Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Council meeting of 1/21/2013 with commentary and time stamp notation. The Chickens and Beer Council meeting.

This meeting is only a little over an hour long. To follow along with the agenda, my analysis and the council staff analysis follow this link.

It is announced that this is the last meeting for Councilman Darren Jernigan. Jernigan also offered the invocation. Councilman Jernigan  represents Council District 11 and represents District 60 in the State House. He won the House seat defeating Jim Gotto, who had also previously served in the Metro Council representing District 12. Gotto was elected to the State House in 2010 following conservative Democrat Ben West who had long held that seat, who did not seek reelection. Jernigan defeated Gotto in 2012 by 95 votes out of more than 12,000 votes cast. Gotto is seeking to regain that House seat. Council member at large Megan Berry will represent the interest of District 11 until a special election can be held on August 7th.

All confirmations of appointments pass, as is the norm for the Council and all bills on the consent agenda pass without any being pulled.

Other Resolutions not on Consent: 

  •  RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-948 appropriates $13,100,000 from the Undesignated Fund Balance of the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools to the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools General Purpose Fund Operational Account for the purpose of funding the purchase laptop computers, teacher technology training and a universal screener assessment for the implementation of Common Core testing. The Director of Finance has refused to sign the resolution as to the availability of funds, saying it would be fiscally irresponsible to spend a significant amount from the schools fund balance giving the funding deficit projected by the schools going into the coming fiscal year. This resolution was on the agenda last meeting and was deferred to this meeting. The bill is sponsored by Councilman Bo Mitchell. Given that the school board lost millions of dollars of State funding by unnecessarily picking fight with the State and defying the State by refusing to approve Great Hearts charter school and given the school board's continued blaming of their budget woes on charter schools, and given the hefty increase in funding they got last budget year, I think this resolution should be defeated. It is differed again.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-963 authorizes the issuance of $15 million in general obligation bonds. It is substituted by adding $6 millions dollars to fund new technology to prepare schools for testing connected to the new Common Care academic standards. This is a preferable method of funding this expenditure rather than taking the money out of the schools undesignated Fund Balance. However, I hope the council is paying close attention to what is happening at the State.  There are several bills in the State legislature that address Common Core. If the State should back out of Common Core or decide not to participate in the Common Core testing, then this expenditure would not be necessary. The bill is differed one meeting.

All bills on First Reading pass, without any being pulled.

Bills on Second Reading: 
  • BILL NO. BL2013-603 would impose new regulations on small outdoor music events on commercial property. It is differed indefinitely, but a bill sponsored by Council member Allen that would accomplish the same thing is in the works. Why do we want to make it more difficult for there to be outdoor music concerts? I don't know.
  • BILL NO. BL2014-654 pertaining to the permitted hours of beer delivery passes. 

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 twelve bills on third reading. The only ones of interest are these.
  •  BILL NO. BL2013-629 amends Metro's backyard chicken bill by removing the two-year sunset provision and also by expanding it to areas where it does not now apply. When the Chicken bill originally passed, several suburban Council members had their districts taken out of the bill. Last Council meeting, Councilman Bedne unsuccessfully attempted to get the bill deferred one meeting. The bill is substituted to require that an applicant for backyard chickens must now present a rendering of the hen house and a description of the material used to construct the hen house before being awarded a permit. The substitute passes. Bedne takes to the floor to argue against the bill and proposes an amendment to again opt out his district and eight other districts from the bill. Taking to floor in support of the opt-out is Councilmen Duane Dominy, Robert Duvall, Karen Johnson and others. For the discussion and to see how they voted see time stamp 34:16- 1:05:12.
  • BILL NO. BL2013-633 which would allow beer sales on Sundays starting at 10:00 a.m passes without discussion.

Below is the Tennessean's report on the Council meeting:
All districts in Davidson County will now allow backyard chickens
Council also allows earlier Sunday beer sales

Residents in all areas of Davidson County will now be able to keep small numbers of backyard chickens after the Metro Council voted Tuesday to do away with the exemptions previously held by eight council districts.

On Tuesday, after a 30-minute debate, the council voted 30-8 to eliminate the opt-out clause and require all 35 districts to let residents keep up to two, four or six chickens, depending on the size of their property.

 The council also deferred a vote on a plan by Mayor Karl Dean to borrow $21 million. The money would pay for $15 million of heavy equipment and $6 million of new technology to prepare schools for testing connected to new Common Core academic standards. The council is expected to vote on the proposal next month.

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