Ignorance about fixed income

This email was sent to Mayor Ed Mitchell from a citizen in the community.  I was cc’ed on it.  The name was removed at the request of the citizen.

Mr. Mitchell,
Every time you open your mouth you show your ignorance. You stated you nominated Ms. Hannum because she is on a fixed income. Well, everybody is on a fixed income including yourself, unless you take money out of the debt reduction fund and give yourself a raise.

Some people retired with a pension like Ms. Hannum did from Alcoa  Aluminum which is income for the rest of her life. Yes it’s fixed but a good income.

Some people retire with an IRA that they budgeted to save to have an income for retirement, but it is a fixed income depending how much was saved.

Some people retire on Social Security which is a fixed income with Medicare premiums taken out which reduces the amount of spendable income.

Carpenters, Plumbers, Brick Layers, Electricians, etc. are all on fixed income called hourly salary no matter how many hours they work. Same with factory workers and fast food workers and the unemployed on government assistance which eventually runs out.

The only people NOT ON A FIXED INCOME are sales people like car salesmen, insurance agents, real estate agents as they all work on commission.

It’s Ms. Hannum’s fault that she over spent on fixing up her property. That shows she can’t budget her own finances.

Every time you make a statement I wonder if your education didn’t get past the 10th grade.

Focal points should have been the Mayor’s agenda and better county purchasing procedure

Well it appears that Joel over at The Daily Times missed me (or something that I bring to the meetings) while I was gone.  When was the last time that the paper reported on the front page that a commissioner was “conspicuously absent from the meeting?”  ;-)  “Hugs” to Joel Davis and the people at The Daily Times.

The focal points of the Mayor’s picks for the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission should have been his hesitation for fixed rate financing and the purchasing problems within county government, rather than Hannum’s habitual tax delinquency.  I wrote about the Mayor’s agenda here and the purchasing problems here.  However, these issues don’t make for good front page headlines.

The people of Blount County understand though.  People routinely write me about the county debt.  My inbox had about two dozen emails asking commissioners to vote against Sharon Hannum and a couple to split the Budget Committee and Purchasing Commission.  None were in support of Hannum, or continuing status quo with the two bodies.

For a change your voices weren’t totally ignored.  A victory was achieved.  Blount County will now have a Purchasing Commission that is separate from the Budget Committee.  Let us hope that the new members will work to achieve better purchasing protocols for the taxpayers of Blount County.

Despite being absent from the commission meeting and having never said Hannum’s name in public, (The Daily Times noticed and reported that as well) the political machine of Blount County was rattled.  Hit dogs holler the loudest.  To the political machine I say, don’t hate me because The Daily Times reports some of what it reads on this website.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away.

“Antigonish” (1899), Hughes Mearns

Woo hoo! The Budget Committee and Purchasing Commission will now be separate bodies

Commissioners Mike Akard and I have both previously tried to make the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission two separate, distinct bodies composed of entirely different members, with the exception of the Mayor who serves on both as required by state law.  Commissioner Akard tried to achieve this in October of last year and I tried it at the Agenda meeting this month.  Both efforts failed, with the recent effort failing by a single vote.

A new day is dawning though.  The political machine of Blount County failed to get enough votes (11 are required) to approve the same four people to serve on the Purchasing Commission.  It is now up to the community to convince the Mayor to nominate people who will ask questions and demand accountability for taxpayer money.

We have a couple of commissioners who will ask tough questions when they need to be asked.  It would be good to get a someone like commissioner Akard, a businessman, on this committee since he knows what to ask and has recently demonstrated that he will ask important questions.

Under state law the Mayor may choose citizens.  Such citizens should be people with purchasing experience.  If you know anyone with experience as a purchasing agent, who is interested in serving, please contact the Mayor and suggest that he or she be nominated to serve in this role.

The Mayors contact info: emitchell@blounttn.org  273-5700

Good job commissioner Mike Akard in seeing this through!!!

Because Cutting Spending is Never on the Table

From the Tennessean:

“A push is mounting for Tennessee’s first gas tax increase in a quarter-century, buoyed by growing interest from Gov. Bill Haslam and Republican legislative leaders who have historically opposed tax hikes of any sort. The intrigue at Capitol Hill comes as more than 40 Middle Tennessee mayors have called on the governor to find additional revenue for transportation projects that have piled up across the state.”

More here.

Republican discrimination against the women on the commission

Some Republicans would deny that there is discrimination against the three women serving on the commission but actions speak louder than words.  During the general election in 2014, Jamie Daly and Karen Miller faced write-in opponents but neither received any financial support from the Blount County Republican Party.

Jamie Daly defeated Gerald Kirby in the primary election.  He launched a well funded write-in campaign.  Peggy Lambert said in the paper that she always supports the Republican Party nominee but a review of Gerald Kirby’s donations show that Lambert donated to Kirby in the general election, after he lost the primary to Daly.

The Blount County Republican Party gave Gary Farmer, who faced a Democrat, $5,000 for the general election. (See page 5)  This was such a large sum of money that Farmer returned over $1,500 back to the party.  Daly would have benefited from that money.

The Republican Party gave money to Sean Carter.  He also faced a Democrat in the general election.  (See page 7).

Earlier this week I spoke to Patsy Lunde, the Chairman of the Blount County Republican Party, about the party’s discrimination against the women.  The conversation was polite and it was evident that she had no good explanation for why the Republican party chose to discriminate against the women.

I asked Mrs. Lunde why the party did not give any money to Jamie Daly and Karen Miller.  She responded that write-ins don’t usually win so the Steering Committee didn’t think they should fund write-in campaigns.  I pointed out to her that her argument had no merit because the Republican Party donated to Kenneth Melton, who faced a write-in candidate in the general election.  (See page 3).

Her response to that was that Jamie Daly and Karen Miller didn’t ask the party for any money.  I reminded her that I called her during the general election and left a message telling her that the party should donate to Daly and Miller.  She never returned my call.  There was silence.  She did not respond to that statement.  She had nothing to defend the actions of herself or the party.

Finally I continued the conversation and it concluded with Mrs. Lunde saying she would pay more attention to the treatment of the women serving on the commission.  Some consolation to the voters who chose us and for all the hard work we three ladies have put into being commissioners.

Now the Mayor and the Republicans, that the party funded, are pushing for an unelected tax delinquent Democrat to serve on the Budget Committee.  Unfortunately, the Mayor is discriminating against the women on the commission and the Republican Party of Blount County appears to be happy about it.

About 99% of people pay their property taxes before going to collections

Most people are paying their taxes before the county turns the bills over for collection by the Clerk and Master.  These figures are from the Blount County Trustee’s office.  No year since 1997 has fallen below 98.91%.  These figures don’t include the taxes that are late but paid prior to being turned over to the Clerk and Master for collection.

Property Taxes Turned Over to Clerk & Master
As Amended
Tax Year Over In Collected by Trustee $ to C & M Parcels to C & M
1997 1999 99.14% $206,144 436
1998 2000 99.56% $125,091 277
1999 2001 99.34% $192,113 359
2000 2002 98.91% $326,439 554
2001 2003 99.22% $249,562 463
2002 2004 99.16% $296,593 507
2003 2005 99.39% $212,301 383
2004 2006 99.54% $175,466 364
2005 2007 99.48% $214,620 394
2006 2008 99.31% $334,337 495
2007 2009 99.23% $399,615 621
2008 2010 98.91% $587,586 806
2009 2011 98.59% $768,695 1,130
2010 2012 98.98% $560,102 1,074
2011 2013 98.99% $648,955 909
2012 2014 99.08% $569,037 915

Comments to the Commission regarding the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission

Thank you Mr. Chairman.  Tonight we have before us someone who is being nominated or re-nominated for 3 bodies.  If approved for all 3, that will mean that this board approves of her serving on 4 bodies.  We have commissioners who currently only serve on one body and others whose second body is one that rarely meets and/or had little power for meaningful reform.  We need to ask ourselves why we are discriminating against the voters like this.  They elected new leadership.  We should listen.

The nominations for the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission are the same four people.  Last month we only had one bid for the purchase of a commercial washer and dryer to be installed at the animal shelter.  Two business owners, in my district, have complained to me about how difficult it is for them to find out about the purchasing needs of Blount County and to participate in the purchasing process.  Another constituent, who is a purchasing agent for a large global company, shared a concern he had about our purchasing protocols.  Rarely are questions asked during the purchasing portion of the agenda and the packet often says for information only.  In light of these concerns, now is a good time to separate the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission.   Therefore, I move to send this back to the Mayor for separate (different) names for each of these bodies.

The motion failed 10-11.  Meaningful reform failed by one vote.

Akard – yes  Allen – yes  Archer – yes  Bowers – yes  Carter – no  Carver – no  Caskey – yes  Caylor – no  Cole – yes  Crowe – yes  Daly – yes  Farmer – no  French – no  Headrick – no  Lewis – no  Melton – no  Miller – yes  Monroe – yes  Moon – no  Samples – no  Stinnett – no

Interesting note, all 10 that voted yes are new commissioners.  Perhaps if just one more incumbent had been beaten in the last election this would have passed.