$95,000 report ‘kept from public review,’ consultant claims

Here is the final report (jail study) issued by the Institute for Law and Policy Planning (ILPP) on the criminal justice system in Blount County.

Here are the key points to reducing the jail overcrowding according to Alan Kalmanoff JD, the Executive Director of the ILPP, the organization paid to do the criminal justice system assessment.

Here is the open memo to the Blount County Commission, Corrections Committee and Citizens from Alan Kalmanoff.

Here is the June 2014 Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) Audit stating that the number of federal prisoners needs to be reduced and that we should look at alternative and pre-trial sentencing solutions.

The Daily Times published a story today on the matter with my comments included.  At the October Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) meeting, I made a motion to forward the ILPP report to the full commission because that report had never been formally released to the public.  However, the full commission has not heard from the study consultant.

My statement:

“As the commissioner who made the motion to have a full commission presentation from the jail consultant on the Criminal Justice System Assessment Report, I am troubled that the meeting was canceled.  Obviously, some county officials aren’t happy with the conclusions of the independent report.  The report was suppose to be heard by the full commission last year, yet there has been no presentation to the commission and it has been delayed once again.  Nearly $95,000 of taxpayer money has been spent.  We owe it to the people of Blount County to have a thorough public discussion on our justice system and jail overcrowding problem.

The report makes some of the same recommendations that the Tennessee Corrections Institute makes including reducing the number of federal prisoners and providing more pre-trial release and alternative sentencing programs.  The report points out that our jail may be unconstitutional and that we could face legal action if we don’t reduce our jail population.  The jail overcrowding situation is dangerous not only to the inmates but to the taxpayers who may be forced to fund an unnecessary jail expansion.”  Commissioner Tona Monroe

Article: http://www.thedailytimes.com/news/report-kept-from-public-review-consultant-claims/article_1b6a1d8c-b18c-570d-b856-5376242592da.html

State mandated pay raises for local elected officals

The State of Tennessee is mandating that General Sessions judges be given pay raises.  General Sessions judges are already the highest paid officals in Blount County government at $158,795.75.  They are the last people in government who need pay raises.  Other elected officals are not receiving mandated pay raises thankfully.

If you want to stop the state mandated pay raises, for the wealthiest in Blount County government, contact state elected officials.
Rep. Bob Ramsey: rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov  (615) 741-3560
Rep. Art Swann: rep.art.swann@capitol.tn.gov (615) 741-5481
Senator Doug Overbey: sen.doug.overbey@capitol.tn.gov (615) 741-0981

March 2015 Public Meetings

23rd
9 AM Blount County Public Building Authority Room 315 at the Blount County Courthouse
11 AM Election Commission at the Election Commission office

24th
5:30 Blount County Corrections Partnership – Agenda includes presentation by Alan Kalmanoff regarding the ILPP Jail Study and discussion about a grant for jail overcrowding

31st
The Solid Waste Authority will have it’s annual meeting on March 31st at 8:30 AM at the Alcoa Service Center at 725 Universal Street in Alcoa.  I saw one notice that said 9 AM.  The rest have said 8:30 AM.

Open meetings law don’t apply to Tenn. transparency panel

Oh the irony… Open meetings law don’t apply to Tenn. transparency panel

“A panel of experts assembled to offer advice on transparency issues is not subject to the state’s open meetings law. At least that’s the opinion of Ann Butterworth, who heads the Comptroller’s Office of Open Records Counsel.”

Read more: http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/article/124982/open-meetings-law-dont-apply-to-tenn-transparency-panel#ixzz3UnhAK9sg

Ann Butterworth can’t hold a candle to her predecessor.  The availability of the Office of Open Records Counsel has nearly ceased since Butterworth took over.  The office has become another useless government bureaucracy.

Tennessee Highway Patrol quota system

http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/article/124967/4-more-troopers-come-forward-about-dui-quota-system

http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/article/125069/thp-colonel-responds-to-troopers-claims-of-dui-quota

http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/article/125172/tennessee-department-of-safety-homeland-security-bill-gibbons-says-thp-has-no-dui-quotas

Apparently, it’s a top 15 priority

by Eric Holcombe

The Tennessee legislature currently has a 15-bill limit on House members. This means as a Representative, you likely have less than 15 bills of your own that you can advance because you also may be carrying companion bills for a Senator in the House – which may not be on you or your constituents’ radar at all, but all bills have to progress through both chambers. My Representative is now Jerry Sexton. He is a “freshman”, having just been elected, so this is his first House session. I was interested to see what bills Jerry would sponsor, hoping that maybe I could get a feel for his convictions and what he thought was important to change. However, I also realize the stranglehold the GOP (or whichever political club is in majority at the moment) has on the “freshmen” Tennesseans elect to represent them – as if somehow they are not equally as important as “ranking members” – even though obviously the actual voters wanted a change and booted the incumbent (Dennis “ghost-vote” Roach in this case).  So I took a look at Jerry’s bills.

See HB0616 for example. Gee, it seems kinda odd that for some reason it is a real high priority for Grainger County residents to prohibit their own county and local governments from being able to decide if they want un-manned vehicles driving around on their roads. I have been asking my neighbors how they feel about “vehicles equipped with autonomous technology” and if they are the ones pushing Jerry to prohibit ourselves from accidently deciding we might possibly one day find a reason they are not a good thing. The typical response is “HUH?”

Why would a representative go to the state to pass a bill into law that further removes liberties from his own constituents (and those all across the state)?

Of course, I know this isn’t Jerry’s bill. It’s Sen. Brian Kelsey’s bill (You remember Brian. He’s the attorney that introduced the constitutional amendment to remove your constitutional right to vote for the state supreme court judges- and keep attorneys selecting them for you – just like they have done illegally for the last 40 years.).

Senator Jim Tracy has amended this bill to camouflage its original language that explicitly stated it was prohibiting county and local governments from being able to regulate the use of unmanned vehicles on their own roads. Now it says “political subdivisions”. And the new, johnny-on-the-spot general assembly website even substitutes the language on the bills themselves – so you can no longer see what it was prior to amending. Convenient, yes?

So, Sen. Kelsey, just whose corporate welfare bill is this? Nissan’s? What happened to all that 10th Amendment talk? You want to claim the US Constitution when the federal government oversteps its bounds (unless they offer a lot of Common Core money), but then are plenty happy to steal the authority from county and local governments or the voters. Sen. Tracy wants to claim “it should be a local issue” when it comes to maintaining unconstitutional traffic revenue cameras – but apparently you local yokels are too incompetent to think about unmanned vehicles on the county and local streets you pay to maintain.

Republicans Will Never Cut Spending

From Reason.com:

” …the GOP-led Congress is now funding Obamacare just as much as the divided Congress did before, and now debt-ceiling deadlines are occasions not for the meaningful possibility of restraining Leviathan, but for quick rubber stamps. It will be fascinating to see what kind of federal budget the party plops on President Barack Obama’s desk.”

More here

NMA E-Newsletter #321: Radar Fails Under Scientific Scrutiny … Again

NMA E-Newsletter #321: Radar Fails Under Scientific Scrutiny … Again

Most longtime NMA members understand the weaknesses of using radar to measure vehicle speeds. However, less experienced drivers and even the courts regard radar as foolproof. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we have fresh evidence that further erodes radar’s patina of infallibility.

A member of the NMA Board recently attended a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and was kind enough to forward us this description of one of the research presentations titled “Testing of Police Radar”. The research was conducted by two professional engineers, one of whom previously worked for one of the radar manufacturers.

The gist of the presentation is that, despite 30 years of technological innovations, radar still suffers from the same reliability and performance issues that have made it unacceptable as evidence in a court of law. The researchers state that radar cannot meet the requirements of the Daubert test, which is a set of standards trial judges use to determine whether or not expert testimony is based on valid scientific reasoning and methodology:

The reality of police radar is that it fails when subjected to the Daubert test. In this regard, police radar operation should be repeatable—this research demonstrates that it is not a repeatable technique and is, in fact, subject to operator interpretation when multiple targets are present.

The researchers tested several radar unit brands and units. With only one target, the units were pretty consistent in their speed measurements. However with multiple targets, there was no guarantee as to which vehicle’s speed was displayed. They observe that “the radar units can well read different speeds … the decision to issue a citation is highly dependent upon the operator, relative to the instrument.” This refers to one of radar’s biggest downfalls: it can’t distinguish one vehicle from another.

The researchers further explain that radar can pick out either the strongest signal or the fastest signal, depending on road conditions and the mix of vehicles on the road. It cannot, however, pick out the speed of the nearest vehicle. They point out that radar “gun sights” intended to aid target acquisition are useless. They also note that one radar manufacturer allows the officer to black out the displayed speed of the police vehicle in moving mode to conceal from the motorist that the officer was exceeding the speed limit.

Even though the researchers come from a technical/scientific background, they have the presence of mind to point out that radar speed enforcement encourages policing for profit. The NMA has been making this argument for years, but we have seen few other observers make the same connection between shoddy speed enforcement and revenue generation. The researchers further warn that using unreliable radar readings as an excuse to conduct a traffic stop and execute a questionable vehicle search raises Fourth Amendment questions:

But some jurisdictions use strict traffic enforcement as the basis of presumptive traffic stops—they will issue a warning for the traffic violation and instead are looking for a reason to search a vehicle for contraband.

Can anyone say civil forfeiture?

Overall, the study further supports the conclusion that radar speed measurement is unreliable, easily misused and often abused for revenue purposes. In the NMA’s “Fight That Ticket!” e-book, we show you how to use the many kinds of radar error to undermine the officer’s scripted testimony. When you prove to the court that what the officer has testified to is physically impossible or technically violates proper radar procedures, the prosecution’s case will be seriously compromised.

Supporting members can download “Fight That Ticket!” at no charge from the members’ area at www.motorists.org. Non-members can download it here for only $9.95.

Traffic court is a dysfunctional money making scam

“Ferguson does not even rank among the top 20 municipalities in St. Louis County in the percentage of its budget drawn from court fines and fees.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/us/ferguson-became-symbol-but-bias-knows-no-border.html

It’s not just Ferguson, Missouri that is the problem.  Frequently traffic courts are dysfunctional scams designed to enhance public treasuries while shirking due process and failing to teach people how to improve driving habits in ways that actually improve public safety.

 

Bill would prohibit county employees from serving on the county commission

SB466

Here are the email addresses for the Senate State and Local Government Committee members.

sen.ken.yager@capitol.tn.gov,

sen.steven.dickerson@capitol.tn.gov,

sen.richard.briggs@capitol.tn.gov,

sen.mark.green@capitol.tn.gov,

sen.thelma.harper@capitol.tn.gov,

sen.ed.jackson@capitol.tn.gov,

sen.jack.johnson@capitol.tn.gov,

sen.bill.ketron@capitol.tn.gov,

sen.mark.norris@capitol.tn.gov