The November 8th 2016 Election Ballot

Posted by jsaino on Oct 22, 2016

October 21, 2016


The November 8th 2016 Election Ballot

Early voting locally has already started. Here is the ballot and here is how I am voting on the issues on which I get to vote

United States House of Representatives, District 8  DAVID KUSTOFF

Tennessee House of Representatives, District 83 MARK WHITE

City of Memphis Home Charter Amendment AGAINST THE AMENDMENT. There has been no good argument put forth by the City for this change.

Shelby County Home Rule Charter Amendment NO. The Mayor should have his choice for County Attorney.

As to the horrible Presidential Election, I have studied and prayed over this since the beginning debates of the 17 Republican candidates. I was for Ted Cruz throughout but Trump eventually won. I said then that he would be very vulnerable to candidate research with his past history. That is why the media and democrats were pulling for him to get the nomination.

So what am I going to do? Hillary is unacceptable with her history of corruption. Trump is barely better than Hillary with the possibility that if he wins he will get to appoint one or more Supreme Court justices. Hillary, if elected will destroy the basic constitution with her selections.

Therefore I am going to write in a candidate. I am going to write in EVAN MCMULLIN for President. Evan is on the ballot in many states and is very likely to win the state of Utah over Hillary and Donald. He will not win the Presidential race but there is always 2020. If you decide to do a write in vote, you click on “write in” and then the computer screen allows you to type in the name of the write in candidate. I am voting my conscience. As always, vote your conscience but please vote.

Evan McMullin was born in Provo, Utah on April 2, 1976 to David McMullin, a computer scientist, and Lanie (Bullard) McMullin.

He graduated from Auburn High School in Auburn, Washington, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from Brigham Young University (BYU) and a Master’s of Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Evan served as a Mormon missionary in Brazil and Volunteer Refugee Resettlement Officer in Amman, Jordan on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

On September 11th, 2001 Evan was in training at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. He completed his training and repeatedly volunteered for overseas service in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, spearheading counterterrorism and intelligence operations in some of the most dangerous places on earth.

Having completed his CIA service, in 2011, McMullin transitioned to the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he worked with companies in several industries, including technology, energy, consumer goods, biotech, industrials and real estate on capital raising projects and mergers and acquisitions.

In 2013, McMullin joined the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as a senior advisor and later became the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference.

He declared his candidacy for President of the United States on August 8, 2016, saying “In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up. It’s never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us. He humbly offers himself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a better choice for President.”

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Slow Walking Open Records Requests

Posted by jsaino on Oct 17, 2016

October 17, 2016

Slow Walking Open Records Requests


I know I am a pest about open records but all you have to do is look at what is going on in this terrible upcoming national election to see what politicians do to slow down or deny full open records requests.

Locally I asked to see an update on how much the Shelby County School System has spent on the lawsuit requesting that the local school boards in Tennessee be given the power to set education funding tax rates to suit their own interpretation of what is required for adequate public education. I asked for this information on September 6, 2016 and finally got the information on October 8, 2016. I had to send a copy of my driver’s license (to prove I was a resident of Tennessee) and I had to mail a check for $24.85 and then had to wait for a snail mail return of the documents. Below is the result. Almost $390,000 spent to date.

The real questions are a)where is this lawsuit now, b)what are the chances of success and c)what is the budget for this effort? However under the Tennessee open records law they are not required to answer these questions. They can just keep on spending without any accountability. Another obvious question, why the switch from Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP to Baker Donelson PC?

My wish in this matter is a full and complete open statement as to the state of this lawsuit and the possible future costs. What are your thoughts? After all it is our tax money they are spending.



Law Firm Date Bill
Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP 4/29/15 2899.50
Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP 5/20/15 19612.5
Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP 6/6/15 18749.70
Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP 7/27/15 65513.65
Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP 8/31/15 75157.15
Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP 9/21/15 66915.36
Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP 10/22/15 68684.78
Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP 11/24/15 18713.00
Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP 12/10/15 4214.20
Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & Smith LLP 2/18/16 3729.14
Baker Donelson PC 4/21/16 5980.28
Baker Donelson PC 5/11/16 19686.50
Baker Donelson PC 6/17/16 5168.00
Baker Donelson PC 7/18/16 2024.50
Baker Donelson PC 8/17/16 12827.65
Total Spent to August 2016 $389,875.91


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What Is Going On With The Pilot Payments From MLGW To City And County?

Posted by jsaino on Oct 11, 2016

October 11, 2016


What Is Going On With The Pilot Payments From MLGW To City And County?

There is going to be an item on the ballot this November that proposes to amend Article 65, Section 691 and 693 of the Charter of the City of Memphis. It is relative to distribution of payments of in lieu of taxes (Pilots) by MLGW to the City of Memphis. On page 7 of 8, Brian Collins, Director of Finance City of Memphis, says that the estimated increase of this pilot payment to the City of Memphis may be $5 million dollars. Is this coming out of Shelby County’s share of this pilot payment?

There is litigation going on concerning the issue of sharing of this MLGW pilot payment. It seems to me that the pilot payment should be shared on the basis of income to MLGW from customers who are inside the city of Memphis versus those outside the City limits. It seems that the City of Memphis wants it all. There needs to be an explanation of this move by the City of Memphis before voting starts on this issue.

This is a difficult issue for to understand since the referendum only proposes an Amendment to the City of Memphis Charter. Our concern is that the charter amendment may be a precursor to a different method for calculation by the city for the County share of the tax equivalents being paid by MLGW. It may very well be that the county payment will be reduced by the $5 million increase in revenue to the city.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Below are some statements from the annual MLGW financial statement.

Each year the MLGW pays a tax from the electric division and the gas division as if it were a private company based on the equity or investment of MLGW properties.

The amounts remitted by MLGW to the City and Shelby County were calculated based on City Council resolutions and City Charter provisions governing the PILOT sharing arrangement with Shelby County.

MLGW’s transfer to the City is based on the formula provided by the May 29, 1987 TVA Power Contract Amendment (Supp. No. 8). The formula includes a maximum property tax equivalency calculation plus 4% of operating revenue less power costs (three-year average). Transfers to the city represent the Electric Division’s in lieu of tax payment. The transfer for 2015 decreased by $2.6 million due to a $1.9 million reduction in the tax equalization rate, a decrease of $1.5 million resulting from higher PILOT to Shelby County and the City requesting $0.5 million less than the maximum allowed by TVA contract. The decreases are partially offset by an increase of $1.4 million due to increased net plant investment and operating revenue less power costs (three-year average). MLGW’s transfer to the City is based on the formula provided by the State of Tennessee Municipal Gas System Tax Equivalent Law of 1987. The formula includes a maximum property tax equivalency calculation plus 4% of operating revenue less power costs (three-year average). Transfers to the City represent the Gas Division’s PILOT.

The transfer for 2015 decreased by $0.8 million due to a decrease of $1.0 million resulting from the City requesting less than the maximum allowed by statute and $0.8 million due to a decrease in the tax equalization rate, offset in part by an increase of $0.8 million due to net plant investment and three-year average revenues and an increase of $0.2 million resulting from lower PILOT to Shelby County.

Another important statement is the legal provision of 691 that any surplus remaining, over and above safe operating margins, shall be devoted solely to rate reduction.

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Open Records At Shelby County Schools

Posted by jsaino on Oct 03, 2016

October 3, 2016


Open Records At Shelby County Schools

If there is one issue that consistently defines politicians nationally it is the desire to cover up and deny past and present indiscretions. Tax returns, email deletions, favors granted for cash, you name it.

But you say that is the national politicians but it does not happen locally. Well we have had our share locally but open records and transparency is still less than perfect. Just recently it has been in the news that certain athletes’ at Trezevant High School have been aided in cheating on academic tests in order to keep them eligible for sports. It is still under investigation but reports from teachers talk about the good players being taken to a separate testing room and return with a very good grade. Hopefully, Dorsey Hopson will give a full report in the very near future.

Sadly I have a report on my efforts to inform the public on the legal costs of the Shelby County School System (SCS) lawsuit against the state demanding that school boards across the state be able to set the tax rate in order to adequately fund education which they claim is mandated by the Tennessee Constitution. In September I asked for an update on the total spent to date on this lawsuit. I got an email answer saying that they would respond by October 15th. Then I got another email saying that they needed a copy of my driver’s license. I responded and now I got the following response.

I would like to point out that the City of Memphis, the MLGW, Shelby County and other organizations respond electronically but not the SCS system. They want me to mail a check, wait until the check clears, then they will probably demand that I drive to the office to pick up the documents.  This is their policy of open records. It is foot dragging, purposely following the exact state open records law, in order to make open records more difficult.

I ask for your help on this important issue. The policy should be that if the documents are available in electronic format (word, pdf, etc) the request should be answered electronically without cost as the City of Memphis and Shelby County do. I am asking you, my readers, to email the SCS board and Superintendent Dobson and ask them to implement this policy.  We need to let them know that open, prompt and free electronic response to open records requests is critical to public support and trust. Below is a list of email addresses. Thanks for your help.,,,,,,,,,,

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Our Precious Water Reserve

Posted by jsaino on Sep 27, 2016

September 27, 2016

Our Precious Water Reserve

There has been much discussion and news articles about TVA proposing to tap our fresh water reserve in order to cool the proposed new natural gas fired power electric generation plant which is to replace the coal fired Allen electric generating plant.

Many people are rightly upset about this proposal as one of our major natural resources here in Memphis is our artesian water reserve. Many people are asking a number of questions.

Why can’t we use river water instead of fresh well water? I understand that Mississippi river water would have to be filtered to remove debris in order to protect the cooling apparatus.

Why can’t we renovate the existing coal fired Allen plant with modern scrubbers in order to meet current standards? After all TVA is proposing to spend $975 million dollars for the new plant.

Why are we not considering nuclear generating plants like France uses to a great extent and uses them safely?

I think there needs to be a reconsideration of this decision at least until after the first of the year.  There was a great lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about President Obama’s use of unilateral federal and executive power to impose his climate agenda.

The local Green Agenda people wants more wind and solar which has proven to be very expensive compared to coal, gas or nuclear energy but they do not consider high energy prices or high taxes to be a legitimate consideration. They believe in global warming and any discussion about proof is considered to be not worthy or scientific discussion or proof.  Clean drinking water needs to be conserved as we have lot more untapped energy resources then we have clean water.

Consider countries such as Saudi Arabia. All the water for the capital of Riyadh comes from the desalination of sea water and then is piped into the capital. This is a very expensive process and proves that in many cases, fresh drinking water is more valuable then oil. No one really knows how much water reserve Memphis has and Mississippi and many others want a piece of this rich resource.



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Strong Families And Good Education Will End Poverty

Posted by jsaino on Sep 19, 2016

September 19, 2016


Strong Families And Good Education Will End Poverty


I will admit that my life has been positively impacted by my parents, my grandparents and great grandparents and beyond. I will also acknowledge that many African American families have not been so fortunate due to past slavery and poor educational opportunities.

But there is a path to good education which is the only solution to poverty. My great grandfather Saino came from Italy to Memphis a few years before the civil war. He was trained as a glazier (window maker) and metal worker. My grandfather on my mother’s side came from Germany trained as a butcher. Neither had any education beyond grammar school. They worked hard and made sure their children got more education than they had.

Now fast forward to today and our present situation. Last March 8th I brought up to date information I received from the Shelby County School system showing that they had spent $340,000 on their lawsuit against the State of Tennessee. The purpose of the suit is to turn over the setting of the amount of your tax money to the Shelby County School that they determine is needed for public education. If they win they will be in charge of your tax rate.

I recently asked for a current update of the amount of money billed to date for this lawsuit and the answer I got was as shown here. Why it takes so long is a question and whether I will in fact get a full answer is still to be determined.

The real issue is being debated on the national stage. One candidate wants to continue the present failing public school system because the teachers’ union contributes almost 100% of available political funds to their favorite candidate. The other candidate calls for school choice and putting the decision of private, charter or public school education for their children in the hands of the parents and family. This is where it should be, family first.

Ending poverty will only come with a well educated school age population. It will take time and multiple generations but we must give families the choice through a fair voucher system.


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The Fight Against Hi-tech Solutions

Posted by jsaino on Aug 22, 2016

The Fight Against Hi-tech Solutions


August 22, 2106


The fact that a Memphis taxi cab company is suing Uber and Lyft in federal court caught my eye recently. They allege that the ride-hailing companies are violating Tennessee laws and city ordinances regulating passenger transportation services.


In looking back over my business career in engineering and manufacturing I remember purchasing the first TRS 80 computer. The subsequent computers revolutionized my business making it much more efficient and lowering costs. Uber and Lyft saw a need and filled it in a big way. Maybe they are violating some outdated regulations but that is what politicians do, write regulations which end up restricting competition.



In the high tech field, I have a son in law who was with google but left recently to join Otto, a company involved in designing software and hardware to safely control driverless trucks. His job previously at google was designing the vehicles for google street scene which allows you now to see almost all homes and buildings and is used extensively by real estate people, the government and people in general. No doubt the Teamsters will object to Otto if they are successful in advancing driverless vehicles.


I have written previously about Uber, Lyft and how they could possible help make Mata more efficient, give Mata customers better service and possibly cut the $44 million dollars that taxpayers pay to subsidize Mata.


Instead of filing suit and blocking progress, why not join the hi-tech world and see if we can give Mata customers better service at lower cost. I call on Mayor Strickland to invite Uber and Lyft and start a discussion to see if involving them in Mata transportation makes sense. If you agree I ask you to let the Mayor know with a copy to

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The Demand For Immediate Economic Justice

Posted by jsaino on Aug 17, 2016

August 17, 2016


The Demand For Immediate Economic Justice


There was a recent CA article with the header “Strickland can’t solve problems alone.

The gist of the article was the demand from “Black Lives Matter” to furnish to the disenfranchised, good jobs and opportunity. The article went on to state that no Mayor in America can solve this problem alone. The article stated that the real economic power in Memphis comes from the 120 senior executives who call themselves the Chairman’s Circle.

Contained in this story is the description of the plan labeled “The Moon Missions”. Contained in the Moon Missions are a) expanding prekindergarten, b) connecting Mid-South green spaces, c) creating 1,000 entrepreneurs in 10 years, d) developing a long range plan for regional growth, e) alleviating litter and blight and f) training 30,000 high-tech industrial workers in 10 years.

Here you have the classic HAVES/HAVE NOTS confrontation that has been going on in this country for a long time. None of the above Moon Mission objectives will make an immediate difference in more contracts and jobs for the disenfranchised.

Expanding prekindergarten is a good idea if it results in the children prepared to learn to read when they get to school.

Connecting mid-south green spaces will help with attracting the skilled executive types of people who are considering moving to Memphis.

Creating 1,000 entrepreneurs in 10 years. This is so ridiculous that it does not deserve comment. I suppose Bill Gates and Steve Jobs came from this kind of program.

Developing a long range plan for regional growth. Another expensive plan from a consulting firm. Maybe good but no immediate results.

Alleviating litter and blight. Good idea but no immediate economic results.

Training 30,000 high-tech industrial workers in 10 years. This is a great idea and a skilled worker pool is what is needed but you need people willing and sufficiently educated to learn a needed trade like welding, plumbing, electrical, building maintenance, computer programming at schools like Southwest Tennessee Community College and Moore Tech.

What these protest groups are asking for is a slice of the supply contracts purchased by local companies. Typically local companies buy their products on the basis of price and past performance. They should be willing to take quotes from minority firms but those minority firms, if selected, must perform as well or better than the previous supplier. As for the City of Memphis or Shelby County, they should publish their bids on line showing the selected supplier and all other bidders and why the lowest bidder was not selected if that was the case.

What are your thoughts on these matters?


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Garbage And Recyclables

Posted by jsaino on Aug 09, 2016

August 9, 2016

Garbage And Recyclables

I live in the City of Memphis and yesterday morning was my weekly duty to bag up my garbage and put it in my older 96 gallon wheeled container and put my recyclable material in my new 96 gallon wheeled container. It worked out well and I rolled them out to the street and by noon they were both picked up and taken to I don’t know where.

I decided to ask the City of Memphis for information on Inland Waste, the City’s contractor for solid waste and recyclable material. I asked the City of Memphis for a copy of the contract through the City of Memphis open records request system and I got an answer the next day. The contract is  for $4.25 million and is some 122 pages but here it is for you to review. The high bid was for $9.3 million. After a quick review there are some interesting features.

Did you know that your cart has a RFID!! This is a Radio Frequency Identification Device. According to the contract the purpose of a RFID is to gather information about recycling participation and other information mutually agreed upon   between the City and Contractor.

Then I got to thinking about Germantown and Shelby County. Germantown has approved a $3.9 million, five-year trash collections contract with Waste Pro of Tennessee. The contract shows a double-digit increase in price over the current service provider, Inland Waste Services, which the city is discontinuing after a series of upsets to citizens’ services and associated fines and fees the city incurred to resolve them. The new rates include a 34% hike in yard trash. Residents who are now charged $22.50 for trash service will only pay an estimated $4 more each month the first year and as much as another $2 a month thereafter, with the city subsidizing for now, according to The Commercial Appeal.

As a City of Memphis resident I currently pay $22.80 per month as my solid waste fee.

Then I asked the Shelby County government about their solid waste collection services for those residents who live in the County but are not in any incorporated city. Apparently the County residents are on their own and I suppose they contract with some independent service to take away their garbage, recyclables and yard waste. The County did inform me of a contract they have with Memphis Recycling Services Inc to buy all recyclable commodities generated by the County.

I must admit that I am not as well informed about this very important public service and I ask those that read this post to send me more information about your experience with the City, Germantown and other incorporated cities in Shelby County and those that live in Shelby County in an unincorporated area. I would love to hear from you.

I want to congratulate the City of Memphis and Shelby County for their prompt responses to my open records inquiries. Hopefully we can see more of this in the future.




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Open Records At City Hall

Posted by jsaino on Aug 02, 2016

Open Records At City Hall

August 2, 2016

It seems that the Commercial Appeal has finally had a falling out with City Hall on the subject of open records and transparency. (Read the Ca article from last Saturday).

I have been an advocate of open records and full and complete access to all records for many years. I have filed numerous successful lawsuits to enforce my access. You only have to look at Washington DC to see what lengths politicians will go to hide their thoughts and actions.

Now I am not accusing Jim Strickland of doing this. I know Jim and he is a good person. I think he is on the right path financially to right the Memphis ship. Finances are improving as long as he stays on basics and away from expensive new dream projects.

Now as to what the changes he has put in place. Basically he wants to control the message and he does not want the public and particularly the media to contact his people directly. Now the Tennessee Open Records Law has a section that says the following.

(2)  (A) All state, county and municipal records shall, at all times during business hours, which for public hospitals shall be during the business hours of their administrative offices, be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse such right of inspection to any citizen, unless otherwise provided by state law.

(a)  (1)  (A) As used in this part and title 8, chapter 4, part 6, “public record or records” or “state record or records” means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, microfilms, electronic data processing files and output, films, sound recordings or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency.

I have seen the best and the worst of transparency in government. My opinion is that the City of Memphis under Jim Strickland has improved from past administrations. Most of the information that I want is online such as pension, OPEB and CAFR financial reports. The main area needed is access to electronic communications such as emails, text messages and other forms of social media communications. Concerning emails and text messages I would propose a new protocol for the future.

As seen with the recent Germantown emails controversy, here is what I propose to solve the high cost of paying lawyers to redact open records requests for a series of emails.

My ANSWER to this redaction problem is a new email protocol that should be adopted by all bodies subject to the Tennessee Open Records Law. This new protocol would apply to all new emails and text messages. Under this protocol the body of the email or text message would be public information. If needed there would be two types of attachments to the basic email text. #1 attachment would be any data that is open to the public. #2 attachment would be any information that is specifically mentioned in the Tennessee open records law as not public information such as addresses, social security information, restricted medical information and exempted legal communications. Then when a request for emails comes in from the public, the requested emails could be easily sent without any #2 attachments containing redactable information. This would do away with the high priced lawyers reading through a bunch of emails. The creators of the emails would have to be trained in the new electronic communications protocol. No personal messages would be allowed on public paid for email services. A public transparency board should be created in each Tennessee County to periodically review randomly selected emails and text messages to insure compliance with the new protocol.

Let’s face it. Generally politicians hate open records and transparency and they will use the expense gambit to restrict public access to their records. I would appreciate your thoughts on my proposal for a new public records creation protocol. It seems to me a low cost answer to the “I have to hire a lawyer to redact those email requests” from local politicians. Transparency and open records comes from the top. Lack of transparency comes from the same place.

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