Saturday, May 21, 2016

Metro Nashville Mayor Megan Barry appoints first tranny to public position.

Metro Nashville mayor Megan Barry made history last week by appointed the first transgender

"women" to an official position in Metro Government. Barry appointed Marisa Richmond to the 17-member board of the Metro Human Relations Commission. That commission advocates on behalf of liberal causes, engages in political indoctrination  and bullies dissidents who are not on the bandwagon of politically correctness.

One of the things they do is normalize homosexuality among young people by sponsoring the youth pavilion at the Nashville Gay Pride Festival. The Metro Council confirmed Marisa Richmond unanimously.

Richmond is a history professor at Middle Tennessee State University and is a former president of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition. She was also the first Black transgender person to be seated as a delegate for the Democratic National Convention in 2008 being the first openly transgender person to win an election in Tennessee.  She is also a former Davidson County Democratic Committeewoman. In June 2011, Richmond was invited to attend the White House LGBT Pride reception, where she met with President Obama and Vice-President Biden.

For more on this story and to see an interview with Richmond, follow this link. For more on Marisa Richmond see this.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Gov. Bill Haslam signs Hall income tax cut, repeal into law

Gov. Bill Haslam signs Hall income tax cut, repeal into law

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Lamar Alexander: We should not allow anyone to destroy the environment in the name of saving it.

by Senator Lamar Alexander - In 1867, when the naturalist John Muir first walked into the Cumberland Mountains, he wrote, “The scenery is far grander than any I ever before beheld. …Such an ocean of wooded, waving, swelling mountain beauty and grandeur is not to be described.”
In January, Apex Clean Energy announced that it would spoil that mountain beauty by building twenty-three forty-five story wind turbines in Cumberland County.

I urge citizens in Cumberland County—and all Tennesseans—to ask themselves ten questions before allowing these massive wind turbines and new transmission lines to destroy the beauty of our state.

I still can recall walking into Grassy Cove in Cumberland County one spectacular spring day in 1978 during my campaign for governor.  I had not seen a prettier sight.   Over the last few decades, pleasant weather and natural beauty have attracted thousands of retirees from Tennessee and across America to the Cumberland Plateau.

The proposed Crab Orchard Wind Project would be built less than 10 miles from Cumberland Mountain State Park, where for a half century Tennesseans and tourists have camped, fished and canoed alongside herons and belted kingfishers around Byrd Lake.

The proposed Crab Orchard Wind Project would be built less than 10 miles from Cumberland Mountain State Park, where for a half century Tennesseans and tourists have camped, fished and canoed alongside herons and belted kingfishers around Byrd Lake.

It will be fewer than five miles from Ozone Falls Scenic State Natural Area, where the 110-foot water fall is so picturesque that it was filmed as scenery in the movie “Jungle Book.”
Here are my ten questions:
  1. How big are these wind turbines? Each one is over two times as tall as the skyboxes at the University of Tennessee football stadium, three times as tall as Ozone Falls and taller than the Statute of Liberty.   The blades on each one are as long as a football field. Their blinking lights can be seen for twenty miles. These are not your grandma’s windmills.
  2. Will they disturb the neighborhood?  Here is what a New York Times review of the documentary “Windfall,” said about New York residents debating such turbines:  “Turbines are huge…with blades weighing seven tons and spinning at 150 miles an hour. They can fall over or send parts flying; struck by lightning, say, they can catch fire…and can generate a disorienting strobe effect in sunlight. Giant flickering shadows can tarnish a sunset’s glow on a landscape.”
  3. How much electricity can the project produce? A puny amount, 71 megawatts. But, that’s only when the wind is blowing, which in Tennessee is only 18.4 % of the time according to the Energy Information Administration.
  4. Does TVA need this electricity? No. Last year, TVA said there is “no immediate need for new base load plants after Watts Bar Unit 2 comes online,” and just last week TVA put up for sale its unfinished Bellefonte nuclear plant.
  5. Don’t we need wind power’s carbon-free electricity to help with climate change?  No. Nuclear power is a more reliable option. Nuclear produces over 60% of our country’s carbon free electricity which is available 92% of the time.  Wind produces 15% of our country’s carbon-free electricity, but the wind often blows at night when electricity is not needed.
  6. How many wind turbines would it take to equal one nuclear reactor? To equal the production of the new Watts Bar reactor, you would have to run three rows of these turbines along I-40 from Memphis to Knoxville—and don’t forget the transmission lines. Four reactors—each occupying roughly one square mile—would equal the production of a row of 45-story wind turbines strung the entire length of the 2,178-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.  Relying on wind power to produce electricity when nuclear reactors are available is the energy equivalent of going to war in sailboats when the nuclear navy is available.
  7. Can you easily store large amounts of wind power and use it later when you need it? No.
  8. So even if you build wind turbines, do you still need nuclear, coal or gas plants for the 80% of the time when the wind isn’t blowing in Tennessee?  Yes.
  9. Then, why would anyone want to build wind power that TVA doesn’t need?  Because billions of dollars of wasteful federal taxpayer subsidies allow wind producers, in some markets, to give away wind power and still make a profit.
  10. Who is going to guarantee that these giant wind turbines get taken down when they wear out in 20 years and after the subsidies go away? Good question.
Many communities where wind projects have been proposed have tried to stop them before they go up because once the wind turbines and new transmission lines are built, it is hard to take them down.  For example, watch the documentary “Windfall” that I mentioned earlier.

In October, the residents of Irasburg, Vermont, voted 274 to 9 against a plan to install a pair of 500-foot turbines on a ridgeline visible from their neighborhoods.

In New York, three counties opposed 500 to 600 foot wind turbines next to Lake Ontario. People in the town of Yates voted unanimously to oppose the project in order to “preserve their rural landscape.”

In Kent County, Maryland, the same company that is trying to put turbines in Cumberland County, Apex Clean Energy, tried to put down 25 to 35 500-foot turbines a quarter- to a half-mile apart across thousands of acres of farmland, where the air serves as a route for migratory geese.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Stephen S. Hershey Jr., a local state legislator, had introduced a bill that would give county officials the right to veto any large-scale wind project in their jurisdiction.

Hershey said he put the bill in after learning that the turbines would be nearly 500 feet tall and spread across an area of thousands of acres. He called that a "massive" footprint "in a relatively rural and bucolic area."
William W. Pickrum, president of the board of county commissioners, wrote the Senate committee that the project "will most certainly have a negative effect" on farming, boating and tourism in the county and hurt property values.
The legislation had the support of local conservation groups and of Washington College in Chestertown. The school's interim president, Jack S. Griswold, warned in a letter to school staff and supporters that the turbines would "despoil this scenic landscape."

What do you suppose John Muir would have written if his first view of the Cumberland Mountains had been massive, unsightly wind turbines instead of “waving, swelling mountain beauty?” What if he had seen sprawling transmission lines instead of “forest-clad hills?”

As a United States senator I have voted to save our mountaintops from destructive mining techniques. I am just as eager to protect mountaintops from unsightly windmills.

I have voted for federal clean air legislation and supported TVA’s plan to build carbon-free nuclear reactors, phase out its older, dirtier coal plants and put pollution control equipment on the remaining coal plants. Already the air is cleaner and our view of the mountains is better.  

I hope that citizens of Cumberland County—and all Tennesseans— will say a loud “no” to the out-of-state wind producers who are encouraged by billions in wasteful taxpayer subsidies to destroy our mountains.

Some say tourists will come to see the giant turbines.  Maybe once.   But do you really think tourists—or most Tennesseans—want to exchange a drive through the natural beauty of the Cumberland Mountains for a drive along 23 towers more than twice as tall as Neyland stadium whose flashing red lights can be seen for 20 miles?  If you do, just take another look at the photograph of what has happened to Palm Springs, California.  

If there is one thing Tennesseans agree on, it is pride in the natural beauty of our state. There are few places in our state more beautiful than Cumberland County.  We should not allow anyone to destroy the environment in the name of saving it.  

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

ACLU files complaint over Sunmer County Schools transgender bathroom policy.

I was just about to  post a revised comment to my post, 26 Tennessee senators call on Haslam to join North Carolina lawsuit over transgender bathrooms.  In that post I said, "I do share the outrage, however, over the unconstitutional blackmail of state governments and think Tennessee should join North Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas in their lawsuit."

I was going to revise my comment. I was going to say that while I share the outrage over President Obama's blackmail of state government that I did not see any reason at this time to join the lawsuits over the issue.  I was going to say that after talking to some informed people, reading more on the issue, and giving the issue more thought that I did not think we should join the law suite.  I was going to say, all that had happened so far is that President Obama had issued a statement saying how his administration would interpret Title IX and that as of now, Tennessee had not been harmed. The law has not changed, no money has been withheld and we have no basis for a law suit. For Tennessee to be harmed by the new policy, I was going to say, several things would have to happen.  There would have to be a transgendered student who wanted to use the bathroom or shower facilities of his gender identity rather than his birth sex, he (she) could not be placated by what ever solution the school offered, the school would have to insist  that the student use the shower or bathroom facilities corresponding  to his birth sex, a legal complaint action would have to be taken on behalf of the student, and the student prevail and the Federal government withhold Title IX money. I was going to say, those things may never happen. We need to take a deep breath and wait.  This may never become an issue, I was going to say in my revised comments.

Well, before I posted my revised comments, I read today that the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee has filed a complaint over a Sumner County schools system policy that prohibits transgender students from using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. It seems like Tennessee may be harmed by the new Obama administration policy sooner than I thought. I still think that before we file suit we should wait and see if we actually are harmed.  I still think these things could be worked out on a case by case basis at the local school level, if pressure groups and politicians would stay out of it.  This is such a rare problem that there does not need to be a one-size-fits-all policy.

Also, I think we need to have a little compassion for the young people who are experiencing gender confusion. According to some reports, 50 percent of trans or gender non-conforming young people  have attempted suicide. (link). I don't know if the suicide attempts are due to the failure of society to accept them or is due to the disorder that causes them to be gender confused.  It really doesn't matter but they need help. To help them, the counselors and principals and teachers at the school need to have flexibility to address the issues that the situation causes. To require a "girl" with a penis to use the boy's restroom may result in bullying or violence against the student; to allow "her" to use the girls restroom may also cause problems.  It seems like the school needs flexibility. If it is restrooms we are talking about that may be a different problem and call for a different solution than if we are talking about showering with other people.  The age of the student, the facilities available at the school, the desires of the parents, and other factor may weight into a tailor made solution. We should not be using these sick, fragile, suicide-prone, young people as political footballs to score points.

A spokesman for Sumner County schools says, "While transgender students must use the general restroom and locker room facilities corresponding to their birth gender, our schools provide alternative, private, unisex restrooms and changing facilities."

While that seems to me like a reasonable policy, it may not be reasonable to the ACLU and the Obama administration.  I still think that before we take action, however, we ought to see if money is actuality withheld from Tennessee. I do think it would be appropriate, however, for Tennessee to file a "friend of the court" brief in the pending North Carolina lawsuit. President Obama only has six more months in office. Before Tennessee can actually be harmed by his policy he may be out of office and  there may be a return to sanity. Let us wait and see what happens.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What happened at the Council meeting of 5-17-16? Stopping the Gas Compressor station

I have not watched the full Council meeting of yesterday and don't think I will.  There was just not that much that grabbed my attention when I read the agenda. Also, I have watched enough meetings of this Metro Council to know that there is not a single council member who will do something radical like vote against the confirmation of an appointee to Human Relations Commission. The vote of all forty members is predictable.  Since there wasn't much of interest on the agenda anyway and no mavericks on the Council to make the meetings interesting, I thought I would just wait and read the minutes of the meeting. Since then, however, I have discovered there was one item that created some interest and controversy and that is the bill to regulate gas compressor stations so I have skimmed the meeting until I found that portions and watched that.

If you want to view the agenda, the staff analysis of the agenda and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link. One learns a lot more about the important issues before the Council by watching the meetings of the Budget and Finance Committee rather than the Council meeting itself.  There is some real explanation and discussion that takes place at B&F.  To view the B&F meeting of May 16th follow this link.

The bill that was on the agenda last night which proved controversial is BILL NO. BL2016-234.  It would add “natural gas compressor stations” to a list of facilities regulated as a “major source” of air pollutants which require a local permit and would do some other things. This is part of an attempt to stop proposed natural gas compression stations planned for Joelton and Cain Ridge. Federal law says that local government can not stop these developments and the Federal government has the right to permit them basing that authority on the Commerce Clause. However, there is a multi-step process whereby a local government may gain permitting authority and this is part of that process to gain that authority. Unexpectedly, the State Chamber of Commerce, the Middle Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee chapter of the NFIB have come out in opposition to the measure.

There are a lot of people in the audience wearing yellow "no gas compressor" tee shirts.  It appears there would be serious drawbacks should this legislation pass. This issue is more complex than one might assume. An attempt is made to defer the bill and that fails. The bill passes on Second reading on a voice vote and is refereed back to committee. To view the portion of the meeting where this bill is discussed go to time stamp 1:05:30 - 1:39:00.

Here is The Tennessean's report on the issue: Gas compressor air quality bill opposed by business groups. Also, Bill targeting gas compressors in Nashville advances.

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Yesterday was International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Yesterday was International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and I missed it. I didn't see anything anywhere about it.  The mayor and the council must of missed it too, but not the president. To read his statement on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia follow this link.

"Transphobia" is not fear of people from Transylvania related to the Dracula legend but according to the Cambridge online Dictionary is "a fear or dislike of transgender people."  It is a relatively new term and did not make it's appearance until the 1990's.  I guess you can take any word of add "phobia" to it and make a new word. I have politicalcorrectnessphobia which is fear and dislike of political correctness. I also have biggovernmentphobia which is fear and dislike of big government.

Here are some other phobias. Alliumphobia is fear of garlic. Didaskaleinophobia is fear of going to school. As a kid up until about 7th grade I hated going to school.  I don't know it was a phobia or not but I didn't like going to school. Pogonophobia is fear of beards. Sesquipedalophobia is fear of long words. Venustraphobia or caligynephobia is the fear of beautiful women.  As a young man I used to get tongue tied and nervous around beautiful women but at some point I got over it. I have been cured!  Coulrophobia is fear of clowns.  I don't have it but I don't much like clowns.  I hate mimes. Metamfiezomaiophobia is fear of mimes. I don't fear them; I just don't much like clowns.  The way phobia-words are used now, I guess you do not have to "fear" it to have a phobia of it. If you do not like something or disagree with the agenda of some group you are said to have whatever-it-is-phobia.  Calling something a "phobia" has become a way to enforce politically correct thinking.  For a list of other phobias follow this link.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Memphis iZone Belieber? Not me....yet

From TN Edu-Independent - The iZone "success" story out of Memphis has continued to pick up steam.  The iZone is an internal Shelby County Schools effort - a district within a district - to turn around the district's lowest performing schools (Priority Schools that are the bottom 5% of all schools in the state).

I've read all sorts of things lately... "national success story..."  "You see the iZone far outpacing anybody else..."

I couldn't take it anymore after I read the iZone referred to as "the jewel of Shelby County Schools."

Let me be clear that I think turnaround work in public K-12 education is some of the hardest, grit grinding work there is, whether that happens in a district, charter or other setting. I don't take it lightly that people are working their butts off aligned with a vision to give kids, families and neighborhoods a brighter future. In fact I have a lot of respect for the teachers and leaders and those efforts (assuming it's all legit, not like Atlanta).

With that said, I become really skeptical about authentic school improvement "success stories" and improvement that will stick around when I hear an urban district go into overdrive PR mode.  I've been hearing nothing but the iZone is the answer lately (there are no silver bullets by the way).

Of course, one of the prime reasons the iZone is being pumped so much under the "we have arrived banner" is it's being used politically to say HELL NO WE WON'T GO, NO MORE ASD (Achievement School District)...even some Nashville career politicians have been promoting it...or maybe were behind the whole PR effort from the beginning (that's a chicken or egg question).

The longstanding riff in Memphis (and Nashville) is the growing presence of the ASD over the past couple of years and the conversion of a number of district schools into the ASD, either direct run or into charter operated schools. Local vs. state control. Who controls the money. OK guys, I get it.
So I had to look at the data to see if this Cinderella story were really true...
  • Dark red means still bottom 5% in the state on the 2014-15 1 year percentile ranking
  • Light red means bottom 10% in the state on the 2014-15 1 year percentile ranking
  • Yellow means bottom 5% in the state on the 2014-15 1 year percentile ranking
  • Green means out of the bottom 25% on the 2014-15 1 year percentile ranking
I'd say on the whole, no, the iZone hasn't arrived, at least yet.  Most of the schools are still not out of the bottom 10%, with a number of them still in the bottom 5%. 

I can't say I'm a Belieber yet.

I include "yet" because it's true, 2 iZone schools have made crazy school like beyond crazy gains...Cherokee Elementary went from the bottom 5% to the 57th percentile in 2 academic years.  It makes you wonder what they did to see those types of gains.

Also fair to this analysis is that the 3 high schools who were iZone schools for the first time in 2014-15 stayed in the bottom 5% after the 2014-15 academic year.  High schools are really challenging to turn around, and it was only 1 year's worth of data thus far.

A few other notes on this data:

  • To become an iZone school in the first place, you need to be a Priority School. That list is run officially by the state every 3 years, most recently in 2014, and based on 3 years of data to determine the bottom 5% of schools.  The state calculates the "success measure" for each school and then ranks those (K-8, 9-12) in percentiles to get the state's bottom 5% (3 year).
  • So while the data I had available for state percentile ranking was 1 year, the latest from 2014-15, it'll likely be pretty close when the list is run again in 2017 (3 years) to determine the new set of Priority Schools across the state.
Again, Priority schools are bottom 5% of all schools in the state and the goal of the iZone is to get those iZone designated schools out of the bottom 5% (and into the top 25%).  
There are also legitimate district management policy questions about the creation and operation of the iZone, one of the leading ones involving how iZone schools try to recruit top leadership and teaching talent to iZone schools.  What sort of "brain drain" effect is moving high quality teachers and leaders into iZone schools having on the schools that those educators leave? Does the performance of those schools on a school-wide basis suffer?

I'll leave these larger questions for a later post.  But in conclusion, I'm not really buying the PR that's out there on the Memphis certainly seems too early to make any kind of definitive call, and a more accurate portrayal of what's really happened is that some iZone schools have made worthwhile gains, but a number of them still have not. The performance is pretty mixed.

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Job Fair Wednesday, May 25th, 10AM.

The best anti-poverty program is a job. There is a job fair tomorrow at 10AM. Assistance will be available to help people write their resume and advise them on how to dress and how to conduct themselves in an interview.  From having worked in the social services sector for years I know that some people lack the skills and confidence to present themselves well when applying for a job.  The good news is that for people who want help in improving their chances of getting a job, there are programs available to help people do that. If you know someone who wants a job or who should want a job, tell them about this job fair.

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26 Tennessee senators call on Haslam to join North Carolina lawsuit over transgender bathrooms

by Joel Ebert, The Tennessean - Tennessee lawmakers on Monday began formulating and expressing their own opposition to the federal government's recently announced directive to the nation's public schools indicating that they must allow transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Legislators' efforts included 26 senators sending a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam expressing concern about the directive, as well as initiating steps to ask Attorney General Herbert Slatery to allow Tennessee to take the issue to court.

In the Senate, the group of lawmakers sent Haslam a letter, which included signatures from every Republican in the chamber with the exception of Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, and Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, that outlined their opposition to the federal government while expressing support for the governor. .... In their letter, the Tennessee senators said the Obama administration's guidance "must not only be stopped, but exposed as a reckless post-constitutional approach to our government." (link)

My Comment:  I think the issue itself has been blown way out of proportion. A child will probably never encounter a transgendered person in their bathroom if this directive stands.  Probably realizing that the issue is blown out of proportion, law makers are using a different argument saying male pedophiles will pose as transgender to gain access to girls bathrooms to molest little girls. I doubt it. That is a stretch. I do share the outrage however over the unconstitutional blackmail of state governments and think Tennessee should join North Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas in their lawsuit.

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Haslam: School Districts, Not Federal Government, Should Decide On Transgender Bathrooms

by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is criticizing the Obama administration for weighing in on which bathrooms transgender students use.

Haslam says the guidance issued Friday by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education is "heavy-handed," and decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis. The Obama administration is telling schools they break federal laws against sex discrimination if they don't let students use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

That's the opposite of what Tennessee lawmakers tried to do during the legislative session, when they attempted to pass a law that would've made transgender students use the bathroom of their birth sex. Haslam says his advice is the same to both the feds and state lawmakers: Leave the issue to local authorities.

"When the long arm of government reaches in, in cases like this, I don't think the answers are necessarily better than letting our local school boards and superintendents deal with it," he said. But Haslam is striking a less defiant tone than other Republican governors. They've described the guidance as "blackmail" and urged Congress to step in.

My Comment:  I agree with Gov. Haslam that this issue should be left to the local school boards and superintendents to deal with.  I wish, however, Gov. Haslam would show a little more outrage about the government blackmail of the states and unconstitutional exercise of authority.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

What's on the Council Agenda for May 17th: New reporting to Council requirements for Public Works and Dept. of Law, deregulating Dance Halls, new smoking bans,

The Metro Council will meet Tuesday, May 17th at 6:30 PM. You can go to the courthouse and watch the meeting in person, if you are so inclined, but unless you are trying to influence a Council member and think your presence in the audience will exert an influence, I don't know why you would want to.  Meetings are broadcast live at Metro Nashville Network's Government TV on Nashville's Comcast Channel 3 and AT&T's U-verse 99 and are streamed live at the Metro Nashville Network's livestream site. You can catch them the next day on the Metro YouTube channel. If you will wait, I will watch it for you and post the video and point out the good parts so you can go to that point in the video and watch just that segment. Also, I will tell you what I think about what happened.  Council meetings are really boring and I watch them so you don't have to.  If you are going to watch a council meeting, you really need the agenda and  the Council staff analysis or you won't know what is going on. 

Here is my commentary and analysis of the agenda. I am only listing what I think is interesting or important items so if you are really interested in actions of the Council you may want to  read the agenda for yourself.   

Confirmation of appointments to Boards and Commissions: There are twenty positions on the agenda. Unfortunately, the Council never rejects an appointment and does not take their responsibility to confirm appointees seriously. All will no doubt pass without a dissenting vote.

There are nine appointments to the Human Relations Commission on the agenda.  This agency should be called "The Department to Enforce Correct Political Thought," or "the Department of Political Indoctrination."  This department serves no useful purpose. What they do that is not objectionable could be done by other departments or private organizations. For several years in the late 80's extending into the 90's this department was not funded and went away. One of the objectionable things they do is sponsor the twink booth youth pavilion at the gay pride festival. The gay pride festival is now simply called Nashville Pride. I think it is an outrage than our city works to normalize homosexuality among young people. If I were on the Council I would ask each appointee if they supported Metro's funding of the youth pavilion at the Nashville Pride event and if they said "yes," I would vote against their confirmation. I might be the only one, but why do all 40 of our council members have to think exactly alike?

Resolutions: All resolutions are on the "consent agenda" initially but if they any negative votes in committee they are taken off of consent.  Also any council member may ask to have an item taken off of consent or to have his abstention or dissenting vote recorded. All items on consent are passed by a single vote instead of being voted on individually. There are several items on the agenda adopting new pay plans for different departments, essentially giving pay raises to employees in those departments. These will be deferred to "track with" the budget.  None of the resolutions on the agenda are particularly controversial or of particular interest.

Bills on First Reading: I usually don't review bills on First Reading. First reading is a formality that gets bills on the agenda. They are not evaluated by committee until they are on Second Reading. All bills on First Reading are lumped together and pass by a single vote.  The budget and the bill setting the tax levy are on First Reading. Here is a bill that is on First Reading to follow:

 Bills on Second Reading: These are the ones of interest.

  • BILL NO. BL2016-188  would establishing new reporting requirements by the Department of Public Works. This would bring about more transparency and accountability into the operation of Public Works and let members of the Council know what projects are planned in their districts. This looks like a positive development.
  •  BILL NO. BL2016-220  would expand the requirements regarding reporting litigation matters to the Metropolitan Council. The Department of Law would have to report to the Council all final judgements against Metro, quarterly have to report to the Council all lawsuits against Metro where the claim is greater than $300,000, and some additional information. This is a positive proposal. 
  • BILL NO. BL2016-221  would remove a section of the code that regulates "dance halls." The provisions of this code are redundant to other provisions of the code. Currently, if an establishment permits dancing they must have a dance hall permit. This removes that requirement. The city will lose about $40,000 a year if this passes but I view this as a positive development.  
  • BILL NO. BL2016-234 would add “natural gas compressor stations” to a list of facilities regulated as a “major source” of air pollutants which require a local permit and would do some other things. This is part of an attempt to stop a proposed natural gas compression station planned for Joelton.  Federal law says that local government can not stop these developments and the Federal government has the right to permit them. However, there is a process whereby a local government may gain permitting authority and this is part of that process to gain that authority.
Bills on Third Reading: Most of the bills on Third Reading are zoning bills and I don't pay much attention to zoning bills. These are the ones I find of interest.  
  • BILL NO. BL2016-201 is part of an attempt to save the old State prison known as "the castle" by  applying a Neighborhood Landmark Overlay District to property. The State would still have to transfer the property to Metro and we would have to find a use for it and maybe spend some money, but this is one step in the process of saving the property. 
  • BILL NO. BL2016-205 would prohibit smoking on the grounds of a swimming pool ... or an outdoor amphitheater with a seating capacity of at least 6,000 owned or operated by local government.” Metro can already ban smoking at indoor venues. This would expand that authority. This is aimed at Ascend amphitheater. Watch out. Soon Metro will ban smoking in parks or on the street. Some people can't stand it if other people are having a good time. 
  • BILL NO. BL2016-206  would authorize by permits private snow plow services. This applies to public property. Those providing this service on private drives or parking lots would not have to have a permit.  An example of where this might apply is if a Homeowners Association wanted to contract with some one for snow removal on streets in their community.

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