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 to discuss the tally of petitions thus received to get the Taxpayer Protection Act referendum on the ballot and save Davidson County from another tax increase.
Leahy: On our newsmaker line our good friend Jim Roberts. He’s pushing this Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act petition which will end in a referendum if all goes well. You can download the petition at 4GoodGovernment.com. Welcome back to The Tennessee Star Report Jim. Good morning.
Roberts: Good morning to you.
Leahy: Well Crom and I are here waiting with bated breath to see how many signatures you have now on your petition.
Roberts: Well I’m going to disappoint you a little bit. The snow so backed up the mail that we ended up getting a lot of petitions yesterday and today. We’re still counting through them. We believe that we’re probably at 10 to 15,000 signatures and getting close to halfway there. We’re hoping that the post office has got a whole lot back in the warehouse to bring to us. They are having trouble processing a lot of the mail at our post office.
So we’re anxious to get all those petitions and get them counted. I’ve got a three-foot-high stack sitting in my living room that my children are going through and cutting them open and counting the signatures for me. So I’d say we’re probably about halfway there. That’s about where we thought we would be and we’re excited.
The real thing of course is to encourage your listeners that now is the time to get those petitions in. You may have heard there are already talks in the council about raising the taxes again and about additional spending. The mayor’s one point six trillion dollar transit bill. They clearly are just full steam ahead on raising taxes on us if we don’t do something.
Carmichael: And the petition is at 4goodgovernment.com And the petition has room on there for multiple signatures. Do you need over 30,000?
Roberts: We need about 33,000 valid signatures. But we want to have 40,000 total just because there will be some bad signatures in there. Again I really stress to your listeners that now is the time. Please go to the website and download the petition and not just sign it. I mean, I appreciate that but get nine other people to sign it. We need to have an overwhelming response for the mayor so he understands that the people are very serious about this.
Carmichael: Well, and then when you sign it you need to be sure you sign it with the name on your voter registration card. Is that correct?
Roberts: That’s right. But you want to make it easy. That’s not legally required. But you want to make it easy because much of the commission does check these signatures. They look at your name and the signature book. And so we want to make it easy to verify them. And the easiest way to do that is to use that name on your registration.
Carmichael: And make sure that the address that you put on there is very legible.
Roberts: Correct. All that helps them do the verification of signatures. What we don’t want is for there to be some sort of lawsuit with Metro where they try to dishonestly disqualify people. They are already doing enough voter suppression. Let’s not make it easier for them.
Leahy: Yeah, and the headline of this petition is the following. It’s right at the very top of the petition. Rollback Mayor Cooper’s Massive 34 percent to 37 Percent Property Tax Increase and Bring Fiscal Sanity to Metro Government. Tell us a little bit about it. There are six elements of this. Tell us about the very first one to limit property tax rates.
Roberts: And that’s probably the most important one. It’s going to roll back the tax. And now you’re going to hear a lot of doom and gloom and chicken little the sky is falling from the Metro Government. All it does is roll back our tax rates to 2019 and we’ll still have the rate we had in 2019. We didn’t have to fire our police officers or firemen or burn the schools down in 2019.
We did just fine. It’s going to roll back the property rate to that level and then it’s going to limit future increases without three percent a year which tracks inflation without voter approval. So if they want to raise taxes 34 percent next year, they absolutely can do a referendum. And they could convince the people they want to do it. But they’re not going to do it without the people’s permission.
Leahy: It’s on the web at 4goodgovernment.com. You can download the petition and you can sign up to 10 signatures. You sign it yourself and then get nine of your best friends to sign it properly and then mail it in right?
Roberts: Please do it. That’s right. We’re hoping to have a big push this week. We’ve got until about mid-March to turn these signatures in. And as soon as we have about 40,000 we’re going to turn them in. We hoped to do it next week, but I’m not sure we’re going to be where we want to be. But we want to have a good margin.
Now is the time to get that so please go to the website today and download it and push it to your friends. I mean all this is going to do is put it on the ballot. Even if you don’t agree with everything we’re trying to do you can vote no on those other things. But this is about getting it on the ballot and that’s why Metro is fighting so hard. They absolutely don’t want the citizens to have a chance to vote on this.
Carmichael: Are you going to do another mailing?
Roberts: We’re sort of debating what we’re going to do. We raise money, of course, and we are looking at radio ads, television ads, and print. And we’re sort of making some decisions but the weather sort of threw us back a little I have to admit.
Carmichael: There’s no question about that. That’s why I’m just wondering and I would imagine that a lot of your mailings either got lost going out or got lost coming in just because of the weather. We didn’t get mail for a week at our house.
Leahy: Nor did we.
Carmichael: I don’t think anybody did. So if you’re on a deadline and you still have the budget I hope you do another mailing.
Leahy: Is there a time deadline to submit these?
Roberts: The way that the way the referendum process works is you pick the election date and then you count backward. So we set June 14 as the ladder election date and that means that they turn the signatures in by March. I think it’s the 21st.
Leahy: March 21. So we still got about four weeks to do it, but it would seem to me that there would be, Crom and I were talking in an earlier segment about unintended consequences. Well, one of the unintended consequences of this one-week winter storm that shut everything down is the mail didn’t happen. And you probably lost some responses. I would guess.
Roberts: And we’re concerned about that obviously. And we had that discussion actually just last night with a couple of people and folks involved. Should we do another mailing and should it go out today? Should it go out Monday? We actually decided to wait to see what the mail looks like today to make a decision. We have the Church Street post office and it is literally digging itself out of the mail avalanche that came in.
Leahy: If you’ve got the budget, itprobably wouldn’t hurt to put another mailing out there Monday.
Roberts: Well, that’s always a tricky part Crom. The Metro Government is going to spend a million dollars fighting this of your tax dollars. They have unlimited resources unlimited money. All the groups that they fund and all the people are basically getting money from the government like the Chamber of Commerce. Of course, they’re against it because the mayor called me them up and told them to be against it. Everybody who’s basically on the government dole is going to fight us and use their resources.
So if you’re a citizen and you don’t want your taxes going up again this year you need to go to the website and download the position and donate. I mean, there’s a donate button right there. We need every penny we can get. I’m just a simple country lawyer trying to make my city a little bit better and the people who are helping me are all Nashvillians. Let me just say that for the record. There are all these terrible lies out there about a secret international conspiracy. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: Now, that’s funny Jim.
Roberts: They’ve come to Davidson County. I’ve never been paid a penny, a penny for any of this. These are just good people trying to do good things locally. It does make you laugh when folks assume there’s some sort of conspiracy here.
Carmichael: You are just a Putin puppet. (Laughter)
Leahy: 4goodgovernment.com. I for one salute you for all of the hard work that you’ve done to put all this together for the interest of the citizens of Nashville.
Roberts: That’s all I’m trying to do. Just be a good citizen and promote good government policies. So please help me.
Carmichael: Great. Thanks, Jim.
Leahy: We will be tracking that Jim. Thanks so much for joining us and come back next Friday with a report on this.
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Background Photo “Nashville City Hall” by Nicolas Henderson. CC BY 2.0.