Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Death By Deferral

Last night the Metro Council once again deferred consideration of the ethics reform bill, but whereas in June they deferred it until September, in September they deferred it until the 12th of never.

In fairness to the Metro Council, I did not hear the debate last night because I did not attend the meeting and Metro 3's live coverage of it was obviously knocked out by the Howard Building's recent sewerage problems, but the admittedly sketchy reports in the Tennessean and in the Nashville City Paper this morning do not look good. Council members did not give themselves a deadline for reintroducing the bill, and common sense says that when one does not set deadlines, one does usually not feel obligated to deal. Deadlines make for discipline, and this Council does not seem to care for discipline.

Marathon discussions were held on the budget during the summer, because Charter deadlines would not allow the Council to defer or outright kill the Mayor's budget. However, now that our Council is left with a significant decision in their own hands with no external pressure (because they obviously don't consider people's low opinions on the propriety of elected officials as "pressure") all they have to spend is a measly 45 minutes on it. 45 minutes. After a three month hiatus to "have more time" to study the recommendations, Metro Council members mustered less than one hour turning the ethics proposal aside and putting it behind them. Council member Randy Foster even had the audacity to propose an amendment that would have gutted and field-dressed the ethics recommendations by allowing Council members to select the very group that would have monitored and governed their behavior. Who is this guy kidding?

I would, of course, like to see more of the recorded debate before I write this Council off entirely. But given Ronnie Greer's "I-ain't-voting-for-nothing-that's-going-to-keep-me-from-eating" approach to ethics legislation, I am not expecting that the short debate rose to landmark heights in the history of council oratory, either. You know, I never demanded that much from them; some simple and clear measure of accountability would have satisfied me.

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