Friday, January 10, 2014

What happened at the Council meeting of Jan.7th with commentary and time stamp notation.

I am a little late getting around to analyzing the Council meeting of January 7th, so anything of any of any importance has probably already been learned. Nevertheless, here is my play-by-play and commentary.

If you want to follow along on the agenda, staff analysis and my analysis, then follow the link. This is a relatively short meeting at slightly under an hour.

There are 15 bill on public hearing and most are zoning bills. I do not attempt to report on zoning bills unless they are extremely controversial or for some reason the particular rezoning bill interest me. Rezoning bills usually interest no one except immediate neighbors.

The one bill of general interest is BILL NO. BL2013-629. This bill 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.

Surprising to me, there is no one from the public in opposition. No one speaks on the bill and it passes on second reading. Here is the Tennessean's report on the bill: Backyard chickens might be allowed in all Nashville districts soon.

Councilman Bedne unsuccessfully attempts to get the bill deferred one meeting. Councilman Bennett successfully tables Councilman Bedne's deferral motion. The tabling motion passes by a vote of 24 yes, 11 no, 1 abstention, and 4 no votes. Most of the "no" votes are suburban council members. To view the vote go to time stamp 30:17.

Resolutions: All of those resolutions on the consent agenda pass and none are pulled. There are two bills not on the consent agenda. This one is of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-948 which would appropriate $13,100,000 from the Undesignated Fund Balance of the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools General Purpose Fund to the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools General Purpose Fund Operational Account for the purpose of funding the purchase of laptop computers, teacher technology training and a universal screener assessment for the implementation of Common Core testing, is deferred by voice vote.

The Director of Finance had 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. The bill was sponsored by Councilman Bo Mitchell.

Given that the school board lost millions of dollars of State funding by unnecessarily picking a 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 am pleased to see this deferral and hope it is defeated when it come back up.

The other bill that is not on the consent agenda approves the license and franchise of Nashville Gas. Why it was deferred is not explained.

Bills on First reading all pass unanimously as is the custom of the council. There are twenty-five bills on first reading and most of them are rezoning bills. Here are three bills of interest:

  • ORDINANCE NO. BL2014-651 would establish new regulations of temporary music events.
  • ORDINANCE NO. BL2014-653 would restrict activity at historic home events. I don't know what is behind this but there are always some people who have a axe to grind with those historic homes that operate as Bed and Breakfast or special event facilities. 
  • ORDINANCE NO. BL2014-654 concerns beer sales and appears to expand the hours of operation of wholesale beer deliveries.

Bills on Second Reading:
  • BILL NO. BL2013-588 is a rezoning bill that would allow the demolition of three duplexes and allow the construction of eight cottage-type units as single family homes in the Woodland-in-Waverly community. This in my neighborhood. This neighborhood has an historic overlay, but the three duplexes are non-contributing to the historic character of the community. I support this bill. I think the duplexes are more out of character of the neighborhood than the cottages will be and I think this will be an improvement, but some in the community are very much opposed, concerned about increased density and additional on street parking. This bill is deferred.
  • BILL NO. BL2013-569 would change the regulations of car lots. This bill would remove the distinction between used car lots and new car lots and impose new restrictions. This bill was on first reading on public hearing on October 1 and to my surprise no one spoke on it on either side. From that meeting it was deferred to this meeting. This bill was disapproved by the planning commission. It is deferred.
  • BILL NO. BL2013-603 which would regulate small outdoor music events on commercial property is deferred "by rule." Why are we having all of this effort to regulate outdoor music? Maybe it is a problem, but I would want to be sure that this is necessary before I could support it. We should not be putting impediments in the way of making "music city," music city unless there is some serious reason why this is necessary.
  • BILL NO. BL2013-633 which would allow beer sales to began on Sunday at 10AM, passes.

Bills on Third Reading: 
BILL NO. BL2013-605 which would change the minimum fee that vehicles for hire are allowed to charge passes. This bill was necessary in order that app-based services like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar can operate in Nashville. There has been a realization on the part of those in the tourism industry that Nashville needs more public transportation options and more vehicles for hire.  I am very pleased this bill passes but would be more pleased it this bill established no minimum. A minimum is designed not to help consumers, but to protect providers of a service. I also would be more pleased if this bill removed the other onerous regulation of black sedans. This however, was big step in the right direction. 

To see my analysis of this bill and my extreme disappointment at one of those who voted against the bill, follow the links. In addition to the three who voted "no," there were 8 members who did not vote. To see how they voted, go to time stamp 51:44.

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