Thursday, February 23, 2017

What happened at the Feb 21st meeting? Protestors take over the meeting and call Councilman Hastings a "House Nigger." The city approves $13.7 benefit deal for Opryland Hotel.

The big news from this council meeting is that protestors disrupt the meeting protesting the police shooting of an armed convicted criminal almost two weeks ago.  The victim was Black and the Police Officer was White. The city has appropriately responded to the shooting and the Attorney General invited the FBI to conduct the  investigation into the shooting.

The Council disturbance starts at about timestamp 10:00 in the video. The camera stays focused on the front of the chamber and the sound is off so you really can't tell much about what transpired from the video. At timestamp 21:00 Vice Mayor Briley takes control and calls the meeting back to order and recognizes Councilman Karen Johnson who moves to allow a twenty minute comment period by the protestors at the conclusion of regular business.

The protestors who commandeered the meeting are given the podium at timestamp 1:28:35. The worst comment of the evening was when a speaker wearing a clerical collar called Councilman  Hastings a "house nigger" and an "uncle Tom." I am pleased to see Vice Mayor Briley come to the defense of Councilman Hastings and say that those comments were inappropriate.

The "Reverend" calls Councilman Hastings

a "House Nigger."

Some may have felt that Vice Mayor Briley should have taken a much stronger stand and had the protestors physically removed from the chamber. I do not join those in that criticism.  I think it was better to deescalate the tension and let the protestors have a forum rather than the alternative. I think this was handled in about the best way possible. There are legitimate questions as to what transpired and I tend to think it better to listen to people and let people vent rather than use force to restore order, within reason. Several of the speakers sound somewhat reasonable. Others however are very radical.

There is not a lot of legislation of interest or controversy on the agenda. This is a meeting where you don't really need an agenda or agenda analysis to watch the meeting but if you want to read the agenda and analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link. Appointees are confirmed unanimously as is the norm and all bills on First Reading are approved as is the norm. The only Resolution not on the Consent agenda is RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-566  by Scott Davis which expresses support for the Medical Cannabis Access Act currently pending before the Tennessee General Assembly. It is deferred one meeting. To see the sponsors comment on the resolutions see timestamp 30:53.

In what appears to be a subtle slam at President Trump for his temporary ban on immigrants from dysfunctional countries that produce lots of terrorist and for his resuming enforcement of our nations immigration laws, the Council passes  RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-568, recognizing February 19, 2017 as a Day of Remembrance, commemorating the historical significance of Executive Order 9066.  That was the Executive Order signed by Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt that imprisoned Japanese immigrants and Americans of Japaneses decent following the outbreak of World War II. I support the resolution condemning that shameful chapter in American history.  I fully expected this resolution to pass and I would have obviously voted for it, if I served in the Council. I expected it to pass on Consent without ceremony or grandstanding as do other resolutions on Consent, however. It's passage draws audience applause. To see the Council floor action on this resolution see timestamp 32:45-36:30. 
Ryman renderings of major water park at Opryland

Bills on Second Reading
BILL NO. BL2017-589  is the bill that would grant a $13.7 million incentive package for Opryland Hotel to build a water park. This water park would be for the use of hotel guest only and not the general public. The argument for this type of crony capitalism is that it has an economic impact, including increased sales tax revenue and employment. Councilmen John Cooper, Colby Sledge and Jim Shulman were the only votes in opposition. To see the discussion see timestamp 44:12-104:48.  To see The Tennessean coverage of this issue follow this link.

Bills on Third Reading
BLL NO. BL2016-492  clarifies and modifies Short-term rental (STRP) rules. This passes on a voice vote without discussion. For a lot of background and links to other stories on this topic follow this link.  This bill is really pretty simple and just tweaks what already exist. It does not include a moratorium or ban on Short Term Property Rentals.

Important announcement regarding short term rental. There are three new bills addressing Short Term Rental Property that have been filed scheduled for public hearing on March 7th. The three bills will be delayed for public hearing until April 4th. One of these bills would ban all new non-owner-occupied STRP, one would impose a 36-month moratorium on them and one would impose a 12-month moratorium. To hear the announcements see time stamp 1:25:33. Those who care about this issue may want to listen to the announcement. Be aware that between now and then their will be Planning Commission consideration of these bills also. If you care about this issue then you may want to get involved.

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