Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Summary of the Council Agenda for 12-18-12

You can get your own copy of the Metro council meeting agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. From the agenda you can link to the analysis.Council meetings can be really, really boring if you don't know what the Council is voting on. With an agenda and analysis, they are just really boring.

Bills on public hearing: There are no bills on public hearing this meeting.

The Consent Agenda.  There are twenty resolutions, all of which are on the consent agenda. A resolution is on the consent agenda if it passed the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Bills on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. However, sometimes things that should be controversial do slip through on the consent agenda.

Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single voice vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. If one is present and does not ask to be recorded voting "no" then they are assumed to have voted "aye." However, any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda.

I see nothing on the consent agenda that appears controversial. Below are a couple resolutions of interest.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2012-516 refinances up to $370 million of debt to a lower interest rate which will save the city money. This is a good bill.

  • Resolution No. RS2012-523 acquires 600 acres in the bend of the Stones River. This purchase, combined with other recently-acquired property, would result in 800 acres of contiguous park land. I support this. We have great park system in Nashville. As we grow we need to continue to set aside park lands.

Bills on First reading almost always pass. They are considered as a group and are seldom discussed. First reading is a formality that allows the bill to be considered. Bills are not assigned to committee or analyzed by council staff until after they have passed first reading.

Bills on Second Reading: It is on Second reading, after bills have been to committee, that discussion usually takes place. Below are bills of interest on second reading.
  • BILL NO. BL2012-283 would impose new regulations on commercial door-to-door solicitors. They would have to get permits and display badges with photo id’s. It also provides for Metro to maintain a “do not solicit” list. There is a substitute pending that would also require a criminal background check. While I know aggressive sales people can be an annoyance and while I know some are unscrupulous, I do not think I could support this bill.  We are grownups.  We do not need to look to government to remove every annoyance from our life. I hope there is some good debate on this bill.
  • BILL NO. BL2012-284 would require public works to install rubber speed cushions as part of a traffic management program if petitioned by a majority of the resident homeowners on the street. Speed bumps are controversial and many motorists hate them. This will probably generate some debate.
  • BILL NO. BL2012-292 would permit home recording studios in residential neighborhoods. Under this proposal a recording studio could have up to ten clients, customers, musicians, or other visitors come to the property per day. Currently they are only allowed to have one visitor. The noise ordinance would still apply.
This bill was on public hearing last time and there was a lot of comment about it. It was deferred and referred to committee. Council Member Barry promised to get input of the music committee and work on improving the bill. (To see last meeting’s discussion follow this link and view the video and see 14:03-26:33) I suspect this bill will be deferred again.
BILL NO. BL2012-320 by Councilman Claiborne would reduce the Metro lifetime health insurance subsidy for future former councilmen. Previously, Councilman Claiborne had attempted to abolish the lifetime health insurance subsidy for future former councilmen, but that effort failed. The subsidized health insurance for former members of council currently costs Metro approximately $300,000 per year. Due to term limits there are a growing number of former metro council members. This cost is going to continue to increase. This bill needs to pass.  To read more about this see here and here.  
Bills on Third Reading: Third Reading is the final reading. If a bill passes third reading it becomes law unless it is vetoed by the Mayor, which has only rarely happened. While there may be several zoning bill that interest effected neighbors, there is only one bill of general interest that is controversial on third reading.
  • BILL NO. BL2012-301 by Council Member Karen Johnson is the controversial bill that would downzone a piece of property in Nashboro Village. Last council several people spoke against it. To see the public hearing on the bill from last council meeting follow this link, view the video at (see 26:34-58:00.). 
Since this bill was disapproved by the planning committee if will require 27 votes to pass.  On second reading it passed 28-8. This could be real close if a council member changed his mind or if a couple of members are absent. I hope it fails. This seems like a “taking” of property.
There are no memorializing resolutions on the agenda.

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