Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What's on the Council Agenda for July 16 with analysis and commentary

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 Appointees to Boards and Commissions: There are eight people appointed by the Mayor to Boards and Commission who are up for confirmation by the Council. As always they will be confirmed unanimously.

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. 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. I do not expect any to be pulled off of the consent agenda. I am listing below the resolutions that could be open to inquiry if we had any inquiring minds on the council:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-768 approves the issuance of $15 million in bonds to build a hockey facility for the Predators, and for public use, at Global Mall. Bridgestone ticket sales revenue would pay the debt on the bonds, but if there was a shortage Metro would be on the hook to pay the debt from other “non tax” revenue sources. The staff analysis says ticket sales with unlikely be able to cover this debt. Council Member Emily Evans has expertise in bond finance. I hope she take a lead in questioning the wisdom of this action.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-770 appropriates $2,150,000 from the general fund to give grants to 28 various non-profits. Among these are agencies that shelter, legal advocacy and counseling for women fleeing domestic violence; programs for after school care; and programs to promote literacy.
  • $65,800 goes to an agency to combat domestic violence among immigrants and $28,400 to an agency that provides after school care for children of immigrants. 
  • Other assistance includes $178,000 to legal aid, $50,100 to Nashville Cares to help people with Aids/HIV, and $172,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank. 
There are hundreds of deserving non-profits in the city, and as far as I know there is no official grant application process to seek public funding. What is the process that determines priorities for funding; as an example, what process determines that serving people with aids is more important than serving people with Alzheimer’s? What is the process of determining which agencies get public funding? Are the agencies getting funding subject to any additional oversight or restrictions? Do any of the agencies advocate abortion? Do they serve illegal immigrants?

RESOLUTION NO. RS2013-771 takes $8.3 million that was given to the city for 2010 flood relief and reappropriates it to other uses including Riverfront Park development. If this is the way things work, I guess the council should take the money and use it elsewhere, but it makes one wonder how much disaster relief money is a windfall for cities across America. Maybe Congress should appropriate less if the money is not being used for its intended purpose.

Bills on First Reading:
There are five bills on first reading. 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. They 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.

Bills on Second Reading: 
It is on Second reading, after bills have been to committee, that discussion usually takes place. There are eleven bills on second reading. Below are the ones worth noting:
BILL NO. BL2013-476 is the booting bill. “Booting,” as in putting a devise on your car’s wheel that immobilized it. It increases the booting fee to $75 and expands the booting practice.
BILL NO. BL2013-498 establishes a Community Garden Grant program. It only has a $25,000 price tag and grants would be of between $250 and $5000.
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 sixteen bills on third reading. These are the ones of interest:
BILL NO. BL2013-353 by Councilman Tennpenny is a zoning bill worth watching. It had previously had a public hearing and passed second reading and then deferred. This is for the rezoning of a lot on Tanksley Avenue so a tire company can expand. There was considerable opposition to this rezoning at the time. When a bill is deferred indefinitely, it can be put back on the agenda at any time.
SUBSTITUTE 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. 
Memorializing Resolutions: There is one non-controversial memorializing resolution.

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