Metro transparency bill would shed light on lobbyists, pollsters

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:37am

District 24 Councilman Jason Holleman has filed a bill to require those requesting a zoning change to list the lobbyists, public relations firms and pollsters contracted to drum up support with the public.

Council lobbyists already are required to register with the Metro Clerk's office and list their clients, but no such registration is necessary in order to contact the public. Registration will only be required if lobbyists are paid more than $1,000.

Holleman pointed to the May Town Center zoning proposal as an instance where lobbyists and pollsters were working hard to garner public support.

He said May Town Center was not the sole impetus for the bill, which will be on first reading at the June 2 Metro Council meeting. Holleman pointed out his transparency bill would not take effect until after May Town Center zoning is in front of Council.

“It lets us see who the hired guns are on a development project and what they’re telling the public,” Holleman said.

When zoning bills come to Council on public hearing, Holleman said neighbors sometimes come out in droves because of aggressive public relations tactics by hired professional help.

“We’re just not aware of what all is done to turn people out to the seats and certainly you’re allowed to do that,” Holleman said. “This allows us to see whether they truly get there because they’re motivated by concern, or did they get there because this development was marketed to them.”

Failure to disclose lobbyists, public relations firms or pollsters working on a project would result in automatic deferral of a bill until such a report is filed with Council.

 

6 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 5/28/09 at 9:39

Do opponents have to provide a listing of their hired guns? Do they even have to provide proof that they live where they state they live?

By: NashvilleKnight on 5/29/09 at 11:50

JeffF,
Opponents aren't requesting the May Town Center zoning change. So, according to this story, no, they would not have to list anything. But, if you want to know who is behind the opponents, watch the reply of the Planning Commission meeting. They are the ones who attended the meeting. They are many of the people who sat down with the Planning Commission staff to draft their community plan, which was then usurped by an absentee landowner and his developer minions. The truth suits those who have nothing to hide. I doubt you would believe them, regardless of what they said.
People don't have to live in the Bend to want to preserve it, or even have the right to petition councilmembers to save it. What about visitors who spend money here and that the city relies heavily upon for tax money?
I wear truth like jeans and a t-shirt. It's comfortable to me.
Vincit omnia veritas

By: Shuzilla on 5/31/09 at 1:50

"They are many of the people who sat down with the Planning Commission staff to draft their community plan, which was then usurped by an absentee landowner and his developer minions. '

Yes, but many of these people went forth to usurp the same community plan by trying to limit development to a minimum of 10 acres per home. The community plan was for two acres per home, except five per in the flood plain. And they had to deceive a state senator into believing that everyone was on board, though the final poll showed otherwise. Big mistake.

In the end, the anti-development folks did exactly what they accused the May Town developers of doing - try to get everyone in the bend to yield to their vision through force of legislation.

Here's the difference. The developer will pay over $100 Million in infrastructure improvements to accommodate their upzoning request. The opposition that went for the 10-acre-per-home downzoning, however, had not one penny to put towards the probably $50 million in compensation to landowners for losing development rights they already had.

By: NashvilleKnight on 6/1/09 at 10:24

Here we see the classic 'bait-and-switch' in play. The COMMUNITY sat down and came up with a plan, the Beaman Park to Bells Bend Conservation Corridor. This was the work of the COMMUNITY over about a year's worth of meetings. RANRA, the legislation, is the Rural, Agricultural and Natural Resources Act. This was the state legislature's attempt at governing growth in the area. Yes, it did fail to capture the hearts of the Bells Bend residents. The poll on RANRA, while perhaps questionable but I believe close to the actual trend, was about 75% AGAINST the RANRA legislation. The polling data on the residents of Bells Bend is 72% AGAINST May Town. The other 28% aren't all for May Town, but are a mix of 'don't care', 'won't sign a poll', and 'for May Town'. So if you want to talk about who is trying to get residents to YIELD to a vision, it is clearly the pro-May Town group. Bells Bend residents don't seem to me to be 'anti-development', they seem to be pro-rural, pro-community and producing a lot of good arguments. Shuzilla, we should put the next trash dump in your back yard, there seems to be an awful lot of garbage there already.

Vincit omnia veritas

By: Shuzilla on 6/3/09 at 6:16

NK said: "The COMMUNITY sat down and came up with a plan, the Beaman Park to Bells Bend Conservation Corridor. This was the work of the COMMUNITY over about a year's worth of meetings. RANRA, the legislation, is the Rural, Agricultural and Natural Resources Act. This was the state legislature's attempt at governing growth in the area."

If you are suggesting that the opponents of May Town within the COMMUNITY had nothing to do with the "state legislature's attempt at governing growth in the area (RANRA)," then may I suggest that your t-shirt and jeans of truth are more than a bit moth eaten. But then we'd know for sure with some sunshine on lobbyists of Both sides.

PS - where in the May Town plan does it state a garbage dump is going into Bells Bend? Looks like "jeans of truth" have turned out to be "pants on fire."

By: NashvilleKnight on 6/10/09 at 12:51

When the people of the Bend spoke out against RANRA, the legislature listened. When the people of the Bend speak out against May Town, you don't listen.
I posted the numbers, but you don't read.
You wrote '$50 million in compensation to landowners for losing development rights'-
so you don't do law either. Your math seems off, too. $100M in infrastructure funding? What about the other $200M for the second and third bridges? For the new interchanges? For the condemnation of houses south of the bend where the second bridge will have to go? What about tax incentives to these 'magical corporate HQ's'? Were you at the economic and traffic presentations? Did you actually read them or just go straight to the summary?

The community fought a dump in Bells Bend years ago. Oh, sorry. You must not have been around for that fight, Newbie.

Vincit omnia veritas