Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What is on the Council Agenda for September 9th.

The Council did not meet the first Tuesday in September as they normally do due to Labor Day being Monday September 1.  Usually, Budget and Finance Committee meetings and most other committee meeting occur the day before the council meeting which would have been Labor Day, thus the delay.

Council meetings are really boring if you don't know what the Council is voting on; if you do they are a little less boring. This promises to be a boring meeting. There is not a lot that is of interest on the agenda. You can get your own copy of the agenda and analysis by following the links.

There are twelve appointments to boards and commissions on the agenda for Council approval. With new committee assignments, I would hope the Council would more closely scrutinize member presented for confirmation. Citizens serve without compensation on these boards and commissions and their service should be appreciated. However, Council should not simply be a rubber stamp for whomever the Mayor recommends. Especially when it comes to agencies that carry out policies that are controversial or when appointing citizens to boards of troubled or scandal-ridden agencies the board should reject nominees who would support unpopular policies or who are not committed to reform of troubled or corrupt agencies. None of these appointees are to the controversial agencies, still the council should evaluate appointees for there fitness for the job.

There are eight rezoning  bills on pubic hearing and would interest no one except nearby neighbors.

There are seven resolutions on the consent agenda. A bill is put on the consent agenda if it is assumed to be non-controversial and stays on consent if it passes the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. Any member may have a bill taken off of consent or any member may ask to have his vote recorded as voting "no" or "abstaining." Here is a resolutions of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1205 accepts over half a million dollars from the federal government to fight crime. The resolution does not say how the money would be spend. This is probably fine, but it should be carefully reviewed in committee. Sometimes the city will get grants, then when the grant runs out the city scrambles to find money to permanently fund what was funded by a grant. That is often how local government becomes bloated. Sometimes free money proves to be expensive.
There are 23 bills on First Reading. First reading is just a formality that allows a bills to be on the agenda. Bills are not analyzed or discussed until they pass first reading and then go to committee. I do not fault any councilman for voting for anything on first reading. That is just how the system works. I normally don't pay attention to what is on first reading, but there is one bill that caught my attention and I hope gets close scrinity when it goes to committee:
BILL NO. BL2014-878 establishes minimum campus size of three acres for public schools. I think this is unnecessary and may stifle innovation. A future public charter school may want to establish a school in a multiuse building such as a mall or on a college campus or they may want to lease one floor of an office building to serve as their facility. The size of the lot may be one of the least important considerations in educating a child. One size does not fit all and we do not need to establish minimum lot sizes for schools. We already have minimums and this is a relaxation of those requirements, because we are currently out of complaisance in many cases. However, instead of sitting a new minimum lot size, I think we should just eliminate any mandated minimum lot size.
There are eleven bills on Second Reading and none of them are of much interest.

There are eleven bills on Third and Final Reading. Here are the ones of interest.

A tall skinny Nashville Duplex
BILL NO. BL2014-770  is back on the agenda. It has been deferred several times.  It would change the definition of duplex so one could have two units on a piece of property and they would not have to be artificially joined the way they are now, where two protruding utility rooms are the only thing joining the homes. It would also impose heights restrictions. If the units are built to be joined, then a greater portion of the building would have to share a common wall. The tall skinny Nashville duplex would be a thing of the past if this passes. There is a proposed amendment that would require attached garages to be entered from an alley if there is an alley and to not face the street and a restriction on how much of the front yard could be driveway or paved parking and would do some other things which in my view would make this a better bill.
SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-841 establishes a formula for how big an outdoor residential dog pen must be based on the number of dogs and how much they weigh and what would happen if a dog has pups and how much headroom a dog must have it the pen is enclosed and how high and open pen must be. I am against cruelty to animals, but question if we really need a formula for establishing minimum size of dog pens.
BILL NO. BL2014-847 requires contracts for the companies that lobby the State on behalf of Metro government  and it requires that reports be submitted to the Metropolitan Council detailing what the Metro lobbyist is lobbying for and what the goals of the lobbying effort is and what the impact would be of the outcome the lobbyist is seeking. This is a good bill but I wish it was even stronger. I think Metro's lobbyist should only lobby for or against a bill if specifically authorized to do so by the Council. With this bill, at least the Council will know what the Mayor is lobbying the State on.
There are three memorializing resolutions that should be noncontroversial and will most likely be added to the Consent agenda.

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