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January 2015 Commission Report

The Good
A tremendous victory was achieved this month.  Commissioner Mike Akard and I have been trying to separate the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission since taking office.  Our efforts were finally successful.  Read my articles on the subject here and hereBusiness owners have expressed their concerns, to me, about the county purchasing procedures.  This is our opportunity to reform business as usual in Blount County government.

Ultimately, real reform is dependent upon the quality of people elected to serve on the Purchasing Commission.  Please contact the Mayor at 273-5700 and emitchell@blounttn.org with your suggestions for people to serve on the Purchasing Commission.  Commissioner Akard would make an excellent member on the Purchasing Commission because he is a business owner with extensive purchasing experience and will ask the questions that need to be asked in order to improve county purchasing procedures.

At the Blount County Corrections Partnership meeting, on the 27th, my motion to hear from the Executive Director of the Institute of Law and Policy Planning on the Criminal Justice System Assessment Report that the county paid $95,000 for last year, passed out of the committee and will be sent as a recommendation to the Agenda Committee.  Despite the final report being issued May 31, 2014, the commission has never been given a presentation on the findings in the report.  The report addresses multiple ways to reduce the jail overcrowding problem.  This should be on the commission agenda soon.  You can read the study here, starting on page 264.

The Bad
Unfortunately the political machine was able to muster the votes to appoint a habitual tax delinquent to the Budget Committee.  The Trustee’s office told me that Sharon Hannum had 9 delinquent tax bills during 2011-2013.  That means that she was delinquent on all of her property taxes during those three years.  Six tax bills were parcels of property and three tax bills were related to Hannum’s business.  The current business tax bill is only $6 for the year.  The Mayor tried to justify putting someone who can’t manage her own household budget in charge of a $165 million budget.  The people didn’t buy the Mayor’s excuses.

About two dozen emails filled commissioners’ inboxes asking us to vote no on Sharon Hannum.  A few asked that the commission separate the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission.  Furthermore, after the front page articles, people who have worked with Sharon Hannum contacted me, thanked me and shared their experiences and concerns about Hannum.  Apparently, many people are in agreement with me but have been afraid to express their views for fear of being attacked like I have been.

Someone pointed out to me that no women or minorities spoke in favor of Sharon Hannum.  It was just the good ole’ boys, who like to spend your money, who spoke at the meeting in support of her. This confirms my concern that she will be a yes woman for the political machine.

What was lost in the paper’s coverage of the nomination was Mitchell’s hesitation on fixed rate financing and the purchasing problems within county government.  Those should have been the focal points of the nomination but they don’t make for good headlines.

Commissioners Andy Allen, Brad Bowers, Shawn Carter, Rick Carver, Grady Caskey, Mike Caylor, Dodd Crowe, Gary Farmer, Ron French, Jeff Headrick, Jerome Moon, Steve Samples and Tom Stinnett voted yes. Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Jamie Daly and Karen Miller voted no. Commissioners Cole and Lewis abstained.  Jerome Moon was suppose to abstain and said so after the vote total was announced.  Commissioners Melton and Monroe were absent.

The other bad news was the commission’s rejection of a highly qualified and accomplished nominee for the Jail Inspection Committee.  At the Agenda meeting, I nominated Doctor Nancy McEntee to serve on the Jail Inspection Committee.  There were four nominees and Doctor McEntee received the least number of votes.

Harry Grothjahn of Truth Radio contacted 3 of the 4 nominees, Brad Bryant, Nancy McEntee and Robert Mathis to inquire if they had read the jail study.  Only Nancy McEntee was aware of the study.

Worth noting is Commissioner Tom Stinnett’s efforts to ensure that Doctor McEntee did not get nominated even though he voted for her.  She resides in mine and Commissioner Stinnett’s district so he voted for her, which allows him to avoid criticism in his district.  However, he got to vote last because of the alphabetical roll call vote and knew that the machine’s three nominees had already won election without his votes.  At the Agenda meeting he seconded the motion to forward on the nomination of Robert Mathis, even though he didn’t vote for him at the Agenda meeting.  He was able to help the good ole’ boys while appearing to save face in his district.  These sorts of tricks are unfortunate but easily seen by those in attendance.

The three jail inspectors elected are Brad Bryant, Sharon Hannum (yes she was elected to this committee as well) and Robert Mathis.  You can read about the committee responsibilities and the people who will serve on the Jail Inspection Committee here beginning on page 26.  The machine made sure that the three elected to serve on the Jail Inspection Committee won’t rock the boat in any significant way.

The Ugly
Several attacks were launched against me because I wrote about someone who can’t manage her own household budget being nominated to manage your local government budget.  It doesn’t pass the common sense test; therefore, I took to writing about the matter.  I never said Sharon Hannum’s name in public, which the paper noticed and wrote about, yet Commissioner Rick Carver launched an attack against me at the Agenda meeting.  Chairman Steve Samples allowed the attack to go into great length before Commissioner Jerome Moon asked Chairman Samples to stop the attack.  Chairman Moon has gotten pretty good about shutting down personal attacks.  It wasn’t always that way but he has become consistent in stopping such attacks.

It’s times like this when I reflect upon why so few good people want to run for office.  Hit dogs holler the loudest and there was plenty of hollering at me.  However, I will carry on standing for your liberty and working to protect your wallets.  As I always like to conclude my emails, let freedom ring!

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!!!

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.

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.

Mitchell’s Budget Committee nominee Hannum has been habitually delinquent on property taxes

Sharron Hannum has done good things for our community and I commend her for her service.  The Mayor has nominated to her to serve on the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission.  There’s one big problem though; she doesn’t pay her taxes on time.

A call to the Trustee’s office on Wednesday confirmed that Mayor Ed Mitchell’s unelected nominee for the Budget Committee and Purchasing Commission has been habitually delinquent in paying her property taxes.  According to the Trustee’s office, both of Sharon Y. Hannum’s parcels have been delinquent three years in a row.  One parcel was turned over to the Clerk and Master for collection on the delinquent taxes.  That property became delinquent again and remained delinquent, at the time of the call to the Trustee’s office.

The memberships of the Purchasing Commission and the Budget Committee are very important to the financial well being of the people of Blount County.  The people deserve new leadership with the integrity to speak up and make the difficult decisions necessary for the financial well being of all Blount County citizens.

People have repeatedly told me that they are tired of business as usual.  The people deserve to know how the Mayor may be stacking the deck against fixed rate financing, and how our purchasing process is not getting the best deals for the taxpayers.

My calls to Sharron Hannum went unreturned at the time of publication.

Since Hannum will answer to the Mayor, instead of the people, it’s important that the people of Blount County have the opportunity to weigh in on the subject now.  The commission must approve or reject her nominations.  Any of the three great ladies, that the voters elected to serve on the commission, will do a fine job serving on the Budget Committee and/or the Purchasing Commission.  The three ladies have already proven they are the most fiscally conservative commissioners.

Question for you, the taxpayers:  Do you think that someone who is habitually delinquent on their taxes should be in a position of power to make decisions affecting your tax rate and how your tax money is spent?

Commissioner Last name Phone Email District
Archie Archer 336-1999 aarcher@blounttn.org 1
Sean Carter 405-5113 scarter@blounttn.org 1
Mike Akard 982-6369 makard@blounttn.org 2
Mike Lewis 984-0413 mlewis@blounttn.org 2
Steve Samples 984-6238 ssamples@blounttn.org 3
Mike Caylor 323-3143 mcaylor@blounttn.org 3
Gary Farmer 983-4778 gfamer@blounttn.org 4
Karen Miller 233-5185 kmiller@blounttn.org 4
Jerome Moon 984-3304 jmoon@blounttn.org 4
Jeff Headrick 982-3233 jheadrick@blounttn.org 5
Rick Carver 984-6774 rcarver@blounttn.org 5
Tom Cole 856-4995 tcole@blounttn.org 6
Dodd Crowe 742-6737 dcrowe@blounttn.org 6
Tom Stinnett 207-7207 tstinnett@blounttn.org 7
Tona Monroe 856-0814 tmonroe@blounttn.org 7
Brad Bowers 659-7711 bbowers@blounttn.org 8
Grady Caskey 368-4300 gcaskey@blounttn.org 8
Ron French 577-8393 rfrench@blounttn.org 9
Andy Allen 382-2528 aallen@blounttn.org 9
Jamie Daly 977–9822 jdaly@blounttn.org 10
Kenneth Melton 981-2683 kmelton@blounttn.org 10

 

Richard Hutchens thanks Joe and Linda King for service to the community

Linda and Joe King have decided to end Citizens for Blount County’s Future after 13 years of dedicated service to the taxpayers of Blount County.  Richard Hutchen’s email to them is below.

Joe and Linda,

First let me say that I consider it a true honor to have known you and worked side by side with you these past 6 six years.  Both of you have my deepest respect for your example and commitment to lead the way for fellow Blount County Patriots to join with your leadership in trying to bring accountability to our local government.  I am convinced that God called both of you 13 years ago to this work and now the time has come for Him to release you from this calling.

I truly believe the words of Paul have application to your Divine release.   “I have fought a good fight.  I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

I am convinced that no one else in Blount County could have done what you have done these past 13 years.  Thomas Jefferson perhaps said it best,  “The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance.” You should feel good about finishing your calling on a high note.  With your help along with 50 other active patriots, the “taxpaying citizens” elected 6 county commissioners to represent the taxpayer.

Your work is finished.  Their work is starting.

God will now hold them accountable for their stewardship.

Unfortunately, the “Fallible Nature of Man” is a very hard temptation to resist, and we have already seen early evidences that some among these new commissioners are already weakening on their campaign promises to protect the taxpayers from government excesses, waste and abuse.

I close this e-mail with a charge and two quotes to the six new County Commissioners who were elected by the Taxpayers.  It is a lot easier to be a “small minded, big ego” politician   than it is to be a “large minded, small ego” statesman.

When you decided to run for County Commissioner, “in your heart”, which did you want to be for the citizen taxpayer.  Are your votes reflecting that aspiration?

A quote I heard last month in church and a quote from Thomas Jefferson.  “Going with the flow is what makes rivers and men crooked.”  “Power is not alluring to pure minds.”

Ponder and pray about these ideals so that when you are released,  you can face God at the day of judgment with Paul, Joe and Linda and be able to say,  “I have fought a good fight.  I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”