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 confidently assure listeners that despite metro government’s fear-mongering the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act will 100 percent be on the July 27 ballot for a vote.
Leahy: We are joined by our good friend Jim Roberts, going to get an update on the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act. Good morning, Jim.
Roberts: Good morning to you.
Leahy: How goes the litigation from Metro Legal and the very Nashville Business Coalition? Where does that stand now?
Roberts: Those folks have used a lot of your tax dollars trying to keep the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act from being on the July 27 ballot, but we are still on for the election that day.
The court has not ruled and suggested that it would rule today. So we’re all watching the court filing system with anticipation. Truthfully, only a dishonest opinion would keep this off the ballot.
The Davidson County Election Commission has made the decision to let the people vote on it as they should have and accept the vote on July 27, and only just the dishonesty of the Metropolitan Government is the only thing standing in the way. And they don’t have a very good argument.
Carmichael: Who is the attorney that’s arguing in favor of the referendum?
Roberts: That’s Jim Blumstein and the folks of the vote comments that are supporting his team. The Election Commission is on our side this time. They understand what we did, how we did it exactly as recorded rules, and they’re defending their decision, as they should.
Carmichael: One of our listeners sent me a text and the name of the listener will not be revealed, but this is what the listener says. I think you’ll get a kick out of it Jim. I am one of the few nerds who watched the Metro Council meetings.
If anyone has watched those meetings at all since the passage of the 34 percent tax increase, you’d realize they’re spending money as if there’s no tomorrow and throwing it out the window.
They even talk about how much money they have and their huge budget. The more money a government agency has or government entity has, the worse it becomes in serving the people.
That’s a Crom axiom. (Roberts chuckles) If we want good government in Nashville or the best government we can get under the circumstances, the amount of money they get needs to be constrained to a four to five percent increase a year.
Which is at this point the natural increase. And it may even, given all the teardowns and all the building that’s going on, it may actually be in the five to the six percent range. I don’t really know what it would be in the absence of the tax increase.
But I’m very happy to hear Jim that you are optimistic that the court will rule in our favor because all of the law is on our side. And then the trick is going to be because the forces that want Metro to have more money, they’ll spend probably over a million dollars to convince people to vote no.
If they vote yes, they constrain the government and give us a better government and force the mayor and the City Council to make some decisions that they should make. But they have no constraints to make them make these decisions.
And they need to be forced to make some tough decisions. And the only way to do it is for the voters to step in. I don’t know if you heard this, but Cooper actually said that the problems for the state of California had to do with the fact that their voters out there get to do things by referendum. Did you hear him say that?
Roberts: (Laughs) I did hear him say that. And the problem with California is the politicians won’t listen to the people even when they vote by referendum.
Carmichael: That’s exactly right. There’s a sense of desperation because I think that the mayor knows that the voters of Davidson County don’t want a 34 percent tax increase and will vote yes on the referendum.
Roberts: That’s right.
Carmichael: But then they’re going to spend a lot of money trying to convince the citizens of Davidson County that a 34 percent tax increase is necessary.
Roberts: Let me take one issue, though. I don’t think they’re going to spend any money trying to convince people that it’s a bad idea. What they’re going to do is try to scare people.
If you look at the advertisements from the pro-tax folks, it’s all scary, fear, police, and firefighters are going to be on the streets, and old people are going to die. There is no intellectual argument. It’s just dishonest fear-mongering.
Carmichael: That’s a very good point. And by the way, that’s exactly what Governor McWherter did when he was trying to pass the state income tax. He said things are so terrible at the state that will have to stop the school buses on April 1.
Don Sundquist, when he was trying to pass the state income tax, all of the media claimed that in the absence of a state income tax, that the state bond rating would fall to a junk rating or interest rate rates would skyrocket and our state would completely disintegrate.
And, of course, the income tax did not pass. And Tennessee has one of the highest bond ratings of any state in the country. So all of the fear-mongering, all of the things that these people say are, just as you say, are just merely fear-mongering.
And if the voters vote yes, then it’ll be up to Mayor Cooper to do his job and make the best decisions he can under some constraints that he doesn’t want to have put on him.
Roberts: That’s right. Last night I sat down and I looked up the budget from Metro from 10 years ago. I was trying to compare Memphis to Nashville. Our budget 10 years ago was about $1.5 billion.
Last night or two weeks ago, or when the Metro Council met, they voted a $2.6 billion budget. That means spending in Davison County has gone up to $100,000,000. a year for a decade.
What do you think is going to happen in the next 10 years? Another $100 million a year, at least. They’ve been on a spending spree that is well beyond our growth. Our population has increased.
Everybody knows that. But it’s gone up about since 2010. But our budget has more than doubled.
Leahy: Jim, a question for you. What do you think the odds are that the people win? And what’s the probability that the decision will say the election is on for July 27th?
Roberts: I think it’s 100 percent. This is one of those situations that I just really believe in my heart that the court will know that it’s doing the wrong thing. If the court appeals it we will probably have to straighten it out if it does.
But I don’t see that. This is a good chancellor. And this is the chancellor that ruled in the FOP. He knows the law. He knows how it applies.
Carmichael: Let me say this, I think our judges are very good. I think our judiciary, the chancellors. This is not Chicago. This is not New Orleans.
We’ve got good judges here, and we should be thankful for that because our judges don’t get paid as much as they could make if they stayed in the private law business. And so I’m confident that the ruling, in this case, will be the right one, because I think we have good judges.
Leahy: When will we know something about this Jim? What time today?
Roberts: We’re waiting. The judge could have rolled the trial on the Metro, sued the voters originally. That trial was last week, and the order could have gone down any time. There was a second lawsuit by Metro against the Election Commission trying to get the Bob Mendes confusing ballot initiate on the ballot. As you know, the Election Commission chose not to put that very deceptive and confusing initiative on there.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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