Friday, April 17, 2015

The Daily Links: The Boston Olympics, Batman vs. Superman, and The Drone War

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From Grantland: The Boston Olympic Debacle

From The Intercept: German is the Tell-Tale Heart of America's Drone War

From The New York Times: The Things I Carried Back

From SB Nation: How to train your Hellcat

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#MayoralChatter: Bill Freeman on Feminism, Prostitution

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 3:49 PM

Ahead of their mayoral forum on April 28, the YWCA asked each of the candidates the following: "To help us promote this unique forum, we would like to ask each candidate to make a brief “selfie” video and answer the question, 'Are you a feminist, and why?' Please keep your response to 30 seconds or less."

All of the videos are here.

We found Bill Freeman's declaration that he is a feminist ...

... interesting in light of this 2012 op-ed he wrote in The Tennessean blasting the police department for conducting prostitution stings like the ones that caught Councilman Brady Banks.

But while crime increased over the year before, arrests decreased. In its 2010 annual report, the MNPD wrote: "Overall in Nashville and Davidson County, reported index crimes slightly increased by 0.44 percent from calendar year 2009 to 2010. Violent crime counts demonstrated a 2.35 percent decrease. Property crime counts increaed 1.09 percent. Though murder, robbery, larceny and motor vehicle theft all demonstrated decreases, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and burglary increased. At the same time, total physical arrests decreased by 6.6 percent from 2009 to 2010.

In other words, crime is up and arrests are down. And the MNPD is responding by devoting scarce tax dollars to stamp out the world's oldest profession.

Sting operations are expensive. Is this a good use of Nashville's extremely limited resources? Is prostitution a big enough problem in Nashville to justify the expense? Are there other, more dangerous, crimes that should take priority?

I don't condone men soliciting prostitutes. But that action degrades only themselves and their relationships with their family and their God. By contrast, a rising crime rate and fewer arrests threaten to impact Nashville in far more serious ways. Arresting Brady Banks for allegedly trying to pay for sex does nothing to change that.

But wait ... don't those actions degrade the women, as well?

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Kid Rock Gave $1,500 to Walter Hunt's Metro Council Campaign

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 12:28 PM

This is for the candidates that dont have any answers
  • This is for the candidates that don't have any answers
Among the $28,000 in campaign funds Walter Hunt received last quarter is a $1,500 contribution from one Robert Ritchie, with a PO Box in Tequesta, FL.

Robert Ritchie has another name you might know. His name is Kid Rock.

That's right, Big Bawitdiba — the American Badass himself — has maxed out to Walter Hunt's campaign for one of the Metro Council's five at-large seats.

While we were looking through Hunt's disclosure, we found a few other interesting contributions as well. For instance, he received $1,000 from Tom White, the prominent land use attorney who is a go-to representative for big developers, like Ole South Properties which is building in Hunt's Whites Creek-area district. Ole South's vice president of development, Jason Beavers, gave Hunt $1,000 too. (Some Whites Creek residents opposed that development and North Nashville blogger Mike Byrd wrote about one contentious meeting here.)

Hunt's disclosure also shows contributions from some Metro lobbyists like $700 from Dave Cooley, who is registered to represent HCA, and $500 from Peter Heidenreich, lobbyist for several groups including the Greater Nashville Area Realtors, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corps, and the Nashville Predators.

We haven't been able to reach Hunt to ask about his connections to Mr. Rock and see if he'll chat about some of his other campaign contributions, but we'll update here if we get him on the phone.

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State Rep. Bill Beck Busted for DUI

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 9:54 AM

Rep. Bill Beck
  • Rep. Bill Beck
First-term Democratic state Rep. Bill Beck was arrested on a DUI charge early Friday morning in East Nashville.

According to the affidavit, the officer spotted Beck driving "with the left tires completely in the center turn lane." The officer says Beck's eyes were bloodshot and watery, that he smelled of alcohol, and that his speech was "extremely slurred." Beck denied having consumed any alcohol.

The officer also notes that there was a stain on Beck's tie and that his pants were unzipped, and that he was "swaying while standing."

After initially agreeing to a field sobriety test, Beck later told the officer, according to the affidavit, that he did not want to continue with the test. Along with driving under the influence, Beck was also charged with violating the state's implied consent law.

Beck was elected last year to succeed Rep. Mike Turner in House District 51. He represents parts of downtown, along with East Nashville and Old Hickory. After a massive backlash to a swingers club's attempts to move into Madison earlier this year, Beck sponsored and passed a bill to prevent such clubs within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, daycares or parks in Tennessee.

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Harwell Says BEP Lawsuit is a Mistake

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 8:14 AM

House Speaker Beth Harwell said she supports requiring school districts suing the state to find their own money to bankroll their legal fees and court costs.

Both the House and Senate wove that provision into the state’s budget bills Thursday before sending the legislation to the governor as he stares down a lawsuit from seven school districts arguing the state needs to put more money into education.

“I think it’s a mistake,” Harwell told Pith about the lawsuit. “Overall, it hurts education. We’re trying the best we can to provide as much money as possible. We encourage the locals to do the same.”

Lawmakers in both chambers argued over the 11th-hour amendment to the $33.8 billion budget plan, contending the move was procedurally improper and the measure would give richer school districts greater leverage to go to court than rural ones.

Harwell, who is named in the lawsuit, said she agrees with the amendment. “To be honest with you, they’re taking state dollars then turning around and suing the state taxpayer. That’s just counterproductive. It doesn’t help students learn and I think our governor has reached out and sat at the table and worked this out and we just have a few school systems that ostensibly wanted to continue with this lawsuit,” said Harwell, adding “I would hope” the amendment discourages additional school districts from suing the state.

Should the state win a lawsuit against a school district, the state would have the power to recoup its court cost and attorney fees by taking the money out of the school district’s education funding, according to the bill.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Daily Links: Gawker, Gwyneth, and Star Wars

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From Grantland: Blue Chips: An oral history of Shaq, Penny, and the Orlando Magic’s lost NBA dynasty.

From Gawker: Why We've Decided to Organize


From The New York Times: Driver’s License Suspensions Create Cycle of Debt

Continue reading »

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#MayoralChatter: Bone Releases Two New Ads

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 3:12 PM

Charles Robert Bone released two new television ads Thursday, sticking with the folksy sing-along vibe of his first spot.

Here's "Family," which features Bone's wife, Sacha, and their four children:

The second ad released Thursday is called "Experience." It cites Bone's involvement with Phoenix Boats, the Southern Steak & Oyster, and ACME Feed & Seed, along with his role as legal counsel for the Music City Center.

According to a release from the campaign, the pair of ads will begin appearing on April 20.

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Antioch High School Shut Down Amid Threat

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 10:41 AM

Metro Schools is sending Antioch High School students home this morning after receiving a "significant threat." A district spokesman said he did not know the nature of the threat nor how it was received. Here is a statement from the school district:

"This morning, Antioch High School received a significant threat to the safety of students and faculty. Metro Nashville Police has responded and is on scene. As a precautionary measure, students are being dismissed and all after school activities at Antioch High are cancelled for tonight. Bus riders will be transported home, student drivers are allowed to leave campus and students who are parent pick-up are being transported to Cane Ridge High auditorium. Dismissal information is being communicated to parents through a school-wide callout. Parents should not come to Antioch High at this time. MNPD will not admit any unauthorized personnel to campus. Student safety is always our number one priority."

Exactly a month ago, bomb threats were emailed to Cane Ridge, Glencliff and Overton High Schools. Schools remained open and after school activities were still held, although with beefed up security. Days later, McGavock, Stratford and Hume-Fogg were emailed with the same threat.

We'll update with more details as we get them.

Update (11:04 a.m.): The email came in electronically, but the district wouldn't say how, or how this threat differed from those last month.

"There was an electronically-communicated threat against Antioch High School this morning. The district implemented its crisis response protocols based on the specific nature of the threat, the details of which we cannot release at this time due to the ongoing investigation," read a statement from the district.

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Lawmakers Seek to Punish School Boards for Suing State

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 7:52 AM

With more than a half dozen school districts suing the state over a lack of funding for education, lawmakers want to ban them from using state money to finance their legal crusade.

Legislators are baking into one of several budget bills a ban on local school districts using state money for attorney’s fees, court costs or other expenses to sue the state, state agency or state official.

“I know you don’t want your own dog to bite you, I understand that part of it. But still, it seems a little unfair if you have a just cause against the state and you can’t have the ability to sue them,” said House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, in a Finance Committee meeting Wednesday night before lawmakers approved the change on a voice vote.

If the state were to prevail in a legal challenge, the legislation would give the state power to recoup its own legal costs by pulling money out the school district’s education funding, also known as the Basic Education Program, BEP, funding formula. The language would also apply to county and municipal governing bodies suing the state, and would pull from its state-shared taxes if the local government lost.

The amendment comes as the state prepares to defend itself in a lawsuit filed by Hamilton County School District and six other area school boards arguing the state is not sufficiently funding public education. School boards in Knox and Shelby County are exploring whether to join the lawsuit and Metro Schools' board rejected making any legal moves Tuesday but plans to reconsider later this month.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, whose school district led the charge to sue the state over inadequate BEP funding, supports the idea.

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I've Changed My Mind, Let's Make the Bible the State Book

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 7:49 AM

My mom is one of those people who NEVER swears. She stubs her toe and she yells, "Gosh darn it!" Except that she will, sometimes, when playing cards, let go with a little "Shit!" It's pretty adorable.

When my brothers and I were little, we thought this meant that we, too, could run around saying "Shit." My dad, in order to reign us in, banned "shit," but told us that we could use any word in the Bible.

There are a lot of words in the Bible. And we spent all day one glorious Saturday scanning through them for good ones—bastard, ass, whore, heathen. My dad is a minister, so you'd think he'd know better than to just throw the Bible at his own children and say "Whatever's in there is fine for you to say." But he didn't think it through and thirty years later, we still tease him about the awesome summer we spent calling each other "bastards."

In honor of my dad and the summer of Biblical swear-words, I am changing my opinion. The Bible totally should be the official state book.

Here's a little bit of what our state legislators are trying to enshrine into law:

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