Monday, July 1, 2013

updated: What's on the Council Agenda for June 2 with analysis and summary

Council to vote in favor of comprehensive immigration reform and it will pass by a unanimous vote. To pass the Barnes fund for Affordable housing. To unquestionably approve all Mayor appointees.

Updated 7/1/2013. Staff analysis has been reviewed.

You can get your own copy of the Metro council meeting agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. You can get your copy of the Metro Council Staff Analysis at this link: Staff Analysis.

At this time, the Metro Council Staff Analysis had not been posted on-line. I will try to update this post once the Council staff analysis is available. 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 boring.

Confirmation of Appointment:
There are nine appointees to Boards and Commission on the agenda, but they might as well not be, because our rubber-stamp Council never turns down a Mayor's appointee. Questioning appointees, asking them if they would, for example, vote to fire the CEO of Nashville Electric Service for his malfeasance would give the Council influence over how this city is governed, but the Council never exerts its authority.

I would like for the Council to reject all appointees to the Human Relations Commission who support the Commissions sponsorship of a Youth Pavilion at the annual Gay Pride event, but not a single Council Member even asks the HRC appointees their view of this policy.

Bills on Public Hearning: There are eight bills on public hearing. They are all local zoning bills and not of general interest.

There are fourteen resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda at this time. A resolution is put on the consent agenda if it is likely to be non-controversial and it stays on the consent agenda if it passes 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. Resolutions on the consent agenda are passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. However, any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda but I don't expect that to happen. 
RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-757 is the only resolution that I see that may be controversial. It approves the charging of a fee for collection of excess garbage. If one has a third garbage container, the city charges an extra annual fee of $75. This is unpopular with those who must pay it, however I doubt they have enough clout to generate any support in the Council. Next year, Public Works proposes charging the fee for the second garbage container but that will come before the council then.
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. I have not carefully reviewed the bills on first reading, but will before second reading. There are nineteen bills on first reading.

Bills on Second Reading: 
It is on Second reading, after bills have been to committee, that discussion usually takes place. Here are the ones of interest: 
Bill NO. BL2013-476 (the boot bill) makes it easier to "boot" your car and raises the fee booting companies can charge from $50 to $75. This bill was deferred from last council meeting.

BILL NO. BL2013-487 establishes the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing to assist in providing affordable housing to residents of Davidson County and it appropriates an initial sum of $2,279,040 to the fund, and establishes the Metropolitan Housing Trust Fund Commission to oversee the fund. The money appropriated to the fund is from a variety of sources including funds from repayment of Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) loans. Most of the money that will fund this program is money that was supposed to be spend in a "pocket of poverty" to benefit low-income people. Most of the money has been used to bribe (crony capitalism "incentives") business to come to Nashville or expand in Nashville or not leave Nashville (HCA, Lowes Hotel). I think this program is a better use of the money. This program will not require funding from property taxes and will not impact the city budget. The money repaid from UDAG can not be used for general government operating cost but must to used for affordable housing or economic development. I support this program. I expect this to pass but would not be too surprised to see it deferred a meeting. This is a big deal and has been advocated for a long time. 
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. There are ten bills on third reading and I don't expect any of them to generate controversy. The only one I find of any interest is this one:
ORDINANCE NO. BL2013-433 requires that all fees collected for having an extra garbage cart be used to fund the recycling program. I do not know why recycling should have a designated source of funding. In my view, funding for recycling should be subject to the Mayor's and Council's budgetary process just like everything else. There are seven memorializing resolutions. 
Memorializing resolutions:
Memorializing most often do such things as honor someone on their retirement or honor a sports team for a victory. However, a memorializing resolution does represent the will of the Council. There have been several instances where the Council passed memorializing resolutions endorsing very liberal policies and not a single one of the conservative council members objected.

An example is that there was a resolution a few months ago declaring that global warming was in fact occurring and that it was man-made and it called for the EPA's strict enforcement of a specific parts per million concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and it praised the EPA for their enforcement. I accept that global warming is occurring and is man made, but I would have opposed that resolution because Congress never gave the EPA authority to regulate CO2 and the EPA acts as law enforcement agent and judge of their own actions. They are abusive. There is no cost benefit analysis involved in their decisions. I suspect some of the Council members who voted for this resolution do not really believe the way they voted. I suspect some of them are global warming sceptics. Why did they vote for it? They didn't know what they were voting on. They weren't paying attention. They hadn't read the agenda and it was included in the consent agenda. Or, they did not have the courage of their convictions to be the lone "no" vote.

Another incident was a resolution praising some young people who demonstrated against a State bill that some considered anti-gay. Would we have praised the young people had they been demonstrating outside an abortion clinic? No. Why praise them for pro-gay activism? Yet, our council voted for the resolution unanimously. Here is a memorializing resolution that should generate some discussion and maybe some "no" votes. I bet no one will object.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-760 urges Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform. I favor compressive immigration reform, myself. Reading this bill, I do not see anything to object to. It is general and does not endorse any specific piece of legislation. However, I wish someone would amend it to include language that calls for strict border enforcement. The bill should urge Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform "that includes strict border enforcement." There is an argument to be made that immigration reform should not be comprehensive but taken up piecemeal, first securing the border. It will be interesting to see if 100% of the Council members support comprehensive immigration reform. If no one objects, memorializing resolutions become part of the consent agenda. If no one ask to be recorded as voting "no," then they have voted in favor. 

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