You can get your own copy of the Metro
council meeting agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. You can find the analysis at
this link: Metro Council Agenda 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 boring.
Confirmation of Appointments
Two people are being considered for appointment to the NES board. NES has been in the news in recent months for massive fraud and mismanagement. Costa Jenkins, the executive director of NES should, in my view, be in jail or at least fired. He continues in his position and draws a larger salary than anyone else in Metro government. I would hope these two appointees would be questions about the scandals involving NES, and if they are not committed to prosecuting the guilty they should not be appointed. For more on the NES scandals, see here. This could be an occasion for a councilman who believes in clean government to step forward and make a difference.
Five of the board members of the Human Relations Commission are up for confirmation of their reappointment. The HRC is a Metro agency with no function that needs to be done that could not be done by some other agency. The whole purpose of HRC seems to be to promote political correctness and liberal causes. One of the things they do is sponsor a youth pavilion at the Nashville Gay Pride Festival, which I think is inappropriate. I do not think Metro should be in the business of normalizing and promoting a homosexual lifestyle among young people. I hope someone in the Council would question the appointees about this and if the appointee supports continuing Metro's support of this function, that the Councilman would vote against them. This is an occasion where a conservative leader could step forward in the Council. None have so far. This is another opportunity. For more on this, see this link.
There are five bills on public hearing, all of them local rezoning bills which should interest no one except immediate neighbors of the properties.
There are seventeen resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda. 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. Below are some bills I expect to be pulled from the consent agenda.
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-670 which establishes the certified tax rate in both the General Services District and the Urban Services District will likely be deferred again to "track" the budget. After a general appraisal, state law requires that the city must pass a new tax rate that brings in no more revenue than the tax rate prior to the reappraisal. There is no reason, this bill could not pass at this meeting. It does not need to wait for the outcome of the budget.
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-700 approves the Metropolitan Animal Care and Control fee schedule. There has been some controversy about this bill, but I have not bothered to get a clear understanding what all of the controversy is about. If you want to know more, go to the analysis and see this link.
- RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-709 allows Metro to issue bonds to finance projects in the capital improvement budget. RESOLUTION NOS. RS2013-711 THROUGH RS2013-713 concern approval of various sections of the Metro Pay Plan, the effect of which is a 1.5% across the board pay increase and reinstatement of step increases. It will be deferred to track with the budgets.
- BILL NO. BL2013-423 would swap some Metro land for some State land. The land that the School for the Arts sits on and the land that will be the site of the future STEM charter school located on the old Tennessee Preparatory School site on Foster Ave, would be swapped for the old Ben West Library site downtown at Eighth and Union Ave . Metro now owns the library and the State owns the TPS site. Some council members are opposed to this deal, feeling that it is an uneven swap and Metro is getting the lesser bargain. There is also some opposition to tearing down the old Ben West library because some preservationist consider the building architecturally significant. The most persuasive argument against the deal is that there is a deed restriction that requires the site to be used as a library or revert to the heirs of those who gave the land to Metro to be used as a library. I think deed restrictions should be honored as a matter of principle but as a matter of practicality we should not move forward with this deal until the title issues have been resolved. It was deferred the last two meetings and I expect it to be deferred again.
- Bill NO. BL2013-360 requires a compensation and benefits study for the mayor, vice mayor, and members of council which would include an examination of salaries and benefits. The study will also consider the long term costs of providing health insurance benefits for future former council members. Now, after serving two terms, former council members can get subsidized Metro health insurance on the same terms as retired metro employee. When first enacted in 1990 this was not a terribly expensive benefit. With such a large council however, and with term limits there is a growing number of former council members. This study is to take into account the effect of term limits on this benefit. Previously the council had before it a bill to repeal this benefit and another time, it had before it a bill to reduce it, both of which failed. This needs to pass.
- BILL NO. BL2013-420 creates a small business economic development incentive grant program. As you are probably aware, Metro Council has been picking winner and looser by bribing big companies not to leave metro and "enticing" big companies to expand or relocate to Davidson County. Some have argued that this is wrong and the same enticements should be offered to small businesses. I do see this policy as a problem. By paying companies to locate or not to leave we create an incentive whereby a company would be foolish to move here unless they get their pay-off and we have created an incentive for companies to threaten to leave unless we pay them to stay. Unfortunately, it is hard to stop playing this game since other cities are also playing it. Cities have created an environment to where they have to pay the incentive or another city that does pay the incentive will get the big corporate headquarter relocations and manufacturing plants.
I don't think the way to fix this problem is to expand it to small businesses. This bill passed second reading by a voice vote which means since no one asked to be recorded as voting "no," then it is assumed they voted for it. I expect it to pass on third without discussion but I think it is a bad bill. Expanding crony capitalism and the policy of picking winner and losers to small business simply expands an already bad policy; it doesn't fix it.
- ORDINANCE NO. BL2013-431 is the operating budget and ORDINANCE NO. BL2013-431 is the tax levy. They will be deferred.