Save Nashville Now, a coalition opposing Metro charter amendment referendum, unveiled

Historic Nashville Courthouse. (Photo: Nashville.gov)
Historic Nashville Courthouse and Public Square. (Photo: Nashville.gov)

A coalition of business groups, labor groups, faith-based groups and grassroots activist groups announced on Tuesday the formation of a new coalition to oppose the July 27 charter referendum to consider major changes to Metro charter.

In total, 19 groups representing dozens of businesses and organizations expressed their opposition to the charter amendment proposal. The group is called Save Nashville Now.

Charles Robert Bone (Photo: Bone McAllester Norton, PLLC)
Charles Robert Bone (Photo: Bone McAllester Norton, PLLC)

Nashville attorney and businessman Charles Robert Bone will serve as treasurer for Save Nashville Now, and fundraising activity began in earnest late last week.

The charter amendment proposal, advanced by the group 4 Good Government, would unwind the 2020 property tax increase, make it easier to recall elected officials and make a number of other sweeping changes to how Metro government functions.

In a press release, Save Nashville Now blasted the referendum and said the proposal would result in drastic cuts to city services if it passed.

“This is a very dangerous referendum,” Amanda Kail, president of the Metro Nashville  Education Association. “If this passes,  our students will see drastic cuts to their schools, including fewer teachers, bigger class sizes,  and major cuts to social and emotional supports, educational materials, athletics, school  libraries, art and music programs, and career and technical education courses. We must vote no on July 27th.”

Influential left-leaning grassroots groups, including the Equity Alliance and Stand Up Nashville, oppose the referendum, as do faith-based groups including the Interdenominational Ministerial Fellowship and Nashville Organizing for Action and Hope.

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce were among the prominent business groups forming Save Nashville Now. The coalition took aim at the funding for the 4 Good Government cause. 4 Good Government is led by Nashville attorney Jim Roberts, who did not respond to Tennessee Lookout questions about how the effort has been funded to this point.

Roberts tried to force a referendum in 2020, and said at the time he received backing from Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group funded with money from the conservative Koch family. The Tennessee chapter of the AFP has publicly stated its support for the referendum. 4 Good Government has not been required by law to file financial disclosures, but will be if the ballot measure advances.

Roberts told the Tennessee Lookout on Tuesday that while the AFP has supportive of last year’s effort, he has never received financial backing from the group in support of the referendum.

Vonda McDaniel, president, Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee (Photo: Central Labor Council)
Vonda McDaniel, president, Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee (Photo: Central Labor Council)

That’s a major question since two lawsuits, one filed by Metro and another by the Nashville Business Coalition, are seeking to block the referendum from taking place. In a partisan vote, the three Republican-nominated members of the Davidson County Election Commission voted to put the charter amendment proposal on the ballot over the objections of two Democrat-nominated commissioners.

“This group funded by dark money threatens the quality of life in Nashville,” said Central Labor  Council President Vonda McDaniel. “Rather than making needed investments in our city and  neighborhoods, this referendum would make deep cuts to public safety and local government. It  will be devastating to our quality of life if it passes.”

Members of the Save Nashville Now coalition

The Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee 

International Firefighters International Association IFFA local 140 

Service Employees International Union Local 205 

Laborers International Union of North America Local 386

Metro Nashville Education Association, NEA affiliate  

IMF — Interdenominational Ministerial Fellowship 

AMAC — American Muslim Advisory Council 

NOAH — Nashville Organizing for Action and Hope

Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable 

The Equity Alliance Fund

TIRRC Votes

A VOICE for the Reduction of Poverty 

Nashville for All of Us 

Stand Up Nashville

Nashville Chamber of Commerce — President/CEO Ralph Schulz 

LGBT Chamber of Commerce — President/CEO Joe Wooley 

Nashville Business Coalition — President Joseph Woodson 

Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp – President and CEO Butch Spyridon

Greater Nashville Realtors Association — President Jarron Springer 

Nashville Business Alliance – President Michael Carter