Curbside Recycling resumes February1! During January, Metro Waste Services has been filling in gaps in trash pick-up capacity by redirecting recycling trucks to ensure that all trash routes are completed as close to on-time as possible. This was a temporary measure to get through legal proceedings with Red River (the contract hauler who covers part of Davidson County) and labor, parts, and equipment shortages related to the pandemic. Now that repair parts and equipment orders are beginning to arrive, the recycling trucks can be put back on their intended routes, and curbside recycling pick-up should be back on its regular schedule. Many thanks to all the adaptable citizens who took recyclables to drop-off or convenience centers in the interim. The Metro website is full of information about what can and cannot be recycled. Metal and aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard, and mixed paper should be put in bins clean and not in plastic bags. Anything else is contamination and could lead to a load being rejected at the processing facility.
There is encouraging news on the pandemic front. Although still higher than the other peaks, active case numbers finally seem to be decreasing. The latest information is at asafenashville.org. The Metro Health Department continues to offer COVID-19 testing and vaccination at a number of locations. The usual sites at 2491 Murfreesboro Pike and 350 28th Ave N are generally open from 8 am to 2 pm, Monday through Friday weather permitting. Pop-up sites are open at various locations throughout the city. The schedule is updated frequently and can be viewed here.
Brush pick-up this month is scheduled to start in the following areas:
- February 4: Area 11 Joelton, Whites Creek, Marrowbone, Scottsboro, Bells Bend, Bordeaux, Haynes Heights, Haynes Manor
- February 9: Area 12 Goodlettsville, Dalemere, Bellshire
- February 15: Area 1 West Madison, Capital View, Douglas Park, Cleveland Park, McFerrin Park, Highland Heights
- February 22: Area 2 East Madison, Inglewood, Neely’s Bend, Peeler Park, Maplewood Heights, Iverson, Maxwell Heights, Edgefield, Eastwood, Shelby Bottoms, Shelby Hills, and Lockland Springs
- February 28: Area 3 Old Hickory, Lakewood, Hermitage, Stones River, Two Rivers, River Trace
The Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee has begun its first Leadership Academy (TCLA) of the year. TCLA provides tools to support improved regional transit. This year, there are two award-winning Transit Citizen Leadership Academies, the first one runs from February 3, 2021, to March 10, 2021, and the second will begin in the Fall. The Academy is a thoughtfully designed opportunity for citizens to learn more about the value of transit, ways it impacts our life, how projects are chosen and funded, and how everyone can become an effective advocate for improving our city’s transit system. Each of the six classes is based on presentations and discussions led by industry experts and local leaders. For instance, on February 17th, the ‘Head Fed’ from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Pamela Kordenbrock, and Director of Multimodal Transportation at TDOT, Suzanne Carlson, will discuss funding. Then, on February 24th, a panel of three regional mayors will talk about transit impacts in the region: Mayor Ken Moore of Franklin, Mayor Randall Hutto of Wilson County, and Mayor Andy Holt of Sumner County. Come see what there is to know about transit. Attending is FREE, but participants must register.
Neighbor 2 Neighbor is holding six sessions of its Emerging Neighborhood Leadership Series starting in February from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm on Wednesdays.
- Feb 2: Role of the Neighborhood Organization and its Leaders
- Feb 9: Intro to Metro Government
- Feb 16: Working with Council Members
- Feb 23: How to Organize and Facilitate a Neighborhood Meeting
- Mar 2: Strategies for Engaging Neighbors
- Mar 9: More Resources
Interested neighbors can learn more or register here. In addition to these workshops, the Conference for Neighborhood (C4N) provides a full day of learning on Saturday, April 2, from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Topics will include Development, Dangerous Driving, The Litter Crisis, Homelessness in Neighborhoods, Lack of Engaged Neighbors, and others. Participants will learn critical skills and capabilities to more impactfully involve residents and identify specific steps that should be taken to motivate residents to address issues that affect them. Registration for C4N is required. The cost is $35 to $75.
The Metro Budget process for fiscal 2023 is now fully underway. Kelly Flannery, the Finance Director, has brought some new perspectives including a multiyear overview and the incorporation of an equity lens for all departments. At this point each department has prepared an operating budget to present to the Mayor. Over the next few months the Mayor’s Office will put together a city-wide operating budget to propose to the council on May 1. The Budget Committee is working to educate citizens about this process, and we plan to hold an early budget hearing in the spring to allow more time to respond to public input. The Metro Council Budget Committee has also been hosting a series of webinars to provide detailed information to citizens about the budget process. These have been broken into three categories – How we get the money, how we spend it, and community panel discussions. In December we learned about property and sales tax, the two main components of the city’s revenue. In January we focused on the categories that are the largest operating segments of the Metro Budget. In order of percentage of the budget those are Metro Schools, Public Safety (police, fire, sheriff, courts), debt service, Nashville Department of Transportation, Parks, Health, and Housing. The videos of each of these sessions can be found on the Metro Nashville Network (MNN) Youtube channel.
The upcoming schedule is below:
COMMUNITY PANEL DISCUSSIONS
- Feb 4: Community Panel Discussion – See NOAH’s webinar on CAHOOTS mental health response here.
- Feb 11: Expert Panel Discussion – to be rescheduled
- Feb 18: How the Budget Process works
- Feb 25: Participatory Budget - Councilmember-At-Large, Zulfat Suara
Questions for the panel discussions should be sent to email@example.com. All meetings are at 6 pm in the Council chambers at the Metro Courthouse. Members of the public can attend the meetings in person or watch the meetings live online or Metro Nashville Network on Comcast channel 3, AT&T U-verse channel 99, Google Fiber channel 3, and streaming on the MNN Roku channel. Links can also be found on the Metro Council Events calendar.
Applications are being accepted for Vanderbilt’s School for Science and Math program. The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (the SSMV) is seeking highly motivated MNPS high school students who are passionate about science and math, ready to apply themselves as today’s problem solvers and interested in becoming tomorrow’s leaders. The SSMV will prepare students to successfully engage in college studies at an accelerated rate, promote the pursuit of graduate, postgraduate and professional study, and provide the strong foundation crucial for career success. The SSMV application is be available to current eighth-graders and is due mid-February. Visit the SSMV website to learn more .
The Tennessee Environmental Council Tree Day is coming up in March. If you missed the Nashville Tree Conservation Corps tree planting opportunity, you can still order seedlings from TEC. Pick up is Saturday March 19 at several locations around the county. Reserve your trees here. Pick up spots are:
- 4651 Amy Lynn Drive, Southern Services
- 909 E Trinity Lane, E3 Innovate
- 7007 River Road Pike, Green Door Gourmet
- 3700 James Kay Lane, Hermitage Library
- 900 Rosa Parks Blvd, Farmers’ Market
- 5025 Harding Pike, Bellemeade Mansion
- 5891 Nolensville Pike, Lave Providence Missionary Baptist Church
- 12872 Old Hickory Blvd, Antioch, Tennessee Concrete Assoc.
After fifteen months of debate, community meetings, and multiple revisions, the Metro Council passed BL2021-961, putting guidelines in place for the use of License Plate Readers (LPR) for solving and preventing serious crimes. Deciding how to vote on this involved many hours of thought and discussion, and I appreciate all the folks who reached out about their concerns for privacy, equity, and safety. All of those concerns were good reasons not to support the bill that we started with over a year ago. The bill that passed February 1 made significant changes over 15 months based on that community input. The major changes were:
- Restricting the use to felony crimes, stolen cars, and amber/silver alerts only
- Reducing the data retention from 90 days (allowed by the state) to 10 days
- Locating cameras only on major and collector streets
- Locating cameras equally between four geographic quadrants of Nashville
- Requiring that the department’s LPR policy be publicly spelled out on the department website
- Requiring annual audits and a 6 month report to council
- Requiring an LPR custodian for the department with authority to discipline or terminate employees who access LPR data inappropriately.
- Limiting to 10 the number of employees in the department allowed access to the LPR data
- Requiring training for the employees authorized to access LPR data
- Changing state open records law to exclude LPR data from open records requests
- Any program initiated would be as a 6 month pilot with council review and a required vote to determine continuation at the end of the pilot.
Importantly, all this bill does is put policy in place. It does not authorize a program or fund any equipment. That will be another council vote. It is really important for the community to have taken the time to debate this fully before some incident caused us to rush into a program with no parameters or end date (Think 911 and all the internet oversight that is still in place decades later.) I believe the possibility of LPR’s preventing crime that is devasting to vulnerable communities is now much higher than the likelihood of abuse. There will be additional opportunities for community engagement when the police or transportation department comes to council to get an LPR contract approved.
Openings on Metro Boards and Commissions. Metro has over 75 boards and commissions that help the government operate and interpret regulations fairly. These are composed of volunteer citizens with interest or expertise in the particular subject. Board members are nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the Metro Council. When current members’ terms expire, and they decide not to continue, there is the opportunity to add new members to the board. Terms are expiring, and spots may be opening up on the Planning Commission, Parks Board, and Transportation Licensing Commission. Anyone who is interested in serving can contact me at the email below, and I’ll pass your resume on to the mayor’s office.
Metro has completely revamped the Nashville.gov website, and I am beginning to learn my way around. Here are a few tips for finding what you are looking for. Starting with Nashville.gov will get you to the main webpage, which has the most frequently visited sites in big boxes as you scroll down, followed by a link to all kinds of services, a link to NashView (a graphic information site), the police dashboard, Nashville news and event calendar, and links to Planning Department Maps and MNN (the Metro News Network). At the top of the webpage are ribbons about current critical items – COVID-19 and curbside recycling at the moment. Just below those ribbons are three small links to Services, Government, and Jobs. These are useful to get to specific departments. The Government and Jobs websites also have big boxes of the most visited webpages, but the most useful way to navigate them is to click on the three horizontal bars in the upper left-hand corner to get to an outline type of menu that lists options in a pretty logical order. Near the bottom of each page, is a handy ribbon that asks if the page is helpful. I make frequent use of this to make suggestions for how to make things easier to find. I invite everyone to join that effort, which the IT folks have been very responsive to. We want this website to be as helpful and transparent as possible. HUB.nashville.gov continues to be a very effective way to let Metro Government know if something is not working right. It never hurts to notify the District Council Member if things are not addressed promptly, but a lot can be taken care of directly through HUB.
I hope everyone is staying warm and safe. Please let me know what is on your mind. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-383-6604. Happy Valentines, Presidents Day, and 2/22/22!
Metro Council At-Large