Forums: Vote May 1 in Referendum

l-r; jeff obafemi carr Photo by Bralyn Stokes Photography and Shelley Courington

By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN — Transit forums are everywhere now with a similar message; vote on May 1.

Wednesday, March 14, another “Hot Topics” forum on transit is to be presented by the League of Women Voters.

A forum tonight in Lee Chapel emphasizes that NOAH, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, “is not taking a position on transit,” Affordable Housing Task Force Chair Paulette Coleman says. “It’s to raise the issue, and so affordable housing doesn’t get short shrift.”

Two forums last week included a League program in the Goodwill Lifsey Building where the speakers were Rev. Jeff Obafemi Carr, who spoke for NoTax4Tracks and Shelley Courington, co-chair of the Transit For Nashville Coalition.

“It’s needed,” state LWV President Marian Ott said reporting Courington’s point, “to address transportation issues, given how quickly Nashville is growing. Yes it would raise taxes, but Courington showed chart saying about half of those taxes would be paid by people who are not living in Davidson County and another chart showing it would cost the average resident about $5 a month.

“The Rev. Carr’s counter point: this is too expensive. It’s too focused on rail and it really doesn’t address all the transit needs that people would have Nobody’s against transit. This is just not the right plan. We should resent and do different plans,” Ott reported.

The League’s next forum is 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, in the Green Hills Public Library, 3701 Benham Ave.

Like the League, NOAH is not taking a position on the referendum.

A sales tax rate hike referendum recently passed for schools in Williamson County. Defeat was predicted by a newspaper’s on-line poll, but success was explained by some pointing to low voter turnout. NOAH’s task force chair was asked about that.

“It’s not a given that the activists supporting transit are … the majority,” Coleman said. “People are interested and have a lot of questions… There’s consensus that something needs to be done about congestion and limited bus service, but everybody isn’t convinced that this is the proposal to do it.”

Advocating affordable housing, Coleman added that sales taxes are regressive; “They adversely affect the income of people of color … [and] there’s not much political will for a property tax rate hike” which is controlled by Metro council.

A light moment during a serious forum came from the Goodwill’s Lifsey Building itself at 937 Herman St. It’s “fully audio visually-equipped with projectors and podiums,” Goodwill spokesman Chris Fletcher said.

“One speaker,” Ott reported after the League’s forum, “has an Apple. The other has a PC, and both worked. We all clapped for Goodwill.” The second speaker questioned whether his computer would be compatible.

Early voting starts April 11. Online voter registration is available at https://ovr.govote.tn.gov.” The deadline to register to vote in the referendum is 30 days before election day, May 1.

The league provided copies of the referendum so people would know how the question is worded.

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