Sunday, October 14, 2018

What's on the Council agenda for Oct. 16: Gentrifying Nashville, increasing the price of a soccer ticket.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, October 16th at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the staff analysis for those who want to watch the Council meeting and follow along. Below is a summary of the agenda highlighting what I deem to be the most important items.

There are a total of eleven position to be filled to various boards and omission.  One is the confirmation of Dave Goetz to the Blue Ribbon Commission on government efficiencies and cost savings. Goetz is the former Tennessee Finance and Administration Commissioner serving under Governor Phil Bredesen. One is the confirmation of the appointment of  Dr. Bonnie Slovis to the Hospital Authority. This board which oversees General Hospitals has had a troubled past with conflicts and controversy and resignations.

Four appointees to the Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee are up for confirmation. They are Mayor Briley’s nominees Mr. Brian Kelsey and Ms. Talia Lomax-O’dneal and MDHA’s nominees Mr. Charles Robert Bone and Mr. Bert Mathews.

The Council will elect three member to the Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee. Included among the nominees are Dr. Paulette Coleman, Councilman John Cooper, Mr. Eddie Gray, Mr. Jose Gonzalez, C.M. Jonathan Hall, Councilman Angie Henderson, Mr. Ben Henry Jordan, Mr. Dan Lane, Mr. Jerry Maynard, Councilman. Bob Mendes, Mr. Larry Papel, Dr. Megan Streams, and Mr. Richard F. Warren. I don't know much about most of these people other than the council members. I hope Councilman Cooper is elected to serve on this committee. I have been impressed by his service on the council.

Resolutions: There are 24 resolutions all of which are on the consent agenda.  A resolution is on the consent agenda if it passed unanimously the committees to which it was assigned. Since the committees have not met yet, some resolutions which are listed as on the consent agenda may not be on the consent agenda when the council meets. Resolutions on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government or authorizing the Department of Law to settle claims against the city or appropriating money from the 4% fund. Resolutions on the consent agenda are lumped together passed by a single vote of the Council rather than being considered individually. Any member of the body may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda. Several of thee resolutions on this agenda authorize the issuance of General Obligation bonds. I would not expect these to be controversial. Usually by the time the resolution to issue the bonds reaches the council agenda the decision to fund the projects has been made by the administration and the council. Here are a couple resolution of interest:

Resolution RS2018-1452  spends  $3,070,000.00 from the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various departments. That is a lot of money to pull from this fund at one time. However, the fund is set up for this purpose. I hope the budget and finance committee carefully scrutinizes each request to assure that it is legitimate.
Resolution RS2018-1455  approves the issuance of up to $25,000,000 in GSD general obligation bonds to provide funding for various projects, $15,000,000 of the bond proceeds would be used for projects exclusively in Council District 1. Some of these are for projects not listed in the Capital Improvements Budget. I would expect this to be deferred or amended or defeated. The Council cannot fund projects not in the Capital Improvements budget. This resolution is sponsored by newly elected Councilman Hall of District 1. Usually these type resolutions are sponsored by the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee.
Bills on Second Reading: There are 16. These are the ones of interest.

Bill BL2018-1188  would establish a committee system to review high-value real property transactions by Metro Government. This looks like a good idea. However the staff analysis says it violates a charter provision so it will likely be deferred for more work.

Bill BL2018-1281 (as amended) would require all metro employees and contractors doing business with Metro with contracts of over $500,000, to take a sexual harassment training course under the Direction of Metro Department of Personnel. There are a couple problems with this. It may be contrary to a state law that prohibits cities from imposing additional requirements on state licensed firms, Human Resources cannot say how much it will cost, and the city does not have the resources at this time to track and assure compliance. This was on Second Reading last Council meeting and was deferred and likely will be deferred again.

Bill BL2018-1329 establishes some rules for the residential parking permit (RPP) program. Some residential areas near popular commercial area have had a problem with parking. Visitors to the nearby commercial establishments have been taking all of the parking on neighboring streets and residents who rely on on-street parking can not park on their own street. This permit system attempts to solve that by allowing only cars with permits to park on that street. If however you want to have guest for a baby shower or family dinner, it means they would be illegally parking on your street. Residents could purchase two guest permits good for a year. While this RPP system is new to Nashville it is common in lots of larger urban areas. No doubt this policy will be tweaked from time to time.  This was on Second Reading last meeting and was deferred. 

Bill BL2018-1334 tweaks the  ticket tax for the Major League Soccer Stadium. I don't expect this to generate controversy, but it might. This would raise the overall price of attending a game and may suppress attendance.
Bills on Third Reading: There are 16. These are the ones of interest.
Bill BL2018-1183  would establish a distance of a quarter of a mile between auto
repair businesses and used auto car lots and "auto services."  This seems like too much micromanagement to me. It also seems like an attack on poor people.  I know Nolensville Road is not very attractive and if you drive the road south of the fairground now, you will see used tire shops and used auto dealers and similar places clustered. A lot of these places are owned by immigrants. Those already operating would be grandfathered in, but if ownership changed the establishment could not continue. I assume that is the way that would work. That is the way it normally works with changes like this.  New used tire shops could not open unless they were 1/4 mile away from other such businesses.  I think we should let the market work this out. Poor people need jobs and places to shop too. Bills like this push out poor people and indirectly cause a loss of affordable housing.  To have affordable housing you need affordable communities. Affordable communities are going to have used tire shops and alternative financial institutions such as pay day lenders. You cannot gentrify all of Nashville and still have affordable housing. 

Bill BL2018-1314   establishes the Blue Ribbon Commission to look for government efficiencies and cost savings. The Commission would be 15-member. This lays out how they are appointed and their duties. I am pleased to see the council doing this. I hope some good comes from it. Despite Metro's rapid growth we have a financial crisis that is only getting worse. 

Bill BL2018-1316 would establish screening requirements and standards for waste
dumpsters. This is great for those of us who have to walk or drive by unsightly dumpsters but will add expense for the same people who might want to open a used tire shop on Nolensville Rd as described above. Well intention measures like this drive gentrification by making it difficult for poor neighborhoods to exist and if all parts of the town are aesthetically pleasing to middle class taste, you price poor people out of their neighborhoods and this leads to loss of affordable housing and makes it harder for struggling entrepreneurs to start new businesses. You cannot not have a lot of affordable housing without affordable neighborhoods and affordable neighborhoods may have unscreened dumpsters behind tire shops. You can't still have affordable neighborhoods and expect every neighborhood to look like Green Hills. 
To watch the Council meeting, you can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, or you can watch the broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and it is streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the MetroYouTube channel.   If can stand the suspense and just wait, I will post the video here the day after or the day after that and provide commentary.

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