Monday, November 4, 2019

What's on the Council agenda for 11/5/2019 (update): A transgender day of remembrance, comprehensive immigration reform, raising parking fees,banning aerial advertising, requiring a permit for a fence.

by Rod Williams - This is an updated version of my report on the council agenda.  The previous version was composed without benefit of the Council staff analysis.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, November 5th at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the Council 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.

Elections and Confirmations
The council will elect a new school board member to fill the vacancy resulting from the resignation of Will Pinkston.  These are the candidates:

  • Freda Player-Peters - a former local Service Employees International Union (SEIU) leader and Briley staffer
  • Elizabeth Hines - a parent who works as an adjunct professor at Nashville State Community College,
  • Allison Simpson - a parent who was head of the defunct Nashville Rise nonprofit parent group.
  • Kevin Stacy - a former Metro Nashville Public Schools administrator who led the system's department that supported students learning English. 
I don't know who is the best candidates. Freda Player-Peters is the candidate that has the support of the most progressive members of the Council. Also, as a Briley staffer she got to know some of the council members. I would think she is the leading candidate but not the best candidate. Kevin Stacey has the endorsement the teachers union (MNEA) and the school board’s Chair, Anna Shepherd, and its vice-chair, Amy Frogge.  This is an important election. Our schools are failing and the school board is laying the ground work to ask for a massive budget increase and quite of few of the new council members have pledged to give the school board whatever amount they ask for. We need someone who is a realist and has common sense serving on the school board. For more on this see link, link, link, link.

Three vacancies will be filled on the Industrial Development Board These positions are publicly low-profile, but sometimes the council is lobbied hard to get one faction or another's favorite candidate on the board. Lawyers, developers and financiers take an interest in who gets appointed to these positions. This board's function is, "to acquire, own, lease, and dispose of properties to the end that corporations may be able to promote industry and develop trade by inducing manufacturing, industrial, and commercial enterprises to locate in Nashville."

Public Hearing
There are five resolutions on public hearing exempting businesses from the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit. Seldom does anyone speak on these and they are usually not controversial. There are twelve rezoning bills on public hearing. I normally don't examine them or form an opinion on their merits and don't report on them unless they amount to something more than just a neighborhood issue or unless they have proven very controversial.  All of the ones on this agenda  are approved by the Planning Commission.

Resolutions.
Most of the resolutions on this agenda are routine things, such as accepting grants, allowing some signs to overhang sidewalks and approving the settling of some lawsuits recommended by Metro legal. We do not know which resolutions are on "consent."  If a resolution passes the committees to which it is assigned with a unanimous vote, then it is placed on "consent."

Sometimes resolutions pass on consent that express the council's opinion favoring very politically correct progressive positions. These type "memorializing" resolutions, spend no money and change no policy, so some of the more conservative or sensible liberals on the Council let them slip through unopposed.  I don't think that should happen. If a bad resolution is before the Council, I think a council member should, have it taken off of consent, which they may do, in which case it would be presented to the Council for a voice vote instead of passing unanimous. Also, a council member could ask to be recorded as abstaining or voting "no."  Council members do not have to waste time arguing against a meaningless resolution that does nothing, but they should not vote for a bad resolution that does not reflect their views.  Below are the resolutions of interest:
Bill BL2019-3   authorizes Metro to opt into the historic properties tax abatement program under state law and would establish a historic properties review board. This would give a property tax break to historic properties that are restored. I support this. I am a strong advocate of property rights and do not want to prohibit someone from tearing down a historic property but also want to see old significant buildings saved.  If we can incentivize people in preserving historic properties I favor it.
Resolution RS2019-86 request that the President of the United States and Congress of the United States enact comprehensive immigration reform and give Nashville’s qualified undocumented neighbors a path to citizenship and an opportunity to fully participate in the life of our community without fear. While some may view this as a pro-illegal immigration bill, I don't really find it offensive. I favor "comprehensive immigration reform."  And, I favor, "just and reasonable eligibility requirements that would enable those undocumented immigrants who meet said requirements, to apply for citizenship." And, I favor, "a just and fair path to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants who have qualified to apply." There are enough vague terms and weasel words in the resolution that I find no reason to oppose it.

Resolution RS2019-87 recognizing November 20, 2019 as Transgender Day of Remembrance in Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. If I served in the Council I would not argue against this but I would not vote for it. I would ask it be taken off of consent and let it pass by an unrecorded voice vote.  If five councilperson asked for a recorded vote, there would be a machine roll call vote and  then I would simply not vote or vote "abstain."  You may want to contact your council person and ask them to not vote for this. There is no excuse for voting in favor. For more on the options members have for not voting in favor see this link. Text of the Transgender Day of remembrance resolution on the Nov. 5, 2019 Metro Council agenda and how to vote or not. My view is that any loss of live is important, there are many other groups of people at least, if not more, deserving of a day of remembrance.  See this link: How about a day of remembrance for American military killed in action? For policemen killed in action? For firemen? For babies killed by abortionist? For Americans killed by illegal aliens? For ....
 Bills on First Reading. There are 21. All bills on First are lumped together and pass by a single vote. I don't examine them until they get to Second Reading.

Bills on Second Reading. Of the 13, these are the ones that I find of interest.
Bill BL2019-4 prohibits aerial advertising.  I always like seeing aerial advertising. I see no logic for this bill and if I served in the council I would vote against it.  The sponsor explains the reason is noise. I'm not buying it. A similar bill like this in Hawaii was challenged in court as a violation of the First Amendment and withstood a challenge.
Bill BL2019-31 would require a permit for all new fencing. I do not necessarily oppose this, but since we have never required this before, I would want to know what problem this is trying to address before voting for it.   
Bills on Third Reading. There are 14 and this is the only one 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 a 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. We need to modernize our parking meter system.
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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