Staff at the Beacon Center of Tennessee on Wednesday bestowed the Metro Nashville Public School System (MNPS) with their yearly Pork of the Year Award, for more reasons than one.
Beacon, a Nashville-based center right think tank, published their 2021 Pork Report on Wednesday.
“In an absolutely nonsensical move, MNPS decided to shut down schools from any in-person learning because of the health risks of COVID, but at the same time partnered with the YMCA to offer free in-person childcare for kindergarten through fifth grade students and, ironically, the children of MNPS employees,” according to The Pork Report.
“If the city decided COVID was so dangerous that they couldn’t have any in-person learning for children, in what universe does it make sense to send a select group of students to the YMCA in order to…learn in-person?”
Beacon said the MNPS also entered into an $18 million no-bid contract with Meharry Medical College Ventures. According to the new report, this venture produced a $1.8 million website with “all the visual appeal and functionality of AskJeeves.com.”
Beacon officials said in their report that this website should have cost no more than $75,000.
“Governments should never give out no-bid contracts, especially when $18 million is involved. Additionally, government contracts should be detailed and transparent,” Beacon staff said in its report.
“This horrific deal should be audited by the state to see where things went wrong and who is responsible for such a raw deal for taxpayers.”
Other 2021 Pork Report entries included the following:
• A $702 million government-owned broadband plan in Knoxville, despite 98 percent of Knoxville residents having multiple choices in broadband internet
• A $20 million and counting taxpayer gift to build a waterpark in Jackson
• Davidson’s County continued “emissions testing” tax grab that was deemed unnecessary by both the state legislature and the Environmental Protection Agency
• Hamilton County’s $16 million purchase of nearly 2,200 acres to turn into a manufacturing hub, yet only about one-third of the land is ready for development
Beacon staff said they used state and local budgets, media reports, state audits, and independent research to compile their report.
Last year, Beacon cited Nashville’s 34 percent property tax increase as the 2020 “Pork of the Year.
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