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The bill, which aims to put a decibel ceiling on noncommercial speech, has caught labor ire due to concerns that it would curb union protests. (Not all unions are against the bill; local chapters of the Service Employees International Union support it.) It will be up for final vote on tomorrow’s council meeting agenda.
In the union’s sights were two councilmembers who supported a compromise measure that limited noncommercial speech to 80 decibels or 10 decibels above ambient levels: At-Large Councilmember Kwame R. Brown, who introducted the compromise, and Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander. The union’s preferred solution is through a set of amendments put forth last month by Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans that would, among other things, exempt areas containing hotels according to zoning definitions. Those amendments failed at the bill’s first reading last month, but are likely to be introduced again tomorrow.
They’ve bagged at least one of their quarries: Brown, standing in the halls among the red-shirted union folks, told LL that he planned to vote for Evans’ pro-union amendments at tomorrow’s final vote. Alexander, according to top aide J.R. Meyers, “hasn’t made a decision as of yet.”
Brown said that his original amendment, was meant to address nighttime street noise in the Penn Quarter area and that he didn’t realize at the time that this bill would not help solve those problems. “You gotta understand,” he says, “this was during the budget.”
Brown says he’s “disappointed” with the unions when it comes to their media campaign, which invoked Martin Luther King Jr. in an attempt to sway minds against his and Alexander’s original positions. His change of heart on noise, he says, was due to new facts he’s learned since the initial vote. “It really helped me understand why we have two readings,” he said.