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BOMA allows Contributor sales to motorists for now

The city of Franklin will give vendors who sell goods to motorists “a very short leash” to demonstrate a willingness to adhere to a law passed March 12 designed to allow them to conduct business in a manner that will neither impede traffic nor compromise safety.
While the law applies to any financial transaction between a pedestrian and a motorist, it will notably impact “The Contributor” newspaper, which homeless people sell at intersections throughout the Greater Nashville area. The bill, which allows such sales so long as the vendor does not enter the street or a median, was a compromise to an ordinance that would have outlawed the practice altogether. The softer measure passed four to three, with Aldermen Brandy Blanton, Pearl Bransford, Dana McLendon and Michael Skinner voting in favor. It allows for sales to initiate from beyond the curb to passenger(s) of stopped vehicles.

Aldermen Clyde Barnhill, Beverly Burger and Margaret Martin voted against ordinance, having previously voted for a failed option that would have banned selling to motorists outright. Alderman Ann Petersen was absent for the votes. 
“I want it to be clear that this is a very short leash, because I am frankly not optimistic athat we are going to get much compliance,” McLendon said. “When I say a short leash, I mean a very short leash.”
BOMA asked Police Chief David Rahinsky to track the number of warnings and citations his officers issue to vendors in the coming months as a means to gauge compliance with the new law. 
“Contributor” executive director Tasha A. French Lemley, center of photo, said she recently hired a “very part-time person” to monitor the activities relating to its independent contractors in Franklin. 
“We’ve already hired someone for eight hours a week to keep an eye on what’s happening in Franklin and to report back to us,” Lemley said. 
Though its proponents insist the law’s impetus is safety, the battle over the bill represented a referendum on homelessness to some. 
“These are people who are looking to get out of a really serious life predicament,” concerned citizen Annie Middleton told BOMA during the working session prior to the voting session. “I think this city could take a step in supporting the homeless community.”
Brant Bousquet, executive director of Franklin-based Hard Bargain Association, challenged Franklin to be “better than Brentwood,” which last year outlawed all transactions between pedestrians and motorists. 
“I would hate Franklin to be one of those wealthy suburbs that doesn’t want to do anything,” Bousquet said. 
Proponents of the bill were unable to produce any documented instances in Franklin in which an injury or accident resulted from the the transactions pedestrian-to-motorists. 
“We too are concerned about safety,” Lemley said.
Alderman Martin also expressed concern that some “Contributor” salespersons, all of whom are independent contractors for the Nashville-based newspaper, have reportedly begun selling newspapers at intersections in residential neighborhoods. Lemley answered by saying that sales might occur anywhere that they are not prohibited by law. 

Posted on: 3/12/2013


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