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Rep. Art Swann received $1,000 donation from James Haslam & voted for gas tax increase

Republican state Representative Art Swann, one of two reps. from Blount County, received a $1,000 donation from James Haslam of Pilot Oil during the 2016 election, even though Swann had no opponent.  Rep. Art Swann voted to raise the gas tax and increase vehicle registration fees.

James Haslam is a relative of oil baron, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

Read more on state lawmakers regarding their votes on the gas tax & registration fee increases and donations from the Haslam family and JOBS4TN PAC, which is mostly funded by Bill Haslam, here: http://tennesseestar.com/2017/05/04/follow-the-money-campaign-receipts-may-shed-light-on-why-some-republicans-voted-for-the-gas-tax/

HASLAM II , JAMES
P.O. BOX 10146
KNOXVILLE , TN 37939
PETROLEUM DISTRIBUTION
PILOT OIL
Primary 08/03/2016 $1,000.00 $1,000.00

Reps. Bob Ramsey, Art Swann & Senator Doug Overbey vote to raise gas tax

Blount County’s state legislators aren’t exactly know for fiscal conservatism or advocating liberty.  They’re supporters of big government.  It’s not surprising to see Tennessee Representative Bob Ramsey, Representative Art Swann and Senator Doug Overbey vote to raise the gas tax and tag renewal fees.

The increase on a tag renewal for non-commercial vehicles is $5.  The sales tax on food will reduce by 1%.  That means that a two car family will have to spend $1,000 on groceries to break even on the new legislation.  A three car family will have to spend more than $1,500 to see any savings and that doesn’t include the gas tax increase.  The state tax on gasoline will increase 6 cents per gallon over 3 years and diesel will increase 10 cents over three years.

Pay close attention to your local officials.  All three of these men were Blount County Commissioners prior to being elected to state office.

Tennessee lawmakers that have signed tax pledge

Here is the list of Tennessee legislators who signed the Americans for Tax Reform State pledge.  Some of these legislators have indicated that they support the gas tax increase.  They need to remember their pledge to the taxpayers of the state of Tennessee.

Americans for Tax Reform Pledge database    State tax pledge

Tennessee State House
State House District: 1  Jon Lundberg  (now a State Senator)
State House District: 7  Matthew Hill
State House District: 11  Jeremy Faison
State House District: 16  Bill Dunn
State House District: 19  Harry Brooks
State House District: 22  Dan Howell
State House District: 24  Kevin Brooks
State House District: 36  Dennis Powers
State House District: 38  Kelly Keisling
State House District: 40  Terri Lynn Weaver
State House District: 45  Courtney Rogers
State House District: 49  Mike Sparks
State House District: 56  Beth Harwell
State House District: 57  Susan Lynn
State House District: 61  Charles Sargent
State House District: 63  Glen Casada
State House District: 66  Joshua Evans
State House District: 68  Curtis Johnson
State House District: 71  David Byrd
State House District: 72  Steve McDaniel
State House District: 89  Roger Kane
State House District: 96  Steve McManus

Search results URL: http://www.atr.org/pledge-database?sort=&order=&office=11&state=TN&district_number=&name=&incumbent=0

Tennessee State Senate
State Senate District: 1  Steve Southerland
State Senate District: 5  Randy McNally
State Senate District: 13  Bill Ketron
State Senate District: 14  Jim Tracy
State Senate District: 16  Janice Bowling
State Senate District: 17  Mae Beavers
State Senate District: 22  Mark E Green
State Senate District: 23  Jack Johnson
State Senate District: 24  John Stevens
State Senate District: 26  Dolores Gresham
State Senate District: 27  Ed Jackson

Search results URL: http://www.atr.org/pledge-database?sort=&order=&office=8&state=TN&district_number=&name=&incumbent=0

Happy Thanksgiving

Troy and I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  We have much to be grateful for.

One thing that I am thankful for is the opportunity to call out government officials for wrong doing and advocate for reform.  In some parts of the world people face severe repercussions for rebuking their government “leaders”.  Sadly I too often hear from people who are afraid of retaliation if they challenge that courthouse clique that exists in local government.  Good people who initiate no harm should not live in fear of their governments.

I encourage everyone during this time of thanksgiving to give serious consideration to your knowledge and involvement in state and local governments.  In general people are too focused on federal politics.  The main stream media bombards us with drama and endless controversy in Washington DC.

Give some consideration to taking a break from media sources that focus solely or mostly on national politics and put some time and energy into learning what your local and state governments are doing.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the majority of people can’t even name their local and state officials.

While I stood in a very long line to vote in the November election, I noticed someone willing to wait in the long line to vote in the Presidential race who hadn’t voted in the local government primary election held in May of 2014.  The reason this stood out to me is because this person had my sign in their yard but they didn’t actual take the time to vote in the local election.

If you voted in the presidential race this year, your vote was one in over 120 million votes.  If you voted in a county commission race in the local government election in May of 2014, your vote was about 1 in a thousand.  Some districts had more than 1,000 votes and some had less.  Many people don’t vote because they don’t feel that their votes matter.  Where does your vote have the most impact, a race with over 120 million votes or a race with about 1,000 votes?

If you still aren’t convinced that your vote matters tremendously in local elections, let me put it another way for you.  3 of the 21 county commission races were decided by less than 25 votes in the May primary election in 2014.  Jamie Daly won her race by 21 votes.  Archie Archer won his race by 12 votes.  Kenneth Melton won reelection to the Blount County Commission by receiving 6 more vote than his challenger.

These local races are often very close.  Do you vote in the local elections?  If not, why?

The unofficial results on the county’s website show 53,260 votes in the November election while only 12,061 voted in the August election.  If you are one of the many people who voted in November but not in August, please reflect upon why you didn’t vote in August.

Yesterday and today I posted several articles about the difficulties and unresponsiveness that I deal with on a regular basis as an elected official serving the community through local government.  Contact information for the appropriate people is provided in these posts if you feel so inclined to provide input on any of these matters.

It has been said that serving as a county commissioner is a thankless job.  Actually its not.  I receive several thanks on a fairly regular basis.  What is more accurate is to describe it as a helpless job because there are so few willing to help promote better government locally.

What would make me even more thankful this Thanksgiving Day would be to see more people take an active role in what is happening right here in our county.

Sincerely,
Tona Monroe
Blount County Commissioner

Senator Doug Overbey and Representative Art Swann are nonresponsive

Some years back, prior to be elected to serve as a county commissioner, I (Tona Monroe) asked Senator Doug Overbey to obtain an opinion from the Tennessee Attorney General.  He declined saying that that he felt that AG’s opinions should be used to answer questions that local government officials have.  His response told me that he doesn’t give a flip what the people he is elected to serve want but I had hoped that after my election to local government that Overbey would be responsive to my requests for information and ideas for reform.  He isn’t.

I can’t recall him responding to anything that I have sent him since taking office in September 2014.  He did find the time to send me a letter during his campaign for reelection saying he hoped that he had earned my support.

Overbey spends his time catering to his wealthy donors and attending social events.  He represents the elite.  He is a career politician floating in the swamp of Nashville.

The people of Tennessee failed to drain the swap in Nashville during the primary elections in August.  Voter turnout was very low.  The election was lost in the drama and media coverage of federal politics.  I encourage everyone to pay more attention to state and local politics.

Representative Art Swann doesn’t respond either.  Rep. Bob Ramsey does respond to some things but never offers to work toward any reform that will improve local government.

Senator Doug Overbey: sen.doug.overbey@capitol.tn.gov  850-9411
Representative Bob Ramsey: rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov  984-8124
Representative Art Swann: rep.art.swann@capitol.tn.gov  982-6811

Doug Overbey’s jobs claims haven’t materialized into better pay for his district

By now, those of you who vote have received your latest glossy mailer of the week from State Senator Doug Overbey entitled “Doug Overbey Focuses on Jobs.”  This looks like a brag sheet produced by the Blount Partnership with the name Doug Overbey inserted in its place.

Overbey is taking credit for crony deals using your money.  The IDB gave the farm away, literally, to get AMI here.  Some of these jobs are expansions from companies that are already heavily invested in the community.  While the Blount Partnership, Governor Bill Haslam and Doug Overbey are taking credit for Cirrus Aircraft moving in, they aren’t telling you about the better paying jobs that have and will likely continuing leaving the airport.

What about all the small business that create jobs but don’t get any special tax incentives like these crony deals given to bigger companies?  Overbey, like most Republicans, would probably claim to support economic liberty.  A free market wouldn’t favor specials interests and provide corporate welfare.  A free market would provide a level playing field for all to compete on.

A better measure of a politician’s success would be jobs created without special deals.  A strong economy wouldn’t require special tax breaks for a few connected companies, so that politicians like Overbey can brag about giving the farm away, using your money, to attract jobs.

If Overbey has done such a great job of “creating an environment that’s bringing thousands [of] quality jobs to the people of Blount and Sevier Counties”, during his time as state senator, then pay should be increasing at or above the rate of inflation.  It is not.

According to the East Tennessee Index, Blount County was the only county in the region where pay was below the rate of inflation in 2013.  In 2014, Sevier County joined Blount County as the only other county in the region where pay isn’t keeping up with the rate of inflation.  These two counties are Overbey’s district.

The next time you hear Overbey and the Blount Partnership tout jobs, take it with a grain of salt.  Neither are worth their salt.

Vote for Scott Williams for State Senator in the Republican Primary on August 4th.

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.

No contract yet: Transparent Tennessee strikes again

Rocky Top Politics (RTP) has been speculating on potential gubernatorial candidates for the 2018 election.  In their latest digs at Governor Bill Haslam and Tom Ingram (there’s plenty to dig into), RTP further explores the candidacy of Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd.  Name recognition for Boyd is growing here locally while he and the Governor of the Great State of Tennessee have their faces plastered all over the media for bringing jobs to Blount County.

Always interested in knowing what the costs to the taxpayers will be for these jobs, I was a tad bit surprised (yeah ok I should not be surprised because this is government we are talking about) to learn that Boyd doesn’t know how much these jobs will cost the taxpayers.

From the Knoxville News Sentinel:

“Asked about incentives offered to AMI, State Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd said those have not been finalized in a contract.

“So, there is not anything I can say,” he said.”

Call me old fashioned, conservative, libertarian, a concerned citizen, a free thinker, a county commissioner or whatever you want, but someone has to ask the obvious question.  Shouldn’t a contract be written before PR celebration?  Does anyone remember a brewer that left town after ground was broken?

Oh those pesky little details.  Inquiring about those kinds of things (taxpayer moolah) can get you blocked by the people that don’t want you to know.

According to The Daily Times, “Details of local and state incentive packages for AMI were not available Tuesday.”  Now this one did not surprise me at all.  Government failing to provide information is par for the course.

Here’s a chicken and egg scenario.  Did Bryan Daniels and the local cronies learn from Haslam’s secret privatization work or did Haslam and Boyd learn from Bryan Daniels and the Blount Partnership that blocking the commissioners who ask questions is the best way to remain secret?  Maybe they’re learning from each other.

Transparency could easily be achieved if that was the goal rather than PR press conferences.  Top secret discussions started in April.  Six months ought to be enough time to have some details about incentives to give to the public at a press conference.

In fairness to Commissioner Boyd, an unfinished contract may not be anymore cause for concern than adopting a pay scale that still has the word draft stamped on it, or signing the signature page of a contract without having a copy of the contract, or passing a massive health care ‘reform’ bill so that you can find out what’s in it or trying to privatize state jobs in secret.

For all the folks who have been worried the judicial tyranny/wrath of God resolution would hurt business recruitment to the area, you can stop worrying.  AMI founder and Executive Chairman Jim Antich said, “The Good Lord led us to East Tennessee.”  There you have it.  It wasn’t Byran Daniels and the umbrella Blount Partnership, or the Governor and his economic development commissioner or even the financial incentives of the yet to be finalized contract.  But that won’t stop the publicity seeking hounds from taking credit for bringing jobs to Blount County.

Neither Bryan Daniels or Blount County’s “effective conservative” Senator Doug Overbey have ever seen camera they don’t want to stand in front of.  Governor Haslam is going to great lengths to get his picture on the front pages of newspapers across the state.  Nearly every time there’s a “jobs” announcement, Haslam is there standing in front of the cameras.  That’s a lot of effort for publicity from someone who is term limited.  Randy Boyd is right there with him.  Future political aspirations for both?  Time will tell for both.

Boyd for Governor and Daniels for Commissioner of Economic and Community Development – Transparent Tennessee here we come.

Not everything on this website is written by me

There are some in the community who think that everything on this website is written by me (Tona Monroe).  That is not the case.  This site was never intended to be a website solely with material written by me.  I own domains with my name and could just as easily write the material there.

There are some in the community who think that I agree with everything written on this website.  That is not the case either.  My intention in creating this website was never to have complete and total agreement with every word posted here.

The litmus test for content on this website was never complete and total agreement with my views and is not the case now.  My goals are to promote freedom and transparency in government.  Those are the reasons why I started this website and why I continue publishing on this website.  Those are also the reasons that I ran for office and what I hope to achieve while in office.

The content here is intended to be thought provoking while promoting freedom and openness in government.  Everything that is posted here should no more be viewed as my opinions than letters to the editors are viewed as being the opinions of the editors at newspapers.

As I’ve said many times before and will continue saying, let freedom ring!