From: “Todd Orr” <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2020 2:27pm
Subject: Re: Changes that you’d like to see
Dear Mr. Orr,
What changes would you like to see in the Blount County Property Assessor’s Office?
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.
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.
From: “Susan W Hughes” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2018 1:10pm
Cc: “All Elections” <email@example.com>, “Mark Goins” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com
Subject: Re: FW: County Commission District
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.
On Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 11:54 AM, <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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?
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.
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.
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.
District 7 includes those who vote at Big Springs, Carpenters, Friendsville, Happy Valley and Lanier.
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.
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.
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.
- Remember when Ed Mitchell threatened to sue the jail consultant to stifle discussion on the jail study that said the status quo would cost $68-124 million (page 30). There was no lawsuit – just obstructionism.
- Remember when he and his finance director assigned $2 million for a jail expansion transition facility but they lacked the authority to express the county’s intent.
- Remember when his purchasing agent asked the commission to hire an IT firm being sued in federal court that wanted to use foreign labor.
- Remember when he really hesitated about voting for fixed rate financing in the November 2014 Budget Committee. Remember that he didn’t go to fully fixed rate in his first term but only did so during his second term when the commission wanted fixed rate financing.
- Remember how Ed Mitchell made the taxpayers pay for a recycling facility that the county was previously getting for free. Remember that the county now has less recycling locations now that the taxpayers are paying for them.
- Remember how he didn’t want to put a fiscally conservative elected woman on the Budget Committee so he nominated an unelected woman who couldn’t manage her own budget by paying her property taxes on time.
- Remember how he made Joni Serratt, from a political machine family, the head of probation, gave her multiple pay raises and she presented a budget that projected losing money.
- Remember when Ed Mitchell voted for and signed one of the biggest property tax increases in recent Blount County history.
- Remember when the purchasing agent and his general service director chose a company that was 3.5 times the lowest offer.
- Remember how his general services director failed to provide information about lawsuits. It’s been more than 2 years and the information still hasn’t been provided.
- Remember how the county has spent millions of dollars on IT but the commission meetings are no longer live streamed.
- Remember when the EPA wanted to regulate nearly all waters in the USA and Ed Mitchell vetoed a common sense resolution asking congress to roll this back. The US House of Representatives had already passed common sense reform.
- Remember how he supported the Evergreen pay scale, which mostly compared Blount County to cities rather than counties, pays above the average of what these cities and those the county was compared to are paying was approved 7 months before the final report was released and gives the higher pay grade employees a bigger percentage pay increase.
- Remember how Ed Mitchell gave himself a big pay raise by signing a budget that gave himself and 3 others pay supplements.
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.