Leahy: Now we are joined in-studio by our good friend Kelli Phillips, who’s a candidate from Metro Nashville Public School Board in the 4th district. Good morning, Kelli.
Phillips: Good morning. How are you?
Leahy: Well, I guess the question is how are you, because we are 24 days away from the election. Twenty-four days. Early voting begins this Friday, and you wanted to share a little bit about early voting. Where can people vote here in Davidson County, starting Friday?
Phillips: So, starting Friday and going through Tuesday, you can vote downtown at the Howard School building. So that’s where early voting is going to be for the first part of it.
Then, starting on the 20th, going through the 30th, you’ll be able to vote at your local early voting area. Mine is going to be the Hermitage library on James K. Lane.
Leahy: The Hermitage library on James K. Lane.
Leahy: And that will start Tuesday the 19th. Or Wednesday the 20th? It starts at Hermitage on Wednesday the 19th. So whatever district you’re in,
Leahy: Wednesday is the 20th, right? Right.
Phillips: Wednesday the 20th. Okay.
Leahy: And then early voting ends on the 30th.
Leahy: Saturday. Then tick-tock goes, because then we have, the Saturday is the 30th, Sunday is the 31st, Monday is the first and Thursday Election Day …
Phillips: Big day.
Leahy: … is the 4th. It seemed to have jumped on us really here quickly. Only 24 days left. Yeah.
Phillips: Time tends to do that the older we get, doesn’t it? It seems like it’s been over a year that I’ve been campaigning, but now that we’re in the last stretch of it, it’s in the blink of an eye.
Leahy: Now tell us exactly where the 4th district is. Tell us the boundaries of the 4th district and a little bit about what you’ve been doing for your campaign.
Phillips: District 4 is the McGavock cluster, and that’s going to be Hermitage, Old Hickory, and Donaldson. And McGavock, that’s a large school cluster.
So as far as what I’ve been doing in the campaign, I have great people that are helping me. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet so many people knocking doors.
Leahy: So tell me about that. When you say knocking doors, when did you start knocking on doors? And how many doors have you personally knocked on? Let’s get the numbers of that out first.
Phillips: Right, well, in our district, we’ve probably reached, I would say 500, 600 people knocking on doors. And I have people to go out and help me. So I don’t necessarily get the opportunity to knock on every door.
But I will tell you what I do, and anybody who knows me knows that I can have a rally anywhere. I had one last week in the line at Hobby Lobby and met eight people and got six votes while waiting in line at Hobby Lobby to check out. So I take the opportunity to meet people wherever I go.
Leahy: How many votes are you going to need on August 4th to win this election?
Phillips: I think it’s 7,000 votes.
Leahy: 7,000 votes?
Phillips: Yes, it’s a big number.
Leahy: How many of them do you think you have already?
Phillips: I would like to say 51 percent, just for odd sake. That’s a hard number to guess, but, I mean, based on the people that we’ve talked to, I expect to have a good turnout of the registered Republicans that we’ve spoken to. Some independents and then even some Democrats that are leaning towards voting Republican.
Leahy: So you are a Republican on the ballot in this on August 4th for county-level elections. This is on the general elections, not the primary. It’s a general election.
Leahy: You are the Republican, and from what I can tell, there are five district seats up this year and Republicans are competing in two of those five. Is that right?
Leahy: And you’re one?
Leahy: I’m one of them.
Phillips: And then Todd Pembroke is in District 2.
Leahy: He’s in District 2, but the other districts are no Republican candidates.
Phillips: There’s no Republican candidates. We do have two independent candidates that are running. Fran Bush is in District 6, so she’s a current school board member.
Leahy: Running as an Independent.
Phillips: Correct. Running as an Independent. And then Amy Pate is in District 8. So remember, Pate for Eight and she’s running as an Independent. So those are good people.
Leahy: When we come back, we’ll talk with Kelli Phillips about the issues and her opponent in the 4th District for Metro Nashville Public School Board.
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.
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 to how many petitions he has received for the Nashville Tax Payer Protection Act and asked folks to please get theirs in as the deadline looms March 26.
Leahy: Now Jim Roberts with 4goodgovernment.com with an update on the Nashville taxpayer protection act petition. Good morning, Jim.
Roberts: Good morning, sir. How are you doing on this beautiful day?
Leahy: It’s a great day. How are we doing with signature collection on the petition to get this Nashville taxpayer protection act that will roll back the 34 percent property tax increase? How are we doing on that petition?
Roberts: Petitions are coming in 1,500 to 2,000 a day. we still have a way to go. I would encourage your listeners to please download that petition, get their friends and neighbors to sign it, and get it back to us because we want to have a comfortable margin when we turn them in.
Leahy: So go to the number 4goodgovernment.com. That’s for good government.com. You got to get to 32,000 signatures by what March 26? Is at it that’s three weeks from today. Is that right?
Roberts: Basically, yeah, we want to try to turn them in that Wednesday, I believe. And we need 33,000 valid signatures, which means you want to collect more than that because some of them might not be good. But we’re getting closer to the wire.
Leahy: So here’s the big question for you Jim. Here’s the big question. How many signatures do you have as of Friday, March 5? How close are you to 33,000?
Roberts: Well, we’re halfway there and they are and they’re coming in stronger. I mean they’ve been out for a while in the mail but was slowed by the snow but they’re coming in about 2000 a day. And my worries were a little closer than I’d like to be. So, please everyone gets get those petitions to get them back to us.
Carmichael: Can you send out another mailing Jim?
Roberts: We’re thinking about that. We’re thinking about that very strongly and maybe sending out another mailer on Monday just in case people didn’t realize what they were getting when they got it. You know, we know that Sabathia we’re getting notes on about every fifth edition seems like have a nice note on it too. It’s almost thank you for doing this. We just got to get this on the ballot or taxes are going to go up again this year.
Leahy: So you say you’re a little over halfway if you need to be 33,000. I’m going to say that you’re at least 17,000. Would that be right now? That’s probably a little under. We only count them about every two or three days. I’ll be honest.
Leahy: Because it’s a big process to count them.
Roberts: It is because you have to cut them open just people tape on clothes and cut them open. So they’re coming in droves. It very warms my heart how many people are turning these in but time’s running out. A sense of urgency needs to be on everybody’s minds.
Leahy: So am I right that March 26, three weeks from today is the deadline?
Roberts: It’s Thursday that we want to turn them in. I guess that’s the 25th.
Leahy: The 25th. So we’ve got two weeks and six days and to get them in. If you’ve got 1,500 a day, you’ve got, you know, probably about ten days 15,000 you’re going to be pushing it. You’re going to be pushing it to get to that 33,000. You got to accelerate it.
Roberts: That’s right. And that’s why we’re pushing harder and harder with more media and social media. And I think people are just sort of asleep at the wheel a little bit not realizing this is out there and we want to get it in. We want this on the ballot. We want people to have a chance to vote on not just the roll back of the property tax, but the other five things on the list that ending lifetime benefits for elected officials and protecting our parks, greenways and public lands. I mean this thing does a lot more than just roll back the tax. I know that’s the most important to a lot of people. But these really are good government elements.
Leahy: On the web at 4goodgovernment.com. You can download the petition you can get not only your own signature but up to ten total people on it.Crom wants to weigh in on it.
Carmichael: If you do another mailing, I’d try to get get the word urgent on the on the on the on the front.
Leahy: Urgent! Urgent!
Carmichael: Words like that matter. They get people’s attention.
Roberts: Our response was so overwhelming the first time that I think some people just sort of sitting back thinking, well other people will do it. It’s time for people to get real serious.
Leahy: Jim Roberts with the Nashville taxpayer protection act doing you’re doing great work out there where you appreciate it go to 4GoodGovernment.com. Download the petition sign it and mail it into Jim. Thanks so much for joining us today.