Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What happened at the 12-20-16 Council meeting: Sheriff's office approved for east Nashville, Council ask School Board to "consider" seat belts for buses, Father Breen honored (sort of) and Nashville may be getting back into the nursing home business.

This is a relatively short meeting at under an hour.  For access to the agenda, the staff analysis and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link.

The "invocation" is a secular poem performed by the author, Cassie Martin, Nashville's 2016 Poet laureate.  The one appointment to a commission is approved.  The three resolutions on public hearing, all to grant an exemption to the minimum distance requirements for obtaining a beer permit, are approved.

There are 16 resolutions.
These are the resolutions of interest:

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-469  which approves 750 South 5th Street as the location of the new administrative offices facility for the Sheriff, passes on a voice vote with minimal discussion. You may recall that initially the sheriff wanted a new headquarters and jail located in Antioch but that ran into considerable opposition from the community and the council. This bill is for the sheriff's administrative offices and is welcomed in east Nashville, near the Envision Casey development.  The jail, called the criminal justice center, is being rebuilt at its current location.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-482  request the School Board to require all new school buses purchased be equipped with seat belts. This was deferred last meeting. This resolution is a response to the tragedy in Chattanooga recently where six school children lost their lives. The contention that school buses need seat belts is in dispute. The Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration says school buses are designed to be safe with or without seat belts. Requiring seat belts in all new bus purchases could add as much as $12,000 to the cost of each new bus. One reason for that cost is that with seat belts each bus could hold fewer students, only two per bench seat, so more buses would have to be purchased. The bill is amended to ask the school board to "consider" seat belts rather than to "require" seat belts.  To see the discussion see timestamp 19:12-22:42.

RESOLUTION NO. RS2016-501 which honors Father Breen of St. Edwards, passes on the consent agenda. Father Breen served for a very long time as pastor of St. Edwards. He was theologically and politically liberal, he was influential, he served on various boards of organizations and was a good compassionate man. I am quite surprised that this resolution was not accompanied by a presentation, speech and standing ovation. I expected more than just a resolution passed on the consent agenda. It almost seems like a slight. If anyone know why this resolution was passed without the appropriate fanfare, please share. All Bills on First Reading pass with a single vote as is the norm. One late filed bill is on the agenda that bears watching. Rules have to be suspended in order for it to be considered. It seeks to void a contract that metro has with the company that is running a metro-owned nursing home. In 2014 metro got out of the nursing home business and essentially privatized the Bourdeau nursing home, now know as Autumn Hills. The reason for this ordinance is that the operator does not have insurance among other concern.  I do not know if this action is justified or not and if I was in the Council, I would not vote to block it by opposing suspending the rules and I would vote for it on first reading. However, I would be very reluctant to support any bill that gets metro back in the nursing home business. In may view, Metro should completely get out of the  nosing home business so stepping back in and  taking over the operation is not even an option.  To see the discussion see timestamp 24:50 - 29:52.
 Bills on Second Reading These are the only ones of interest.

BILL NO. BL2016-494  funds the Metro Property Tax Relief Program assistance to low-income elderly residents of the county.  There is a State Property Tax Relief  Program and this bill increases the amount of that relief by matching what the State provides. Follow the link for more information. If you or someone you know are elderly and low income, look into this.  Due to escalating property values, many elderly low-income residents would be forced out of their home if not for this tax relief program. It passes on a voice vote.

BILL NO. BL2016-496 which would prohibit vehicles from parking in electric charging station spaces is deferred a meeting.  I have never done it but I have been tempted to take one of those spaces myself.  I attend a monthly luncheon downtown and park in the parking garage below the library.  When the garage is full, I have driven though the garage repeatedly looking for a space to park and seen the empty charging stations and been tempted.  There are three of them, I believe.  I have never seen them in use.  If I were in the Council, I would ask for a report of how often they are used and how much revenue the city is losing by providing those spaces. Maybe we only need one or none at all. 
 Bills on Third Reading. There are 16 bills on Third reading. Most are zoning bills which do not interest me.  This is the only one of interest.
SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. BL2016-414,  is a zoning bill in Councilman Scott Davis district that is disapproved by the Planning Commission and has been to Public Hearing twice.  It is deferred indefinitely. For background on this see what I wrote here
To see The Tennessean's report on the meeting follow this link: East Nashville approved for new sheriff's office headquarters.

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