Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Highlights of the Nov.15, 20ll Council meeting

Former Metro Councilman Mike Jameson was elected General Session Judge. In the first round of votes, of the eight candidates running, Jameson, Freeman and Jones received votes in that order with none getting 21 votes resulting in a runoff between Jameson and Freeman. Jameson won the runoff.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2011-59 sponsored by LANGSTER & MCGUIRE was deferred to November. Duane Dominy raised a question, asking if using  public funds for this purpose would endanger the tax exempt status of the church. The staff adviser confirmed it possibly could, but that would be a decision for a state agency to make.  This resolution approves a contract between the Metropolitan board of health and Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church to upgrade the church’s kitchen facilities and to promote community gardens in North Nashville. The funds for this contract are from the federal stimulus grant the health department received to promote healthy living. These funds will be used to provide nutrition education, as well as to purchase a dishwasher, install kitchen sinks, purchase a new refrigerator, and purchase kitchen utensils for the church.  The church is to receive $24,275 in federal stimulus pass-through funds under this contract. An amendment was approved to revise the language of the bill to remove any reference to the ministry activities of the church and to specify that the programs are open to everyone regardless of religious affiliation. Despite this amendment, this still appears to be the use of public funds to benefit a religious institution and in my view should be rejected.

BILL NO. BL2011-3 sponsored by Councilman Tygard would allow recreational athletic fields and associated structures to be constructed within the floodway under certain conditions. Councilwomen Evans argued that fences and dugouts could obstruct water flow and be detrimental to flood control. Councilman Dominy argued that ball fields could be build that would not obstruct water flow. The bill passed on a voice vote.

BILL NO. BL2011-4 sponsored by Councilman Stanley which would require quarterly stormwater reports to be submitted to the Metropolitan Council was deferred one meeting for more study.  Councilman Stanley did not oppose the deferral but argued in favor of the need for the bill. I found his arguments persuasive. This bill needs to pass.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-31 sponsored by TYGARD and others amended the “meal ban” provisions in the Metro ethics code to allow elected officials, employees, and members of boards and commissions to accept free food or drink up to a value of $25 from a single source in any calendar year. This bill restores some sanity to an overreaching reform that went as far as prohibiting Councilmembers from accepting a cup of coffee at a neighborhood meeting. It passed by voice vote.

ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-39 privatized the metro tow-in lot eliminating several metro positions and saving millions of dollars. This was discussed at length at the Budget and Finance Committee and passed the Council without discussion.  This seems like a very wise move to me. Privatization almost always saves the city money. 

ORDINANCE NO. BL2011-39 increased from $2 to $3 a per seat ticket tax at Titans stadium.  The reason for this is to have the revenue to fund a bond issue to be presented next council meeting that would in essence have Metro co-sign a loan for improvements to the Titans stadium. It looks like a bad deal to me.  One of the objections was that the bonds were 25 years and the useful life for the improvements was much less than 25 years. Another objection is that the deal between the city and the Titans, has Metro taking the risk and the Titans taking the profits. The bill passed by machine vote 36-1. However there was a lot of discussion and many are not pleased with the relationship between the city and the Titans but feel the Titans have the city over a barrel. 
Controversial BILL NO. BL2011-25 sponsored by Councilman Matthews that would rezone a small portion of the lot in order to allow Temple Baptist Church to construct an LED sign was deferred one meeting.

The backyard chicken bill was not on the agenda but will be up for public hearing in December.

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