List of Tennessee jails that are decertified or certified under a Plan of Action

These lists were provided by David Wilder, counsel for the Tennessee Corrections Institute

“Here is complete list of the jails on POA’s.  Grainger Co. just came off POA and Davidson (ORC) is set to come off upon completion of some maintenance and re-inspection.”  David Wilder

BEDFORD CO. JAIL
BLOUNT CO. CJC
CLAY CO. JAIL
COCKE COUNTY ANNEX
DAVIDSON CO. ORC
FRANKLIN CO. JAIL
GILES CO. JAIL
HANCOCK CO. JAIL
HAMILTON COUNTY CJC
HOUSTON COUNTY JAIL
LAWRENCE
LEWIS CO. JAIL
MACON CO. JAIL
MADISON COUNTY CJC
MARION COUNTY JAIL
MEIGS COUNTY JAIL
MONROE CO. JAIL/ANNEX
MOORE COUNTY JAIL
MORGAN COUNTY JAIL
PUTNAM CO. JAIL
RHEA CO. JAIL
ROANE COUNTY JAIL
STEWART CO. JAIL
SULLIVAN COUNTY CJC
TIPTON CO. JAIL
WARREN COUNTY  JAIL

Decertified jails
Cannon Co. Jail
Claiborne Co. Jail
Cocke Co. Jail
Coffee Co. Annex
Grundy Co. Jail
Hamblen Co. Jail
Loudon Co. Jail
Pickett Co. Jail
Van Buren Co. Jail

Speed limits should be about safety not revenue

Is modern traffic enforcement all about dollars instead of safety?  An author says a strong yes.

http://www.autoblog.com/2016/09/02/modern-traffic-enforcement-ticket-revenue-safety-opinion/

Gary Megge, a lieutenant who works in the Michigan State Police traffic services section says that speed limits need to be set based on the 85th percentile of free flowing traffic.

http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/local/2016/09/02/speed-limits-tried-and-true-invalid/89708990/

If speed limits are not set properly, this could pose safety issues for those drivers who are within the 85th percentile, Megge said.

“If we don’t match normal and safe driving behavior, if we try to post a speed limit that doesn’t match, we have a problem,” he said. “We make a large portion of the driving public illegal. That’s not the way we should be doing business.”

The Michigan State Police offers two publications on setting realistic speed limits.
http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-72297_30536_25802-87384–,00.html

A new name for the political machine or good ole’ boys: the courthouse clique

For many years the powers that be here locally have been referred to as the political machine and the good ole’ boys.  I’ve used the terms myself, as have many others, although I’ve never liked the term good ole’ boys.  There is rarely any good that they do.  Thus, I propose a new name for the local establishment: the courthouse clique.

Who exactly are the courthouse clique?  The Blount Lifestyle PAC website provided a list.  The website is down but this screen shot provides a list of those who are the courthouse clique.

Newly elected County Commissioner Dave Bennett can be added to the list of the courthouse clique.  He was the secretary of the PAC.  See the page dated 12-31-15.

BlountLifestyles

Where have we seen this before?

The jail situation in Claiborne County appears to be similar or the same as Blount County.  The rotund mayor appears to be a figurehead who does what the sheriff wants and the media appears to be more interested in he said, she said than reporting the facts and doing investigative journalism.

http://claiborneprogress.net/news/9238/a-dog-days-journey-into-night

The paper in Claiborne County referred to the August commission meeting as a dogfight.  The local rag had “fur flies” in the headline and said that hackles were raised.

The people working to protect the taxpayers are blamed for the poor financial decisions of others and the truth is their opinion/interpretation until state officials say it isn’t just their opinion/interpretation.

One thing that is different about Claiborne County is that Circuit Court Judge John McAfee, in his private capacity, is looking out of the taxpayers in his county.  Blount County’s judges, with the possible exception of Kenlyn Foster, are part of the political machine or court house clique.

August 2016 Commission Report

Debt workshop
A special commission meeting was called for the purpose of discussing debt refinancing options.  The county has $79,435,000 in outstanding par for the Series 2013B general obligation refunding bonds.  The 3 year note for this series will expire in December.  Thus, the commission will soon need to make a decision on how to refinance this debt.

There are 4 interest rate swaps with Deutsche Bank associated with this variable rate debt.  The cost to terminate the swaps is high.  It changes frequently.  You can view the monthly swap reports in the monthly budget packets online.  The most recent swap report, found in the July 11, 2016 Budget Committee packet, shows a mark to market value of $14,912,989.89 on June 29, 2016.  See page 287.  The value given at the workshop, as of July 11, 2016 was $15.2M.

The cost to terminate the swaps is negotiable.  According the county’s advisor, Public Financial Management (PFM), Deutsche Bank (DB) has not been willing to negotiate significant savings in the past.  However, due to a recent drops in the credit ratings, DB is more willing to negotiate.  Now may be a good time to terminate these swaps.

This meeting was much more useful in terms of options than the meeting called last October.  The presentation given in October gave 3 variations of keeping 20% variable rate debt in place.  This 3 options given this month include two which would refund every callable maturity (2004A, 2004B, 2005, 2011, 2013B, B-16-A, B-17-A & B-10-A) and one option to refund $39M of variable rate debt.  The county has other series of debt that can be refinanced at lower interest rates.  These series would be included in refinancing scenarios A and C that were presented to us.

Option C appears to be the best option because it eliminates all variable rate debt, terminates all swaps and has the county paying debt at a more consistent level than option A which also eliminates the variable rate and terminates the swaps.  This reduces the risk to the county and we would know exactly what we owe in terms of debt.  The county currently has about $11M in fund balance.  Option C would use $5M of this fund balance, leaving the county with about $6M in debt service fund balance.

It is my hope that the commission votes to approve option C or something similar when it is presented to us in the near future.

Commission meeting
Spending increases
There were several spending increases and all were approved.  This commission has shown that it will approve nearly every spending request put before it.

The biggest spending request came from the schools and was more than all the other requests combined.  The schools requested a $1,639,000 million increase for the General Purpose Schools Fund.  $397,000 of this request will be funded with a projected increase in sales tax revenue.  After a big property tax increase last year, closer attention should be paid to the other sources of revenue such as the sales tax before levying such a huge property tax rate increase.  The property tax payers may have been hit harder than necessary.

Last month the budget request failed to even get a motion to send it to the commission but this month it passed.  The request was the same as last month.

Animal shelter budget now over double the actual budget of 6 years ago
The animal shelter requested a budget increase of $33,054 to pay 2 part time people to clean the animal shelter after losing inmate labor when the state pulled the TDOC felons from the local jail.  I purposed using donation money given to the animal shelter to fund these two positions temporarily until the changes in jail population had been worked out.  That amendment failed.  The requested increase could have been funded without any use of tax dollars.

From Deena Finley the Accounting Manager:

“To Commission,

To follow up on the questions from August 19, 2016 Commission meeting:

Item F.3 – Resolution No. 16-08-008

In regard to donations for the Animal Center, the amount I reported at the meeting was the Total Non-SMACF donations collected for Fiscal years 2011 through 2016.  Please see below.

Fiscal Year     Donations Collected

10-11           32,862.58
11-12           25,144.32
12-13           16,253.20
13-14           8,202.09
14-15           13,867.31
15-16           76,192.09
Total           172,521.59

The amount of Committed Donations as of 6/30/2015 (account 101-346300 – Committed for Public Health & Welfare) was $16,069.40 and from above collections Year-to-Date of $76,192.09 which means the value of Committed Donations at 6/30/2016 should equal the sum total of $92,261.49, subject to Audit.”

Labor of the animal shelter isn’t limited to those serving sentences in the jail.  There are about 1800 on county probation and 700 people on state probation.  This is a large number of people to look to for help in the animal shelter.

Animal shelter spending was originally budgeted to be up 86%, compared to 6 years ago when the mayor took office.  With the budget amendment, the amended budget is now more than double what the actual budget was when Mayor Ed Mitchell took office.

FY Actual Budget SMACF Donations Original Budget Amended Budget
2007 $131,849 $138,349 $138,349
2008 $102,846 $148,349 $138,349
2009 $124,142 $138,349 $138,349
2010 $157,459 $135,826 $203,326
2011 $223,941 $414,806 $414,806
2012 $263,901 $361,710 $361,710
2013 $272,685 $330,419 $330,419
2014 $320,388 $330,407 $327,310
2015 $322,742 $76,139 $342,931 $355,426
2016 $371,126 $180,400 $407,727 $415,217
2017 $182,090 $417,315 $450,369

2007-2014 data is from state CAFRs
2015-2017 is data from the county’s website
2016 data is subject to change as budget is finalized
2017 data is budgeted amounts not actual amounts

There was a request to spend $195,000 of the Drug Control fund balance.  The only explanation given was to buy needed equipment and there was no date on the budget request.  That is a lot of money that will be spent without any details given for the use of the funds.

Half way point
The end of this month marks the half way point of this commission term.  As I look back over the past two years, I think the best thing this commission did was refinance $20,165,000 in variable rate debt and the swap attached to it to fixed rate debt.  Creating the school capital fund, providing funds that don’t have to be split with the cities to fix leaking roofs is another good thing.

The large property tax increase after an increase in the local option sales tax may have been the worst thing this commission has done.  The unwillingness to hear from the jail consultant while approving an RFQ to seek design services for the jail doesn’t make good sense or good public policy.

What I’d like to see over the next two years is for the county to go to completely fixed rate debt with more debt service money going to principal.  I’d like for the commission to take a look at the county’s land use regulations, particularly zoning which is too easily manipulated for the benefit of the few.  The Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) should meet to actually discuss the needs of the criminal justice system rather than just meeting a few times a year to appease the state for certification that means very little.  Critical decisions that should have been fully discussed through the BCCP are going to be made through the Purchasing Department.  Additionally, the commission should look at the over $1 million that is given to the Industrial Development Board and the approximately $1.5 million in hotel/motel tax money given to the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority.  Both of these entities serve special interests with crony deals.  These monies could be put to better use by paying down the enormous county debt.

What would you like to see your county government do during the next two years?

Why do traffic deaths fall in recessions? Dangerous drivers drive less

http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1105825_why-do-traffic-deaths-fall-in-recessions-dangerous-drivers-drive-less

http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
2006 US Death rate per mile 1.42 Total Deaths 42,708 Miles Driven 3.014 Trillion
2007 US Death rate per mile 1.36 Total Deaths 41,259 Miles Driven 3.031 Trillion
2008 US Death rate per mile 1.26 Total deaths 37,423 Miles Driven 2.977 Trillion
2009 US Death rate per mile 1.15 Total deaths 33,883 Miles Driven 2.957 Trillion
2010 US Death rate per mile 1.11 Total deaths 32,999 Miles Driven 2.967 Trillion
2011 US Death rate per mile 1.10 Total deaths 32,479 Miles Driven 2.950 Trillion
2012 US Death rate per mile 1.14 Total deaths 33,782 Miles Driven 2.969 Trillion
2013 US Death rate per mile 1.10 Total deaths 32,894. Miles Driven 2.988 Trillion
2014 US Death rate per mile 1.08 Total deaths 32,675 Miles Driven 3.026 Trillion
Fatality rate is per 100 million miles traveled

The Right Lessons from Obamacare’s Meltdown

By Ron Paul

The decision of several major insurance companies to cut their losses and withdraw from the Obamacare exchanges, combined with the failure of 70 percent of Obamacare’s health insurance “co-ops, ” will leave one in six Obamacare enrollees with only one health insurance option. If Obamacare continues on its current track, most of America may resemble Pinal County, Arizona, where no one can obtain private health insurance. Those lucky enough to obtain insurance will face ever-increasing premiums and a declining choice of providers.

Many Obamacare supporters claimed that the exchanges created a market for health insurance that would allow consumers to benefit from competition. But allowing consumers to pick from a variety of government-controlled health insurance plans is not a true market; instead it is what the great economist Ludwig von Mises called “playing market.”

Unfortunately, if not surprisingly, too many are drawing the wrong lessons from Obamacare’s difficulties. Instead of calling for a repeal of Obamacare and all other government interference in the health care market, many are calling for increased penalties on those who defy Obamacare’s individual mandate in order to force them onto the exchanges. Others are renewing the push for a “public option,” forcing private companies to compete with taxpayer-funded entities and easing the way for the adoption of a Canadian-style single payer system.

Even those working to restore individual control over health care via tax deductions, credits, and expanded health savings accounts still support government intervention in order to provide a “safety net” for the poor. Of course, everyone — including libertarians — shares the goal of creating a safety net. Libertarians just understand that a moral and effective safety net is one voluntarily provided by individuals, religious organizations, and private charities.

Government has no legitimate authority to take money from taxpayers to fund health care or any other type of welfare program. Government-run health care also does not truly serve the interest of those supposedly “benefiting” from the program. Anyone who doubts this should consider how declining reimbursements and increasing bureaucracy is causing more doctors to refuse to treat Medicaid and Medicare patients.

Medicaid patients will face increasing hardships when, not if, the US government’s fiscal crisis forces Congress to make spending cuts. When the crisis comes, what is more likely to be cut first: spending benefiting large corporations and big banks that can deploy armies of high-powered lobbyists, or spending benefiting low-income Americans who cannot afford K Street representation?

Contrary to myth, low-income individuals did not go without care in the days before the welfare state. Private, charity-run hospitals staffed by volunteers provided a safety net for those who could not afford health care. Most doctors also willingly provided free or reduced-price care for those who needed it. The large amount of charitable giving and volunteer activity in the United States shows that the American people do not need government’s help in providing an effective safety net.

The problems plaguing the health care system are rooted in the treatment of health care as a “right.” This justifies government intervention in the health care marketplace. This intervention causes increasing prices and declining quality and supply. Ironically, those who suffer most from government intervention are the very people proponents of these programs claim to want to help. The first step in restoring a health care system that meets the needs of all people is to start treating health care as a good that can and should only be provided via voluntary actions of free people.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/august/28/the-right-lessons-from-obamacares-meltdown/

10th amendment goes out the window when federal money is on the line

Tennessee could lose federal funding because it doesn’t have a law on the books that complies with a federal rule concerning the blood alcohol level of those between 18 and 20.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2016/08/26/tennessee-attorney-general-joins-fight-save-road-funds/89421304/

School bus safety

From the National Motorist Association
August 21, 2016

This month, our children and grandchildren will be going back to school after a long summer of fun and vacation.  Many of those kids will be riding a school bus.

Did you know that riding a school bus is the safest way for a child to go to school? In fact, riding a school bus is 8x safer than riding in cars to school.  In the U.S. alone, 450,000 public school buses travel 4.3 billion miles per year to transport 23.5 million children each school day.

School transportation fatalities are rare.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics between the years 2004-2014, only 1344 fatalities occurred related to school transportation. This number accounted for just 0.40 percent of the total number of annual traffic fatalities during this ten-year period.

NMA Foundation Board Executive Director James Walker analyzed the NHTSA statistics for school transportation related crashes and concluded that the biggest safety concern for children getting on and off the bus is the bus driver.  Every child fatality of course is tragic but when you look at the numbers, there is a totally different picture that emerges.

Years for each 10 years School Transportation Related Crashes Under Age 19 Child Pedestrian Fatalities caused by passing vehicles Under Age 19 Child Pedestrian Fatalities caused by school buses Total Under Age 19 Child Pedestrian Fatalities by passing vehicles and school buses
1999-2008 36 Fatalities (24%) 113 Fatalities (76%) 149 Fatalities
2000-2009 35 Fatalities (27%)   95 Fatalities (73%) 130 Fatalities
2001-2010 32 Fatalities (26%)   91 Fatalities (74%) 123 Fatalities
2002-2011 35 Fatalities (28%)   88 Fatalities (72%) 123 Fatalities
2003-2012 36 Fatalities (30%)   83 Fatalities (70%) 119 Fatalities
2004-2013 38 Fatalities (33%)   78 Fatalities (67%) 116 Fatalities
2005-2014 40 Fatalities (36%)   71 Fatalities (64%) 111 Fatalities

An average of 36 children per EACH 10 year – 29 percent of School Transportation (bus) related crashes – were victims of passing vehicles over the 1999 to 2014 period while 88, or 71 percent were killed by accidents involving the school bus. The ten-year average per state works out to 0.72 children killed by passing cars and 1.77 by school buses.

If school bus cameras prevented 50 percent of the under age 19 child pedestrian fatalities caused by passing vehicles, it would take 27.78 years to prevent one fatality in an average state (per state).

The school bus stop laws in the United States and Canada are usually based on 11-705 of the 1992 Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC).  The code states the following:

UVC 11-705(a) The driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus that meets the color and identification requirements of 12-222(a)* , (b) and (c) of this code stopped on the highway shall stop before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on said school bus the flashing red lights specified in 12-222(a) and said driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or the flashing red lights are no longer actuated.

* A school bus is painted National School Bus Glossy Yellow in the United States and similarly in Canada. Signs in the front and rear top center read SCHOOL BUS (AUTOBUS SCOLAIRE or ECOLIERS in French Canada). Its front and rear ends usually has alternately flashing lights with 2 red lamps at top corners and 2 yellow (amber) lamps near red lamps at the same level but closer to the vertical central line of the bus. It often has an octagon red stop arm on the left.

There are some variations state-to-state with regards to stopping distance from the school bus and some state laws indicate what kind of road (divided highway or not) that a motorist would be required to stop. Penalties vary widely and range from driver’s license suspensions and fines to jail time.

What is needed to help keep our kids safe?

Education of course. Comprehensive drivers’ education for all students and continuing education for more mature drivers would be a start. Thorough bus driver training by school districts will go a long way in helping keep kids safe. Thorough safety training for students, kindergarten through high school on how to cross streets, safety inside and outside the school bus also has to be part of the safety equation.

What we don’t need – school bus cameras that cost between $3000 to $8000 per bus and pushing penalties on drivers while doing nothing to improve safety for all school children.

Source: https://www.motorists.org/alerts/how-safe-are-our-kids-getting-on-and-off-the-school-bus-nma-e-newsletter-397/

Use of cameras on local school buses

Regarding the money in the budget to buy cameras for school buses, I inquired about the use of the cameras.  From Troy Logan:

“We have not yet purchased cameras for the school buses.  We do have a budget of $81,400 and plan to purchase this fall.
These cameras will be used to monitor the activity on the interior of the bus, both student and driver.  They will not monitor traffic around the bus.

Thanks!”
Troy Logan
Blount County Schools
Fiscal Administrator

On Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 10:18 AM, <tona@breezeair.net> wrote:
Hi Troy,
Did the schools purchase cameras for the schools buses this year?

Is the purchase of the cameras to monitor traffic around the bus, what is happening inside the bus or both?
Thanks,
Tona