Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What's on the 10/15/19 Council Agenda: Electing Pro Tem, Honoring Gay "coming out," raising parking fines, spending $11.2 million.

by Rod Williams - The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, October 15th 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. If you are going to watch it, it is more interesting if you have the agenda and agenda analysis.  It is still not very interesting but more interesting if you know what the heck is going on. You don't have to watch it and yet you can still be informed however, because  I will watch it for you and then a couple days later post a summary of the most important Council actions and I will post a video of the meeting and highlight the interesting parts. Below is a summary of the agenda, highlighting what I deem to be the most important items.

Nominations and Elections
The first order of business will be the filling of some vacancies. The most important of these, or most high profile, is President Pro Tempore. Nominations will be made from the floor and then voted on. This is for a one year term expiring August 31, 2020. The President Pro Tem's only duty is to conduct the council meetings in the absence of the vice mayor.  Should the vice mayor's office become vacant, the President Pro Temp would fill that roll. Sometimes members aggressively seek the post lining up their votes; other times it is less sought after and not contentious. The major desirable characteristics for someone holding this office is being fair and being knowledge or parliamentary procedures. Nevertheless sometimes who lines up behind which candidate indicates the division lines in the council.

Other positions to be filled by members of the Council is a seat on the Traffic and Parking Commission and a seat on the Planning Commission.  Other position filled not by council members but by members of the public who are nominated and elected by council members are two vacancies on the Audit Committee of the Metropolitan Government; three vacancies to the Community Education Commission, three positions on the Industrial Development Board, and appointment of the Finance Director.

Public Comment Period: Community activist have not in the past abused this opportunity to address the Council the way I feared they would when the Council instituted this practice. Since this is the first time for the public comment period since the new council took office, there may be some members of the public who take the opportunity to  plead their point of view to the new body.

There are 15 resolutions on the agenda. Most are routine non-controversial things like accepting grants and settling law suits or approving signs overhanging the sidewalks. One resolution approves the employment of Jon Cooper as Special Counsel and Director of the Council Office. Below are two resolutions of interest:

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. The administration should make sure the request are legitimate before the bill is presented and the Budget and Finance Committee of the Council should then examine the request to determine that the individual request are legitimate. My view is that if the Budget and Finance Committee recommends it and there is no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the request, the Council should approve the request.
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. Note that this resolution designates October 11th as National Coming Out Day and the Council does not meet until October 15th. The day will be over when this passes.  This spends no money and takes no action except expressing the opinion of the Metro Council, so it is really not that important.
Bills on First Reading: There are only twelve. I normally do not even look at them until after first reading but I read the caption of these since this is a new Council and I wanted to see if there was anything outrageous filed. There is not. Most are zoning bills. Bills on First Reading are lumped together and voted upon. They are not examined until they get to committee and then considered individually on Second 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 $10 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.

Bill BL2019-4 prohibits aerial advertising. Why we are proposing doing this I do not
know. There is no "whereas" section of the bills that says why and the analysis does not say why. I always like seeing aerial advertising. Unless there is a real good reason to vote for this, if I served in the Council, I would vote against it.
Bills on Third Reading: There are none.

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. It is also available live on Roku. You can catch the meeting the next day (or the day after the next) on the Metro YouTube channel.   If can stand the suspense and just wait I will post the video here and provide commentary.

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