Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dunning supporters

In what comes across as a tactic of your local debt collection agency Mike Stewart's campaign has virtually shaken their forefinger at those supporters who haven't voted yet. They've got a long list of supporters on their website and it doesn't take long to see that all the names on the supporter list don't appear on the voted list.

The Nashville Scene has the email reminder sent out by the campaign.

In an email yesterday to the state House candidate's backers, Sullivan lists the names of people who have voted early for the August 3 Democratic Primary. I have never seen a campaign do that before. While Sullivan thanks those she listed for showing up at the polls, her message is clear: Turnout is low and we know that some of you have said you’re going to vote for us, but haven’t yet. Don’t think we’re not watching you.
WHEW! Good thing Mike Stewart, who is running for Rob Briley's old Tennessee House seat, is listed as having already voted. Kinda creepy to have a campaign viewing the poll information like this. It's one thing when they check the voting record of a candidate---but of people out of the public eye and not actually running? Not cool. If I were a supporter---I'd withdraw my support immediately.

If Stewart will go this far to get the job---what will he do once he has a job in the legislature with a larger staff and some state authority behind him?

The other story here may be what has been known for a long time--just because people put a sign in their yard doesn't ensure their vote or support. It's not unusual for people to allow the sign just to keep the peace in the office, neighborhood or association. Thankfully, the ballot is still private or else they'll be demanding to see your voting receipt before providing constituent services.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Truth in Black & White

Courtesy the Tennessee Republican Party.

We've got to have more oil refineries. We've got to drill for more oil. Yeah, I know it'll be years before it's all ready for my gas tank or some people's furnace---why didn't we do it sooner? Oh yeah--see the bumper sticker.

See also: http://www.americansolutions.com/

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Good question

At Nashville is Talking Christian Grantham asks:

Wouldn't it be nice to see liberals stand up to elected officials who work with private developers to seize people's personal property? Why is it that most Nashville area bloggers standing up for local business woman Joy Ford seem to all be conservative? Where is the liberal outrage against abuse of the law in favor of a private corporation?
I'll tell you where their outrage is...it's over in Bells Bend where they can make a bigger publicity splash by contrasting the EVILE development against trees and rivers and wide open space. If only they could reveal that a Wal-Mart is going in there---it'd be the fourth ace in their hand. It's easier to rally support for saving trees and undeveloped land than it is Joy Ford's concrete block office surrounded by asphalt and chain link. What they fail to understand is that if Miss Joy doesn't win--they won't win in Bell's Bend either.

No doesn't mean no?

Blue Collar Muse has the video of Monday's Country International Records press conference featuring Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice explaining where the case stands now.

While I called the repeated harassers of Joy Ford "real estate vultures circling overhead waiting for the opportunity to pick up her property" Ken calls it something much worse:

When governmental chocolate and flowers didn’t work, Joy’s bureaucratic suitor decided to get a little rough. If he had been an actual man, we’d call his behavior ‘rape’ and prosecute him.
He's got a point. They won't let her no mean no. This is not about legitimate public need. This is about men who will not let a woman deny them what they have decided they have a right to have.

Maybe it's time to let the MDHA Board of Commissioners know that No means No.

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.
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.
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.
Leslie Watkins, Commissioner
Ms. Watkins is one of two housing residents serving on the MDHA Board. She was appointed to the Board in August 1998. Ms. Watkins is presently employed by Juvenile Court.
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.
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.
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.

Who else?

I hate reporting like this. The Tennessean's article this morning restates yesterday's news that CM Michael Craddock (District 4-Madison) is prepared to offer a bill to keep MDHA from stealing Joy Ford's property on Music Circle East. Then they tell us:

"Support for the proposal is far from unanimous among council members, however.

Some council members contacted Tuesday said they would have to see the bill before they could say whether they would vote for it. Meanwhile, one member, Metro Councilman Rip Ryman of Goodlettsville, said he would oppose it."

Is it the intention of the Tennessean to prevent us from lobbying and educating those council members? Or did these councilmen specifically ask not to be quoted? This is so much less than helpful it's as if this is another effort by the Tennessean to prop up the MDHA and Metro in general in this outrageous effort. It's opinions like this one from Metro Nashville Councilman Rip Ryman (Goodlettsville) that we need to know about:
He said the practice of eminent domain is "there for a purpose," and the council shouldn't tie MDHA's hands. "I think they've been more than fair with that lady out there," Ryman said. "They offered her a pretty good proposal."
Is he serious? Would he feel the same if it was his home or business being taken to increase tax revenue and profit a private enterprise? Now we know we can't count on Ryman to protect our property. Who else, Tennessean, is willing to give property rights away so easily?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Friends Fortify Ford

It was an honor and a privilege to attend the press conference yesterday at Country International Records and stand with so many of Joy Ford's friends as she moves into the next phase of protecting her property rights and ours. It was obvious that she was a bit overwhelmed by the the number of friends and strangers who came to encourage and fortify her for further battle.

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting Miss Joy and exchanging hugs and thanks. She thanked me for blog posts which were encouraging. I thanked her for standing strong and taking on this battle.

Miss Joy's plight strikes a chord in me that is some 30 years old. Many years ago I would walk the mile and a half to my junior high school each day. A significant part of that walk was across a viaduct over a very large railroad yard that served to move grain and iron ore from the upper midwest to the rest of the nation. That viaduct wasn't built for the heavy traffic that eventually began to use it. It was a bit disconcerting to have my cadance thrown off because the walkway had moved with the weight of the heavy truck passing by (I wasn't watching traffic, I was reading). No one disagreed that the bridge needed to be replaced. Unfortunately, the home of a widow woman of advanced age, who was well liked in the neighborhood and kept chickens would have to go. It seemed a pity that she couldn't spend her last few years in the home she had shared with her husband and in which she had raised her children, but it was clear, a new bridge was necessary. The rail yard completely separated our neighborhood from the city and emergency services. No one liked taking her home but we knew we had to have a new bridge.

After being discharged from the Army I returned to my hometown to find a glorious new bridge spanning the tracks. However, it was upsetting to discover that the widow's home wasn't really needed and the state had sold the property to a man who replaced that home with a tavern. Taking her home for the bridge was one thing---but for a tavern---well, that was just too much. It was at the public hearing about a zoning variance that I spoke for the first time before a political body. I can't help but think of my elderly hometown neighbor when I see Miss Joy's property being snatched by the city.

Conversation with Miss Joy's friends yesterday revealed that pretty much since her husband died in 1999 she's had real estate vultures circling overhead waiting for the opportunity to pick up her property. She told us that it got so bad she stopped answering the phone or door and even worked at night--which is probably why Lionstone Group was asserting she was never there--as if being there or not gave her more or less property rights. I was listening to Phil Valentine's radio program yesterday afternoon and he stated that after the press conference a survey crew was on the property (Phil's studio is just across the street). Miss Joy explained that they have done that before and the Institute for Justice folks told her it was a common intimidation tactic. That explained the marker I found just outside her fence back a couple of weeks ago on July 7.

If only Lionstone Group sent a landscaping crew over as often as surveyors and real estate agents. Pictures from yesterday clearly show that despite being in clear violation of Metro codes Lionstone Group has yet to clean up their property. It's haying time, gentlemen.

The press conference was to announce that the Institute for Justice had filed an answer to the city's condemnation of 23 Music Circle East and further had filed interrogatories of their own for MDHA and Lionstone Group to answer. You can read the IJ press release here and everyone should take the time to read their background document here. Highlights from that backgrounder:

  • MDHA has declared the area surrounding Miss Joy's property as blighted---but not her property. In fact the survey done way back when 'consists of vague, confusing and arbitrarily assigned categorical distinctions and an unclear methodology'. Not one of the properties surveyed at that time met the necessary designation of 'extreme deterioration and decay due to lack of repairs and care of the area'.
  • MDHA's blight designation is based on a 1999 information and the state legislature made some significant changes in 2006 to Tennessee's eminent domain law after the astonishing US Supreme Court's Kelo decision. MDHA hasn't caught up with the current law. I guess they were hoping no one would notice.
  • Lionstone Group has previously stated they don't actually need Miss Joy's property.
  • MDHA has the burden of proof here. The Tennessee law says blighted areas are 'detrimental to the safety, health, morals, welfare of the community'. It's going to be impossible to prove that Miss Joy's property meets any of those requirements---though Lionstone Group's property is getting closer to being detrimental to the safety and health of the area every day.

One of my children just returned from Mexico where they rebuilt an old woman's gate and walkway. They were told that because she didn't have any family in the area and was a widow she was often abused and taken advantage of by others in the town. She was thrilled with the improvements to her yard but much more thrilled to have her neighbors see that she was no longer alone and that she had strong friends that would help protect her. Miss Joy has strong friends also. Pictured here are essential members of her team from left to right: James W. Fisher, a Nashville attorney with the firm Lassiter Tidwell Davis Keller & Hogan, Joy Ford, Carroll Ford, and Scott Bullock, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice.

Other coverage of yesterday's press conference:

An Ol' Broad's Ramblings Here's Kate standing next to Phil Valentine. She doesn't look like an Ol' Broad at all to me. She's got photos and her own observations on her site.

Blue Collar Muse: "Reviewing my server logs showed that Nashville PR firm, McNeely, Pigott & Fox, stopped by. This is significant as their homepage lists both the Lionstone Group and MDHA as clients they are proud to work with. The people of Nashville may want to make note of that. McNeely, Pigott & Fox are proud to represent the bad guys in the fight to force Joy Ford from her property. (snip) [Earl Swennsen Associates] is also one of the few publicly identified anchor tenants of Lionstone’s development which will oust Miss Joy. Surprise of surprises, they are designing the complex as well!

Nashville City Paper: It's Music CIRCLE East, guys. Not Music CENTER. They got the headline right and the copy wrong. The City Paper reports that local CM Michael Craddock has some legislation ready if things don't go Miss Joy's (our) way.

Tennessean: "Ford's building and Lionstone's land are separated by an alley, which Lionstone has asked the city to close to give construction equipment room to maneuver on the building site, Warren said. Ford has sued to stop that plan, saying she needs the alley to reach the rear of her property."

Give me a break. This would leave only a narrow side entrance that obviously won't accommodate a bus or trailer both of which are so much a part of ordinary business for Miss Joy and her clients. This shouldn't be allowed either. Lionstone Group's got nearly three acres and they need the little bit of right away that Miss Joy has? If Lionstone Group can't find a crew that can maneuver around three acres without closing the alley they're not the expert developers they think they are.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Houston developer not keeping up its property

While I never saw it in the print edition the Tennessean did print my letter to the editor online.

Houston developer not keeping up its property

To the Editor:

I’m responding to the letter from Scott Lindsey your paper July 12, “Encourage investment in Music Row area.” He obviously has swallowed the MDHA bogus blighted determination of the Demonbreun property hook, line and sinker.

Mr. Lindsey, and other Nashvillians concerned about their property rights should, as I did, walk around that block and see for themselves that it’s not Joy Ford’s property that is the problem but the property owned by Houston-based developer Lionstone.

The Lionstone property is lined with tall weeds, dead bushes, garbage of all kinds and contains puddles and cracks in the asphalt that are prime for mosquito breeding. During my walk, there was a person doing steady business out of the trunk of his car. Clearly, Lionstone is a bad neighbor and codes should have been called on them a long time ago.

Further, Mr. Lindsey seems to think that the blighted designation comes from Ms. Ford not having the money or desire to invest in the property’s redevelopment. The fact is that there is no need for her property to be redeveloped. In clear contrast to Lionstone’s absentee landowner look Ms. Ford’s property is neat, obviously maintained and flowered.

If MDHA is allowed to take Ms Ford’s property despite her being the better property owner and hand it over to a lousy property owner so tax revenues may be increased — no one’s home or business is safe from MDHA.

Kay Brooks, Nashville 37216, KayBrooks@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm sick of Bob Tuke

These signs have been cropping up on the public right of ways across the city. The ones pictured here are all within one block of each other in my neighborhood and have spawned more ordinance violators.

I couldn't photograph them all without taking my life into my hands.

Bob Tuke, a Democrat candidate for senator and former State Democratic Chair never had a chance at getting my vote but by trashing my neighborhood and city with his signs he will get my negative comments.

Maybe he can explain how he can be for Tennessee and allow the state to be trashed like this. Seriously, does he really need 12 signs within a block of one another? We're working hard to clean up our neighborhoods and then he comes in and throws his campaign litter around. These signs are everywhere too. I thought nothing could be more annoying than those stupid Ron Paul signs. I was wrong.

More agenda items

Blue Collar Muse pulls this quote from a July 2 speech by Barak Obama:

“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”
For some reason I can't post my questions over there so I'll ask here:

What 'national security objectives'???

And who is the 'we' that's doing the setting of those objectives??

And why can't the military achieve those unknown objectives??

Ken and his posters have a lot more questions.

According to the Chicago Tribune the context is community service. But there's service and then there's well...indentured servitude or worse. Servitude is something you'd think a black man would be really sensitive about--especially after sitting under the teachings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright for so long.
[Obama] said he would make federal assistance conditional on school districts establishing service programs and set the goal of 50 hours of service a year for middle school and high school students.

For college students, Obama would set the goal at 100 hours of service a year and create a $4,000 annual tax credit for college students tied to that level of service.
We can't keep them in school now, you're going to force them to provide community service too? I'm beginning to think the first wave of this 'civilian national security force' may be truancy officers.

And why do school districts have to establish service programs? Don't we have enough organizations already available for these students to plug into? Oh yeah, that pesky separation of church and state myth would be a problem. Can't mandate a student work in the church soup kitchen in order for the school district to keep those federal dollars coming in.

Then throw in the new vision the incoming AFT President Randi Weingarten has for our schools:

“Can you imagine a federal law that promoted community schools — schools that serve the neediest children by bringing together under one roof all the services and activities they and their families need?” Ms. Weingarten asked in the speech.

“Imagine schools that are open all day and offer after-school and evening recreational activities and homework assistance,” she said. “And suppose the schools included child care and dental, medical and counseling clinics.” NY Times

and we might as well just hand them over right after birth---if we'll be trusted much longer to conceive and carry to term.

Finally, I'll leave you with this quote of Barak Obama's from that same NY Times article as he addressed the recent National Education Association convention:

“These children are our children,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s time we understood that their education is our responsibility.

“I am running for president to guarantee that all of our children have the best possible chance in life,” he said, “and I am tired of hearing you, the teachers who work so hard, blamed for our problems.”

My problem is I don't have $10,000 for extracurricular activities.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Apparently just clueless

Regarding Michelle Obama's recent comment about spending a $600 stimulus check on earrings the Tn GOP created a list:

Here are some things we think many Tennessee families would be more likely to spend $600 on than earrings:

  1. 150 gallons of gas - though they could buy more if Democrats would only stop blocking increased domestic oil production.
  2. One to three months of daycare or pre-school for a young child[ii]
  3. A month’s worth of groceries for a family of four
  4. More than five months’ worth of the average electric bill.[iii]
  5. Save it in a child’s college fund.
  6. Replace an old washer or dryer.
  7. Pay for children’s clothes and school supplies for the new school year.

If you can think of better ways to spend $600 than on a new pair of earrings, we’d like to hear about it. Just email us at 600DollarEarrings@gmail.com.

Frankly, I'm still stuck on her bungled attempt back in February to tell Ohio mom's how much she understands their family budgets.
“I know we’re spending — I added it up for the first time — we spend between the two kids, on extracurriculars outside the classroom, we’re spending about $10,000 a year on piano and dance and sports supplements and so on and so forth,” Mrs. Obama tells the women. “And summer programs. That’s the other huge cost. Barack is saying, ‘Whyyyyyy are we spending that?’ And I’m saying, ‘Do you know what summer camp costs?’” National Review
$10,000 on extra curricular activities!! Seriously woman. Have you no idea that's 1/4th of the median US household income? Do you realize that's more than your charitable giving for the years 2000 through 2004 combined? Do you not yet realize that most of us can't afford to own $600 earrings? Why do you think Cubic Zirconium was invented? Hello? She's just now adding it up? Those of us operating under the Dave Ramsey plan out of necessity would have added those expenses up a long time ago. What kind of budget do you have that ten grand can go unobserved?

I didn't have a chance to think about $600 earrings. Our stimulus check was gone before it got here.

MNPS Principal Assignments

Here's a .pdf of the new principal assignments as announced by MPS via the Nashville City Paper.


Whatever the Chamber has in mind for Nashville's schools, you can bet that educating all of Nashville's children is not topping the agenda. The Chamber's agenda is intended first to help its member businesses and that doesn't mean being an advocate for children who live in challenging social situations and who have no options other than the city's public schools.

The Chamber is not evil. It has a voice and it has a right to be heard. But if it's going to throw its money and power around at election time, it's a fair target for criticism and it better become accustomed to that. Progressive Nashville

The exact same thing can be said about the Metro Nashville Teacher's Association , the Service Employees International Union and a few other politically active groups. We're not going to make any progress until we recognize that all of these organizations have their own best interests at heart first and foremost. They exist to serve the needs of their members. Like any organization self-preservation is "Job 1". While individual members, no doubt, are quite concerned about the welfare of students and do their best to ensure students get the best education possible these organizations are much more concerned about the welfare of their organization and its members than the welfare of students with uninvolved parents of little means either financially or politically.

When I ran for school board back in August of 2006 questionaires from these organizations were full of questions about how I was going to ensure they got better wages and benefits. Not one of them asked me how I was going to ensure that students were safer and better educated. The SEIU questionnaire was so focused on their needs that I refused to fill it out and chose to read a prepared statement about me and my qualifications instead. It's certainly part of their job to get as much as possible for their members but my job was to focus on getting as much as possible for the students.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coming to a BOE near you?

The tug-o-war between the people's servants and the people's right to know continues in Giles County.

A Giles County blogger said Wednesday his First Amendment rights are being squelched by a policy that bars unapproved cameras from school board meetings.
Director of Schools Tee Jackson said the policy was not directed toward any single person. He said the board was updating its policy manual and received legal advice from the Tennessee School Boards Association.
“We make sure we meet all the necessary standards and laws,” he said.
A spokesman with the Tennessee School Board Association could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Giles Free Speech Zone

Well it's Friday night now, the TSBA has the weekend to work on a press release assuring citizens that barring cameras from public meetings is not part of their updated policy manuals for school boards. That policy manual is a humdinger, btw. The used copy I was given in 2004 was the 2003 version and is 366 pages.

From the Table of Contents:

How Will You Do It?
Why Would a Board Use Outside Help?
Working with a Fragmented Board
Revision of a Policy Manual is Never Finished
Sample Policies
The Sunshine Law
Public Participation
How Board Meetings Create Negative Impact
Building Parental Confidence in the Schools
Using Students to Build Parental Support
Working through TSBA to Influence Legislation
Selling the Media on the Value of Conventions, Workshops and Retreaats
Use Student Work to Build Public Support
Recreational Programs That Build Community Support
Giving Realtors the "Real" Story
How to Conquer the Grapevine

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Starstruck I'm not

I'm so not impressed with Mr. Narvel Blackstock's editorial in this morning's Tennessean newspaper. In fact I had to laugh at his calling Miss Joy Ford of Country International Records an 'out-of-county resident' in his desperate effort to garner support for condemning her legally owned property as if we'd forget that developer Lionstone is a Houston, Texas business. A quick search of the Nashville tax rolls fails to bring up any property Blackstock, his Starstruck Entertainment or his wife Reba McEntire own in Davidson County. Last I heard they lived in Gallatin, Los Angeles and Oklahoma. They did own some Davidson County property though:

Lionstone's plans for the three-acre site they acquired from Reba McEntire in March 2006 include development of a 125-room hotel with an adjacent 100-unit luxury high-rise residential condominium tower. [via AllBusiness]

I'll grant that in 1999 that strip of Demonbreun was a mess and needed major improvement. Blackstock and his partners have done yeoman's work in improving it. But that was then, this is now. The only blight on this corner is Lionstone's failure to keep their property neat. A neat but empty lot does not equal blight.

Blackstock writes:
The owner refuses to sell her seldom-used building or even to meet with the developer to discuss alternatives. She says she is holding it because it was used to produce music.
"...it was used to produce music." So was Studio B just down the street on 17th Avenue. That excuse was good enough for the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Personally, I don't care why she's holding out. It's her property. The taxes are paid and her business isn't a public nuisance. It's a private nuisance to people who had big plans to renew the entire area but are now realizing that having been very successful in that effort thus far find that their 'blight' is gone and cannot/should not be used as sufficient reason to steal Miss Joy's property. They are victims of their own success, so to speak. So, now, they need to redraw their plans and decide just what they can do with what's available to them. There is enough land without Miss Joy's to still make a tidy profit.

My biggest concern, and it should be the concern of Blackstock as well, is that with their reasoning the city can steal anyone's property and we've no recourse. What if Gallatin or LA decided that the Blackstock homes were more valuable to the tax roles as tourist meccas and condemned them? Blackstock implores us, for the love of Music Row, to stand with him against Miss Joy. No. I'll stand on the side of property rights especially now that I understand that if Music Row won't stand with Miss Joy, one of their own---they're sure not going to be there when they come for my house.

BTW: This issue has caught the attention of CastleWatch which tracks eminent domain abuse.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Maybe, but it wasn't the ONLY reason

Former MNPS Superintendent of Schools Pedro Garcia isn't gone yet.

Thanks to MNPS BOE member Ed Kindall (District 7-Downtown-Glencliff) Garcia's sour grapes have entered the current rezoning controversy just in time for tomorrow's vote by the MNPS BOE. The Post quotes from an email from Garcia to Kindall back in January:

“I know that the situation I find [Garcia] myself in today, and the pressure exerted upon me by Marsha Warden [Chairman of the BOE], is the direct result of my decision to fight against her desire to move the African American children from the Hillwood cluster so she could be reelected,”...
Give me a break. There were plenty of good reasons to encourage Garcia to leave and not one of them had to do with rezoning.

And again, Kindall, who is running for reelection after 23 years on the board already, makes race the issue and not the actual education of the children. That racial box he's got MNPS in is one of the reasons he does not need to be reelected. It's not 1985. It's 2008. We've come a long way since then.

Councilman Erica Gilmore (District 19) also felt the need to speak to the MNPS BOE. Her statement can be found, again, at the Nashville Post. Basically, she's against the plan because it will "result in an increase in the percentage of economincally disadvantaged minority students attending schools in lower income areas" and wants the new BOE and the new Superintendent to make the decision. Her council district hosts three schools: Hume Fogg Magnet High School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet High School and Rose Park Middle Math/Science Magnet School.

LionStone Blight

I took a walk around the property between Demonbreun and Music Circle East this morning. It's here that Miss Joy Ford's County International Records is located. That's the property that MDHA wants to take from her and give to LionStone developers so they can build a big tax revenue generator for the city. If they succeed this is where we'll add shame to the city and 15 years down the road we'll regret allowing this robbery from the widow and handout to the corporation.

MDHA's authority to steal this property from Miss Joy comes by declaring the area 'blighted'. However, what I saw with my own eyes was Miss Joy's small neatly kept business. She's got flowering plants out front. The property is fenced, no doubt since over the years she's been there this area hasn't always been nice. The fence is in good repair, unlike the motel's next door which is majorily out of plumb. Her trash can is secured to the fence and it's obvious this property is regularly maintained.

However, the rest of the area. The part LionStone already has control of, if I understand things correctly, is in shameful condition and if the word 'blighter' can only be applied to one or the other---it's LionStone that should hands down get the label.

On my walk around I saw two sections to this very large LionStone lot. Half was asphalt in sore need of attention with cracks and potholes and the rest bare ground with a solid weedy border encircling it. There were several large mosquito attracting puddles, plenty of trash (including some kind of two foot cylindrical filter amongst the Styrofoam clamshells and drink cups and a plywood box stuffed with trash), overgrown or dead hedges left over from the Shoney's restaurant, tall grass, thistles in full bloom, stick-tights and other vegetative opportunists. The overgrowth was so bad along one part of the sidewalk I was forced to walk in the street. The contrast between this LionStone property and the landscaping and thriving businesses along side on Demonbreun was stark. If anyone is bringing down the property values and beer buzz in those establishments--it's LionStone.

Here's a photo of one of three puddles after several days of dry weather.

Lots of weeds, nearly all with a variety of litter caught within.

These are dead hedges about 4 feet tall.

Along Music Circle South Division it's thick with weeds.

This is some sort of trash box on the LionStone property.

In the shadow of the trees left behind after the Shoney's Restaurant was demolished there was a man doing a steady business out of his trunk and on his cell phone. I didn't dare point my camera in his direction. Further down, there were a couple of private ambulance employees in their cab who seemed startled to see me walk by with a camera and shortly moved on. (Apparently, Channel 5's Phil Williams and his exposes on extra long employee breaks came to their minds.)

If this were my neighborhood, I'd have called codes on LionStone long ago and demanded a prompt mowing, trash removal and filling in of the puddles and potholes that could be mosquito breeding grounds. I'd also have checked with the local police department to ensure a trespass waiver was on file and the property posted to ensure that the fellow doing a steady business from the trunk of his car was encouraged to move on.

It's landlords like LionStone that make neighborhood's blighted, not Miss Joy. It's just wrong that the property owner being a responsible neighbor is the one being forced out.

If you haven't written your councilman and the mayor yet. Please take a few minutes to do so. YOUR property is at stake if we allow the city to take property merely because it will generate more tax revenue.

For further reading checking out Blue Collar Muse's "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" Part I and Part II.

Cash is King?

Proving that their goal isn't actually the education of their children and that Cash is King the Memphis Commission ....well, I'll let Smart City tell it:

In a vote that was unanimous in its political extortion, the Board of Commissioners jacked up the lease on the KIPP DIAMOND Academy from $50,000 a year to just under $300,000 a year. The circular logic, pandering rhetoric and political opportunism as symbolized by the educational malpractice of Dr. Jeff Warren at that meeting were nothing short of stupefying.
Welcome to Memphis new Superintendent of Schools Kriner Cash.

Metro Nashville Public Schools have never been very welcoming to our own KIPP Academy (or charter schools generally). While on the BOE I objected to the condition of the building KIPP was offered by MNPS and expressed my opinion that MNPS, as landlord, should do more. I was pretty quickly shut down by fellow BOE member Kathy Nevill who insisted it was a standard commercial lease. Clearly, in her mind, that was the end of our responsibility to those children. I found that shocking. The mindset at MNPS has been that these charter schools, PUBLIC schools, are red-headed step-children and deserve the back of our hand for daring to buck the bureaucratic system, the unions, the usual constraints that the BOE has wrapped our schools in. The next year KIPP had to suddenly deal with food and bussing costs. AND, let's not forget that former Superintendent Pedro Garcia was only to happy to snatch those KIPP kids back when their education had vastly improved.

Nonsense like this proves we're not putting children first. It's nonsense like this that drives parents from the government school system. It's nonsense like this that drives taxpayers to close their wallets. We had a more vigorous debate over the 'deregulation' of cable TV in this state than we've had over the government school monopoly. Sadly, I believe more people are concerned about their cable TV than their local schools. Hey, maybe it's because they actually pay that cable bill themselves and have some choice in what they get. Hmmmm....

Hat tip: Ben Cunningham

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Charity, yes. Patriotism? I don't think so.

This line jumped out at me while reading Gail Kerr's column in this morning's Tennessean titled "Selfless Acts Inspire New Concepts of Patriotism". She lists several folks who have obviously gone above and beyond but this one....

"There's the Catholic priest who comes to the aid of immigrants, no matter their legal status. "
I'll have to agree this is a new concept of patriotism to me. I'll grant you it's an act of charity to be sure. And I'll grant you this priest is obviously following the call of a higher authority to care for the needy and love. But if patriotism is still defined as "love for or devotion to one's country" I don't see how it is an act of patriotism to enable the breaking of one's country's laws.

The Headline is the Bottom Line

Great information in this morning's Tennessean by Jaime Sarrio titled "Poor Kids Teachers Earn Less in Metro". Just a short note, as time will allow at this time of my life, regarding a bit of it.

Don't overlook the Excel sheet the Tennessean provides. Feel free to manipulate those cells as you want. The real headline of the story may be the bottom line of that Excel sheet.

The lowest paid MNPS teachers work for KIPP Academy at $36,543.71 a year. The school has made AYP (adequate yearly progress), 94.3% of the students are on the Free or Reduced Lunch program, 7.7% are white, 92.3% are black, Teacher's Average Years of Experience is a mere 1.2 years and none, NOT ONE has an advanced degree. Kudos to KIPP-- again.