Pre-K sales tax opponents start robo-calls - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Pre-K sales tax opponents start robo-calls

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

An effort to defeat the referendum to increase the sales tax by a half-percent to fund Pre-K education has gone robotic.

Opponents of the measure are using robo-calls to convince voters to say no when they go to the polls next Thursday.

DOWNLOAD: LISTEN TO THE ROBO-CALL

One of the recorded messages states the opposition's main point. A voice on the other end says, "Please vote against the sales tax referendum. We are not opposed to Pre-K but we are opposed to raising and tying the sales tax to a property tax decrease."  

MORE: Nov. 21 Pre-K sales tax referendum heats up
MORE: Nov. 21 voter's guide

The man behind the voice is Rev. Kenneth Whalum, Jr., a member of the grassroots group called The Memphis Empowerment Initiative.

"Memphis elected officials cannot be trusted to say what they are going to do with tax payers money," Rev. Whalum said.

Supporters of the referendum, which includes Memphis Mayor AC Wharton and the Chamber of Commerce, have paid for and produced television commercials and other advertisements. Memphis Empowerment Initiative claims it doesn't have the budget to compete in the ad game.

"We use robo-calls because they are much more effective and cheaper than these glossy mail out cards that the proponents of the sales tax have," Rev. Whalum said.

Last time the issue came before voters, a late blitz by conservatives and some progressives helped to defeat it.  The time referendum foes are starting earlier with the automated calls set to start Nov. 14.

"Those of us who know what is the real motivation behind the sales taxes, we started raising questions and now people are wondering, are waking up," Rev. Whalum said.

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