Predictable: AT&T Sues Nashville

AT&T made good on its promise to sue Nashville, and with haste, too.  The suit is a response to Metro’s new ordinance known as One Touch Make Ready (OTMR); it is disputing the government’s authority to regulate attachments to utility poles.  AT&T claims that only the Federal Communications Commission can do that.

Earlier: One Touch Make Ready approved by council, probably faces lawsuit

The OTMR ordinance was passed by the Metro Council on Tuesday.  Twelve councilmembers voted to defer the bill because they were fearful of the threatened lawsuit, but the bill proceeded anyways.  On Wednesday, the Mayor, who had previously been neutral on the bill, signed it into law.

The lawsuit does not seek a preliminary injunction, in which the judge would put the ordinance on hold pending the outcome of the lawsuit.


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Don’t Block My Walk, Say Councilmembers

Tonight, the Metro council will consider a bill that will require accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists when construction blocks a sidewalk or bike lane.

For months, Nashville pedestrians and cyclists have been tweeting #dontblockmywalk, begging the mayor and Public Works to not allow sidewalks and bike lanes to be indiscriminately blocked:

The bill states that

it is in the best interest of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County to authorize the Director of the Department of Public Works (the Director) to adopt rules and standards addressing the care to be taken by such permit applicants with regard to bicycle and pedestrian safety and accessibility in the public right of way and to require that a temporary traffic control plan be submitted by such permit applicants when the duration of such permits will exceed twenty (20) days.

Walk Bike Nashville, an advocacy organization, sent out an email to supporters asking them to “contact your council person to let them know that you strongly support ORDINANCE NO. BL2016-240 and the accompanying Public Works Regulations.”

The legislation, sponsored by Councilmembers Burkley Allen and Jeremy Elrod, will go through its second reading at this evening’s council meeting.

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Nashville’s $58 million price tag on bathroom bill

If the legislature passes the bill that would restrict transgender students to using the bathroom of their birth sex, Mayor Barry says, the city would lose out on $58 million in convention spending.  And that’s not good, considering we just spent a good amount of money for our new convention center.

“This legislation doesn’t reflect Nashville’s values and doesn’t do anything to improve the quality of life for citizens of our city or state,” the mayor wrote.

That’s in addition to the money the state AG says we would lose in federal Title IX funding if the bill becomes law.

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Chiefly Diverse at Metro

The mayor wants the city-county government to be “diverse and inclusive” (who doesn’t?), so she gave Michelle Hernandez-Lane the task of making sure that happens.  As the new Chief Diversity Offer, she’ll build on her work in her previous role with the city, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance, by working towards “the attraction, development, promotion, and retention of a diverse government workforce at all levels,” among other things.

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Metro celebrates a birthday

The alliance of Nashville and Davidson County governments is celebrating its 53rd birthday today (you do the math).  Even though it’s April 1st, this governmental union is no joke.  David Ewing shared a seat placard and invitation with us:

The bottom part of the image reads:

Knowing of your interest in Metropolitan Government and of your activities and support in its behalf, we wish you to be a part of the historic occasion which heralds the beginning of this new government.  You are cordially invited to attend the inaugural ceremonies for the installation of the elective officers of the new Metropolitan Government.  The inauguration of Mayor Beverly Briley, Vice Mayor George Cate, Jr., and members of the Metropolitan Council will be held at Municipal Auditorium begining at 11:30 a. m., April First, 1963.

Metropolitan Government Inaugural Committee

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Does MTA Real Time Work?

This morning, Mayor Barry rode the bus to work to promote the MTA’s new real time transit app.

The real time data that was rolled out in December was hailed as the solution to MTA customers’ problems.  But this simple technological solution, while nice, is a just a minor feature masquerading as a fix.

Accompanied by other bigwigs and news media, who likely drove to her bus stop to ride with her, Mayor Barry extolled the virtues of having real time information on bus arrivals.  “It’s really important – the open data that allows people to track all of this information make it a lot easier if you’re a rider to know where the bus is and if it’s coming and you can access the bus when it gets here,” she told WKRN.

Although the MTA’s Instagram post claims that she was riding route 7, the photo in the collage makes it appear that she was riding a bus that was running especially for her.  The dynamic sign board on the front of the bus simply says “Mayor Megan Barry” instead of the route number and destination:

I haven’t had an entirely great experience with the real time data, though.  For the past three days, I’ve been riding the bus to a conference downtown.  Five of the six times I used the app this week, the arrival times have been nearly accurate (even though the interface is clunky).  But this afternoon, as I was waiting for my bus during rush hour, the app left me frustrated and in the dark.  The real time data kept jumping all over the place — at first the bus was 10 minutes late, then it was suddenly 20 minutes late, then 50.  And then, just as suddenly, the bus showed up with no warning from the app.  A second bus traveling on the same corridor was shortly behind it, but that bus was also not shown on the results returned for my stop.

At its core, MTA real time is an API — a data stream of bus arrival times that programmers can hook in to for their own applications.  MTA (with the help of their contractor) runs this API using their own servers and trackers installed in each bus.  While the official Music City Transit app is the most-promoted solution available, there are other apps that utilize this same data stream: Transit App, Google Maps, and Vanderbilt’s own T-Hub.

Vanderbilt employee Heidi Hall seemed to have a better experience with the real time data when she used T-Hub:

To be blunt, the MTA’s bus schedule and when the buses actually arrive have very little to do with each other on busy routes. T-Hub allows me to set the trip, but then track where my bus is in real time. No need to run out of my office at 4:30 p.m. if the bus isn’t going to be there until 5 p.m.

And Councilmember Sledge was satisfied with Transit App when he used in shortly after its Nashville debut last December.

My biggest beef with the real time data, though, is that it’s promoted as the be-all end-all for the MTA riders’ woes.  It’s not.  Knowing that your bus will be 20 minutes late does not help with the fact that it’s 20 minutes late.  Sure, you may not have to run out to your stop until shortly before your bus actually arrives (if you’re lucky enough to be leaving from a place just a few steps from your bus stop), but that still makes you 20 minutes late to your destination.

This new feature is a great (if late) step in the right direction.  Both the MTA and its real time data API have a long way to go.


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Tennessee One Takes Flight

Southwest Airlines is celebrating 30 years of serving Nashville by unveiling Tennessee One:

Before taking a flight to Memphis, country music stars Chris Young and Cassadee Pope aboard to croon to the passengers, Mayor Barry and other notables christened the freshly-painted plane:

Standing next to the plane at the airport, Rob Wigington, the airport’s boss, said,

It really demonstrates the focus Southwest has on Nashville, in particular, and Tennessee.  That’s been shown by all the new service, the growth that they’ve achieved here, and all of our residents and visitors in Middle Tennessee benefit from that.

Southwest Airlines has long had a love affair with Nashville, apparently.

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Mayor wants to be in her gang

After the state senate failed to give immigration activist Renata Soto recognition for her work here in Nashville (she’s the founder of Conexión Americas), Mayor Barry came out in support of the new chairperson of the National Council of La Raza:

This was after one state senator objected to the proposed resolution because he said that La Raza is like a gang.  Some, like Senator Jeff Yarbro, are confused by the senate’s refusal to honor her:

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, said the Senate routinely honors recipients ranging from Tennesseans who appear on national reality television shows to county fair winners.

“The notion that we wouldn’t recognize this vital leader is perplexing,” he said. “It unquestionably sends the wrong message about the kind of people we are here in Tennessee. Tennesseans are a friendly, hospitable and welcoming people.”

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