Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Council should have its own swearing-in seperate from the Mayoral inauguration

Randy Foster
The following is a Facebook post by former Metro Councilman Randy Foster. It is worth reposting:
Not to be negative toward Mayor-Elect Barry's inauguration theme ("We Make Nashville), the logo displayed in the attached story (http://www.scrippsmedia.com/…/Mayor-Elect-Barry-Unveils-The…) focuses on her inauguration only. WHAT ABOUT THE METRO COUNCIL?

Alas, Metro inauguration day inevitably leaves the Council members as a pack of also-rans who troop in together, are ceremonially sworn-in together at what is really the new Mayor's party, and who are then (metaphorically) patted on the head and sent off to do the Mayor's bidding.  Until my dying day, I will continue to advocate for the Council to separate itself from the Mayor's office in every reasonable way it can. It exercises the legislative authority of Metro Government, is an important check on mayoral authority, and ought to act like it.
I am in complete agreement.  The Council should have its own swearing-in separate from the mayor and otherwise separate itself from the Mayor's office whenever it can. The Council should act like an independent, separate and equal branch of the government.  The Council should take itself seriously as a legislative body.

Unfortunately, the Council is very weak.  Part of that is because it is a forty-member body and part of it is because of term limits.  A major part of it is also because of the metro charter which makes it impossible for the council to cast a vote against the city budget and property tax increases.

Another reason we have such a weak council is because the council does not exercise what power it does have.  The council should carefully scrutinize and consider mayoral appointments to boards and commission and occasionally reject an appointee when there is a reason to do so.  If a department has not been cooperative with council request for services or information, then request from the 4% fund should be held up. The Council should also hold special hearing to investigate things that need investigating, such as when there is corruption at NES or when we have a sidewalk program that replaces perfectly serviceable sidewalks but builds few new sidewalks. Also, not all legislative initiates have to come from the mayors office.

The previous council showed little independence from the Mayor, but I fear this new council will set a new standard for being rubber stamps, lap dogs, and yes-men of the Mayor.

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