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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

A new name for the political machine or good ole’ boys: the courthouse clique

For many years the powers that be here locally have been referred to as the political machine and the good ole’ boys.  I’ve used the terms myself, as have many others, although I’ve never liked the term good ole’ boys.  There is rarely any good that they do.  Thus, I propose a new name for the local establishment: the courthouse clique.

Who exactly are the courthouse clique?  The Blount Lifestyle PAC website provided a list.  The website is down but this screen shot provides a list of those who are the courthouse clique.

Newly elected County Commissioner Dave Bennett can be added to the list of the courthouse clique.  He was the secretary of the PAC.  See the page dated 12-31-15.

BlountLifestyles

Jeff Headrick voted to advance a wheel tax levy resolution

In the race for Highway Superintendent, the Brian Downey campaign is telling the public that Jeff Headrick voted for a wheel tax while he served on the county commission.  Some are countering that Headrick voted for a referendum for the voters to decide if they want a wheel tax.  To settle the confusion regarding former commissioner Jeff Headrick’s record on the wheel tax, a review of Agenda Committee packets will set the record straight.  These are readily available online.

Jeff Headrick voted to advance a resolution that would have levied a wheel tax.  This vote would have placed the resolution on the commission agenda.  To read the resolution see pages 58-59 of the May 12, 2015 Agenda Committee packet: http://www.blounttn.org/comm/AG150512.PDF

Compare that to the 2013 resolution that actually called a referendum on the question of levying a wheel tax.  See pages 38-39.  http://www.blounttn.org/comm/CC130418.PDF  Jeff Headrick was not on the commission in 2013 when this vote occurred.

The vote on the resolution to levy a wheel tax is found in the minutes of the May 12, 2015 Agenda Committee meeting, which are available in the June 2015 Agenda Committee packet.  See page 55. http://www.blounttn.org/comm/AG150609.PDF

Headrick resigned his commission seat earlier this year when the commission voted to appoint him to the position of Highway Superintendent to fill the vacancy left by Bill Dunlap’s resignation.  Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe voted for Brian Downey.  Commissioners Andy Allen, Brad Bowers, Shawn Carter, Rick Carver, Grady Caskey, Tom Cole, Dodd Crowe, Gary Farmer, Ron French, Mike Lewis, Kenneth Melton, Jerome Moon, Steve Samples and Tom Stinnett voted for Jeff Headrick.  Commissioner Mike Caylor was absent.

If the wheel tax is an important issue to you, then you should take note that Brian Downey says he opposes it while Jeff Headrick voted to advance a measure that would have levied a wheel tax.

Will the Republican Party of Blount County release its bylaws before picking the County Clerk and Highway Superintendent?

The Republican Party of Blount County, Tennessee hasn’t exactly been known for transparency or fairness.  Several Republicans were denied entrance to a meeting in 2013.  The Party left Commissioner Jim Folts off its website.  When I was asked to speak to the Republican Party about why I thought Ron Paul was the best choice for President in 2012, then Chairman Susan Mills wouldn’t let me speak even though I had been an approved delegate candidate for Ron Paul, twice (2008 and 2012).  When Gerald Kirby lost his primary commission race to Jamie Daly, the party big whigs went to work for Kirby’s write-in campaign, even though party leadership is suppose to support Republican candidates.

Now the Republican Party Executive Committee will get to pick the Republican candidates for Blount County Clerk and Blount County Highway Superintendent.  The selection meeting will be a spectator sport.  You and I will be able to watch but we will not be able to participate.

The August general election for these two offices could be a Soviet style election.  If the Democratic Party doesn’t nominate candidates and no independents run, then the people of Blount County will get to go vote the R party or not the R party.  Actually it will be worse than that because you won’t even get to vote NO on the candidate.

Unless someone runs as a write-in, any write-in votes will not count.  Even if an independent or Democrat runs, barring some major scandal, the Republicans will win.  There are no independents or Democrats in elected office in Blount County, excluding the nonpartisan School Board.

With this kind of power, the Republican Party should release its bylaws.  I asked the Blount County Republican Party Chair, Patsy Lundy, for a copy of the bylaws.  She said the bylaws were being revised.  That’s the same excuse that has been used to deny releasing the bylaws for years.  The Tennessee Republican Party said it is checking with the County Party to see if the bylaws that it has are current.

I asked Lundy for a copy of the current bylaws.  She said she would check with some people (apparently the Chair has to get permission from her bosses) to see if she could release the bylaws to me.

The bylaws for the Blount County Democratic Party are available on the Tennessee Democratic Party’s website.  The Blount County Libertarian Party uses the bylaws of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee.  Both are available online for review, although the bylaws posted for the State Libertarian Party are over 4 years old.

People are talking about the Republican establishment coming unhinged because more voters are backing Trump than Rubio.  People would do well to pay attention to what the local GOP is doing.  Since it is likely that the Republican Party Executive Committee is going to pick 2 of our local office holders the least the Executive Committee can do is release its bylaws.

Highway Superintendent Bill Dunlap to retire

This morning I received a call telling me that Bill Dunlap will retire.  I called the Highway Department and Julie Talbott confirmed that Bill Dunlap is on vacation for two weeks and will be retiring effective February 1st.

Who will take his place?

Commissioner Jeff Headrick (5th District) has been posturing to take his place.  He is a developer and a waterboy for the Sheriff.  His wife is related to the Sheriff.  If he replaces Bill Dunlap then the Sheriff will effectively control the Highway Department, the Mayor, the Blount County Commission and the Sheriff’s Office.

Now would be a good time for Brian Downey to start campaigning.  He did well in the last election for someone with little name recognition starting out.  He will need to do more than put out signs if he intends to win.

Have you heard any other names?

Blount Partnership admits its blocking two county commissioners

The Blount Partnership, which the CEO/President Bryan Daniels describes as an umbrella organization for the Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Foundation, Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority and Industrial Development Board (also referred to as the Economic Development Board), has admitted that it is blocking communication from two Blount County Commissioners.  Commissioners Jamie Daly and Tona Monroe have been blocked.

The Daily Times has a story today on the matter.
http://www.thedailytimes.com/news/busy-signal-blount-partnership-blocks-two-county-commissioners-from-communicating/article_c86c6d00-141b-58b1-b074-2002eaaefa8d.html

To read more about the economic environment created by entrusting large sums of tax dollars to the Industrial Development Board and the Smoky Mountain Tourism Authority, both part of the Blount Partnership, click here.

The Blount Partnership says, it “is the sole economic development agency for the Blount County area.”  An active citizen in the community and frequent commenter on this website, recently wrote me saying, “I think a “Blount County Industrial Guild” would work wonders for Blount.” 

What do you think?  A government subsidized monopoly has given us the results of being the only county in the region where average pay isn’t keeping up with the rate of inflation and being tied for the biggest drop in median household income. 

If you’d like to communicate with Bryan Daniels, his email address is bdaniels@blountpartnership.com.





Cowards – Men without honor

There have been well over 100 emails sent to me regarding the judicial tyranny/wrath of God resolution.  Last night a good friend who prays for me, our county and our country called to encourage me.  I read some of the emails to her.  She encouraged me to post this one.

“THE 16 COWARDS OF BLOUNT COUNTY. WHEN THE LIGHT WAS TURNED ON THE COCKROACHES HID. WHEN THE LIGHT SHONE THE RATS RAN. THE COWARDS FLED AND LET 2 WOMEN FIGHT THEIR BATTLES FOR THEM. MEN WITHOUT HONOR. ONLY WIMPS LET WOMEN FIGHT FOR THEM. DO THESE MEN HAVE ANY HONOR OR SHAME? THEIR WIVES SHOULD BE ASHAMED TO BE WITH MEN WITHOUT HONOR. REAL MEN NEVER HIDE BEHIND WOMEN AND RUN OFF AND HIDE.

WIVES BEWARE. HE WILL THROW YOU UNDER THE BUS AND RUN TO SAVE HIS HIDE. HOW CAN YOU MEN LOOK IN THE MIRROR? 2 WOMEN HAVING TO FIGHT YOUR BATTLES WHILE YOU RAN OUT THE DOOR. IF YOU WANT TO SEND THIS TO THE LOCAL RAG AND CHALLENGE THEM TO PRINT IT ON THE FRONT PAGE IF THEY HAVE THE GUTS. I AM 68 AND DO NOT CARE HOW MANY YEARS I HAVE LEFT TO LIVE AMONG THESE SPINELESS, WEAKMINDED WORSHIPPERS OF MONEY AND THE DEVIL WHO CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS WHO ARE GUTLESS AND ANYTHING BUT A REAL CHRISTIAN.”

Blount County Tax Revolt honors the six commissioners who voted against the property tax increase and budget

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Former Commissioner Jim Folts presents District 7 County Commissioner Tona Monroe with two awards.

Blount County Tax Revolt presented Blount County Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Tom Cole, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe with an award for voting against the largest property tax increase in the history of Blount County government and for voting against the budget that was funded by the tax increase.

Commissioners Karen Miller and Tona Monroe were also given an additional Special Recognition Award.

Community stalwarts Jim Folts and Linda King spoke.  Richard Hutchens gave slide show presentation on the excuses used to justify wasteful spending.  Those reasons are routinely given at commission meetings.

The Daily Times covered the awards banquet, which had to be moved from the original room to a larger room because turnout was greater than expected.  http://www.thedailytimes.com/news/blount-county-tax-revolt-honors-six-for-tax-increase-opposition/article_b509ef67-08de-533d-8b37-8592d6fc56ff.html

The emails have been pouring in this morning.  Thank you to everyone for the kind remarks and thank you to the good folks of Blount County Tax Revolt for their dedication in protecting the hardworking taxpayers of Blount County.

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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!