Here, we share a letter from Ralph Schulz. He shares information about the tactics of the transit plan’s opposition. When you are dealing with the voting public, honesty really is the best policy. Read on:
Starting today, voters begin to determine Nashville’s future. Voters deserve to make their decision based on facts, not distortions and falsehoods.
Unfortunately, the organized opposition to the transit plan isn’t being truthful. And they are increasingly being called out by a growing number of media outlets, with two instances this past week. If you haven’t seen it already, you have to check out this recent story by WPLN Radio, in which they fact-check several NoTax4Trax inaccuracies. The story details how the transit opposition has advertised false material inflating the cost of the proposed light rail by billions of dollars. The error was so egregious they had to pull the advertisement in the Tennessee Tribune once WPLN started asking about their funny math.
Just as bad as all of the mistruths are the excuses and justifications offered by the opposition’s paid spokesperson. WPLN reporter Tony Gonzalez challenged NoTax4Trax on their assertion that the transit plan “does nothing” for seniors, despite the fact the plan expands the AccessRide program for elderly and disabled riders, and seniors would be eligible for free transit passes. NoTax4Trax’s jeff obafemi carr’s explanation: “Relatively speaking, this plan does nothing for seniors because it does not fix traffic congestion in their neighborhoods.” That’s all it took for the opposition tell voters the plan didn’t help seniors — it didn’t fix neighborhood traffic. Incredible.
And then there are the anti-transit twitter accounts with fake people that are set up to look like real people. A little digging by Metro Councilman Jeremy Elrod reveals that they all have the same group of followers, use stock photos from the internet in their profile, and spend their time retweeting each other to simulate authentic online discussion.
The latest dishonest tactic fooled the Tennessean. Better Transit for Nashville, a group formed to oppose the transit plan, submitted an op-ed to the Tennessean that was posted online on April 7 and ran in the April 9 print edition. It was written by Matt Johnson and contained all the familiar NoTax4Trax anti-transit arguments, with an additional dig at “corporate Nashville” funding the pro-transit side. The only problem was that author “Matt Johnson” didn’t exist and his submitted picture was a local man who was completely unaffiliated with the group and had no idea his picture was being used with the fraudulent piece. Better Transit for Nashville organizer Jim Harwell later admitted to the Tennessean that the op-ed was written by “multiple volunteers.”
Tennessean editor Michael Anastasi said this about the deception: “I fail to understand why a group we have been dealing with in good faith as responsible representatives of a legitimate point of view would fabricate a name and, moreover, misappropriate a citizen’s image to advance their argument.”
So why hide your identity and be dishonest? It’s pretty clear there is a pattern here, and it all points to the fact that you can’t trust the statements of NoTax4Trax, Better Transit For Nashville or any of the fake social media accounts they’ve propagated online. We encourage voters to think about what may be the most important fact: if we vote for the Let’s Move Nashville plan May 1, we’ll finally get started on a better transit system; if it gets voted down, we’ll continue to do nothing.
President & CEO, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce