Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Highlights of the December 6th Metro Council Meeting, Another update.

 'Deals for Meals', Titans Stadium Improvements, Privatizing the Tow-in Lot

A video of the December 6th Council meeting is below.

The council voted 33-3 for a bond issue to improve the Titans stadium. Councilmen Phil Claiborne and Duane Dominy questioned the terms of the deal during a brief debate. They argued that the 20-25 year repayment schedule on the bonds extends beyond the useful life of the improvements and also the term of the Titans’ current lease, which expires in 2028. (see video starting at 22:50)  Not stating her reason, Council Member Evans, who is a municipal bond expert and no doubt has valuable insight asked to be recorded as abstaining. Councilman Dominy made the point that there are $1.1 billion dollars in outstanding bonds collateralized by this same source of non-tax revenue. He urged the bill be defeated and a new bond package be negotiated providing better terms to the city. The three council members voting against the bill were Clairborne, Dominy, and Tenpenny.

The bill to require quarterly storm water reports was deferred indefinitely by the sponsor saying he would continue to work on an improved reporting procedure, perhaps pursuing a requirement for semi-annual report. (see video at 34:50) I think Councilman Standley was correct in wanting quarterly reports but apparently he just did not have the votes. The Council must exercise a lot of oversight or the stormwater program will turn into a means for the Mayor to reward friends and punish enemies and we will also see a lot of waste in the program.

The bill to undo limo price-fixing was deferred one meeting.

The bill to allow recreational athletic fields to be constructed in the floodway with appropriate safeguards passed 31-6.

The council passed on third reading a bill that would return some sanity to the rules regarding someone buying a meal for a council member.  As passed, now an individual may spend up to $25 a year on meals for a council member before that council member has violated the law by accepting the meals. As it was, a council member could not consume cookies and coffee at a neighborhood meeting.The bill passed without discussion on a voice vote.

The bill which would privatize the tow-in lot  (see video at 52:34) was amended  and passed 35-2. The two "no" votes were by Stanley and Duvall. I am surprised by Duvall's "no" vote. I know Duvall to be one of the more conservative members of the council and this bill appeared to shrink government and save money. I wish he would have explained his opposition to the bill.  

I previously reported that the Council adjourned without consideration of the memorializing resolution opposing school vouchers and I said I unsure why. In fact, the resolution did pass, lumped with other bills in a "consent agenda." I missed noticing that when the consent consent agenda was passed.  The consent agenda is a a new procedure in which all resolutions that received unanimous approval in committee are lumped together and passed together by a single vote of the Council.  Any Councilmember however may pull a bill off the consent agenda and have it voted on individually. This seems like wise procedure and saves time on resolutions that are going to be approved unanimously. Thanks to Councilman Duane Dominy for providing this explanation.

Regarding the School Voucher resolution, Council Dominy explains, "We discussed it in the committee for some time and there were several concerns, but since the notice of recognition would only be sent to the body (Metropolitan Board of Education) that had already acted and held no binding effect on future actions I chose to not oppose it at this time."

I understand the logic of that. However, the resolution was an endorsement of the school board actions stating, "WHEREAS, it is fitting and proper that the Metropolitan Council show its support for the Board of Education’s decision to oppose school vouchers..." The school voucher bill will be considered by the State Legislature this year and the Metro Council should not be on record as supporting the MBOE's opposition to vouchers.  Had I been in the Council, I would have had to register my opposition to the resolution even if I was the lone voice doing so.

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