As we give thanks for our material abundance this Thanksgiving Day, we would all do well to remember that there is more to freedom than choosing between Burger King and McDonalds and there is more to patriotism than flag waving.
by Ron Paul Monday November 23, 2015
Last week the US House dealt a blow to President Obama’s plan to resettle 10,000 Syrians fleeing their war-torn homeland. On a vote of 289-137, including 47 Democrats, the House voted to require the FBI to closely vet any applicant from Syria and to guarantee that none of them pose a threat to the US. Effectively this will shut down the program.
The House legislation was brought to the Floor after last week’s attacks in Paris that left more than 120 people dead, and for which ISIS claimed responsibility. With the year-long US bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, there is a good deal of concern that among those 10,000 to be settled here there might be some who wish to do us harm. Even though it looks as though the Paris attackers were all EU citizens, polling in the US shows record opposition to allowing Syrian refugees entry.
I agree that we must be very careful about who is permitted to enter the United States, but I object to the president’s plan for a very different reason. I think it is a sign of Washington’s moral and intellectual bankruptcy that US citizens are being forced to pay for those fleeing Washington’s foreign policy.
For the past ten years the US government has been planning and executing a regime change operation against the Syrian government. It is this policy that has produced the chaos in Syria, including the rise of ISIS and al-Qaeda in the country. After a decade of US destabilization efforts, we are now told that Syria is totally destabilized and we therefore must take in thousands of Syrians fleeing the destabilization that Washington caused.
Has there ever been a more foolish and wrong-headed foreign policy than this?
The American people have been forced to pay untold millions for a ten-year CIA and Pentagon program to undermine and overthrow the Syrian government, and now we are supposed to pay millions more to provide welfare for the refugees Obama created.
Who should pay for the millions fleeing the chaos that Washington helped create? How about the military-industrial complex, which makes a killing promoting killing? How about the Beltway neocon think-tanks that continue to churn out pro-war propaganda while receiving huge grants from defense contractors? How about President Obama’s national security advisors, who push him into one regime change disaster after another? How about Hillary Clinton, who came up with the bright idea that “Assad must go”? How about President Obama himself, a president elected to end wars, but who has ended up starting more wars than his predecessor? It’s time those who start the wars start paying for the disasters they create. Then perhaps we might have some relief from an interventionist foreign policy that is destroying our financial and national security.
If Obama wants to take in refugees from the chaos in Syria, there are probably plenty of vacant rooms in the White House.
Read online: http://bit.ly/1N3bKH3
Thank you Mr. Chairman. The situation before us is not uncharted territory. The jail was overcrowded before and the county was forced to build, leaving us with debt that we are still paying on. We should all be able to see where the current situation is headed.
The overcrowding wisely lead the commission and sheriff to commission a study from a national firm who has studied over 400 counties across this country to provide us with options to address our jail and criminal justice system.
The Sheriff has recently started sending us letters telling us that he expects the jail overcrowding to persist. He has been telling us that tensions are increasing. The Sheriff is actually making the case for why the time for us to act is now.
The next step is to hear from the jail consultant. It will cost us nothing further to hear from the consultant. 13 of us were not on the commission when the final report came out. It would behoove us too listen to the findings.
Let the Sheriff tell us what he is seeing in the jail. Let the consultant tell us what his recommendations are. Let everyone be heard. If we continue to ignore the situation then as the Sheriff said in his October 28th letter, “the repercussions could be detrimental to not only the Sheriff’s Office, but to Blount County also”.
Here are some of the situations we could find the county in if we remain inattentive. We could be closed down by the state or the courts. We could be sued and face allegations of our jail being unconstitutional. We could be sued by inmates because of overcrowding conditions in the jail. We could lose control of the jail to inmate riots from the overcrowding. We have a pill problem and some are warning of heroine being a public safety issue. The consultants recommendations may be helpful to our public safety, budget and very fabric of our wonderful community.
Many Counties in Tennessee are in similar situations and are acting while we are not. National media is publishing the stories. We will be next in the national headlines if we don’t get to work now.
I had to go back to 2006 to find a jail report that didn’t show serious overcrowding. A plan of action was issued in 2012. How much more longer can we afford to wait?
The Comptroller’s website lists Blount County’s FY 2014 debt as the 8th highest county debt in the state. It would be a tragedy for us to add to that financial burden when the county has already been down this costly road before. We should be proactive not reactive.
We as the funding body will have to make the tough financial decisions for the jail. It is not a tough financial decision to have open discussion on what we can do to reduce our inmate population and thereby reduce or eliminate the repercussions that the taxpaying people of Blount County will face if we sit back and let the problem continue.
Therefore, I urge you to join me in voting to move forward and have a hearing on the study that we commissioned two years ago and has been out for a year and a half. Thank you.
November 10, 2015 Agenda Committee meeting
Note: The jail has 350 beds. The March 15, 2007 jail report showed only minor overcrowding of 2 inmates (see page 147) while the rest of the 2007 showed serious overcrowding. The December 2006 jail inspection report listed 349 inmates (see page 81), which is 1 below capacity, and the last time these reports showed the inmate population being below the bed capacity.
General info is available here:
Here is the payroll for Maryville City Schools 2014-2015.
My comments will address Item G4 which calls for a long awaited and much needed hearing by the full commission on the jail study. There are 4 verses in Proverbs that address the situation before us.
Proverbs 23 verses 1-4:
1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:
2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.
3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
Commissioners, I ask you where else does the Bible tell you that it would be better to put a knife to your throat and commit suicide than to fall for the deceitful ways of government officials? Today we call rulers leaders, politicians, commissioners, mayors and sheriffs. Sometimes we mistakenly call those in government servants but government officials are very much our rulers, dominating our lives, spending our money and telling us nearly every move to make.
The Mayor’s deceit with the jail study is obvious. There is no lawsuit. For those of you who voted no it’s time to realize the deceit and move forward. You have a chance to correct this deceit.
The Sheriff’s deceit with the jail study is obvious. The county does not make money keeping federal inmates and the report says that. The only way to make it appear like the county is profiting off the federal inmates is overcrowding the jail, packing the inmates into the jail like sardines in a can.
For those saying we need to keep the federal inmates for money, heed the words labour not to be rich, cease from thine own wisdom. Jails do not make money. The taxpayers foot the bill regardless of the level of government funding.
The next federal inmate that you sit back and allow to be brought into the jail to add to public treasury could be the one to files the lawsuit that brings the whole matter into the federal court. Then you will find out how wise it is keep federal inmates when a federal judge tells you every move to make. When you get the bill for the new jail pod then you will wish you hadn’t been given to appetite and fallen for the deceitful meat of the Mayor and Sheriff or sought the riches of federal money.
For those who would like to see more DUI enforcement, the Court of Criminal Appeals in Tennessee at Knoxville has affirmed that state law empowers citizens to arrest those driving under the influence of alcohol. See the opinion here: http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/2015/tn-privatecop.pdf
Arresting power of private citizens includes misdemeanors in addition to felonies. Most of us have had police officers blow past us at high rates of speed that far exceed the posted speed limit without having their lights on. I once witnessed an officer put his lights on to go though an intersection and then turn his lights off after he got through the intersection.
Minor traffic offenses are usually handled with a citation in lieu of arrest but more serious violations usually result in arrest. I wonder what would happen if private citizens started exercising this power to arrest officers for all the traffic violations that they commit in public. An officer once told me that courts frown on it, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Written byMonday November 9, 2015
Last week Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen hinted that the Federal Reserve Board will increase interest rates at the board’s December meeting. The positive jobs report that was released following Yellen’s remarks caused many observers to say that the Federal Reserve’s first interest rate increase in almost a decade is practically inevitable.
However, there are several reasons to doubt that the Fed will increase rates anytime in the near future. One reason is that the official unemployment rate understates unemployment by ignoring the over 94 million Americans who have either withdrawn from the labor force or settled for part-time work. Presumably the Federal Reserve Board has access to the real unemployment numbers and is thus aware that the economy is actually far from full employment.
The decline in the stock market following Friday’s jobs report was attributed to many investors’ fears over the impact of the predicted interest rate increase. Wall Street’s jitters about the effects of a rate increase is another reason to doubt that the Fed will soon increase rates. After all, according to former Federal Reserve official Andrew Huszar, protecting Wall Street was the main goal of “quantitative easing,” so why would the Fed now risk a Christmastime downturn in the stock markets?
Donald Trump made headlines last week by accusing Janet Yellen of keeping interest rates low because she does not want to risk another economic downturn in President Obama’s last year in office. I have many disagreements with Mr. Trump, but I do agree with him that the Federal Reserve’s polices may be influenced by partisan politics.
Janet Yellen would hardly be the first Fed chair to allow politics to influence decision-making. Almost all Fed chairs have felt pressure to “adjust” monetary policy to suit the incumbent administration, and almost all have bowed to the pressure. Economists refer to the Fed’s propensity to tailor monetary policy to suit the needs of incumbent presidents as the “political” business cycle.
Presidents of both parties, and all ideologies, have interfered with the Federal Reserve’s conduct of monetary policy. President Dwight D. Eisenhower actually threatened to force the Fed chair to resign if he did not give in to Ike’s demands for easy money, while then-Federal Reserve Chair Arthur Burns was taped joking about Fed independence with President Richard Nixon.
The failure of the Fed’s policies of massive money creation, corporate bailouts, and quantitative easing to produce economic growth is a sign that the fiat money system’s day of reckoning is near. The only way to prevent the monetary system’s inevitable crash from causing a major economic crisis is the restoration of a free-market monetary policy.
One positive step Congress may take this year is passing the Audit the Fed bill. Fortunately, Senator Rand Paul is using Senate rules to force the Senate to hold a roll-call vote on Audit the Fed. The vote is expected to take place in the next two-to-three weeks. If Audit the Fed passes, the American people can finally learn the full truth about the Fed’s operations. If it fails, the American people will at least know which senators side with them and which ones side with the Federal Reserve.
Allowing a secretive central bank to control monetary policy has resulting in an ever-expanding government, growing income inequality, a series of ever-worsening economic crises, and a steady erosion of the dollar’s purchasing power. Unless this system is changed, America, and the world, will soon experience a major economic crisis. It is time to finally audit, then end, the Fed.
Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
From the article:
“My question is, ‘How much is enough?'” Jennings said Tuesday. “It don’t matter what they get, they want more.”
Jennings added that he feels the county has been wasteful in its spending, and its taxpayers have not gotten enough bang for their buck. He said the county’s roads are “one of the poorest quality” he’s seen and are an example of a lack of return on taxpayer investment. He also said the county has seen little return on the money it has contributed to the Greene County Partnership and put toward the Greeneville-Greene County Municipal Airport.
“I’m just seeing the tax money wasted. It’s just wasted,” Jennings said. “I’m sick and tired of it, and the people are sick and tired.”
Ditto! Insert the word Blount for Greene and the situation is all too familiar. Byran Daniels of the Blount Partnership is from Greene County.
Agenda Committee – 3 minute meeting
The Agenda Committee meeting lasted about 3 minutes. People have told me that the meeting demonstrated what they already know about our local government, that decisions are made behind closed doors and the meetings are formalities. This is really unfortunate for the people of Blount County because we deserve better government.
In an unprecedented move, 10 commissioners voted no on setting the agenda. Ostensibly this was to stop consideration of a resolution that petitions God to spare Blount County from his wrath and condemning judicial tyranny. The resolution is in response to the Supreme Court opinion that legalized same-sex marriage.
After the agenda failed, Chairman Steve Samples turned to commissioner Carter and told him that he could make his motion to adjourn, which he had previously tried to do before the commission voted on the agenda. Samples asked if anyone was opposed to adjournment. The paper has reported that the commission voted 15-0 to adjourn. That is incorrect. I raised my hand and voiced opposition, hoping that the commission would reconsider its decision and proceed with the rest of the agenda instead of adjourning without consideration of any matter. Since the motion to adjourn was a voice vote, I don’t know that it actually passed.
In response, the volume of the audience started to rise and the word cowards was shouted at the commission. Cowards is an accurate description of the commissioners who quickly exited out the back door avoiding the media and citizens in and outside the courthouse.
A member of the Associated Press approached me and began asking me questions and the rest of the press quickly joined him, blocking me in the commission chamber. I had intended to exit out the same door as the citizens and had planned to talk with citizens but an officer told me that he and another officer would escort me out the backdoor as well.
Having that many microphones pointed at you and so many members of the press standing in front of you and then being escorted out of building by police is something that I will never forget. I sought neither but both sought me.
Commissioner Jerome Moon made the motion to set the agenda but then voted against his own motion. That should cause us all to pause and reflect upon what kind of leader he truly is.
The resolution was non-binding and would change nothing relating to marriage. Marriage licenses would still be issued to same-sex couples.
The situation unfortunately overshadowed issues that have far more impact to the taxpayers of Blount County. At the commission meeting nearly a million dollars of your tax money was spent or moved around, some under questionable circumstances. Furthermore, Bryan Daniels President and CEO of the Blount Partnership which encompasses the Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Foundation, Industrial Development Board and Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority was caught in a scandal, blocking communication from two county commissioners. Questionable spending and unelected people handling taxpayer money while blocking elected officials who are asking questions about your money deserve much stricter scrutiny. Never have I felt more like I was living in Washington D.C., instead of Blount County, Tennessee, than I did in October.
The Mayor called a special commission meeting and the Commission Chairman canceled the regularly scheduled meeting. The Mayor’s call was unnecessary because the commission already had a meeting scheduled two days later. The special called meeting did not have the indexing system in our informational packets that regular meetings have making it more difficult to follow the agenda.
False department name and no explanation of increase request
There were several spending increases on the agenda. The Chairman decided to violate the rules by asking a question of the Finance Director because he wasn’t happy about me asking questions. The Chairman has habitually cut me off when he doesn’t like what I am saying. Apparently he doesn’t like questions being asked in public meetings and thinks they should be asked behind closed doors. The matter that drew his scorn was my questioning of a request for a $32,988 increase that had the department listed as “Denny Garner” and left the explanation section blank. Read more about that here.
The Finance Director, or his staff, left a capital lease for equipment out of the annual budget, requiring an amendment to fix the mistake made by him or his staff. There was another budget amendment because the Finance Director, or his staff, failed to budget the correct amount of the salary supplement that the county receives from the state for the Administrator of Elections.
Items not on the agenda of the special called meeting
- Resolution to give the School Board a 12.5% pay raise
- Resolution to expand the membership of the Human Resources Committee to include more elected officials
- Judicial tyranny/wrath of God resolution
None of these items are on the agenda of the November Agenda Committee meeting.
At the previous Recycling Committee meeting, I asked the Chairman Grady Caskey to invite private haulers to our October meeting to see if any have an interest in expanding their businesses to offer recycling. One trash collection service has done that. The Chairman did not follow through but said he would for the November meeting.
IT Meeting – Kronos behind schedule and IT infrastructure in need of updates
No where has it been clearer who runs the courthouse than at the IT Committee meeting. Finance Director Randy Vineyard, the defacto leader of courthouse, assured us that it won’t cost the taxpayers anymore money to implement Kronos which is 3 months behind schedule. He didn’t volunteer the information. I read that the schedule was adjusted in the monthly memorandum which was issued by an employee of Kronos rather than the IT Director as it had been in past months.
Vineyard’s assurance ignores the fact that we taxpayers just made an annual payment for the service that we won’t be using for the 3 months that the project is behind. According to Vineyard the HR software is being used now but the payroll system is 3 months behind because of leadership changes within the county and at Kronos.
The Mayor’s Office commissioned an IT study, without telling the commission, which told us that the county’s IT infrastructure is aged and could collapse at any moment. After listening to the IT consultants, I realized that essentially what Vineyard’s not so brilliant leadership has given us is a cart before the horse situation where he went out and got the most expensive wheels (Kronos software system) and put it on a car where the engine (the County’s IT infrastructure) may not even start. The Finance Director should spend more time on his job as Finance Director to eliminate the mistakes coming out of his department rather than trying to run the courthouse. The Mayor makes a fortune. He should spend more time ensuring that the county is run efficiently and less time cutting ribbons and attending pancake breakfasts.
AMI announced that it will be locating a munitions manufacturing facility here. Bringing in industry is usually a good thing but the way government throws your money at industries isn’t. Many questions remain, not the least of which is the total cost to the taxpayers.
Bryan Daniels and politicians, including several commissioners, celebrated giving the farm away, literally. AMI will be given 235 acres of land and an estimated tax abatement of $5 million. The cost to update two roads in the area is estimated at $2.85 million, according to the local paper. These costs don’t include the states incentives. Alarmingly the state contract has not yet been finalized.
Hopefully these jobs will improve the quality of life in Blount County. However, many the taxpayers of Blount County who have been handed 2 of the largest tax increase in Blount County history in the past few years are struggling. Many of the people haven’t seen their quality of life improve. They people have been handed tax increases when Blount County’s median household income is tied for the highest drop in the region and Blount County is the only county in the region where pay has not kept up with the rate of inflation. Many have seen a decrease in their financial well being but are forced to pay the taxes to give land and money to big businesses. The people have good reasons to question this crony corporate welfare.
A workshop was held on refinancing and restructuring county debt. The workshop was disappointing and a waste of money. I had hoped to include discussion on the meeting here but it is going to be a while before I get more information. When I obtain more information and have the time to write about the debt, I will post a link to the article here.
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” Denis Waitley
I will be offering a resolution to finally have a hearing on the jail study that was commissioned two years ago.