The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is taking Mayor Karl Dean's side when it comes to state legislation that the group says would "unravel Metro government." Dean says the proposal would "gut" the Metro model. Whatever the method, they both say it would do bad things to Davidson County's consolidated form of government, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
That's because the bill — HB1204 / SB1285, sponsored by Republicans Rep. Joe Carr and Sen. Jim Tracy — would empower Davidson County's satellite cities like Belle Meade, Berry Hill, and others, in ways that contradict the Metro charter. The state bill would allow cities that fall under a metro form of government to provide services like a police force or a public school system. The Metro charter allows Davidson County's satellite cities to provide the services they were providing at the time the charter was adopted, but bars them from adding services that would duplicate existing Metro services.
In a blog post Friday morning, the chamber's chief policy officer Marc Hill writes that the proposal “would undo much of the government efficiency that has been created in Davidson County over the past 50 years.”
“The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce opposes HB1204/SB1285 because we advocate for a predictable business environment and oppose burdensome government regulation,” Hill writes. “We also want to make sure our local tax rates are competitive with other jurisdictions.”
Dean's stance on this brings him back to a posture of defending local control and asking the state to respect Nashville's autonomy, as he had with regards to Metro's non-discrimination ordinance, and a group of state bills last year that would have affected Metro's ability to enforce zoning ordinances. He had drawn criticism from some Metro officials after seeming to abandon that principle to support efforts to open a Great Hearts charter school in West Nashville, after the Metro school board denied its application, and more recently for supporting state legislation that would give the state ultimate authority over the approval of charter schools.
Now that the mayor is apparently back to voicing support for local control, some council members are feeling cross-eyed trying to follow his position. Over at 1100 Broadway, Michael Cass reports that Councilmen Steve Glover and Bo Mitchell (who is also a newly elected state representative) are asking the mayor to clear things up.
I've reached out to Dean's office to see if they have any response to the questions posed by the councilmen, and I'll update here if I get anything back from them.
UPDATE: Dean spokeswoman sends this terse response: "Mayor Dean supports protecting our metropolitan form of government and giving families choices for high-quality education."