Friday, May 09, 2008

Metro Nashville is Strong Executive and Metro Council Cannot Be the Only Responsible Party

In the current controversy over fixing a past Goodlettsville zoning bill, there are some significant issues and questions that some local media seem to be ignoring to the benefit of the Mayor's Office.

For starters, here is the time line of Rip Ryman's original ordinance:
  • The offending bill was introduced and it passed first reading in November 2006.
  • It went to Metro Planning for conideration, and the Planning Commission disapproved it in December 2006.
  • It passed second reading in January 2007, which meant it had been through some committees.
  • Karl Dean resigned as Metro Legal Director in January 2007 and started running for Mayor.
  • In Feburary 2007, the bill was approved by Metro Council on final reading, but the Mayor returned it unsigned, which meant that it would become law a few days after it crossed his desk.
It is clear to me that the Mayor's Office and Metro Legal did share some responsibility for influencing the realization of this bill. But is it so clear to the mainstream media?

Whipping up on the cat herd is easy, because they practically hand you the proverbial sticks with which to flog them. But I believe that the media should be asking harder questions of our strong executives. Questions like: in the two month period between CM Ryman's introduction and Mr. Dean's resignation, what did Metro Legal do to try and stop the bill? Why did Mayor Purcell fail to veto the bill (he vetoed English Only during the same month and newsrack regulation later in 2007) if there was the slightest chance that Metro would be accused of violating federal law? What's the justification for returning unsigned? Does Mr. Dean share any responsibility for having failed to detect and to advise on the possibility that a Justice Department investigation could have resulted? Did Mr. Dean advise Mayor Purcell to veto before he left?

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