Sunday, April 13, 2014

What is on the Council Agenda for April 15th with commentary

Council meetings can be really boring it you don't know what the Council is voting on. When you do, they are still boring, but not quite as boring. To get your own copy of the Council agenda click here; to get your copy of the Council staff agenda analysis click here.

There are 15 appointments to boards and commission on the agenda. The council abrogates its responsibility to scrutinize these appointments and always rubber stamps the mayors appointees so don't expect any to be questioned or rejected. None of the 15 on this agenda are to the controversial or troubled boards however, so unless someone knows why any of these appointees should not be appointed, the Council is probably OK in approving them.

There are no bills on public hearing.

There are twelve resolutions on the consent agenda.
A bill is put on the consent agenda if it is assumed to be non-controversial and it stays on the consent agenda unless it fails to pass the committee to which it was assigned unanimously. Any council member may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda.  Here are bill of interest:

  •  RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1051 appropriates over $9 million from the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various departments of The Metropolitan Government. I see nothing unreasonable here, I just hope it gets careful scrutiny in committee.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1052 are four proposed charter amendments. If approved by the Charter Revision Commission and the Metro Council, they would be placed on the ballot to be voted on by the people. Some of these proposed amendments need to be rejected.
    • Amendment number 1 would prohibit members of the Council from holding any other elected office. I think this is a good proposed amendment. In the past we have had several Council members who have held a seat on the Council and served as a state representative. I have always thought this was a conflict of interest. I support this proposal. 
    • Amendment number 2 would allow the Metro Council by ordinance to prohibit the metropolitan government from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal history on the initial job application unless a criminal background check for the position is required by state or federal law. Bad amendment in my view. Metro should be allowed  to inquire about a job applicant's criminal past. I would not support this.  
    • Amendment number 3 would reduce the size of the council from 40 members to 27 members and would allow members to serve three terms instead of the current two. I tend to think term limits have been a mistake. With term limits, the council has less institutional knowledge. Term limits weakens the Council and strengthens the bureaucracy and the administration. After having thought about it a lot and having at one time supported the large 40 member Council, I think a smaller Council might be more efficient. Since the 40 members almost always vote the same way, I see no benefit in having such a large Council. I am not 100 percent committed to a smaller Council, but do support allowing this proposed amendment to go to a vote of the people.  
    • Amendment number 4 would allow the Council to redevelop the fairground or modify current use at the fair ground with 27 votes of the Council. We fought so hard to save the fairgrounds, I do not support an amendment that would make it easier to redevelop that property. 
There are six bills on First Reading. First reading is a formality that allows bills to be on the agenda. Merits of the bills are not discussed until second reading. I have not reviewed the bills on first reading.

Bills on Second Reading: I see nothing particularly controversial among the bills on second reading.

Bills on Third Reading: Most of the bills on Third Reading are zoning bills that would interest no one but the neighbors of the proposed rezoing. Here are two bill of general interest worth watching:
  •  BILL NO. BL2014-696 would amend the Metro code to require the Director of Finance to submit an annual debt report to the Metropolitan Council. This is an excellent bill and deserves to pass. 
  • BILL NO. BL2014-715 would require that the applicant pay the fees for advertising and posting of signs on property proposed for rezoning. In most cases this would appear reasonable but in the case of, for instance, at the request of a community numerous properties would be subject to an overlay or a rezoning to single family, this could cost thousands of dollars. This bill, in its current form, is a bad bill and needs to be deferred and reworked or defeated.

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