April 4 Council Agenda

For the April 4 Metro Council agenda, here’s what I am looking at:

For public hearing

There are two bills (-641 and -642) that were disapproved by the Planning Commission. Since the media coverage in January about how the Council approaches disapproved bills, I don’t think we have passed any disapproved bills on 3rd reading. Usually, disapproved items get approved on 2nd reading on the night of the public hearing, or the sponsor defers to do some more work on the bill. Here, the sponsor of both of these bills is CM Robert Swope. I do not believe he has previously asked the Council to go against the Planning Commission.

CM Angie Henderson’s sidewalk bill (-493) is also set for a public hearing. I am one of twenty-two co-sponsors. Henderson has done an incredible amount of work on this. The bill is complex. I’ll quote Council Director Jameson’s summary of the bill:

The ordinance under consideration would amend these Code sections to support walkable neighborhoods and access to and use of Nashville’s transit system. Overall, the ordinance would close a loophole wherein sidewalk installation has not been required for single- and two-family infill development on major and collector streets in the USD and on neighborhood streets in the UZO or within ¼ mile of a center designated in the general plan. For multi-family and nonresidential development, it would also reduce instances where “in-lieu” payments may be applied and require more physical construction of sidewalks throughout the city as development occurs.

You can read Jameson’s full analysis here (see page 3 for discussion about -493).

Resolutions

There is a non-binding resolution asking Judge Moreland to resign (-642). Since Moreland has now resigned, I am not sure if the sponsors will go forward with this. If they do, I’ll need to abstain from voting. As I explain here, I have had a formal role as a neutral fact-finder in an attorney disciplinary proceeding where Judge Moreland was a witness. I need to maintain that neutrality.

2nd Reading

I am a co-sponsor of CM Jeremy Elrod’s bill that would require additional Council approval for any construction that would require closing or obstructing a Metro right-of-way for more than a year (-498). For me, the goal it to try to address the fact that it remains nearly impossible to walk across downtown without getting stuck having to backtrack to a pedestrian crossing that you already passed, or to cross the street mid-block. We can do better.

We’ve got CM Freddie O’Connell’s bill requiring U.S. Presidents and candidates for the office to provide Metro with their tax returns before they can use Metro facilities (-644). I’ll need to talk to the sponsor about this before I can support it. I’m all for fighting the good fight…but I’m not sure this is it.

CMs Pardue and VanReece have a bill that would allow alcohol to be consumed by passengers in horse-drawn carriages (-645). I want to hear more about this one also. I’ve seen some ‘pedal tavern’ groups that were clearly over-served and pretty boisterous. I’m not sure that level of partying and horses fit well together. I haven’t made my mind up on this one either way.

CM Dave Rosenberg has a bill that would regulate the use of surveillance devices by Metro in the public right-of-way. I’ll say this for CM Rosenberg, I appreciate him thinking about evolving technologies and how they might be used in Metro. This bill is worth reading. Jameson’s analysis says that Rosenberg has been in touch with MNPD about this, and that we should expect a “comprehensive amendment.” I’m looking forward to seeing that.

3rd Reading

CM Erica Gilmore and I are the lead sponsors (along with 24 other co-sponsors…thanks to all of them) for a bill requiring annual reporting by MNPD about traffic stops in Nashville (-483). Instead of having private third party groups trying to compile relevant traffic stop data, Metro would provide the information. This bill passed 2nd reading on a voice vote (so — it was unanimous…), and I expect this to pass 3rd reading.

Our bill to update storm water fees (-588) has reached 3rd reading. I am a co-sponsor. I expect this to pass.

Not on our agenda, but important…

If you are interested enough in the Council to read this post, then you also saw the story in the Scene last week about the impasse between Chief Anderson and the TBI. The bottom line is that the TBI (supported by District Attorney Glenn Funk) want the TBI to be able to conduct a truly independent investigation of any use of force situation involving MNPD. And Chief Anderson disagrees — he wants his officers to be able to conduct a simultaneous parallel investigation at the same time as the TBI’s investigation.

I have three positions on this. First, MNPD clearly has excellent investigation skills. I think we have the best police force in the State of Tennessee. There’s no question about that.

Second, despite MNPD’s capabilities, the best practice in law enforcement is for there to be a single investigation. To say you want parallel investigations is the same thing as saying you don’t want the TBI involved. That can’t be — the Mayor wants the TBI involved, our DA want the TBI involved, and our citizens want the TBI involved. I would bet that our MNPD officers want the TBI involved. I would urge Chief Anderson to accept a single independent investigation by the TBI in these situations.

Second, speed matters. Having this impasse linger is bad for everyone. Let’s get to the finish line on this now.

Bob Mendes

Bob Mendes represents all of Nashville as a Council-At-Large member of Nashville’s Metro Council. He is Chair of the Council’s Charter Revision Committee, a member of the Metropolitan Audit Committee, and a member of the Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, Rules & Confirmations Committee, and Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee. Bob also practices business law at Waypoint Law PLLC. Bob’s complete bio is here. You can follow Bob @mendesbob.