Briley alone on Transit Tax

News and opinion from a retired, pool-playing libertarian conservative

Briley alone on Transit Tax

My first prediction regarding the transit election has come true.

I made the prediction first at a “First Tuesday” lunch on the first Thursday this month. The Tennessean confirmed it today, the same day they also endorsed the tax increases.
All of the mayoral candidates, save one, are now against the proposed new Transit plan, supported by four tax increases. Early voting begins next week.  Mayor Briley is stuck on the wrong side of the tracks alone. Well, the Tennessean is there too.  And, a “power poll” of the city’s “leader elite” shows nearly two-thirds of them back it, but only one-third believe it will pass.
Not that it necessarily matters, but I was against the transit plan before anyone imagined there would be a special mayoral election.
Although Briley is alone among the “top tier” mayoral candidates, the Tennessean story about the conflation of the two elections gave Briley most of the space to make his arguments. The rest of us each got one or two sentences.
Let me respond to some of Briley’s points here.
BRILEY: “The plan is about choices. It’s about making sure everybody has the choice not to use a car if they don’t want to.”
BRISTOL: EVERYONE? Fewer than one in 10 will have the choice to use light rail. But the statement went unchallenged by Tennessean, which (did I mention) endorsed the transit taxes today.
BRILEY: “It’s not my plan, it wasn’t my predecessor’s plan, it was a community plan,”
BRISTOL: I DON’T BLAME YOU FOR not wanting to claim it, but when “the community” says “no” by a wide margin, I wonder if Briley or the newspaper will finally concede this was not the “community’s plan.”
JOHN GEER, political scientist at Vanderbilt University: “And I think that a lot of people, rightly or wrongly, if the referendum fails, they’ll blame it on former Mayor Barry as opposed to Briley.”
BRISTOL: THE PEOPLE WON’T BLAME anyone for the failure of the referendum. They will celebrate it. But they will fault Briley for trying to pass it against their wishes. They will demonstrate with their transit vote that they have had enough of that kind of government and they will be ready to elect someone they can rely on to put a stop to it.
I said weeks ago that the public sentiment had turned against the transit plan, and for the right reason. When the plan is examined closely, it’s easy for anyone without a direct financial benefit in it to see that it is a very bad plan. Why the Tennessean and Briley can’t see what the voters see is anyone’s guess, but the Tennessean did a mea culpa for placing their trust in Megan Barry, who they endorsed for election. They will owe another after May 1st.
Even Briley and the Tennessean now admit that it’s not about relieving congestion, which it was long, falsely advertised to be. Now, they have changed the argument to “it’s about choices.” Yes, choices for fewer than one in 10 Nashville commuters, and to get even that, it cost more than $9 billion, raises four taxes, including lifting the sales tax to the highest in the nation, and tears out 56 lane miles of busy Nashville streets.
The reason the transit issue will drag Mayor Briley down with it is because it puts his poor judgment on display, and Nashville voters have had it up to here with mayors who display poor judgement, and not just on personal issues.
BRILEY: “There is some risk associated with doing this, sure. But there’s a whole lot more risk associated with doing nothing.”
ANOTHER JUDGEMENT FOUL!  Mayor Briley is the latest is a long line of pro-tax and spend politicians who have grown attached to the argument that the only alternative to raising taxes and reckless, wasteful spending is to “do nothing.” It’s been one of the favorite arguments of the “pro transit tax” group even though numerous opponents have laid out multiple specific, better, less expensive alternatives, from more and better buses to leveraging the promise of the looming multi-trillion dollar autonomous vehicle and ride-sharing industry, to incentives to telecommuting (to reduce the number of commuters).
The Tennessean is sponsoring a debate for the mayoral candidates the day after the Transit tax vote. It would be a good time for the newspaper’s next apology for a judgement lapse. Maybe Mayor Briley will join them.
-- Ralph Bristol
email: ralphbristol13@gmail.com