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 his progress with the petitions he’s received for the Taxpayer Protection Act referendum and urged listeners to send more.
Leahy: Well, the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act petition is rounding third and heading towards home to tell us all about that, the guy that, a great attorney. Great friend, Jim Roberts. Good morning, Jim.
Roberts: Good morning, Sir. How are you doing this beautiful day?
Leahy: Well, the first thing we want to tell everybody is to go to 4goodgovernment.com. When they get to 4goodgovernment.com Jim, what can they do? What will they say?
Roberts: We need you to download a copy of the petition, get nine of your friends to sign and sign it yourself and send it in. That the deadline is approaching fast.
Leahy: Fast approaching, and you need 32,000 verified signatures to get this proposal. There are six elements to it. The one people will recognize most Jim is the turn back is that the right phrase turning back the 37 percent property tax increase that was pushed through the City Council about a year and a half.
Roberts: We call that the rollback. And we’re trying to roll it back. We’re not going to decimate the government as you hear some people crying. It’s really just to take us back to a prior year’s tax rate. All they have to do is back off some of the extra spendings that they’ve been dumping on the taxpayers in these troubled times.
And so it will roll back to 34- 37 tax increase and enforce Metro to make some hard decisions and make some smart decisions going forward. Now, it does do other things that helps protect our parks, greenways, and public lands. It eliminates lifetime benefits for politicians. So it does more than just the rollback. You are right. That’s the most important or the most well known aspect of it.
Leahy: Now you can go to 4goodgovernment.com. download the petition. You and nine of your closest friends can sign it and then mail it in to the address on the website. That needs to happen now, doesn’t it Jim?
Roberts: Absolutely. The turn-in date is next Thursday. So we’ve got less than a week. And we need to match just for 32,000 that we need but honestly, we need to have a margin above that because the Metro doesn’t want this on the ballot. They don’t want people voting on this and they’re going to be nitpicking the signatures. And so you always want to have a few thousand more than you need just so they don’t get away with that or pull some shenanigans.
Leahy: Exactly. And so we’re counting. I’m guessing that we’re making progress, but we got to keep the metal to the pedal. Do I have an accurate description there?
Roberts: Absolutely. They’re coming in 500 a day, but our number is high. I mean, we need to get the 32,000. That’s a lot. No one has ever collected that many signatures from a ballot initiative. So we’re breaking some new ground here, and they’re coming in droves. But we need more. I mean, we want to have that margin. We want to have that comfort level. And if you’re serious about this, the citizens need to step up. This is the first step in fixing this problem.
Leahy: Made you kind of threw a curveball with that one week-plus of the winter weather where the mail wasn’t working properly or just were slowed down. And people just didn’t do much of anything. That kind of hurt the flow of signatures, I think. Would that be right?
Roberts: Oh, absolutely. We were very concerned that many of the petitions that we mailed out did not reach the citizens. And so that’s why we’re sort of really encouraging people from social media and radio to go ahead and download it. We know that a lot of them didn’t make it, and a lot didn’t make it back to us. So we were definitely set back by that. But we’ll keep pushing. And this is important. We want this on the ballot. And your listener should know just because you sign this in, mail it in doesn’t mean it’s law. We still have to have an election and vote on it.
Leahy: So the voters in Davidson County, you’ve mailed this out to a number of voters, I think most voters in Davidson County twice, right? Is that what the mailing situation is?
Roberts: No. We only made it one time. We decided to mail to all the voter households. So pretty much every household in Davidson County that has a voter in it received one of these. And so that’s their chance. If they’re a homeowner or a renter and they’re having to pay property tax, they have a vested interest and getting this under control.
Roberts: And that’s really the issue here. It’s about a government that is completely out of control. And we’re just trying to rein them in. We’re not trying to end the government. As tempting as that sounds and reigning them in.
Leahy: This Thursday, 5:00 p.m. March 25 is that a hard deadline, or is there an opportunity to get an extension because of the weather situation?
Roberts: No. Unfortunately, it’s a hard deadline. The way the law is written, you have to pick a date and then back the turn-in date from that. And we felt like it was very important to have that election before Metro passes a budget this year. Because our fear is they’re going to come in and raise taxes again.
There’s been a lot of talk about that. Certainly, the mayor’s capital budget that he presented last month was just more and more and more spending. So clearly, it’s full spending ahead for the Metro Council and the Mayor, and it’s going to be even worse. So we wanted to get this vote before that budget was passed so that they would have to deal with it.
Leahy: 4goodgovernment.com. You can go there, download the petition, sign it, get 9 of your closest friends to sign it, put it in the mail, try to put it in the mail today, tomorrow, or Monday, and that will give him enough time. But probably by Wednesday or even Thursday morning.
Roberts: That’s right. We’re going to get the mail on Thursday, and we’re going to start boxing up the petitions at that point. But please, Monday is fine. And we’ll put on a website, my Street address. I’m in Midtown in Nashville. You can bring it by if you want to. But if you mail it Monday, it’ll be fine.
Leahy: What time does your mail arrive on every day?
Roberts: 10 o’clock.
Leahy: 10 o’clock the mail arrives. So let me picture your Thursday. (laughter)
Roberts: I’m always ready.
Leahy: Describe what your Thursday is going to be like, Jim, for us?
Roberts: We’ve got postal bins full of these petitions. We’ve got a pretty good rough count of the number of signatures, and it’s really about going down to the Metro clerk’s office. I have a handful of people help me carry these bends in, and we present them to the Metro Cork. And you say, here, check these in.
And in some ways, it’s very dramatic. In some ways, it’s sort of routine, but it’s you can make sort of a media event out of it. But the real issue here is getting these signatures in. This isn’t about me or some sort of movement. This is about bringing some fiscal responsibility to Metro. And if somebody doesn’t step up, I mean, the voters of Davison County, we’re going to destroy this city. And I think we all have this feeling that Nashville was slipping away from us.
Leahy: Yeah, exactly. So I have a sense, Jim there will be some drama Thursday morning. My sense is that probably when you wake up Thursday morning, your count will be probably a little bit over 30. This is my guess, a little bit over 32,000. You’ll be waiting for another 1,000 or so to come in. And if you step up there and you give them 33,000 signatures, that’s one feeling. But if you give them 40,000, that’s another feeling. And which one will make you more nervous?
Roberts: So absolutely. The closer we are to the number, the more incentive Metro will have to pull some sort of Dison the shenanigans to try to disqualify voters. So this is one of those situations where the petitions only have to have the signature, but the site has to be verified. That means you have to put your address on there, but it doesn’t say you have to put your address.
So what if someone didn’t put their address exactly right? Is that a valid signature?Is it not?I mean, we don’t want a lawsuit over this, but I can assure you that Metro is going to nitpick these petitions as hard as they can trying to keep it off the ballot. Yes, I would rather have 40 or 50,000 signatures so that they have less incentive to do that.
Leahy: So if you’re listing right now and you want to help Jim Roberts with his peace of mind over the next week (Chuckles) right now go to 4goodgovernment.com. Download the petition. Sign of it. Sign it. Get your best friends to sign it. Put it in the mail Monday. So you’ll have a whole bunch coming in Wednesday and Thursday.
Roberts: I’d appreciate it. And we’re going to do this for Nashville, and I really appreciate everyone’s help.
Leahy: Well, Jim Roberts, let me again salute you for being a good citizen of Nashville for taking all of your personal time to do this very important job. I know sometimes it may feel like it’s a thankless task, but I can tell you that I personally and every member of our listing audience thanks you Jim Roberts.
Go to 4goodgovernment.com and sign the petition.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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