This Is an Election Year! Who Can Vote?

Posted by jsaino on Jan 27, 2018

This Is an Election Year! Who Can Vote?


January 26, 2018


We have some important elections coming up this year.


  • County mayor, county commissioners, county trustee, property assessor, county sheriff, circuit court clerk, probate court clerk, juvenile court clerk, county clerk, and county register. The date of this election is August 2, 2018. The following current county commissioners are not up for reelection due to term limits. Terry Roland, Heidi Shafer, Melvin Burgess, Walter Bailey Jr. and Justin Ford.

Tennessee will hold an election for governor on November 6, 2018. The candidate filing deadline is April 5, 2018. The Democratic and Republic primary elections are August 2, 2018. The current governor, Bill Haslam, cannot run as he is term limited.


There is a startling story out of California that should make us all think deeply about our constitutional republic. This is the headline.



Court orders government to do so for all driver’s licenses issued.


WASHINGTON – California will take the next step in blurring the lines between citizens and non-citizens beginning April Fool’s Day when the state complies with a court order to begin automatically registering to vote all those who are granted driver’s licenses.

The state has long provided driver’s licenses to all who simply claimed, without proof, that they were citizens of in the country legally. There were no checks made or documentation required.

But beginning April 1 every person who gets a California driver’s license will be automatically entitled to vote.

“We are very pleased that Californians will have easier access to voter registration,” said Jeremiah Levine, an attorney with Morrison Foerster who represented the voting-rights groups. “We are especially satisfied that changes will be made before California’s statewide and federal primary elections.”

You expect this in California and this is a large part of the reason California went so heavily for the Democrat presidential candidate. But what is the federal law concerning voter eligibility?

Here is what Wikipedia says.

The right of foreigners to vote in the United States[1][2] has historically been a contentious issue. A foreigner, in this context, is an alien or a person who is not a citizen of the United States.

Since 1996, a federal law has prohibited non-citizens from voting in federal elections, punishing them by fines, imprisonment, inadmissibility, and deportation.[3][4][5] Exempt from punishment is any non-citizen who “reasonably believed at the time of voting (…) that he or she was a citizen of the United States,” had a parent who is or was a citizen, and began permanently living in the United States before turning 16 years old.[3] The federal law does not prohibit non-citizens from voting in state or local elections, but no state has allowed non-citizens to vote in state elections since Arkansas became the last state to outlaw non-citizen voting in 1926.[6] 11 local governments, 10 of them in Maryland, allow non-citizens to vote in their local elections (Takoma Park, Barnesville, Martin’s Additions, Somerset, Chevy Chase Sections 3 and 5, Glen Echo, Garrett Park, Hyattsville, and Mount Rainer). San Francisco allows noncitizens parents to vote in School Board elections (beginning in 2018).[7]

However, over 40 states or territories, including colonies before the Declaration of Independence, have at some time given at least some aliens voting rights in some or all elections.[8][9][10][11] For example, in 1875, the Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett noted that “citizenship has not in all cases been made a condition precedent to the enjoyment of the right of suffrage. Thus, in Missouri, persons of foreign birth, who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, may under certain circumstances vote.”[12]

By 1900, nearly half of the states and territories had some experience with voting by aliens, and for some the experience lasted more than half a century.[13] At the turn of the twentieth century, anti-immigration feeling ran very high, and Alabama stopped allowing aliens to vote by way of a constitutional change in 1901; Colorado followed suit in 1902, Wisconsin in 1908, and Oregon in 1914.[14] Just as the nationalism unleashed by the War of 1812 helped to reverse the alien suffrage policies inherited from the late eighteenth century, World War I caused a sweeping retreat from the progressive alien suffrage policies of the late nineteenth century.[15] In 1918, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota all changed their constitutions to purge alien suffrage, and Texas ended the practice of non-citizen voting in primary elections by statute.[14] Indiana and Texas joined the trend in 1921, followed by Mississippi in 1924 and, finally, Arkansas in 1926.[16] In 1931, political scientist Leon Aylsworth noted: “For the first time in over a hundred years, a national election was held in 1928 in which no alien in any state had the right to cast a vote for a candidate for any office – national, state, or local.”[17]


This is very interesting information. I believe that for all statewide and federal elections there should be a requirement that the voter must be a US citizen of the proper age and background and that there should be a national e-verify system with photo ID. For local elections this should be up to local officials to set the voting qualification requirements as local legal residents (green card non-citizens) who are property taxpayers probably should have some say in local government.


To me it is obvious that there are millions of non-citizens voting in national elections illegally particularly in certain states and this explains the desire of some politicians to allow unrestrained illegal immigration.


What do you think?





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What Pubic Retiree Healthcare Costs You As A Taxpayer

Posted by jsaino on Jan 16, 2018

What Pubic Retiree Healthcare Costs You As A Taxpayer


January 16, 2018


Years ago, I started investigating healthcare costs for active employees and retirees at the MLGW, the City of Memphis, Shelby County and the school system. At that point (before 2007) there was no requirement that the unfunded liability of medical and other costs for retirees be put on the financial statements of the various local governmental units. I started checking on the unfunded liability which was called OPEB. (Other Post Employment Benefits, mainly health care costs and life insurance).

I was shocked by the amount of unfunded liability. Look at the history of this huge unfunded liability over a certain time period.

OPEB History- unfunded liability

MLGW 2007            658 million

MLGW           2015              461 million   down 30% from 2007


City of Memphis 2008                  857 million

City of Memphis 2015                  730 million

City of Memphis 2017                  504 million  down 58% from 2008


Old Memphis School System 2008                   1.34 billion

Current Shelby County School System 2016  1.25 billion   down 9% from 2008


Shelby County Government 2007                     319 million

Shelby County Government 2016                     101 million   down 69% from 2007

It is obvious that this is still a large problem. But as usual, our Shelby County government recognized the problem early (in 2007 when notified by GASB) and acted. The City of Memphis was slow in acting but eventually addressed the problem. The Memphis school  system as usual has stuck its head in the sand and is hoping for a government bailout. The MLGW is well healed and is slowly addressing the problem.

The next question that occurred to me was “What is the cost to the taxpayers for the portion of annual health care premiums for retirees paid by taxpayers?” I asked for and received the following answers.

MLGW           2528 retirees’ cost/retiree paid by rate payers            $11,733/year

City of Memphis 1524 retirees’  cost/retiree paid by taxpayers            $6466/year

Shelby County   1941 retirees’   cost/retiree paid by taxpayers            $4658/year


It is obvious that the MLGW is different and that Shelby County Government is more efficient. In my next posting I will take up the cost to public employees (active and retired) for their annual health care premiums so that you can compare your cost to what public employees pay and look at the annual cost rise since the affordable care act came into our lives.

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More Info Needed Before Moving Brooks Museum Downtown

Posted by jsaino on Dec 27, 2017

December 27, 2017

What We Need Before Spending Millions On Moving Brooks Museum Downtown


Citing “declining enrollment” and “overwhelming real estate debt,” the Memphis College of Art — the storied Overton Park institution that traces its origins to at least the 1930s — on Tuesday announced plans to close. This CA article published October 24th of this year points out the problem of piling on debt without proper planning for debt retirement and a sound financial base.


As the plan for the Brooks museum rolls forward by the City of Memphis, let us look back on available information on the two institutions. The only available source of public hard financial information on the Memphis College of Art and the Brooks Museum is the 990 forms (Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax) provided by Guidestar.

Therefore, I pulled up these forms and here is a brief report on the three last available years.

Memphis College of Art, form 990 for years ending June 30, 2014, 2015 and 2016. The figure shown are the net assets or fund balances (total assets less total liabilities).

June 30, 2014                         $14.8 million

June 30, 2015                         $18.1 million

June 30, 2016                         $16.6 million


Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Inc

June 30, 2014                         $6.2 million

June 30, 2015                         $5.8 million

June 30, 2016                         $5.0 million


I have attached the complete relevant 990 forms which gives additional information of the Memphis College of Art and The Brooks museum. However, these 990 forms may not reveal the complete story. Apparently, the College of Art made some bad decisions about opening additional facilities downtown.


What is needed before embarking on the expensive downtown move by Brooks is a complete most recent financial audit of the Brooks so that all information about expenses, income and debt is fully known by the Memphis taxpayers. The 990 forms do not give enough information to make a informed decision.


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MLGW Rate Increases

Posted by jsaino on Dec 13, 2017

MLGW Rate Increases


MLGW has proposed rate increases in gas, electric and water rates over the next few years. MLGW management says that part of the need for increases are related to decreasing sales in product. Well I decided to review the latest annual report available (the year ending December 31st, 2016).


The City Charter designates the disposition of revenue from MLGW three divisions, light, gas and water. MLGW is not a profit-making organization but it is required to breakeven and pay it debts and keep a reserve to cover its debts and emergencies with a proper margin. It also pays to the City of Memphis a payment like a for profit business would pay.


I have looked at the statements of the three divisions for the year ended 12/31/16 and the electric division lost $12 million dollars after paying $40 million to the City of Memphis. The Gas Division lost $14 million after paying $17.5 million to the City of Memphis. The water division made $9.8 million after paying $4.4 million to the City of Memphis. It is not clear if this includes the 2 million payment for the FedEx arena.


It seems clear to me that the MLGW needs a price increase to keep its financial situation secure. It is a well-run organization with well trained employees and with advanced technical knowledge.


Now I want to point out that MLGW employees have a much richer health care benefits then the City of Memphis and Shelby County employees. I am gathering current information of these benefits and will be publishing information as soon as I obtain the data.


People are becoming energy savers and the combination of advanced energy saving appliances like light bulbs and AC/heating units and smart meters are saving energy and this is a good thing for the ecology. Again this is a well run organization with competitive rates and I hope that whomever replaces Jerry Collins will be as able as he has been.

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This and That About The Bicentennial Gateway Project

Posted by jsaino on Nov 27, 2017

This and That About The Bicentennial Gateway Project


I recently published the details about this huge proposed project but there were several unanswered questions that needed answers.


Here are the points that needed clarification and I pursued and got the answers.


On the list for original amounts spent for the presentation of this project was $518,270.97 paid to Stephen Schreiner & Renee Barrett. It turns out that that this amount was for the purchase of two pieces of property close to Bass Pro at 369 and 371 North Main.

Another question concerned the funding for this project which showed Annual Revenues from Land Leases of $297,000 the first year and a total of $3.7 million through 2031. The answer from the City of Memphis was the underlying assumption from the RKG report that the City might lease City-owned land to private entities, the specific land under consideration would be Mud Island. This is only an assumption, as no deal or structure has been developed for a project at this location.

Another question concerned the Brooks Museum of Art and the amount of support that the City of Memphis gives to the Brooks yearly. The City responded that in the FY 2016 net expenditures from the City to the Brooks was $571,448.00. I have attached the latest 990 form detailing the finances of the Brooks Museum. It basically depends on contributions from the City of Memphis and outside donors.


The other big factor is the type of bonds that are proposed to finance this and other similar projects like the Fairgrounds project. I am told they will be revenue bonds which generally mean that the City of Memphis, Shelby County and other governmental organizations with tax powers will not be on the hook if the project does not pay for itself on sales tax and property tax increasing revenues. Here is typical revenue bond language.


So what this means, if it is revenue bond financing, that the bond buyer is at risk and will take the haircut if the income projections do not meet the projections. Hopefully they will and if so fine. If not, the bond holders suffer. However the reputation of the City will also suffer as it now happening in Puerto Rico and the City of Chicago and the state of Illinois and the City of Detroit in the past.


This downtown project and the Fairgrounds proposal needs a lot more discussion and disclosure. What are the risks and what are the rewards?







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Open Records At The Shelby County School System

Posted by jsaino on Nov 15, 2017

Open Records At The Shelby County School System


I have a long history of asking for information from the old Memphis School System and the successor Shelby County school system. Under old Memphis School System obtaining information was very difficult and I actually filed three law suits in Chancery Court to get access to information which I won.

Now with the Shelby County School system it is somewhat easier to get information and I want to report a recent request and the results.

At the request of a representative of a local charter school I asked for pupil attendance information of the Shelby County public school system. The reason that the charter school wanted attendance information was that they were being criticized by the school system administration for their poor attendance record.

I was able to get the attached information about attendance. One is a summary of attendance information and the other is a detail of each particular school.

What struck me were several things revealed by the information.

The charter school people noted that their attendance numbers were affected by the lack of school bus services that are available in public schools. They must depend on parents and guardians to get the children to school.

The other figure which struck me was the percentage of students that are chronically absent in the three schools divisions, elementary, middle and high school.

Look at the figures.

Shelby County Schools

Current enrollment in elementary schools     47,022  15.9% are chronically absent

Current enrollment in middle schools              17,590  16.3% are chronically absent

Current enrollment in high schools                   25,718  33% are chronically absent

Charter Schools

Current enrollment in elementary schools     5002  15.8% are chronically absent

Current enrollment in middle schools              3542  17.3% are chronically absent

Current enrollment in high schools                   4659  21.1% are chronically absent


The above figures are about equal in elementary and middle schools but the charter schools are much better in high schools  with a 12% lower absenteeism rate.

These are important figures and should be studied as they reveal a lot about our upcoming children. What explains a 33% chronically absenteeism rate in public high schools?

I ask you to read and offer your opinion on these figures. I asked also for the union contract for Shelby county school teachers. I received it but on the pages where the salaries are, the figures are redacted. I have asked for the redacted information but to date have not received it but have been told that they are working on getting the information to the public taxpayers.

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$281M Downtown Cultural Center And Now $160 M For The Fairgrounds

Posted by jsaino on Nov 08, 2017

$281M Downtown Cultural Center And Now $160 M For The Fairgrounds


I have to give the administration credit for thinking big. And it all will be paid, we hope, with money generated by tax incremental financing due to increased tourism sales taxes and state economic development funds.

The presentation on the downtown cultural center by the administration was well done and presented. I looked at the plan and wondered what had been spent so far for the well done concept work. So I asked the City to tell me what has been spent so far for this work. Here is their answer.


Original amounts for the Bicentennial Gateway development project.

# Vendor Original Amount

 33400 RKG Associates $40,000 and another $40,000 for Amendment #1

 33401 SR Consulting $250,000 and another $150,000 for Amendment #1

 33413 Bass, Berry and Sims $250,000

 33885 CH Johnson Consulting $20,000 and another $18,000 for Amendment #1

 34548 Glankler Brown $25,000

 34607 Archimania $128,325

 34619 Stephen Schreiner & Renee Barrett $518,270.97

That is a total so far that they have admitted to of $1.439 million.

I will pursue this further as we need to know what has been spent in addition to the above plus what has been spent on the fairgrounds planning so far. If you have additional questions and want further information let me know.

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$281 Million For A Freshwater Aquarium And Downtown Cultural Center!!

Posted by jsaino on Oct 24, 2017

$281 Million For A Freshwater Aquarium And Downtown Cultural Center!!


Talk about an ambitious plan, this one takes the cake. Here are the details in a well presented and concise exhibit. The major elements of the proposed plan are as shown below.

  • Close Monroe between Front Street and Riverside Drive.
  • Create a new cultural center bounded by Union Avenue on the south, Front Street on the east, Riverside drive on west and the Cossitt Library on the north. This cultural center may become the relocation building for the Brooks Museum.
  • Build a pedestrian bridge going across Wolf River to Mud Island.
  • On Mud Island build a new 250 foot tall fresh water aquarium.
  • Upgrade the mosquito infested Mud Island Amphitheatre to something better suited to the outdoor concert business.

I must say I am impressed with the whole concept and plan. The Mud Island investment has been a failure as it never developed continuing attractions to draw people to come. It should have had bars and restaurants along the west side overlooking the river. I believe this was never done because it was opposed by the Beale Street interests. Also access to the island was limited to the north entrance.

Now as to the Brooks Museum. This is not mentioned in the plan but the CA article of October 18th said that this was a possibility. The Brooks Museum has a fine collection of art and much of it cannot be displayed as they do not have the space. Also there is a possibility this cultural center being the site for the William Eggleston collection, a world famous collection of photographs.

Now as to paying for this plan! The exhibit shows the cost and how it would be financed. Excluding the Pinch District Development and the Convention Center Renovation, the document projects a cost of $282 million.

  • Aquarium Museum $121 Million
  • River Park & Pedestrian Bridge $35 million
  • Cultural Center and Monroe Terrace $84 million
  • Fourth Bluff and Civic Commons $21 million
  • Riverfront Improvement $20 Million

For a total of about $282 million.

Basically they claim that it would be financed with the following items.

  • $100 million paid for by increases every year in incremental sales tax revenues in the expanded TDZ zone.
  • $74 million in net new sales taxes from sales of consumer goods.
  • $30 million in new aquarium sales taxes.
  • $7.3 million in sales taxes from the cultural center attendance and purchases.


  • $2.3 million from hospitality contribution (convention center hotels)
  • $3.7 million from land leases

The questionable items appear to be the projected growth of TDZ sales tax revenue and the amount of private equity and philanthropy that will be pledged to the project. The other item that occurs to me is the question of philanthropy. What will Bass Pro contribute to this project as Bass Pro seems to have a great upside when we are talking about a fresh water aquarium. After all they are in the business of fishing and hunting and if you look at what they spent on their Big Cedar Lodge near Branson Missouri, they certainly have a great upside in seeing this downtown Memphis project succeed.

The real big question is what has plagued past public projects. PROJECT PRICE CREEP!! As with other public projects (think Beale Street Landing) and with the difficulty of construction on the unstable riverfront and the necessity of building in an earthquake zone) can it be done at the projected cost?

What do you think about this big idea for downtown and Mud Island?

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Liberty Bowl Finances

Posted by jsaino on Sep 27, 2017

Liberty Bowl Finances


There has been a lot of discussion about the Liberty Bowl operation and the finances of that facility. A good friend with a lot of background about the Liberty Bowl and park operations asked me about the Liberty Bowl finances.

So I started asking for the figures. Here is what I learned.

A recent newspaper article said that the stadium had a $500,000 annual operating deficit. I asked for an annual stadium financial statement and here it is. The stadium lost $1.25 million last year. The total revenue was $1.7 million. The expenses were almost $3 million ($2,918,434) with the highest expenses being $2.16 million for telephone/communications and $523,000 for miscellaneous professional services.

The major revenue items were rental fees ($967,000), concessions ($215,000) and parking ($73,000). Miscellaneous income was $371,000 and corporate sponsorship $75,000. In looking at the contract I come up with the following.

Suite license for 38 suites for $7,800 per game

Advertising rights fee for $25,000 per game

Parking for $50,000 per game

Base rent per game $39,200 per game

Total $122,000 per game times 6 games = $732,000 per year. The difference was concessions at $215,000.

So the $1.25 million loss was a calculated figure that the taxpayers pay. It seems to me that at least the sports fans and those that attend the events at the Liberty Bowl should pay enough to make the operation at least a breakeven figure. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

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The Secret To A Long And Happy Life

Posted by jsaino on Sep 18, 2017

The Secret To A Long And Happy Life


One of my California daughters was here in Memphis for a visit and gave me the attached article. Previously another daughter had sent my wife and myself an DNA kit which we submitted. When it came back the results said that I was 61% Western European and 13% Italy and Greece.

In the past my wife and I had travelled to Italy and after reading an article about how people in Limone on Lake Garda lived such a long time, eating mainly pasta and olives, and that my relatives might have come from this area we went there. I found no Sainos there but my great grandfather did come from northern Italy. One of my friends from my high school days who was of English heritage used to call me a Po River wetback. I replied that while his ancestors were dressed in wolf skins and freezing in the winter time and using nearby bushes as a potty,  my ancestors dined in heated houses with indoor plumbing.

In reading through the article several things stood out to me. While you can ruin your health with bad habits like smoking, excessive drinking, drugs, etc, the most important thing is the family genes. Emma Morano  as a girl was often ill. The doctor diagnosed anemia and advised a move to the lakeshore which she did. He also told her to eat three eggs per day, two of them raw and she kept this diet for almost a century. At lunch she ate pasta with raw minced meat and for supper a glass of milk. Then after supper she had biscotti and a large tin of gianduiotti, a local hazelnut chocolate. Last came her home spiked grappa infused with seven sage leaves, herbs and a few grapes.

Modern doctors said that such a diet was unhealthy but they have all passed. The real principles of her life were four, family, self-sufficiency, faith and work. Also you ladies should note that every night she applied an anti-ageing cream. I bet the TV hucksters would love to get the formula. She eventually had to marry (her real love died in a war) due to parental pressure but the husband was abusive and she eventually kicked him out and they separated since divorce was not then legal.

In April of this year she died at age 117. She had a life that modern Americans should read and study.

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