The big news of the night is that a Mayor's appointee to a board or commission is rejected. This is the first time I can recall this happening in many, many years. Usually the Council just rubber stamps whoever the Mayor appoints. The other good news from this meeting is that the $100,000 to bail out of the Neighborhood Resource Center is differed yet again. Not a bad night!
At only an hour and 14 minutes long this is a relatively short meeting. Meetings are much more interesting if you know what the Council is voting on. To see my agenda commentary and a link to the staff analysis and the Council agenda, follow this link.
The controversial appointment to a board or commission was the appointment of Eric Malo to the Board of Fair Commissioners. Mr. Malo had been an outspoken proponent of demolishing the racetrack and destroying the fairgrounds and converting the property into a mixed use development as proposed by the Mayor. The Rules Committee had recommended his appointment 7 for and none opposed. Councilman Duane Dominy, a leader in the effort to save the fair grounds. takes to the floor and argues against Mr. Malo's confirmation. Other comments opposing the nominee's confirmation are made by Robert Duvall and Councilman Tony Tenpenny. Council member Sandra Moore, my council member and the person who represents the fair ground area, speaks in favor of Mr. Malo as does Councilman Ronnie Steine. I do not know how long it has been, but know it has been a very long time since any appointee of the Mayor to serve on a board or commission has been rejected. The vote is 19 for, 17 opposed and 3 abstentions. To be approve required 21 votes in favor. (To witness the debate see time stamp 0:3:20 - 0:13:20.)
Public Hearings: There is not much of general interest. Most bills on public hearing would interest no one but the person whose property is affected and nearby neighbors.
All Resolutions on the Consent Agenda pass. I find none of them terribly controversial or of much interest. Included on the consent agenda however is a silly memorializing resolution that recognizes, "No Name-Calling Week." If I were in the Council, I would not have bothered arguing against it but would have asked to be recorded as voting "no."
RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1316 which would give $100,000 to the Neighborhood Resource Center is deferred "by rule" because the sponsor was not at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting to present the bill. This was on the Council agenda last time and was deferred. then also. The NRC has fallen on hard times recently having lost their United Way funding and some other things. Some of the things the NRC does I do not disagree with but I think the city should not bail them out. There are many worthwhile non-profits that need funding. The NRC is essentially a political organization teaching political activism with leaders of the organization trained in the Saul Alinsky tradition. From time to time the NRC promotes a leftist agenda such as they did in 2011 when they hosted a Contract for the American Dream workshop. You can learn more about this leftist project here. Council rules only required that under these circumstances that a bill be deferred one meeting but the sponsor moves to defer it two meetings. That is a good sign that the bill may eventually be defeated. When it comes back up, this needs to be defeated.
All bills on introduction and first reading pass as is customary.
SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-909 and BILL NO. BL2014-951 on second reading which would regulate peer-to-peer short-term vacation rentals is deferred for two meetings.
BILL NO. BL2014-990 which modifies the eligibility requirements for obtaining small business economic development incentive grants passes without any dissenting votes. You are probably aware of the incentives we have provided to companies like Bridgestone and HCA. Metro also has a similar program for small business but it has been little used since most small businesses can't meet what has been the requirements. This bill lowers the requirements. If a small business creates ten new jobs that pay at least 80% of the salary of the annual average salary for all occupations in Nashville, the city will pay the company $500 per job created. I really do not like this, but since we do for big business it is argued we should do it for small business.
BILL NO. BL2014-991, which modifies the metro code to remove the requirement that public construction projects pay Davis-Bacon prevailing wage, passes. We should never have been paying Davis-Bacon wages for public projects since it unnecessarily inflates the cost of public projects. The Council gets no credit for passing this since this bill is simply housekeeping to comply with a State law which prohibits mandating the Davis-Bacon wage. The State legislature deserves credit for requiring this of Metro. This will save money on future public projects.
BILL NO. BL2014-993 which is more unnecessary regulations and restraint of trade passes on a voice vote on second reading without dissent. There is a service downtown that moves people in vehicles that resemble golf carts. While this bill has some non-objectionable things like insurance requirement, it requires new people who want to enter the business to get a "certificate of necessity," as if there is ever is a "necessity" for such a vehicle. My position is that anyone who wants to should be allowed to compete and let the market sort them out.
BILL NO. BL2014-896 which rezones 238 acres in east Nashville to allow accessory dwelling units on properties in the rezoned area is on third reading and is deferred one meeting. It was previously deferred in November. This needs to pass. I think rezoning like this is a positive development. We need to promote affordable housing but not use the heavy hand of government to mandate it. Accessory dwelling units on a lot can provide more affordable units of housing and increase density which is necessary to have successful mass transit and greater density combats urban sprawl.