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LAST NIGHT AT METRO CITY COUNCIL: INVOKING MLK

“Speaking truth to power” and “calling out hate” are burdens shouldered by every member of Metro Council, according to CM Angie Henderson. Typically, council meetings begin with an invocation and the pledge of allegiance, but last night was different: weaving a speech in the place of a prayer, Henderson paid homage to Martin Luther King Jr. by drawing a parallel between his legacy of calling out hate and her marching with her daughter in Washington, DC after Donald Trump was elected. As people continued to bow their heads, she noted the uncertainty that lies before the council: “Let’s keep marching and listening and reading and working and making the most just and effective and supportive local policy that we can together,” Henderson reminded her captive audience, “With the urgency of now, right up to the end of our term, whenever that may be.” That last sentence was a not-so-indirect reference to pending legislation, which may extend the current council’s last term for an extra year and limit its body to twenty members.

ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PET OWNERS: DEFEATED

During a discussion on the floor about BL2022-1571, which would change the Metro code regarding animal laws, Joy Styles, one of the bill’s sponsors, presented the progress of the legislation with enthusiasm. The legislation, brought forward to address increased reports of roaming animals and dog attacks, has made major headway during community meetings, which Styles described in detail. “We’ve had a committee of animal advocates working on this since last summer . . . We decided to defer after the meeting and discuss some of the comments and suggestions that were made that were really helpful,” said Styles.

In an effort to kill the bill, CM Kathleen Murphy requested to table the deferral motion. Rounding out her argument against the bill by taking up what can only be described as a bleeding heart stance, Murphy stated that the bill was discriminatory toward affordable housing and dogs: “This legislation. . .  would hurt our affordable housing pool, would discriminate against shelter animals, discriminate against animals who maybe had an incident, [and] . . .  keep them on a registry for almost five years.”

Defending her constituents, many of whom have been impacted by dog attacks and other animal-related issues, Styles stood her ground: “Thank you very much Councilmember Murphy for your concerns. I wish you would have attended last week so you could have heard the progress we did make . . . This encourages accountability for pet owners.” Styles also did not agree with Murphy’s claim that it would affect affordable housing. “This is not intended, in any way, nor do I think it affects affordable housing,” said Styles.

In the end, the bill was defeated. The council sided with Murphy and voted to table the deferral motion, which prompted Styles to withdraw the bill: a trend we’ve seen with legislation brought forward by Styles over the last year, possibly alluding to factions that exist within the council itself.

NOTABLE BILLS AND RESOLUTIONS

RS2023-1947 was passed, which allocates $10 million in ARP funds to neighborhood needs through a community-led participatory budgeting program. Davidson County residents, take note: you can decide where these tax dollars go by submitting different projects to be reviewed by the council. Approved ideas will be included on a 35-item ballot that all residents aged 14 and older will be able to submit .

RS2023-1951 was deferred. This is the e-bike resolution we spoke about yesterday in our Metro Council preview. The goal is to distribute $1 million in rebates. If passed, one can apply for a standard rebate, which is up to $300 for an e-bike or up to $500 for an e-cargo bike, or an income-qualified rebate, which is up to $1,400 for an e-bike or e-cargo bike.

RS2023-1955 was passed, putting $8,578,283 granted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use. The money will go toward “[implementing] workforce strategies to build organizational resilience, promote employee well-being, and enhance workforce performance while focusing on building healthier communities” through the Metropolitan Board of Health.