Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What's on the Council Agenda for Dec. 1? Not much. Church of Scientology praised.

This should be a short meeting. There is not much of interest on the agenda. You can get your own copy of the Council agenda at this link and the Council staff analysis at the this link. Council meetings really are more interesting if you know what the council is voting on.

The first order of business is confirmation of mayoral appointees to boards and commission. There are 14 nominees up for confirmation. Citizens who serve on the city's numerous boards and commissions are to be applauded for their service to our city.  They serve many long hours at no pay. Appreciating the service of those who serve our city however does not mean that they should not be carefully scrutinized and that the Council should not take its confirmation duties seriously. The mayor should be granted a certain amount of leeway in making appointments, but the Council should take its roll seriously.

If a member of the Council feels a board or commission is perusing policies with which he disagrees and the appointee says he would continue those policies, that council member should vote against that nominee.  Also, I think we should expect some diversity on these boards and commission. I wish someone would compile a list of all demographic factors and just see how much diversity there is, not that I would want a quota system, but everyone does not need to come from the same zip code and run in the same social circles. That may not be an issue at all or it may be, but I hope someone is looking at that factor in considering appointees.

There are 13 bills on Public Hearing.  I don't even attempt to understand every zoning bill. Sometimes a bill on pubic hearing may be a text change that could have policy implications and I will try to report on that, but most of the time the bills on public hearing are of interest to only people who live near the proposed rezoning.

There are only four resolutions on the agenda. All are on "consent" which means that of instead of being considered individually, they will on be lumped together and passed with a single vote. However, if a bill fails to get unanimous support in the committee to which it is assigned then it comes off of consent. Also, any member from the floor may have his abstention or dissenting vote recorded or he may ask a bill be pulled off consent and considered separately. None of these resolutions are controversial.

There are 14 bills on First Reading. Bills on First Reading are passed as a group and not deliberated by the Council until after they pass First Reading. I don't read them until after they pass First Reading.

There are eight bills on Second Reading and most of them are abandoning right-of-ways or acquiring easements and I see nothing of interest.

There are 13 bills on Third reading and most of them are zoning bills and I see nothing of interest.

There is one memorializing resolution recognizing Human Rights Day. A memorializing resolution does not do anything except express an opinion of the Metro Council. This resolution will be lumped in with the other resolutions on the consent agenda. I would probably abstain on this if I were in the Council or maybe vote "no." 

Most of the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights I wholeheartedly accept with. Certainly I approve of the prohibition against torture and believe in innocent until proven guilty, and the right to property, and free speech. The Declaration of Human rights however mixes in with liberties, entitlements. There is a differences between freedom of speech and freedom to a material benefit which establishes a claim against another.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also establishes a "right" to social security, education, a right to a certain standard of living, and a right to paid holidays. Those are claims against society or entitlement and are not liberties. To read the Declaration of Human Rights follow this link.

One thing interesting in this Resolutions is the following:

WHEREAS, numerous community, civic, religious and non-profit organizations, including the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, Metro Human Relations Commission, United Nations Association, Amnesty International, YWCA, Faith and Culture Center, Church of Scientology, Tennessee United for Human Rights, and others work to ensure equal rights and protections for all residents; and 

The Church of Scientology is a weird cult founded by nutty science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, based on crackpot psychology. How did they make the cut of those mentioned in this resolution?

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