Live from Music Row Friday 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 Nashville attorney Jim Roberts to the newsmakers line who discussed where he was at in the process of putting the referendum on the July 27 ballot and fake grassroots citizen action group opposition.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by our good friend Jim Roberts, the man behind the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. Jim, bring us up to speed on the twists and turns of the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act referendum.
Roberts: Every week brings a new story, I have to admit. I appreciate you letting me come on this morning. The status now is the lawsuits have been filed by Metro trying to derail and stop the people from voting on this. The Nashville Business Coalition is a political action group that promotes pro-business candidates.
They’re not even representing the voters or the citizens. They’re just really out for their businesses. They’ve filed a frivolous lawsuit. The first one with Metro set for trial in June, and the other is set for trial in July, which I think shows the weakness of their case because, by that time, it will pretty much be over for them.
Leahy: I guess you feel that those lawsuits are not going to stop the referendum from going to the ballot. Is it scheduled for the ballot? And if so, what date is it scheduled for?
Roberts: They have voted to place it on the July 27 ballot. And then it will be there. All six amendments will be there for people to vote on. We’re moving forward. We’re raising my neighbor at radio and print ads and things like that, trying to get our message out and educate people. Although most people are pretty well educated on the issue.
Leahy: Yeah, exactly. There is this group, “grassroots” group called Save Nashville Now. It’s your usual lefties at Stand Up Nashville. They are working in alignment with the Chamber of Commerce. They’re raising money. They’re going to put a campaign against this thing. What can you tell us about this group?
Roberts: Well, pretty much if you go down the list of their members, it’s all people getting government money, all people on the dole all people who basically operate as a slush fund for the Metropolitan government. There is no citizen group.
There are no people out there representing the voters or the citizens. It’s all people with their hands out. And we knew this was coming. If you have a vested interest, if you’re on the dole with Metro, it’s pretty easy for the Metro government to call you up and say, get in line.
Leahy: Yeah. Get in line. These are all the usual suspects. There is a new development about this group, and it’s our lead story at The Tennessee Star. I’ll just read this to you and get your reaction. The headline: Metro Nashville Public Schools Board Chair Joins Campaign to Stop Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. This is by our own Corrine Murdoch.
Metro Nashville Public School Board Chair Christiane Buggs announced her alliance with Save Nashville Now to defeat the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. It is unclear whether this alliance poses a breach of Metro Nashville’s public school ethics policy.
So here’s what the policy says. According to the Boardmanship Code of Ethics, board members should not represent special interests or partisan politics. ‘Board members will represent at all times the entire school community and refuse to represent special interests or partisan politics.’
That’s what the policy says. We The Tennessee Star asked Metro legal counsel to comment on this policy and whether Bugg’s action violates that policy. What are your thoughts on this? They didn’t call us back, by the way.
Roberts: Of course they didn’t. And of course, it violates the policy. And what it really shows, more than anything, is how high the level of desperation is. Before this is over, they’re going to have starving children and schools with no books.
It’s going to be every sad lie that you can think of will be perpetrated out as some sort of example. The school board, all this stuff is to roll the tax back to 2019. The schools had books in 2,019, they had custodians in 2009 and they had teachers.
This will have almost no effect whatsoever on the school system. But because it fits an agenda and it’s what Metro wants, they’re going to come out and be against it even though it’s probably going to benefit the school system in end.
Leahy: The kind of ads that I’m envisioning from this group, the Save Nashville Now Group, are going to be like those old ads from the Democrats that pictured former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan with grandma and wheelchair pushing her off a cliff.
Roberts: That’s exactly right. Think about it. Who got hurt when they raised taxes 34 percent, minorities, and poor people. The very people they claim to represent are the people that are being harmed by this tax increase.
But you’re not seeing those people brought out, though. Those people are hidden. And unfortunately, the political people, people with lots of money and lots of connections they’re against it because it represents the taking away of power. And the government never likes to have power taken away. We all know that. History tells us that.
Leahy: Metro Chair Christiane Buggs, her full-time job, Metro Nashville Public School Chair Christian Bugs, the one who is, apparently, in my view, violating the ethics policy there by jumping into this election. Her full-time gig is she’s the literacy project director for wait for it…the United Way.
Roberts: So there you go. People with their hands out are going to be against this. There’s no doubt about that.
Leahy: If a complaint were to be filed against Christiana Bugs on this, what would the outcome of that be? It does appear to be a clear violation of their ethics policy.
Roberts: Unfortunately, I have never filed an ethics violation with the Metro government, but I have known people that did, and they tend to get swept under the rug. They tend to get covered up. There are many and this may be something that needs to be addressed on a future ballot initiative.
There are many conflicts that allowed people who are in the government to serve on certain boards that they shouldn’t be and people with financial interests. The Fairgrounds is a classic example. The people that were involved in that all had financial ties to the outcome. And Metro turned a blind eye to that.
Leahy: In the ad campaign coming up for this referendum in July, I guess, what was the date again? July 27th?
Roberts: July 27.
Leahy: How much money are the opponents going to be able to spend on this? And how much will they outspend you and your team by?
Roberts: They said they’re going to raise a million to a million five, probably from taxpayers and squander that. We’ll probably raise about 10 percent of that, and we’ll still win. They’re trying to convince people to do something that’s not in their best interest and that will harm Nashville.
And then people don’t want to do I think everyone in this town knows the tax increase with a bad idea. And it’s the first of many. They would be raising taxes right now if this ballot initiative wasn’t on the ballot. And I can promise if it doesn’t pass next year they’re going to raise the taxes again.
Leahy: Absolutely. Metro Nashville and Mayor Cooper spend money like drunken sailors. And I have to apologize to drunken sailors for that because I think they’re more fiscally responsible.
Roberts: And they eventually run out of money. The Metropolitan government has the ability to issue bonds, and so they pretty much have an unlimited credit card. Most of your listeners probably know the city of Nashville has more debt than the entire state of Tennessee.
That’s the result of irresponsibility. That’s a result of a lack of stewardship and a lack of leadership. And they’re just making it worse. And we’ve got to bring this to a halt.
Leahy: Isn’t Metro Nashville is in one of the five worst financial situations for any city in the country?
Roberts: That’s right. And this is not just bad, but bad after 10 years of unprecedented growth. What we’ve seen is our city that just squandered this wonderful windfall that we had. So who knows what made Nashville suddenly popular?
But it’s undeniable that it is or has been. And they squandered that. They sold us out to out of state interest. They sold us out to developers, and now they’re sending the taxpayers and the citizens the bill for it. And that’s just wrong.
Leahy: Yeah, exactly. Well, we’ll see how all this plays out. If people want to help with your effort, what should they do Jim?
Roberts: Go to our website 4goodgovernment.com which is leading and organizing the charge. We’ve had meetings this week with organizers and volunteers. Please go to that website and donate. We do need money. We don’t have the faucet like the Metro government and some of these other groups.
We have to go out and earn it from the citizens. I’m very happy to say that almost 99.9 percent of all money raised comes from Davidson County despite the very terrible lie to the contrary these are citizens that are supporting this.
The problem is that most people don’t know what to do individually, and that’s like any sort of campaign. But please donate and please tell people these are good amendments. All six of these amendments will make Nashville a better place for good government.
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