Attorney Jim Roberts Talks Davidson County Election Commission Upcoming Vote and Metro Legal Impending Infinite Litigation

Attorney Jim Roberts Talks Davidson County Election Commission Upcoming Vote and Metro Legal Impending Infinite Litigation

 

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 give updates on the Davidson County Election’s vote to put the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act on the ballot and the possibility of endless litigation from Metro legal.

Leahy: On the newsmaker line, our good friend attorney Jim Roberts, the man behind the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. Jim, the big question, has the Davidson County Election Commission put your proposal of the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act to roll back the 34 percent property tax increase on the ballot for the voters in Davidson County to go to the polls and decide on?

Roberts: They haven’t done it yet, but they are meeting on Monday, and we believe that they will vote at that time. They have been recommended by their legal counsel that I met all the requirements and that they are going to vote, hopefully unanimously to put this on the ballot. And we can end all this sort of preliminary dancing that Metro is doing to us. And we’ll move forward towards a campaign.

Leahy: Jim, it seems like this thing is just taking longer and longer than we thought to get it on the ballot. They were going to, I thought decide it last week. What has happened in the interim?

Roberts: I’m not in control of the Election Commission. I thought based on all the information I had, that they would meet either Wednesday or Thursday of this week and vote. For whatever reason, they waited until next Monday. I do know that they were waiting for an independent legal counsel’s opinion on the issue.

One of the complaints the Election Commission has had, they didn’t feel like the lawyer that Metro had recommended last year really had the people or the Election Commission’s interest at heart. That was one of our complaints is that the law firm they hired really was carrying water for Metro the whole time.

They wanted an independent opinion. And I think that opinion is going to be very clear and forceful. I think they know they’re going to get sued. If they vote to put this on the ballot, the Metropolitan government is going to sue the citizens and the election Commission to try to stop it. They’re just that desperate.

Carmichael: There was not an Election Commission meeting last evening, is that right?

Roberts: No, there was not. I had thought and I believe there was going to be one, but it never got noticed. The notice went out, I think, late last night that they’re having a meeting on Monday. They have to give notice under state law.

Carmichael: It has been resolved that the election that matters was the last Metro election, which was in August, not a general election, which is in November. And so that threshold has been passed, is that correct?

Roberts: That’s right. Even though there were four different general elections in August, we had enough signatures for all of them. So it didn’t matter which one they used. (Inaudible talk)

Leahy: Walk us through the timeline here. We think it’s likely that the Davidson County Election Commission will vote on Monday to place the initiative to roll back the 2019 property tax increase next time around and all the other elements on it. What then happens? Does Metro legal immediately sue the citizens again to keep this off the ballot?

Roberts: I certainly know they want to, but of course, the optics on that are going to be pretty bad. The mayor’s budget, which I haven’t had a chance to look at, was due to be given to the Metro Council this week. And so there’s a lot of focus on the Metropolitan government and the Metro Council. I think it’s going to look bad if they turn around and try to raise our taxes for next year while fighting a referendum to lower taxes. I think they’re a little nervous about that.

Leahy: They may be nervous but they looked bad last time they sued and the judge had a ruling in their favor. You didn’t appeal that and you probably could have, but you chose tactically which I think was the right choice to go with a new one that complied with the Chancery court judge’s ruling. If they sue, what will happen?

Roberts: Most likely we would intervene, which means we would ask to join the lawsuit. We would be backing the Election Commission’s decision. And I think the Election Commission knew it was going to get sued and it wanted to be on some firm ground to push back against Metro. I think they know what Metro is trying to do here.

They’ve heard those dishonest arguments being advanced by Metro illegal, and they’re going to fight back, which is what they’re supposed to do. The Election Commission doesn’t exist to represent Metro. It’s supposed to represent the voters, people who want to vote, people who want to run for office, people who want to have a ballot initiative.

That’s who their constituents are.  Metro has thrown up the same terrible arguments. No matter what we do they’re never going to say it’s good. They’re going to nit-pick it to death, and that’s just their job. They are still arguing that people were confused and didn’t know what they signed. Try that when you rent a car, saying, I was confused.

I didn’t know what the rental contract was. Anywhere in society when you sign a contract. But they’re just acting like people don’t have any sense at all. They just can’t get over the fact that people want to restrain the government from a decade-long series of bad decisions.

Carmichael: How does somebody argue that the voters are unable to read a ballot initiative? How do you argue that?

Roberts: Well, you can’t do it honestly. We know that there are certain groups probably funded by Metro and we’re not sure who has been sending out letters to people that that basically say very clearly that you didn’t know what you signed. You didn’t realize that there were six amendments, even though the petition has on it in at least two places.

There are six amendments everywhere on there that say six amendments and each one separate. We made that very clear because of what happened last time. And yet people are out there saying trying to confuse people to fearmonger, that they didn’t know what they signed. The real problem, Crom is real simple.

By doing it as six amendments, there’s almost no possible way that, or at least the majority of the six amendments complied with what the judge said. No matter what Metro argues we’re going to have an election. And the real question is are we going to go ahead and vote on all six or are we just going to have endless litigation and possibly have to have a second election?

Leahy: So back to endless litigation. If they choose to sue the citizens and the Davidson County Election Commission to stop this from getting on the ballot and this proposal to roll back the property tax increase, how long will that process take?

Carmichael: And which judge gets it? Do you know?

Roberts: We don’t know but it’s likely to be Chancellor Lyle, because that seems to be the only judge that will take these cases. The real timeline is once they vote to put it on the ballot, things start to happen. I have to pick a date. It’ll probably be mid-July, which is later than we wanted. It might even be towards the end of July, but they have to pick the date because they have to work backward for absentee ballots and military ballots and all those kinds of things.

I expect Metro to file suit almost immediately. They’re trying to derail this. And part of that is because in their Community Oversight Board case two years ago, the oversight board for the police, it was Metro’s argument that once the process started, you might as well go ahead and have the election. We’re going to bring that up this time if that was their argument last time. And so they don’t want the election process to start. So they probably already got their pleadings ready to go.

Leahy: Well, here’s the good news. You’re making progress one small step at a time.

Listen to the third hour here:

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act: Attorney Jim Roberts Updates on Verified Petition Signatures and Election Commission Stall Tactics

Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act: Attorney Jim Roberts Updates on Verified Petition Signatures and Election Commission Stall Tactics

 

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 give updates on the validation of sufficient petition signatures needed for the Davidson County Election Committee to vote and why they are stalling.

Leahy: On the newsmakers line, our good friend attorney Jim Roberts, the guy behind the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. Good morning, Jim.

Roberts: Good morning. How are you all doing on this beautiful day?

Leahy: Well, we’re doing great. Tell us where this charter amendment to roll back the property tax of 34 percent based upon the assessed value of the properties. Where does this stand?

Roberts: Well, we’re moving the ball down the field. As some of your listeners probably know last Friday, the mayor went on the offensive and tried to fool people into thinking that he was going to be lowering the tax rate so we wouldn’t have to have any sort of Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. I think that backfired on him. He was clearly not telling the truth to people. We’re moving forward. The Election Commission has now finally voted and acknowledged what we all knew, which was the August election last year is the election that it’s based on. And they’ve admitted we have enough signatures.

Leahy: Have they confirmed that you have enough signatures to get on the ballot?

Roberts: They have. They confirmed that we had 12,300 and something signatures. And they have said that all we were required to have was 12,100.

Leahy: Have they officially said, you have enough? You have passed the test on signatures. You will be on the ballot. Have they communicated that to you?

Roberts: No. What they said is we had enough signatures, but they didn’t vote to put it on the ballot. For some reason, they are holding that up.

Leahy: When will that happen?

Roberts: Well, we thought it was going to happen yesterday actually. We are not sure why the Election Commission is dragging its feet. We think it’s because the opposition is gearing up to Litigate and they’re expecting to get sued and they want to wait to see if anybody follows them a lawsuit. As you know, there have been some secret groups put together using phony names to contact and harass people who signed the petition.  And there’s been a real concerted effort of that to intimidate people. I don’t think it worked very well. But at least they’re trying very hard to intimidate people who signed the petition.

Leahy: But there’s a reason.

Carmichael: Jim, are you saying then that officially the Election Commission has ruled that you have met the number of signatures requirements? So is that now done?

Roberts: No. The commissions and bodies like that operate through their votes. So they have said in the meeting that we have enough signatures, but they haven’t voted to put it on the ballots. I don’t know why. It doesn’t make any sense.

Carmichael: So they haven’t voted that you have enough signatures either. Can the opposition still get people to unsign and then present those to the Commission? And then the Commission then changes their mind and says, well, it looks like, Jim, that you now don’t have enough signatures. Can they still do that?

Roberts: Well, there’s no provision in the law to do that. But these folks aren’t really obeying the law. They don’t really care. Part of the way they gather the signatures is like getting a secret copy of the database that was released to them prior to the public knowing. And we know this for a fact now that they were given a copy and that they use that to reach out to people.

There is no provision for, quote, unquote withdrawing a signature. We actually have several hundred more signatures that we could turn in that came in after the day we turned them in. So if they want to get into the, well I want to withdraw the signature game, and we’re going to say, well, look, we got more people who want to turn in signatures.

Leahy: Jim, we have a story, the transcript of the attorney, Jamie Hollin who, you know, who’s representing the Nashville Business Coalition. On Saturday, he made a case. He spoke to the Election Commission, and I think he alleged that some of the signatures were not valid. And there was a problem with the verification process. Have you followed that? Is that a factor in this at all?

Roberts: Well, of course, we expect him to say that because he’s against it. The opposition of this is going to do everything they can to nitpick this step, can submit, pick this death, and no other valid initiative ever been. It fixes as much as this one. And it’s because, of course, the mayor doesn’t want it on the ballot. One of their argument is to say that somehow the addresses aren’t the way they want them. What Jamie Hollin sort of glosses over is that the Metro Charter doesn’t require me to gather or 4 Good Government to gather any addresses. All it requires is the voter’s signature. So to go in there and argue that somehow the address wasn’t the way he liked it is just patently dishonest.

Leahy: But Here’s the problem. There is a red flag here. The Election Commission has not voted formally to say you have enough signatures. And do you know when they will meet next and when they will make that vote?

Roberts: We certainly expected it yesterday, actually. No, I don’t know. They announce their meetings about two days in advance, and we’re just waiting to hear that. There is nothing wrong with those signatures. This is just pro-tax people trying to undermine the public confidence in this.

Leahy: But don’t they have a timeline in which they have to review these signatures?

Roberts: Absolutely. They absolutely do. And they are running out of time. The Election Commission is running out of time because how much time do they have approved?

Carmichael: How much time do they have? What is the time limit?

Roberts: I believe they have about another eight days because the ballot has to be approved by the State Election Commission and then it has to be mailed out. We have early voting. We have overseas ballots. There’s more to it than just having an election on that day. It is my belief that the mayor is putting tremendous pressure on certain election commissioners and that there are people who just don’t want people to vote on it. Remember, the whole goal here is to get it on the ballot to let the citizens vote on it.

Leahy: But haven’t they publicly stated that they verified more than the 12,000? Has that been publicly stated?

Roberts: They said that on August eighth, actually.

Leahy: So why not the vote? Why not the vote? What’s going on there?

Roberts: Unfortunately, I’m not on the election Commission, so I can’t tell you that. Again, I think they are being pushed to stall in delay because possibly Jamie Holland or other Protax forces are going to try to file some sort of preemptive lawsuit.

Leahy: What are the odds? What’s the likelihood that within eight days, the National Davidson County Election Commission meets and says the National Taxpayer Protection Act has met the standard, and it will be on the ballot? What’s the probability that will happen?

Roberts: We think it’s 100 percent. We already admitted that we have the signatures. They verify the signatures. This is just game playing at this point.

Carmichael: Does it make any sense if you’ve got six to 800 or 1,000 or whatever it is additional signatures, if the other side is trying to reduce the number that you turned in before during this time period before the official announcement, does it make any sense for you to turn in the hundreds of additional signatures that you have so that they would then rule, I’m sorry Jim you can’t turn any additional signatures. Wouldn’t that strengthen your position? Well, if you can’t turn in any additional signatures, then the opposition can’t subtract any signatures.

Roberts: Well, you’re way ahead of we were giving them to yesterday to have a vote to see what happens. And you’re absolutely right. That is our next step to go ahead and turn those signatures in. And I would note to your listeners, the Election Commission has said that they have to be a little over 12,000 signatures. We believe that’s wrong. That’s based on the number of people entirely devoted. But a lot of those people voted in a state and federal primary back in August. Only about 93,000 people voted in the election that matter.

Leahy: Jim Roberts, thank you so much for joining us today. We really appreciate it. Come back next week and give us an update if you would please.

Roberts: I’ll do it.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Americans for Prosperity’s Grassroots Engagement Director Grant Henry Explains the ‘Tennessee Truth in Taxation’ Bill

Americans for Prosperity’s Grassroots Engagement Director Grant Henry Explains the ‘Tennessee Truth in Taxation’ Bill

 

Live from Music Row Monday 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 Grant Henry of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee to discuss the Truth in Taxation bill and the transparency it would provide Tennesseans from the reckless spending of cities, counties, and municipalities across Tennessee.

Leahy: We are joined now by Grant Henry. He is the Grassroots Engagement Director for Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee. Good morning, Grant.

Henry: Good morning, sir. It’s a pleasure to be on the program.

Leahy: Interesting bill here. Truth in taxation, which sounds like a common-sense bill to me. It’s a response to the failure of the courts to allow the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act to go through last year. That issue is in the news again this year. But your truth in taxation sounded like a common-sense transparency solution for that. It got caught up in some skullduggery up on Capitol Hill. (Henry chuckles) Tell us about that.

Henry: That is one word for it. That’s correct. And as you said, it was our response to the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. The first one of that being shut down by Judge Lyle, which is an entirely separate conversation there. But after that shutdown, we took this idea, which we currently have a little bit of. We have a form of truth in taxation in Tennessee already.

Most people know this through the certified tax rate. And the obvious idea behind the certified tax rate, which has been law for quite some time is you don’t pay more in the property tax amount that you should pay and couldn’t increase simply because your property value increased. This is currently what Mayor Cooper is trying to do to pass it off as if he is lowering the property tax rate.

The law itself is requiring that to happen. Nevertheless, back on the point, this bill here, truth in taxation would have done something very simple and it would simply propose that when a city or a county has reckless spending and debt problem like Nashville, it will be required to mail in a detailed notice to all citizens of the property tax increase.

People will know exactly how much their individual taxes might go up, what their current tax rate is, when the vote will be held, and they’ll have an opportunity to be heard by these officials before they cast their vote. And you understand the scenario here obviously. It’s that officials can choose to listen to their constituents’ concerns during these public hearings, or they can choose to ignore those concerns.

They’re hoping to go after accountability, reliability, and competitiveness. Now, this was brought up two different times in the same subcommittee. And I don’t know how much you want to get into this right now, but the process of a voice vote in the Tennessee House is one that can seem sometimes be quite problematic when you have the number of votes necessary but the subcommittee chairman hears more no votes than yes votes.

Leahy: He’s got the illusionary ear that he’s sort of a Van Gogh. He hears the no votes but not the yes votes.

Henry: (Chuckles) That’s right. And just to give people some understanding as to what happens here, in the Tennessee House, when the votes go in the subcommittee, and I’ll do a little bit of a mock role play here for you. If I’m the committee chair and I say ayes, the ayes yell, nays, the nays yell. And then I just sort of hear who has more ayes or nays.

So occasionally when the nays are more vocal, that is, you can hear them audibly louder than the yes votes then I will gavel down and say, well the nays move on. On this day, in particular, about two weeks ago, this truth in taxation bill, we, meaning Americans for Prosperity, had ensured that we had five yes votes. And there were eight people on the committee that day. So obviously we had the five yes votes. Four recorded yes votes and our bill sponsor being the fifth yes vote. There were only three individuals that were against this bill. Nevertheless, the nays were still heard audibly than the yes votes.

Leahy: So let’s be very specific about which committee, which subcommittee, and which subcommittee chairman had the hearing problem here.

Henry: This was the property and planning subcommittee. The individuals who voted no on this were the committee chairman, Dale Carr. Representative Dave Wright and Jason Hodges. They were the ones that initially voted no on this bill. And again, if anyone out there appreciates this idea, simple truth in tax station accountability, government transparency bill, one that would allow you to have your voice heard before exorbitant property tax increases are placed on the people. And if I could real quick please give me the luxury to just say Truthintaxationtn.com.

This website is now solely devoted to thanking those individuals that voted yes on this piece of legislation. And the individuals that voted yes, obviously, our bill sponsors, Representative Ready. He voted yes. Representative Moody, Representative Sexton, and Representative Tom Leatherwood.

Leahy: And you’re talking Jerry Sexton?

Henry: Jerry Sexton. That’s right.

Leahy: Not Speaker Cam Sexton.

Henry: No. Representative Jerry Sexton that’s right.

Leahy: Now, did you have a chance to talk to subcommittee chairman, state Representative Dale Carr before this, and did you have an indication that he was opposed to this bill?

Henry: We did. And complete transparency on our end, yes we knew that Dave Wright was against this bill, and we knew that Dale Carr opposed this bill. I suppose Dale Carr had his reasons why, and I’m not exactly sure what the reasons were.

Leahy: So let me just stop for a moment. We’re going to invite State Representative Dale Carr to come in and explain his opposition to this bill, not only his opposition to the bill but shall we say the skullduggery practice in shutting it down. I mean, it seems a little bit unfair in the process. But I’m trying to understand, why would anybody oppose this bill? Do you have any idea?

Henry: Well, I’m trying to sort of steelman the argument here, if I could. And I think people understand what that means. I’m trying to be as fair as possible to Dale Carr’s argument. I think his understanding was that he just doesn’t like the idea of sort of a statewide imposition on East Tennessee. He doesn’t like the idea of some type of mandate that his local governments would have to follow. To be fair to our side of the legislation, we understood that going into it. This bill would only apply to areas that have a debt ratio above 10 percent.

Leahy: Now, let’s just stop there for a moment, because when you described the bill initially, you said this was designed for local governments, county governments, municipal governments that are reckless in their spending. Now you’ve just added a definition of reckless spending, and it looks like what that definition is that these are bills where the standard is local governments that have a spending problem that is a debt to asset ratio where the debt is more than 10 percent of the assets. Is that right?

Henry: That’s correct. Exactly. (Inaudible talk)

Leahy: And by the way, where is Nashville on that list?

Henry: The exact calculation I’m not exactly sure. Don’t quote me. I want to say around 13 to 14 percent. Someone’s going to have to look up those numbers.

Leahy: So Representative Carr is from East Tennessee. Is that correct?

Henry: The Sevier County area. Yes.

Leahy: But in that county in his area, are there any counties that would fit into this category of reckless spenders?

Henry: Well, you have Alcoa City that’s out there. But it’s obviously not in Sevier County. And again, on the date that these votes go down trying to be fair to Representative Carr here, it could have happened that he heard more no votes audibly. I need to go watch this video recording back. It’s all placed on these hard drives out there. You can literally go to the state website and watch this hearing for yourself. He could have heard more no votes than yes votes.

But at the same time, it seems somewhat coincidental that he was against this bill and also heard no more. East Tennessee doesn’t have these kinds of problems. But I can tell you, after working on the Nashville Taxpayer  Protection Act over this past summer how terrible and disheartening some of these personal stories were some of the people that I worked with to gather just 27,000 signatures indicated to me that they have small businesses and they are going to have to figure out whether to shut their small business down, paying for certain types of medicine, or pay for some property tax increases.

And this is not just a sense of fear-mongering. I heard this on multiple different occasions from everybody all the way from the Belle Meade areas all the way to the Antioch areas. We have these stories out there by people that are least able to afford the property taxes are the ones that it hits the worst. And it’s time to have these people’s voices heard.

Leahy: Now, speaking of the voices being heard, sometimes the Tennessee General Assembly is still in session, and sometimes bills that you think are dead come back. Is there a chance for the Tennessee truth in taxation bill for 2021 to come back to this session?

Henry: No. We tried that actually last week to bring it back one time through a procedural motion that would allow someone in the non-prevailing party meaning someone who is not recorded as yes to cite a motion to bring the bill back. And we needed six votes that day. We, unfortunately, could not get to six yes votes.

So this year it will not be coming back. But part of the reason why I like to stress it so much and part of the reason why I appreciate you indulging me this morning with this is that we will obviously be bringing this back next year. And I think it plays a little bit into currently what Mary Cooper is talking about as Nashville is sort of trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes by saying you’ve got to lower the property tax rate.

Listen to the full first hour here:

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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.
Image “Grant Henry” by Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee.

 

 

 

 

 

Attorney Jim Roberts Talks Davidson County Election Commission Upcoming Vote and Metro Legal Impending Infinite Litigation

Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act Attorney Jim Roberts on Metro Legals Attempt at Adverse Outside Council and Ominous Group Harassment of Petition Signers

 

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 revealed Metro legal foiled plans to hire independent counsel with adverse interest to the Election Commission and exposes an anonymous group harassing Davidson County petition signers.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by our good friend Jim Roberts. Jim, you’re going to give us an update on where the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act stands. Good morning, Jim.

Roberts: Well, good morning, sir. How are you doing today?

Leahy: We’re doing great.

Roberts: Let me tell you where we are. A lot has happened since we last spoke. We’ve had two Davidson County Election Commission meetings. They have hired an independent counsel. The chairman of the Election Commission admitted in a public meeting that the law firm recommended by Metro had an interest adverse to the Commission.

And I was happy to see that they terminated that relationship. The law firm that they hired before was clearly in Metro’s pocket. It was good to see them gone. There’s going to be another meeting tomorrow. The Election Commission is meeting on Saturday to review this independent legal opinion. And I’m pretty sure they’re going to vote then to put this on the ballot and just end all of this nonsense.

Leahy: So to bring our listeners up to speed on this, just summarize what you’ve done with the petition and what the purpose of the petition is, and what has to happen to get it on the ballot?

Roberts: So right now, we’ve got enough signatures filed with Jeff Roberts who is the administrative relations. And he has admitted that we’ve turned in more than sufficient signatures. And I think they’re going to vote to put it on the ballot. It does several different things as we’ve talked about over the weeks.

It rolls back that very massive 34 to 37 property tax. But it does a lot of other good things. It protects our parks. It ends permanent lifetime benefits for elective officials. It makes certain that we get our city back because we give cities away to sports teams and they leave us. I mean, there’s a lot of good government elements to this.

Leahy: Let’s talk about tomorrow. The Davidson County Election Commission will review the independent assessment of a law firm as to whether or not the 14,000 signatures you gathered and submitted are sufficient beyond, I think you argue that 12,000 were needed. They’re going to see if they agree or disagree with that characterization, and then they’ll vote on whether or not to put it on the ballot. Do I have that right?

Roberts: That’s my understanding. I’m not on the Commission, but that is the way I understand that their agenda is set up. They didn’t hire just a law firm. I think it’s important for your listeners to know. They hired probably the best well-known, internationally known constitutional professor at Vanderbilt Law School who I was honored to be in his class from 25 years ago. He is internationally known scholar on these type of issues, and he’s going to give them a fair and less Metro-biased opinion. And I think that’s what Metro is scared about.

Carmichael: Jim, let’s assume that the recommendation is to put it on the ballot, and the Election Commission votes to put it on the ballot. Metro is unlikely to sue, just as they did last time. And what is it about what you have done this time? What have you done to change it so that it comports with the ruling from the judge from the last time?

Roberts: What we did is we took the court’s ruling we know disagreed with part of it and we just accepted it. And we said we’re going to modify this petition to do exactly what the judge said. And we did that. And so I think the Election Commission is going to look at that and say, hey, we did exactly what we were told we needed to do, even though some of those rules were made up or not evident before, we did it.

And so I don’t think the Election Commission is going to have a problem with us. This is going to be very different. Last time, of course, we actually sued to get the Election Commission to put it on the ballot. This time, it’s going to be Metro suing the Election Commission to try to stop the election.

Leahy: Do you think they’re going to do that?

Roberts: I know they are. They’re already beginning dirty tricks in this town already. Yesterday and the day before, people in Davidson County started receiving letters from a fictitious group, a group that does not exist, made up telling people that they have they shouldn’t sign the petition. They’re trying to get them to withdraw their signatures. They’re sending people out to people’s houses. They’re texting them, which is illegal. They’re calling them with robocalls, which is also illegal.

Leahy: What’s the fictitious group and who’s funding them?

Roberts: Of course, we don’t know. They call themselves The Citizens for Responsible Government. And that was an entity that existed about 10 years ago, but it’s been defunct for over a decade. It was dissolved by the Secretary of State’s office. So they’re using a phony organization and a phony name, and it’s all just a complete fraud. I presume the mayor’s office is behind it. But this is sort of dishonest tactics. I mean, just total scare tactics.

I mean, they’re going to people’s houses. They’re calling people. I had a young lady who called me yesterday whose name, you may not realize that when you sign up to register to vote, a lot of people give them their phone number. This woman had not done that. And so somebody got a hold of the list of people who signed, ran it through a database, got her phone number, and called her up and harassed her.

Leahy: They’re harassing the citizens who signed the petition.

Roberts: That’s right.

Leahy: This sounds like voter suppression to me. (Chuckles)

Roberts: Absolutely no difference. This is just intimidation down the line. We think they may have gotten an advanced copy of the database from the Election Commission. I’ve talked to the Election Commission and they claim that they gave out a printed copy of the list last Tuesday. But letters were arriving Wednesday and Thursday, which that’s a pretty fast turnaround. So we think they got an electronic copy so they could run labels and print envelopes ahead of time.

Leahy: I suppose The Tennessee Star ought to do a public information request to see what was given out by the Election Commission.

Roberts: Well, I hope they will. I’ve already asked. I wrote a letter to the administrative elections yesterday asking for the identity of the group that got this advanced list and he was refused so far to give it to me. But there are some dirty politics going on here. You just have to understand how absolutely crooked and dishonest the other side is on this. The letters they’re sending out are incredibly deceptive from a phony group. That’s what we should expect.

Carmichael: Can you get us a copy of the letter?

Roberts: I’m working on it right now. I’ve had people send me pictures from their phone and I’m trying to get a hard copy in my hand so that I can post it. It really is dishonest. It just accuses people of not knowing what they were doing. A very condescending and arrogant type letter. But honestly, the real sad part here is the fact that it’s a made-up group. No one is going forward and saying hey, I’m against this, and here’s what I’m standing up for.

The text messages people are getting direct people to a website that was created five days ago six days ago and whose ownership is hidden. We don’t hide anything. You go to 4goodgovernment.com That website domain is owned by me. You can look me up. You can find me that way. It’s a long way to do it. Just looking at on the internet, I’m pretty available. But this is a hidden group, probably using outside money trying to roll this back. This is just corrupt to the core.

Leahy: Jim, what about the litigation? What will the courts rule on this when the Metro illegal opposes it?

Roberts: Well, that’s a good question. I’m not sure Metros got the well, I shouldn’t say that they’ve got a real problem here because they don’t have the Election Commission being their lackey this time. I think the Election Commission realizes that we did exactly what we were supposed to do. And so Metro is going to have to sue.

And I think they’re going to try to argue that people didn’t know what they were doing and that people signed something and just didn’t know what they were doing. They were stupid. And that sort of arrogance that you get out of government that we’re smarter than everybody and everyone else is stupid. So people must not have known what they were doing when they signed a petition.

Carmichael: So, Jim, are there things that are supposed to happen next week before next Friday when we have you on again?

Leahy: Yes. We do have a hearing set next week, we may ask the court to bump it a little bit, because we don’t know what the Election Commission is going to do tomorrow. We sue to force the Election Commission to verify the signatures and put it on the ballot. And they may do that on Saturday, so it may make this unnecessary. So we are sort of dealing with that at the moment. It’s a moving target. I mean, it’s a battlefield.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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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.