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Tona Monroe to speak at Bill of Rights Banquet on December 18th

Recipient of last year’s Eagle Award, then Blount County Commissioner Tona Monroe, will be the speaker at the 4th annual Truth Radio Bill of Rights Banquet on Tuesday December 18th.  The topic of the speech will be Proof of Authority and the Proper Role of Government: The Foundation of a Constitutional Republic.

A dinner will be held at 7 PM at RJ’s Courtyard located at 3749 Airport Hwy, Louisville, Tennessee 37777.  Book your meal by calling WBCR at 984-1470. 

2017 Bill of Rights Banquet
Eagle Award Recipients Tona Monroe, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Scott Williams 

Blount County Administrator of Elections says voting error can’t be corrected

As a follow up to the previous post about a voter being given the wrong ballot, Susan Hughes, Blount County Administrator of Elections, says nothing can be done to correct the voting error that occurred as a result of a voter being given the wrong ballot.

—–Original Message—–
From: “Susan W Hughes” <shughes@blounttn.org>
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2018 1:10pm
To: tona@breezeair.net
Cc: “All Elections” <elections@blounttn.org>, “Mark Goins” <mark.goins@tn.gov>, tennessee.elections@tn.gov
Subject: Re: FW: County Commission District
Tona,
There is nothing that can be done to “correct the votes”.  Once the “Cast Ballot” button is pressed, the voting is done.  Again, we apologize for this mistake.
Sincerely,
Susan

On Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 11:54 AM, <tona@breezeair.net> wrote:
Dear Ms Hughes,

Thank you for the prompt reply and explanation.  How do you intend to correct the votes that ______ cast in 10th district races and allow him to vote in the 7th district races?
Sincerely,
Tona

Reelect Commissioner Mike Akard postcard

Mike Akard is seeking reelection to county commission, district 2 seat A.  The post card also include information about the other district 2 commission seat.  Jim Hammontree is challenging incumbent Mike Lewis for seat B.

Nick Bright refutes Tom Cole’s campaign mailer

My opponent, incumbent Commissioner Tom Cole, sent a campaign mailer out about his voting record that has me wondering if he remembers how he votes or even understands what he is voting on.

The heading is “My Voting Record” and the 4 points are:

  • Yes to convert the variable rate debt to fixed rate
  • Yes to converting $.04 cents of the sales tax to school capital fund
  • No on The Property Tax Increase
  • No on the Commission Pay Raise (Twice)

Cole says that he voted yes to convert the variable rate debt to fixed rate but the very first vote that he cast on fixed rate debt was a no vote.  See the meeting minutes of the called commission meeting held on October 14, 2014.  Cole was one of 2 no votes.

Cole says that he voted yes to converting $.04 cents of the sales tax to the school (education) capital projects fund.  The local portion of the sales tax is $.0275.  The entire amount of the local option sales tax is less than $.04.  It was $.04 of the property tax that was appropriated to the education capital projects fund.  Apparently Cole doesn’t know one tax from the other.

In 2016 an amendment was proposed to increase the $.04 education capital projects fund to $.05 and reduce the general purpose school fund by $.01.  This would have given the schools about an additional $120,000 without raising taxes because the money appropriated to this fund does not have to be split with the city schools.  Cole voted against this shift of the property tax that would have saved the county taxpayers about $120,000 and not raised your property tax.

What does Cole mean when he says he voted yes to converting $.04?  Is he saying that $.04 was moved from one place in the budget to another?  If so, that’s not the case.  The $.04 cents was added to the budget in fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016), the year that the majority of commissioners voted to raise the property tax from $2.15 to $2.47.  That brings us to his next bullet point.

Cole did vote against the property tax increase in 2015 but his claim is disingenuous for a couple of reasons.  The $.04 from a tax that he can’t get right and he says he supports was part of the property tax increase.  An amendment was made at the June 18, 2015 commission meeting to set the property tax rate at $2.43.  An amendment to this amendment was made to raise $2.43 to $2.47 for the $.04 education capital projects fund that Cole calls a sales tax.  See page 63 for the property tax votes.  Thus, he did vote to increase the property tax rate by $.04 but tells us that he voted against the property tax increase.

The next budget year he voted for the $2.47 property tax rate; therefore, he did support the property tax increase.  He just did it one year later than the majority of commissioners.  See page 3 for his votes on the fiscal year 2017 property tax rate, including the $.01 education capital projects fund vote that would have saved you money.

On the last bullet point, Cole is correct.  He did vote against the pay raise twice, but we all know that a broken clock is right twice a day.

On election day, May 1st, please vote for Nick Bright for Blount County Commissioner, District 6 Seat A.  I’ll work to get the taxes and my votes straight, unlike my opponent who doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.

Elections do matter: Jail expansion and overcrowding could go away

This is a 2015 email from a friend in Greene County:
 
“For years, Greene County had an overcrowding problem. The long-time Sheriff played upon decertification, for-pay prisoners, and insurance against lawsuits, in his unrelenting, but unsuccessful, pursuit for a new jail complex.
 
I sent out a brief study nine months before the last election, a challenger was elected, and the overcrowding went away shortly after the election.”

Yes Mayor Andy Lawhorn I do return phone calls to those in my district

In politics tall tales and utter nonsense can float around.  The Mayor of Friendsville, Andy Lawhorn, has told people that I (Tona Monroe) don’t return phone calls to the people in my district.  A while back, Commissioner Tom Stinnett called me and said that Lawhorn was trying to get ahold of me and asked if it would be OK to give him my phone number.  I told Stinnett sure and that my number was available on the county’s website.  I never heard from Lawhorn before or after that.

There have been a couple of issues related to the City of Friendsville that have come before the Blount County Commission.  No one from the City of Friendsville government has contacted me to discuss these matters, or if anyone has I never received a single message.

Someone asked me why someone had posted on Facebook that I don’t take landline phone calls.  I don’t know whether an incoming call is from a land line or from a cell phone.  There are some numbers that are recognizable as having been land line numbers but there is no guarantee that they are still land lines.  My number was a land line and is now a cell number.

As far as I can recall, I have returned every phone call to the constituents of my district, with the exception of a few who have told me that I didn’t need to call them back.  Some months back, I did have some phone trouble and I didn’t get messages or texts for a few days.  It’s possible that I could have missed a few calls and texts during that time.  If I did miss your call or text, feel free to call me at 856-0814.

Someone did share with me that they didn’t know how to get ahold of Lawhorn’s wife, Staci Crisp-Lawhorn, who is running for county commission because there is no phone number listed for her on the candidate petition page of the county’s website.

Here are two examples of Commissioners Karen Miller and Tona Monroe being cut off by the courthouse clique

At the April 10th, 2018 Agenda Committee meeting, Chairman Grady Caskey turned Commissioner Tona Monroe’s microphone off for discussing what is in the resolution that the body was considering and getting ready to vote on.  10 commissioners voted to uphold Caskey’s decision to cut her microphone off.  Three abstained including Caskey.

Do you want commissioners who will cut other commissioner’s microphones off or are too cowardly to even cast vote for or against the decision?  If these people don’t even want to listen to their fellow commissioners, will they listen to you the citizens?

Voting to uphold Caskey’s decision cut Commissioner Monroe’s microphone off:
Commissioners Andy Allen, Brad Bowers, Shawn Carter, Rick Carver, Mike Caylor, Dodd Crowe, Scott King, Kenneth Melton, Mike Lewis and Tom Stinnett
Voting to abstain:
Commissioner Grady Caskey (Chair), Tom Cole and Brian Robbins
Commissioners voting not to uphold Caskey’s decision to cut Commissioner Monroe’s microphone off:
Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Jamie Daly, Ron French, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe
Commissioners who were absent:
Commissioners Dave Bennett and Gary Farmer

The commission would not let Commissioner Karen Miller read her prepared statement at the June 2016 commission meeting.  You can read more about this in the June 2016 Commission Report.

From page 4 of the July 2016 commission packet containing the June 2016 meeting minutes:

“Commissioner Miller then made a motion that she be allowed to read her statement.  Commissioner Monroe seconded the motion.  An electronic vote was taken on the motion by Commissioner Miller to read her statement.
Akard -Absent, Caylor -No, Lewis -No,
Allen -No, Cole -Yes, Melton -No,
Archer -Yes, Crowe -No, Miller -Abstain,
Bowers -No, Daly -Yes, Monroe -Yes,
Carter -Yes, Farmer -No, Moon -No
Carver -No, French -No, Samples -No
Caskey -No, Lambert -No, Stinnett -No
There were 5 voting yes, 14 voting no, 1 abstaining and 1 absent.  Chairman Moon declared the motion to have failed.”

These are just two examples.  There are many more.  You can read the monthly commission reports on this website, read commission meeting minutes and watch commission videos to find many more instances of the courthouse clique silencing those who dared to ask questions.

The only way to stop this to raise awareness of it and elect better people.  Please vote in the May 1st, local government primary election.

All three female commissioners ending fight against Blount County ‘courthouse clique’

Blount County Commissioners Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe discuss why they aren’t seeking reelection.  To tie this together, when the citizens group was active, Citizens for Blount County’s Future, there were more people fighting the courthouse clique/political machines/good ole’ boys/establishment.  These citizens were present at Blount County government meetings and spoke out on many important issues.  After the citizens group disbanded, and Blount County Tax Revolt followed suit, there were often no citizens at commission and committee meetings.  This is likely why the courthouse clique has been able to cut commissioner Monroe’s microphone off for about a year and a half.  If there had been some citizen participation these past couple of years, the three ladies may have been more effective in trying to reform local government.

https://www.thedailytimes.com/news/all-three-female-commissioners-ending-fight-against-courthouse-clique/article_f419bed3-8fac-5a09-9336-880bdb9d271f.html

Mayor Ed Mitchell begins posting to Facebook just in time for the election; What to remember before heading to the polls

Mayor Ed Mitchell started a Facebook page in 2014 and posted a few pictures but then posted nothing for nearly 3 years.  Mitchell, or someone in his office, has started posting now that it is election time and he has opponents.

Mitchell will likely win reelection because his opponents don’t have the money that it takes to win a county wide race.  One of his opponents, Harry Grothjahn, has done more in a year to keep the citizens informed about local government than Mitchell has done in his both of his terms combined.

Before you head to polls, keep in mind a few things about Ed Mitchell.

A business owner reminded me recently that Ed Mitchell has lived on the government gravy train his whole life and said that anytime Ed Mitchell wants something all he knows is go to the taxpayers and make them pay for it.  Blount County, Tennessee needs a new mayor with private sector work experience.

12 signs that a candidate might be part of the courthouse clique

Here are 12 statements that will help you identify the candidates who are swamp creatures or wanting to become part of the Blount County establishment.  Without further ado, here’s your sign.

  1. The schools need more money.  The $hool$ need more money.  The $chool$ need more money.
  2. It’s for the children.  It’s for the children.  It’s for the children.
  3. The county makes money on federal inmates.
  4. The Blount Partnership is doing a great job recruiting businesses.
  5. The county is being run efficiently because we have clean audits.
  6. We have to do this.  Federal law or state law says we have to.
  7. The sheriff should decide what inmates he keeps in the local jail.
  8. Our county employees work hard.  They deserve to make more than the average taxpaying citizen.
  9. Our teachers do such a great job that they deserve two pay raises: a step increase and a percentage increase.
  10. Blount County has a secret sauce.
  11. Blount County needs a wheel tax because it’s not fair for the property owners to have to pay all the taxes.
  12. The commissioners work so hard that they deserve an 85% pay raise.

If a candidate is saying any of these things then you’ll know you’re talking to someone who is a part of the courthouse clique or wants to be part of the courthouse clique.  You have been warned.

Commission rejects resolution requesting new auditors; Agenda Committee Chairman Grady Caskey rules with an iron fist

The Blount County Agenda Committee is a good meeting to watch to see you local government in action.  Several of the incumbents seeking reelection must be feeling heat for their actions because Agenda Committee Chairman Grady Caskey started the meeting by reading a statement about the role of the Agenda Committee.  He continued lecturing commissioners throughout the meeting and ruled with an iron fist.  The treatment of a citizen and a couple of commissioners made this one of the worst meetings that I’ve witnessed in the 10 years that I’ve been attending Blount County government meetings.

For years, courthouse clique commissioners have defended their yes votes at the Agenda Committee meeting by saying that their voting to move something forward doesn’t mean that they’re actually for what they move forward.  At the very meeting where Chairman Caskey chose to lecture the commissioners on the role of the Agenda Committee, the courthouse clique/political machine/good ole’ boys/establishment/swamp creature/status quo commissioners voted against even moving forward a resolution requesting that the county be assigned new auditors after having the same auditors for over a decade.

Harry Grothjahn spoke in favor of the resolution requesting new auditors.  Commissioner Ron French objected to Grothjahn sharing a conversation he had with the Comptroller’s Office about the purpose of audits.  Commissioner French’s objection was the Grothjahn’s sharing of that conversation was hearsay.  The first amendment includes the petitioning of government for a redress of grievances.  When a citizen has a grievance with their government, it is right for them to share that grievance and ask the government redress it.  Apparently Commissioner French doesn’t even want a citizen mentioning their grievances with government.

Furthermore, the practice of cutting my microphone off returned this month.  This meeting is a great examples of a chairman’s abuse of authority.  Chairman Caskey cut my microphone off for discussing the hypocrisy in the resolution of wanting more local control but asking for the state to “significantly increase funding.”  Caskey lectured the commissioners about what they were voting on.  Does Caskey think that commissioners, with only have 5 months left in their 4 year term, don’t understand the makeup of a resolution and what they’re voting on?

Commissioner Mike Akard pointed out that Caskey had a conflict of interest, when he cut my microphone off, because he is a sponsor to the resolution.  Caskey lacks the objectivity to be a chairperson.  Unfortunately Caskey isn’t the only chairman to prohibit me from speaking.  Rick Carver, Chairman of the Blount County Corrections Partnership, and former Commission Chairman Jerome Moon have also cut me off.  These men have all used their positions of authority to stifle those they disagree with.  Some of this resulted from the repeated objections from Andy Allen, Dave Bennett, Mike Caylor and Ron French.

What else is to be expected from Caskeu who insulted people by saying that peopole need to either be educated or jailed.  He obviously doesn’t think much of all the hard working people who did finish high school but have paid the taxes for him to live on the government funded gravy train.  He is the former President of the Blount County Education Association (BCEA) commonly called the teachers union.  He has spent much of his life advocating taking more of your money.  He was elected four years ago because his opponent died during the election and his name was the only name on the ballot.

I apologize to the citizens of Blount County for not making a statement at the end of the meeting about the treatment of the citizen sharing his experience with government.  I had intended to make a statement but this and Caskey’s poor treatment of his fellow commissioners left me drained at the end of meeting and it slipped my mind.

If Commissioner French isn’t willing to listen to what the citizens have to say and Commissioner Caskey isn’t willing to listen to what the commissioners have to say, neither have any business being Blount County Commissioners.  Both have challengers.  Those living in district 8 can vote for Jeff Jopling for Blount County Commissioner and those living in district 9 can vote for Tracie Livesay for Blount County Commissioner.

Commissioners voting against asking for new auditor on regular basis include Andy Allen, Archie Archer, Brad Bowers, Shawn Carter, Rick Carver, Grady Caskey, Mike Caylor, Tom Cole, Dodd Crowe, Ron French, Scott King, Mike Lewis, Kenneth Melton, Brian Robbins and Tom Stinnett