Updated at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday:
A proposal to restrict sales of street newspapers took its first step forward Tuesday night, although many members of the Metro Council wanted to quickly kill the measure. Vice Mayor David Briley, who oversees the council, cut off debate before it could begin. He reminded the room that the first reading of a bill has historically not been the time for discussion.
“It’s the rarest of occasion when this council pulls a bill off of first reading and votes it down,” Briley said.
Councilman Steve Glover proposed came up with the idea to ban sales when the newspapers must be handed through a windows into a car. If approved, such a law would directly threaten The Contributor newspaper, sold mostly by homeless vendors in Nashville.
Glover told The Tennessean that he plans to defer the bill to improve it. So while the first vote passed, changes could come next month.
The Metro Council will consider a new ordinance Tuesday night that threatens the existence of The Contributor street newspaper and others like it. Newspaper staff members — including dozens of homeless vendors who sell it on roadsides — are fighting for the paper’s survival.
Since 2007, The Contributor newspaper has circulated through sales on street corners, with earnings benefiting the mostly homeless vendors. About 9,000 copies sell each week, typically to people in their cars.
But the new proposal would outlaw sales through the windows of vehicles.
Contributor vendors aren’t waiting around. The newspaper opened its regular meeting to the media this week and has taken to Facebook and Twitter to plead its case. One vendor, named June, recorded a pro-Contributor poem for YouTube.
“The Contributor opened me up to talk, to make friends. Please let the Contributor stay. Don’t take the Contributor away,” she reads in the video.
The proposal is similar to bans that passed in Brentwood and Goodlettsville.
A public hearing on Nashville's proposed ordinance is expected next month at city hall.