Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What's on the Council agenda for March 4th and what I think about it.

If you don't know what the Council is voting on, Council meetings are really boring. With an agenda and an analysis they are just boring. To follow along, you can get your own copy of the Metro council meeting agenda at this link: Metro Council Agenda. To get your copy of the Council staff analysis download it at this link: Council Staff analysis.

 This will probably be a short meeting. There is not much that is controversial on the agenda. That is what I said last time and I was wrong, so one never knows for sure.

There are six Confirmation of Appointments on this agenda. None of them are to the more troubled or controversial Boards or Commissions but it wouldn't matter anyway as the Council always rubber stamps whoever the Mayor appoints.

Public Hearing: There are 16 bills on public hearing. Most of them are rezoning bills which would interest only immediate neighbors of the proposed rezoning. Below are some bills of interest: 

SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-651 would regulate small outdoor music events in commercial areas. Currently other than a noise ordinance, outdoor music events are not regulated. This bill sets all kinds of restrictions including setbacks, lighting, pre notification, only one per month, off street parking, and they must end by 9PM on week nights. Why? I think we should encourage more music; not less. Hypocritically but thankfully, this would not apply to events in public parks.

I don't do it much anymore, but I used to attend lot of music events. For several seasons there was a outdoor summer music event in midtown near what was then Great Escape. It this regulation would have been in place, that event would have not been permitted. Unfortunately, I suspect the people who love music and like to go to music events are not very engaged in local politics, so this will probably pass. I hope some in the music industry turn out and speak against this. The Chamber should be against it. I think Nashville has more potential to be "music city" than it already is, if we don't kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2014-653 would require that historic home events must be inside a structure. This would make illegal such things as front porch weddings. The sponsor plans to withdraw the bill without a public hearing.
Consent Agenda:
There are five regular resolutions and six memorizing resolution, 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. 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 it doesn't happen often. None of the resolutions appear controversial. If I were in the council however, I would probably ask to be recorded as abstaining on the following resolution unless I learned more about it and was convinced it really has broad bi-partisan support and is a desirable thing.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1013 supporting the creation of a Presidential Youth Council. I do not know that this is a bad idea, but why we need a special council to advise the President on matters of concern to youth age 16 to 24, I don't know. If we are going to have a Youth Council why not a Young Adults Council for people age 24 to 35, and a Middle Age Council for people age 36 to 50 and a Mature Adults Council for age 51 to 65 and so on and so on. And, why not a Married Adults Council? I don't see why we should cater to youth in this manner. Youth often are idealistic and tend to be naive and support liberal causes. I fear a youth council will be manipulated to advance a liberal agenda. I am not so opposed I would vote against it and I might could be persuaded it has merit, but this is not something the Council ought to waste their time on. The Council does not need to take a position on every national issue. At this time, I would at least ask to be recorded as abstaining.

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. The following bill on first reading I am very please about:
BILL NO. BL2014-696 would require the Director of Finance to submit an annual debt report to the Metropolitan Council. With Metro's debt ballooning, the Council needs this additional information.

Bills on Second Reading: 
It is on Second reading, after bills have been to committee, that discussion usually takes place. There are 12 bills on second reading. The following items are of interest:
BILL NO. BL2014-688 would get Metro Government out of the nursing home business. This is long overdue. We should have privatized these facilities a long time ago.

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 eight bills on third reading. Few of them are of general interest and I expect no controversy.
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 was on third reading last meeting and was deferred to this meeting. This in my neighborhood. This is one that would concern no one unless you live in the neighborhood or are the developer. 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. Some in the community are very much opposed, and have raised the specter that the units could be rented to college students and house up to six students a unit adding up to 48 cars to the neighborhood adding to the problem of on-street parking. I doubt that is a realistic likelihood. If it is they could do the same think with six duplex units. I see no reason for further deferral. If a rezoning meets all of the current requirements of a rezoning, it should not be killed by repeated deferral simply because some of the most active people in the community oppose it.

BILL NO. BL2014-667 is complex in why it does what it does, but the bottom line it does nothing detrimental to the fair grounds and appropriates $200,000 to the fairgrounds

BILL NO. BL2014-669 provides up to $66 million in tax abatement and other incentives to HCA for a development on the north end of the gulch. I have reservations about bribing companies to come to Nashville or stay in Nashville but with other cities trying to entice companies to locate to their city, we almost have to play this dirty game of paying blackmail and bribes. Councilman Josh Stites, in the past, has been an outspoken critic of this time deal and has spoken out against them but did not speak out against this one when it was on second reading.

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