Saturday, May 19, 2018

(Part 2) What happened at the 5/15/18 Council meeting: Attempt to move soccer stadium fails, auto emissions test to continue, Council opposes efforts to ban sanctuary cities, plastic bag ban dies, and Robert Swope confesses to youthful indiscretion.

This is part 2 of the report on the Metro Council meeting of Tuesday 5-15-2018. To see part one follow this link.  If you are going to watch the meeting, it helps to know what is going on. To access an agenda, the staff agenda analysis and my commentary on the agenda follow this link. This report picks up at timestamp 1:28 in the video where the council moves to consideration of resolutions.

There are 38 resolution on the agenda most are on the consent agenda.  A resolution stays on the consent agenda if it passes unanimously the committees to which it is assigned. Resolutions which receive negative votes in committee are pulled off of consent. Also any councilman may have a resolution pulled off of consent. Those remaining on consent are lumped together and passed by a single vote. Resolutions on the consent agenda are usually not controversial and tend to be routine matters, such as accepting grants from the Federal or State Government, entering into inter-agency agreements over mundane things, appropriating money from the 4% fund, settling lawsuits, or approving signs overhanging the sidewalk. Unlike a bill which requires three votes of the Council to pass, a resolution only requires one vote of the Council. Here are the resolutions of interest:

Resolution RS2018-1158  is an attempt to decouple the development of a soccer stadium from the location of the Fairgrounds. This resolution authorizes the city to issue bonds for construction of the major league soccer stadium but does not specify the location. There is an effort which I approve of to have the soccer stadium build in Metro Center instead of the Fairgrounds.  The staff analysis says there are several things wrong with this resolution. The owners of the soccer franchise say that building the stadium anywhere other than the fairgrounds would jeopardize the soccer franchise. This resolution was disapproved by the Budget and Finance Committee. It is deferred indefinitely, which means this effort is essentially over unless something unusual happens. Councilman Glover made a valiant commendable effort. To see his remarks on this resolution see timestamp 1:46:37 in the video.
Resolution RS2018-1165   is even more money for the Metro General Hospital money pit. It is half a million dollars from the 4% fund for equipment and building repairs.  Since the mayor included a massive increase in funding for Metro General in his budget this is deferred indefinitely by voice vote. To see the sponsors explanation of this action see timestamp 1:48:35.
Resolution RS2018-1171  which would continue the auto emissions testing program in Nashville even though the State says we may discontinue it, passes. This reason given for passing this is that we have contracts with vendors to provide the inspections
 through June 30, 2022. If I were serving in the Council I would have voted against it anyway. If we no longer need the service, I am sure we could have bought our way out of the contract and discontinued the program early. In 2022 the Council will decide the future of the program. There is some explanation but little  discussion other than the sponsors explanation as stated above and this is passed on a roll call vote. To see the discussion see timestamp 1:52.
Voting Yes (28): Gilmore, Mendes, Hurt, Shulman, Hastings, Haywood, Scott Davis, Withers, Anthony Davis, VanReece, Pridemore, Syracuse, Freeman, Sledge, Allen, O'Connell, Mina Johnson, Murphy, Pulley, Elrod, Blalock, Vercher, Karen Johnson, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, Lee, and Henderson.
Voting No (7): Cooper, Swope, Hagar, Glover, Rhoten, Roberts, and Rosenberg.
 No one Abstained.
 Resolution RS2018-1180  proposes three amendments to the Metro Charter, all related to the procedure for succession when a mayor leaves office prior to the end of his term. I think what occurred when Mayor Barry was forced to resign worked pretty smoothly and do not see the need for revising the charter, however it is no big deal. It will take 27 votes of the Council for this to pass and then the proposed changes would be decided in a referendum. The resolution was referred to the Charter Revision Commission and recommended for deferral at the request of the sponsor by the Charter Revision Committee. Council Member Rosenberg moved to defer the resolution, which motion was seconded and approved by a voice vote of the Council. This action is explained by the sponsor. To see the explanation see timestamp 1:58:17.
Resolution RS2018-1216 is an attempt to combat the proliferation of campaign signs in the public right of way. It requires a report to the council from public works and codes on the number of signs removed and how many cases were prosecuted, and some other things.This passed on the consent agenda.
Resolution RS2018-1220  recognizing June as  “'Nashville Pride Month', celebrating the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities and their enormous contributions to the quality of life in Nashville and Davidson County, and further recognizing the 30th anniversary of the first Nashville Pride event which took place in 1988." This passed on the consent agenda.
Resolution RS2018-1221  is a late filed resolution that required suspension of the rules. This resolution request that the Metropolitan Civil Service Commission propose a pay plan for Metropolitan Government employees limited to the ensuing FY2018-2019 fiscal year, and requesting the Mayor, Director of Finance, and Civil Service Commission to refrain from multi-year pay plans in the future unless a financing plan is presented adequately demonstrating that future revenues will be sufficient to meet the multi-year obligation. This is prompted by what happened when last year the Council voted to approve a cost of living pay increase for employees but the pay increase was not funding in this year's budget. This is a memorializing resolution only and really doesn't do anything. It is not binding on anyone. It is however a responsible statement of policy. The discussion of this resolution starts at timestamp 2:02.
The resolution was approved by the Budget and Finance Committee. Council Member Vercher moved to adopt the resolution, which motion was seconded and adopted by the following roll call vote: Yes (26): Weiner, Cooper, Mendes, Hurt, Shulman, Hastings, Haywood, Swope, Scott Davis, Withers, Anthony Davis, VanReece, Hagar, Glover, Syracuse, Sledge, Roberts, Mina Johnson, Pulley, Elrod, Blalock, Vercher, Karen Johnson, Potts, Dowell, and Lee; No (1): Bedne; Abstain (3): Gilmore, Freeman, and O'Connell.
Resolution RS2018-1222  is another late filed memorializing  resolution requesting that Governor Bill Haslam veto HB2315, which would prohibit state and local governmental entities from adopting sanctuary policies.
I support the HB2615 and oppose cities in Tennessee being allowed to become sanctuary cities. No one speaks against the bill. To see the discussion see timestamp 2:09:50.  Council Member Gilmore moved to adopt the resolution, which motion was seconded and adopted by the following roll call vote:
Voting Yes (21): Weiner, Cooper, Gilmore, Mendes, Hurt, Shulman, Hastings, Haywood, Scott Davis, Withers, Anthony Davis, VanReece, Sledge, O'Connell, Mina Johnson, Vercher, Karen Johnson, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, and Lee;
Voting No (4): Swope, Glover, Freeman, and Pulley;
 Casting a vote to Abstain (4): Syracuse, Roberts, Elrod, and Blalock.
Bills on Second Reading. Thee are 13 of them. This is the only one of interest:
BL2018-1173  by Councilman Davette Blalock which would prohibit retail establishments from providing to customers single-use plastic carryout bags. In addition to an assault on my liberty and convenience, some make the argument that plastic bags are environmentally superior to paper bags. This would not ban paper bags. There is a continent size mass of trash in the pacific ocean and plastic bags make up a large part of it and this has received publicity, but the origin of this trash is mostly from five poor Asian countries. Banning plastic bags in Nashville will not decrease the plastic bags in the oceans. The committees that considered the bill voted to defer to the second meeting in July. The sponsor moved to defer indifferently, which means it could be resurrected but mostly likely means it is dead.
Bills on Third ReadingThree are 22 of them. Most are approved zoning bills. Here are the only ones of interest
Bill BL2018-1148 is a rezoing of properties on  Baptist World Center Drive and other nearby streets from various zoning classifications including industrial and residential to an SP zoning. This does not interest me and it is a bill approved by the Planning Commission but at the public hearing several neighbors spoke out against it. It passes on a roll call vote with no "no" votes but five abstentions. There is some explanation and classifications offered. If interested see timestamp 2:34:42.

Bill BL2018-1159   restrict the retail sale of dogs and cats at pet stores. There is a lot of confusion surrounding this bill. I had mistakenly reported that with the passage of this bill that only rescue pets or "pound pubs" could be sold in pet stores. Apparently that is incorrect. Animals purchased from breeders could still be sold in pet stores. For the sponsors explanation see timestamp 2:50:42. I did not know this, but when you see pets for sale at a pet store, they are currently being sold though a 501(c)(3) organization that is housed in the pet store. I apologize for contributing to the confusion. It passes.
Robert Swope confesses to a incident from his past
Taking to the floor in a "point of personal privileged," Councilman Robert admits to an incident that occurs some twenty years ago when he was charged with the misdemeanor offense of soliciting prostitution. He is taking the opportunity to expose and explain this because a political opponent is preparing to make it public, and Swope says he wants to explain it first. This does not amount to much of anything. I admire Swope for taking to the floor to address this scandal. He chokes up while making his comments. Several council members join him and put their hand on his shoulder and show him support. This is moving. I admire Swope's courage. For more on this issue follow this link. To see Swope's comment see timestamp  3:03:30.

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