by Steve Gill
Any election or referendum has a clear winner and loser after the votes are count-ed. The margins may be wide or slim, but the results are there in black and white. Every election cycle also produces less apparent winners and losers who were not on the ballot, and that is definitely the case with the Nashville transit tax battle. So, who were the winners and losers in the Barry-Briley Transit Tax referendum that was rejected by a nearly two to one margin?
1. NASHVILLE TAXPAYERS, who avoided an unnecessary $9 billion boondoggle that would not have improved traffic congestion nor fixed Nashville roads and bridges. More importantly, they dodged having one of the highest sales tax rates in the country!
2. TAXPAYERS IN SURROUNDING COUNTIES, who would have been among those paying about 47% of the taxes for the Nashville transit scheme that would not have improved commuter traffic nor roads leading in to Nashville.
3. EVERY CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR NOT NAMED BRILEY, since every candidate for Mayor in the May 24th special election not named Briley was on the side of the 64% of Nashville voters who rejected the Briley tax increase.
4. THE TENNESSEE STAR AND TENNESSEE TRIBUNE (tntribune.com), as the only local media outlets who took an active role opposing the transit tax increase and sided with the overwhelming majority of Nashville voters. When the conservative leaning Tennessee Star and African American focused Tribune are on the same side you know it’s the right side! Plus, the only public poll regarding the referendum was conducted by The Tennessee Star, and was spot on!
5. LEE BEAMAN, TORI VENABLE AND AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY, THE KOCH BROTHERS, NOTAX4TRACKS, LONNIE SPIVAK AND NASHVILLE SMART, INC., because they stood up, spoke up, and put their time and money behind stopping an unnecessary tax increase despite having no financial interest in the results. Millions spent demonizing them didn’t convince Nashville voters. Oh, and their side literally WON!
1. THE TENNESSEAN, ran dozens of stories promoting the transit tax referendum and was a loud, though not effective, mouthpiece for the increasingly hysterical and personal attacks on the opponents of the plan in the waning days leading to the vote. Once again the Tennessean found itself on the wrong side of Nashville votes and voters, and even further disconnected from the red counties (and the readers and advertisers who reside there) that surround Nashville. Keep it up guys, we at The Star love your business model.
2. MCNEELY PIGOTT & FOX, the PR firm that not only oversaw the epic fail of the transit tax effort but also kept scandal-ridden former Mayor Megan Barry hanging on and twisting in the sex fueled, media-frenzy wind until criminal charges finally drove her from office — but not out of the limelight. Did the Barry connection to the transit plan kill it? No, but it sure didn’t help.
3. NASHVILLE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND CEO RALPH SCHULZ, finds themselves on the wrong side of yet another public policy issue. Pro-illegal immi-gration, pro-tax-increase, pro-transgender bath room advocates of virtually every liberal scheme that gets proposed. A pattern is emerging: if the Chamber is for it, Nashville is against it.
4. THE NASHVILLE PREDATORS, who inexplicably took sides in a hot political issue that has nothing to do with hockey. Supported with millions in taxpayer dollars they wanted to raise taxes on those who pay their bills? Stick to hockey, particularly when you are blowing 3-0 leads. Picking the wrong side of political issues while losing key games and fans may start throwing in the towel rather than catfish.
5. INTERIM MAYOR DAVID BRILEY, who was intimately connected to his name-sake Barry-Briley Transit Tax. Early voting in the May 24th special election for Mayor begins on Friday. Can he distance himself far enough from the debacle be-fore voters get to vote for or against him? Will they forgive his bad judgement or punish him for it? He’s hoping voters have very short memories. We will see.