Sunday, October 4, 2015

First meeting of the new council, Oct.6th. What is on the agenda?

Tuesday October 6th will be the first meeting of the new Council. Since a new council starts fresh, no bills are carried forward from the last council, so there will be no bills on second or third reading. To get your own copy of the agenda, follow this link. To get your copy of the staff analysis, follow this link.

One thing the council will do at this first meeting, I assume, is adopt council rules.  In addition to Roberts Rules of Order, the council adopts its own rules.  Such things as how long a council member may speak and how long the public may speak at a public hearing will be established. While I don't want council meetings to run for hours on end, I think the previous Council did not permit enough discussion from the floor. That is one reason meeting were so boring. I understand the logic that most discussion should occur in committee meetings, but I think the Council has gone too far in the direction of stiffing debate. When I served in the council we had a several good orators. Specifically I remember Doc Adams, a dentist, who would make eloquent speeches, not that I usually agreed with him, but I enjoyed his speeches from the floor. Council debate should not only be for the benefit of the council members but so the public can have a better understanding of what is at issue.

Other rules will determine in announcements are part of the regular council meeting or made prior to the meeting as they have been in the last council. When I served, announcements were made during the council meeting, between resolutions and First Reading.  I think that should stay as it is. Announcements of such things as neighborhood cleanups and school functions can take a lot of council meeting time.

The Council must also determine if they will have a consent agenda for resolutions as they have had or if all resolutions will be considered individually. The council will also establish rules for who, when they are honored, gets the large expensive framed calligraphy presentations or a simple printed copy of the resolutions. These and other rules will govern the council until they are changed.

Current rules could simply be readopted or they could be changed. If a council member would like to see procedural changes, now is the time to speak up. If anyone would like to see the existing Rules of  Procedure, follow the highlighted text. I hope member carefully study the rules and know what they are voting on when they readopt or change the existing rules.

The first order of business is "elections and confirmations," and the only item is the confirmation of Jon Cooper as Director of Law for the city of Nashville. Cooper has been the staff attorney for the Metro Council for at least the last four years and maybe longer. Cooper as staff attorney for the council has been the one who drafts legislation on behalf of council members and does the council agenda analysis. I have always thought he did a good job with the analysis and never tried to influence an outcome. I have heard good things about him. I am sure he will win confirmation easily. I think this was a wise appointment by Mayor Barry.  The council will have to find a replacement for Cooper.

There are 14 resolutions on the agenda but none of them appear controversial. Most are simply accepting grants.

There are 31 bills on First Reading. First reading is a formality and bills are usually not debated until second reading. After First Reading, bills will be considered by committee. Most of the bills on First Reading are zoning bills. I do not read the bills until after first reading.

There are three memorialize resolutions on the agenda, but none are controversial.

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