Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Community Covenant. A progressive agenda for Nashville?

by Rod Williams - At the October 1 meeting of the Metro Council which was the first meeting of the new Council, the Council passed a memorializing resolution adopting a "Community Covenant."  This document could be interpreted as committing the council to a progressive agenda that includes adopting certain policies.  On the other hand it could be interpreted as adopting aspirational goals and does not suggest specific policies to achieve those goals. That is the way I am interpreting it.  As an example, I support "living wages and family-friendly benefits" but oppose a mandatory $15 an hour minimum wage or mandated maternity leave.  The best way to achieve a living wage is to create an environment where more people are worth $15 an hour but recognize that jobs paying $7.25 are entry level jobs that help people build the skills necessary to earn $15 an hour. I favor ending poverty but think that capitalism and a free-market economy do a better job than redistribution and making people dependent on welfare.

The document does contain some relatively specific policy proposals such as, "the Council should continue to dedicate robust funding for the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing." However, "robust" is not defined. 

This resolution was signed by the mayor.  Resolutions that do nothing and are simply expressing the will of the Council are often not signed by the mayor. When the Council shares an opinion with the U.S. Congress, for instance, those are not signed by the mayor.  I would have preferred the mayor had not signed this since it clearly is only, "expressing the support and commitment of the Metropolitan Council."  I do not know why this was signed by the mayor.

Typically, the Council attorney does not provide an analysis of memorializing resolutions and he did not provide analysis of this resolution. 

This resolutions puts the Council on record for something, but thankfully it is vague enough to make it mean whatever one wants it to mean.  Luckily for those who thing it means rent control or a $15 an hour minimum wage for Nashville or sanctuary city status for Nashville or a lot of other progressive values will find themselves frustrated by State law and a State legislature that will not allow Nashville to wonder to far off into progressive la-la land.  Below is the text of the resolution as amended.

Resolution RS2019-31 (as amended) 

A resolution expressing the support and commitment of the Metropolitan Council toward principles constituting a Community Covenant with the aim of increasing prosperity and reducing poverty in Nashville and Davidson County.

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Council recognizes that all citizens and residents of Nashville and Davidson County should have the opportunity to participate in Nashville's burgeoning economic growth, and that ensuring a more equitable city for all Nashvillians requires adoption of public policies and business practices that will foster equal access to equitable opportunities; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Council further recognizes that equitable growth gives all Nashvillians the opportunity to participate in and benefit from Nashville's growing economy, and that equity -- rather than simple equality -- should be considered when making public investments, allocating resources, choosing service vendors and contractors, and enacting budgets; and

WHEREAS, diversity and equity should be reflected in all departments and agencies of the Metropolitan Government, as well as in the non-profits and businesses throughout Nashville; and steps should be taken to identify, recruit, and hire candidates from diverse ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds; and

WHEREAS, living wages and family-friendly benefits support and advance upward economic mobility, financial independence, and family stability. Accordingly, the Council should endeavor to partner with those businesses that provide living wages, quality affordable healthcare, and other family-friendly benefits; and

WHEREAS, reasonable access to affordable housing promotes community stability and development while preventing displacement. Therefore, the Council should continue to dedicate robust funding for the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing and further establish a comprehensive plan, developed with community input, that addresses Nashville’s affordable housing crisis; and

WHEREAS, public transportation should connect residents to their homes, work, and surrounding neighborhoods. In light of Nashville’s growing transportation crisis, the Council should pursue a comprehensive development plan for public transportation that is conceived, developed, and implemented with a community-driven approach; and

WHEREAS, workforce development is vital to connect unemployed and under-employed residents to meaningful job opportunities. Consequently, the Metropolitan Government should seek partnerships with colleges, businesses, non-profits, and apprenticeship programs to connect job seekers with employers and opportunities in order to provide them with opportunities to develop essential workplace skills. The Metropolitan Government should also improve opportunity for minority and woman-owned businesses, and be more accountable publicly about the effectiveness of these efforts; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Council believes the principles recited herein above are proper, necessary, and effective toward the reduction of poverty throughout Nashville and Davidson County.


Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as expressing its commitment to the principles recited herein above as a Community Covenant for the reduction of poverty in Nashville and encourages the Mayor to express a similar commitment.

Section 2. The Metropolitan Council will adopt practices to implement the principles recited herein through its committee structure and upon a vote of the council, and encourages the Mayor to also adopt practices with the aim of implementing the principles recited herein.

Section 3. The Metropolitan Council encourages all Metropolitan Departments, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority to adopt practices to implement the principles recited herein to assist with increasing prosperity and reducing poverty throughout Nashville and Davidson County.

Section 4. This resolution shall take effect from and after its passage, the welfare of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.


Bob Mendes, Brett Withers, Colby Sledge, Bob Nash, Jeff Syracuse, Kathleen Murphy, Thomas Cash, Nancy VanReece, Sharon Hurt, Tanaka Vercher, Kyonzté Toombs, Ginny Welsch, Emily Benedict, Sean Parker, Delishia Porterfield, Joy Styles, Russ Bradford, Gloria Hausser, Jennifer Gamble, Freddie O'Connell, Zachary Young, Burkley Allen, Zulfat Suara

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