Blount County Tax Revolt presented Blount County Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Tom Cole, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe with an award for voting against the largest property tax increase in the history of Blount County government and for voting against the budget that was funded by the tax increase.
Commissioners Karen Miller and Tona Monroe were also given an additional Special Recognition Award.
Community stalwarts Jim Folts and Linda King spoke. Richard Hutchens gave slide show presentation on the excuses used to justify wasteful spending. Those reasons are routinely given at commission meetings.
The Daily Times covered the awards banquet, which had to be moved from the original room to a larger room because turnout was greater than expected. http://www.thedailytimes.com/news/blount-county-tax-revolt-honors-six-for-tax-increase-opposition/article_b509ef67-08de-533d-8b37-8592d6fc56ff.html
The emails have been pouring in this morning. Thank you to everyone for the kind remarks and thank you to the good folks of Blount County Tax Revolt for their dedication in protecting the hardworking taxpayers of Blount County.
by Eric Holcombe
Check out the latest UN global governance missive you paid to be broadcast to folks at the movies this week; those whom may have missed out on the coincidentally-timed, wall-to-wall coverage of the redundant message from the “holy father”:
“THE PLAN IS AGREED BY EVERYONE”…..yeah, all the cool kids are doing it – except for the Holy See of course.
This was followed by a trailer for military-industrial complex p*rn: The Martian, a movie suggesting human residence on Mars is plausible (in a boy-in-a-bubble sort of way) – coincidentally-timed with the state media release of the “we gotta spend NASA billions to explore Mars saltwater” story replete with “liquid” water gems like these:
“Liquid water has many uses:
- It can be used for drinking.
- It can be used to produce breathable oxygen.
- It can help make rocket fuel to launch astronauts off the planet and back home.“
Really now….water-based rocket fuel you say? I guess it’s a great thing then that the surface of the earth is about 70% salt water. All our energy worries are over! On Mars however, there is precious little of it. But you too can sign up for the “one-way” trip to the red desert at the Mars One project.
Just a couple of examples of the 2013 NDAA Congress--sponsored propagandizing of the American people at their own expense…”making “available, in the United States, motion pictures, films, video, audio, and other materials prepared for dissemination abroad or disseminated abroad pursuant to this Act….”
by Ron Paul
This month marks the seventh anniversary of the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent economic meltdown. The mood in Congress following the meltdown resembled the panicked atmosphere that followed the September 11th attacks. As was the case after September 11th, Congress rushed to pass hastily written legislation that, instead of dealing with the real causes of the crisis, simply gave the government more power.
Just as few understood the role our interventionist foreign policy played in the September 11th attacks, few in Congress understood that the 2008 meltdown was caused by the Federal Reserve and Congress, not by unregulated capitalism. Not surprising to anyone familiar with economic history, the story of the 2008 meltdown starts with the bursting of the Fed-created tech bubble.
Following the collapse of the tech bubble, the Fed began aggressively pumping money into the economy. This money flooded into the housing market, creating the housing bubble. The Bush Administration and the Republican Congress also added fuel to the housing bubble. These so-called “free-market” conservatives expanded federal housing programs in hopes of creating an “ownership society.”
If Congress understood the Austrian theory of the business cycle, it would have allowed the recession that followed the housing bubble’s inevitable collapse to run its course. Recessions are the economy’s way of eliminating the distortions caused by the Federal Reserve. Attempts by Congress and the Fed to end a recession via inflation and government spending will only lead to future, and more severe, economic downturns.
The corporate bailouts, government spending, and money creation via quantitative easing that Congress and the Fed have engaged in since the fall of 2008, have failed to produce even the illusion of prosperity. The daily experience of most Americans shows that the government’s doctored statistics drastically understate both unemployment and inflation.
This is not to say that no Americans have benefited from Federal Reserve policies. Even Donald Trump has called quantitative easing “a great deal for guys like me.” Much of the growth of government over the past seven years, from the bailouts to the increases in military and domestic spending to Obamacare, has also benefited politically-connected crony capitalists.
The Federal Reserve’s continued delay of an interest rate increase suggests that, contrary to its public statements, the Fed understands that the economy has not recovered from the meltdown and is on the brink of another major recession. Fear that the Fed is not being fully forthcoming with its view of the economy is one reason the stock market declined following the Fed’s recent decision to once again postpone increasing interest rates.
Learning the full truth about how the Fed evaluates the economy and its plans to respond to another downturn are two reasons why it is important to pass the Audit the Fed bill.
A vote on Audit the Fed would probably be the only good thing to occur in Congress this year. A Congress that cannot defund Planned Parenthood is unlikely to make any serious cuts in spending. Instead of waiting for politicians to do the right thing, those who know the truth must spread the ideas of liberty as far and wide as possible. Only when the teachings of the Austrian school are embraced by a critical mass of Americans will Congress cut warfare spending, cut welfare spending, and audit, and then end, the Fed.
Read online: http://bit.ly/1QHrkvj
“You don’t get paid enough to put up with them (referring to several commissioners). Thanks for looking out for the taxpayers.” Comment from a citizen to me after the September 17, 2015 Commission meeting
The Agenda Committee meeting was so poorly run that it was chaotic at times. The rules went out the window. The last time that I witnessed a meeting run this poorly was during former Chairman Kenneth Melton’s reign of tyranny. Thankfully Agenda Committee Chairman Steve Samples isn’t as heavy handed as Kenneth Melton was when he served as Chairman of the Commission.
Leadership and committee assignments mostly stay the same
The machine walked in ready to go, nominating the same people to serve in leadership positions. The committee assignments will stay mostly the same, except where people resigned from their seats.
Human Resources (HR) Committee
County employee Gary Farmer wanted off the HR Committee. He was replaced with Rick Carver. All 10 of the members of the HR Committee are either government employees or have worked for a company having a business relationship with the county. There isn’t a single person serving on the HR Committee who hasn’t worked for a local government or been employed by a company doing business with the county. There isn’t a single, independent business person who has never had a conflict of interest on the HR Committee.
3 commissioners shut out of committees with authority
Appointments to committees/boards are done by the Mayor and the Commission. The Mayor hasn’t nominated any women or teachers, currently serving on the commission, to any of the committees that he makes nominations to. The Commission has done some better but not enough.
Commissioners Dodd Crowe and Karen Miller only serve on the Education Committee, which has little, if any, authority because it can not supersede the decisions made by the School Board. The Education Committee was expanded in size to relegate commissioners there, so that the machine can say they didn’t shut any commissioners out. Commissioner Jamie Daly also serves on the Education Committee as well as the Beer Board. She volunteered for the Beer Board because so few commissioners wanted to do it. The Beer Board has little digression because its actions are tightly governed by state law. These three commissioners aren’t serving on any committee/board positions where they have authority to make significant policy decisions.
Blount County didn’t wait to be the last county in the state to form an audit committee, just next to last. According to Chairman Jerome Moon there will only be one county without an Audit Committee.
Don’t look for much to come from the two commissioners appointed to the Audit Committee. Commissioners Andy Allen and Mike Caylor usually vote against any attempts to obtain more information before making decisions on spending your money. I can only recall one question, during the past year, from either of these commissioners pertaining to spending over $175 million of your money.
The commission put two foxes in charge of the hen house. Hopefully the citizens nominated to the Audit Committee will do what these two have failed to do as commissioners, namely look out for the taxpayers.
Commissioners Tom Cole, Kenneth Melton and Karen Miller were absent. Commissioner Ron French left early.
Committees voted on altogether
The commission voted on most of the committees in a single vote. This allows for commissioners to vote for the own appointments and also gives cover for commissioners who vote for someone they might not otherwise vote for because they were all lumped together. A commissioner can always tell people that they were against a nomination but because the commission chose to vote on the committees/boards altogether, they didn’t want to vote against the other appointments.
Commissioners Caskey and I each requested that a committee be pulled out of the motion and voted on separately. No one objected to Commissioner Caskey’s request but Commissioner Andy Allen objected to mine. What commissioner Allen fails to realize is that he doesn’t save any time by doing this because I can and did make a motion to divide the question. That requires a vote, as does voting on the item separately. It’s just one of the petty ways that the good ole’ boys (nothing good about what they do) think they can show you that they have the upper hand.
Crony zoning deal complete
The RAC-2 zone was originally proposed so that a public official could rezone his land to build a Dollar General store and provide for possible development in the future. After some conservationists voiced objections about the proposal, it was amended to ensure that the elected official would get his deal with most of the other roads being removed from potential future rezoning. Our zoning regulations have become a tool for those who have connections to shut out those who don’t have connections. The special deals continue and property rights are now government granted privileges.
Health care benefits
The commission approved increases in the rates that employees will pay for their health care benefits but the plan is still projected to lose money during FY16. Several attempts were made to reduce what the employees will pay and they all failed. I proposed an amendment that would have added about $35,000 in revenue, which is about half of what the plan is projected to lose this fiscal year, in an attempt to bring the plan closer to solvency but that failed as well. The current plan does nothing to address future unfunded health care obligations.
Commissioner Tom Stinnett made the comment that the plan is delicate. That’s nonsense. For far too long the health care benefits have been treated like the sacred cow of Blount County. There is nothing delicate or sacred about the county health care plan. Politicians forget what really is sacred, the rights of the people.
Audit of health care administrator
The commission rushed through approval of an audit for the health care plan administrator without having all the facts to make a good judgment on the matter. The county is self insured but the claims are processed through our administrator, which is currently Humana but will become Allegiance at the first of the new year. About $44,000 will be spent to audit Humana, who administers the claims, to see if the county has been overpaying the providers. 300 claims will be audited. See pages 69-125 for more information.
An audit is usually a good thing but the way the commission handle this is not. As usual the commission was told that we had to do this now and few commissioners questioned it. As usual the commission was presented with something that didn’t go through a county initiated competitive bid process and I was the only one who questioned it.
The county health care broker, CBIZ, provided the bid information. Broker provided recommendations don’t have to go through the county Purchasing Department. However, this doesn’t neglect the fiduciary responsibility of the commission.
There were 3 proposals in the packet. One was from the broker. Yes, one of the three proposals that CBIZ provided was from CBIZ. It was substantially higher than the other two and was a range of $80,000-100,000 rather than a set amount plus travel expenses. CBIZ didn’t recommend itself, even though it provided a proposal.
The recommended proposal by HMS is about $44,000 with travel expenses. That is a lot less than the CBIZ proposal but it also a lot more than the other proposal which is $24,500 plus travel expenses.
Section 7.3 of the HMS proposal says (page 87), “As is apparent, our clients have a large range of employees. For every one of our clients, HMS has always provided a positive Return on Investment—no matter the population size. We would be glad to provide more history upon request.” I made a request for more history since the examples in the proposal have much larger numbers of employees than the county. The answer I received from the man who signed the proposal was stunning. He said, the part about providing more history upon request probably shouldn’t be in the proposal.
I pressed on, asking to be provided with what HMS had specifically want to know what companies close to us in size of employees and/or those covered and using the same administrator (Humana) have reclaimed from audits. An email sent to me from Steve Noury with HMS a few hours before the meeting said, “we don’t currently aggregate the type of information you requested (results by carrier). We have the data in our system, and we are actually working on that capability as we speak.”
Since the data exists but hasn’t be aggregated in a useable form, I made a motion to postpone voting on the audit until the information was made available to the commission to see what kinds of comparable results HMS is getting out of its audits. Only commissioners Archie Archer, Grady Caskey, Jamie Daly and I (Tona Monroe) voted to wait until we had the information to make an informed decision.
There are plenty of companies available to do medical claims audits. One of proposals was from the broker itself and it was substantially higher than the other two, without giving a specific quote. The broker could have easily obtained several more quotes without using his own company.
These are not good business practices. I would not run a company this way, making rushed decisions without full information and without a thorough bid process. As such, I can’t in good conscience vote to spend taxpayer money this way. It is possible that the county will reclaim more than it spends on the audit but your commission has failed to do its due diligence in ensuring that they obtained the best and most cost effective company to do the audit.
It appears to me that most commissioners don’t want to put the time in that is required to do a good job. They simply want to trust the “experts”, without bothering to make sure that the people they trust are actually competent enough to do a good job. You don’t have to be an “expert” to know that haste makes waste and that someone coming with a proposal from their own company isn’t likely to be the best deal available.
Refinancing of nearly $80 million in variable rate debt.
It’s nice to see a $100,000 donation from a Foundation consisting of an all-volunteer board.
Six months after a new Purchasing Commission was appointed, separate from the Budget Committee, and an attorney was made the Purchasing Agent last month, the Purchasing Commission is finally scheduled to meet in the middle of the day to discuss raising the threshold of contracts that require competitive sealed bidding.
PUBLIC NOTICE OF MEETING
The Blount County Government Purchasing Commission will meet Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 1:00 p.m. in Room 430 at the Blount County Courthouse, in Maryville, Tennessee. The purpose of the meeting is for election of Chairman and Vice Chairman, public input on items on the agenda, and discussion and possible action regarding raising the threshold of contracts that require competitive sealed bidding.
Roy Crawford, Jr.
Blount County Clerk
America’s out-of-control cop kill rate
“We now know that police killed 1,100 Americans in 2014 and 476 Americans in the first five months of 2015. Given that America has roughly 765,000 sworn police officers, that means the police-against-citizen kill rate is more than 145 per 100,000.
Let us put that into perspective. In most countries in Europe the national homicide rate is 1 per 100,000, so that means American police kill at 145 times the rate of the average European citizen. The two most violent countries in the world are Venezuela and Honduras with national homicide rates of 54 and 90 per 100,000. The U.S. government issues travel warnings stating: “The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high” and “violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive.” If you are not comfortable vacationing in those countries, it is little wonder why so many Americans are uncomfortable with police who kill at more than 1.5 and 2.5 times the homicide rates of the two most violent countries.”
Listen to an interview on the subject here: http://tomwoods.com/podcast/ep-426-the-shocking-kill-rate-of-american-police/
It’s a new era in Blount County government. Or is it? Blount County didn’t wait to be the last County in the state to form an Audit Committee, just next to last.*
Commissioners Andy Allen and Mike Caylor were chosen to serve on the Audit Committee. Let the lovefest begin. I can’t wait to see hugs all around.
*According to Chairman Jerome Moon only one other county does not have an Audit Committee.
Let us hope that the videos below are a joke and that the American people don’t want the Bill of Rights repealed.
Mark Dice pursued support for Karl Marx for President
Petition to repeal the 4th amendment
Petition to repeal the 1st amendment
There are more videos to repeal other Bill or Rights amendments