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.– Leahy welcomed Terri Nicholson former Wilson County GOP chair and current member of the Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee to the show.
During the second hour, Nicholson explained what she witnessed last night at the Wilson County commissioner meeting where a vote on a resolution restricting the refugee resettlement here in Tennessee. Much to everyone’s surprise, 16 commissioners did a complete 180 and tabled the resolution indefinitely. Leahy and Nicholson speculated that this was due to extreme outside pressure from New York and California special interest groups.
Leahy: Something really unexpected happened in Wilson county last night. And to explain this is our good friend Terri Nicholson who was there at the Wilson County courthouse when the Wilson county commission met in Lebanon last night. Good morning Terri.
Nicholson: Hey! Good morning Michael.
Leahy: So, explain this to me. So you’ve been here in our studio to talk about the resolution before that many counties have adopted in Tennessee to reject the refugee resettlement because of the cost associated with them and assimilation problems. This is in a response to Governor Lee’s authoritarian choice to say yes to refugees and ignoring local counties.
So you proposed a resolution that the legislative committee earlier this month unanimously passed without much controversy. It said we oppose the resettlement of refugees. But then it was set up to vote last night in the Wilson County Commission. Tell us what happened last night because I’m kind of shocked by it.
Nicholson: Well, it was a very exciting evening. Very interesting. And honestly, I’m not surprised at all. Wilson County if you’ve ever been involved in local politics in Wilson it’s like steering a ship around boulders hoping not to hit. It is a very interesting county to do politics in.
And the main reason is that when you look at the demographics of Wilson, we are over 75% or right at 75% red, but we govern blue. And that’s been a big issue for at least the last two decades. And the best victory we ever had was this year when we had closed primaries that were voted on.
Which voted unanimously Wilson County GOP and that gave us so much leverage to finally turn our local red as well. And we will start seeing a lot more fiscal responsibility. Last night they really outed themselves last night.
Leahy: Let’s focus on the refugee resolution, which sailed through the legislative committee earlier this month at five to zero unanimously.
Nicholson: It did. It came five to zero. The interesting part is that one of those five who is in there she voted to table the motion.
Leahy: What’s her name?
Nicholson: Her name is Sarah Patton.
Leahy: Sarah Patton changes at the last minute after apparently looks like to me a lot of pressure from outside left-wing groups who want to tell Wilson County what to do. What was the final vote of the 25 commissioners when they brought up this proposal to say no to refugees in Wilson County.
Nicholson: Well you know the motion by Tommy Jones and seconded by Annette Stafford that is how the motion was brought forward. And it was to amend and postpone the motion for refugees indefinitely. So that was essentially killing it.
Leahy: What was the vote?
Nicholson: The vote on that was 16 yes in favor of killing it. Six no. One abstain. And two were absent.
Leahy: So what was the rationale put forward for this? You’ve clearly articulated the reason and the need for counties to go ahead and say no to refugees to let Gov. Lee know he made a bad choice. What’s their rationale?
Nicholson: We didn’t get one.
Leahy: Whoah, whoah, whoah. Did they have any discussion of this? They didn’t say why they were voting to table it?
Nicholson: We didn’t get any message as to why they were doing it?
Leahy: Was there any discussion of it?
Nicholson: Very little that we could hear. What happened was you have a lot of outside influence this last week that did their best to kill Wilson County making a statement. This was a statement saying we do not refugee resettlement.
But like I said, there was a huge win last night that gave us a joint resolution which gave us a lot of leverage for the refugees. And basically what’s going to happen is the legislature will take care of the issue.
Leahy: So that big win last night on the House joint resolution, you’re talking about the Tennessee House of Representatives?
Nicholson: I am.
Leahy: Terri, tell us about the audience there last night. It was pretty crowded, wasn’t it?
Nicholson: It was packed. Standing room only.
Leahy: Now, from the audience members of those who are in the audience and who are residents of Wilson County. What was the sentiment on this refugee resolution in your view?
Nicholson: They were very unhappy. A lot of them were saying do your job. And I forget to mention, of the legislative committee, we passed unanimously to go forward with it. There were two not just one. You had Sarah Patton who voted to table it indefinitely and you had Susan Vanetta.
Leahy: What changed their minds? Did you talk to them and say why were you for this a couple of weeks ago and now what is caused you to cave? Did you talk to them about this?
Nicholson: I did not. Not at that time.
Leahy: Would they be willing to come on and explain their complete flip-flop on this?
Nicholson: I will give you their email and you can definitely ask them.
Leahy: We’ve got to have them on. What’s shocking to me here is the absolute failure to follow normal procedure and explain why they wanted to postpone this resolution. Do you have any sense of what happened? It seems like it was steamrolled.
Nicholson: Yes. Of course. That’s what I think. I think that we had some outside influence that was not on the commission and convinced them that it was not necessary or needed at this time.
Leahy: Yeah, but they gave no explanation to the residents of Wilson County in the room about it last night.
Nicholson: No. Wilson County residents are not happy. You had a few oppositions there that were obviously Democrats with bright yellow signs saying, support refugees. Vote against the resolution. They were sitting there as well. But their signs were up.
Leahy: Where they from Wilson County or Davidson County? Had you ever seen them before?
Nicholson: One of them I have seen before.
Leahy: So let’s just get the name of these 16 who caved to the left and weren’t listening to Wilson County voters. The last names of these Wilson County commissioners and you can go look at Wilson County Commission website. These are the people to call today.
The last names are Bannach, Reich, Scruggs, Costley, Patton, Ashe, Robinson, Jones, Dowell, Breeze, another Glover (not our Steve Glover), Stafford, Kurtz, Marlowe, Vanatta, and Smith. These are the ones. The motion was introduced by Jones I guess right? Tommy Jones?
Leahy: So the fix was in and not a good thing at all frankly. Now you mentioned something. When are these folks up for re-election in Wilson County?
Nicholson: Three years.
Leahy: Got to wait that long? 2023. You’ve got to wait till then. Wow. That’s a long time.
Nicholson: They won’t be forgotten.
Leahy: By the way, do you think this will come back up again? Here’s what I think is going to happen. I think the federal judge that declared the president’s executive order invalid, that will be reversed.
Nicholson: Oh absolutely.
Leahy: By the end of the year, it will be reversed and then this issue will come up again. How do you think these 16 will respond then? Will they actually explain their rationale for their votes? What kind of pressure will be brought to bear against them?
Nicholson: I spoke to a legislative attorney, and she thinks it will be brought back and it will ultimately pass around May. So we’ll have an earlier opportunity to speak with them again and find out.
Leahy: Ok, do you think this will come up again in May? Keep us posted on that issue Now you dropped another piece of information that I did not know and share with us this. So you mentioned that the Tennessee House of Representatives met in session last night. You said that the House passed a joint resolution on the issue of refugee resettlement last night. What’s your information on that Terri?
Nicholson: I was sitting in the audience and I had somebody texted me and said I have the House joint resolution 741.1. And I especially love the last two paragraphs. And the last two paragraphs if it’s OK if I state them. It says:
It’s resolved by the House of Representatives that the 111th General Assembly of the state of Tennessee the state Senate concurring that we object to Gov. Lee’s actions the effect which nullifies and violates the constitutional duty and exclusive institutional authority and power of the general assembly to expend public money pursuant to appropriations made by law.
It further resolved that no action should be taken by governor Lee related to the federal refugee resettlement program that interferes with the authority and power of the general assembly to expend public money unless authorized by a joint resolution of the general assembly.
Listen to the second hour:
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