Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Three charter amendments make the ballot: Ban the box, cut the council, and hire locals.

Three proposed charter amendment petitions appear to have gotten enough signatures to get on the August ballot. A fourth that would have restricted funding for marijuana law enforcement for people processing not over two ounces of the herb failed to make the cut. To get on the ballot a proposed charter amendment had to have signatures on a petition that equaled 10% of the number of votes cast in the last Metro election.

The three proposed charter amendments that it looks like will be on the ballot are below and these are my initial thoughts on them:

  • Ban the Box- removes the question from the initial Metro job application that
    ask if an applicant has ever been convicted of a felony.
    I am undecided about this but leaning "yes." We need to ease the reentry of ex-felons into society. This applies only to the initial application. To give an ex-con a shot at getting a Metro job does not seem too much to ask.
  • Reduce the size of the Council from 40 members to 27 and expand term limits fom two to three terms. I am supporting this. I have always thought term limits was a bad idea. It makes for a weak council and a strong mayor. I do not think having the next to the largest Council in America has served us well. We may have 40 members but very
  • little diversity of thought. On things that should be controversial we have votes that are 40 to 0 in favor. The argument against this change is that a person can get elected now without spending a lot of money if they are willing to work hard and that neighbors can have access to their councilmen. I am not buying that argument. Twenty-seven will still make us have a larger council than most cities and these other cities seem to manage as well as we do. This proposal does away with the Council-at-large positions. I have always thought the at-large positions served no useful purpose. This proposal only reduces the number of districts from 35 to 27 which is not that much of a reduction. It only takes 99 Representatives and 33 Senators to legislate for the State, surely we can legislate local matters with less than 40 people.
  • A requirement that 40% of the workforce on any Metro project exceeding
    $100,000 be residents of Davidson County.
      I oppose this. When we put out for bids a big project, the winner of the bid already has his employees. To require that the contractor lay off his employees and hire local employees will drive up the cost of construction. It takes time to find the right people who fit the culture and environment of a company. Also, there is a learning curve in learning how a company does things and what the expectations are.  Many companies cannot just replace 40% of their workforce and still do the quality job they were hired to do. Also, if we have such a requirement, other cities may start having such a requirement. There are a lot of people in the construction trade in Nashville who work on projects out of town. Do we want those people to lose their job? At one time, the city required that everyone who had a metro job had to live in the county.  This restricted us from getting the work force we needed. When you start tampering with the market by fixing prices or imposing requirement that you only buy local or hire local then there are usually detrimental consequences. Markets maximize efficiency. This needs to be defeated.

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