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 to discusses the continued winning as the tax referendum nears a vote on July 27 ballot.
Leahy: Joining us now on our newsmaker line by attorney Jim Roberts, the man who put the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act on the ballot. I think it’s gonna stay there. Where are we in terms of the legal fight, Jim?
Roberts: Well, good morning to you! We are still winning. We are on the ballot for July 27 on all six amendments. The litigation launched this Monday, with Metro going full force, trying to suppress the vote right to vote on this.
But it doesn’t look like they’re having much success. It’s been a very legally technical type lawsuit. It’s not very interesting to watch, but essentially, Metro is doing everything they can to try to keep people from even being allowed to vote on this.
Leahy: But they’re not succeeding.
Roberts: Not so far. And it’s taking longer than I thought it was going to be. I stopped by on Wednesday. It’s a very technical lawsuit. There’s not a lot of witnesses. I don’t think there’s going to be any witnesses.
It’s really just an argument of lawyers. But Metro still can’t really articulate why the people shouldn’t be allowed to vote. They just don’t want them to.
Carmichael: Jim, I mean, with all due respect, Mayor Cooper has made it clear that the reason that he doesn’t want people to vote is that they’re stupid. He got up in a church and said that the reason in California, in a church of all places, that’s the irony is dripping on that in that regard to that.
But he got in front of a group of people in church and said that the people in California, the fact that they have a referendum is the reason their state is such a mess. And that if they just left it up to government employees and government officials, that California would be just a lovely place with very low taxes and a very light touch from the government.
And it’s all the people who are the problems. I wish Cooper would get up and tell the judge that the judge is too stupid to have a right to vote on this.
Roberts: Well, that’s right. And I’m sure Mayor Cooper got all that information from all those Californians who fled that state because of their high taxes and irresponsible government. Having a referendum is not the problem. The problem is a decade of overspending and irresponsibility.
Roberts: That’s the problem.
Carmichael: And if we can get this referendum passed, it will force the powers to be to sit down and hopefully make the best decisions they can make, even though they don’t want to. But these people need to be forced to think and to manage.
They need that. Now then if they choose to fire the best people just to stick their fingers in the eye, then that’s an irresponsible act. But anyway, go ahead. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.
Roberts: No, you’re absolutely right. It’s really sort of sad to me that the only time that our police and firefighters come first and this Mayor lied, is when it’s time to start cutting the budget.
Leahy: (Laughs) That’s a great line, but true.
Roberts: And it’s really true. You’re right. What this will do is restrict the government, but force them to make hard choices. When the government has an unlimited checkbook, they don’t make a lot of hard decisions.
They just decide where to spend the money when it’s all free money. And this will force them to make some decisions. And I guess if Mayor Cooper wants to defund the police first, he’s got a right to do that.
I don’t think that’s what the people want. He has a staff of 30 people making over $100,000 a year. Maybe he could fire one or two of those people and get his own coffee.
Carmichael: The other thing he could do is he could sit down with the Board of Education and say, we have got to greatly cut back on the number of non-teachers that are in our government-run education system.
And he won’t do that. He made it clear when COVID hit that the one thing he would not do is lay off a government employee. Now here businesses are closing left and right, and revenues for the city are still strong and getting stronger, by the way.
And what the Mayor if this referendum passes, one of the things they’ll have to do is sit down with the Board of Education and say, all right, we’ve got thousands of bureaucrats in our school system. We need to cut that in half.
Roberts: Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Leahy: Jim, let me ask you this. There’s another lawsuit from a group called the Nashville Business Coalition, which looks like just a bunch of special interests. They are represented by a very able attorney, Jamie Hollins. Where is that lawsuit going?
Roberts: That lawsuit got put at the children’s table at Thanksgiving dinner. (Leahy laughs) That’s the only way to say it. That lawsuit is going to go to trial on July sixth. This will be over by then. He’ll be an afterthought.
The Nashville Business Coalition is really just a PAC. They are pro-business political candidates. They’re not representing voters. They’re not representing citizens. They’re absolutely representing businesses that want to elect pro-business candidates.
Carmichael: When you say want to elect pro business candidates, are you saying they want to elect candidates who help the businesses that do business with Metro?
Carmichael: So it’s not pro-business candidates. It’s pro-handout.
Carmichael: Pro I’ve got my handout and I want to get money from the government.
Roberts: Absolutely. And the more you can they werThey supported a lot of the candidates to get them to do the amp to support the business community at the expensive neighborhoods.
And they really have no interest in the citizens of Davison County. If it was up to the Nashville Business Coalition, taxes would be even higher, and there’d be more subsidies to the downtown businesses.
Which is great. I love Nashville being a strong powerhouse, but we focus all of our time and energy on the downtown and not our neighborhoods. And that comes at a cost.
Leahy: Jim, a lot of these special interests who oppose the referendum to roll back the taxes have raised a lot of money. They’re already on the air with television ads painting false pictures of the sky is falling.
What’s your reaction to those ads? And are you going to have enough money to push back against those ads?
Roberts: We certainly need all the donations that we can get. All of our money is coming from Davidson County residents. We’re up against business coalitions that are subsidized by the city.
They’re using our tax dollars to run a campaign to raise our taxes. And that’s a reality. That just happens in governmental fights. All of our money is coming from citizens and groups that are interested in saving the parks and rolling back this tax.
We won’t go on television. That’s an extravagant expenditure, but we’ll spend money on radio and on social media. It’s really about informing people and educating people. One of the most disappointing things I see of the opposition’s campaign is how inherently dishonest it is.
They just can’t even tell the truth to help themselves. A lot of this, as you see, they’re talking about how the city’s going to lose revenue, but they won’t even admit that if we end lifetime benefits for council members and the mayor, we’ll save money.
It’ll be more money for schools. If we quit giving away our parks and public lands for free to out-of-state developers we’ll have more money for our schools and firefighters. They won’t even admit that I’m trying to save money for the city.
They just wanted to the doom and gloom hysteria. That’s all they have and that’s all they’re ever going to have.
Carmichael: That’s what McWherter did. That’s what Sundquist did. And history shows that they were both very, very wrong. McWherter didn’t try nearly as hard to be as wrong as Sundquist did and he can’t get a speaking engagement in front of his family because his policies were so bad.
A bigger government is not good for any community. And Nashville’s government is already too big. Are the government employee unions pitching into the special interest for this dark money?
Roberts: I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m sure they will. Anyone who’s beholden to the government is going to be against this. Let’s just be honest. It doesn’t surprise me at all because the teachers union thinks that they can get more money for teachers if there’s just a blank checkbook.
And in some ways they’re right. If we have unlimited spending then everyone gets more money. What bothers me the most about the unions is that they’re important. The police officers and the firefighters, the teachers are the most important things we do.
They should be the ones saying, hey, why don’t you cut these other wasteful things and focus on what’s important? I want them to focus on what’s important.
Leahy: Jim Cooper is and John Cooper are the Cooper tandem that wants to be the elite to tell everybody what to do.
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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.
Background Photo “Nashville City Hall” by Nicolas Henderson. CC BY 2.0.