While a lot of people, locally and in Nashville, were looking the other way, Shelby County's state Senate contingent performed a valuable service Monday night in sidelining an effort by Nashville-area lawmakers to land a sales-tax break for construction of a new stadium for the Nashville Sounds baseball team. The same kind of break had previously been denied during the construction of AutoZone Park for the Memphis Redbirds. A bill before the Senate finance committee would have allowed Nashville to hold on to its local share of sales-tax proceeds collected at the proposed new stadium, while the state share would have gone to defray the cost of construction bonds. All sales-tax revenue collected at AutoZone Park was designated to pay back such bonds.
Nashville state Senator Thelma Harper, a sponsor of the measure, stated the obvious: "This language is in there because the city of Nashville wanted it." State Senator Steve Cohen, who had first noted the fillip contained in the bill for the state's capital city, stated something just as obvious, according to Nashville's Tennessean: "Memphis is not able to keep its sales tax. It's a sharing situation.'' Two Shelby County Democrats on the finance committee, Jim Kyle and John Ford, promptly indicated they would force a reconsideration of the bill. "It's a good thing Senator Cohen looked at it,'' Senator Ford said by way of collegial acknowledgment. Indeed so.
In dealing with this matter of simple equity, the city's legislators worked together as smoothly as did the legendary Chicago Cubs double-play combination known to history as "Tinker to Evers to Chance." Hopefully, members of the Shelby County Commission could cooperate as well in the forthcoming reconsideration of a resolution authorizing a private company, at its own expense, to look into the ramifications of converting The Pyramid into a casino/hotel. Some in these parts seem positively shocked that trade-offs constitute part of the action when legislative bodies meet and vote on matters. We'd be shocked if they didn't. If the process of coming to agreement results in the resolution of several matters at once, so much the better.
It's enough to give one a headache -- or something worse. A member of our staff visited his local pharmacy recently to have a prescription filled and was handed, along with it, a little brochure called "Notice of Privacy Practices." The brochure began with reassurances about the drug-store chain's commitment "to guard your privacy," but that statement segued into a somewhat more ominous one: "What is new is a government regulation requiring us to spell out your rights."
That spelling-out turned out to mean B-E-W-A-R-E. Among other things, it read, "We may release Protected Health Information about you to federal officials for intelligence, counterintelligence, protection to the President, and other national security activities authorized by law." Say what? Inasmuch as the dispensing of controlled substances is already accounted for in reporting procedures, this new enablement -- a provision of the so-called Patriot Act now under review by Congress -- clearly goes too far. The legally prescribed medicines we take, like other aspects of our personal profiles also under scrutiny under the terms of the act, are simply not the government's business.