Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What happened at the 3-7-17 Council Meeting: $14 Opryland water park deal approved, Driving while Black at issue, Body cameras for police,





To access the Council agenda, the Council staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link. I find most public hearings on zoning matters real boring and zip through that part of the meeting at double speed and I don't even try to understand the pros and cons of each rezoning bill so it that interest you, you may want to watch it for yourself.  I do try to call attention to those zoning bills that prove particularly controversial or have policy implications. All appointees to Boards and Commission are approved as it the norm. Also all bills on first reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote as is the practice.

Public Hearing

BILL NO. BL2017-580  extends indefinitely the Downtown Central Business Improvement District which is set to expire the end of this year.  The bill provides a mechanism whereby the property owners in this district may petition to dissolve the Improvement District. This area in the core of downtown has a special additional tax assessment and for that the district gets additional services. Former Council member Emily Evans speaks in favor of the bill. There is no one speaking in opposition.To see her comments and other discussion of the bill see timestamp 14:10- 17:47. It passes.
SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2016-493  is the sidewalk bill which tightens up the requirements that developers build sidewalks. It is again substituted and then deferred to the first meeting in April.
BILL NO. BL2017-611  would make it harder for people to get a Short Term Rental Property Permit ( Airbnb-type rental). It would have required the consent of adjacent property owners in order to get a permit.  That is amended out.  It would require approval of Home Owner Associations, Condominium Associations, or other such community associations prior to issuance of a Short Term Rental Property permit. It is not as bad as before, but still seems unnecessary. It is deferred till the first meeting in May.
Resolutions. Consideration of resolutions begins at timestamp 40:49.  Most resolutions pass on the consent agenda and are passed by a single vote.  Below are the resolutions of interest.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-459   ask the Police Department to inform the Council whether they agree or disagree with research findings in a recent report from Gideon’s Army regarding MNPD traffic stop statistics in Nashville, and to provide any other statistics or information necessary to refute, confirm, or add context to this report. The report in questions says you are much more likely to get stopped by the police if you are Black. This issue has been pending before the Council for about four months and has been the subject of several meetings. Some council members take to the floor and say we know the disparity exist and we need to fix it.  Councilman Scott Davis says the issue is poverty and minority unemployment and we need to fix those problems. Councilman Pardue says the resolution is unnecessary because the police have provided the information requested. This discussion is worth watching. This passes on a machine roll call vote of 31 to 7. Those voting in opposition are council members Swope, Pridemore, Pardue, Glover, Huezo, Pulley, and Dowell. To see the discussion see timestamp 48:46 -1:04:22
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-566  by Scott Davis expresses support for the Medical Cannabis Access Act currently pending before the Tennessee General Assembly. This was on the agenda last meeting and deferred. It is deferred once again.
RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-588  requesting immediate purchase of at least 168 Metropolitan Police Department body cameras. The sponsor, Council member Karen Johnson, makes a passionate plea for passage. Councilman Glover says the resolution is "window dressing" and this will be addressed in the normal budget process which starts soon. Several other council members make good comments. This discussion is worth watching, see timestamp 1:12:09 - 2:06:12.  The resolution passes 30 to 5 with two abstentions. The "no" votes were Pridemore, Pardue, Swope,  Glover and Pulley. Abstentions were Mina Johnson and Rosenberg.
Bills on Second Reading
BILL NO. BL2016-483 would require the police department to provide a quarterly report to the Council on how many traffic stops were made and what happened as a result of the stops, such as how many pat downs and how many searches and the race of the person stopped. It passes on a voice vote.
Bills on Third Reading
BILL NO. BL2016-308   requires tenants of housing funded by the Barnes Trust Fund to comply with certain maintenance and standards of conduct and to refrain from any illegal activity on the premises of the dwelling being rented. This was on Second Reading October 6th, 2016 and proved very controversial. At that Council meeting several council members spoke against it, mostly the African-American members of the Council. They argued that it stigmatized tenants to require a code of conduct. It was amended to say landlords "may" instead of "shall" enforce standards of conduct.  This still did not satisfy some members of the Council. It passes on a voice vote with some audible "no's" at that meeting and has been deferred on third reading a couple times to this meeting. It is deferred again which means it is deferred indefinitely and so it is probably dead.
BILL NO. BL2017-589  is the $14M tax break package for the Opryland water park. It passes on a machine roll call vote by 30 to 6. To see the discussion, see timestamp 2:28:28 - 2:55:03.

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