Friday, October 31, 2008

Good news for charter schools

Charter schools got a bit of equity today from the Tennessee Attorney General. Glad to read it. Looks like Metro Nashville Public School's Central Office needs to start writing refund checks back to the charter schools. I've no doubt the charters will use those funds wisely.

In Opinion 08-169:

QUESTION Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-13-112 provides that “The local board of education shall allocate one hundred percent (100.%) of the state and local education funds to the charter school on the per pupil expenditure of the LEA.1 The per pupil expenditure shall be based on the prior year average daily membership (ADM) of the LEA.”

May a board of education circumvent this statutory funding requirement and reduce the funding to which the charter school would be statutorily entitled by conditioning the charter school’s contract upon payment of an “administrative fee” to the board of education?

No. There is no statutory authority for a local board of education to impose an administrative fee upon charter schools.

Clarifying comments at the Tennessee Charter Schools Association blog.

Cheatham County cat skinning

There's more than one way to skin a cat the saying goes. And so it appears the powers that be in Cheatham County have found a way around honest and open government.

5 Year Plan - Violation of Sunshine Law?

It was reported in the
Ashland City Times October 29th that the School Board moved forward on a 5 year plan that was brought to them by County Commissioner Wood. This plan had at $29.3 million price tag!

Here is the first question - WHY is the County Commissioner bringing plans to the School Board?
From the Ashland City Times article:
John Paul Wood, who chairs the County Commission’s education committee, urged the board to go ahead and decide on a plan so the process can begin.

“At some point, we have to make a decision and move on,” he said.

Wood said the plan is a good starting point to get the ball rolling on the next steps, such as funding and locating property for the elementary school.
Kinda makes one wonder who is running things in Cheatham County.

It's hard enough for parents, taxpayers and voters to keep an eye on what's going on in and for schools without having to pay attention to several fronts at the same time.

Might be time for some FOIA requests. Tennessee Tax Revolt has an excellent resource page. They've got a whole section of government records access and Sunshine Laws--scroll down a bit or use CTRL+F and search "sunshine".

Sarah talks with Phil

From Phil Valentine this morning:

GOP running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, joins Phil Valentine for an exclusive interview today on The Phil Valentine Show.

Phil will ask her about her treatment in the press and how she and John McCain plan to pull out a victory on Nov. 4th. Don't miss this candid interview today on The Phil Valentine Show.

Phil's show airs from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central Time. You can listen via audio streaming from

Yeah, I know she'll also be on ABC's 20/20 tonight but considering the hatchet job they did editing her previous interview there I'm looking forward to hearing her unedited.

Palin's ABC Interview
Palin's ABC Interview II
Palin's ABC Interview III

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama's neighbors

This map from HillBuzz puts that 'just a guy in the neighborhood' line in perspective.

Toni Preckwinkle is a powerful Chicago Alderman. The rest of Obama's very near neighbors I'm sure you all know.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama misquotes Heritage Foundation

This from the Heritage Foundation's Insider's Blog just now.

Heritage Asks Obama Campaign to Pull Ad with Inaccurate Quote

The Heritage Foundation has sent a letter asking Barack Obama’s campaign to pull an ad that falsely describes Heritage analysis of Barack Obama’s tax plan. The ad claims Heritage analysis shows “the middle class would likely pay less under Mr. Obama’s plan.” In the letter, Heritage lawyer Alan P. Dye tells the Obama campaign that the source of the quote was not in fact any Heritage analysis, but rather a New York Sun article that erroneously summarized the views of Heritage analyst Rea Hederman. (snip)

Senator McCain’s plan is substantially better at spurring economic growth than Senator Obama’s. This is not surprising, since Senator McCain focuses on economic growth and job creation while Senator Obama focuses on the redistribution of income.

What was the question?

According to this morning's Tennessean article (front page, above the fold) "English-only measure splits voters in Davidson" they commissioned a survey of Nashvillians and got a result they were looking for. As far as I can tell from their website and the dead tree version, the Tennessean fails to provide the actual question and fails to provide any more information about the breakdown of the measly 200 participants. I can only assume this important clarifying information was purposefully omitted.

From their article they asked likely voters about:

"a measure that would bar Metro government agencies from translating written materials into other languages or offering interpreters to the public."
But the actual wording of the amendment from the last petition sent out by the English First folks doesn't say the city would be barred from translating or providing interpreters. It says:
“English is the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Official actions which bind or commit the government shall be taken only in the English language, and all official government communications and publications shall be in English. No person shall have a right to government services in any other language. All meetings of the Metro Council, Boards, and Commissions of the Metropolitan Government shall be conducted in English. The Metro Council may make specific exceptions to protect public health and safety. Nothing in this measure shall be interpreted to conflict with federal or state law."
It doesn't say 'bar' it says you don't have a right to a translation. It also says exceptions may be made for health and safety. That's a looooong way from 'bar'. If they used 'bar' in their questions it was misleading and nullifies the survey completely.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The lawyer asks:

Nathan Moore asks the right question in light of Barack Obama's 2001 interview (noted below):

"...can he actually take the oath of office of the presidency, and swear to uphold and defend the Constitution without perjuring himself?"

Nathan doesn't go far enough though. Here's the oath (with my own emphasis):
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
From what I've heard and read Obama is planning on enacting Constitution 2.0 instead.

Regardless, Clinton proved that presidents get a pass on perjury. So it looks like voters are on deck for the preserving, protecting and defending. I don't even want to consider who/what is next in the lineup.

Negative liberties?

The clock on this election season is fast running down and the dam that has kept seriously negative information about Barack Obama is finally getting some leaks that the little Dutch boy and his friends can no longer control.

Last week's McCain/Palin 'scandal' over clothing is childish when compared to so much of Obama's story to include this morning's audio of an interview Obama had in 2001 with Chicago's Public Radios Station. No doubt he felt like he was talking to family and felt free to express his opinion in a more unguarded way. Here's a snip from that interview (emphasis mine):

But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.
More evidence that what Melanie Philips wrote about (see post below) is exactly spot on. Obama sees the Constitution as a hindrance and I and millions of other America loving patriots see it as a path to enormous freedom. Did it need a tweak or two...obviously yes. Obama fails to understand the times and tyranny the founders were trying to escape from when they created those boundaries. Without those boundaries I believe we'll face another King George. Only God knows at this point if his name will be King Obama.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Getting down to brass tacks

This from Melanie Phillips author of "Londonistan" via the blog

McCain believes in protecting and defending America as it is. Obama tells the world he is ashamed of America and wants to change it into something else. McCain stands for American exceptionalism, the belief that American values are superior to tyrannies. Obama stands for the expiation of America’s original sin in oppressing black people, the third world and the poor.
That's as succinctly worded a paragraph about the difference between these two men as I've read thus far.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Grand Poobahs on Bransford Avenue

Here's some truth that folks need to keep in mind from CM Randy Foster (District 27-Edmondson Pike):

Council member Randy Foster said he believes the people of Davidson County need to be more active in the school board election process, and that some school board members should be more receptive to needs of constituents.

Once elected, Foster said, board members “don’t see themselves as political figures,” and tend to “step out of the lives of their constituents and become a governing board on Bransford Avenue.”

“I do hope the citizenry will pay attention to what is going on. … We almost sleepwalk through our Board of Education elections,” Foster said. “The solution doesn’t lie at Bransford Avenue. … The solution lies in every house in Davidson County.” Nashville City Paper

Foster is right BOE members don't see themselves as the usual political figure. Part of that is by design. Part of that is because they are rarely held accountable.

My orientation session for School Board members in 2006 included an overview by Ralph Schulz about the Policy Governance way the school board was being run. I'll quote from my previous blog post here:
Board member Kathy Nevill made a clarifying point when she said that frequently people expect BOE members to act like council members and fix the ‘pot holes’ of the educational system. However, under this policy governance model that really isn’t done. That’s not to say a BOE member can’t inquire about the ‘pot hole’ but the intention is that the BOE member help the constituent work the system and when it comes time to evaluate the Director of Schools they will have to answer for repeated failures in that ‘pie wedge’ [area of responsibility]

Policy Governance discourages the BOE member from getting 'hands on' involved in any situation. That makes it easier on the central office and the BOE member who does tend to sit above it all and point out they only have three jobs:

1. Hire a director of schools,

2. Approve the budget,

3. Establish policy for the system.

It's exceptionally frustrating for anyone wanting action taken by the BOE or an individual member. By subjecting themselves to Policy Governance they've created a calmer environment but also unlinked BOE members from their districts. They no longer 'own' them and so they aren't responsible for the condition of their districts. The BOE could dump Policy Governance with a vote...but aren't likely to when they get so much benefit out of it.

Something else that could be helpful is to hold BOE elections in the fall. Having them in August when school is out of session, folks are in summer mode and/or on vacation doesn't encourage participation by any except those with all summer off to work on campaigns.

BTW Foster's website , while needing a bit of updating, is pretty good. It'd be nice to see more like this.

Fred says:

"For our nation's sake, choose well."

Hat Tip: Ol' Broad

4 for the Republicans

The Brooks family has put four in the Republican columns. Most of us voted yesterday about 11:00 and were in an out in nearly no time at all despite having a brand new voter with us. Papa voted this morning on the way to work.

We were greeted by all sorts of signs...oddly very few for the presidential candidates. LOTS for David Hall who is taking on 24 year incumbent Joe Haynes for State Senator in our area. Haynes must be feeling the heat because you really have to read the mailers to catch a clue he's a democrat.

This new type of sign caught our eye. One could easily assume, since it was right on the boundary line and exceptionally plain, that it's an Election Commission sign. Don't expect non-partisan help if you call it. It seems dishonest to not include some notation that if you call that number the Obama campaign will be answering. These signs could open up the door to an interesting array of signs not normally seen at voting places.

It was also curious to see that all the Democrats had first billing on the ballot. Aren't these usually in alphabetical order?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Voter Fraud in Nashville

I heard just a snip of Phil Valentine's radio program while in the car Friday where voter fraud in Davidson County was being outed. I didn't catch it all but thankfully Inoculated did and provides the details. Read it all and when you go in to vote, don't be shy about noticing what's going on around you. Here's a bit of Inoculated's very detailed coverage.

[Davidson County Election Commissioner Lynn Greer] informed Phil and his listeners that earlier today, someone was bringing in vanloads of non-English-speaking Mexicans with no identification to one of the Nashville early voting locations. Along with the non-English speaking individuals came a bilingual woman to act as their interpreter. She informed the election personnel that she would accompany the voters into the booth, read the ballot for them, and insure that their vote was cast for the candidates of their choice.
The Davidson County Election Commission said you have to understand/speak/read English to be a citizen. Since they couldn't, they couldn't vote.
However, someone prevailed upon Mr. Barrett to call the state in order to verify the Commission's decision. Brook Thompson, the Tennessee State Election Coordinator, then ordered Mr. Barrett and the Davidson County Election Commission to allow these non-English-speaking individuals to vote through their bilingual interpreter despite their lack of any sort of identification and total unfamiliarity with the English language.
I'd like to know which voting locations, who this woman is, who arranged the van loads of 'voters' and why the local media hasn't picked up on this. Considering the upcoming English as our official language vote in January, the requirement that legal immigrants know English and the massive voter fraud that is going on around the nation...what's not to like about expending pixels and ink on this story?

I'd also like to know what the Davidson County Election Commission is currently doing to ensure the honesty of our election.

Hat Tip: Bill Hobbs who is exactly right when he writes:
"Voters of Tennessee can put an end to the Democrats' reign of error by electing more Republicans to the state legislature. How many more? Republicans currently hold 16 Senate seats and 46 House seats, a total of 62 seats. It takes 67 to take over the State Election Commission."
The Democrats stole the election from their own Sen. Rosalind Kurita despite her having the people's vote and they were a party to enabling these shenanigans in Davidson County. They don't need to remain in control of our election process.

Music City--vote for one of your own

Shouldn't Music City vote for a fellow musician?

Vote McCain/Palin!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tennessean slips in bias

Does the Tennessean headline below the fold and the bold ELECTION 2008 banner this morning read to anyone else as though churches are sneakily violating the law and the IRS isn't paying attention? The headline reads "Churches' voter guides slip past IRS ban". There's no slippin' here. These voter guides are entirely within the rights of these churches etc. to make available to their congregants.

I'm looking at the list of just early voting sites and of the 13 available this season 4 are churches. It's impossible to conduct elections in this county without church facilities. Instead of congratulating these religious entities for empowering their membership and creating informed voters this appears to me as an attempt by the Tennessean to slip in their own religious bias. Seems so wrong to commandeer their buildings and then muzzle them during the political debate.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Arggggg!!! How about that bunker money?

The TN GOP press release this afternoon starts with this:

As State Faces Massive Deficit, Gov. Bredesen Complains Republicans Stopped Him From Spending More

NASHVILLE – With Tennesseans facing a tough economy, the state budget facing a $600 million deficit, and a Democrat-controlled Congress itching to raise taxes, Democrat Gov. Phil Bredesen has just given the best explanation for why Tennessee taxpayers need a Republican majority in the state legislature: to keep the Democrats from spending too much.

Bredesen, campaigning in West Tennessee for state Senate candidate Randy Camp, a former lobbyist and administration insider, said voters should chose Camp rather than Republican Dolores Gresham because Camp would let him spend more money.

Said Bredesen: "The Senate in particular has been very partisan. This hurts me in education areas. There were things that I wanted to do in education. The free community college idea, for example, that would have helped this district." (snip)

You spent the money available on what you considered important, Governor.

From my post of December 2007 see what the price for that party bunker would have purchased:

1834 public school students
304 public school teachers
the per capita income of 429 constituents

and from Books From birth
participation for 426,666 children...

I'll know he's serious about the state budget when he expresses buyer's remorse over that $17 million party bunker.

Democrat Copycat

Well, look what 45th TN House District candidate Democrat Andy Allman is sending out in his effort to defeat Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Sumner County) . It's the very same postcard, with the very same apostrophe error on it that Ken Wilkinson sent out against Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Sumner and Wilson Counties) which I blogged about this morning. Someone's been copying from someone else's homework. Apparently, neither one of these Democrats took a moment to have their literature proofread. You'd think with all that support the Dems get from the teacher's unions they'd have at least one English teacher friend (or fourth grader) that could have given this a once-over.

These are starting to add up. I wonder how many other Democrat candidates failed to notice this same simple error? Even sadder is the fact that the bottom of the post card incorrectly calls this legislation the "Schools First Initiative" S.B. 2326/H.B. 2354 which isn't exactly correct when the bill was titled "AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 67, Chapter 4, Part 10, relative to the taxation of cigarettes."

Here's the list of House Representatives that voted against this bill from the State's website:

Mike Bell (R), Brooks H (R), Brooks K (R), Campfield (R), Casada (R), Cobb J (R), Coley (R), Crider (R), Dean (R), DuBois (R), Dunn (R), Eldridge (R), Floyd (R), Ford (R), Gresham (R), Harrison(R), Harwell (R), Hawk (R), Hensley (R), Hill (R), Johnson C (R), Johnson P (R) , Kelsey (R), Lollar (R), Lundberg (R), Lynn (R), Maggart (R), Matheny (R), Matlock (R), McCord (R), McManus (R), Montgomery (R), Mumpower (R), Niceley (R), Rowland (R), Sargent (R), Swafford (R), Todd (R), Watson (R), Windle (D) -- 40.

Only Democrat to vote against this bill was John Mark Windle (District 41 Fentress, Morgan and Overton Counties). I knew I liked him.

Here's the language of the legislation. The red highlights the creation of an education trust fund...provided the stars and moon align correctly.

By Kyle, Marrero
Substituted for: House Bill No. 2354
By Odom
AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 67, Chapter 4, Part 10,
relative to the taxation of cigarettes.


SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 67-4-1004(a), is
amended by deleting the language "ten (10) mills" and by substituting instead the
language "three cents (3¢)".

SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 67-4-1004, is
amended by deleting subsection (c) and substituting instead the following:

(c) Any wholesale dealers, jobbers, tobacco distributors, and retail

dealers having cigarette tax stamps, affixed and unaffixed, in their
possession on July 1, 2007, shall not be required to pay the additional
cigarette tax on such stamps resulting from the increase in the tax rate
from ten (10) mills to three cents (3¢) on cigarettes bearing such stamps.

SECTION 3. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 67-4-1025, is
amended by adding the following language as a new subsection (d):

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of

this section to the contrary, all cigarette tax revenue generated from the increase in the tax rate from ten (10) mills to three cents (3¢) on each cigarette shall be deposited in the education trust fund created by Title 49, Chapter 3; provided that, an amount of twenty-one million dollars ($21,000,000) of such cigarette tax revenue shall be allocated to the Department of Agriculture's Tennessee agriculture enhancement program.

SECTION 4. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 67-4-1004, is further

amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated

(d)(1) In addition to the tax provided in subsection (a), there shall

be levied an additional one-tenth of one cent (0.1¢) on each
(2) Any wholesale dealers, jobbers, tobacco distributors,
and retail dealers having cigarette tax stamps, affixed and
unaffixed, in their possession on July 1, 2007, shall not be
required to pay such additional cigarette tax on such stamps
resulting from the increase in the tax rate of one-tenth of one cent
(0.1¢) on cigarettes bearing such stamps.

SECTION 5. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 67-4-1025, is

amended by adding the following language as a new subsection (e):

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of

this section to the contrary, all cigarette tax revenue generated from the
additional tax rate of one-tenth of one cent (0.1¢) on each cigarette
imposed by § 67-4-1004(d) shall be deposited in the trauma system fund
created by the "Trauma Center Funding Act of 2007" (Senate Bill
1503/House Bill 1613). Such funds shall be distributed as required by
such law.

SECTION 6. This act shall take effect on July 1, 2007, the public welfare

requiring it.
PASSED: June 4, 2007

One more time

Erick Huth, president of the Metro Nashville Education Association, which advocates for local teachers, said charter schools are not the answer to the district's woes and could end up hurting more than helping because they will take tax dollars away from already struggling schools. Per-student funding follows students to the charter schools they attend.

"There's not much a charter school can do that public schools couldn't do," he said. "But some people rally around charter schools because of a belief that public education is evil or awful."

Let's go through this lesson one more time.

First off, money does not equal a good education as MNPS has so clearly demonstrated and every charter school demonstrates.

Secondly, charter schools ARE public schools. Obviously, charter school parents don't believe that public education is evil or awful. It's working well for their students.
"They're making better grades, their scores are up. I see a big difference in my kids." [East Nashville father Scott Gray]

Thirdly, there is, apparently, something those charter schools can do that some public schools can't:
"Publicly funded but independently operated, all three of Nashville's charter schools met state standards and had waiting lists at the beginning of this school year for the first time." Tennessean
The only people standing in the way of more charter schools (and so the education of children) are those who are already running or enabling the ailing public education system--like the MNEA. Let go of the children and let them succeed in the school that suits them best.

Proofreader needed

If you're looking for a proofreading job check with Democrat Ken Wilkinson's campaign. He's running against Rep. Susan Lynn.

Nathan Moore has the full story.

My personal experience with Rep. Lynn has been stellar. She knows her stuff. She's effective. She's gracious and the kind of woman I'm happy to use as an example to my daughters. She's also one of the few blogging legislators: and she understands the need to lower the tax on food.

This photo is from last summer's tax fight where Rep. Lynn demonstrates the proper use of an apostrophe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So who is hateful?

This from the Metro Nashville Police Department this afternoon:

Detectives this afternoon charged David A. Lowe with repetitive telephone harassment for making six telephone calls to Metro Councilman Eric Crafton over the weekend.

Lowe, 60, of 3000 Hillsboro Road, was issued a state misdemeanor citation which requires him to report for booking on November 4.

Lowe was identified as a potential suspect Monday and, when phoned by detectives, admitted responsibility for the calls. He denied sending any recent email to Crafton.

Lowe’s calls to Crafton were prompted by the proposed English-only Metro charter amendment Crafton is advocating.

*Lowe does not have an arrest history with the Metropolitan Police Department.


His booking date of November 4th is the very day we could have voted on the English First bill without additional cost to the city and had this all done and over with. Councilman Eric Crafton, agree with him or not, hasn't done anything illegal and certainly has not deserved death threats. I'd hate to send a 60 year old man to jail but they better look long and hard at his mental condition before releasing him. Someone should check into Lowe's associations as well and investigate what might have encouraged Lowe to such base behavior. It may be that the emailer and Lowe know one another. Seems too coincidental that after all this time dealing with this volatile issue and months away from the actual vote they both picked last weekend to act out.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Change for NES

NES's Change for Charity became change of mind for the NES Board. From AC Kleinheider at the Nashville Post:

“We (NES) received feedback from customers that they prefer opt in programs, like NES’ Project Help program,” said NES CEO Decosta Jenkins. “While this new program would have provided much-needed assistance to charitable organizations in our community, we are listening to our customers and will not implement Change for Charity at the present time. NES Press Release
"At this present time" reads like we'll wait until they're not paying attention and try this at a later time. I'm glad they rethought this though. Their press release says the program allowed folks to donate "approximately 50 cents a month to charity". Of course that's just the average of rounding up. It'd been 99 cents for those folks with bills ending in .01.
In the meantime, NES encourages customers, who are able, to sign up for Project Help. One-hundred percent of the proceeds from Project Help go to pay the electric bills of needy families in our community so they can stay warm during the winter months.
100% of the voluntary donations by electric customers go to help folks stay warm vs. 80% and a 20% slush fund for NES to dole out.
Twenty percent of Change for Charity funds are available in grant form to 501(c)(3) organizations, and 80% of funds will be distributed to Metro Action Commission, Ladies of Charity, and Big Brothers of Nashville for energy assistance.
Now if we could get a few other government entities to pull their hands out of our pocketbooks.

See previous post: Increase in Rates Not Enough

Saturday, October 11, 2008

And who controls the Tn House rules???

The Braying Blog tries to make hay out of Rep. Delores Gresham's receipt of agricultural grant money.

Although disclosure is mandatory in the state Senate when members may receive a personal benefit, no House rule requires similar disclosure by its members.

There is nothing illegal about the grant money flowing to the Greshams’ farm or for her votes for the funding. She is in a close race with Democrat Randy Camp for the state Senate seat of retiring Sen. John Wilder, which covers Fayette and seven other counties. (emphasis added)

Apparently, the Tennessee Democrats and the Alaska Democrats really are working from the same play book as the Troopergate report on Governor Sarah Palin's also makes it clear that the governor was well within her authority to fire the Commissioner of Public Safety yet still considers her doing so an abuse of power. And so similarly Rep. Gresham hasn't violated any House rule...but it's still a violation of ethics?

Let's see, now. Who has controlled the Tennessee House, its committees and so its rules for, gosh how long now? That's right...the Democrats. Why haven't they enacted a similar rule for the House long ago?

It only matters to them now, and for the next few weeks, because they want their candidate Randy Camp to win that district seat. That's pretty convenient. If they retain a majority in the Tennessee House don't even expect them to make Job #1 enacting the Senate's ethics rules come the opening of the legislative session in January. These are the same folks whom I heard in committee hearings get distracted and whine about whether they'd have to report grass cutting money earned by their teens. They strained at a gnat in an effort to overlook the log.

If you want to make the House accountable for these kinds of grants...send Republicans to the Tennessee House by voting for them on November 4. I trust Gresham will happily comply with the new rules also.

Side note funnies: In trying to find a link to Camp's website I googled "Randy Camp vote" and the top link points you to a page of Jackson radio host Mike Slater head shots and links. Even weirder, the tag cloud on the right has Jesus and Drew Johnson (head of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research in the same font size. Does Farrakhan know about this?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ghostbusting the voter rolls

Former Nashville Channel 2 reporter and Tennessee Center for Policy Research investigator Trent Seibert (along with LeAnn O'Neal and Jennifer Peebles formerly of the Tennessean newspaper) moved on to Texas and hit the ground running by finding dead voters still registered. In this current ACORN climate, Texas is fortunate to have these folks on the job.

[Trent Seibert] heads up the non-partisan news group on the web.Texas Watchdog compared Harris County's voter registration roll with the Social Security death index and found more than 4,000 matches -- registered voters that, it appears, are already dead. KPRC Houston, TX
Here's the Texas Watchdog report.

Is anyone doing this in Tennessee? Do we need any more reasons to require a photo ID for voters?

TCSA starts blog

Announcing a brand new blog at those of you interested in charter schools in Tennessee.

Their introductory post:

The TN charter blog - courtesy of the TN Charter Schools Association (TCSA) - is here to bring you news, musings, and other happenings in the TN charter world. We hope to be informative, but also entertaining (many times lighthearted, but at times irreverent!)

Because there's no shortage of shoddy reporting, misrepresented facts, and unscrupulous agendas working against kids, we'll stay on top of the charter news, setting the record straight, and also bring to you commentary on charter policy, school results, and other items of interest. Most of all, we want to rouse within you, a passion for charter schools, which offer great educational opportunities for public school parents and students. We have 16 charter schools in the state helping nearly 4,000 students climb the mountain to college.

Posts will come not only from TCSA staff, but also guest bloggers - to offer a wide range of viewpoints and commentary. We hope you'll follow the blog!
And so they're off and running by highlighting new charter schools in Chattanooga, that great video from the Brits about school choice which has been making the rounds, and an examination of Memphis money issues and how charters are managing to make do--and do well.

Go visit and set your RSS feed to subscribe.

Tennesse Charter Schools Association
5202 Idaho Avenue
Nashville, TN 37209
Phone: 615-498-2916

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Cheatham County BOE Watches the Watchers

I've just learned of a blog called Cheatham County School Board Watchdogs. I'm happy to see more parents and citizens paying attention to their local schools and communicating about what's going on. Welcome to the party!

The blog's first post is dated just weeks ago and already they've gotten the attention of the Cheatham County BOE which has had legal counsel demand certain retractions. The eight page letter also criticizes their anonynimity and calls them hypocrites and less than responsible citizens. I'm all for correcting factual errors and the lawyers make it clear the anonymous blog is a legitimate free speech outlet but it's interesting to me that the Cheatham County BOE would go to such lengths so quickly when a simple comment on the offending blog post could have done the same. The letter promises that the BOE will continue to monitor the blog for 'mischaracterizations, falsehoods and defametory statements'. Apparently, it didn't take long for these folks to ruffle a few feathers.

I'm not a fan of anonymous blogging but I completely understand the need for aninonimity in these cases. Retribution is a concern of parents when they attempt to speak up and make changes in the system or report abuses of the system. The smaller the system, the more entrenched the players, the more swiftly that retribution can be visited upon families.

I expect that during this first year these parents will learn a lot about what can and should be said on a blog vs. what can be discussed over the backyard fence. However, the initial misteps should in no way deter them from continuing to provide factual information on what is going on in their public schools. I would encourage them to find a way to include audio/video clips of meetings as well as transcripts where possible. People are busy now days and providing them a heads up will be a very valuable service to their community.

If you're intersted in what's going on in Cheatham County...subscribe to their Watchdog blog and provide additional information and opinion when you can.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

So Michelle Obama is undecided?

How is it that Michelle Obama was seated among the undecided voters at the presidential debate at Belmont this evening? She should not have been there--whether she's undecided or not.

I do know one of the woman that was among the undecideds. I'm looking forward to hearing her take on the experience.

Tom Brokow was a lousy time keeper and moderator. I nearly gave up when Brokow announced that he got to pick the questions. The liberals were upset that Brokow interrupted Obama but they failed to realize that he regularly went overtime and should have been interrupted more than a minute earlier. Why wasn't a buzzer employed so we all know who went over when? And Obama was allowed to rebut several times despite the rules. Apparently, the rules don't apply to him.

I'm disappointed Sen. John McCain didn't hit Obama harder. A lot harder.

I don't know where Obama is buying gasoline in Nashville but it's about 30 cents lower than the $3.8+- he stated.

McCain answered correctly, health insurance is a responsibility not a right as Obama answered. More correctly, paying your medical bills is a responsibility. If you don't need insurance to do that, great.

McCain's point that our soldiers are in nuclear powered tin cans and that there are plenty of European nations living on nuclear power was a great point. ALL of the above and drill here, drill now have got to be the plan.

I loved the exchange between the former Marine CPO (they aren't really ever former are they) and McCain. He does seem to be more personable in his exchanges with questioners. I loved his direct answer to the CPO about coming to the aid of Israel if attacked by Iran. McCain is right, the UN Security Council isn't a friend of Israel and it would not be in the best interests of the US to wait around for them to give permission to aid Israel.

McCain's response regarding Russia was exactly right and it was a clear demonstration of his previous statement that you don't let the enemy know what your game plan is. And to deliver the response while half sitting on the stool with his feet stretched out before him with a sly smile came across to me as very self-assured on that issue. While Obama was reciting former Soviet Satellite nations like Estonia, McCain honed in on the oil pipeline ones like Georgia. He knows what Putin wants. I'll bet Putin knows that McCain knows what Putin wants and Putin would rather have to deal with Obama.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin trumps O'Biden

I rushed home from a neighborhood meeting and joined The Debate about 10 minutes into it.

I'm sure the left is tremendously disappointed that Gov. Sarah Palin didn't crash and burn. I believe many were certain she'd do herself and McCain in last night. It didn't happen. Didn't even come close to happening. From my seat on the couch she won because she held her own while being toe to toe with a 36 year veteran of political bloviating of the highest order.

Gov. Palin started out slowly but it didn't take her long to find her groove and get her and Senator John McCain's message in front of the television viewers. Her delivery was animated and passionate and she saved it from being the boring droning session these debates usually are. So confident was she that at the end she was giving a shout out to her brother's 3rd grade class as if it were a small townhall meeting instead of a high stakes debate. She succeeded in making it clear that while Obama and O'Biden may say 'middle class' in their speeches, Palin and her family are middle class and really do understand what the struggles are for those Americans.

She hammered home the point that government is more often a hindrance to getting things done. She belabored the greed on Wall Street line and I wished she'd pushed stronger on Congress' part in our current debacle. Thankfully, she mentioned personal responsibility in all this which is an important element that shouldn't be glossed over.

I loved it that she sees the VP job is being more than hanging out wait for the President to die and breaking tie votes. I'm looking forward to seeing how that develops. Biden disagreed at that moment but later said he'd be in on all the meetings/decisions with Obama...sounds much broader than his version of the Constitutional job description and only served to point out Obama's need to have more experence in the room.

Her absolute support for Israel, including putting our embassy in Jerusalem, was terrific! I was very glad to hear her strong statements, once again, in support of this nation.

She's right, Obama isn't ready to be Commander in Chief. That's clear from their insistence that they'll pull out on a timetable that the enemy can use to schedule their next attack.

Another strong statement: Marriage is between one man and one woman.

We howled with laughter when Palin mistakenly called Senator Joe Biden "O'Biden". I think that's going to stick.

Glad she put it to the media for filtering her comments. Apparently ABC, after getting burned with cut and paste job they did with the Gibson interview, was listening as on their Good Morning America broadcast this morning they emphasized that the entire speech was available on their website for viewing. An excellent hopeful and upbeat ending.

O'Biden's Cheshire Cat smile was creepy and condescending. It came across to me as saying 'We'll let the little woman talk but we know it doesn't really mean anything." The children wondered what was up with his Vulcan-like forehead. I wondered how a lawyer and head of the Judicial Committee in the Senate wasn't able to succinctly describe Chapters 7 and 13 of the bankruptcy code. Why on Earth would he give those judges the right to amend the principal amount on a loan??? I got tired of hearing Biden say 'it's fair'. His statement that he'd be in all the meetings with Obama only confirmed to me that was going to happen because Obama wasn't experienced enough to run things on his own. His emotional moment at the end may have started sincerely, but I do believe that he realized it could be useful and went with it. Very Clintonesque.

I'm betting Biden is glad there is only one vice-presidential debate. I suspect Obama is glad he doesn't have to debate her either.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Joy Ford comes out winning

The Joy Ford battle with MDHA comes to a happy end. Apparently, some folks started doing some real thinking and a land swap deal was worked out. I've no doubt that an important component in coming to this compromise was the heat that citizens put on MDHA, Lionstone Group and local politicians. Great work, y'all.

I guess it wasn't all that blighted after all, eh?

UPDATE: Just got off the phone with Miss Joy....we did a lot of whoooping and hollaring as we rejoiced in her victory. She's headed to her office for the Noon press conference, exhausted from the battle and thrilled she no longer has a muzzle on her regarding all this. She did say she was going to be part of efforts to modify the eminent domain laws in Tennessee this January. Look out Capital Hill. What an amazing woman.

Here's the IJ Press Release from an hour ago.


October 1, 2008

John E. Kramer
(703) 682-9320

Victory for Music Row Entrepreneur Joy Ford
In Nashville Eminent Domain Dispute

Ford Keeps Her Building & Gets More Land,
Conflict Settled through Private Negotiation, Not Government Force

Arlington, Va.—Eminent domain will not be used against Nashville music entrepreneur Joy Ford in a hotly contested battle about the abuse of government for a developer’s private gain. In an agreement signed Tuesday night, September 30, Ford, who has fought eminent domain since June of this year, keeps both her building and obtains more land adjacent to her building along Nashville’s storied Music Row while agreeing to give up land behind her office. Today at noon, Ford will hold a press conference at her office, which is located at 23 Music Circle East in Nashville.

“This agreement is a magnificent victory for Joy Ford and all Tennessee home and small business owners,” said Scott Bullock, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represented Ford and fights eminent domain abuse nationwide. “By challenging eminent domain abuse, Joy Ford obtained a landmark agreement where she keeps her building and gets more and better land next to it.”

Under the agreement, Ford will exchange a portion of her back parking lot measuring 50 feet wide and 73 feet deep for a parcel adjacent to the eastern (right) side of her building measuring 49 feet wide and 105 feet deep. Nashville’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) did not participate in the negotiations between Ford and Lionstone.

“This agreement demonstrates what can happen when private parties sit down to work something out without the government,” said Bullock.

The Institute, along with Nashville eminent domain attorney Jim Fisher of Lassiter Tidwell, represented Joy Ford throughout the controversy, including negotiations over the agreement.

In June, the MDHA filed an eminent domain action against Ford to obtain her entire parcel of land so that it could be given to a Houston-based private developer, Lionstone Group, to construct an office building. Under pressure, MDHA in August dropped its eminent domain suit against Ford’s building but demanded that Ford settle by giving up virtually the entire back portion of her long, narrow parcel of property. Ford rejected this demand, but came up with an alternative proposal: she would exchange a portion of the back of her property for more accessible land on the east side of her building owned by Lionstone. After weeks of intense negotiations, Lionstone agreed to the proposal. The agreement is solely a swap of land. No money was exchanged.

“I am elated with this agreement,” said Joy Ford. “This battle was never about money. It was about protecting my rights and keeping my family’s legacy on Music Row. Now I will have a more accessible and better parking area for my clients’ cars, trucks and buses while they are visiting Country International.”

Although Ford achieved victory in her battle, she is not done with her fight against eminent domain abuse, pledging to work with other property owners and Metro and state legislators to stop eminent domain abuse. “I will not rest until eminent domain is stopped being used on behalf of private interests.”
# # #

Increase in rates not enough

Today NES will be raising our electric rates about 15%--the cost of the TVA rate increase. In January they'll slip their hands a bit further into our pocketbooks by rounding up our bills to the nearest dollar and creating a slush fund of cash that they'll get to use as great PR next year when the headlines will read "NES provides $2 million in aid to poor". Excuse me, but why does this need to be involuntary? According to WPLN this forced charity was an "executive decision".

Here's the NES Power Board membership:
I absolutely hate it when any entity decides that you have to opt-out of something instead of providing informed consent and asking folks to opt-in. They do this because they can't make their case and encourage participation the honest way. Apparently, their long running "Project Help" wasn't getting the job done and so now we have these 'automatic' donations.

Here's the NES Change for Charity webpage, here's the Opt-Out form (which isn't a secure page, btw) and here's the NES contact page.

Hat tip: AC Kleinheider

Credit needs to be crunched

I saw Dave Ramsey on ABC's Good Morning America this morning. He pointed people to his website and his Three Steps to Change the Nation's Future. Number 1 is to pray--always a good first step. Number 2 is to send the following to legislators. Number 3 is to send Ramsey's information on to others.

I'm tremendously concerned about fixing the 'credit crunch'. Most of us understand that credit has been too free flowing for far too long. We're not talking about the routine credit pattern of taking out a loan to buy seed and repaying the money at harvest time which is risky enough. We're talking about credit card companies that threw applications into the consumer wind and approved just about everyone. We're talking about people buying a home with zero percent down adjustable rate mortgages that they couldn't afford when that rate changed to a reality based number. It started, not surprisingly, when folks were shut out of being able to buy a home and the government decided to step in and make things fair. Well, life isn't fair. And it's certainly not fair for ME to pay for the mistakes and greed of others.

So, frankly, welcome a bit of a credit crunch. Credit is as dangerous as a sharp kitchen knife. A useful tool on occasion but if you lose your focus for a moment--you could be severely injured. I teach my children that each dollar of credit is akin to a link on the chains that Marley is wrapped up in in "A Christmas Carol". Credit weighs you down and keeps you from being as mobile as you might need to be. Credit is cancerous and eats up income at a voracious rate if not watched like a hawk. Credit is not your friend so don't cozy up to it or depend on it as if it were. A lot of people are getting a severe wake-up call. Some folks were duped and swindled by credit sharks as evil as the local drug pusher. I'm not happy that thieves of the highest order are getting golden parachutes and Congressmen are in bed with the very folks that created this mess. It's galling that Congress is seriously considering requiring the hard working folks in this country to take on another burden they didn't create. Thankfully, American's are waking up and letting Congress know they're not happy and with elections just 34 days away...the timing couldn't be better. Considering the Dow regained much of Monday's panic...I don't see a need to rush into a solution that hasn't been closely examined by the entire nation. No dead of night votes on bills that haven't been published for less than 24 hours. The borrower is servant to the lender and I will not take lightly Congress' attempt to sell me and my children into slavery with this $700 billion bailout. They've been doing it for far too long and NOW is the time they need to stop.

So here's Dave Ramsey's proposed solution. It makes sense to me. Rep. Marsha Blackburn was suggesting some of these same things last evening on Phil Valentine's radio program.

The Common Sense Fix by Dave Ramsey

Years of bad decisions and stupid mistakes have created an economic nightmare in this country, but $700 billion in new debt is not the answer. As a tax-paying American citizen, I will not support any congressperson who votes to implement such a policy. Instead, I submit the following three step Common Sense Plan.

a. Insure the subprime bonds/mortgages with an underlying FHA-type insurance. Government-insured and backed loans would have an instant market all over the world, creating immediate and needed liquidity.
b. In order for a company to accept the government-backed insurance, they must do two things:
1. Rewrite any mortgage that is more than three months delinquent to a 6% fixed-rate mortgage.
a. Roll all back payments with no late fees or legal costs into the balance. This brings homeowners current and allows them a chance to keep their homes.
b. Cancel all prepayment penalties to encourage refinancing or the sale of the property to pay off the bad loan. In the event of foreclosure or short sale, the borrower will not be held liable for any deficit balance. FHA does this now, and that encourages mortgage companies to go the extra mile while working with the borrower—again limiting foreclosures and ruined lives.
2. Cancel ALL golden parachutes of EXISTING and FUTURE CEOs and executive team members as long as the company holds these government-insured bonds/mortgages. This keeps underperforming executives from being paid when they don’t do their jobs.

c. This backstop will cost less than $50 billion—a small fraction of the current proposal.

a. Remove mark to market accounting rules for two years on only subprime Tier III bonds/mortgages. This keeps companies from being forced to artificially mark down bonds/mortgages below the value of the underlying mortgages and real estate.
b. This move creates patience in the market and has an immediate stabilizing effect on failing and ailing banks—and it costs the taxpayer nothing.

a. Remove the capital gains tax completely. Investors will flood the real estate and stock market in search of tax-free profits, creating tremendous—and immediate—liquidity in the markets. Again, this costs the taxpayer nothing.
b. This move will be seen as a lightning rod politically because many will say it is helping the rich. The truth is the rich will benefit, but it will be their money that stimulates the economy. This will enable all Americans to have more stable jobs and retirement investments that go up instead of down.

This is not a time for envy, and it’s not a time for politics. It’s time for all of us, as Americans, to stand up, speak out, and fix this mess.