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.
At the top of the third hour, Roberts gave updates on the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act petitions revealing he’s received 20,000 signed petitions which he’ll submit to the Metro Clerk’s office next Wednesday.
Leahy: Jim Roberts. The man who has John Cooper scared. I just got to read some of these. So the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act is a charter amendment that would repeal the 34 percent property tax increase and reduce it to two percent. You’ve turned in with other groups you’ve turned in 20,000 signatures on those petitions. They’d have to reject an awful lot Jim to get you off the ballot.
Roberts: That’s their plan. I think they are going to have a hard time convincing people that its worth coming out and fighting for a 34 percent tax increase. I think most people in this town know this is a bad idea especially at this time when our economy is hurt. Our industry is down. Putting a huge tax increase on everyone is a terrible idea.
Leahy: A terrible idea. You turned in the petition with 20,000 signatures of Davidson County registered voters to the Metro Clerk’s office. Along with Americans for Prosperity. They are part of this effort and joined you?
Roberts: They certainly came in. After we had already started this and gathered signatures and gathered almost as many as we needed. We were at about 12,000.
Leahy: You needed 11,500 according to the law.
Roberts: So we’ve hit about 12,000 and I ran into one of their folks and they said this is a great idea. We’d like to help you. And I said sure, I’d be happy to have the help. So they did some additional mail outs.
Roberts: We are very appreciative. A lot of different groups and people approached me. A lot of different people approached me and said how can I help? And I’d hand them a stack of petitions and said go get signatures.
Leahy: So on Wednesday you turn these into the Metro Clerk?
Roberts: We go to the clerk’s office.
Leahy: How long do they have to go through the verification process? They’re going to have to throw out 8,000 signatures to keep you off the ballot in December.
Roberts: The clerk hands the over to the election commission and the election commission will probably start counting today. They have to get those signatures verified before the next election commission meeting. That’s when they vote to put it on the ballot. That will be the third week of September.
Leahy: They’ve got till the third week of September.
Leahy: Do they actually count everyone? Or do they spot check them?
Roberts: We don’t know. We think they have a magic wand that they wave over them or something. (Leahy laughs) We made it clear to people to write clearly. And they’ll check those signatures. And once they hit 11,500 then they’ll stop counting.
Leahy: So this is the second week of September that they meet again?
Roberts: Second or third. So we should be on the ballot in a couple of weeks.
Leahy: What could possibly go wrong?
Roberts: Metro is not happy about this and there is always a chance that Mayor Cooper will sic the Metro legal on us. It’s very hard to stop a ballot initiative before its actually been voted on because the law and the courts look at it and they say well it may not pass. Why are we having a lawsuit over something that hasn’t passed? It’s going to be hard. I’m sure they are thinking about it. There is no doubt in my mind that Mayor Cooper does not want it to pass.
Leahy: Does not want it to pass. We’ll get some spicy quotes here.
Roberts: I’m sure the Metro Council doesn’t want this to pass. No government officials want their powers restrained.
Leahy: But the election commission even though they made an error in judgment on the choice of the mayor’s special election that the Supreme Court basically said they made a mistake on. The timing of it. Are they going to be necessarily as opposed to this as the Metro government is? I would give them the benefit of the doubt I guess?
Roberts: I was there at that meeting a year and a half ago when they got the date wrong.
Leahy: Where we first met.
Roberts: And I had a very serious talk with a couple of the election commissioners. We just disagreed. I happened to be right and they happened to be wrong. But they weren’t bad people.
Leahy: It wasn’t benevolence on their part.
Roberts: And I wasn’t involved in the litigation over that. But the Supreme Court ruled pretty much on the reasoning that I had said. They are trying to do a good job. They are not going to be sabotaging this. The election commission is a partisan body that is more Republican-dominated. So that’s a little bit of a check on the Metro government.
Leahy: But, there’s always an opportunity for skullduggery. (Laughs)
Listen to the full third hour here:
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