Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Metro Nashville moves to ban guns in parks

By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • June 17, 2009 The Metro Council took a preliminary step to ban guns in city parks Tuesday and approved a $1.54 billion operating budget that deals with a punishing economy by laying off dozens of employees and making sharp cuts to many departments. The council voted 26-9 for the gun ban, which was proposed in response to a new state law. The General Assembly voted to let handgun carry permit holders take guns into state and local parks but agreed to let local governments opt out. The council measure normally would have gone through without a discussion on the first of three required votes, but Councilman Robert Duvall pulled it from the consent agenda in an attempt to kill it. Councilman Duane Dominy agreed with Duvall, saying he had taken an oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution, including the Second Amendment, which protects the right to bear arms. But other council members said the bill should be allowed to pass into the committee system for a full debate. Operating budget OK'd The operating budget for the year starting July 1 will include about $28 million less than the year now coming to a close, which officials said is unprecedented. Council members said they felt bad about cutting some employees' jobs but had little choice. The council's substitute budget did restore 17 jobs Mayor Karl Dean's proposal would have cut. That dropped the number of layoffs to 79, which is more than the 66 city officials announced Monday. Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said the number could continue to drop as employees are placed in vacant positions throughout the government. The budget also includes 10 percent cuts for parks, health and social services and some reductions to library hours. Employee raises and bonuses also were suspended for one year.

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