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May 2016 Commission Report

The rules are made to be broken by the Blount County Commission.  Enforcement of commission rules is selective to advance the agenda of the political machine and cover-up their actions.

Agenda Committee meeting
Federal Inmates/Prisoners – Commission refuses to take a position
After being prohibited by Blount County Corrections Partnership Vice Chairman (BCCP) Rick Carver from putting a recommendation to stop housing federal inmates in the local jail on the BCCP agenda, I took the matter to the commission.  A majority of commissioners didn’t even want to discuss the matter.  Commissioner Andy Allen objected to the consideration of the question, which means that you don’t want to discuss the resolution.  The motion failed because a 2/3rd majority of 14 commissioners is required to pass this motion.

Those voting against discussing the matter include Commissioners Andy Allen, Brad Bowers, Shawn Carter, Rick Carver, Grady Caskey, Mike Caylor, Gary Farmer, Mike Lewis, Jerome Moon, Steve Samples and Tom Stinnett.

Those voting to discuss the matter include Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Tom Cole, Dodd Crowe, Jamie Daly, Ron French, Karen Miller and me (Tona Monroe).

Commissioner Kenneth Melton was absent.  Commission Seat 5A was vacant.

All the commissioners except for Akard, Archer, Daly, Miller and I voted to refer this to the BCCP.  Now that the matter has been sent to the to the BCCP, the Vice Chairman Rick Carver can’t stifle it.  However, this was the place to send the matter to die because the BCCP is heavily stacked with people who work for the Sheriff or who are close to him.

What state law authorizes the Sheriff to sign a contract with the US Marshals Service?
The sheriff has said that he has unilateral authority to enter into an agreement with the US Marshals Service to house federal inmates.  I’ve asked to be given that law.  A basis starting point for all those in government is provide proof of authority to act.

It’s possible that the sheriff has this authority, under state law.  It should be simple to show the public this law.

I’ve asked the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) to provide me with the law that authorizes the sheriff to sign a contract to house federal inmates.  However, they have not provided me with the law or an opinion that is specific to the matter of housing federal inmates.

Special called commission meeting
Chairman Moon called a special meeting to appoint a replacement for Jeff Headrick who resigned his commission seat after being appointed by the commission to office of Highway Superintendent.

There were 3 nominees: Chris Arnette, Ed Cherry and Peggy Lambert.  I nominated Chris Arnette, a lady who is active in the community and who has been attending commission meetings because she is concerned about her community and wants good government.  Peggy Lambert previously was appointed to the commission to replace Bob Ramsey who resigned from his commission seat after winning election to the office of State Representative.

The commission chose Peggy Lambert.

  • Those voting Chris Arnette included Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Jamie Daly and Tona Monroe.
  • Commissioners Grady Caskey and Dodd Crowe for voted for Ed Cherry on the first ballot and Peggy Lambert on the second ballot after Ed Cherry was eliminated for receiving the lowest number of votes.
  • Commissioners Shawn Carter, Tom Cole, Mike Lewis and Karen Miller were absent.
  • The rest voted for Lambert.

Lambert has a history or trying to suppress free speech at commission meetings and threatening to sue those that she disagrees with.  She voted to disband the Ethics Committee.  Her brother and husband serve on the Public Building Authority.  She is part of a well connected political family.  She is perfect for the those referred to the good ole’ boys, although there is rarely anything good that they do.

Commission meeting
Commissioners Tom Cole, Mike Lewis and Karen Miller were absent.

New budget form is already causing problems
A few months ago the commission adopted a new budget amendment form.  I voted against the new form.  You can read more on that matter here.

There are now four boxes: transfer, increase, decrease and adjustment.  Adjustment is a nebulous term that obfuscates what is actually happening with your money.

Commissioner Mike Akard proposed amendments to each of the budget amendments that had the adjustment box checked.  I seconded each of his amendments and voted for each of them because they attempted to clarify the true nature of the budget amendments.  Theses were simply clarifying amendments but apparently the majority of commissioners don’t even want the facts clearly stated in budget amendment resolutions.

Schools back for more money
The schools had two budget requests this month.  The first was a request for an additional $30,000 to cover the cost of fixing light poles at stadiums.  The School Board under budgeted what was needed for the project.

The second was a request to appropriate an additional $80,000 to the capital fund because revenues have come in higher than projected.  I tried to table the $30,000 request, which means postpone it until later in the meeting, so that the $80,000 could be approved and then the $30,000 request could be paid for with the $80,000.  The motion to table failed.  There was no good reason for the School Board to request an additional $30,000 when they were being given $80,000 in new revenue to spend.

In hindsight, I don’t think that tabling the matter was even necessary.  The commission should have approved the $80,000 and sent the $30,000 request back to the school board telling them to take the $30,000 out of the $80,000.  That would have sent a message to the School Board to live within their means but the commission doesn’t exercise much, if any, fiscal discipline either.  Only commissioner Mike Akard and I vote no.

Those of you who live in the 4th and 6th School Board districts should give serious consideration to those races.  The school budget is over half of the annual local budget.  Fiscal conservatives are needed on the School Board.

Courthouse security request
There was a $210,000 budget increase for a courthouse security project.  That was all the description said.  See pages 18-19.  No one in the county government offered any explanation for how this money will actually be used.  Furthermore, this amount will almost double the current budget for courthouse and jail maintenance and is more than the recommended budget for the entire upcoming year.  See page 120.

I didn’t know that the courthouse parking lot was being renovated until someone told me about it after reading it in the paper.  It is alarming how little commissioners are actually told about plans for projects in county government.

Cover-up and tyranny continue
Those who comprise the political machine of Blount County have gone to great lengths to suppress debate and freedom of speech surrounding the local jail and criminal justice system.  Actions this month piled higher and deeper on the problem.

I’ve written in the past about my attempts to amend the BCCP minutes, how those amendments failed and how the commission secretary failed to record those amendments in the minutes.  This month I was prohibited from even fully stating my amendment to minutes of the April 18, 2016 called commission meeting.

Chairman Jerome Moon cut me off and declared my amendment out of order before I could even finish stating my amendment.  One could ask how he could have possibly known that the amendment was out of order when I wasn’t even allowed to fully statement the entire amendment.

The amendment was an attempt to document that the chairman cut citizens off and the commission prohibited me from speaking about the jail study in reference to expanding the jail.  It is not out of order for citizens and commissioners to cite sources that support their positions.  Why is the political machine working so hard to stifle discussion on the jail study?

The meetings have become more tyrannical with time.  The tyranny has gone from the amendments being excluded from the minutes of a meeting to not even being able to state the amendment.

I challenged the rule of the Chair.  The clique voted to uphold Moon’s ruling without even hearing the entire amendment.  I then invoked Rule 5 asking to read the proposed amendment as a statement rather than an amendment.  The commission voted against allowing me to offer the statement.

Think about that for a moment.  The commission has now upheld a commissioner not even being able to state an amendment to the minutes.  Freedom of speech of the citizens and the power of each commissioner to be heard and act on issues should be sacred but they have been squashed by the Blount County Commission.

Gary Farmer waves finger in Chairman Moon’s face
During discussion Jerome Moon interrupted commissioners Dodd Crowe and Gary Farmer telling them they were off topic but he let both of them continue.  Favoritism is shown.  They were allowed to continue speaking, but I was not.

Gary Farmer shook his finger in Chairman Jerome Moon’s face and told him that he could continue speaking.  Moon backed down and Farmer spoke as he wanted to.  I have no desire to shake my finger in Moon’s face but I wonder if I could have continued speaking if I had.

I didn’t object to Crowe or Farmer speaking because neither were actually off topic.  Both were making their cases as to why a resolution wasn’t good for Blount County.  I disagree with them but they have been given the power to be heard and to take action on matters.

This is a dangerous place to be.  Commissioners discussing why something is or isn’t a good idea should be able to speak without interruption.  Some commissioners selectively chose to interrupt commissioners like me because they know that the commission will uphold the ruling of the chair, while allowing Dodd Crowe and Gary Farmer to speak at great length and discuss what they want .

Up next
The annual budget.  Hang onto your wallets.

Regarding the budget, here is a question to ponder: Should government “servants” make 2, 3 and 4 times what the taxpayers make?

Happy Memorial Day!

More jail info

March 3, 2016 TCI re-inspection report for Blount County Adult Detention Facility  This was given to me with a cover letter dated February 12, 2016, even though the re-inspection was March 3rd.

Consultant service costs to renegotiate federal inmates/prisoner per diem rate

CTAS jail staffing analysis by Jim Hart

Federal inmate contract with US Marshals Service

Previous jail information is available here.

Evaluating the 2016 Tennessee Republican Party convention delegates – Part 3: At-large delegation

Boss Haynes photo: Getty Images

Boss Haynes  (photo: Getty Images)

By Horatio Bunce

 

This post is Part 3 in a series of posts evaluating the 2016 Tennessee Republican Party convention delegate slate produced after closed-door meeting and vote by the party executive committee. The state GOP has a convention delegation consisting of 58 members. There are also Alternates in addition to the 58 Delegates. The party leadership selects 17 of the 58 delegates. Three of these 17 are the existing state party chair, the RNC committeeman and the RNC committeewoman. The other 14 are selected by the state party leadership. This represents 29% of the total state delegation being selected by the established party leadership – not the Republican primary voters (or as RNC committeeman Curly Haughland refers to them: “the general public”). Getting to select where 29% of the delegation fits is a pretty good head start, wouldn’t you agree?

 

Since the delegate slate is disputed behind closed doors and you are only presented with a “final slate”, this requires an autopsy to determine just whom the party leadership chose as their 14. The party peppers the ballot both with at-large and congressional district delegates committed to various candidates. Some of these are incumbents that will carry name recognition, others are state executive committee members that apparently are not satisfied with choosing themselves in the 14 and also appear on the ballot. Covering enough of the candidates with party loyalists ensures an additional level of control post-election that can extend beyond 29%. Part 1 of this series identified a number of people on the delegate slate who did not appear on any Republican primary ballot. These obviously seem to have been selected by the party leadership and represent a total of 8 Delegates and 4 Alternates. Not only did party leadership choose these people (many among themselves), they also can dictate which candidate they “support”. Three of the 8 delegates are Haynes, Lambert and Ryder as expected automatically in, but still controlling which candidate they “support” (Cruz, Trump and Trump).

 

Part 2 of the series identified a number of people on the delegate slate who actually were on a Republican primary ballot and had declared themselves as “committed” to a candidate (or uncommitted in one case), and were subsequently rejected by primary voters, but now are listed as a delegate for a different candidate. These also obviously seem to have been selected by the party leadership and represent an additional total of 4 Delegates and 9 Alternates. Now at a total of 12 Delegates and 13 Alternates chosen by party leadership with their “support” dictated/changed as necessary. Why is this declared “support” important? After the elections only certain candidates are eligible for delegates. If you want certain people, who backed a loser the voting public wanted nothing to do with, to go to the convention…well, PRESTO! just change them into a delegate “committed” to the winner. More of these selections can be weighted to the winner of the primary, so if the establishment candidate “won” you have a commanding lead with hand-picked loyalists. If the establishment “lost” (see Single Digit Jeb, Rubio, et al) then you can poison the well of the not-supposed-to-win delegation with the same loyalists and displace delegates that supported that candidate. It’s a win-win scenario – for the established.

 

So there are at least five more Delegates and one Alternate owed to the party’s prerogative. This post will examine the At-large voting results to identify some more. The At-large delegates appeared on every Republican primary ballot in Tennessee. You could select any 14 of them, mixing and matching between “committed” candidates if you chose. Thus, the voting for the at-large delegates are a pretty good reflection of the statewide will of the primary voters. You would naturally expect the top 14 delegates in the at-large voting results to appear on the delegation slate. When are you going to learn Charlie Brown? Here are the at-large voting results presented in order by votes received and indicating the status of those top 14, along with some additional names highlighted that are part of the delegate slate that cannot be there except by choice from party leadership, because the voters did not choose them:

 

 

 

You will notice three of the top 14 did not make the slate as Delegates, only Alternates. In the case of #13 Rep. Shiela Butt, this is possibly understandable as there are no other committed Cruz at-large Delegates with less votes, only additional Alternates. However, in the case of Sen. Stacey Campfield and Martha Ruth Brown, both finished in the top 14, are not in the state party’s slate as Delegates, yet others found well down in the voting made the slate as Delegates for Trump (see #41 Sen. Bill Ketron and #60 Kay White). This, despite both Campfield and Martha Ruth Brown individually acquiring more votes than Bill Ketron and Kay White combined. Incumbent Ketron leapfrogged seven other Trump supporters that received more votes than he did. White jumped past 10 others. These are apparent party selections for delegates, bringing the total identified to 14. You will also note highlighted in red #59 Kelsey Ketron, party SEC member and daughter of incumbent Sen. Bill Ketron. She also appears to have been chosen by the party as there were many Trump supporters receiving more votes that could have been chosen as Alternates (or arguably were chosen by voters). This brings the party-selected Alternate count identified to 14. Also highlighted in red are #86 Rep. Gerald McCormick as a Rubio Delegate, #106 Nathan Buttrey, formerly “committed” to Single Digit Jeb, now as a Rubio Alternate and #116 Rob Ailey, formerly “committed” to Huckabee, now as a Trump Alternate. These are obviously party selected, but the last two were counted in Part 2 as changing candidates. Thus, as all the other Delegates and Aternates allowed to switch candidates, they are double-dippers. They provided noise in the at-large ballot, displacing delegates that may have actually been “committed” to Jeb or Huckabee and now displacing delegates that actually still are committed to Rubio and Trump. Now the score is 15 Delegates and 14 Alternates. Perhaps you could argue all four of the Rubio Delegates chosen from the at-large results are party-selected as no Rubio delegate finished in the top 25. Perhaps the explanation is that these are awarded proportionally also. However the at-large delegate award is Trump 9, Cruz 4 and Rubio 4. Maybe it’s Common Core Math. At the most, there are two Delegates to go. In Part IV, I will attempt to identify any additional party-selected delegates appearing on the slate from the Congressional Delegates.

 

Evaluating the 2016 Tennessee Republican Party convention delegates – Part 2: Hey, weren’t you with that other guy?

Boss Haynes (photo: Getty Images)

Boss Haynes photo: Getty Images

by Horatio Bunce

“And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.

One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?

Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.” John 18:25-27

This is Part 2 in a series of posts evaluating the 2016 Tennessee Republican Party delegate slate approved by the TNGOPe (“e” =  establishment). Part 1 detailed the many delegates and alternates appointed by the establishment themselves that appeared on no ballots you had access to. Thus, this portion of the convention vote is contrived by party leaders – not you the voters. However, this is just part of the shenanigans pulled by Boss Tweed Haynes and the GOPe. If you are watching the “news”, the GOPe ridiculed the Trump campaign claiming “they should know the rules better” when confronted with their absolute disregard of the Republican primary voters and replacing their votes (or not allowing a vote at all) with delegate slates totally manufactured by the entrenched party elite (see Colorado and Wyoming for example). However, it seems to be lost on the GOPe that when ridiculing the Trump campaign, they are simultaneously mocking YOU, the voter who thinks your primary vote actually counts. For some reason you have this silly idea in your head that when you and your neighbors voted for 14 state-wide, at-large delegates, that the 14 receiving the most votes would go to the convention, and when you and your neighbors voted for 3 congressional district delegates that the 3 receiving the most votes in each district (9 districts * 3 = 27) would go to the convention, but awarded proportionally – and that these 41 delegates would support the candidate they were listed as “committed” to. Boy, were you ever wrong.

In this post I list the delegates selected in the Boss Haynes TNGOPe slate that actually switched candidates from those they listed themselves as committed to on your ballot. That’s right. On your ballot some delegates were “committed” to certain candidates that you did not support (and therefore did not vote for them), but now have managed to find their way onto the TNGOPe delegate slate – now allegedly supporting a different candidate, and more importantly, DISPLACING DELEGATES THAT YOU ACTUALLY DID VOTE FOR. This slate of delegates was manufactured by the party behind closed doors and is not a representation of your voting. This slate had to be approved by the TNGOP state executive committee. Not all state executive committee members voted with Haynes approving this slate. Those will be named also. Republican party rules also called for the candidates receiving delegates to be consulted and approve the list of delegates allocated to them by the party. You can be the judge if that actually happened

You can find a sample ballot for the 2016 Republican presidential primary for Blount County here.

You can find the “unofficial” voting results here

You can find the Tennessee Republican party approved slate of delegates going to the 2016 national convention here.

Below you will find a marked-up version of the delegate slate with boxes and arrows indicating what I call “irregularities”, such as people who were not on the ballot at all, people who now are delegates representing a different candidate than they did on the ballot, or people who now are delegates that should not be if the will of the primary voters were recognized.

The following are now listed as delegates or alternates by the TNGOP who were “committed” to someone else on the ballot.

Delegate Name        Committed to on ballot              Now representing           Position

Paul Chapman                        Single Digit Jeb                      Ted Cruz              Delegate

Sara Sellers                             Marco Rubio                       Ted Cruz              Delegate

Karen Brown                          Carly Fiorina                          Ted Cruz              Alternate

Julia Hurley                            Single Digit Jeb                     Ted Cruz              Alternate

Lora Jobe                                John Kasich                         Ted Cruz              Alternate

Jennifer Winfree                    Marco Rubio                           Ted Cruz              Alternate

Nathan Buttrey                     Single Digit Jeb                       Marco Rubio         Alternate

Linda Buckles                        Ben Carson                            Donald Trump      Delegate

Melissa Gay                           Marco Rubio                          Donald Trump      Delegate

Rob Ailey                                Mike Huckabee                     Donald Trump      Alternate

Tina Benkiser                         Ted Cruz                               Donald Trump      Alternate

Ted Hatfield                           Uncommitted                        Donald Trump      Alternate

Susan Richardson Williams   Single Digit Jeb                         Donald Trump       Alternate

Analysis:

According to TNGOP rules (at least at time of primary) there were three candidates that should receive delegates in a “winner take most” fashion: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Well, here are 13 delegates/alternates that didn’t receive the necessary votes from their neighbors (that they ask to pay for their private club elections) to legitimately be chosen ahead of those you actually did vote for. Instead, the TNGOPe TRASHED YOUR VOTES for actual delegates committed to your candidate and substituted these shills.

Notice a pattern?  Of the 13 imposter delegate/alternates, six of them or 46% replaced Ted Cruz committed delegates on your ballot that actually received votes. Another six of them or 46% replaced Donald Trump delegates on your ballot that actually received votes. Only one displaced an actual committed Marco Rubio delegate.

Four of the 13 (31%) were Single Digit Jeb supporters on your ballot.

Jennifer Winfree was committed to Marco Rubio on the ballot. Couldn’t she displace an actual Marco Rubio delegate (that received more votes than her) instead of stealing from Ted Cruz?

Tina Benkiser was committed to Ted Cruz on the ballot. Couldn’t she displace an actual Ted Cruz delegate (that received more votes than her) instead of stealing from Donald Trump?

12 of the 58 delegates and 13 of the 55 alternates now shown as selected by the TNGOPe, not the voters – 21-24% of the vote already fixed – with people either not on the ballot at all or who are now deceiving by allegedly changing their “commitment”.

Finally, this is not new. Remember the excuses you were told when Rick Santorum “won” with no committed delegates on the ballot in 2012. Tennessee’s delegates to the Republican convention delivered a 100% unanimous vote for Mitt Romney, when over 70% of you did not vote for him. Do you still believe the line that the GOPe losers keep getting unanimous delegate votes because of “open” primaries?

In Part 3, we will look at even further denial of the will of the voters where certain party insiders displaced committed delegates who received more votes.

STANDING GUARD OR STANDING DOWN?

http://www.newswithviews.com/Vieira/edwin284.htm

“Misinterpretations of the Constitution with such an undercurrent of animosity towards the Militia could be expected to be broadcast by a certain “poverty” law center, notorious for its rabid opposition to the Second Amendment. Why they keep emanating from the NRA, however, passes understanding. Perhaps it really is true that whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. Unfortunately, if allowed to fester much longer this particular madness will destroy, not only the NRA, but the rest of us as well.”

April 2016 Commission Report

If you demand better government you will get better government.  Blount County Commissioner Tona Monroe

Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP)
BCCP Chairman Jeff Headrick missed the March and April BCCP meetings.  Vice Chairman Rick Carver filled in.  Carver showed that he has little or no respect for our constitutional participatory process*.  Citizens have shared with me the horrible faces that he makes when they are speaking and when I am speaking.  Apparently he can’t hide his contempt for the people he is suppose to be representing.

Last month BCCP Vice Chairman Rick Carver asked the BCCP whether we should ram through a request for qualifications (RFQ) to expand the jail.  This matter wasn’t on the agenda.  Another meeting was called to place the item on the BCCP agenda, to ensure that the rush to vote on seeking an RFQ to expand the jail and look at program services would be legal.  What does that say about some local government employees and officials that they would want to ram through something this important without giving the public time to comment?

This wasn’t Carver’s only legally questionable move related to the BCCP.  He also prohibited me from adding an item to the BCCP agenda.  At the end of the March BCCP meeting I requested that discussion and possible action to make a recommendation about housing federal inmates be placed on the agenda.  Rick Carver said he would not allow it to be placed on the agenda.  I asked him if he had authority to stop me from placing an item on the agenda.  He said that he didn’t know.

After the meeting I (Tona Monroe) told Rick Carver that he couldn’t do what he had just done.  He told me to add it to the agenda.  I called Rhonda Pitts, the Commission Secretary, and shared that Rick Carver told me to add it to the agenda.

The agenda was released without the item that I requested.  Neither Pitts or Carver have the integrity to answer who told Pitts to exclude the item from the agenda.  However, records that I have obtained indicate that Rick Carver was making decisions related to the BCCP, in the absence of Jeff Headrick.  Pitts has also failed to properly record the motions that I make into the BCCP meeting minutes.

Historically, no commissioner has ever been prohibiting from adding items to the agenda, that I am aware of.  The commission is free to reject the item and even remove it from the agenda if they choose not to discuss it.  However, prohibiting a commissioner from adding something to the agenda is unprecedented and it trashes the fiduciary responsibility and sacred trust that elected officials have been given.

If it seems trite to talk about this scared trust, it is because people like Rick Carver have thrown our system of governance into the trash bin of antiquity, preferring a oligarchy to our constitutional republic.  No commissioner should be allowed to dictate what can and can not be placed on a meeting agenda.  Why have a committee if one person, acting as chair, can bottleneck and determine the entire agenda?  Committees are suppose to discuss ideas not stifle them.

Defining moment – dangerous precedent
This is a defining moment in Blount County government.  If Rick Carver is allowed to get away with his actions, then the machine will never again have to allow commissioners to place items on the agenda that they don’t approve of.

I am doing what I can to stop this deplorable action from happening again but I can’t do it alone.  It is time for you to step up and demand that this stop.  If you demand better government, you will get better government.

Rick Carver’s phone number is 984-6674 and his email address is rcarver@blounttn.org.  Commission Secretary Rhonda Pitt’s can be reached at 273-5830 and her email is rpitts@blounttn.org.  County Clerk Margaret Flynn, Rhonda’s supervisor, can be reached at 273-5804 and her email is maflynn@blounttn.org.

The RFQ was approved with only me voting no.  This should come as no surprise.  Of the 5 voting members present, 2 are employees of the Sheriff (Jeff French and John Adams), one was finically supported by the Sheriff during his campaign (Rick Carver) and the other sits on a board with the Sheriff (Mike Caylor).

I made a motion to amend the RFQ recommendation it to program services and not expansion of the jail.  Mike Caylor embarrassed himself by speaking out of order by saying that he wouldn’t accept my amendment to his motion, rather than allowing the process to work.

There was further embarrassment when clarification had to be sought from the Purchasing Agent, Katie Branham, as to whether the recommendation needed to be sent to the commission.  The Purchasing Agent said that under the Purchasing Act of 1957, which the county operates under, the BCCP could recommend that she issue the RFQ without commission approval.

It is no wonder that the Purchasing Agent was overheard saying, they don’t know what they are doing.  She is correct.  Rick Carver and Mike Caylor don’t know what they are doing.  They do what they are told and many times they can’t even do what they are told correctly.

No solution Mike Caylor asked the Finance Director, Randy Vineyard, what he thought about the procedure for handling the RFQ process.  The Finance Director, who is usually quite happy to run things while the mayor is out to lunch or cutting a ribbon, told Caylor you’ve heard the same things that I heard.  Caylor said, I just wanted to hear you (Vineyard) say it and laughed.  Once again no solution Caylor was showing that he doesn’t want to do the thinking and is just there as a rubber stamp for the machine.

Agenda Committee
Favoritism shown
Toward the end of each meeting there is a section on the agenda for statements and announcements from commissioners.  The Agenda Committee Chairman Steve Samples frequently skips over the section.  I had my light on to speak and he skipped me and went straight to public input for items on the agenda.

Rather than letting me make my statement in my commission seat, where commissioners normally make their statements, Jerome Moon insisted that I go to the podium and speak which I did.  However, Samples let commissioner Ron French speak from his seat.  Moon did not insist that French go to the podium and speak.  Samples apologized to me after the meeting but he let Moon have his way.

Called Commission meeting
The commission approved the RFQ to look at costs to expand the jail and/or programs.  I made the motion to remove jail expansion and just focus on programs.  My amendment failed with Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Tom Cole, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and me voting for it.  These are the same 6 who voted against the RFQ.

The paper reported the final vote wrong.  Jerome Moon did not abstain and Gary Farmer left before the final vote.  Jeff Headrick was absent at the start of the meeting but came in late and voted yes.  Headrick and Carver are the two sponsors of the resolution.

What Jerome Moon abstained on was my challenge to his ruling as Chair.  No solution Mike Caylor who wanted to hear from the Finance Director, who had nothing to say, declared a point of order saying that I was out of order because I was referring to the Institute for Law and Policy Planning report which discussed why we didn’t need to build.  It is not out of order for a commissioner to talk about why we shouldn’t be doing something before the body (commission) and reference resources that support that position.  However, Jerome Moon declared me out of order and the commission voted to shut my discussion on the matter down by upholding Moon’s ruling.

I wasn’t the only one shut down when referencing the jail study.  Moon shut citizens down who spoke about the study.  He also told commissioner Tom Cole that he could be sued if he didn’t vote for the RFQ.

What has Blount County government become?
Think about what Blount County government has become and decide if it is serving you well.  If not, you shouldn’t put up with this and should demand better from those who are suppose to be your public servants.

  • The Blount County Adult Detention Facility (jail) is overcrowded, exceeding its certified capacity of 350 beds.
  • The sheriff and US Marshal’s service willfully contribute to the crowding problem by agreeing to house federal inmates in the jail.
  • The taxpayers funded a $94,580 study to address jail overcrowding.
  • The study is a criminal justice system assessment and not just a plan to expand the jail.
  • Several of the powers that be were upset with the findings, conclusions and recommendations.
  • The BCCP recommended that the commission conduct a teleconference hearing with the jail consultant.
  • The Mayor threatened to sue the consultant to stop discussion on the study.
  • The county paid $3,710 in legal fees to the mayor’s attorney.
  • There was no lawsuit and the commission still rejected hearing from the consultant.
  • The study said that the county is losing money housing federal prisoners and that the only way to make it seem like money is being made is to understaff and overcrowd the jail.
  • I requested that the issue of housing federal prisoners be added to the BCCP agenda.  It took 7 months for this to happen.
  • After some discussion with figures showing that the county isn’t making money on federal inmates, the BCCP Chairman Jeff Headrick cut discussion off and moved to the next item before I could make a motion to recommend that we stop taking federal inmates.
  • The Finance Director and Sheriff Office cut the revenue projections for housing federal prisoners.
  • More revenue accumulated than projected.
  • The Finance Director, Mayor and Sheriff secretly planned to use this accumulated revenue to build.
  • The Purchasing Agent chose a company charging 3.5 times more than the lowest offer to renegotiate the federal inmate per diem daily rate.
  • The county was obligated to pay the $65,000 consultant fee but the commission wasn’t presented with a budget amendment until after services were rendered.
  • I tried to place the federal prisoners issue back on the BCCP agenda, to make a recommendation but Vice Chairman Rick Carver stopped it from being placed on the agenda.
  • Commission Secretary Rhonda Pitts has refused to record the words of my amendments in the meeting minutes.
  • Mike Caylor declared a point of order prohibiting me from speaking about why we didn’t need to build.
  • Jerome Moon ruled that I was out of order and commission upheld that a commissioner can’t talk about why we shouldn’t build, when being presented with resolution seeking approval of an RFQ to build.
  • The sheriff told the paper in December that he hasn’t asked the commission for a new jail.
  • The sheriff still hasn’t asked the commission for a new jail or expansion.

Why are we doing this?

Commission meeting – a spending spree
Mike Caylor was absent.

The majority of commissioners showed again that they have no fiscal discipline and that they are happy to accommodate government anytime it wants to go on a spending binge.

The schools were back for more budget increases despite being given a huge increase in local revenue this year and already receiving another large budget increase a few months back.  I have never received the information that I requested regarding new hires and part time jobs being made full time this fiscal year.  Only commissioner Karen Miller and I voted against giving the schools another big increase.

The commission was presented with a lease for laptops for the Sheriff’s Office.  There were numerous problems with this lease.  Neither the Purchasing Agent or the new $100+ hourly Mindboard IT consultant could answer questions about the agreements that they negotiate.  I asked why the paperwork listed a 4 year warranty for a 3 year lease.  The $100+ hourly IT consultant did say what was already obvious, that this 3 lease is just a way to go and get new laptops again in 3 years, rather than using the laptops for the life of the equipment.  During the meeting commissioner Mike Akard was able to find a lower price for the same model laptops from the same vendor.  Why we need someone making over $100 a hour involved in a laptop lease is beyond me.

The most potentially dangerous item approved by the commission is a lease agreement for county employees to lease new cars for 5 years.  The Sheriff’s Office and Blount County Schools are excluded.  The rest will be able to get new cars if they can find the money in their budgets.  With all the transfers taking place, it won’t surprise me to see several people with new cars soon.

Besides the obvious opening the door to get new cars, this matter was not presented in a business like manner to the commission.  The commission should have been given an expense sheet documenting the cost of purchasing and maintaining cars for at least the last 3 budget years, preferably more.  We should have been given a list of market options, beyond leasing new cars.  There are software programs that handle fleet management but nothing like this was presented, even though the lease agreement was sold to the budget committee as a way to solve our lack of having a fleet management system.  All the market options should have been presented to us so that we could determine what the best option was.  We were given none of this.  While the laptops were a bad deal for the taxpayers and few cars will quickly cost more than the laptops.  Only myself and commissioner Karen Miller voted no on this poorly thought out way to manage county vehicles.

The annual litter grant, with language about an Environmental Court being envisioned, was back.  Last year I pointed this matter out and put forth an amendment to ensure that no funds would be used for this purpose.  That amendment failed and it failed again this year.  If there is no agenda or desire for an Environmental Court, why does this statement keep getting submitted to the state?

Information Technology (IT) Steering Committee meeting canceled
The IT Committee meeting was canceled.  No explanation was given for the cancelation.  Mike Cain, Assistant IT Director and custodian of the IT Committee minutes, has not responded to my email inquiring why the meeting was canceled.  This is bad for the taxpayers of Blount County because it reduces oversight on major, expensive IT projects.

IT costs have soared the past couple of years.  The IT Committee should be meeting regularly to ensure good fiscal stewardship of the large sums of taxpayer monies that have been allocated to IT projects.  However, the opposite is occurring.

The IT Committee is only scheduled to meet 4 times a year and this meeting was canceled.  With no meeting on the near horizon and an Assistant IT Director who won’t respond to emails, it makes it difficult for me to ensure that taxpayer money is being spent wisely.  I never had a problem getting a timely response from the former IT Director John Herron.

Unfortunately this is business as usual.  The Mayor and his staff willfully leave those who might question their decisions in the dark.  Canceling a meeting, when we should be discussing how the $1.3 million IT fund is being spent is the latest way to avoid accountability.

Up next
The commission will chose a replacement for Jeff Headrick, who was appointed by the commission to the office of Highway Superintendent, to serve until the next election.

Call to action – Please get involved in your government
As I stated above, if you demand better government you will get better government.  Make phone calls, send emails, write letters to the editor and attend commission meetings.  Local government is right here.  You don’t have to drive to Nashville or Washington DC to be heard.  If you don’t show up, you will have to pay up, because your taxes will keep going up to pay for all the poor decisions being made right in your back yard.  This is your government.  Take charge of it.  Let freedom ring!

 

*Constitutional participatory process: this is commonly called the democratic process.

Commission Chairman Jerome Moon spoke to commissioner about being sued over jail ahead of vote

Mayor Ed Mitchell called a commission meeting to approve authorizing the Purchasing Agent to solicit a request for qualifications (RFQ) to expand the jail and/or programs.  During public input, Marilyn Willocks said that she had heard that Blount County Commission Chairman Jerome Moon had been telling commissioners that they could be sued if they didn’t vote to authorize the RFQ.  Moon interrupted the speaker, saying “I have not told” and then stops speaking.  Ms. Willocks continues on saying, “Well this is what I hear out in the public.”  Moon didn’t say anything further on the matter during the meeting.  What is it that he did not tell?

After the meeting, Mary Cook asked Jerome Moon why he had told her son-in-law, commissioner Tom Cole, that he would be sued if he didn’t vote for the RFQ.  This sort of intimidation tactic seems to works on people who have no desire to find or listen to solutions, like commissioner Mike Caylor.

Moon’s tactic sounds more like a threat than the truth.  It was Tennessee Corrections Institute bureaucrats bully Bob Bass and William R. Kane, who continues to make false statements in the “note” section of his inspection reports, who read the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) the riot act, not federal officials.  Although, the US Marshal’s Service should be taking notice because they are willfully housing inmates in the Blount County Adult Detention Facility.

The commission voted 12-6 for the RFQ.  This is to be expected when Rick Carver is allowed to act as a dictator prohibiting a commissioner from adding something to the BCCP agenda that would actually reduce overcrowding in the jail.  Ms. Willocks said commissioners plural.  Did Jerome Moon talk to other commissioners before the vote?  What are Rick Carver and Jerome Moon so afraid of that they do their dirty deeds in secret?

Commissioner Mike Caylor keeps embarrassing himself

MrPotatoHead-Vector-Gradient

One is Mr. Potato Head, the other is Mike Caylor. You decide which one is which.

Mike Caylor was recently appointed to the Budget Committee.  Caylor wasn’t the Mayor’s first choice, or second, or third or even Special Ed Mitchell’s fourth choice for the Budget Committee.  Commissioners Kenneth Melton, Steve Samples and Tom Cole have all resigned from the Budget Committee.  Archie Archer turned down a seat on the Budget Committee.  Caylor was pretty far down on the Mayor’s list but going to a 5th string bench produced a yes man.

Caylor is a City of Maryville Fire Department employee.  Caylor has been chosen by the commission to serve on a board that contains city and county members.  It raises the question of whether he is representing the city or the county in this position.  Couldn’t the county find someone who isn’t a city employee to fill this role?

He embarrassed himself in 2013 when he read a letter from the Mayor’s Attorney, Craig Garrett, attacking Jim Folts for posting something on his website that had been readily available on the county’s website for over 2 years.  Jim Folts set the record straight on that.

He’s probably never been as brazen as he was when he said that he’d broken a commission rule and said that he would do it again.  His latest pattern of behavior is to interrupt me and declare a point of order when I question the supposed need to expand the jail.

He is the only commissioner to serve on the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) since its inception.  He openly admits that he doesn’t know what to do to address the jail overcrowding.  He should be embarrassed to admit that since the county paid for a report that offered solutions.

He says that we’ve talked this to death.  However, the Blount County Corrections Partnership only met 4 times in 2015 and Caylor voted against even hearing from the jail consultant that was paid to do a criminal justice system assessment.  When was this talked to death when the consultant never got to present his final report?

At the April 7, BCCP meeting Caylor said that we need to recommend that the commission approve a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to buy some time.  Really?  Buy some time for what: the hope that he will come up with a solution?  He’s already said he doesn’t have a solution and he voted against talking to the jail consultant about the Institute for Law and Policy Planning report which proposes solutions.

He wasn’t even sure how to properly make that recommendation.  The Purchasing Agent was overheard saying, “they don’t know what they’re doing” after responding to questions about how to handle the RFQ.

The jail is a volatile situation.  As a firefighter, Mike Caylor should know better than to play with matches.  If he spent as much time seeking solutions to address this problem as it appears that he has been spending reading this website, while at his cushy job, he would have some solutions.

Buying time isn’t a solution.  If he doesn’t have any solutions, he should resign from the BCCP and stop working to silence those who are trying to propose solutions.

Purchasing Agent & Director of General Services chose $65K consultant over $18.5K option

Last year the Blount County Sheriff’s Office chose to follow the advice given in the Institute for Law and Policy Planning Criminal Justice System Assessment Report (jail study) to hire a consultant to renegotiate the federal inmate per diem rate.  The jail study said that the county was losing money housing federal prisoners and that the only way to make money was to crowd the jail and understaff it, which is what is currently happening.

The federal government is complicit with this practice because the US Marshal’s Service contracts with the Blount County Adult Detention Facility to house its pretrial inmates in the local jail, knowing that the jail doesn’t have enough beds.  The State of Tennessee is complicit with it because it allows the Sheriff to unilaterally contract to house inmates in a facility that lacks adequate bed space to keep these inmates and also fails to move state sentenced inmates to state penitentiaries, leaving them in local jails.

The county received $58.50 a day, per diem to house federal inmates and a transportation rate of $14 an hour.  $14 an hour does not cover the hourly costs of corrections officers.  While we’ve been told in the past that the county makes money housing inmates and the rhetoric changed to offsetting fixed expenditures, the county clearly wasn’t being adequately compensated because the rate increased to $75 a day.

The company selected by the Purchasing Agent at that time, Teresa Johnson, and approved by Director of General Services Don Stallions charged a consultation fee of $65,000.  The Summerhill Group LLC offered to be paid this amount only if they were successful at receiving a rate increase.  See page 5 for complete details.

Being paid based upon success seems reasonable, except that another company offered to do similar work for $18,500.  Moseley Architects required payment as services were rendered and said that the exact price would be determined after a meeting to finalize exactly what the county wanted.

The Blount County Commission and the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) were not told about the Sheriff’s Office seeking a consultant to renegotiate the per diem and travel rates.  While the purchasing process is open to the public, many people don’t get the paper and most who do, don’t pay attention to the public notices for RFPs.

Why choose a company that costs 3.5 times more?
I have to wonder if the more expensive company was chosen to avoid commission scrutiny since the Sheriff’s Office would have needed commission approval to spend the money upfront, rather than promising to pay after the rate negotiations.  As such the commission was presented with a $65,000 bill after the work had already been done.  The budget increase request was rubber stamped by the commission.

Take a look at the strange way the financial transactions concerning the funding for this matter were handled.  First there was a transfer within the Sheriff’s Office that is marked information only (see page 20).  Then there is an increase to the Sheriff’s Office to put the $65,000 back into the account that it was transferred out of (see attendants on page 19).  Notice that the Sheriff did not date his budget amendment requests when he signed them.  This looks like shuffling of money to avoid asking the commission for a budget increase until the Sheriff got what he wanted.

While the $18,500 proposal wasn’t set in stone, most reasonable people would have chosen Mosley, even if the actual cost had been slightly higher than the proposed cost.  Instead local department heads went with a company that proposed charging 3.5 times the lowest offer.

Chalk this up to the same people involved in a pile of scandals and political obstructionism surrounding the jail.  Some of those scandals include the cover-up of the jail study, the phony threat to sue the jail consultant, the million dollars jail expansion earmark done in secret with a plan for another million and the conflicts of interest, dysfunction and recent dictatorship of the BCCP.  This is just the latest to be uncovered.

.01% growth but we’re suppose to believe the economy has recovered

What Did Fed Chairman Yellen Tell Obama?

by Ron Paul

This week, President Obama and Vice President Biden held a hastily arranged secret meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. According to the one paragraph statement released by the White House following the meeting, Yellen, Obama, and Biden simply “exchanged notes” about the economy and the progress of financial reform. Because the meeting was held behind closed doors, the American people have no way of knowing what else the three might have discussed.

Yellen’s secret meeting at the White House followed an emergency secret Federal Reserve Board meeting. The Fed then held another secret meeting to discuss bank reform. These secret meetings come on the heels of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s estimate that first quarter GDP growth was .01 percent, dangerously close to the official definition of recession.

Thus the real reason for all these secret meetings could be a panic that the Fed’s eight year explosion of money creation has not just failed to revive the economy, but is about to cause another major market meltdown.

Establishment politicians and economists find the Fed’s failures puzzling. According to the Keynesian paradigm that still dominates the thinking of most policymakers, the Fed’s money creation should have produced such robust growth that today the Fed would be raising interest rates to prevent the economy from “overheating.”

The Fed’s response to its failures is to find new ways to pump money into the economy. Hence the Fed is actually considering implementing “negative interest rates.” Negative interest rates are a hidden tax on savings. Negative interest rates may create the short-term illusion of growth, but, by discouraging savings, they will cause tremendous long-term economic damage.

Even as Yellen admits that the Fed “has not taken negative interest rates off the table,” she and other Fed officials are still promising to raise rates this year. The Federal Reserve needs to promise future rate increases in order to stop nervous investors from fleeing US markets and challenging the dollar’s reserve currency status.

The Fed can only keep the wolves at bay with promises of future rate increases for so long before its polices cause a major dollar crisis. However, raising rates could also cause major economic problems. Higher interest rates will hurt the millions of Americans struggling with student loan, credit card, and other forms of debt. Already over 40 percent of Americans who owe student loan debt are defaulting on their payments. If Federal Reserve policies increase the burden of student loan debt, the number of defaults will dramatically increase leading to a bursting of the student loan bubble.

By increasing the federal government’s cost of borrowing, an interest rate increase will also make it harder for the federal government to manage its debt. Increased costs of debt financing will place increased burden on the American people and could be the last straw that finally pushes the federal government into a Greek-style financial crisis.

The no-win situation the Fed finds itself in is a sign that we are reaching the inevitable collapse of the fiat currency system. Unless immediate steps are taken to manage the transition, this collapse could usher in an economic catastrophe dwarfing the Great Depression. Therefore, those of us who know the truth must redouble our efforts to spread the ideas of liberty.

If we are successful we may be able to force Congress to properly manage the transition by cutting spending in all areas and auditing, then ending, the Federal Reserve. We may also be able to ensure the current crisis ends not just the Fed but the entire welfare-warfare state.

Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/april/17/what-did-fed-chairman-yellen-tell-Obama/

As Ukraine Collapses, Europeans Tire of US Interventions

by Ron Paul

On Sunday Ukrainian prime minister Yatsenyuk resigned, just four days after the Dutch voted against Ukraine joining the European Union. Taken together, these two events are clear signals that the US-backed coup in Ukraine has not given that country freedom and democracy. They also suggest a deeper dissatisfaction among Europeans over Washington’s addiction to interventionism.

According to US and EU governments – and repeated without question by the mainstream media – the Ukrainian people stood up on their own in 2014 to throw off the chains of a corrupt government in the back pocket of Moscow and finally plant themselves in the pro-west camp. According to these people, US government personnel who handed out cookies and even took the stage in Kiev to urge the people to overthrow their government had nothing at all to do with the coup.

When Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was videotaped bragging about how the US government spent $5 billion to “promote democracy” in Ukraine, it had nothing to do with the overthrow of the Yanukovich government. When Nuland was recorded telling the US Ambassador in Kiev that Yatsenyuk is the US choice for prime minister, it was not US interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine. In fact, the neocons still consider it a “conspiracy theory” to suggest the US had anything to do with the overthrow.

I have no doubt that the previous government was corrupt. Corruption is the stock-in-trade of governments. But according to Transparency International, corruption in the Ukrainian government is about the same after the US-backed coup as it was before. So the intervention failed to improve anything, and now the US-installed government is falling apart. Is a Ukraine in chaos to be considered a Washington success story?

This brings us back to the Dutch vote. The overwhelming rejection of the EU plan for Ukrainian membership demonstrates the deep level of frustration and anger in Europe over EU leadership following Washington’s interventionist foreign policy at the expense of European security and prosperity. The other EU member countries did not even dare hold popular referenda on the matter – their parliaments rubber-stamped the agreement.

Brussels backs US bombing in the Middle East and hundreds of thousands of refugees produced by the bombing overwhelm Europe. The people are told they must be taxed even more to pay for the victims of Washington’s foreign policy.

Brussels backs US regime change plans for Ukraine and EU citizens are told they must bear the burden of bringing an economic basket case up to European standards. How much would it cost EU citizens to bring in Ukraine as a member? No one dares mention it. But Europeans are rightly angry with their leaders blindly following Washington and then leaving them holding the bag.

The anger is rising and there is no telling where it will end. In June, the United Kingdom will vote on whether to exit the European Union. The campaign for an exit is broad-based, bringing in conservatives, populists, and progressives. Regardless of the outcome, the vote should be considered very important. Europeans are tired of their unelected leaders in Brussels pushing them around and destroying their financial and personal security by following Washington’s foolish interventionism. No one can call any of these recent interventions a success and the Europeans know it.

One way or the other, the US empire is coming to an end. Either the money will go or the allies will go, but it cannot be sustained. The sooner the American people demand an end to these foolish policies the better.

Copyright © 2016 by Ron Paul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

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