Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Clint Brewer in studio to comment upon Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State address and his infrastructure plans.
Leahy: We are joined in studio by a very good friend, all-star panelist, recovering journalist, good guy, and also public affairs specialist, Mr. Clint Brewer. Good morning, Clint.
Brewer: Morning, Mike. How are you today, man?
Leahy: I am delighted to have you here and to talk about what’s going on in the state and nationally. Let’s start with the state if that’s okay.
Brewer: Yes, do it.
Leahy: Governor Bill Lee delivered a State of the State address on Monday evening. What was your reaction to it? Good, bad, indifferent, mixed?
Brewer: I was pretty positive on the whole thing. I thought he did a great job. I think he laid out the priorities in a way that Tennesseeans are going to understand and appreciate. I really have to say the emphasis on infrastructure is important. It’s important to people’s quality of life.
It’s important to the state’s economy. Tennessee’s economy has built a lot around our ability to move things from one point to the other. We’ve got some of the best logistics in the country with our interstates, our rail systems, and our airports. And so doubling down on that is good. Also, energy consumption changes.
Tennessee has always been fueled by gas taxes that we pay in cash for our roads and infrastructure. And with the nature of how people consume energy changing for transportation, I think we’ve got to double down on that. So I was really happy to see it, and I think it makes a lot of sense.
Leahy: Well, I’m going to shock you.
Brewer: You’re going to disagree with me?
Brewer: You’re going to agree with me.
Leahy: I’m going to say that I think the general direction that he’s going in infrastructure, along with his Commissioner of Transportation Butch Eley, I think it is a good direction, and I think it is a direction that reflects the reality of the population density of Nashville and Middle Tennessee and the rest of Tennessee.
Brewer: Yes, no, I agree with you. It’s a vital service. It’s a service only government provides. I think the Governor and Commissioner Eley, in particular, are being creative. I think there’s some talk of toll roads and other things.
Leahy: Choice lanes!
Brewer: Yes, not on the talking point. Things that are done in other large metropolitan areas, and other states that have seen this kind of growth in the past. It’s all smart stuff, and congratulations to them for thinking ahead rather than trying to play catch up. I think that’s a style of governance we’ve been fortunate to have in this state, and I’m glad to see it continue. I thought it was a really good speech.
Leahy: Tennessee is growing and will continue to grow. I know this part will shock you. I had some quibbles about some of the things that he suggested there, and we’ll get to those in our next segment.
But this transportation infrastructure plan, I think they were very, very smart in the way they put it together, in the sense that Nashville is not New York City, it’s not Boston, it’s not Washington, D.C., and it’s not San Francisco. It doesn’t have that dense population concentration in areas that make mass transit, subways, and the like is relatively cost-effective.
Brewer: It’s also big geographically.
Leahy: It’s big. It’s split out. It’s a lot more like it’s closer geographically to Dallas, Texas.
Brewer: I think that’s fair.
Leahy: And so state Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson was in studio with us yesterday and he told us that he went down to Dallas with the governor and with Commissioner Eley to look at what they’ve done there. And, you know, I lived in Dallas in 1984 for about a year, and I must admit I was a liberal at that time and was a big mass transit fan.
But a friend of mine who was a professor at Harvard, John Kane, went down and advised the Dallas area Rapid Transit folks on how to construct a transportation system that worked. And he kind of blew my mind when he said, no, what we need to do is build roads and have choice lanes and toll lanes, which is what they did. And I have to tell you, we go to Dallas now once or twice a year. It’s working great down there.
Leahy: I was very impressed with how they’ve handled infrastructure in Dallas, Texas. Yeah.
Brewer: How they move people around that city is impressive. And it’s no surprise to see Majority Leader Jack Johnson on the case. We’ve talked in the show many times about how fortunate Tennessee is to have leaders with the kind of experience and brain power and temperament. Jack’s right up there. No surprise at all.
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Bill Lee” by Bill Lee.