@startleseasily is a fervent observer of the Metro government's comings and goings. In this column, "On First Reading," she'll recap the bimonthly Metro Council meetings and provide her analysis. You can find her in the pew in the corner by the mic, ready to give public comment on whichever items stir her passions. Follow her on Twitter here.
At a moderately chill meeting on Tuesday night, Metro Council politely declined to roll out the red carpet for the Republican National Convention, moved one step closer to establishing a Nashville Entertainment Commission, and talked about license plate readers again.
RNCDEFU, Part Two
Councilmember Robert Swope just can’t catch a break. All he wants is for Nashville to be the most inclusive, loving place in the universe, and his pesky colleagues are determined to steal his sunshine. On Tuesday, the Council used a procedural maneuver to essentially kill a resolution Swope introduced suggesting the body’s willingness to continue a dialogue with the state about Nashville hosting the Republican National Convention in 2024.
There’s just a tiny problem: There was never any dialogue in the first place. The Council’s Rules Committee indefinitely deferred the resolution in committee, ensuring it couldn’t be discussed on the floor Tuesday night. Swope left the meeting in a huff, and he only got huffier from there.
By now, you’ve heard that the Council also voted against approving the draft agreement that would’ve set the stage for the RNC. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. Swope gave an impassioned speech on the floor, angrily slamming down pieces of paper à la Brett Kavanaugh as he railed against his colleagues for their shortsightedness. He cast himself in the role of “Principled Man on Island,” the only CM brave enough to take a stand for what’s right. Apparently the nine other CMs who voted with him didn’t get the memo.
The Show Must Go On
CM Joy Styles, for her part, caught an unexpected break on Tuesday night, as the Council narrowly passed her bill establishing a Nashville Entertainment Commission on the second of three readings. The favorable vote followed a bizarrely contentious and muddled “stakeholder meeting” held in the dungeons of the courthouse. At one point, Styles appeared to be gaslighting her nemesis, CM Jeff Syracuse. Styles and Syracuse have been at odds over this from day one, and no one’s backing down. Oh, and my high school boyfriend’s dad was there, proving that Nashville is just as small as it’s ever been. Mr. Kurland — if you’re reading this, I want to assure you that no one understands how Metro government works.
Mendes on a Mission
CM At-Large Bob Mendes is on a legislative roll these days, combing through the Metro Code and state law to eke out as many protections of reproductive rights and limits to mass surveillance as he can. On Tuesday, the Council passed two of these bills on second reading.
The first, BL2022-1115, has been in the works ever since the Council passed the enabling legislation for license plate readers back in February. You may recall that MNPD Chief Drake assured CMs at the time that LPRs wouldn’t be used for immigration enforcement. You may also recall that there were questions surrounding the legality of that promise.
Mendes’ bill sought to codify the promise, and Council Director (and head lawyer) Margaret Darby initially flagged it as a direct violation of the state’s anti-sanctuary city law. But an elegantly crafted amendment that clarifies the bill’s narrowly tailored approach convinced Darby of its legality. Mendes explained the amendment in a blog post and fielded questions at the Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting.
And in the reproductive rights realm, Mendes’ BL2022-1372 will add a reporting requirement to companies seeking certain incentives from the city. In addition to the information already required by the Council’s 2018 “Do Better Bill,” those companies will now have to let the city know how much coverage — if any — they provide to help employees with transportation, lodging and other costs for care not available in Tennessee, including abortion care. It’s not much, but a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing.
It’s Election Day! You’ve got until 7 p.m. to vote at your assigned precinct. You might’ve heard this ballot referred to as the “longest ballot in the history of civilization.” I assure you that it is not. Filling out the sample ballot before you head to the polls could cut down your time in the booth. Questions? Hit me up at @startleseasily on Twitter. My DMs are open and I’d love to be of service if I can.