There is not much of interest on this agenda. This should be a quick meeting, but one never knows for sure. Council meetings are more interesting if you know what is being voted on. To get your own copy of the Council agenda and Council staff analysis, follow the highlighted links.
There are six appointments to Board and Commission on the Council agenda. The Council routinely rubber stamps these appointments without examining the positions or qualifications of the candidates. In doing so the Council misses an opportunity to exert influence. I appreciated the members of the pubic who are willing to serve and they should be given the benefit of the doubt and the Mayor should be given quite a bit of leeway in whom he appoints to boards and commission. However, the Council should make sure that if people are being appointed to a board that they will be committed to cleaning up a corrupt agency or to improving management of a mismanaged agency. Also some consideration should be given to the diversity of the boards. I am not advocating a quota, but all of our boards should not be white professionals from Belle Meade who work in the industry they are regulating. We need different points of view and people from different parts of the county on these boards as well as some minorities and women and different profession. I don't know if we do have that diversity or not, but I don't think anyone in the Council even considers that when approving mayoral appointments.
One appointees this time is that of Ms. Erin McAnally to the Fair Board. On January 6th of this year the Council took the extremely rare action of rejecting a mayoral appointment and that was the appointment of Mr. Eric Malo to the Fair Board. Mr. Malo had been a vocal proponent of destroying the fair ground and redeveloping the property. That appointment was stopped only after the Save Our Fairgrounds people rallied their troops to stop the appointment. I doubt the mayor would try that again so soon, but I hope the Rules and Confirmation Committee which makes recommendation to the Council on appointees to boards and Commissions closely examines Ms. McAnally and ensures we are putting someone on the Fair Board who actually supports the agencies mission and who does not advocate destroying the fair grounds.
There are seven resolutions, all on the consent agenda at this time. Resolutions on the consent agenda are considered all at one time rather than individually. A resolution is put on the consent agenda if it is assumed to be non-controversial and stays on consent if it passes the committee to which it was assigned unanimously. However, any council member may request a resolution be pulled off of consent. I see no problem with any of the resolutions and no reason to pull them or vote against them.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1389 is interesting and involves the settlement of a lawsuit brought by an employee who sued the city when fired. It is somewhat complex but my view is that the Council should settle lawsuits when defending them would be more costly than settling and when there is serious doubt if we would win if it went to trial. I tend to trust the legal department when they propose settling a suit. The fired former employee was a Metro Parks Police officer with the Parks Department who is a lesbian and one of the first females hired by the Parks Department for a Parks police position with the department. The department fired her for inefficient performance of duties, insubordination toward a supervisor, violation of written rules and dishonesty. She claims she was discriminated against. This resolution would settle the suit for $295,000.
There are only two bills on First Reading. First Reading is a formality and with rare exceptionsthe merit of a bill is not considered until Second Reading.
There are nine bills on Second Reading but none of them seem particularly controversial or of much interest.
There are 16 Bills on Third Reading.
- SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2014-909 and BILL NO. BL2014-951 would regulate peer-to-peer vacation rentals such as AIRBnB. There are over a thousand of these vacation rentals operating in Nashville with little problem. Since they do not fit the definition of what is prohibited in a residential area (they are not a bed and breakfast, they are not a boarding house, they are not a hotel) they have been allowed to operate unregulated. This defines what they are, says what they can do, regulates parking and advertising, establishes some fire safety requirements and makes them collect taxes and establishes insurance requirements. These regulations are not onerous and I am pleased Nashville is accommodating this new type service rather than trying to ban it. Last meeting when the bill was on second reading there was expressed some concern about the bill in that the state fire marshal may come back with a sprinkler requirement for the larger facilities of this type and some council members stated that should be resolved before the bills is passed. I do not see that as a reason to delay this bill. I have some minor concerns with the bill but on balance thing it is good and should pass.
- BILL NO. BL2014-948 amends the Five Points redevelopment plan, changing some permitted uses and it would provide and additional $670,000 in Tax Increment Financing. TIF lets the taxes from a project first go to pay for improvements in the area of the project before any tax from the project goes to the general fund of the city. I am not opposed to TIF but think it must be used cautiously . If TIF causes a project to be built that most likely would not be built then it makes sense. If however, it is just a giveaway in a popular area where development would occur anyway then it is a misguided policy in my view. I would like to know how much money has been diverted from the general fund over the past few years due to TIF and if this development tool is being overused.
- BILL NO. BL2015-1002 rezones 361 acres to a use that prohibits duplexes from a current use that permits them. I personally do not like this and think it unwise to downzone property for less density. To make mass transit more viable and to combat urban sprawl we do not need to be codifying lesser density.
- BILL NO. BL2015-1008 would regulate how one could tether their dog such as how long the cable must be and how heavy and also prohibits keeping a dog tethered when it is too hot or too cold. If the dog has water and shade I do not see that a heat index of 90 is excessive but that is a minor quibble with the bill and I would vote for it.