Live from Music Row Thursday 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 was joined on the newsmakers line by all-star panelist Dr. Carol Swain.
During the second hour, Swain weighed in on Mayor Cooper’s handling of the shutdown and how he is not making good on his promises that he ran on. She believes that it is a poor time to increase property taxes and that this is a perfect example of what it would be like to live under a Democratic Party rule.
Leahy: Friend. All-star panelist former Vanderbilt professor, author, and speaker Carol Swain. Good morning Carol.
Swain: Good morning Michael.
Leahy: Well, we are in phase one of Studio Freedom Week which means Crom Carmichael has been authorized to come in the studio. We are about to go into phase two and get the sign off which means Carol Swain can come in.
So I think if all goes well and if you are ok The Tennessee Star Report coronavirus safety protocols which involve keeping us six feet apart. I’ve got a hazmat suit for you. It’s very fashionable and stylish. You might like it. So we’ll talk over the weekend. Depending on your travel schedule it may be possible that finally, you are back in the studio next week if all goes well.
Swain: Do we get to take off our masks?
Leahy: Oh yes. Masks can be taken off. With regard to the mask, I don’t have the kind of masks that Mayor John Cooper has. I don’t have a mask that contains the flag of Kurdistan. You know the one he wore at his press conference the other day. Did you see that?
Swain: He’s becoming more and more like Briley.
Leahy: I agree. I’m glad to hear you say that. (Swain chuckles) That’s exactly my take on it. This guy is turning into a power-hungry left-wing progressive who just wants to bend everybody to his will. Do you see who he’s working with? The Tennessee Immigration Refugee Rights Coalition because they’ve got so many fantastic scientists there, not!
Swain: I know that it might be true but it doesn’t surprise me that he would be working with them and their communities are among the hardest hit. And that’s something that when he looks at all of Nashville he should focus on the communities that are hardest hit. But that does not mean that the activists in those communities should be directing policies.
Leahy: Apparently they are. I think what this pandemic is doing here is really unveiling who Mayor John Cooper really is and who he aligns with. Clearly he aligns with Kurdistan ok? It was just shocking to me that he goes up there.
If you are going to do a fashion statement with a mask and if you’re the mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, maybe put a flag of the United States of America on or the flag of Tennessee. One hundred percent of your constituents are residents of Tennessee. But apparently he thinks Kurdistan is where his loyalties lie. I don’t know. Am I overacting?
Swain: I don’t know because I took grief for going to the Islamic Center with two other Christians on a Sunday and putting on a scarf. And like the scarf is very different from the mask. But at the same time, I took a lot of grief for that.
Leahy: Did you have a flag of Kurdistan on that scarf?
Swain: No, and I didn’t change my message nor did I with my policies.
Leahy: I hear you. What is your take on Mayor Cooper? You had a great commentary that he’s shutting down businesses and increases property taxes by 32% as his proposal. How fair is that?
Swain: It would not be fair under normal circumstances. But given the fact, so many Nashvillians are either laid off or their businesses are closed, so you have a shrinking tax base. And it just seems cruel to impose that type of increase on people who are struggling already.
That there are people who are falling into unemployment and have total uncertainty about the future. It seems that it would be especially cruel to impose a tax increase at this time. And Mayor Cooper he’s known ever since he got elected and before the financial condition of the city he could have done more to cut costs and raise revenue.
And I’m very much aware because I have insiders who give me information about what has been done and what hasn’t been done. There are lots of places where he could have cut that he hasn’t. And given the devastation that Nashville has suffered over the last few months under his leadership.
Some people will say and I’ve said too well, God spared me from having to deal with all of that but you know I’m not sure if I were Mayor that we would be dealing with all of that. I don’t know. But I do know that I would have gone to each community and laid out the conditions of the city and I would let the voters know what I was dealing with and if taxes had to be raised I would have the people giving input.
And I don’t believe I would raise taxes this year under any circumstances because of what’s happened. But next year after he has done his due diligence which hasn’t been done so far, then he could walk the voters through of what’s needed to keep Nashville afloat.
Leahy: Let me ask you this question for you to contemplate a little bit. As far as I can tell, are you seeing any significant cuts in their spending?
Swain: No. There are duplicative services and I’ve asked the people who have given me the information to me to identify those areas. And I know that Steve Glover has been working on some things. And he and many insiders, they know exactly what needs to be cut. And I do believe it would be appropriate for the mayor to cut his salary and the salaries of people earning over $100,000 a year.
Leahy: He is not doing that. He is not doing that.
Swain: He hasn’t done that. He has not done that and he has not furloughed Metro workers and we know that there’s a lot of people who are on a paid vacation. Where the rest of us are suffering and waiting for unemployment or we’re under conditions that are less desirable. The Metro employees have a bloated pension program and plan that’s overly generous. And they’re getting paid their full salaries.
Leahy: And Crom Carmichael points out that there is a huge unfunded liability with the healthcare retirees in Metro Nashville. Unfunded liability. It seems to me he’s not taking the kind of actions that would be in my view financially prudent in terms of dramatically cutting spending.
He could do that. A friend of ours sent me details of the spending. Spending over the last four years has gone up in Metro Nashville by about two to three times the consumer price index. And it keeps going up. And it just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Swain: Well they’re living up to the stereotype or the model of tax and spend Democrats. And I said all along and said it when I was running for office that no Democrat would be able to do what needs to be done because they have too many relationships.
Leahy: Yeah exactly.
Swain: It’s too incestuous.
Leahy: John Cooper is a huge disappointment for me. Huge disappointment. I thought that he would be more forthcoming, more honest, putting all the data out. They’ve really manipulated the data the way they’ve presented it. There is not a scientific case now for continuing to close down. But they seem to delight in telling business owners they can’t be open.
Swain: It’s a power thing.
Leahy: It’s a power thing. It’s politics and power and it’s not about being honest about the data. Or being honest about the dire financial circumstances the city is in. I think it’s reckless. This failure of John Cooper to cut any expenses that I can see from the city’s budget. I think it’s very financially reckless.
Carol, I think with all of these liabilities and the bad deals that they’ve cut with big corporations to bring them in here I think it’s time to consider this. I think it may be time for the city of Nashville to consider bankruptcy. What do you think of that?
Swain: I don’t know enough of the details to say that. I think we will get more information in the next couple of weeks. But I do believe that Mayor Cooper is governing like Democrats all across the country and right now that if they keep their cities and states shut down that it will hurt Donald Trump and they will be able to gain control of the government in Washington. And we are getting a taste of what it’s like to live under Democratic Party rules and worse ever because the party has gone totally socialist.
Leahy: Absolutely. And authoritarian. A combination. A wonderful combination.
Listen to the full second hour:
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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.