If you don't know what the Metro Council is voting on and you watch a council meeting, you will find it really, really boring. If you have your own copy of the Council agenda and staff analysis the meeting will still be boring but not really, really boring. To get your own copies, follow the highlighted links.
There are three appointees to Boards and Commissions on the agenda for Council confirmation. Two of them are to the Human Relations Commission. The Human Relations Commission should more aptly be named, The Commission to Enforce and Promote Political Correctness. The Human Relations Commission does some things that are not objectionable but those things could be done by the private sector or other departments. This is a totally useless commission and a waste of tax payer money.
One thing the Commission does that I find objectionable is sponsor the twink booth at the Gay Pride Festival. Actually it is called the Youth Pavilion and its goal is to normalize deviant behavior among young people who may be confused about their sexuality.
If I were on the council, I would ask if any member of the Rules Committee had asked the appointees if he supported the Human Relations Commission's sponsorship of the Youth Pavilion and how the appointee had responded. If that question had not been asked in committee, I would ask the Vice Mayor if I could ask that question of the appointee. If the question had not been asked in committee and I was permitted to ask the question of the appointee and he said he did support the Youth Pavilion, then I would ask to be recorded voting "no" on the confirmation. If the Vice Mayor refused to let me ask the question of the appointee, I would ask to be recorded as voting "no."
I really do not believe people like Josh Stites, Robert Duvall and Duane Dominy support metro sponsoring a youth pavilion at the Gay Pride festival, yet they never take a stand against it. The council routinely confirms whoever the mayor appoints and approves all appointees unanimously. The handful of conservative councilmembers on the council are termed out or are not seeking reelection. They have nothing to lose. I wish they would go out in a blaze of glory and take a stand for decency and vote against the appointees to the Human Relations Commission unless the appointee has taken a position against the Commission sponsoring the Youth Pavilion.
There are 15 resolution on the agenda. Most resolutions are lumped together and put on the "consent agenda" and all pass with a single voted. If a resolution does not pass the committee to which it was assigned unanimously then it is not on consent and is considered separately. Any council member may, from the floor, ask for a resolution to be pulled off of consent and then the resolution will be considered separately. Almost all of the resolutions are simply accepting grant money from the state. These is the resolution of interest:
RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1433 proposes an amendment to the charter. There are two ways proposed amendments to the charter can get put to a vote of the people. One, is the petition route and the other is by resolution of the Council. This resolution proposes an amendment to the Charter that would extend term limits for the Vice Mayor and members of the Council from two to three terms. It has been approved by the Charter Revision Commission. It will take 27 votes to pass. If it passes it will be on the August ballot. However, it takes two votes of the Council for that to happen; one to approve the proposed amendment and another to submit it to the ballot.
I think term limits are a mistake and they transfer power from the Council to the Mayor. Even without term limits we have a weak council-strong mayor structure. Term limits makes the unelected bureaucrats stronger and they serve the interest of the mayor. It takes a while for a new councilman to learn out how things operate and it takes an informed and powerful councilman not to be snowed by a long-term bureaucrat. While expanding the number of terms from two to three may help some, I think this is pretty insignificant. One problem with term limits is that almost the whole council terms over ever eight years. A more meaningful measure would be to stagger terms so that not all experienced councilmen leave office at the same time. This proposed amendment does not do that. This resolution does nothing to reduce the size of the Council either. I have slowly reached the point to where I think the size of the council should be reduced.
There is a proposal that does reduce the size of the council and also extends term limits that is proceeding via the petition route. I am not sure we need competing measures on the ballot that address the same issue. It is also worth noting that efforts to amend the charter to increase term limits has already been tried several times. While I think the public is wrong in supporting term limits, I think they have clearly spoken, and I see nothing that has happened that would change their mind at this time and make them think extending term limits to three terms was a good idea. Terms limits for the Council were approved in a public referendum in 1994. Attempts to repeal or extend term limits have been tried several times since. I would probably vote against this.There are 20 bills on first reading, but I don't look at them until second reading and I doubt many of the members of the Council do either. First reading is a formality to get the bill on the agenda and all bills on first reading are passed at one time in one motion.
There are seven bills on Second Reading. I do not find any of them controversial or of much interest.
There are 36 bills on Third Reading. Below are the ones of interest
BILL NO. BL2015-1099 defines what is a sex club, and says they can only locate in areas zoned industrial and not within 1000 feet of a church, home, school, park or daycare center. It would prohibit the following:
- Admitting members that are younger than 21 years of age;
- Admitting any new member without the affirmative vote of a majority of the other members;
- Accepting applications for membership without a current member’s written recommendation; and
- Granting membership within 24 hours from the time a membership application is filed.
This looks like this is intended to make it impossible for a sex club to exist. I know no councilman wants to be labeled as voting for a sex club, but this is pretty heavy handed. The one existing sex club in Nashville has existed for over forty years and is not associated with crime or disturbances. If it was not pointed out to someone, no one would know it was a sex club. it has the letters "TCS" on the door. It does not have flashing neon signs saying, "Naked Girls," "Sex, Sex, Sex." I think people ought to mind their own business and let consenting adult perverts have a place to play.
BILL NO. BL2015-1100 changes the code to make it the applicant's responsibility rather than the city's for posting signs that say a property has a hearing before The Board of Zoning Appeal. Also it removes the requirement that such notices be published in a newspaper. Notices will be published online on an official website. This makes sense to me.
BILL NO. BL2015-1102 would allow the Parks Department to permit the sale of beer in any Metro Parks. Now, the Parks Department can only allow beer sales at parks in the downtown area. I approve of this bill.There are three memorializing resolutions and if they meet the same criteria for inclusion they will be included in the consent agenda. Memorializing resolutions do not have the force of law and simply express the will of the council and are often used to honor a sports team on a victory or honor a long-time employee on his retirement. Memorializing resolutions are occasionally used by the more liberal members of the council, however, to put the council on record approving some extremely liberal piece of national legislation being debated in the U. S. Congress. The Council staff does not analyze memorizing resolutions. There are two significant memorializing resolutiions on this agenda:
RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1496 request the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and support legislation to authorize the Metropolitan Government to issue public obligation bonds for the purpose of providing funds for affordable housing. This would only be permissive and I see no reason to oppose this.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1498 by Charlie Tygard request the Metropolitan Civil Service Commission to consider and recommend an amendment to the General Pay Plan to partially base the compensation of Members of the Metropolitan Council upon Council and committee meeting attendance. This will probably prove controversial. I support it.
Recently, Channel 5 did an investigative piece and revealed that some Council members almost never attend committee meetings. This is just not right! As Tygerd said, "It's not fair for certain council members to do all of the homework and others to get the same rate of pay and do nothing of the work.”
With a large council, the council must have a strong committee system. It is in committee where the real work of the Council is done. It is in committee where the council can ask hard questions and get answers. There is no way a councilmember can know all there is to know about the bills on the agenda. Some of the Councilmen said they had regular jobs and could not take off work to attend committee meetings. In my view, if a councilmember does not have flexibility in his job to attend to his council duties, he should not run for council. If he cannot attend Council committee meetings he should resign from the council. The worst offenders were Emily Evans, who missed 83 committee meetings since 2013, Robert Duvall, who's missed 93 committee meetings in that time period, and Sean McGuire, who's missed 132 committee meetings since 2013! Among the top twelve members with the worst attendance records was Council member-at-large and Mayoral candidate Megan Barry.
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