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Important questions you need to ask about the salaries of elected officials before voting in the local May 1st and state and federal August 2nd 2018 primary elections

State mandated minimum salaries and additional pay supplements for local elected officials vs what taxpayers are making

When you look at important economic indicators such as median household income and average annual income, Blount County taxpayers haven’t fared well in recent years.  When adjusted for inflation, 2014 numbers show that average pay in Blount County actually dropped and that household income averages a double digit drop.

The State of Tennessee mandates very generous salaries for elected officials that are 2, 3 and 4 times what the average Tennessee taxpayer is making.  I (Tona Monroe) have written the state legislature for a couple of years on this matter but this matter has largely fallen on deaf ears when it comes to taking action.  A few lawmakers have agreed with me that the mandated minimums are too high but none have taken action to provide reform.

You can view the state mandated minimum salaries for local elected officials here.
2018-2019  2017-2018   2016-2017  2015-2016  2014-2015  2013-2014
2012-2013   2010-2011  2009-2010  2008-2009  2007-2008  2006-2007

This figures show huge increases to the base pay for local elected officials being mandated by state law.  Despite being paid double and triple, and in the case of judges almost quadruple what the average taxpayer is making, 4 of these local elected officials are receiving pay supplements above the already large state mandated minimums.  Blount County taxpayers are paying $96,717 more than state minimum for the circuit court clerk, highway superintendent, sheriff and mayor.  It’s obvious these people don’t feel the same economic pain that many Blount Countians are feeling.

2 important primary elections will be held this year.  The local government primary election will be May 1, 2018 and the state and federal primary election will be held August 2, 2018.  All office holders elected in partisan elections are Republicans in Blount County.  There isn’t a single Democrat or independent in office in Blount County, excluding the school board which has nonpartisan elections.  Thus, it is highly likely that all upcoming offices, excluding the school board, will be decided in the primary elections.  If you wait to vote in November, you will miss your best opportunities to have an impact on who governs at the local and state levels.  There will be no county elections in November and only state and federal general elections occur in November.

The May 1 and August 2 primary elections provide opportunities for you to clean house of these state and local officials who refuse to hold the line on these outrageous salaries.  Only Commissioners Mike Akard, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and myself have voted to cut the pay of these 4 elected officials down to the state minimum, which is already much higher than it should be.

Questions to ask before heading to the polls on May 1 and August 2:
1) Why have local elected officials refused to cut the pay of these officials to the state mandated minimums?
2) Why have the state legislators continued funding huge increases for elected officials?
3) Why did Jerome Moon try to lead the commission to believe that these pay supplements weren’t optional?

Please consider these questions before casting your votes in the May 1 and August 2 elections.

East Tennessee Index 2014 figures for median household income:

What does this measure?
Median household income, adjusted for inflation. Half of households earn below the median, and half are above.

Why is this important?
Median household income is a gauge of overall economic health of the region and the financial resources of households.

How is our region performing?
In 2010-14, median household income in the region was $45,100, slightly higher than the state ($44,600) but lower than the nation ($53,500). Among local counties, median household income was highest in Loudon ($50,600) and Knox ($47,500) and lowest in Union ($36,000) and Monroe ($37,200). The region, state, and nation all saw their median income fall by double digits from 2000 to 2010-14 (down 12% in the region, 14% in the state, and 10% in the nation). Median income fell much faster in the region from 2005-09 to 2010-14 than in the nation and state (16% decrease in the region compared to a 6% decrease for the state and the nation). Among the counties, median household incomes decreased most from 2000 to 2010-14 in Sevier, Monroe and Blount (all 14%). Union experienced the smallest rate of decline (7%), but still has the lowest median household income in the region.

Notes about the data
Figures are presented in 2014 dollars. The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census.

ETIndex.org 2014 figures for average annual salary:

What does this measure?
The average annual salary in a region in a given year, adjusted for inflation.

Why is this important?
Salaries are a gauge of overall economic health and a measure of the degree to which employees are sharing in the prosperity of a community. They also indicate the vitality of a region and its ability to compete and attract workers.

How is our region performing?
In 2014, the region’s average salary was $43,000, below the average for the state ($45,200) and the nation ($51,400). Since 2000, the region’s average salary increased by 6%, on par with growth nationally and but below statewide (7%). Roane County’s average annual pay grew by 26% over the same time period, more than any other county, while average salary fell in Blount and Sevier counties over that period (both less than 1% respectively). Between 2013 and 2014, the region’s average annual salary increased by 1%, on par with the state increase.

Notes about the data
Data presented in 2014 dollars.

County Commissioners Daly, Miller and Monroe given Blount Patriot Eagle Awards at Bill of Rights dinner

Harry Grothjahn of Truth Radio AM 1470 hosted the 3rd annual Bill of Rights dinner in Alcoa today.  State Senate candidate Scott Williams was the keynote speaker, speaking about the history of states holding conventions to address problems.

Grothjahn presented the three ladies on the Blount County Commission, Commissioners Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe, with the Blount Patriot Eagle Award.  Grothjahn told the Blount County Commission last month that only the women on the commission are standing for righteousness in government.  The plaques feature an eagle and are engraved with a scripture from the book of Isiah.

Yet those who wait on the LORD will gain new strength: They will mount up with wings like eagles.  They will run and not get tired.  They will walk and not become weary.  -Isaiah 40:31

Commissioner Jamie Daly, Harry Grothjahn, Commissioner Karen Miller and Commissioner Tona Monroe

Blount County Commissioners Tona Monroe, Jamie Daly & Karen Miller  and state Senate candidate Scott William

 

16 yes men make yes man Jerome Moon 8th district TN state representative

16 yes men on the Blount County Commission voted yesterday to make Jerome Moon, a yes man, the 8th district Tennessee state representative.  Moon joins Bob Ramsey and Art Swann, who were also Blount County Commissioners, in the state legislature.

Swamp creature and former Blount County Director of Accounts and Budgets (Finance Director), Commissioner Dave Bennett nominated Jerome Moon.  Commissioners Andy Allen, Archie Archer, Dave Bennett, Brad Bowers, Rick Carver, Grady Caskey, Shawn Carter, Mike Caylor, Tom Cole, Dodd Crowe, Gary Farmer, Ron French, Scott King, Mike Lewis, Kenneth Melton and Tom Stinnett voted for Moon.

Commissioners Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe voted for James (Jim) Hammontree.  Hammontree was nominated by Commissioner Monroe.

Commissioner Mike Akard was absent.

Moon was asked less than 2 weeks ago by the local paper if he was interested in being considered for the house seat.  It appeared based on his response that he wouldn’t give a yes or no answer.  One has to wonder whether someone refusing to even tell the public and/or press, that close to the meeting, whether he wants to be considered for a position of authority will ever give a straight answer on the important issues that impact life, liberty and property.

Realizing that for the second time this month that the fix is in, Jim Hammontree is now focusing his efforts on replacing Mike Lewis on the commission who is currently a commissioner in the second commission district in Alcoa.  The district includes the Alcoa, Mentor, Oak Street and Pellissippi voting precincts.

Jerome Moon makes the 3rd commissioner out of the original 21 commissioners elected in 2014 (Caskey*, French and Moon were unopposed) who is no longer a member of the Blount County Commission.  The political machine made Jeff Headrick the Blount County Highway Superintendent in 2016 and Commissioner Steve Samples passed away earlier this year.

*Caskey was unopposed in the primary election because the incumbent died before the election.  He did have a write-in challenger in the general election.

14 machine commissioners make Art Swann state senator

Blount County Commissioners Andy Allen, Dave Bennett, Shawn Carter, Rick Carver, Grady Caskey, Mike Caylor, Dodd Crowe, Gary Farmer, Ron French, Scott King, Mike Lewis, Kenneth Melton, Jerome Moon and Tom Stinnett voted to replace Doug Overbey who recently resigned from the Tennessee Senate with (now former) Representative Art Swann.  Swann was nominated by Commissioner Carver.

Commissioner Tona Monroe nominated Scott Williams.  Commissioners Archie Archer, Karen Miller and Monroe voted for Williams.

Commissioners Mike Akard, Brad Bowers, Tom Cole and Jamie Daly were absent from the meeting.

Only Commissioners Miller and Monroe spoke during the discussion portion of the meeting with both sharing why they were voting for Williams.  Monroe shared that Williams served his country through military service, is a gentleman and a class act.  She said Swann had never returned any of her emails about concerns she had related to state laws and matters impacting local governments.

After the meeting, Jim Hammontree, who has picked up a petition to run for the seat currently held by district 2 Commissioner Mike Lewis, shared with BC Public Record and the local paper that the commission took a do nothing state representative and turned him into a do nothing state senator.

Blount County Commissioner Tona Monroe and state Senate candidate Scott Williams

Senator Doug Overbey won’t confirm or deny consideration for US Attorney of Eastern District of Tennessee

Yesterday on the radio show Real News airing on Talk Radio 92.3 FM in Knoxville, Knox County political operative Kenny Collins said that multiple sources have told him that Tennessee State Senator Doug Overbey will be nominated as the next US Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Overbey would not deny or confirm that he is being considered for the position, saying today that he could not comment on the matter.  He did say that he had heard the same rumors, that I have heard.

One would think that if he wasn’t under consideration he would have denied the “same rumors.”  You can draw your own conclusion.

Scott Williams, who ran against Overbey for the 2nd district senate seat last year, said today that he is seriously considering running if Overbey vacates the seat.  Williams will be in a better position to win this time, as he will have more name recognition and team of supporters willing to help him campaign.

 

Blount County taxpayers are paying $96,717 more than state minimum for 4 elected officials

If the commission votes to approve the budget on its agenda next week, the taxpaying citizens of Blount County will be paying $96,717 more in salaries and benefits than the state mandated minimums for four elected officials.  Blount County Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher and Highway Superintendent Jeff Headrick will make 10% above the state minimums.  Sheriff James Lee Berrong and Mayor Marvin Ed Mitchell will both make 32% more than the state mandated minimums.  The sheriff’s additional pay of $30,603 could be used to fund an additional deputy or give $1,000 pay raise to 30 employees.

You can view the state mandated salaries for the upcoming year, current year and prior years here.

During the last two annual budget discussions, I (Tona Monroe) tried to cut the salary supplements from the budget bringing the pay for these 4 elected officials down to the state minimums.  Both times only Commissioners Mike Akard, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and I voted to reduce the pay.  Last year Jerome Moon argued that the commission had to pay the sheriff more but did not state the law requiring an additional pay supplement.  These pay supplements aren’t required.

These salaries are double and nearly triple what the taxpaying citizens of Blount County are making.

Government officials salaries continue to grow by large amounts, reaping the fruits of the labor of the citizenry while pay in Blount County isn’t even keeping up with the rate of inflation.

Tennessee trial court judges are best paid in nation after cost of living adjustment.

Meanwhile the mayor, Governor Bill Halsam, Lord of Croynism Randy Boyd and Gentlemen of the Bedchamber Byran Daniels have been busy getting their pictures in the paper for job creation.  The local rag is happy to serve as their PR firm.

The Tennessee General Assembly has been largely nonresponsive to reforming salaries that are double, triple and quadruple the average annual salary.  Most of them don’t feel your pain.  Many voted for the gas tax and most voted for Haslam’s bloated budget.

  Proposed   state minimum   Salary Estimated Total Fund
Office 2017-18   (no supplements)   Difference Taxes    
Mayor – Mitchell 132,550 must make 5% more than Sheriff 100,416   32,134 6207 38,341 101
                 
Circuit Court Clerk* – Hatcher 95,635 other elected officials plus 10% for more than 1 court 86,941   8,694 1716 10,410 101
                 
Sheriff – Berrong 105,199 must make 10% more than highest general elected official (CCC) 95,635   30,603 5914 36,517 101
Workhouse* 10,520              
Juvenile* 10,520              
  126,238              
                 
Highway – Headrick 105,199 must make 10% more than highest general elected official (CCC) 95,635   9,564 1885 11,449 131

Figures provided by Angelie Shankle, Budget Manager for Blount County government.

Moderate or Conservative: Which is it Randy Boyd?

Tennessee’s King of Cronyism, Randy Boyd described himself as moderate but now that he is running for Governor of Tennessee, he is trying to raise money on his “conservative beliefs.”  Kevin and Laura Baigert of The Tennessee Star rip the hypocrite here.

Randy Boyd is to Tennessee what Bryan Daniels is to Blount County.  The Lord of Cronyism and corporate welfare secrecy.  Anyone can give the farm away, when taxpayers are paying for it.

We don’t need an amalgam of Bryan Daniels, Bernie Sanders and Bill Haslam as the next Tennessee Governor.  We’ve had enough of the mushy middle “moderates” who are really big government Republicans.

Self Proclaimed ‘Moderate’ Gubernatorial Candidate Randy Boyd Sends Mailer Trying to Appeal to Conservatives

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