not less than two-thirds of the membership to which the council is entitled, and such resolution when adopted need not be submitted to the mayor for his approval; or

(2) upon petition filed with the metropolitan clerk, signed by ten (10) per cent of the number of the registered voters of Nashville-Davidson County voting in the preceding general election, the verification of the signatures to be made by the Davidson County Election Commission and certified to the metropolitan clerk. Such resolution or petition shall also prescribe a date not less than eighty (80) [days] subsequent to the date of its filing for the holding of a referendum election at which the electorate of the metropolitan government will vote to ratify or to reject the amendments proposed.

The metropolitan clerk shall immediately certify to the county commissioners of election copy of such resolution or petition and it shall thereupon be the duty of said commissioners of election to hold a referendum election with respect thereto. The ballot shall be prepared so as to set forth a brief description of the amendment worded so as to convey the meaning of said amendment, said description to be set forth in the original amendatory resolution, that the language of each amendment in full be posted conspicuously in the voting place and be published in a local newspaper, numbered as the same is numbered in the resolution of the council or in the petition, and to provide the voters a choice to vote "For Ratification" and "Against Ratification" of each proposed amendment. Each proposed amendment shall be ratified when a majority of the votes cast at the special referendum election shall be in favor of ratification and each proposed amendment shall be rejected when a majority of said votes shall be against ratification. Notice of said referendum election shall be given as provided by Tennessee Code Annotated, section 2-1808*, and the costs of said election shall be paid out of the general funds of the metropolitan government.

The commissioners of election shall canvass the returns and certify the results to the secretary of state, who shall issue a proclamation showing the results of said election on the ratification or rejection of each proposed amendment to this Charter. One copy of the proclamation shall be attached to the copy of this Charter previously certified to said secretary of state and one copy shall be delivered to the metropolitan clerk who shall attach the same to the copy of the Charter in his custody.

The council shall not adopt a resolution proposing amendments to this Charter more often than twice during the term of office of members of said council, nor shall any such amendment or amendments be submitted by petition more often than once in each two years.

The council shall not adopt, except pursuant to section 18.06 of this Charter, a resolution which proposes an amendment that redistricts the councilmanic districts unless the same be incidental to a proposed change in the number of such districts.
(Res. No. 72-380, § 1, 11-7-72)

Editor's note--An amendment to § 19.01 was approved at an election held March 8, 1988.
* Editor's note--The relevant Code sections regarding notice of referenda are codified at T.C.A. § 2-12-111. [via MuniCode]

Friday, August 22, 2008


I knew it would come eventually. At some point it would come out and though they would have denied it if I had told them this was their worldview it didn't take long for them to type it out themselves.

There's been a protracted discussion on a local neighborhood elist which started with a Herculean effort to save a wounded dog wandering at large in the neighborhood. Frustrated by what one neighbor saw as extraordinary effort to save an animal which barely had an owner they dared to wonder if folks had shown as much interest in local schoolchildren. Parents of 'furkids' were highly offended and quick to defend their actions but it wasn't until today we got the absolute truth--well their version of Truth anyway.

"There are plenty of organizations and impromptu groups who form to take care of people, too. One is not more important than the other. It's two different things."
There you have it: separate but equal. A human life is not more important than animal life. It's not conservatives that are concerned about spending or taxing wisely that will cripple public education, it's folks who think that children are no more valuable than dogs and cats and other life and so will withhold their support from public schools in favor of Metro Animal Control or Parks or saving the planet because 'one is not more important than the other' they're just different.

I'm a throw-back living in a post-modern age. I know that. This is just the latest evidence. I live in a world where people will expend enormous amounts of energy saving a dog with a fatal wound and demanding the city 'do something' NOW while also demanding their right to kill a child in utero and condemning me for trying to save him.

God have mercy on us all.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Need to upgrade MS Office II

I posted about this last November and as a very happy customer I'm glad to let folks know that Microsoft is again offering their Office 2007 ULTIMATE for just $60.

The catch is it has to be purchased by a college student (defined as taking .5 credit AND having an email ending in .edu from a list of approved schools). Last year's EULA allowed my college son to give it to me to register. This time the sale doesn't expire until 12/31/10 so you've got some time. I wouldn't wait though. I've found that OneNote alone has been worth the price. The upgrades to Outlook, Word and Excel all of which I use regularly are huge and appreciated. If you've wondered how a mom still homeschooling three and active in her communities gets so much done, good tools are an important component. This is one of them.

The package includes:

  • Access® 2007
  • Accounting Express 2008 *
  • Excel® 2007
  • InfoPath® 2007
  • Groove® 2007
  • OneNote® 2007
  • Outlook® 2007 with Business Contact Manager *
  • PowerPoint® 2007
  • Publisher 2007
  • Word 2007

Here's the link: MS Office Ultimate 2007 absolute steal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

English First way ahead

WSMV television put up an online poll following their report that the Metro Health Department is concerned that IF the English First charter amendment passes they MIGHT NOT be able to do business in other languages. The report points out that the classes they hold for employees and the inspections are currently now conducted in other languages. No one bothers to ask how fast these restaurants will find an accurate English translator when Metro Health padlocks them closed because they're not following the rules.

Here's the WSMV poll results as of about 6:30 on 8/20/08. It looks a lot like what the results on November 4 may be.
Video at WSMV, video, local "English-First could hamper restaurant food". No direct link that I could find.

Welcome to Nashville

One of the arguments against the English First referendum that's about to appear on the November ballot in Nashville is that Nashville will appear unwelcoming to the world and that will hinder businesses from moving here and tourists from visiting. I don't believe that most companies who will be conducting business with Metro Nashville will seriously refuse to come here because our council and committee meetings and official documents are being conducted in English. And really, how many tourists care about our council meetings or whether they can renew their auto tags using a form written in French?

However, what does make Nashville unwelcoming is an overall effective tax rate on a room in Nashville that is second only to Chicago at 17.18 percent.

But in a slowing economy with gas prices uncomfortably high, some economists and travelers say the overall charges applied here could make the difference when out-of-town guests are trying to decide whether to make Nashville their destination. Tennessean
Channel 4's report on the story yesterday (sorry no link available) said fees for visitors average $39.00 per day! That's not very welcoming.

Oh, and just about the time we've priced ourselves out of the convention business...that new $750 million convention center will be opening.

Old media nod to new media

This morning's Tennessean recognizes the new media blogs in this morning's edition. While we appreciate the nod new media folks reading via the web will recognize that the paper still doesn't understand that hyperlinks are expected. The paper lists the URLs for blogs but doesn't bother to go just a bit further and actually make it easy for folks to 'go there'. The only hyperlinks are for those annoying pop-up ads.

“The Tennessee blogosphere is pretty mutually supportive for the most part,” said [Glenn] Reynolds." And so in that vein I'll point out that his moniker is Red Hat Rob with an R, not Red Hat Bob with a B.

It's also interesting to note that the Republican convention will have more than 200 bloggers in attendance. The Democratic convention only 55 bloggers. Not surprising from the folks that shut down CPAN.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We can trust the parents

Today's 6 minute funny courtesy of the British TV program "Prime Minister":

"Quod Erat Demonstrandum"

Monday, August 18, 2008

Not junk mail-You're going to want to read this

Parents in Nashville are receiving an envelope from the Education Consumers Foundation. I suggest you be on the lookout for it and don't toss it thinking it's junk mail. What you'll find inside is some enlightening information regarding Metro Nashville Public Schools.

On August 18, 2008 the Education Consumers Foundation sent a mailing to 67,000 households in Davidson County - every household with children under the age of 18 - to recognize 14 Metro schools through its Most Effective Schools Campaign.

Schools were selected for their ability to advance student learning as measured by the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, or TVAAS. Each school recognized through this campaign was in the top 20% of schools statewide in either the Elementary schools category (755 schools in Tennessee) or K-8/Middle Schools category (531 schools in Tennessee).

Here are the top schools:
Elementary Schools -
  • Amqui Elementary - Ranked #1 of 71 in Davidson County, #1 of 755 in the state
  • Paragon Mills Elementary - Ranked #2 of 71 in Davidson County, #18 of 755 in the state
  • Lockeland Elementary Design Center - Ranked #3 of 71 in Davidson County, #45 of 755 in the state
  • Kirkpatrick Elementary Enhanced Option - Ranked #4 of 71 in Davidson County, #81 of 755 in the state
  • Smithson Craigshead Academy - Ranked #5 of 71 in Davidson County, #99 of 755 in the state
  • Stanford Elementary Montessori Design Center - Ranked #6 of 71 in Davidson County, #123 of 755 in the state
  • McGavock Elementary - Ranked #7 of 71 in Davidson County, #130 of 755 in the state
  • Charlotte Park Elementary - Ranked #8 of 71 in Davidson County, #146 of 755 in the state

K-8/Middle Schools

  • West End Middle School - Ranked #1 of 39 in Davidson County, #28 of 531 in the state
  • Meigs Middle Magnet School - Ranked #2 of 39 in Davidson County, #32 of 531 in the state
  • Dupont Tyler Middle School - Ranked #3 of 39 in Davidson County, #40 of 531 in the state
  • Head Middle Mathematics/Science Magnet - Ranked #4 of 39 in Davidson County, #47 of 531 in the state
  • Dalewood Middle School - Ranked #5 of 39 in Davidson County, #57 of 531 in the state
  • McMurray Middle School - Ranked #6 of 39 in Davidson County, #72 of 531 in the state

I blogged about their interactive charts last year. You can view this year's version as well as versions for 2007 and 2006.

What do these schools have in common? Read the Common Practices report which makes it clear the staff is tracking the students with the goal in mind.

Unfortunately, ECC's Effective Schooling campaign only covers MNPS, Hardin County and Washington County/Johnson City but you're invited to partner with them for your area.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paying for services

The English First folks have gotten the signatures they need to put their initiative on the November 4 ballot. In the meantime, Councilman Eric Crafton (Bellevue) takes it a step further at Tuesday's Metro Council meeting by introducing:


2.226.010 Interpreter service fees required.
All metropolitan government departments, agencies, boards and commissions responsible for issuing any type of permit to the general public, and who provide interpreter services for non-English speaking applicants, shall develop an “interpreter fee” to be charged to all non-English speaking applicants requiring the interpreter services. The amount of such fee shall not exceed the actual costs for providing the interpreter services.BL2008-287

Generally, I like user fees. If I'm not using the service I don't like having to pay for it. I do expect howls of objection from 'immigrant advocates' saying they won't be able to afford these fees. Seems to me this is a fairly good compromise in the debate. If you want to save yourself some money, learn English or bring our own trusted interpreter with you. I don't think taxpayers should foot the bill for having to provide services in who knows how many languages and take on the liability of a misinterpretation--which has been my concern all through this debate.

SSA could be worse

It didn't take long for the Metro Parents Against Standard School attire to begin whining about the dress code for Metro Nashville schools. Some seem to be hoping that the new school board will take it up again and vote it out before the trial run has expired. In the meantime there are school districts that are handling violations much more severely.

Things got heated at the Gonzales [Texas] ISD school board meeting Monday night when parents battled officials over a new rule that dress code violators will wear jumpsuits.

The police were called in when things got out of hand at the packed meeting.(snip)

Last month the Gonzales School Board passed a new dress code for 5th through 12th graders, including the idea that violators will wear the blue jumpsuits instead of being put into in-school suspension. WOAI TV

Video makes it clear that jumpsuits are an option if children aren't able to change into suitable attire.

I may never understand why clothing raises such passion while facility conditions, test scores, lack of funding or staff accountability gets a shrug of apathy.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Tell 'em what you really want

Ben Cunningham points us to a survey being done by the Tennessee Legislature's webmasters. I would encourage you to fill in the survey and tell them just what you'd like from this service. I appreciate being asked and January will be here before you know it. I'd love to have a much better system in place by then.

I told them I wanted email updates when a bill's status changes and legislation written with underlines and strike throughs so folks know exactly what's being added and subtracted to the law.

Here's the link to the survey. That question #5 "What would you like to be able to do at this site?" doesn't seem to have a character limit so don't be shy.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Homeschool IS legal in California

Homeschoolers across the nation are celebrating the latest judicial decision which affirms their right to teach their children at home.

To recap a homeschooling family in California, which has had issues with their children and social services for decades, was finally pulled into court after one of their then adult daughters alleged abuse. A California court decided to go overboard and instead of requiring just this family to put their children in brick and mortar public/private school they banned homeschooling for all 166,000 or so children taught at home by their parents. HUGE uproar across the nation and the CA Supreme Court said hold on there and sent it back down to the 2nd District. A flurry of Friend of the Court briefs were filed, more testimony and now this decision.

After hearing from an array of objectors that included state education officials and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the court agreed to reconsider the case and issued a new ruling today that reached the opposite conclusion: State law allows home schooling, although children can be required to attend school if they're being abused or neglected at home. San Francisco Chronicle
For the actual ruling: Jonathan L. vs. Superior Court, B192878 at

CA is a bit of an odd bird in the homeschooling world in that it's not mentioned in law (like Tennessee) or their state constitution (like Oklahoma) or in legal precedent (like Texas)--that is until today. Parents create and register their own private schools and then teach their children at home. Now, they're free to continue to do so.

Happy day in homeschooling households.

The squeeze play continues

By news reports yesterday one was lead to believe that the property rights battle between MDHA & Lionstone group against Joy Ford and her Country International Records was over. There was a compromise. Things are going to work out, no more story...move on ladies and gentlemen.

MDHA offers compromise
Music Row compromise offered
The land battle may finally be over
Music Row landowner offered a deal

However, driving out to work a polling station for a candidate last night I heard Phil Valentine's radio program regarding Joy Ford's Country International Records and the news that's all over the media that there's been some sort of compromise. According to Phil who talked with Miss Joy---no compromise has been worked out and she was, as of yesterday, not in receipt of what a widely circulated press release stated she had gotten. Granted the compromise offer by MDHA may have been sent but, as Phil explained it hasn't been received, let alone thoughly examined and agreed to. Frankly, I see this offer to buy what little parking area Miss Joy has as a squeeze play that just further constrains her normal business operation. She may get cash in hand but the question remains about where her clients are supposed to park their buses and trailers. I cannot see Metro allowing them to park on the severely curved street that is Music Circle East.

So you can't believe everything that you read in the papers and a press release is only one side of the story. Things are getting pretty hinky here. This is certainly a situation to watch.

Also, MDHA and Lionstone may want to turn their attention to the situation in Long Branch, NJ where a higher court has just sent back down the legal pipeline another eminent domain case.

The court upheld a number of the city's actions, including its right to delegate its eminent domain authority to the developer but said Long Branch failed to show the condemned homes met the legal definition of blighted.

The unanimous 85-page ruling was viewed by critics of eminent domain as another blow to towns by an increasingly skeptical New Jersey judiciary. Over the past year, the courts have been reining in towns' use of sweeping seizure powers to make way for large-scale redevelopment.(snip)

Thursday's decision said an area cannot be considered blighted solely because it generates a lower amount of property taxes for a municipality and less spending at local businesses than it would if it were redeveloped.

That would set a dangerous precedent, the court said, prompting seizures of property based on a "perceived insufficiency of wealth" and setting up a situation in which properties would be continuously subject to redevelopment.

NJ Star-Ledger

And this is the situation we have here in Nashville. This property is no longer blighted EXCEPT for the condition of the property owned by Lionstone Group which continues to be unattended and bring down the value of the neighborhood. In fact while the Best Western Hotel posts a "Welcome to Music Row" message on their sign the view from the guests' windows, thanks to Lionstone Group, is less than scenic---unless you're into 6 foot weeds, trash, pot-holed parking lots and large puddles filled with green water. Maybe it's supposed to be inspiration for the latest county song. But I'm not buying it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A man's prerogative?

The Nashville Business Journal is reporting that MDHA and Lionstone Group want to buy just part of Joy Ford's property housing her Country International Records.

The agency and private development company presented Ford with a compromise proposal today that could preserve her classic Music Row music company, Country International Records.

Under their proposal, Country International Records would continue to occupy 23 Music Circle, but a portion of the parking area behind her building would be acquired.

So we go from we want it all, to we don't even need her property, to we want it all and we're going to use the force of the state to get it, and now back to we don't need it all---just this little section that would still greatly impact her business. Make up your mind, gentlemen. I thought it was a woman's prerogative to change her mind. The only person that seems to know what she wants and how to stay the course is Miss Joy.

Apparently the Nashville Post has some info also...but I haven't paid for a subscription so if you have go here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Bullying the Soul of Music Row

Rounding the corner of Music Circle East a week ago or so it was impossible to miss the large, clean, orange and white construction barricades on the right side of the road. Obviously, MDHA and Lionstone Group have upped the ante in their fight with Country International Records owner Joy Ford. I pulled the car over and started snapping pictures. Every entrance and exit to the property owned by Lionstone Group was blocked by one of these barricades--well except for one which allowed the customers of the Demonbreun business access to parking on Lionstone property. And then there were some who decided that driving over the sidewalk and curb wasn't a problem. Wonder how long that nice brick public sidewalk will last as a result of Lionstone closing the driveway to Music Circle East.

I stopped by Country International Records a couple of days later and asked Miss Joy when all this had happened. She told me it happened sometime in the dark of night after the press conference on July 21st. She told me that she had been in the office until about 11:00 p.m. and was back the next morning about 6:00 a.m. and the barricades were already in place. There had been one on Demonbruen but it was removed after not too long.

It was obvious that Miss Joy no longer had access to the alley along the right side of and behind her property which I knew meant that clients using tour buses, limos or larger trailers wouldn't have access to the back of her property. The only entrance to the back of her property is along the south side. As you can see this is too narrow for any bus to be sure.

In the map here Miss Joy's property is the red and the blue is the alley that she'd been using for years and was now being denied access to. I wondered aloud how Lionstone could get away with that. Miss Joy informed me that they had closed the alley, against her wishes back in 2006 and showed me this video:

What we have there is about 24 minutes of discussion by the Metro Council on May 16, 2006, the third and final reading regarding the closing of the alley (Bill Number 2006-1011 sponsored by Ludye Wallace & Councilman Rip Ryman (Goodlettsville). It's clear from the start that the bill should never have been on the agenda and the Council broke it's own Rule 18 which states:


No resolution or ordinance approving or authorizing the execution of any contract, lease, agreement or other instrument, or authorizing the closure and/or abandonment of any street, alley or easement, upon being filed, shall be placed upon the agenda by the Metropolitan Clerk unless said documents shall have been executed by all necessary parties including affected property owners for legislation closing and/or abandoning streets or alleys, excepting the signature of the Metropolitan Mayor and the Metropolitan Clerk. Further, said documents need not be executed by state, federal and railroad officials to be placed upon the agenda.

and it was clear that Metro legal didn't care. Metro Legal was represented at that meeting by Karl Dean, now mayor of Nashville. He stated Ford was "clearly affected by... if the alley is closed and she had access before. She's affected by that." (Minute 5:57) But backed his legal office's interpretation that because she had access via Music Circle East this closing could be done.

Councilmen who clearly understood that Miss Joy would be affected included:

Parker Toler (District 31) asks that this bill be re-referred to Public Works to determine if Ford is impacted by this bill. (Minute :35). Toler rises again at Minute 15:30 and moves that the bill be deferred one meeting and re-referred to Public works.

Ronnie Greer brings up Rule 18 and makes clear Ford hasn't consented and asks several times, in different ways, how it's on the agenda and how the Council can proceed knowing it shouldn't have been. (Minute 2:55)

Carolyn Baldwin Tucker clearly understands that Ford's music industry business means her clients have buses that won't have access to the back of her property anymore and that this is a battle between the rights of one private citizen against the rights of another private citizen. (Minute 10:10)

Sam Coleman (District 32) asks the sponsor (Ryman & Wallace) to defer this bill one meting out of an 'abundance of caution to the party that is affected'.

Former Council legal advisor Don Jones took the blame for the bill getting on the agenda at First Reading without Miss Joy's consent to the closing but now that it was on the agenda it couldn't be removed he asserts. (Minute 13:15)

Here's the vote that night.

So the alley Miss Joy was using for years, still needs for her clients and Lionstone didn't mind her using for some two years is now closed for her use. Nothing has changed except Miss Joy is fighting the condemnation of her property by responding to MDHA's legal maneuvers. Lionstone doesn't need it currently. Doesn't mind the Demonbreun customers using it. One can only assume they're further trying to intimidate Miss Joy by boxing her in and inhibiting her normal business.

In the meantime people continue to rally around Miss Joy in recognition of the fact that property rights are in danger. For some great shots of the inside of Country International Records and details of this battle you might want to pick up a copy of Nashville Music Guide dated August/September 2008. They've got a lot of the details starting on page 40 along with a supportive editorial which encourages Mayor Karl Dean to step up get MDHA to drop this issue by writing in part: "It's our taxpayer dollars that are being committed to this legal battle, and Karl Dean as mayor has the responsibility to see that our dollars are not squandered on a frivolous legal action."

The Tennessean has a gallery of photos also.

Their columnist Gail Kerr has written "The developer... cannot build around her. More likely, the developer can't make as much money building around her."

The Tennessean editorial says: "In the meantime, MDHA and the developer should drop this maneuver. We encourage them to find other alternatives. Although the project could add to the resurgent Nashville landscape, Ford's right to stay should be respected, and the individuality she represents is good for the soul of Music Row."

Quick Cash--for them

You want to know what 'blights' a neighborhood? It isn't widow women running a quiet business in the Music Row area. Let's start with predatory lenders who think that 44% interest isn't sufficient.

"The legislation being studied over the summer would effectively cap the fees and interest at 44 percent a year. [Billy] Mitchell [also a Georgia legislator], of Community Loans of America, told the committee that if the new legislation passed, "make no mistake about it — it would shut down the industry."

He accused industry critics of misleading lawmakers, and said most borrowers are responsible and pay the loans off while a small segment of customers is getting in financial trouble or trying to game the system." Tennessean

Rep. Billy Mitchell has been noticed lobbying for his bosses in Louisiana, Virginia and his own state of Georgia, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Mitchell says the paper got it wrong. Now he's in Tennessee recruiting legislators during election season.

If the Republican's win the majority of the Tennessee House & Senate I expect this to get cleaned up rather quickly. If the Dems still hold the House it won't happen. While the party says they're 'for the people' in cases like this...they're solidly behind these financial piranhas.

After the subcommittee heard most of the testimony, Rep. Curt Cobb, a Shelbyville Democrat, said lawmakers would reconvene later "and come up with some recommendations, or not."

Three days later, he received a $500 campaign contribution from the political action committee of Tullahoma-based payday lender 3D Financial, according to the PAC's most recent state campaign filing.

Thursday night the Metro Council will hear comments from citizens regarding tweaking the Gallatin Road Improvement Plan (GRIP) to limit cash advance, check cashing, pawn shop and title loan businesses. When a new Tennessee Quick Cash moved into the neighborhood after the passage of the GRIP several of us were surprised thinking they'd been zoned out. Turns out they found a loophole by calling themselves 'banks' instead. The bill before the Council on 2nd reading on Thursday is intended to close that loophole.

Until the state legislature decides to take action we'll have to rely on the locals. Contact council members and let them know how you feel about this issue.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Trust but verify

The NAACP Nashville branch is demanding that the MNPS BOE rescind their rezoning vote. I hope the BOE responds with thanks for their concern but lets them know they're not going to change a thing. The City Paper has their letter to the BOE.

First of all, it's not like the NAACP and any of the folks they represent didn't have an opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions about the plan while it was being developed. If Mark North did anything right in heading up this committee it was ensuring that he and the committee were available to listen. The NAACP says 5 days wasn't enough time to review the final plan...well welcome to the MNPS BOE agenda schedule. It's routine for the BOE agenda to come out on Thursday or Friday and in preparation for their vote on Tuesday. I've never thought that was sufficient time to vet anything on the agenda, let alone something as huge as this rezoning plan but those are the BOE rules. If you don't like those rules, work to get them changed.

Secondly, we don't need to operate our representative government in a manner that allows those who didn't get what they wanted a do-over until they get what they want. The NAACP quibbles about the 5/4 vote for the rezoning plan. Those are the rules, folks. If that close a vote is unacceptable to you you need to change the rules to require a super majority. Until then...the vote stands.

Interestingly, this doesn't come from the NAACP's Education Committee headed by former MNPS BOE member Mebenin Awipi but from their "Legal Redress Chair" and their President instead. The last we heard from Dr. Awipi was back in June when he was quoted by WPLN:

The rezoning effort was then given to a task force, and NAACP education chair Mebenin Awipi says the rezoning now appears inevitable. But he’s calling for at least some legal recourse if the district doesn’t keep its part of the bargain.

"Any financial promises they are making are just that, promises. To be trusted with the goodwill of the communities that are going to be affected, we want the mayor and city council to weigh in.”

I think Dr. Awipi is right. If the district doesn't keep its part of the deal, then let's talk lawsuit. In the meatime allowing the plan to go ahead and keeping the system on a very short leash seems the very best plan at this point. No one really wants us back under a judicial order or do they?

Everyone wants the children to get the best education possible. It makes sense to keep all these children as close to home as possible in order to maximize parental and neighborhood involvement AND minimize transportation expenses. Those who suffered during the bad old days of segregation have an opportunity to ensure it doesn't happen again by volunteering in these schools so they can see what's really going on and help ensure they have the resources the rest of the district has. If they discover a school is getting fewer necessary resources than other schools...I suggest they make that known immediately and loudly so that it can be quickly rectified. I believe Nashville is not the same city many of the NAACP leadership grew up in and we need to give the city a chance to prove that. We need to use the Ronald Reagan plan for now: "Trust but verify."

Orientation day

I spent a couple of hours this morning at Isaac Litton Middle School. It was orientation day. Thanks to rezoning they're getting a bunch of new students. I was assigned duty in the front hall in order to direct folks where to go based on their child's grade level. Lots of moms or dads and a surprising number of grandparents brought their children in. It was good to see several of the old staff there and I met a few new ones. Their new computer teacher was bit surprised to see a homeschool parent helping out. I know it's a bit odd, but we've all got to step in when and where we can. I'm happy to point people in the right direction and free up staff for more important tasks.

I'm thankful for the Sam's Clubs, the Music City Motorplex and the Country Music Association that can invest big dollars into our schools, but there is plenty of opportunity for regular folks with even just a few hours available to invest in the lives of these younger citizens of our city. Call your local school and ask if there is anything you can do to help.

Measuring hot air

This Monday morning I'm thankful that someone has a sense of humor out there. The Republican National Committee is honoring the words of "The One" on this, his birthday.

Like so many Americans, members of the media also are struggling to pay upwards of $4 a gallon for gas. But last week, Barack Obama said, “There are things that you can do individually though to save energy; making sure your tires are properly inflated, simple thing, but we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling, if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tune-ups. You could actually save just as much.” (Barack Obama, Springfield, MO, 7/30/08) RNC
So, the RNC is celebrating Obama's birthday by presenting members of the media tire gauges. Happy 47th Birthday!

In the meantime, head over to and sign the petition telling Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reconvene the House and actually debate our energy policy. According to Cong. Marsha Blackburn on this morning's Steve Gill radio program a contingent of Republicans is refusing to follow Pelosi's 6 week adjournment and will continue to keep this energy issue on the front burner. Since Pelosi controls CSPAN we'll have to rely on the folks in the chamber with their own recording devices to bring us the story as it unfolds.

In the meantime Pelosi is out hawking her book and will be in Boston today according to her publisher's website. Ironically titled "Know your power" it's ranked at #964 at Amazon today.