By the Way

Friday, November 6, 2015

FOIA Friday: Death and Open Records

Posted By on Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 3:27 PM

An official with the Davidson County Medical Examiner said the $25 processing fee to furnish an autopsy report was determined more than 20 years ago — and hasn't changed since because, well, it hasn't.

About six months ago, this reporter requested an autopsy report and was told the ask must be made via snail mail and accompanied by a $25 check.

The office also said, no exceptions, the report would be mailed back the same way. That is, until I never received the report and someone at the examiner's office let us come down and pick a copy up. It was a one-page report, folded and stuffed into an envelope: all for the ridiculous price of $25.

The fee was originally part of an old set of laws, according to Lisa Robison, director administrative and clerical services for the Davidson County Medical Examiner, which is a taxpayer funded entity. The $25 amount was carried forward with advice from Metro's legal department, she said.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ramsey: Anyone Can Have A Tahoe If They Work Hard Enough

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 3:10 PM

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With Gov. Bill Haslam's attempt to sell the public on resetting gas taxes for the sake of the state's roads puttering to a halt, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says he knows all too well why the tax structure eventually needs to change. 

He used to drive one Chevrolet Tahoe that got 13 miles to the gallon, he says. But in his new one, he gets 28 mpg (although Chevrolet says they typically get 23 mpg) and thus pays half the tax, he told reporters after a Senate Republican day-long retreat Tuesday.

When a reporter responded that not everyone can afford a $47,000 vehicle, it poked one Tahoe driver in the eye just a little too hard. Here's the exchange: 

Ramsey: I’m all for putting money back into infrastructure. I am. Of course, you know where I am on the whole funding of infrastructure issue. It’s not a crisis. What I’ve said from Day 1, why does government always have to work in a crisis? I do believe that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out in two or three years we’re going to have a major problem in funding our infrastructure.

Let me use me as an example here. I may have talked to you all about this before. I traded cars, Cindy finally, after about eight years, talked me into trading Tahoes. And the old one that she had, it’d get 13 miles to the gallon — you could fold in the mirrors in on the side of this, too, and you’d get 13 miles to the gallon, OK? But then we traded it for a new one, and we’re driving it to the beach and it tells you what gas mileage you get over the last 50 miles. And it gears down to six cylinder, gears down to four cylinder on the interstate, and I’m getting 28 miles to the gallon driving down the road, so I cut my gasoline tax in half and basically driving the same car. That’s not going to work in the future. And it is a comprehensive thing, diesel tax is less than gas, why? I think they ought to be the same, electric cars, all this. So I’m all in favor of tackling it this year, but I don’t think we’ll be able to do it.

Reporter: You know, most people can’t drive a new Tahoe.

Ramsey: They’re not hard to drive. They’re real simple. The gas is on the right, the brake is on the left.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

MTA Will Take You to the Inauguration for Free

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 1:30 PM

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At 2 p.m. tomorrow in Public Square Park outside of the Metro courthouse, Megan Barry will be sworn in as Nashville's new mayor, making history as the first woman to hold the office. The ceremony will include new Vice Mayor David Briley and the new Metro Council as well.

And you can catch a ride to the festivities for free thanks to the Metro Transit Authority, which is offering free service on all routes. 

So if you're not stuck at work, it won't cost you a dime to head down to the courthouse and get a look at your new Metro representatives. If you are, Barry tweets that the ceremony will be streamed live on Periscope from her username, @MeganBarry2015.

Pith will have coverage here and on Twitter — @pithinthewind and @iamstevenhale — throughout the day. 

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dept. of Unintentional Irony: Nashville Public Library Celebrates Banned Book Week

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 3:24 PM

It's like raaaaiiiiin, on your wedding day
It's like Banned Books Week, after a local school board member recently tried to have a book removed from a school curriculum only to find out the charter school had already censored it without permission anywaaaaay.

OK, we're still working on the flow, check this out. Over at The Tennessean, Kent Oliver, director of the Nashville Public Library, invites Nashvillians to join the library in celebrating "intellectual liberty" during Banned Books Week, which begins this Saturday. He goes on to talk a bit about censorship:

Since 1990, the American Library Association (ALA) has recorded more than 10,000 book challenges. A challenge is a formal complaint requesting to remove a book from library shelves or a school’s curriculum.

Nearly 75 percent of challenges are made to schools or school library materials. One in four is made to public library materials. What’s more, these are just the challenges we know about — it’s estimated that less than 25 percent of challenges are actually reported and recorded to ALA.

Challenges are an attempt at censorship, and censorship denies our individual freedom to choose and think for ourselves.

Oliver doesn't reference the recent brouhaha involving Metro school board member Amy Frogge, Nashville Prep and its founder Ravi Gupta, and the novel City of Thieves, by David Benioff — an Emmy winner over the weekend for his work on HBO's Game of Thrones. And good for him. He's got an important job to do running the library and broadening access to vital works of literature and he certainly doesn't need to be dragged into that embarrassing episode. Pith, on the other hand...

Of course, some of the particulars are different. Benioff's novel being assigned to seventh graders was apparently the final straw for Frogge, serving as the most recent item on a novella-length list of allegations and complaints against the school — which the school either disputes or claims are outright falsehoods. Moreover, disagreeing with the assignment of a book to a specific age group, which Frogge did, is quite different than seeking to have it banned for the public at large.

But still, I lost my [poop] when I saw the headline: "Celebrate intellectual integrity during Banned Books Week." Barely weeks after we learned that the school board member had logged a complaint with district officials about the content of a book, and that the leaders of the charter school involved had already [messed] up the content of the book themselves by redacting it at will, the city is celebrating Banned Books Week. What timing!  

We join the library in taking a stand against book banning. And if we find something that offends us, we'll just rip out those pages. 

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Today Is Your Last Chance to Register for the Runoff Election

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 8:30 AM

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The Sept. 10 runoff election to settle nine Metro Council races, fill five at-large seats, and decide Nashville's next mayor is just less than a month away. And today is your last chance to register to vote in it. 

You can go here for more information on how to do that. And click here for the schedule for early voting, which begins Friday Aug. 21. 

While we're at it, here's who's on the ballot:


Megan Barry
David Fox

Metro Council At-Large, in the order they finished on Aug. 6 (pick five):

Erica Gilmore
John Cooper
Bob Mendes
Jim Shulman
Sharon Hurt
Robert Duvall
Lonnell Matthews, Jr.
Karen Bennett
Jason Holleman
Erin Coleman

Metro Council District Races:

District 1
Nick Leonardo
Loniel Greene Jr.

District 2
Decosta Hastings
Robert "Bobby" Stockard

District 3
Brenda H. Haywood
Terry Clayton

District 5
Scott Davis
Sarah Martin

District 8
Nancy Vanreece
Chris Swann

District 13
Holly Huezo
Mark Cole

District 17
Colby Sledge
Paula D. Foster

District 20
Mary Carolyn Roberts
Marisa Frank

District 23
Mina Johnson
Jim Roberts 

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Netflix, Microsoft Expand Parental Leave. Now It's Your Turn, Nashville.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 2:38 PM

click to enlarge Waaah! I am only one month old but my parents already had to go back to work and also they put this stupid headband on me! WAAAAAH!
  • Waaah! I am only one month old but my parents already had to go back to work and also they put this stupid headband on me! WAAAAAH!
In this week's paper we have a list of 30 upgrades that could make our city thrive — more sidewalks, more affordable housing, an all-ages music venue, more support for homeless teens ... see the full list here. Of course, that's only 30. That's just the top of the pile. There are so many more ways Nashville could improve (my idea for air-conditioned indoor dog parks was vetoed — UGH, WHATEVER), and one thing that didn't make the list, but definitely should be addressed, is Tennessee's parental leave policies.

Earlier this week Netflix took a huge stride in the right direction — they're offering unlimited paid parental leave during the first year following the birth of a child or an adoption. Whoa! Microsoft followed up with their own upgrades — they're adding 12 weeks paid leave to birth mothers, on top of the eight-weeks of paid leave they already offer. 

To compare, have a look at Vanderbilt's parental leave options: Currently, Vanderbilt only offers two weeks of paid leave (with full benefits) for new parents, and that time must be taken before the child is 12 weeks old. After those two weeks there are a variety of short-term disability options, which include 67 percent of the employee's salary (or less), with employees billed to cover their own benefits during that time. Congrats on the baby! Now pay us so you can keep your job.

Statewide, The Tennessee Maternity Leave Act ensures a female employee can take up to four months off for "for pregnancy, childbirth, and care of a newborn" without losing her job, but that time doesn't have to be paid (and it generally isn't). The law also applies to men in the case of adoptions, once the employee has gained custody of the child. 

No one should have to give up their job or lose several months of their paycheck (either permanently or temporarily) in order to have a family. C'mon, businesses of Nashville (and all of Tennessee, really), while you maneuver through this awkward current growth spurt, take a cue from Netflix and Microsoft and support your employees who choose to have children. Two weeks is barely enough time to learn how to appropriately put on a diaper, let alone figure out how to rearrange your whole life to balance both a career and a new baby.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Today Is Your Last Chance to Register to Vote

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 11:25 AM

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Attention senior citizens, middled-aged folk, and millennials alike: Today is the last day you can register to vote in the August Metro election.

If you want to vote for one of the seven mayoral candidates, or any of the more-than-100 Metro Council candidates, and you aren't registered to vote, go here for information on how to take care of that. 

Early voting for the August election begins July 17. 

If you're just tuning in to election season, feel free to get started by reading our mayoral candidate profiles:

Megan Barry
Charles Robert Bone
David Fox
Bill Freeman
Howard Gentry
Jeremy Kane
Linda Eskind Rebrovick

Godspeed and remember: If you don't vote, you can still complain. 

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Monday, June 8, 2015

There Are Now 100,000 Bees Living on Top of the Music City Center

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2015 at 11:19 AM

Hey, this is neat.

The Music City Center — well, humans who work for it — announced today that its four acre green roof is now home to 100,000 bees. One-hundred thousand.

From a press release:

The bees live in four hives on the green roof and are expected to produce an estimated 360 pounds of honey annually. Half of this honey will be used by the Music City Center culinary team, while the rest will be jarred for promotional use. The first harvest is expected to be ready in spring of 2016.

“We’ve made it a top priority to use local products in the kitchen and this is as local as it gets,” said Chef Max Knoepfel, Executive Chef of the Music City Center. “We can literally walk out the back door and get honey for anything we need. The bees should produce more than enough needed for the kitchen and we can give what’s leftover to clients and visitors.”

Aside from being a source of food, the bees are essential to a sustainable environment and there has been a decline in honeybee populations in the last few years. Last month, the Obama administration released its National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

“Honey bees play a key role in our ecosystem and the widespread use of insecticides is killing off the honey bees at an alarming rate,” said Jamie Meredith, the Music City Center’s beekeeper. “Bees fertilize about 85 percent of plants, so it’s incredibly important that we create a safe home for them.”

The Music City Center cost more than half-a-billion dollars to build and, although Mayor Karl Dean is already declaring it a massive success, we're not sure yet whether it will turn out to have been a great idea, a terrible idea, or a sort of meh idea. But for now, these bees are pretty neat.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

#MayoralChatter: Love and Loss on the Campaign Trail

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 5:01 PM

Seen on Craigslist ...


Do the right thing, Mary.

[H/T Adam Nickas]

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