Looks as if local residents are none too excited about having their tax dollars used for a bible theme park.
Rutherford County resident Joe Dassaro has submitted a request to state Rep. Donna Rowland to seek the attorney general’s opinion on whether county officials can legally authorize the use of a TIF to fund “a religious, privately owned, business entity.”
Dassaro, in an e-mail to The Daily News Journal Thursday evening, states that he submitted the request via fax and e-mail to Rowland’s office.
Dassaro added the following two conditions concerning this question:
“In the context of the question provided, the term “legally” is not limited to statutory authorization for Tax Incremental Financing. The term “legally” is intended to incorporate the applicability of federal and state case law in relation to the question and subsequent compliance with established legal precedent.
“In the context of the question provided, I am not asking the Attorney General to opine as to whether the proposed Bible Theme Park is ‘religious’ in nature.”
Rowland said Thursday she had not received the letter as yet and cannot comment on it until she does. She said she will be out of town Friday and likely will not receive the letter until Monday.
At Thursday’s meeting of the Future Development Committee, Rutherford County Planning Commissioner Bob Farris also called for an Attorney General opinion on the legality of using public funds for the Bible park.
Last weekend Dassaro sent a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union asking for its help stopping public fund from going to the Bible park.
Michelle Willard, of the Murfreesboro Post has been staying on top of the xianists' plans to use tax dollars to build, I am not making this up, a bible theme park. One can only hope that someone in Rutherford County is waking up to the size of the legal bills they're going to pay if they approve this abomination.
Bible Park stumbles over second hurdle in approval process By MICHELLE WILLARD, Post Staff Writer – April 3, 2008 – 6:00 pm
Representatives from Bible Park USA failed to convince Rutherford County Future Development Committee its plans meet the requirements for a Conditional Use Permit.
FDC met Thursday afternoon to review the land use plan and Conditional Use Permit request of SafeHarbor, LLC to develop a proposed non-denominational Biblically based theme park in the Blackman Community.
The committee, in a tie vote, failed to [endorse?] the request.
“What happens now is it goes on to the Planning Commission with no recommendation,” explained Doug Demosi, county planning department executive director.
Following three hours of explanaitons by SafeHarbor officials and public comment by some 15 citizens, Rutherford County Commissioner and FDC member Steve Sandlin’smade a motion to deny the request. The motion garnered a tie vote with Sandlin, Bob Farris and Steve Barnes voting in favor to deny.
Voting against Sandlin's motion, and therefore to approve the request, were Allen Swader, Talmadge Gilley and Mike Kusch.
Sandlin based his motion to deny primarily because the proposed park does not mesh with the county’s land use plan for the Blackman Community, which calls for mainly residential development mixed with low density commerial.
He also cited public concerns about traffic and public opinion against the park. Almost 100 people turned up to speak either for or against the park.
“We’re about double against it than for it,” Sandlin said.
Committee member Bob Farris also requested an opinion from Tennessee Attorney General regarding the use of county-based Tax Increment Financing and possible First Amendment separation of church and state conflicts with the Bible-based park.
The permit request and plan now go to the full Rutherford County Planning Commission with no recommendation at its Monday, April 14 meeting.
Aren't there any Pagans in Tennessee who can show up for the April 14th meeting?
It's early to be blogging Beltane, but my wonderful circle of women held our planning meeting last night and, like the song that begged, "Bring me some peace when there's talk of war, I've got peace on my mind," all day today I've had Beltane on my mind. Not the least because this year, for the first time, my work responsibilities may have me out of town on Beltane. One of the prices of being a minority religion is that people plan things for your high holy days.
Beacons at Bealtaine Phoenix Park, May Day, 2004
Uisce: water. And fionn: the water's clear. But dip and find this Gaelic water Greek: A phoenix flames upon fionn uisce here.
Strangers were barbaroi to the Greek ear. Now let the heirs of all who could not speak The language, whose ba-babbling was unclear,
Come with their gift of tongues past each frontier And find the answering voices that they seek As fionn and uisce answer phoenix here.
The May Day hills were burning, far and near, When our land's first footers beached boats in the creek In uisce, fionn, strange words that soon grew clear;
So on a day when newcomers appear Let it be a homecoming and let us speak The unstrange word, as it behoves us here,
Move lips, move minds and make new meanings flare Like ancient beacons signalling, peak to peak, From middle sea to north sea, shining clear As phoenix flame upon fionn uisce here.
Rutherford County Industrial Development Board reviewed plans for Bible Park USA today, voting 6-0 to send the proposal to the county commission.
IDB was charged with reviewing SafeHarbor, LLC’s economic impact plan of a proposed $175-200 million, 275-acre biblically themed park in Blackman Community.
“You’re to decide whether this area is available for Tax Increment Financing from real property tax,” IDB attorney Sumner Bouldin told the board. “Then it goes to the county commission in total. … If it passes (the commission), then it would come back to us for the issuance of bonds.”
The board found the plan meets state requirements and the developers qualify to tap into possibly $29 million in TIF funds. The vote was 6-0 with no members passing. The county commission has the final say in the future of the park at its May meeting.
IDB also found Bible Park USA meets requirements for real property tax based Tax Increment Financing (TIF).
TIF financing is money used for developers to make an investment in a community, said attorney J. Thomas Trent Jr. of Nashville who spoke to the County Commission’s Budget and Finance Committee last week.
Bonds to finance projects are then issued through the Industrial Development Board. TIF money, generated from the incremental increase in the sales and property taxes over the present use of the property, is used to pay down the debt on those bonds.
In regards to the economic impact plan, study co-author Mark Burton addressed the board and explained the study’s findings.
Burton and his partner Michael Hicks found the county will see an additional $3.8 million annually in sales and property taxes from the proposed Bible Park USA.
Also the park would create 1,450 fulltime and partime jobs to add $17 million in income to residents, the report stated.
Also, the project is expected to create about 1,350 new tourism jobs producing $55 million in income over five years, the report stated. The tourism jobs will be produced from the construction and development of six 250-room hotels and an additional 20 restaurants with about $277 in construction costs, the report stated.
“We were as conservative as we could possibly be … in the assumptions we made,” Burton said.
However, comments made during the public hearing questioned the independent nature and validity of the economic impact study and projections. Many asked for more transparency in the process.
“We all can make projections, but they don’t always come true,” Gerald Sullivan said to the board.
Others questioned the private use of public money on a project as controversial as Bible Park USA and asked the IBD to “be good steward’s of taxpayer money.”
Murfreesboro resident Billy Pittman summed up this sentiment.
“I want to build a new house. So I want Rutherford County to provide TIF money for it because it will be bigger and produce more property tax revenue,” Pittman said.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at (615) 869-0816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Of course, Bible Park USA is a biblical and historical experience, and is thus not 'religious' in the sense that it places no restrictions on nor does it try to influence how its patrons interpret or react to the historical truths from the Bible that will be depicted at the Park," Bar-Tur states. "Similar to Colonial Williamsburg, the world's largest living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia, we simply interpret familiar stories from the Bible."
In his letter, Dassaro raises the question: If the county approves the funding for the Bible Park USA, would it have to do the same for any other religion that wants to build a theme park?
"If a developer appealed for a TIF in an effort to develop a Wicca theme park or Santeria theme park, both recognized religions under American Jurisprudence, the county would be required to treat their application no differently than the application of the current developer as long as the projected business model offered commensurate revenue and impact projections," he wrote.
Commissioner Mike Sparks, the commission's official chaplain, said he's not surprised that someone would appeal to the ACLU. He said though he is a Christian, he's more interested in the financial benefit the park would bring.
Sparks said that a Wicca theme park be something to consider "if they can tell me how many jobs they're going to create."
He added that America is overwhelmingly a Christian nation, and there aren't enough Wiccans to make such a park feasible.
The Rutherford County Commission has run afoul of the ACLU on religious issues in the past. In 2006 the county was successfully sued by the ACLU for putting up the Ten Commandments in the Rutherford County Courthouse as part of a historical display, and made to pay legal fees of $50,000.
Ladies! Listen up! Catching breast cancer early is the key to surviving it! Breast Self Exams (BSEs) can help you to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages. So, on the first of every month, give yourself a breast self-exam. It's easy to do. Here's how. If you prefer to do your BSE at a particular time in your cycle, calendar it now. But, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
And, once a year, get yourself a mammogram. Mammograms cost between $150 and $300. If you have to take a temp job one weekend a year, if you have to sell something on e-Bay, if you have to go cash in all the change in various jars all over the house, if you have to work the holiday season wrapping gifts at Macy's, for the love of the Goddess, please go get a mammogram once a year.
Or: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pays all or some of the cost of breast cancer screening services through its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides mammograms and breast exams by a health professional to low-income, underinsured, and underserved women in all 50 states, six U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 14 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations. For more information, contact your state health department or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.
Send me an email after you get your mammogram and I will do an annual free tarot reading for you. Just, please, examine your own breasts once a month and get your sweet, round ass to a mammogram once a year. (Mattsmom, email me! I owe you a reading!)
Still processing an awful lot of the information from EschaCon II. I'd list the wonderful people I met, but I'd be sure to leave someone out, due, entirely, to my own Stoli-soaked brain. All of the panels were wonderful and any one of them could easily have been a full-day event. But one that really stands out for me was the lunchtime panel on Creating Constitutional Accountability. The panelists were Scott Horton, Bob Fertik (moderator), Kagro X, and Eric Johnson (Chief of Staff, Rep, Robert Wexler). Their message would have sobered up a six-day drunk on a ten-day bender.
Eric Johnson was an incredibly nice guy and one who's heart is really in the right place. But he said things that just made me want to take a hostage. He kept describing how the Bush junta would break a law, throw the Dems up against the chain link fence at the back of the schoolyard, pants them, make them hand over their lunch money, and then say, "What are you going to do about it, punk? Cry to your mommy?" and then the Dems would solemnly go, "Oh, no Mr. Bully. I'm brave. I'll never go cry to my mommy. Would you like my new baseball glove?" Sweet Lilith on a laptop, am I supposed to be impressed that, after Bush tore up the Constitution, turned it into a paper mache dildo, and fucked the Statue of Liberty in the ass with it, the Dems finally screwed their courage to the sticking point and managed to censure his AG or something? Oooh, censure. I'm sure that scared Bush and Cheney to fucking death. No, I'm not. I'm sure they almost killed themselves laughing, though.
Mr. Johnson took a question from the audience about why Nancy Pelosi took impeachment "off the table." He explained that, before the 2004 election, when the Dems weren't sure that they'd re-take the House, the Republicans said that, if the Dems won, they'd spend all their time impeaching Bush. So Nancy promised not to do that. Great. Way to get played. D'ja ever think that may have been their precise goal, Nancy? And we all know the Dems have done so much other v. effective shit since then. No. It's win/win for the Republicans. Do the Democrats ALWAYS have to let the other side frame the debate?
The straw that broke my back came when, at the end of the panel discussion about just how many laws the Bush junta has broken and how abjectly the Dems have stood by and allowed that to go on and on and on after the Republicans IMPEACHED THE LAST DEM PRESIDENT FOR GETTING A GODDAMN BLOWJOB ABOUT WHICH NO FUCKING SANE PERSON IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE GIVES A FLYING FRAP, Mr. Johnson began to list for us some of the legislation the Dems are introducing that would (except for the fact that the Republicans and the Blue Dog Democrats will never allow it to pass) basically make it illegal for the president to ignore the law.
Dude. Sit down. Take a deep breath. Another one. One more. Good. Ok, now focus. (/Makes two-fingered "points to my eyes/points to your eyes" gesture over and over.) Listen to me. I'm your friend. If the entire problem, as you and your fellow panelists just spent an hour proving, is that Republicans ignore the law at will, passing more laws is -- I'm going to put this gently -- NOT THE FUCKING GODDESS DAMNED ANSWER. It may make the Dems feel better as they basically piss away our Democracy out of abject fear, but it's no more effective than the kid who just gave away his new baseball mitt daydreaming about the day when he turns into Superman and makes that bully really, really, really sorry. This would all be funny if the Republic weren't at stake.
Don't make me turn you into a newt. If I do, you won't get better.
I don't know; it was something about an uptight bartender, The Rude Pundit's props, and weird Philly hotel security and somehow it was all just better if we wound up drinking Feral Liberal's absolutely amazing fruit wines in Zap's room, with Culture of Truth asleep amidst the noise. SteveLG was nice enough to let me do readings with his lushly lovely tarot deck and, I don't know, somehow it was almost six in the morning. Or something.
It was amazing to get to hang with such talented people. Ina, Culture of Truth (who makes me laugh out loud at least once every Sunday), Spocko (one of my real heros), Prior Aelred, and I had such a great talk.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."