Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grassroots Director Grant Henry Discusses Recent Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act Ruling

Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grassroots Director Grant Henry Discusses Recent Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act Ruling


Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 in the studio to weigh in on the recent decision made the court citing the unconstitutionality of the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act, therefore, preventing it from proceeding to a vote by Davidson County citizens.

Leahy: We are joined now in studio by our good friend Grant Henry. He’s the grassroots director for Americans for Prosperity, Tennessee. Good morning, Grant.

Henry: Good morning, Sir. Good company in this room right now.

Leahy: Yeah, we’re having a good time. Also in studio with us, the mayor of the turbocharged bastion of freedom, Maury County, Andy Ogles. Good morning again, Andy.

Ogles: Good morning.

Leahy: Grant, what on earth happened with the judge’s decision to basically declare that the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act, which received all of the signatures necessary to get on the ballot for the second time, why did the judge throw that out?

Why did the judge, in my view, deprive Davidson County residents who are supporting a common-sense conservative referendum get thrown out when a left-wing referendum that actually had fewer signatures than this that set up the left we hate the police, Community Oversight Board sail through without any judicial opposition?

Henry: First and foremost, this ruling silences the Nashville voters and taxpayers’ voices who continue to be saddled with harmful tax increases. Nashvillians are tired of Mayor Cooper and Metro’s spending addiction to put the city in jeopardy again and yet one more time.

And to answer your question directly, this ruling made by Chancellor Russell Perkins, I’m reading directly from News Channel Five here stated, “given the six proposed amendments are not severable, none of 4 Good Government’s proposed amendments to the Metropolitan Government’s Charter permitted to be considered for a referendum and Election Day of July 27.”

Now, you’ll know this clearly, but that idea means if one of them fails, they all fail. And in my personal opinion here, let me draw a hard line of delineation between myself and Americans for Prosperity.

In my personal opinion here, it seems quite clear Chancellor Perkins was desperately searching for justification in his analysis pertaining to this allegion severability situation.

Leahy: We’ve had Jim Roberts here in studio who said very specifically that these six proposals were, in fact, severable. In other words, you could reject one but still vote on the other.

Apparently, the judge disagreed with that. I’m not a lawyer. I don’t play one on the radio. You however are a graduate of a law school. What’s your view on the decision?

Henry: The decision felt like an overtly partisan interpretation of both previous case law and the petition language itself. Again, that’s as far as I’m concerned. But here’s what I think ended up happening is for several of those amendments, Chancellor Perkins realized and ruled that he didn’t have jurisdiction.

Now, what this meant was that he was then forced to say that at least if one of them doesn’t work, then all of them are going to have to fail, because otherwise, the other result would have been, hey, amendment one, we have to keep that off.

But the ones where I don’t have jurisdiction say amendment two, three, four, and five, those have to stay on. There was no way he was gonna be able to get away with that. And I put big air quotes here.

Leahy: By the way, our listeners. Yes, he did. I can verify he did put those air quotes on ‘to get away with.’

Henry: I personally believe the course decision only perpetuates the fiscal mismanage we’ve seen in places and an even greater need on the state legislature. Let’s shift here for just a second and greater need in the state legislature to strengthen our truth and taxation law that will insert some fiscal responsibility into this city’s finances and allow voters to reject corporate welfare and massive tax hikes.

We at Americans for Prosperity are going to continue to advocate for taxpayers throughout the state to work to bring structural reform that reigns in not just Nashville’s outrageous spending, but other cities across the state, too, with a super high debt ratio. But look, I will say there is some sliver of hope left. I’m sure Jim Roberts has talked about that.

Leahy: I’m glad we had at least a sliver of hope. What, pray tell, is that sliver lining?

Henry: The Election Commission decided last Friday that they will appeal this decision. I’ve been told there will be an expedited appeal going through here now in legalese I suppose that still means we’re going to have to wait about a month for any real ruling to come down.

But in the meantime, the Election Commission, I suppose in some way to show how confident they are about this decision going their way has actually set a provisional date out towards the end of September.

So Americans for Prosperity, we’re going to sit back, wait for a minute, see how this thing rolls out. But again, we are going to continually fight strongly for things like truth and taxation for when this comes up again on the ballot, possibly in September.

And we’re going to hit the ground running. But I’m saying I’ll pay attention to the state legislature next year. The truth and taxation certification process is going to be an incredible thing.

Leahy: It strikes me again not being an attorney. A couple of things strike me about this. Jim Roberts told us they were clearly severable. They wrote it so that it would be severable. This was an issue the previous time that they lost that the judge brought up.

I will say, however, to me it seemed like it was a mistake to put six elements on the ballot. I think there should have been just two, one being the rollback of the property taxes from the 34 percent increase and then the second that would have prohibited the City Council from introducing a smoke screen alternative that would confuse voters.

That would have been my view on the best way to go. But I guess, reading the opinion from what I saw, I think that the judge ruled that the rollback of the 34 percent property tax increase apparently was not constitutional. Is that right?

Henry: Right. And that’s why he kept citing the case called the City of Memphis versus…I don’t remember. But the idea behind that is as long as something is deemed facially and constitutional, that is on its face, you can tell it’s unconstitutional.

The judge, the Chancellor here can get in before the vote happens to deem something unconstitutional which is absurd.

Leahy: I have a vague recollection of that case City of Memphis. I think it is a misinterpretation of that ruling. And there’s a legal term where you take something that is sort of an aside comment, and you say that that was the ruling.

Henry: Dicta or something.

Leahy: Yeah, exactly. It’s dicta. In other words, if it’s a side comment and not the court of the ruling. And I think I’ll have to get our legal experts on that. I think that the City of Memphis precedent would fit in that category. Well, the appeals court will take it up I think at some point.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act: Attorney Jim Roberts Continues to Win the Fight Against Metro Legal and Faux Citizen Action Groups

Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act: Attorney Jim Roberts Continues to Win the Fight Against Metro Legal and Faux Citizen Action Groups


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 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.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act: Attorney Jim Roberts Continues to Win the Fight Against Metro Legal and Faux Citizen Action Groups

Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act: Attorney Jim Roberts Talks Metro Legal’s Creation of Suppression and Fear as Referendum Seeks Ballot


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 the Nashville Taxpayer Protections Act Attorney Jim Roberts to the newsmakers line to discuss Metro Legals shenanigans and efforts to prevent the referendum on the ballot.

Leahy: In studio, Crom Carmichael. On the newsmaker line. A good friend, Jim Roberts, the attorney behind the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. Well, twists and turns. Jim, where are we now?

Roberts: We are we now? Oh, we’re having a good time. Good time. So the latest news, of course, is we did turn in sufficient signatures. The Election Commission should have received those signatures and should be counting them. But we’re getting rumors and whispers of Shenanigans being pulled by the Metro government, unfortunately.

Leahy: Yes, shenanigans, Metro government. These are two words that are synonymous these days.

Carmichael: Did you file your lawsuit?

Roberts: We are going to file this afternoon. It’s already drafted. I’m working on a motion. What they are going to do is that they’re going to try to do is just not count the votes. That’s what the rumor is. That is Metro Legal’s strategy is to just say we’re not going to count the votes because we’re not even going to try.

Leahy: They are bound by law to count the signatures, correct?

Roberts: Well, you would think that. And so what Metro Legal has done is, we think is told the Election Commission just told them, oh, that’s not enough signatures. And so they’re putting pressure on the Election Commission we hear to just refuse to even count them.

Leahy: They can’t do that. That’s illegal.

Carmichael: Here’s what I think I hear Jim saying. This is why his lawsuit is necessary. His lawsuit is necessary to establish what is the definition of the general election.

Roberts: That’s right.

Carmichael: And then once that’s defined, then Metro has to count it because then the number would be set according to the legal precedent of the courts. The precedent is that the general election is the Metro election, not the election for Congress.

Leahy: Yeah. Describe for our listing audience what the charter says about the number of petitions you have to turn in 10 percent of the previous general election. The August 2020 local county general election had 120,000 votes. 12,000 is 10 percent. The November state and national election had like 320,000 votes. 32,000 is 10 percent. You turned in 14,000. Tell our listeners about what the charter says about what the preceding general election means.

Roberts: Well, I can actually make it even easier. The law is actually already set. Metro Legal litigated this against the Community Oversight Board. Two years ago and Metro Legal took a very strong position and the Court of Appeals adopted the position that the intervening federal election doesn’t count. It’s not to be counted. Special elections aren’t to be counted.

The only thing that counts as a preceding general election is an election for a county-wide office like the Assessor of Property, which is what happened last August. There were actually four general elections on our ballot last August, but three of them were special elections because of people who had either died or retired from office.

There was only one office and that’s the Accessor of Property, and only 92,000 people voted. So we really don’t even have to have 12,000 signatures. We only have to have 9,238 signatures. Everything Metro Legal and unfortunately, the Election Commission is putting out about a number greater than that is intent at deception and an attempt at voter suppression. So it is to suppress the people’s vote.

Carmichael: So you are filing a lawsuit that is a declaratory judgment lawsuit to define the definition or not to define it, but to confirm that the definition of a “general election” in regard to what this is about has to do with the local county and the last general county election.

Roberts: That’s right. And the law is very clear. And in fact, we’re even going to attach a copy of Metro Legal’s appellate brief. That’s the brief they filed with the Court of Appeals, where they argued that very issue. They even built a little table where they showed all the different elections and why they didn’t count. But I have a feeling they’re going to reverse themselves and shamelessly, try to create confusion, and really try to suppress this.

They don’t want this on the ballot. Let’s just get it straight. This means a lessening of power for the Metropolitan Government. And governments don’t like losing power. They want to keep that tax increase. They want to bring another tax increase. It’s already being floated that the taxes are going to go up again this year. And they know that if they try to do that at the same time, people are voting on this, that it’s just going to help us get the vote out.

Leahy: But according to the charter, when you turn in signatures for a vote to be held on an amendment to the charter it has to be counted by the Metro clerk. Am I right or not?

Roberts: Well, it’s certainly is what the law says. But when has the law ever constrained the government when it could get away with it? I mean, the fact that you have to sue the government to force it to follow its own laws, that happens when the government won’t follow its own laws. Metro Legal doesn’t care what the law is.

They don’t care that they took a position two years ago that said one thing. They’ll come in and change their position without hesitation because they’ll be told to do that by the Director of Law, Bob Cooper, who doesn’t care what the law is. He only cares what the result is. He doesn’t want people to vote on this.

Carmichael: And then the judge will have to rule whether or not the precedent and the definition of what the general election is. And then, Michael, at that point, let’s assume for purposes of discussion that the judge rules that the definition of the general election is the last county-wide election. Let’s assume then Metro will have to count the votes because the number that was turned in was greater than what the minimum would then be. They then have to do that. Now, their argument is that he needed to turn in 32,000, and he didn’t, so there’s no reason to even count. So Jim is now filing a suit…

Roberts: That’s exactly right.

Carmichael: To have the last August election, which was the last county-wide election to be the one that determines the total number of which 10 percent will be multiplied against.

Leahy: Jim, the Davidson County Election Commission, I guess, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday of next week. What do you think will happen during that meeting?

Roberts: Well, we don’t know exactly because, unfortunately, this is usually a sign of something dishonest is about to happen. They’ve announced the meeting, but they have not released the agenda. They are apparently going to hold their cards close to their chest of what they’re actually planning on doing. And that’s really why we’re going to go ahead and follow this lawsuit.

We want to get the law in the record in front of it. There are attorneys on the Election Commission that are smart. Jim Bolinas is one of the commissioners, and he is going to be smart enough, I believe, to read not only what the Court of Appeals said, but Metro’s position and realize that Metro is full of hot air. And I don’t think he’s going to let the Commission do something that just sets it up to get sued foolishly. This involves the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Acts. I mean, this is an intentional suppression of people’s voting and that’s a violation of federal law. And we’re going to push this.

Carmichael: You probably should reach out to the CEO of Delta (Leahy chuckles) and about voter suppression. I’m sure he’ll just jump right in and help you. (Laughter)

Roberts: Well, this is what it is. They don’t want this on the ballot. They don’t care about the mayor. They don’t care if it’s a good idea. And this is how corrupt governments work. And they just don’t let you vote.

Leahy: That’s right.

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 euthman. CC BY-SA 2.0.




Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act: Attorney Jim Roberts Comes Up with More Petitions Than Legally Needed, Metro Legal Moves Goalpost

Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act: Attorney Jim Roberts Comes Up with More Petitions Than Legally Needed, Metro Legal Moves Goalpost


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 discuss his receipt of more than enough signed petitions to put the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act on the ballot yet informs of Metro Legals attempts to change the rules.

Leahy: We are joined on our newspaper line by the triumphant Jim Roberts. Good morning, Jim.

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

Leahy: So tell us what you did yesterday afternoon.

Roberts: Well, we were very excited. Yesterday we went down to the courthouse and handed over to the Metro Clerk more than sufficient signatures to place the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act on the ballot. And they were waiting for us, even though we didn’t tell them we were coming, they knew we were coming. And they already had the forms ready. And it was just a wonderful feeling to unload those thousands and thousands and thousands of petitions with the signatures on them.

Leahy: I saw the picture. You had a lot of them. Now the number that you submitted was a little over 14,000. Is that correct?

Roberts: That’s right. 14,000 valid signatures.

Leahy: Now, there’s a little dispute coming on what the right number is. Tell us what your interpretation of the Metro charter is as to what the number needs to be.

Roberts: Certainly. There was a little confusion first, because, quite honestly, the Election Commission was putting out some incorrect information. And it’s really all based on how many people voted in the last general election. And that term general election is defined as the last Metro election.

Leahy: And let me just pause here for a moment. When people use the term general election, the general election for state and federal offices was held in November 2020.

Roberts: That’s right.

Leahy: But the general election for Metro Nashville County government offices was at the August of 2019 election?

Roberts: No, it was the August of 2020 election.

Leahy: And the charter says you need 10 percent. And so what is 10 percent of the August 2020 general election?

Roberts: About 11,500 signatures.

Leahy: And you turned in 14,000.

Roberts: That’s right.

Leahy: So game over right? If they get approved by the Metro clerks, you should be on the ballot except your counterpart accept. And now we have the rest of the story. (Roberts chuckles) Jeff Roberts, no relation to you. Jim Roberts is the election administrator for Davidson County. He says no. He says when they say general election, they mean the November 2020 general election for federal and state offices. And 10 percent of that number is 32,000. He said in an article in The Tennesseean where he said he’s going to challenge you. What happens next?

Roberts: Well, what’s going to happen is that we’re actually going to fail a lawsuit Monday. I must admit I didn’t expect this sort of legal shenanigans that we had last time. The unbelievable dishonesty of the Metropolitan government in the department of law. I was caught off guard by that. We’re not really going to put up with that nonsense.

The law is very clear. In fact, Metro argued in a very similar situation that it would have been the August election, not just two years ago when the Community Oversight Board referendum was on the ballot it was Metro that argued that the prior August selection was the right election and that Metro argued that the intervening federal election didn’t count.

That was Metro’s argument. And I expected them to be hypocrites and to change their position. But the law is completely clear. This case is less than two years old, and it says very clearly that the November federal and state election isn’t the election you count from. So Jeff is just wrong. And either he doesn’t know he’s wrong or he doesn’t care he’s wrong.

Carmichael: Are you going to file for a declaratory judgment on Monday?

Roberts: That is probably what we’ll do. If you remember last time that the Election Commission stalled and delayed. We found out that Metro legal was meeting illegally and secretly with the Election Commission to conspire against the voters. We’re not going to put up with that nonsense this time. My goal is to file for a declarative action and an injunction prohibiting Metro legal from engaging in any more unethical behavior. We’re going to make it very clear that this is serious. This is what the people want, and we’re not going to have a lot of illegal and unethical behavior by the Metropolitan government to try to stop it.

Carmichael: When you say this is what people want what you’re really saying is people want to have a right to have a say on their own tax rates. Now whether or not they want to have them or not. If this vote goes against the way that you would like it to, you’re still satisfied with that as a result, because the people have spoken. Is that accurate?

Roberts: Absolutely. And obviously, I hope they look for these six good things because they’re all good government amendments but I want to put it in the people’s hands. They have a right. This is what’s so dishonest about what Metro legal is doing. It is that they’re not just trying to say it’s a bad idea they’re trying to prevent and have been trying to prevent the people from voting on it. And when your government is telling you, you don’t get to vote on something that should bother everybody. And it bothers me a lot.

Leahy: So, Jim, the precedent you’re talking about, tell me if I’ve got it right. So the controversial Community Oversight Board, which was placed on the ballot because community groups gathered signatures that were more than 10 percent

Carmichael: Of the previous August.

Leahy: Previous August general election back in 2018. And they got it on like 1,500 signatures or something at 10,000. And I think the number was 8,500 or something like that. And the fraternal order of police filed a lawsuit that went through many, many cases and many iterations. And they said, no, that’s not enough. It needs to be the general election in the November election. Metro legal argued, no no no it has to be August in that. Do I have that right?

Roberts: That’s exactly right. That’s what they ordered. The phrase in the charter says proceeding general election. So in a sort of legal way, there was a dispute. What does proceeding general election mean? Well, one of the bills is very clear. In an election just Metro offices are being decided, not just people in Davidson County are voting but a true Metro election. And that was August of 2016 in that particular case. And for us, it’s August 2020. Metro knows this, and they’re just purposely spreading false information.

Leahy: So it’s interesting. They argue that it should have been the August election back to get the Community Oversight Board referendum on the ballot. It got on the ballot and was passed by the voters. Now we have a community oversight board. Are they going to literally make exactly the opposite argument when you go to court to get this on the ballot?

Roberts: Not only do I expect them to do that, which is incredibly dishonest, but one of the things that they argued in the oversight board case was that the people should have a right to go ahead and vote on it. And if there’s a problem with it, that can be determined later in court. But they should let the people vote on it. They were all about letting the people vote on that referendum. I am pretty certain that they won’t be as happy about letting people vote on this one.

Carmichael: Well, you’re going to see. I think that the strategy of filing for a declaratory judgment to move the thing along quickly is probably the wise course of action because the last time you kind of you waited for them, and now they’ve already pretty much said they’re going to sue over this. So you’re going to sue first and bring it to a head quickly.

Roberts: That’s right.

Carmichael: It will be interesting to see how the judge rules given the other recent ruling.

Roberts: That’s right. That gives us more time. If you remember last time they said they were going to sue and they never did. I finally had to sue Metro to force them to put it on the ballot because they clearly had no intention of actually doing anything. They just wanted to sort of stall and delay. We’re going to go forward.

I’d like to do it today, but I just think I’ve got too much work to do to get it done today. But maybe Monday or Tuesday or at the latest next week. We’re going to force Metro to put this on the ballot. The people deserve the right to vote on it. And if they vote yes on some of these, and no on some of these, that’s fine. I’ve given the people the opportunity to vote. They’re all good and they all should be voted for. But people’s minds differ sometimes.

Leahy: When do you think that the chancery court, which is, I guess where this will go, when do you think they would rule on whether your numbers right or the other number is right?

Roberts: We’ll file everything on an expedited basis. We’ll be pushing this very quickly. Almost certainly when Metro loses, they’re going to want to go to the court of appeals to try to tie up our resources. And remember, they’re using your tax dollars to fight this. They have unlimited resources to spend. They probably spent two or 300,000 dollars last time trying to keep you off the vote. I don’t think they won’t spend that or more.

Leahy: Yes, probably. They want to just nip it in the bud, that’s for sure.

Carmichael: Do you know which judge you’ll get?

Roberts: No, it’s supposed to be random. I do tend to get Chancellor Lyle more often than not, but it’s supposed to be random.

Carmichael: How many chancellor court judges are there?

Roberts: There are four.

Leahy: Okay, so you got four chances. Jim Roberts come back next week at the same time. Tell us what’s happened. Thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for all your hard work to roll back the 34 percent property tax with the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. Jim, thanks for joining us.

Roberts: Thank you for having me. Have a good day.

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. Attorney Jim Roberts Says Download the Petition, Sign It, and Send It in Before March 25 Attorney Jim Roberts Says Download the Petition, Sign It, and Send It in Before March 25


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 discuss his progress with the petitions he’s received for the Taxpayer Protection Act referendum and urged listeners to send more.

Leahy: Well, the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act petition is rounding third and heading towards home to tell us all about that, the guy that, a great attorney. Great friend, Jim Roberts. Good morning, Jim.

Roberts: Good morning, Sir. How are you doing this beautiful day?

Leahy: Well, the first thing we want to tell everybody is to go to When they get to Jim, what can they do? What will they say?

Roberts: We need you to download a copy of the petition, get nine of your friends to sign and sign it yourself and send it in. That the deadline is approaching fast.

Leahy: Fast approaching, and you need 32,000 verified signatures to get this proposal. There are six elements to it. The one people will recognize most Jim is the turn back is that the right phrase turning back the 37 percent property tax increase that was pushed through the City Council about a year and a half.

Roberts: We call that the rollback. And we’re trying to roll it back. We’re not going to decimate the government as you hear some people crying. It’s really just to take us back to a prior year’s tax rate.  All they have to do is back off some of the extra spendings that they’ve been dumping on the taxpayers in these troubled times.

And so it will roll back to 34- 37 tax increase and enforce Metro to make some hard decisions and make some smart decisions going forward. Now, it does do other things that helps protect our parks, greenways, and public lands. It eliminates lifetime benefits for politicians. So it does more than just the rollback. You are right. That’s the most important or the most well known aspect of it.

Leahy: Now you can go to download the petition. You and nine of your closest friends can sign it and then mail it in to the address on the website. That needs to happen now, doesn’t it Jim?

Roberts: Absolutely. The turn-in date is next Thursday. So we’ve got less than a week. And we need to match just for 32,000 that we need but honestly, we need to have a margin above that because the Metro doesn’t want this on the ballot. They don’t want people voting on this and they’re going to be nitpicking the signatures. And so you always want to have a few thousand more than you need just so they don’t get away with that or pull some shenanigans.

Leahy: Exactly. And so we’re counting. I’m guessing that we’re making progress, but we got to keep the metal to the pedal. Do I have an accurate description there?

Roberts: Absolutely. They’re coming in 500 a day, but our number is high. I mean, we need to get the 32,000. That’s a lot. No one has ever collected that many signatures from a ballot initiative. So we’re breaking some new ground here, and they’re coming in droves. But we need more. I mean, we want to have that margin. We want to have that comfort level. And if you’re serious about this, the citizens need to step up. This is the first step in fixing this problem.

Leahy: Made you kind of threw a curveball with that one week-plus of the winter weather where the mail wasn’t working properly or just were slowed down. And people just didn’t do much of anything. That kind of hurt the flow of signatures, I think. Would that be right?

Roberts: Oh, absolutely. We were very concerned that many of the petitions that we mailed out did not reach the citizens. And so that’s why we’re sort of really encouraging people from social media and radio to go ahead and download it. We know that a lot of them didn’t make it, and a lot didn’t make it back to us. So we were definitely set back by that. But we’ll keep pushing. And this is important. We want this on the ballot. And your listener should know just because you sign this in, mail it in doesn’t mean it’s law. We still have to have an election and vote on it.

Leahy: So the voters in Davidson County, you’ve mailed this out to a number of voters, I think most voters in Davidson County twice, right? Is that what the mailing situation is?

Roberts: No. We only made it one time. We decided to mail to all the voter households. So pretty much every household in Davidson County that has a voter in it received one of these. And so that’s their chance. If they’re a homeowner or a renter and they’re having to pay property tax, they have a vested interest and getting this under control.

Leahy: Exactly.

Roberts: And that’s really the issue here. It’s about a government that is completely out of control. And we’re just trying to rein them in. We’re not trying to end the government. As tempting as that sounds and reigning them in.

Leahy: This Thursday, 5:00 p.m. March 25 is that a hard deadline, or is there an opportunity to get an extension because of the weather situation?

Roberts: No. Unfortunately, it’s a hard deadline. The way the law is written, you have to pick a date and then back the turn-in date from that. And we felt like it was very important to have that election before Metro passes a budget this year. Because our fear is they’re going to come in and raise taxes again.

There’s been a lot of talk about that. Certainly, the mayor’s capital budget that he presented last month was just more and more and more spending. So clearly, it’s full spending ahead for the Metro Council and the Mayor, and it’s going to be even worse. So we wanted to get this vote before that budget was passed so that they would have to deal with it.

Leahy: You can go there, download the petition, sign it, get 9 of your closest friends to sign it, put it in the mail, try to put it in the mail today, tomorrow, or Monday, and that will give him enough time. But probably by Wednesday or even Thursday morning.

Roberts: That’s right. We’re going to get the mail on Thursday, and we’re going to start boxing up the petitions at that point. But please, Monday is fine. And we’ll put on a website, my Street address. I’m in Midtown in Nashville. You can bring it by if you want to. But if you mail it Monday, it’ll be fine.

Leahy: What time does your mail arrive on every day?

Roberts: 10 o’clock.

Leahy: 10 o’clock the mail arrives. So let me picture your Thursday. (laughter)

Roberts: I’m always ready.

Leahy: Describe what your Thursday is going to be like, Jim, for us?

Roberts: We’ve got postal bins full of these petitions. We’ve got a pretty good rough count of the number of signatures, and it’s really about going down to the Metro clerk’s office. I have a handful of people help me carry these bends in, and we present them to the Metro Cork. And you say, here, check these in.

And in some ways, it’s very dramatic. In some ways, it’s sort of routine, but it’s you can make sort of a media event out of it. But the real issue here is getting these signatures in. This isn’t about me or some sort of movement. This is about bringing some fiscal responsibility to Metro. And if somebody doesn’t step up, I mean, the voters of Davison County, we’re going to destroy this city. And I think we all have this feeling that Nashville was slipping away from us.

Leahy: Yeah, exactly. So I have a sense, Jim there will be some drama Thursday morning. My sense is that probably when you wake up Thursday morning, your count will be probably a little bit over 30. This is my guess, a little bit over 32,000. You’ll be waiting for another 1,000 or so to come in. And if you step up there and you give them 33,000 signatures, that’s one feeling. But if you give them 40,000, that’s another feeling. And which one will make you more nervous?

Roberts: So absolutely. The closer we are to the number, the more incentive Metro will have to pull some sort of Dison the shenanigans to try to disqualify voters. So this is one of those situations where the petitions only have to have the signature, but the site has to be verified. That means you have to put your address on there, but it doesn’t say you have to put your address.

So what if someone didn’t put their address exactly right? Is that a valid signature?Is it not?I mean, we don’t want a lawsuit over this, but I can assure you that Metro is going to nitpick these petitions as hard as they can trying to keep it off the ballot. Yes, I would rather have 40 or 50,000 signatures so that they have less incentive to do that.

Leahy: So if you’re listing right now and you want to help Jim Roberts with his peace of mind over the next week (Chuckles) right now go to Download the petition. Sign of it. Sign it. Get your best friends to sign it. Put it in the mail Monday. So you’ll have a whole bunch coming in Wednesday and Thursday.

Roberts: I’d appreciate it. And we’re going to do this for Nashville, and I really appreciate everyone’s help.

Leahy: Well, Jim Roberts, let me again salute you for being a good citizen of Nashville for taking all of your personal time to do this very important job. I know sometimes it may feel like it’s a thankless task, but I can tell you that I personally and every member of our listing audience thanks you Jim Roberts.

Go to and sign the petition. 

Listen to the full second 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.