Monday, January 18, 2016

Update. What's on the Council Agenda for 1-19-16: Gun Shows at the Fairgrounds, a stronger Human Relations Commission, and a disapproved zoning change.

The Council agenda for 1-19-2016 is available at this link. The staff analysis is not yet available so I am providing my analysis without benefit of the staff analysis, so you may want to check back for an update or seek out the staff analysis for yourself at this link. The staff analysis is now available but I have not read it.

Appointments to Boards and Commissions. There are ten mayoral appointments on the agenda for Council confirmation. As is usual, I expect all to be confirmed without debate. The most notable of these appointments is that of former mayoral candidate, Democrat Party fund raiser, and local business tycoon Bill Freeman to the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority. I think this is a good appointment. The Metropolitan Airport Authority is undergoing its first major management restructuring in 28 years and it recently received a scathing evaluation from a consultant hired to evaluate the organization. The  $119 million-per-year organization that oversees Nashville International Airport was criticized for being "paternalistic, dictatorial and centralized.” To read the Tennessean's report on the issues surrounding the Airport Authority follow this link. Someone of the high profile and business credentials of Bill Freeman on the board of the Airport Authority can restore confidence that needed changes will take place at the Airport.

Resolutions: There are 15 resolutions on the agenda. At this time they are all on "consent," meaning they are deemed non-controversial and will be all lumped together and pass by a single vote instead of being considered separately. A resolution will be moved off of consent and considered separately unless it receives a unanimous positive vote from the committee to which it was assigned. Any member from the floor may ask for an item to be taken off of consent or any member may request his dissenting vote or abstention be recorded. Below are the resolutions of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-76   is "A resolution requesting the Metropolitan Board of Fair Commissioners to reinstate and continue to allow gun shows on Fairgrounds property and to otherwise comply with Section 11.602 of the Metropolitan Charter."

On Tuesday December 1, 2015 the Fair Board voted to discontinue gun shows at the fair grounds after the pending gun show of the December 4th and 5th weekend. The Fair Board was supposedly going to develop new guidelines to improve safety at the Fairgrounds and then would reconsider allowing gun shows if exhibitors would agree to the new rules.  No one really believed the Fair Board would ever allow gun shows to return to the fairgrounds. Metro legal weighted in and legal told the Fair board to allow the gun shows scheduled for January. This resolution was on the Council agenda for December 15th, but since Metro legal had ruled the gun shows scheduled for January could still take place this was deferred, I would assume to see it this could be resolved without Council action. It has not been resolved so this is back on the agenda.

With a much more "progressive" council than ever n the past, it will be worth watching how this turns out. I suspect the major motivation for this is simply a dislike for gun culture and support for anything to curtail the proliferation of gun ownership. I also suspect however that there is certain elite liberal snobbishness at play which looks down its nose at gun shows. Until country music became the most listened to format and a major source of income for Nashville, the elites were embarrassed by country music also. I tend to think the opposition to gun shows may be motivated more by a sociopolitical class prejudice rather than a gun control motivation.  I believe there is a certain desire for Nashville to appear progressive and enlightened and progressives want the "redneck" element to be deprived of outlets to express themselves. They would prefer that part of Nashville's identity not be tied to stock car racing, flea markets, and gun shows. Also, the Gun and Knife shows bring in a quarter of million dollars a year to the struggling fair grounds. Part of the effort to end the gun shows may be an effort to deprive the fair grounds of revenue in hopes that it will eventually be operating so deep in the red that there will be greater reason to close the fairgrounds and sell off the property.They would much prefer that property be a trendy mixed-use development or a corporate campus.

Bill Goodman's Gun and Knife show has been operating at the Fairgrounds for 35 years and there is no evidence that illegal gun sales have ever occurred there or even that a gun or knife purchased there has ever been used in a criminal act. There are some felons who have stated that the gun shows at the Fair grounds is where they obtained their gun, but one may surmise they did not want to admit to an additional crime of stealing a firearm so those admission from felons should be taken with a grain of salt.

Only licensed dealers are permitted to sell firearms at the fairground gun show. Under current law if you as an individual sell a gun to another individual, you do not have to be a licensed firearm dealer and you do not have to perform a background check on the person to whom you are selling. That is what is known as the "gun show loophole."  However, at the Nashville Gun and Knife Show only licensed dealers were allowed to exhibit and sell guns.

 RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-86  is another one of these PILOT deals (payment in lieu of taxes). I don't know if this is a good deal or not, but I hope it is carefully scrutinized.

Bills on First Reading. There are five of them and they will be passed by a single vote of the council. Bills on First Reading or normally not debated or evaluated.

Second Reading: There are seven bills on second reading. These are the ones of interest:
BILL NO. BL2015-81 is a bill which is disapproved by the Planning Commission and rezones 9.2 acres off on Clarksville pike which would allow the construction of between 72 to 120 apartment units of what is considered "workforce housing" which is another term for affordable housing. Here is a link to a Tennessean story about the The planning Commission's unanimous vote to disapprove the bill. At the last council meeting a lot of people spoke both for and against the bill. To win council approval, since it was disapproved by the Planning Commission, will require 27 votes. This will be the first test of the new council to see if "councilmanic courtesy" is really dead.

BILL NO. BL2016-99 would end term limits for member of the Human Relations Commission.  This needs to be defeated! If anything the Human Relations Commission needs to be abolished; it does not need to be strengthened. It serves no purpose except to promote and enforce politically correct attitudes. Anything they do that really needs doing could be done by other agencies. There is a Fair Housing Office to take fair housing complaints and the Attorney Generals office can take complaints of illegal discrimination.  One of the most objectionable things this agency does is sponsor the twink booth at the Gay Pride festival. They call it the "youth pavilion." 
Third Reading: There are 25 bills on Third Reading and most of them are zoning bills. These are the ones of interest.
BILL NO. BL2015-84  establishes the Waverly Belmont Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District.  This would restrict the tearing down of existing housing and building a very large home or two large homes on the lot.  On some streets in this part of town, there are more big new houses than original smaller houses.  I understand the desire to preserve the character of the neighborhood but a consequence of not allowing the character of a neighborhood to change and more expensive homes to be build is that our tax base does not keep pace with the demand for more spending.  Also by restricting this type of tear-down and replacement with larger homes in one area puts more pressure for this to occur on those areas adjacent to the area with the overlay.  It shifts the problem and intensifies it for neighboring neighborhoods. For more information see the Tennessean reporting on the issue.

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