Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ethics Deferred. Graffiti Deterred.

Lost in all of the attention the MSM and bloggers have paid to deliberations over the Mayor's budget are two actions taken by our Metro Council on June 7.

First, they passed the bill to prohibit the sale of spray paint, large sharpies, and "graffiti sticks" to persons under 18. As the bill notes, it is already illegal for persons under 18 to be in possession of these items in public areas or private property where an owner has not consented. The Council's expansion of the law effectively allows businesses to tell teenagers that they not allowed to sell them these items. The debate got personal with Councilmember Amanda McClendon questioning the law credentials of Attorney-by-day and Councilmember-by-night Sam Coleman who kept questioning the legality and constitutionality of prohibiting sales to minors. Councilmember Mike Jameson had a list of store owners who supported the bill in his district, while Councilmember Harold White merely moaned about hypothetical businesses who would face undue hardship if the bill were passed. It was good to see my own Councilmember, Ludye Wallace, switch and advocate giving the bill a chance. It may or may not work, but passing the bill shows that the Metro Council is starting to make more serious and proactive efforts to stop gang-related vandalism in urban neighborhoods like Salemtown.

What they gave on graffiti, they took away in ethics. Councilmember Charlie Tygard introduced and the Council passed by six votes a resolution to defer the Ethics Task Force recommendations until September. His basic rationale was that the Council needs to focus exclusively on the budget rather than to multitask. In a fit of convoluted logic he also argued that ethics is not a pressing issue since all of the members appear to him to be behaving themselves. I guess we can rest easy knowing that Charlie Tygard is keeping his eye out for misbehavior. Let's see how serious they are in the fall after three months of chances to focus on and to review the ethics recommendations.

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