Sunday, February 16, 2020

What is on the Council agenda for 2-18-2020: New rules for Scooters, banning vaping, banning contracting for detention services.

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, February 18th at 6:30 PM in the Council chamber at the Metro Courthouse. Here is a link to the Council agenda and the Council agenda staff analysis. Below are the  items of interest.

Public Comment Period. This time is dedicated to allow members of the public who have registered in advance to speak upon matters related to the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County community. So far this opportunity has not been used for grandstanding by activist.

Resolutions. Resolutions are passed by a single vote of the Council. Most are routine matters such as accepting grants and approving contracts and approving settling of law suits and approving signs overhanging sidewalks. Most are lumped together and passed as a group by the Council by a single vote.  These are the ones of interest.

Resolution RS2020-202 is  "A resolution approving an intergovernmental agreement by and between the State of Tennessee, Department of Transportation, and The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, acting by and through the Metropolitan Department of Public Works, for signal maintenance for I-440 Traffic Operational Deployment of Blue Toad Spectra Power over Ethernet (PoE) Data Collection Devices, State No. 99111-4604-04; PIN 125652.00 (Proposal No. 2020M-004AG-001)." This would normally pass without controversy, however there is an issue that may make this controversial.  Many neighbors of the expanded I--440 corridor have complained of lighting pollution.  Some have said that prior to the expansion that they were not bothered by the I-440 lighting but now is shines in their house like a spotlight. Normally the Council would have litter leverage to influence the State to address these concerns. If I were serving in the Council I would hold up passage of this resolution until the concerns of constituents were addressed.
Resolution RS2020-208 by Steve Glover. A resolution expressing the Metropolitan Council’s intention to support Mayor Cooper’s commitment to protect taxpayer dollars and focus the use of government resources on public safety and improvements to our school system. I support this.
Resolution RS2020-209 is "A resolution requesting the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to support a change in state law to include stormwater utilities among the utilities covered under the Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority Act."  I do not know enough about this to have an opinion and since it is a memorializing resolution, the staff does not  explain this.  This needs scrutiny.
Resolution RS2020-211 ask the State to support legislation to limit the interest rate that can  be charged by title loan companies. I oppose this. I have no love for sleazy title loan companies. In my career, which has involved counseling low income people, I must have warned people a thousand times of the danger of using pay day lenders and title loan companies.  However I don't want to protect people from making stupid decisions. Free people should be free to be stupid.  Also, there are tunes when a title loan may be the only loan a person can get and a bad loan may be better than no loan. 

Bills on Second Reading.
Bill BL2019-109 makes changes in the city policy toward scooter or what is termed "shared urban mobility devices.  Back in July 2019 the Council passed a bill cancelling all scooter permits and allowing existing scooter companies to operate with half the number of scooters they currently had on the streets while the Traffic and Parking came up with a RFP (request for proposal) system to replace the current system. This bill extends the time the Traffic and Parking Commission has to develop its RFP system and changes the guidelines for what would be in the RFP. Some of the guidelines are more specific and this also authorizes the Traffic and Parking Commission to set fees to charge to the scooter companies to carry out the enforcement of the agreements. The Commission would not have to come back before the Council to have their fee amount approved. This is better than the previous bill in my view in that it does not limit the number of providers of scooters to only three, however it restrict each provider to only 500 scooters. I don't support that restriction because there may be some economy of scale. This requires the RFP to have a commitment to safety including helmets. I don't like requiring helmets. There is a lot in this I don't like, but I fear if this does not pass a complete ban may pass and I do not want to see scooters banned. So if I had a vote, I would reluctantly voted for this bill.
Bill BL2020-115 (as amended) requires a security plan prior to obtaining a building permit for a parking structure constructed near a stadium, arena, or racetrack. Under this ordinance, no parking structure, as defined by the zoning administrator, could be constructed within 100 feet of a stadium, arena, or racetrack that accommodates or will accommodate 1,000 people or more unless a security plan prepared by a professional sports/entertainment facility security consultant is approved by the fire marshal and the department of codes administration. The security plan must, at a minimum, include mitigation mechanisms to protect spectators from attacks associated with explosives contained inside motor vehicles located on or within the parking structure. It is my understanding that this would be another obstacle in the way of the proposed MLS Fairground stadium. Also for security purposes, it does sound reasonable. I support this bill.
BILL NO. BL2020-148 (BENEDICT, WELSCH, & OTHERS) – This ordinance would prohibit Metro from entering into a new contract, or renewing an existing contract, with a private contractor to manage a Metro detention facility after June 30, 2022. The ordinance would also prohibit Metro from entering into or renewing a contract with the state for the detention of incarcerated persons if the contract permits a private contractor to manage the facility. "Profit" has become a dirty word for some people in recent years. For-profit prisons and schools have especially come under attack by progressives. I think government contracting for services is often, not always-but often, more cost-effective than government providing services directly, whether garbage collection, janitorial services, road construction or owning and managing prisons. I oppose this bill. Contracting for detention services should not be banned as an option.
Bill BL2020-162 would prohibit vaping on hospital grounds and within the public right-of-way in the vicinity of hospital entrances. I oppose this. Vaping when using the products it was intended for is healthier than cigarettes. Vaping endangers no one but the person vaping. Can you imagine the person with a nicotine habit visiting a sick or dying loved one in the hospital and they need a smoke.? We may think it better if they did not have that habit, but in a time of stress is not the time to punish them for a habit of which we may not approve. Have some compassion. Reject the nanny state and vote "no."   None of the bills on Third Reading are of interest.

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