Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Update: What happened at the Metro Council 2-7-2012: The School Unions, John Arriola and more.

Council Highlights: Council meetings can be very boring, so I have highlighted the interesting parts of this meeting. I watch the whole council meeting so you don't have to. 

Council Highlights:

Ordinance 2011-83 to allow Metro water services to extend water lines to residential properties currently served by private wells is deferred until the second meeting in March. Councilman Stanley explains the bill. (See 25:06 in the video above)

A memorializing resolution by Councilman Robert Duvall calling for the resignation of John Arrriola. (see video at 34:55)

A memorializing resolution by Councilman Tygard urging the State to expand the prohibition of the manufacture or sale of synthetic drugs. Tygard has various samples of the drugs which he shows to the council. Tygard’s presentation is informative and he makes a passionate argument in favor of passage. (See 36:29) We need to see more presentations like this on the Council floor.

A memorializing resolution calling on Metro Public Schools to abide by the current labor union negotiation policy.  This bill required a suspension of the rules and could have been stopped from consideration had two people objected but none did.  Councilman Karen Johnson, a former School Board member, makes an argument that the Director of Schools changed policy without bringing it to the Board. Councilman Glover counters her argument and makes a good presentation explaining the state law and why the Director is following the law and Board policy. He is clear and his thoughts are well organized. Councilman Bo Mitchell make a pro-union argument and several other members weigh in on the issue. The vote was 29 yes votes, 5 no’s, 2 abstentions and 4 members not present. The four no’s were member who are generally thought to be conservative or Republican members of the council.  They were Glover, Stites, Claiborne, Tenpenny, and Todd. The two abstentions are from members identified as Republicans also, Tygard and Dominy.  Two other Council Members who are considered Republican, Duvall and Blalock, voted with the majority and supported the resolution. (The discussion starts at 40:20)

The Unions win, Arriola condemnation put off two weeks. 

On the memorializing resolution urging embattled County Court Clerk John Arriola to resign, the Rules Committee vetoed 10 to zero to defer until the DA had acted. Councilman  Phil Williams of Channel 5 reported that the committee room was full. He tweeted that there were lots of county court clerk employees present to support their boss.  

Jason Holleman argued the Council should wait until the District Attorney takes action as did the Council in the case of David Torrence.  In the Council meeting, the bills sponsor, Councilman Robert Duvall argued against deferral. Duvall said he "takes no malice with the committee," but said he disagrees with their position. He reviewed the comptroller's audit and said, "These violations are much worse than anything David (Torrence) did." He argued for an up or down vote. The Council voted to defer the resolution for only two weeks. This is a partial victory for Duvall. The DA may not act for months. This drama will be played out again in two weeks.

The Metro Council sided with the SEIU and the Steelworkers union which represent school custodians and bus driver sand voted against Director of Schools Jessie Register's effort to curtail union power. Register recently ended the district's Memorandum of Understanding policy with those union. "He should not unilaterally change existing policy," argued Council Member Karen Johnson, a former School Board Member. The vote was 29-5-2.

A Bill calling for preparation of a fiscal impact statements on most legislation passed on second readings. Council Member Sherri Weiner is the lead sponsor of this bill.

The Council approved on third reading a bill that authorized $2.5M to complete infrastructure in subdivisions that were never finished.

The Council approved Mayor Karl Dean's appointment of former Council Member Anna Page to the MDHA board. She is a former one-term council member who was supported by the Mayor in her reelection bid and who was defeated by current Council Member Tony Tenpenny.

The Council unanimously approved a rules change to have public hearings every month instead of the current every other month.  The change begins in June.

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