Thursday, October 31, 2019

Washington Post: Emails cast doubt on claim of immigration visit to school

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Text of the Transgender Day of remembrance resolution on the Nov. 5, 2019 Metro Council agenda and how to vote or not.

Resolution RS2019-87
A Resolution recognizing November 20, 2019 as Transgender Day of Remembrance in Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee.

WHEREAS, Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of transgender people around the world whose lives have been lost to anti-transgender violence; and

WHEREAS, Transgender Day of Remembrance was established in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith in remembrance of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts; and

WHEREAS, Transgender Day of Remembrance has been observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries; and

WHEREAS, the annual event provides a forum for transgender communities and allies to raise awareness of the threat of violence faced by gender variant people and the persistence of prejudice felt by the transgender community; and

WHEREAS, many communities organize events and activities to create and promote visibility of anti-transgender violence to stakeholders such as police, the media, and elected officials; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Council recognizes that transgender members of our society are disproportionately affected by hate crimes and violence, and experience myriad challenges in their daily lives, including discrimination, disproportionately high levels of unemployment, and limited access to health care; and

WHEREAS, according to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2018, advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the United States due to fatal violence, the majority of whom were black transgender women; and

WHEREAS, fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, who comprise 80% of all anti-transgender homicides; and

WHEREAS, at least 21 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means in 2019; and

WHEREAS, only four out of ten Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender, and at least 74% of the known victims of anti-transgender violence in 2017-2018 were misgendered in initial police or media reports surrounding their deaths; and

WHEREAS, despite the challenges faced by the transgender community, by observing the Transgender Day of Remembrance, we recognize, admire, and celebrate the growing awareness and acceptance of transgender people in Nashville and across the nation. Local organizations committed to these efforts include the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, the Tennessee Vals, and the Metro Human Relations Commission; and

WHEREAS, on Transgender Day of Remembrance we honor and commemorate the strength, commitment, and remarkably immense efforts of those working to secure full and equal civil rights for all people, regardless of gender identity or expression.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:

Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as recognizing November 20, 2019 as Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Section 2. The Metropolitan Council is directed to prepare a copy of this Resolution to be presented to the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, the Tennessee Vals, and the Metro Human Resources Commission.

Section 3. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsor(s): Brett Withers, Zachary Young, Nancy VanReece, Russ Bradford, Emily Benedict, Kevin Rhoten, Colby Sledge, Ginny Welsch, Dave Rosenberg, Jeff Syracuse, Bob Mendes, Sean Parker, Kyonzté Toombs
By Rod Williams - This resolution changes no policy nor spends any money. It simply puts the council on record as recognizing November 20th as Transgender Day of Remembrance. If a council member does not want to be on record as doing so, they have several options to avoid voting in favor of this. I will explain them.

The resolution will be on "consent" if it passed the committees to which it was assigned unanimously. It will be lumped with a lot of other resolutions and the group of resolutions will be presented as a group to be passed by a single vote.  The assumption is that everyone present votes for the resolution. If a council person does not want to stand out as voting against the resolution but does not want to be recorded as voting for it, they can leave the room while the vote is taken and make sure the clerk knows they were out of the room. The resolution will list those who voted in favor but names of those not present will not be listed.

Another option, a little more bold than leaving the room, is to ask for the resolution to be taken off of consent. Before the vote is taken, the vice mayor will ask if any resolution should be taken off of consent. One has to simply state they would like it taken off of consent, they do not have to say why.  After the resolutions on consent are voted upon, then all of the resolutions not on consent will be considered. Normally after a resolution caption is read and committee reports are rendered, unless someone ask to speak, the vice mayor calls for a vote. He will says something like, "All those in favor say 'aye;' those opposed 'no.' The ayes have it." That way, the resolution is reported as having passed on a voice vote and the way any one person voted is not known.

A bolder move is that when the vice mayor ask for all resolutions on consent, one get recognized and ask to be recorded as abstaining on this resolution, or bolder still to be recorded as voting "no." 

If not on 'consent' or taken off of consent, It may be that a sponsor or other member may want to force a recorded vote.  In that case instead of a voice vote, a member hollers out, "roll call."  If as many as five members want a roll call, the vice mayor will call for a machine roll call vote. With a machine roll call vote, a member may vote "yes," "no," or "abstain," or they may simply not push a button.  If they vote "yes," "no" or "abstain," the minuets will reflect that; if they simply set on their hands the minutes will not list their name as one who voted. It will be as if they were out of the room.

One could of course boldly vote "no" and explain why.


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Immigration policy task force begins work

Shortly after taking office, Mayor Cooper repealed an Executive Order that had been issue by former Mayor Briley that basically said Metro employees were prohibited from cooperating with immigration officials and had to report on contacts city employees had with immigration officials and called on the State to repeal a State law prohibiting sanctuary cities in Tennessee.

Mayor Cooper appointed a task force to look into setting rules for interactions between Metro employees and immigration officials. The task force is tasked with reviewing current Metro policies and comparing them to immigration-related protocols in other cities. The group will then make recommendation for a metro policy that promotes safety in the community while still adhering to state and federal laws. The group has just 60 days to complete its work and file a report. They had their meeting yesterday, Wednesday October 30th.

A look at the  list of appointees shows a list titled toward those inclined to favor a very tolerant policy toward illegal immigrants. These are the task force members:

  • Shanna Hughey,  ThinkTennessee President
  • Juliana Ospina Cano, Conexion Americas Executive Director 
  • Hank Clay, Metro Nashville Public Schools Chief of Staff
  • Ana Escobar, General Sessions Judge
  • Mike Hagar, Metro Nashville Police Department Deputy Chief
  • Daron Hall, Davidson County Sheriff
  • Mary Kathryn Harcombe, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Legal Director
  • Victor S. (Torry) Johnson III, Former District Attorney General of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County
  • Sandra Sepulveda, Metro Councilwoman, District 30
  • Zulfat Suara, Metro Councilwoman At-Large
Source for this story is from WPLN, In Response To ICE Incidents And Confusion, Metro Begins Review Of Immigration Policies,

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The city must explain its intention to the Court as to the future MLS stadium. Court finds mixed messages confusing.

In a news story from WPLN today, MLS Stadium Lawsuit Exposes Gap Between Nashville Mayor And City Attorneys,  it is reported that Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle questions the intentions of Metro government in regards to the project to build a soccer stadium at the fairgrounds. She says there is a discrepancy between legal filings seeking to end the lawsuit and recent statements and actions by Mayor John Cooper. Examples are that the mayor had delayed the demolition of some fairground building to make way for the stadium and had appointed an internal working group to review the project.  Before ruling on a question before her, Lyle wants the city to clarify its intention.

Save Our Fairgrounds has filed a lawsuit that argues that the Metro Fair Board wrongly decided to allow a stadium at the fairgrounds.


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Mayor Cooper Announces Rapid Deployment Of $17.95m In Funding for Neighborhood Infrastructure Priorities

Press release - Mayor John Cooper today announced that $17.95M from the stalled SoBro-Gulch Pedestrian Bridge project, allocated by the Metro Council in the FY2014 Capital Spending Fund, will be immediately diverted towards neighborhood infrastructure projects throughout Nashville and Davidson County.

“The quality of our neighborhoods is measured, in large part, by the quality and safety of our roads and bridges,” said Mayor Cooper. “When $18 million for the SoBro-Gulch Pedestrian Bridge was allocated in 2013, that amount represented 100% of the funding for bridge repair and construction for the entire 2014 fiscal year. Currently, Public Works estimates that $131 million is needed to repair and replace our bridges and culverts. Now is the time for responsible spending to address our most critical infrastructure needs and focus on the safety and priorities that impact all of Nashville’s neighborhoods.”

Of the $18M allocation in the 2014 Capital Spending Plan, $17.95M remains unspent and will be diverted to the following projects accordingly:

  • $13.63 million of the $17.95 million will immediately go to shovel-ready bridge and culvert projects, ranked in order of urgency by Metro Public Works, in 24 different Council districts. 52 separate projects will receive funding;
  • $660,000 will go towards replacing the Shelby Bottoms Greenway Pedestrian Bridge, which has been closed due to structural damage;
  • $1,500,000 for traffic calming, which represents 100% of the traffic calming allocation in the 2018-19 Capital Spending Plan;
  • $750,000 for bikeways, which represents 50% of the bikeways allocation in the 2018-19 Capital Spending Plan;
  • $500,000 for new trash and recycling containers, an urgent need highlighted by Metro Public Works;
  • $410,000 for emergency roadway work, which will allow Metro Public Works to quickly address needs as they arise; and
  • $500,000 for street lighting maintenance, repair, and replacement
Community stakeholders impacted by the diversion of the pedestrian bridge funds have been notified, and both Metro Public Works and Metro Parks are aware that the funds will be made available for infrastructure projects to begin immediately.

“We need a long-term solution for connectivity in the Gulch and throughout our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Cooper. “Bikeways and walkways certainly help advance our connectivity goals, and there may be a time when we revisit the concept of a Gulch pedestrian bridge. But this reallocation of funds allows us to get to work on shovel-ready projects throughout our neighborhoods with residents’ safety and critical infrastructure priorities in mind.”

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Mayor John Cooper kills Gulch-SoBro pedestrian bridge

by Rod Williams -The pedestrian bridge to connect the Gulch to SoBro has been killed by Mayor Cooper. The $18 million project first proposed by Mayor Karl Dean has been in the planning since 2013.  Mayor Cooper said the money will be redirected to fund a variety of needed neighborhood projects.

The funding for the bridge was supposed to come from General Obligation Bonds, the debt paid off with Tax Increment Financing.  That was supposed to placate some people by making the argument that this meant it wasn't taking money from other projects to fund.  However, that was a shell game. It was like paying for it with money our of your right pocket rather than your left pocket. By financing with TIF what that amounted to was delaying money that would flow to the General Fund until after the Bridge was paid off.

I liked the concept of the bridge. I don't think that everything that makes the city more livable and attractive is a waste of money.  The bridge would have been a nice addition.  However, sometimes you just can't afford everything that would be nice to have.  The Gulch-Sobro bridge was like taking a trip to Disney World when the kid needs braces.

The money to be redirected will go to badly needed projects, such as $2.5 million will go toward replacing the deteriorating Charlotte Pike-Rosa Parks Boulevard bridge deck. Currently a temporary wood deck has been placed between the bridge beams to catch  falling concrete.

I am pleased with this action by Mayor Cooper.

For more see:
The Tennessean, Mayor John Cooper nixes Gulch-SoBro pedestrian bridge.
A Disgruntled Republican, Sept 11, 2014, Mayor Dean Proposes New Funding Strategy for Gulch - SoBro Pedestrian Bridge

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Davidson County will no longer house ICE detainees

NASHVILLE (WSMV) - Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall announced Tuesday that as of December 1, the county will no longer honor a contract to house  Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees.

This move comes after a meeting with local advocacy groups, Mayor John Cooper, Metro Council members, and internal stakeholders.

“The continued confusion and hyper-political (continue reading)
#

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — ... Hall said any future interaction with ICE will be limited to what is required by law.

Mayor Cooper said the sheriff's office made the right decision to cancel its inmate housing contract with ICE. .....  The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition applauded Hall's decision to end the contract. ...... Bob Mendes, Metro Councilmember At-Large. "While this is only a first step, today, we can celebrate our city’s commitment to focus first and foremost on the work of local government and making Nashville a safer place for all our neighbors." .... Metro Nashville government began receiving revenue to house various federal detainees, including ICE, in 1996. (read more)
To read The Tennessean report, follow this link.

Rod's Comment: Disappointing

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Marsha Blackburn: 'Mainstream media' does not report on issues affecting American 'heartland'

Marsha Blackburn: 'Mainstream media' does not report on issues affecting American 'heartland'

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New sheriff's headquarters $17M over budget,

by Rod Williams - This is not $17M more than the estimate, but $17M more than was appropriated. Why would a project began that did not have the needed amount appropriated?

Given all of the other financial stresses facing the city, now the city must come up with $17M to finish a started project.  Money can be borrowed for construction projects so this does not have to come out of current operating revenues.  However, the city already has excessive debt and needs to be reducing debt, not borrowing more. The project must be completed. The city cannot just stop a project that is under construction.  The project was approved with only partial funding in place under Mayor Megan Barry.  Read more about it at this link.


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Demolition delays for new MLS Stadium at Fairgrounds

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - News4 is learning more about what’s behind the delays for construction of the new professional soccer stadium and learning more about Mayor John Cooper’s plan to get some answers about what it will cost the taxpayers.

Construction on the new stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville was supposed to have started in June, but now there is no exact timetable. ...... one of the hold-ups is the lawsuit by the group Save Our Fairgrounds. The bonding companies won’t issue the revenue bonds to pay for the project. (read more)

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Mayor Cooper Announces Support of Neighborhood Speed Limit Reduction To 25 MPH

Metro Press release, 10/29/2019 - Mayor John Cooper today announced his commitment to improving neighborhood quality of life by instructing Metro Public Works to begin the rollout of lowering speed limits on neighborhood streets.

The Neighborhood Speed Limit Reduction initiative will impact neighborhood streets currently signed at 30 Miles Per Hour, reducing the posted speed limit to 25 Miles Per Hour. Metro Public Works, which released a Speed Reduction Feasibility Study earlier this year at Metro Council’s request, will work to implement the change over a one-year period, upon completion of a comprehensive signage inventory.

Street sign updates and community education on the speed limit change were previously funded in the 2018-2019 Capital Spending Plan with a $500,000 allocation, in addition to $1M for related engineering improvements from the Neighborhood Traffic Calming program.

Lower speed limits on Nashville’s local streets will improve safety and promote active living. Transportation research has shown that lowering speed limits to reflect an all-users approach to neighborhood streets results in decreased crash rates – in particular, dramatic improvement in crash-survival rates for vulnerable users, such as pedestrians and cyclists – as vehicular speeds decrease.

“With Nashville’s growth, more drivers have been prone to using our neighborhood streets as cut-through routes to avoid traffic on major corridors, impacting quality of life for our residents,” said Mayor John Cooper. “Slowing vehicular traffic in residential neighborhoods is a commonsense next step for public safety and health, and it’s important to many Nashvillians I’ve spoken with in recent years. I know Metro departments, the Metro Council, and our many community partners will help to make this effort a success.”
Mayor Cooper will ask Traffic and Parking Commissioners to consider the speed limit change at their November 18 meeting. He will then ask Metro Council to ensure the code reflects the change in speed on local neighborhood streets.

To help guide community engagement and public outreach around the rollout, the Mayor’s Office and Metro Public Works have assembled a team of stakeholders, Safe Speed Limit Outreach (SSLO), that will have its first meeting on Wednesday, November 6. Members include:

  • Burkley Allen, Metropolitan Council Member At-Large
  • Sgt. Michelle Coker, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
  • Saralee Woods, Commissioner, Traffic and Parking Commission
  • Lindsey Ganson, Director of Advocacy and Communications, Walk Bike Nashville
  • John Gore, Chair, Metro Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
  • Ruby Baker, President, Bordeaux Hills Residential Association
  • Kara (KB) Holzer, Director of Marketing and Development, Conexión Américas
  • Kathy Buggs, Director, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods
“Speeding through neighborhoods is consistently one of the top issues precinct commanders are asked to address,” Chief Steve Anderson said. “Speeding motorists put families at risk and interfere with the quality of life on residential streets and in subdivisions. This focused initiative to lower speed limits in many of Nashville’s residential areas will make our city safer, and we look forward to working with neighborhood groups and other Metro departments to help bring about this new change.”

Multiple Metro transportation plans have recommended strategies to create better neighborhoods for walking through safer speed policy, safety education programs, traffic-law enforcement, and additional traffic-calming measures. The speed limit change builds upon recent improvements to Metro’s Traffic Calming Program in order to make streets safe for everyone, including but not limited to motorists. Metro Public Works will design future engineering improvements under the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program to 25 MPH, and Safe Speed Limit Outreach will spearhead a grassroots education strategy over the coming months. A full change-out for Metro’s street signs will take approximately one year to complete.

More information can be found in the Metro Public Works Speed Reduction Feasibility Study.

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Sunday, October 27, 2019

How the Council voted on a matter that undermined the Legal department and will politicize lawsuits against the city.

by Rod Williams - On October 15, the Council considered and passed a resolution "urging" the Metropolitan Department of Law to compromise and settle the claim of Shaundelle Brooks, as next of kin of Akilah DaSilva, against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and requesting that the Metro Legal Department resolve this action expediently."

This was an important vote and sits a bad precedent. Normally when a person sues the city, the legal department negotiates with the other party and if legal determines it is best to settle, they bring a resolution to the Council asking the Council to approve the settlement. That is not what this is. This bill "urged" legal to settle the lawsuit. In this case, the legal department has not yet reached a settlement with the plaintiffs. They are still in the discovery stages. That is a big difference. The resolution contains language that could be construed as an admission of guilt on the part of Metro government. The language of the resolution could help the family in a separate lawsuit they have against Vanderbilt Medical Center.

From time to time the Council does pass memorializing resolutions expressing their opinion on a matter.  When the Council is "urging" the Congress or an agency of the federal government to do something, it is somewhat meaningless.  Also, it is somewhat meaningless when the Metro Council opines on a state issue. When the Council opines on a local issue or urges a agency of the Metro government to do something, that is more like a directive to do so, since the Council has the power do something about it if the agency does not honor the Council's wishes.

Akilah DaSilva was shot in the shoulder during the Antioch Waffle House shooting of April 2018. 911 dispatchers sent emergency responders to the Waffle House in Hermitage, nearly 10 miles away. The family claims the delay caused a massive blood loss that resulted in DaSilva’s death. However, that fact is in dispute because there were at least two other ambulances dispatched to the correct address so this mistake apparently did not cause the death of DaSilva. 

 When this was before the Council, Councilman Russ Pulley did an admirable job explaining why passing this was inadvisable. Also, Glover and Hager drove home the point that passing this resolution could harm the interest of the city. Council member Vercher spoke at length in favor of the resolution. The minority caucus supported it. To view the Council discussion see timestamp 1:30:33- 2:29:45 in the video at this link.

With this resolution passing, it is likely that everyone with a lawsuit against the city will lobby the Council for a favorable settlement and lawsuits will become political matters rather than legal matters. A responsible vote was a "no" vote on this matter.

Here is how members voted:

Yes (25): Mendes, Hurt, Allen, Suara, Hall, Toombs, Gamble, Parker, Withers, Benedict, VanReece, Evans, Welsch, Sledge, Cash, O'Connell, Taylor, Hausser, Vercher, Porterfield, Sepulveda, Rutherford, Styles, Lee, and Rosenberg;  

No (13): Glover, Hancock, Young, Hagar, Bradford, Rhoten, Syracuse, Roberts, Druffel, Murphy, Pulley, Johnston, and Nash;  

Abstain (1): Henderson.

Below is the text of the resolution:

Resolution RS2019-30

A resolution urging the Metropolitan Department of Law to compromise and settle the claim of Shaundelle Brooks, as next of kin of Akilah DaSilva, against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County; requesting that the Metro Legal Department resolve this action expediently; and requesting that the Emergency Communications Center adopt a policy for 911 call takers regarding GPS coordinates.

WHEREAS, on April 22, 2018, Akilah DaSilva was shot in the shoulder at the Antioch Waffle House located at 3571 Murfreesboro Pike; and

WHEREAS, 911 call takers incorrectly dispatched the emergency response to the Hermitage Waffle House at 816 Murfreesboro Pike instead, which was located approximately ten miles away and in a different police precinct, thereby delaying the emergency response; and

WHEREAS, GPS coordinates for multiple callers were available to dispatchers, but they failed to use available equipment to verify caller locations before dispatching the emergency response; and

WHEREAS, Akilah DaSilva died from blood loss after arriving at Vanderbilt University Medical Center shortly thereafter; and

WHEREAS, the compromise and settlement of this action is in the best interests of the Metropolitan Government, and any and all claims or causes of action brought, or that could have been brought, by Shaundelle Brooks, as next of kin of Akilah DaSilva, against the Metropolitan Government related to the events detailed above, should be compromised and settled expediently.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:

Section 1: The Metropolitan Department of Law is hereby urged to compromise and settle the claim of Shaundelle Brooks, as next of kin of Akilah DaSilva, against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, and to resolve this matter expediently.

Section 2: The Metropolitan Council further goes on record as requesting that the Emergency Communications Center adopt a policy that prevents 911 call takers from disregarding available GPS coordinates when responding to emergency calls.

Section 3: This resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsor(s): Tanaka Vercher


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How did Council members vote in honoring gay "Coming Out Day?"

by Rod Williams - On October the 15th the Metro Council passed the resolution below recognizing October 2019 as LGBT History Month in Nashville and Davidson County and October 11, 2019 as National Coming Out Day. The resolution was not discussed.

Here is how the Council voted:  "Having been unanimously approved by all of the appropriate Committees, Council Member Rosenberg moved to adopt the Consent Agenda Resolutions, which motion was seconded and approved by the following vote: Yes (36): Mendes, Hurt, Allen, Suara, Hall, Toombs, Gamble, Withers, Benedict, VanReece, Hancock, Young, Larry Hagar, Evans, Bradford, Syracuse, Welsch, Sledge, Cash, O'Connell, Roberts, Taylor, Hausser,Thom Druffel, Murphy, Pulley, Courtney Johnston, Robert Nash, Vercher, Porterfield, Sepulveda, Rutherford, Styles, Lee, Angie Henderson and Rosenberg; No (0); Abstain (0)."

You will note that no one voted "no" or "abstain" when voting on this measure and this was not a machine roll call vote. However only 36 members voted in favor. So who did not vote for it?  Of the 40 member Council, none were absent. So, four people did not vote. To not have themselves not recording as in favor, they may have been out of the room on a bathroom break or they may have been present for part of the meeting but not for this vote. Looking at who is not listed as voting "yes" and comparing it to the list of Council members, these are the ones who failed to vote:

  • Steve Glover, Councilman at-large
  • Robert Swope, District 4
  • Sean Parker, District 5
  • Keven Rhoten, District 14
I commend these four council members. I have highlighted in the above list some council member who disappointed me by their vote in favor of this resolution.  Below is the text of the resolution.

 Resolution RS2019-49
A resolution recognizing October 2019 as LGBT History Month in Nashville and Davidson County and October 11, 2019 as National Coming Out Day.

WHEREAS, the month of October is recognized as LGBT History Month in the United States; a month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, as well as the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements; and

WHEREAS, the Council also recognizes October 11, 2019 as National Coming Out Day. October 11 was selected as National Coming Out Day to mark the Second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987; and

WHEREAS, Nashville has a special connection to national LGBT history through Penny Campbell. Penny Campbell was an LGBT activist who co-organized the Tennessee delegation to the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987 and Nashville's Pride Parade in 1988. Later, she made history as lead plaintiff in Campbell vs. Sundquist (1996), which overturned a Tennessee state law criminalizing private, consensual sexual acts between same-sex adults; and

WHEREAS, in 2017, the Metro Nashville Historical Commission placed a historical marker at Penny Campbell’s former home at 1615 McEwen Avenue in the Lockeland Springs neighborhood, and concurrently made history by being the first publicly sanctioned historical marker in the state of Tennessee to commemorate the LGBTQ rights movement; and

WHEREAS, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has worked tirelessly to originate the movement to designate October as LGBT History Month. GLSEN was founded in 1990 by a group of dedicated teachers who recognized that improvements could be made in the education system to help LGBTQ students who are often subject to bullying and discrimination. To help these students, GLSEN takes steps to advocate for LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum to help all students better understand our world and our differences; and

WHEREAS, the first LGBT History Month was organized by GLSEN in October 1994 and this month will mark the 25th LGBT History Month. It is fitting and proper that the Metropolitan Council recognize October 2019 as LGBT History Month and October 11 as National Coming Out Day.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:

Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby recognizes October 2019 as LGBT History Month in Nashville and Davidson County, and furthermore recognizes October 11, 2019 as National Coming Out Day.

Section 2. The Council Office is directed to prepare a signed copy of this Resolution to be delivered to the local chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Metropolitan Human Relations Commission.

Section 3. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsor(s):  Brett Withers, Nancy VanReece, Emily Benedict, Zachary Young, Russ Bradford, Sharon Hurt, Freddie O'Connell, Joy Styles, Angie Henderson, Burkley Allen.

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Why is Metro School student enrollment dropping while population is rapidly growing?

Rod Williams - There are some things I am curious about that I am surprised politicians or the media are not curious about. Being an amateur blogger I would like to find the answers and report on them if I had the resources, which unfortunately I don't. One of those things that I would like to know is this: Why is Metro School student enrollment dropping while population is rapidly growing?

We all know about Nashville's rapid growth. When you look at the 14-county Metropolitan Statistical Area, it has grown anywhere from 71 to 100 people a day for about the last five or six years. A lot of that growth has been to surrounding counties, especially Wilson and Williamson. Davidson County itself  however, has gotten its share. When the city population grows, one would expect to see a growth in public school enrollment. We are seeing a decline. Why?

One reason could be that the population growth has occurred while the actual number of school age children have declined. It could be that the of the 100 people a day moving to the greater Nashville area, those with children are locating to Wilson and Williamson and other counties and Nashville is getting the bulk of the single people and young people without children.  It may be that as school age kids grow up and graduate, or leave the pipeline, they are not being replaced by young children entering the pipeline. If that is the case, why are families not choosing Nashville? I would speculate that if you  are parents with children moving to Nashville, then one of your concerns would be the qualify of education. A comparison of school quality would be a reason to look elsewhere rather than Davidson County.

Another explanation may be that more and more parents in Davidson County are choosing private schools for their children. The average private school tuition in Nashville is $10,455 for elementary schools and $16,023 for high schools. That is a lot of money.  However, many of the people moving to Nashville are earning salaries much higher than the area median income and can afford it. I am not aware, however, of any massive growth in the enrollment of private schools. Maybe some of both of these explanations above are happening.

I love Nashville and despite the worsening traffic and the growth in the number of deplorable progressives, I am living where I want to live. We have a lot going for us. Good quality education is not one of them however.  It is possible, nevertheless, to get a great education in Nashville. Parents have to apply to get their kids in a  good schools but since the parent has to provide the transportation, the parents who care more and have the advantages of a flexible schedule can often get their child into a good school.  If your child goes to Grandbery and then Hume Fogg, they will get an excellent education. If the parent just lets their child go to the zoned school, the chances are they will not.

Unfortunately, there are not enough Grandberys and Hume Foggs. In my view we should allow charter schools that serve people other than just those living in poverty and we should be developing more quality magnet schools. Unfortunately, it appears to me that Nashville is so concerned with "equity" that they sacrifice good education to the cause. If more schools are allowed to be great schools that creates a bigger gap between the great schools and the bad schools. The school system does not seem that interested in attracting parents who want a great education for their child.  Advance placement programs and programs like International Baccalaureate would attract more students whose parents want them to have a good education, but that does not seem to be a priority for Nashville.

Below is a partial list showing Davidson County population growth and student enrollment decline. I would like to know why?  If anyone knows of a study that has examined this issue or if one has particular insight, please share it.

2019 Population 698 494; student enrollment 85,163
2018 Population 692,587; students enrolled  85,287
2017 Population 665,396; students enrolled  85, 399
2016 Population 663,339, students enrolled 86,633
2015 Population 656,572, students enrolled 85, 797
2014 Population 645,820, students enrolled 84,353
2013 Population 636,267

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Mayor Cooper on signing an executive order on climate change: "That's just wasting a piece of paper."

by Rod Williams - Ever since he won the election a group of young climate change activist, the Nashville "hub" of the Sunrise Movement, have been pressuring Mayor John Cooper to sign an executive order declaring climate change an emergency. The group held a six-hour sit-in during the first days of Cooper's administration to persuade him to do so. Recently the mayor held a "listening session" at a coffee shop on Nolensville Pike to speak on issues important to residents.  Sunrise was there pushing their proposal for an executive order.

Cooper told the group that he agreed that climate change was an emergency but said, it is not anything he can do anything about. He has invited the group to meet with his top advisor to discuss their concerns but they have turned down the invitation. Cooper has said the subject area could not be
"more important," but has not called it a "crisis."

According to The Tennessean, Cooper said, "Youth violence is also a bit of a crisis. You want to be careful about which crisis is the most important crisis. I try to be careful not to overuse 'crisis...'
Calling something a crisis should be used where 'you can get the most done.'" "Everything they're talking about is, of course, quite worthy," he said. "But we're trying to get what we need to get accomplished for the city first."

I am pleased with Mayor Cooper's stance. To those who believe climate change is nothing but a hoax or believe that it is real but human activity has nothing to do with it, they will not be pleased.  They will oppose his recognition that it is a issue and will object to his calling it "an emergency." I am not one who thinks it is a hoax. I accept that humans can impact the environment.  I would have preferred, however, that he would have said it is an issue of concern and not have used the term "emergency," but I am not going to nitpick. 

I accept the reality of climate change but believe the solution lies with more capitalism, innovation,  technology and economic growth.  Most climate change activist seem to oppose steps that have actually reduced greenhouse emission such as fracking that has led to natural gas replacing a lot of coal. They oppose things like nuclear power and seem to favor policy that would turn the clock back to a era of pre industralization. I see them as more devoted to socialist policies rather than solving the issue they seem so passionate about. 

Cooper could have given the radicals what they wanted. It wouldn't have cost him anything to do so and he could have gotten them off his back. It showed fortitude to resist. I am sure John Ray Clemmons would have enthusiastically embraced the cause and, maybe not with as much enthusiasm, but have do doubt Briley would have given them their executive order also. I am pleased to see Cooper stay focused on the issues he ran on and not buckle to the newly energized extreme progressives.

Some would argue that issuing an executive order of this nature would do no harm. I disagree. To do so would contribute to the pressure that is building to adopt extreme measures such as those advocated in The Green New Deal.  There is a concerted effort to get city after city to adopt policies favoring radical climate change policies. When city after city does so, it tells Congress that the agenda of the radicals has the support of the country.  Since the first of the year New York City, Austin Texas, Kalamazoo MI, Bolder Co,  Miami Beach Fl, and hundreds of cities world-wide have joined in declaring a climate change emergency.

The young climate activist are now turning their attention to the Metro Council.  Even the conservatives on the Council often let liberal memorializing resolutions slip through. The thought is that since they spend no money and adopt no policies they are meaningless and it is better to let them slip on through than try to stop them. Also, some feel it is not wise to waste political capital on measures that don't really do anything and it is wise to pick your battles.  My view is that this is important and the Council should not go on record supporting a declaration that the Council recognizes a climate change emergency. I hope the conservatives and sensible liberals on the Council have as much fortitude as Mayor Cooper.

For more see below:

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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Tennessee Hearing on Asset Forfeiture Reform, Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Cordell Hull Building

By: Mike Maharrey, Tenth Amendment Center, NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 4, 2019) – Later this month, the Tennesse legislature’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Task Force will hold a hearing on asset forfeiture reform in the Volunteer State.
Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville) has spearheaded efforts to reform Tennessee’s asset forfeiture laws to require a conviction before prosecutors can permanently seize a person’s property. Last year, Daniel sponsored a House bill that would have created a process to determine whether there is probable cause before proceeding with asset forfeiture and close a loophole allowing state and local police to circumvent stringent state asset forfeiture laws by passing cases off to the feds.

In 2018, the Tennessee legislature passed modest reforms to the state asset forfeiture process, but it rejected more strict restrictions on the process under intense law enforcement opposition. The law now requires law enforcement agencies to provide formal notification within five days of a property seizure or of a forfeiture-warrant hearing. Authorities must provide notice whether or not the owner was present at the time the property was taken. The bill also requires the state to pay attorney fees if a person proves police wrongfully seized their property. Additionally, the stipulates that merely possessing large amounts of cash is not considered a crime.

Passage of the 2018 law created a foundation for activists in Tennessee to build on, and they have continued to push the issue forward. Those driving for reforms have set up a petition to support efforts. You can sign it HERE.

The Institute for Justice gives Tennessee forfeiture laws a D- and calls them “appalling.” Law enforcement only needs to tie property to a crime by a preponderance of the evidence – an extremely low legal standard – in order to forfeit it. Police can seize property without a conviction or even filing charges against the owner.

Any asset forfeiture reforms in Tennessee should include language to close a loophole that allows state and local police to get around more strict state asset forfeiture laws in a vast majority of situations. This is particularly important in light of a policy directive issued in July 2017 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the Department of Justice (DOJ).

FEDERAL LOOPHOLE
A federal program known as “Equitable Sharing” allows prosecutors to bypass more stringent state asset forfeiture laws by passing cases off to the federal government through a process known as adoption. The DOJ directive reiterates full support for the equitable sharing program, directs federal law enforcement agencies to aggressively utilize it, and sets the stage to expand it in the future.
Law enforcement agencies can circumvent more strict state forfeiture laws by claiming cases are federal in nature. Under these arrangements, state officials simply hand cases over to a federal agency, participate in the case, and then receive up to 80 percent of the proceeds. However, when states merely withdraw from participation, the federal directive loses its impact.

Until recently, California faced this situation. The state has some of the strongest state-level restrictions on civil asset forfeiture in the country, but state and local police were circumventing the state process by passing cases to the feds. According to a report by the Institute for Justice, Policing for Profit, California ranked as the worst offender of all states in the country between 2000 and 2013. In other words, California law enforcement was passing off a lot of cases to the feds and collecting the loot. The state closed the loophole in 2016.

The bill sponsored by Daniel last session included language that would close the loophole in most situations.
A local or state law enforcement agency, including a judicial district drug task force, shall not refer, transfer, or otherwise relinquish possession of property seized under state law to a federal agency by way of adoption of the seized property or other means by the federal agency for the purpose of the property’s forfeiture under the federal Controlled Substances Act, compiled in 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq.
A local or state law enforcement agency, including a judicial district drug task force, or participant in a joint task force or other multijurisdictional collaboration with the federal government shall not accept payment of any kind or distribution of forfeiture proceeds resulting from a joint task force or other multijurisdictional collaboration unless the aggregate net equity value of the property and currency seized in a case exceeds one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), excluding the value of contraband.
Very few cases exceed the $100,000 threshold.

As the Tenth Amendment Center previously reported the federal government inserted itself into the asset forfeiture debate in California. The feds clearly want the policy to continue.

Why?

We can only guess. But perhaps the feds recognize paying state and local police agencies directly in cash for handling their enforcement would reveal their weakness. After all, the federal government would find it nearly impossible to prosecute its unconstitutional “War on Drugs” without state and local assistance. Asset forfeiture “equitable sharing” provides a pipeline the feds use to incentivize state and local police to serve as de facto arms of the federal government by funneling billions of dollars into their budgets.

WHAT’S NEXT
The Civil Asset Forfeiture Task Force hearing will take place Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Cordell Hull Building (425 5th Avenue North) on the 1st floor, starting at 9 a.m. CST.

Rod's Comment: Civil Asset Forfeiture is an affront to democracy.  That the police should be able to confiscate your property without proving you committed a crime is unconscionable. This is the kind of authority police have in authoritarian police states.

If anyone is intending to attend this hearing, they should arrive early.  The meeting room will most likely be  packed with police officers in uniform advocated against any change.

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Friday, October 25, 2019

WSJ: Nashville Mayor’s Unorthodox Promise: Slow Corporate Handouts

City’s new leader wants to rethink costly incentives used to lure companies as residents complain about housing prices, traffic 
 
By John D. Stoll, Wall Street Journal, NASHVILLE— This city has been a poster child for economic development, the good and the bad.

Tax breaks and cash incentives have flowed. Tourists, sports teams and conventioneers have come. Hotels and restaurants have bloomed. And now Amazon.com Inc., among the most-sought-after employers, is erecting a pair of towers downtown to house 5,000 new employees, a move the company promises will “further the resilience, the vibrancy and just the overall coolness” of a place once known only for music.

With coolness comes clutter. I’ve been traveling here since my brother moved to Tennessee in 2004. Over 15 years, the population has grown by 19 people a day on average—from 588,512 residents in 2003 to 692,587 in 2018—as folks stream in to take jobs in health care, autos, banking and more.
Home prices rose; public services sputtered; traffic clogged. Growing pains are now as plentiful as the honky-tonks lining the city’s Broadway.
 ....
John Cooper, a 63-year-old real-estate developer, won Nashville’s recent mayoral race by nearly 40 percentage points, promising to curb the subsidies that lure big business. Skyscrapers and luxury housing developments are everywhere, yet city leaders can’t balance a budget.  (read more)

 

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State Board of Education overturns the decision of MNPS to revoke Knowledge Academy’s charter. Allegations not substantiated.

by Rod Williams - Knowledge Academies has three public schools in Nashville operating under charters from the Metro School Board. Charter schools are funded by taxpayers but run autonomously with their own board of directors.  Knowledge Academies have two middle schools and a high school.  Earlier this year the School Board found irregularities at the schools and voted to revoke the charters of the three schools. Alleged irregularities included unlicensed teachers and financial management issues.  The academies sometimes, it was alleged, had trouble making payroll and teachers were paid late.  It was alleged that the CEO of Knowledge Academies was running side businesses out of the schools at the same time that the schools had financial problems. Also, the complaint was that the schools were not academically performing very well.

Earlier this year when the problems came to light, the Knowledge Academies’ board took steps to address the problems.  The board fired the CEO and founder of the schools and hired the nonprofit Noble Education Initiative to run the schools. The MNPS charter schools office recommended placing Knowledge Academies on probation but instead the School Board voted to revoke the charter of the schools. Knowledge Academies appealed to the state.

The State found that MNPS was in error in revoking the charters and that many of the reasons given for revoking the charters were without merit. As to the poor academic performance, The State had this to say:

Based on the totality of the evidence presented on this allegation, I determine,while this issue is substantiated, it is not grounds to revoke the charter agreement under T.C.A. §49-13-122(b)(2). In the 2018-19 school year, Knowledge Academy achieved an Overall Composite of a Level 4 in TVAAS, meaningthat the school had achieved above expected student growth. Additionally, a February 2019 memo from the charter office to Knowledge Academywas the only evidence MNPS presented that demonstrated communication to Knowledge Academy regarding academic underperformance;in the memo, MNPS notified Knowledge Academy of underperformance in math and ELA as compared to the district,but also commended the school’s performance in science as compared to the district. Furthermore, in the 2018-19 school year, Knowledge Academy out performed the surrounding zoned middle schools in the Antioch cluster. While it is clear that Knowledge Academy has work to do to increase academic performance for its students, the academic evidence MNPS presented does not merit revocation of the charter agreement.
So, MNPS wanted to revoke the charter because of poor academic performance but Knowledge was performing better than the regular public schools in the same cluster.  MNPS was comparing Knowledge to the district average; not comparable schools.

On  the issue of teachers being paid late, that was not substantiated by the State. This is the State's findings:
Two complaints from two former staff members of Knowledge Academy is neither clear nor compelling evidence of this allegation, and Knowledge Academy presented evidence that refuted these claims by eleven teachers who were also employed at the school during the 2018-19 school year. Therefore, based on the evidence presented on both sides of this allegation, I am unable to determine that this issue is substantiated. Therefore, I cannot find evidence in this claim of financial mismanagement that merits revocation of the charter agreement.
Also, on the damning allegation that the CEO was running side businesses out of the school, that is not as bad as it at first sounds. It is hardly bad at all. In fact, the State says, "I determine that this issue is not substantiated." "From the evidence, it is clear that the former administration was seeking avenues to generate additional revenue for the school, including renting out the facilities, and the Governing Board was aware of these pursuits."

Some of the MNPS reasons stated for revoking the charter involved very petty things in which the Schools were out of compliance but working on improving.  To actually read the State's evaluation of the MNPS allegations,  follow this link.  If one had only causally observed and knew only what has been reported in the press about the issue of Knowledge Academies, one would think Knowledge was inefficient, failing to educate, mismanaged,  and corrupt. 

I am pleased that Metro does not have the final say on revoking a charter application. I am pleased that when Metro fails to approve a charter there is a means to appeal. Charter schools that are not performing as expected, or are misusing public funds, should have their charter revoked. However, I have zero confidence in the Schools Board's ability to fairly make that determination.  My view is that the MNPS Board can not be trusted to approve or judge charter schools.  They have a bias against them. The School Board does not want competition and school choice.  They are more interested in protecting their monopoly and bureaucracy than they are in educating children. I trust the school board about as far as I can throw them.

For more on this issue see link, link, link, link.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Marsha Blackburn: HOLDING TURKEY ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS ATROCITIES

From Marsha Blackburn -Protecting our Kurdish partners is a priority. Turkey must be held accountable for its destabilization of northern Syria, and ISIS must not be allowed to resurge. 
While I am encouraged that the lines of communication are open, this five-day pause in hostilities does not make up for the lives lost, families displaced, and homes destroyed by the Turkish incursion.  Not only are we abandoning our Kurdish partners, but Putin is exploiting our withdrawal.  We must not cede power to Moscow. 
 
Without reservation, I've joined Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in introducing bipartisan, comprehensive sanctions legislation that holds Turkey, its leadership, and its military accountable for their atrocities. 

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School Board lays groundwork to ask for a whopper of a budget increase.

by Rod Williams - The Metro School Board recently studies teacher pay and says that to boost the salaries of Nashville teachers to match the city's median income would cost more than $100 million a year. Unions applauded the study.  If the School Boards plans to ask for the money suggested in the pay plan study that would be money they would need in addition to any other increases in operating cost.  That would be an increase request like we have never seen. That would be a whopper of an increase!

The current 2019-2020 operating budget for Metro Schools is $914.5 million which was a 3.2% or $28.2 million increase over the 2018-2019 budget. The school district requested $76.7 million in additional funding or an 8.6% increase over the the then current $886.3 million budget. The year before that, Schools requested a $45.7million  increase and only got a $5 million increase.

It should be noted that at the same time the Schools budget has been increasing, the enrollment has been declining despite the population increasing. Currently there are 85,163 students enrolled. In 2018-2019 the enrollment was 85,287. In the 2015-16 school year enrollment was 86,633 students.

Several candidates elected to the Council in the recent council elections ran on a platform to "fully fund" the schools.  When a large number of council members are on record as pledging to fund whatever amount the School Board says then need, that gives the School Board a blank check to ask for pie in the sky.  Look out! This should be an interested budget year.

For more information see link, link, link.

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School Choice Has Arrived: What Does It Mean for Education in Our State?

 From Grant Starrett:
You are invited to the following event: School Choice Has Arrived: What Does It Mean for Education in Our State?

Event to be held at the following time, date, and location: Friday, October 25, 2019 from 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM (CDT)
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP
511 Union Street
#Suite 2700
Nashville, TN 37219
View MapAttend Event



Join the Nashville Federalist Society Chapter on Friday, October 25 at 11:45AM for a luncheon disussion on education with Shaka Mitchell, Tennessee Director for the American Federation for Children, and Justin Owen, President of the Beacon Center, at Waller.
Note: CLE is now avaialble for this program and the one on November 7 with Peter Wallison on the Administrative State. Save the date for our ethics CLE programs on December 5, starting at 11am.
IMPORTANT DETAILS
Justin Owen
Shaka Mitchell
The fee for the event is $15.00. You can pay online by credit card by clicking the green "Tickets" button above. If you would like to pay by check or cash, please send an email to grant@grantstarrett.com to RSVP and bring payment with you. (Checks made payable to: The Federalist Society.)
Lunch and refreshments are included. CLE credit is available.Parking is available in the adjoining garage. Attend Event

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Waiting List for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers Now Open

The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency has opened its waiting list for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. Online only applications will be accepted until 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. Anyone currently on the Section 8 HCV waiting list from 2017 will need to reapply. For a direct link to the application, please click here.

The list may not be reopened for a very long time; it could be years.  If you are a Metro council member or community leader or one who has contact with low-income people, please spread the word.  It is often not the most deserving who get the limited number of vouchers but those who learn that MDHA is accepting applications.  

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Mayor Cooper Announces Metro Public Integrity Task Force

Metro press release - In keeping with his campaign commitment to an accountable and transparent government, Mayor John Cooper today announced the creation of a Public Integrity Task Force to review current practices related to ethics and government transparency.

The Public Integrity Task Force, chaired by Bill Harbison of the law firm Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison, has been given the responsibility of reviewing current Metro practices relating to ethics, conflicts of interest, contracting and procurement practices, political contributions, and permitted political activities by Metro employees, vendors, contractors, and members of boards and commissions. The group will also review Metro government’s current open meeting and public records policies.

Mayor Cooper has further directed the task force to examine the need for an independent Inspector General to work with Metro as well as the Office of Internal Audit in identifying and preventing potential fraud and waste in Metro government. The Public Integrity Task Force is expected to make its recommendations within 90 business days.
The complete list of the Public Integrity Task Force members follows:

  • William L. Harbison (Chair) – Member, Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison
  • Audrey J. Anderson – Counsel, Bass, Berry & Sims; Former Vice Chancellor, General Counsel and University Secretary, Vanderbilt University
  • Martha Boyd – Attorney, Baker Donelson
  • Alex Coure – Businessman; Co-Chair, Nashville NAACP Economic Development Committee
  • Forrest Harris – President, American Baptist College; Professor, Vanderbilt University Divinity School
  • William C. Koch, Jr. – Former Justice, Tennessee Supreme Court; President and Dean, Nashville School of Law
  • Don Majors – Former Metro Council Member; Co-Chair, Nashville NAACP Economic Development Committee
  • Ron C. Snitker – Executive Director of Financial Services, Waller Lansden

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Monday, October 21, 2019

What happened at the 10/15/2019 Council meeting: Legal undermined in settling lawsuits, "gay "coming out honored, parking ticket fees increased.






The agenda of this meeting was only eight pages long and there was not much of importance on the agenda yet the meeting is two and half hours long. If you are going to watch the meeting, you will get a lot more out of the meeting if you know what is under discussion. To access the  agenda, agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.

I am providing my summary of the meeting below. However, be advised that I only hit the high points and report on what is important to me, so you may want to watch it for yourself. I do not even attempt to form an opinion on each zoning bill and normally only report on those that are controversial or are bills disapproved by the Planning Commission.  Also, if you view the minutes of the meeting you can find out from the official record what happened without watching. Unfortunately, the minutes are often not posted until a week later. You can access the minutes at this link

The meeting is graveled to order at timestamp 7.46. At timestamp 12:51, Mayor John Cooper addresses the Council. It is rare that the mayor ever addresses the Council and this is Mayor Cooper's second time to do so, having addressed the first meeting and this the second meeting of the Council. Cooper recognizes National gay Coming Out Day and endorses the resolution honoring the event which is on the agenda. He announces the $12.62 million the Convention Center Authority is going to give the city. He announces he is rescinding the  controversial Mayor Briley executive order concerning illegal immigration and announces the appointment of a task force to develop a policy to address the issue. He announces that soon he will be bringing before the Council a request of water and sewer rate increase and explains why this is necessary. He announces the city will be looking at traffic and transportation issues. He asks the Council to vote to confirm his appointments of Finance Director and Legal Director.  He says, "this will be the council that gets stuff done."

Appointments and elections:

  • Jeff Syracuse is elected President Pro Tempore. He was the only candidate. 
  • The Council elected Council members Zulfat Suara and Tom Druffel to the audit committee. 
  • Kathleen Murphy was elected Chairman of the Planning Commission beating out Councilman Steve Glover by a vote of 37 to 3. Glover said he did not campaign among his colleagues for the position. He seems to me that if he had not counted votes and thought the vote would be competitive it would have been better not to have placed his name in nomination. While, if I were serving in the Council, I would have voted for my friend Steve Glover, I am actually pleased he did not get the position. It is very demanding and time consuming and Glover's influence and talents are best used elsewhere rather than being bogged down in the minutia of zoning controversies. 
  • Councilman Freddie O'Connel was elected to a position on the Traffic and Parking Commission which means he will also serve as Chair of the Council's Parking and Traffic Committee. His nomination was uncontested. 
  • The Vice Mayor appoints Chairs and members to eight "special committees." These are committees that will only exist for three months and then file a report with the Council of their findings. The special committees will also have citizens who are not members of the Council serving on the committees. The committees include; Why people are not voting and what can be done to improve voter participation, What steps can be taken to make sure teachers do not have to pay out of pocket for school supplies, street closures, Sidewalks and why does it cost so much to build them and how is the list of which sidewalks get build determined, why does zip code 37208 have the highest rate of incarcerated people in the nation, the pay of teachers, police and fireman and how we compare to other cities, what opportunities are provided to young people in Nashville, and Codes enforcement issues. I am pleased to see these steps taken. These are all issues that need special attention. I am especially pleased to see attention given to the sidewalk issue. We spend vast amounts of money to build sidewalks but don't get many new ones.
Public Comment: No one signed up to comment. This is somewhat surprising to me. With a new slate of radicals elected to the Council, I thought we may see some progressives take the opportunity to grandstand and propagandize and flex their muscle. On the second meeting of every month any Nashvillian may address the Council regarding a local concern. To do so one must register in advance with the Council office.

Resolutions. The Council begins considering legislation at timestamp 1:06:10. Most resolutions are lumped together and passed on the "consent agenda."  If there is not dissension then the resolution is considered to have passed unanimously.  Any member may have an item taken off of the consent agenda or have an abstention or "no" vote recorded. These are the resolutions of interest.
Resolution RS2019-30 "urges" settling the lawsuit against the city by Shaundelle Brooks, as next of kin of Akilah DaSilva. Akilah DaSilva was shot in the shoulder during the Antioch Waffle House shooting of April 2018. 911 dispatchers sent emergency responders to the Waffle House in Hermitage, nearly 10 miles away. The family claims the delay caused a massive blood loss that resulted in DaSilva’s death. However, that fact is in dispute because their were at least two other ambulances dispatched to the correct address so this mistake apparently did not cause the death of DaSilva.  Normally the Council settles a law suit after Metro Legal recommends it. My view is that when the legal department ask for a settlement of a law suit rather than litigating a law suit, the Council should defer to the legal department. However, in this case, the legal department has not yet reached a settlement with the plaintiffs. They are still in the discovery stages. That is a big difference. The resolution contains language that could be construed as an admission of guilt on the part of Metro government. The language of the resolution could help the family in a separate lawsuit they have against Vanderbilt Medical Center. Councilman Russ Pulley does an admirable job explaining all of this. Glover and Hager also drive home the point that passing this resolution could harm the interest of the city. Counil member Vercher speaks at length in favor of the resolution. The minority caucus supported this resolution. If this should pass, then it likely that everyone with a lawsuit against the city will lobby the Council for a favorable settlement and lawsuits will become political matters rather than legal matters.
The family of DaSilva wanted to address the Council. This takes a 2/3rds vote of the body which failed to approve. If I had a vote, I would have also voted "no." There was no need to hear from the family. There is a motion to defer the matter two weeks and that motion fails. The vote on the resolution passes by a vote of 25 to 13 with one abstention.  This sets a terrible president. When the meeting minutes are published I will post how members of the Council voted. See timestamp 1:30:33- 2:29:45 for the discussion.
Resolution RS2019-39  appropriates $11.3 million out of the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various Metro departments. That is a lot of money but this is normal. It passes on the Consent agenda.
Resolution RS2019-49  recognizes October 2019 as LGBT History Month in Nashville and October 11, 2019 as National Coming Out Day. I don't think "coming out" is anything to celebrate and would vote "no" or at least vote "abstain," if I were serving in the Council. I am disappointed that this passed on "consent." It is worth noting however that this does nothing but express the will of the Council and spends no money nor actually does anything.
Bills on First Reading. As is the norm, all bills on First Readng are all passed by a single vote lumped together. Bills are not evaluated by Committee until after First Reading.

Bills on Second Reading: There are 16. These are the ones of interest.

Bill BL2019-1 raises the parking violation fee for most parking violations from $11 to $25. This seems reasonable to me.  With the scarcity of parking places and the increase in the value of parking space it seems reasonable to increase this fee. Councilman Sledge explains that this is the first step in a process to modernize our parking system.  It passes on a voice vote.

Bill BL2019-4 prohibits aerial advertising.  I always like seeing aerial advertising. The bill is amended and deferred one meeting.  The sponsor explains the reason is noise. I'm not buying it.

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