Live from Music Row Monday 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 Tennessee State Executive Committeewoman Michelle Foreman to the newsmakers line and who is involved with the petition to recall of Mayor John Cooper through the NoTax4Nash initiative in Nashville.
During the second hour Foreman gave updates on the signed petitions and how many more were needed. She added that should the initiative be unsuccessful that she and Nashville attorney Jim Roberts already have a plan B in place.
Leahy: We are joined now by our very good friend Michelle Foreman who is the head of NoTax4Nash which is the recall program that’s trying to recall Mayor John Cooper. Good norming Michelle.
Foreman: Good morning Michael. Thanks for having me this morning.
Leahy: We are delighted to have you on. Bring us up to speed with your recall efforts at NoTax4Nash.com.
Foreman: Sure. I’d love to. We had a final event yesterday down by Nissan Stadium. We didn’t do a lot of advertising for that because of rallies, protests going on and Black Lives Matter, and other organizations that has been causing conflict downtown.
We had that event and put it on our Facebook page and kept it under the radar. But we wanted people to come out and bring their petitions. What we didn’t expect all the media channels to be there. So this is a really really big deal. Several hundred people showed up to either sign or bring their petitions back into us. When the event was over we were probably sorting till about midnight last night.
Foreman: We were up really late last night. So we sorted and then from there we have one of the last groups of signatures to give to our verification and count team. This morning we’ll get some more from some of our standing locations and then I’ll check the mail.
Then we’ll have and we will give us a final count that we’ll be getting from our team. It’s really exciting. We don’t have an exact number but we know we are really close. I would love to give you some updates as far as what has happened at early voting locations and where we have collected petitions if I could.
Foreman: We’ve had some things as far as our mail. You’ll find this interesting. I went to the post office a few days ago to collect some mail because I hadn’t been getting it in as anticipated. The clerk behind the counter made the comment to me that I’d been getting tons of mail. I said well I was. And I told her my mailbox is empty.
So she had this puzzled look on her face and she went back to my mailbox and came back and said there is a note on here that no mail needs to be delivered to this box that has your last name on it. And I thought wow. Really? We knew we would have some opposition but I never expected to hear that from the United States Post Office.
Leahy: Whoa whoa whoa. Is the mail not being delivered to you?
Foreman: It was not being delivered.
Leahy: Where is the mail?
Foreman: That’s what I asked. I know that some were being put aside. So it may have been returned to the sender. I should have known. I said, well if you would go back and check and see if there is any mail back there I would love to have it. And she came back with one of the mail baskets and it was about half full. And I thought no. There has probably been a lot of mail being returned to sender.
At this point, it was just par for the course. And so I told the team that it’s something to think about. When you do something like this against the government or any entity where you are fighting back for justice and you can expect a lot of foul play and it looks like there was some mail tampering.
Leahy: I’m trying to understand why the mail wasn’t delivered. This is a PO Box with a number correct?
Leahy: And what does the PO Box say? Does it say NoTax4Nash.
Foreman: It does say NoTax4Nash. And when I put that mail there it’s from another existing mailbox which was mine so I understand that. When I saw the mail carrier he filled out the information and he says this is what’s going to be put on the mailbox and it was. So about a month ago mail was coming in no problem.
We expected it to ramp up as the coverage ramped up. But that’s not what happened. So finally when I asked like I said, the mail clerk came back and told me about the note that was on there that no mail was to be put in that mailbox unless it had my last name on it. And I was just floored.
Leahy: Are you taking action and filing a complaint with the postal service?
Foreman: We will absolutely do that. On an unrelated note, Michael did you know that this happened to the Tennessee GOP?
Leahy: I did not know that.
Foreman: Yes. (Chuckles) even though this was not technically Republican related. It’s a non-partisan effort. But of course, it’s to recall the mayor and the Metro Council. It will be interesting what comes of this.
Leahy: Let me ask you this. What’s the timeline for this? How many signatures do you need to have? When do you have to turn them in?
Foreman: We need to have 68,000 signatures for the mayor and the council members-at-large. We need to have those turned in by the close of business today. We know that we’ll close that exact number. We have a count team that will have that. I don’t have that information. But we really feel like we’re close. We really do.
Leahy: But if you turn in like 70,000 petitions, do you think you might turn in 70-75,000 something like that?
Foreman: You know what, it’s hard to say. If we come under that 68,000 again when you are looking at a petition that comes in for the ones that aren’t in yet we are wondering if they have one signature or do they have 30 signatures on them. Because so many that come in have 30.
It’s determined on what is mailed in and how many signatures are on it. And it’s been difficult to tell. We look at how many folks have gone to our petition page and we’ve had over 200,000 people to go to that page. So for those petitions not to be turned in, we really question what has been going on. So we’ll see. We will see.
Leahy: But if you turn in 75,000 and you need 68,000, the odds that they’ll find a reason to throw out a good chunk of them are probably pretty high right?
Foreman: Absolutely. I would expect that they would do everything that they possibly can to make sure that this effort fails.
Leahy: When will you find out? How long do they have to count the signatures you turned in?
Foreman: I didn’t see anything in the charter that tells us they have a certain deadline to meet the count. What I do know is that once the signatures are verified the has 90 days to schedule and conduct the recall election. But that’s a good question that we wondered. How long is it going to take to counter these? We don’t know.
Leahy: How long could it be? A month? A week? How long do you think?
Foreman: We’ve tried to stay on top of this as far as verification and counting. It is an arduous process. It takes a long long time. So it has taken us a month just to try and stay on top of what we have. I don’t know many people they have at the election commission and what their process is to verify the signatures.
What we could do is make sure that there is a name, signature, and address. But it finally got to the point Michael where we couldn’t verify them and we just needed to get them to the count teams and get them counted.
Leahy: But you think you have a reasonable shot to be above the 68,000 signature threshold today?
Foreman: We could. We absolutely could. If for any reason we do not make that we already have plan B.
Leahy: What is plan B?
Foreman: I would love to tell you the particulars of plan B…
Leahy: (Chuckles) Is it top secret for a while?
Foreman: There are always chances for the opposition to foil the plan. And we know that. We know that. But what we want to make sure people understand is this doesn’t end here. There is no ending right here. If for some reason we don’t reach that signature threshold we go into plan B.I will keep you posted on that.
Leahy: Will you be putting a press release out with the count when you turn it out?
Foreman: We will issue a press release.
Leahy: Good good. We will report it.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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