The Metro Council meets tomorrow night April 5th at 6:30PM. Council meetings are televised live on Comcast Channel 3 if one has nothing better to do. I normally do not watch it live. The next day one can catch it on the Metro YouTube channel and I repost it here. The reason I don't watch it live is because I usually do have something better to do. Also, watching it on YouTube I can watch it in double speed and not miss much context and can skip some what I know will be really, really boring stuff such as zoning public hearings in which people are going to say the same thing they always say over and over again.
Without a copy of the agenda, you don't know what the Council is voting on and the Council meeting is as about as boring as watching paint dry. With a copy of the agenda and analysis it is less boring; still boring, but less boring. With a copy of the analysis and agenda the Council meetings are more interesting than watching water boil. I watch the Council meetings so you don't have to. Here is a link to the agenda and the staff analysis.
I am only listing those items that I think are significant or are important to me. I may miss something, so if you really care, you may want to read the agenda for yourself. There are a lot of zoning bills on public hearing on this agenda and for the most part, those bore me, and I don't even attempt to gain an understanding of the pros and cons of every zoning bill. I do not generally watch meetings of the Planning Commission either, so I am not the most informed person in Metro regarding zoning issues. Most zoning bills impact only nearby residence so while a particular zoning issue may be very important to a few people, I am only going to point out those that I know to have created a lot of controversy or have an impact beyond one neighborhood.
There are eleven appointments to Boards and Commissions on the agenda for Council confirmation. Some of these positions are coveted and powerful. If you are a real political nerd, you may want to see who is getting appointments in the new administration. The council routinely rubber stamps whomever the mayor appoints.
Resolutions and Bills on Public Hearing:
BILL NO. BL2016-155 would provide a means for an applicant for a rezoning, which now requires a Traffic Impact Study, to get a waiver from that requirement. It would eliminate the requirement for a Traffic Impact Study for any property within the inner loop. This seems like a reasonable bill to reduce the burden on developers and still provide safeguards for the public.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-76 is the resolution by Councilman Glover requesting the Metropolitan Board of Fair Commissioners to reinstate and continue to allow gun shows at the fairgrounds. At the last meeting, at the request of the sponsor, it was deferred to this meeting. To support this resolution and Bill No. BL2016-161 which also deals with the issue, the Friends of the Fairground had put out a "call to action" last meeting asking fairground supporters to attend the meeting wearing their red tee shirts. The chamber was not packed with fairground supporters. I have seen no "call to action" for this meeting.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-172 appropriates $3,347,400 split between different departments to provide money to those departments that was not originally in their budget. This happens every year and some of this is understandable. When drawing up a budget the State Trail Courts, as an example, will not know how many trials they will have so they will not know how much to budget for jury pay so all they can do is estimate. At the end of the year, their expenditure and income must balance, so if they come up short this is where they get the money to make the accounts balance. On the other hand, some of this is just unjustified subsidy to a department. I like Farmers Market, but it has never been able to break even. When I say "break even," that does not include capital cost; they cannot cover their operating cost. This resolution contains an additional $837,900 for Farmers Market. Maybe it is time to privatize Farmers Market or turn it over to the Parks Department or change their mission or change management. Farmers Market is a money pit. I am not opposed to a modest subsidy, but they should not have an open unlimited line of credit. I do not know the full financial picture of Farmers Market, but it seems they are always needing more money. I hope someone on Budget and Finance is making them answer hard questions.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-189 would authorize the Department of Law to settle a lawsuit against the city in the amount of $45,000.00. The only reason I mention this is that in committee, if not on the Council floor, there is always discussions about settlements. Council members want to know what happened, and if an employee was at fault if the employee was punished. I really don't find these settlements of much interest. The only issue should be, is it in the city's best interest to litigate or settle. I don't think that I have ever thought we should litigate when Legal recommended settling out of court. I defer to the judgement of the legal department in these cases.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-192 would urge the State legislature to pass a bill naming the stables "within the horse barn on the campus of the Ellington Agricultural Center the “Janis Sontany Stables.” I don't guess I have too much of a problem with this but Janis Sontany once said something really nasty about Republican women, something to the effect that you had to look under their skirts to determine if they were women. Maybe we should name the waste water retention pond near the horse barn on the campus of the Ellington Agricultural Center the “Janis Sontany horse waste water retention pond." Actually, I don't think we ought to name thing after people who are still living except in rare circumstances.
There are a bunch of bills on First Reading, but I don't read them until they get to second reading. First Reading is a formality to get them on the agenda.
There is only one bill on Second reading. BILL NO. BL2016-176 would authorize the Metro Clerk’s office to assist the Charter Revision Commission with administrative functions, removing the provision authorizing the Commission to employ such personnel . The Clerk would also be required to serve as the custodian of the minutes and records of the Commission. This seems like a good change.
Bills on Third Reading:
BILL NO. BL2016-141 would amend a previously approved Planned Unit Development (PUD) by reducing the number of units from 60 units to 30. To take away from one what they could previously do with their property is "taking" their property. Expect when the owner is compensated and the taking is for a public purpose, I oppose these actions. This bill is disapproved by the Planing Commission, so will require 28 votes to pass. Supporters of private property rights should vote against this bill. An abstention will have the same effect as a "no" vote.
BILL NO. BL2016-157 would make modest positive improvements to the Tax Increment Finance program. To learn more about this issue see this link.
BILL NO. BL2016-160 on second reading amends the distance requirements for a beer license. This is a reasonable bill. It says if a four lane road separates the establishment for which the permit is being sought and the entity which triggers a distance requirement, the distance requirement does not apply.
INDEFINITELY DEFERRED ITEM : RULE 24
BILL NO. BL2016-161 mandates that the Fair Board keep dates available in their calendar to allow the gun shows to rent the facility at the fairground until such time as a court of law or the Tennessee Attorney General determines the Fair Board’s compliance with the Metropolitan Charter, state and/or federal legislation in regard to its actions banning gun shows. There was a vote in committee to deffer this indefinitely so "by rule" the bill was deferred last meeting. The sponsor can bring it back up but he is required to request in writing to the clerk that the bill be back on the agenda, then the bill is put on the agenda for a determination if it can be heard. If the bill gets a majority of those voting, then it would be on the next agenda following that meeting. This is the vote to determine if the Council will allow it to be on the agenda for consideration at the next meeting. This is not a vote on the merits of the bill, only if the Council will hear the bill.