Sunday, April 15, 2007

Among Some Token Metro Council Infrastructure Requests Come Even More of the Ever-Piling-Up Non-Profit Earmarks

Several Metro Council Members deserve credit this week for spending infrastructure funds on rarely designated public infrastructure. Enclave already gave them their credit, even on what appears to be the more marginal case of RS2007-1893.

However, I received an e-mail from Council Member Emily Evans saying that her portion of the allocation for the Nashville Alliance for Public Education is specifically designated to be spent on reading materials at West Meade Elementary. That allocation was requested by the West Meade Neighborhood Association. Her portion was also allotted to purchase a portable AED for Hillwood High Athletics as requested by Hillwood residents.

I was certainly encouraged to see that her portion is designated for infrastructure requested by neighborhoods, but I do not know how the other 5 co-sponsors' money is going to be spent because nothing in the resolution demands specific allocations. Council Member Evans tells me that she has an understanding with NAPE that her portion of the request will be spent as her constituents desire, and that is all that she is allowed under the Metro Charter.

I don't lack faith in Emily Evans' good graces, but I do have to wonder how discretionary spending--which requires our reliance on nothing more than council members' good graces and hand-shake agreements--gets passed. To paraphrase James Madison, the Metro Council does not seem to be set up to be run by devils. Instead, we're left wishing or praying that our Council Members will do the right things.

But outside of the token allocations to public projects, the Council's status quo of shunting public dollars away from infrastructure and toward non-profit organizations (which in turn become future patrons for bill sponsors) continues this week. Here are the private earmarks up for vote at Tuesday's meeting:

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