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January 2017 Commission Report

Commission meeting
The agenda was light this month.  The same Budget Committee members were reappointed for another year.  Members include Commissioner Mike Caylor, Sharon Hannum, Commissioner Mike Lewis, Mayor Ed Mitchell and Commissioner Jerome Moon.  These are the same people who presented a “balanced” budget to the commission by upping the revenue projections for housing state inmates rather than reducing spending.  The current budget is funded with a property tax rate that is 16% higher than it was two years ago and a local option sales tax that that is 22% higher than it was 2 years ago.

The commission got its first official meeting experience with the new IT system.  The old system was much simpler to use.  We’re told this will make it easier for the county to do business in the long run.

Information Technology (IT) Committee meeting
The IT Committee meeting was canceled.  I still haven’t received the IT timeline that I asked for many months back.

Up next
The mayor has called a commission meeting to be held in the training room of the Highway Department at the Operations Center on February 6th at noon.  The Highway Superintendent is requesting approval to spend $800,000 of fund balance for an “Emergency Purchase” of 4 equipment floats and 8 dump trucks.

The jail evaluations will meet in the commission room on February 23rd at 8:30 AM to interview the 3 architectural firms that were chosen based on scoring of written qualifications.  These written qualifications and scores are currently secret due to a change in Tennessee purchasing law last year.  The public will still not be able to comment on the firms.  Purchasing Agent Katie Branham wrote of the interviews, “They are open to the public for observation only.”

Haslam (R) Pushes to Raise Taxes Despite Billion Dollar Surplus

From Rocky Top Politics:

“After over-collecting $2 billion dollars from Tennessee taxpayers, Gov. Bill Haslam today said he thinks Tennesseans are not taxed enough and wants to raise the taxes on that most basic of middle class commodities:  gasoline.

Reports indicate Haslam is trying to sugarcoat the tax increase by promising to “index” the taxes (meaning they can go up without additional legislative approval) and to cut a little from the food and/or sales tax rate.

Sure.

What is astonishing is that this proposal comes on the eve of the inauguration of Donald Trump as the next President…Trump was elected by middle class outrage over politicians who do dumb things like, well, raise taxes when you are sitting on a $2 billion surplus.”

New Year’s Resolutions for Donald Trump and Congress

By Ron Paul

In the spirit of New Year’s, here are four resolutions for president-elect Trump and Congress that will enable them to really make America great again:

1) Audit the Fed….and then end it: The Federal Reserve Bank’s easy money polices have eroded the American people’s standard of living and facilitated the growth of the welfare-warfare state. The Fed is also responsible for the growth in income inequality. Yet Congress still refuses to pass Audit the Fed, much less end it.

During the campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump promised that Audit the Fed would be part of his first 100 days agenda. Unfortunately, he has not spoken of auditing the Fed or another aspect of monetary policy since the election. President-elect Trump should keep his promise and work with Congress to pass Audit the Fed and finally let the American people know the truth about the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy. Then, of course, end the Fed.

2) Bring the troops home: President Barack Obama has not only failed to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, he has further destabilized the Middle East with reckless interventions in Egypt, Libya, and Syria. The Obama administration has also brought us to the brink of a new Cold War.

President-elect Trump has criticized the 2003 Iraq war and promised to end nation-building. However, he has also made hawkish statements such as his recent endorsement of increased US military intervention in Syria and has appointed several hawks to key foreign policy positions. President-elect Trump also supported increasing the Pentagon’s already bloated budget.

America cannot afford to continue wasting trillions of dollars in a futile effort to act as the world’s policeman. Rejecting the neocon polices of nation-building and spreading democracy by force of arms is a good start. However, if Donald Trump is serious about charting a new course in foreign policy, his first act as president should be to withdraw US troops from around the globe. He should also veto any budget that does not drastically cut spending on militarism.

3) Repeal ObamaCare: ObamaCare has raised healthcare costs for millions of Americans while denying them access to the providers of their choice. Public dissatisfaction with ObamaCare played a major role in Donald Trump’s election.

Unfortunately, since the election president-elect Trump and the Republican Congress have talked about retaining key parts of Obamacare! While it is reasonable to have a transition to a new healthcare system, Congress must avoid the temptation to replace ObamaCare with “ObamaCare lite.” Congress must pass, and President Trump must sign, a true free-market health care plan that restores control over healthcare to individuals.

4) Cut Taxes and Spending: President-elect Trump and Congressional leadership both favor tax reform. However, some leading Republicans have recently said they will not support any tax reform plan that is not “revenue neutral.” A true pro-liberty tax reform would reduce government revenue by eliminating the income tax. Fiscal hawks concerned with increasing federal deficits should stop trying to increase tax revenues and join with supporters of limited government to drastically cut federal spending. Congress should prioritize ending corporate welfare, reducing military spending, and shutting down unconstitutional federal agencies like the Department of Education.

If President Trump and Congress spend the next six months passing Audit the Fed, ending our militaristic foreign policy, repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with a true free-market health care system, and cutting both spending and taxes, they will begin to make America great again. If they fail to take these steps, then the American people will know they have been fooled again.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/december/26/new-year-s-resolutions-for-donald-trump-and-congress/

This Thanksgiving she’ll be thankful that she will make more than 10 times Tennessee households

This is so disgusting.  It’s salaries like this that make government elite so out of touch with the working folks.  http://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/education/2016/11/21/university-tennessee-name-davenport-next-chancellor/94233352/

Seriously? $585K?  Why stop there?  Why not make it $10 million?  The state legislature can just tax the people more to pay for anything the elite want.  Never mind what they make.

The median household income in Tennessee is was $47,275 in 2015.  That’s an entire household, not one salary.  http://www.deptofnumbers.com/income/tennessee/

Tennessee General Assembly Emails:

sen.paul.bailey@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.mike.bell@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.rusty.crowe@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.todd.gardenshire@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.dolores.gresham@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.ferrell.haile@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.thelma.harper@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.lee.harris@captitol.tn.gov,
sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.jon.lundberg@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.randy.mcnally@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.kerry.roberts@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.john.stevens@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.reginald.tate@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.jim.tracy@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.bo.watson@capitol.tn.gov,
sen.jeff.yarbro@capitol.tn.gov,
“Becky Massey” <sen.becky.massey@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Bill Ketron” <sen.bill.ketron@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Brian Kelsey” <sen.brian.kelsey@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Doug Overbey” <sen.doug.overbey@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Ed Jackson” <sen.ed.jackson@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Frank Niceley” <sen.frank.niceley@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Jack Johnson” <sen.jack.johnson@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Janice Bowling” <sen.janice.bowling@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Mae Beavers” <sen.mae.beavers@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Mark Green” <sen.mark.green@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Mark Norris” <sen.mark.norris@capitol.tn.gov>,
lt.gov.ron.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov,
“Steven Dickerson” <sen.steven.dickerson@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Steve Southerland” <sen.steve.southerland@capitol.tn.gov>,
sen.sara.kyle@capitol.tn.gov,
“Richard Briggs” <sen.richard.briggs@capitol.tn.gov>,
“Ken Yager” <sen.ken.yager@capitol.tn.gov>,
rep.raumesh.akbari@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.alexander@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.armstrong@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bill.beck@capitol.tn.gov, rep.harry.brooks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kevin.brooks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.sheila.butt@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kent.calfee@capitol.tn.gov, rep.karen.camper@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dale.carr@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.carter@capitol.tn.gov, rep.glen.casada@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.ray.clemmons@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jim.coley@capitol.tn.gov, rep.barbara.cooper@capitol.tn.gov, rep.martin.daniel@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.deberry@capitol.tn.gov, rep.barry.doss@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kevin.dunlap@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bill.dunn@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jimmy.eldridge@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jeremy.faison@capitol.tn.gov, rep.andrew.farmer@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joanne.favors@capitol.tn.gov, rep.craig.fitzhugh@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.forgety@capitol.tn.gov, rep.brenda.gilmore@capitol.tn.gov, rep.tilman.goins@capitol.tn.gov, rep.marc.gravitt@capitol.tn.gov, rep.curtis.halford@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ga.hardaway@capitol.tn.gov, speaker.beth.harwell@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.hawk@capitol.tn.gov, rep.patsy.hazlewood@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gary.hicks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.timothy.hill@capitol.tn.gov, rep.matthew.hill@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.holsclaw@capitol.tn.gov, rep.andy.holt@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dan.howell@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bud.hulsey@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jamie.jenkins@capitol.tn.gov, rep.darren.jernigan@capitol.tn.gov, rep.curtis.johnson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.sherry.jones@capitol.tn.gov, rep.roger.kane@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kelly.keisling@capitol.tn.gov, rep.sabi.kumar@capitol.tn.gov, rep.william.lamberth@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mary.littleton@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ron.lollar@capitol.tn.gov, rep.harold.love@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jon.lundberg@capitol.tn.gov, rep.susan.lynn@capitol.tn.gov, rep.pat.marsh@capitol.tn.gov, rep.judd.matheny@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jimmy.matlock@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gerald.mccormick@capitol.tn.gov, rep.steve.mcdaniel@capitol.tn.gov, rep.steve.mcmanus@capitol.tn.gov, rep.larry.miller@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bo.mitchell@capitol.tn.gov, rep.debra.moody@capitol.tn.gov, rep.antonio.parkinson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.pitts@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mark.pody@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jason.powell@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dennis.powers@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.ragan@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jay.reedy@capitol.tn.gov, rep.courtney.rogers@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bill.sanderson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.charles.sargent@capitol.tn.gov, rep.cameron.sexton@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jerry.sexton@capitol.tn.gov, rep.johnny.shaw@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.shepard@capitol.tn.gov, rep.eddie.smith@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.sparks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.billy.spivey@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.stewart@capitol.tn.gov, rep.art.swann@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bryan.terry@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.towns@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ron.travis@capitol.tn.gov, rep.johnnie.turner@capitol.tn.gov, rep.micah.vanhuss@capitol.tn.gov, rep.terri.lynn.weaver@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dawn.white@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mark.white@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ryan.williams@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.windle@capitol.tn.gov, rep.tim.wirgau@capitol.tn.gov, rep.rick.womick@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jason.zachary@capitol.tn.gov

It’s been 6 months and there is no jail Evaluation Team

Do you remember the big rush for the commission to pass a resolution authorizing the purchasing agent to issue a request for qualification (RFQ) for architectural planning and/or design services for the manufactured crisis of jail overcrowding because commissioners might have to sit in deposition in federal court?

Do you remember that the resolution was suppose to be for the jail but that the resolution failed to mention the jail in the title of the resolution?

Do you remember that the purchasing agent said she could issue the RFQ without commission approval?  (Wasn’t this suppose to be done in a hurry?  Why ask for commission approval if it wasn’t needed and this needed to be done in a hurry?)

Do you remember the purchasing agent saying that 30 days was sufficient time to issue the RFQ when questions were asked because this had to be done in a big hurry to appease the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) Board of Control?

Do you remember it taking 12 weeks for the purchasing agent to issue the RFQ?

Well after the great big rush to issue the RFQ to buy time as Mike Caylor put it  and set aside (assign) $2 million without asking the public or the commission what they think (except for asking them to approve and RFQ that the purchasing agent said she can issue without commission approval) it appears that the courthouse clique really is trying to buy time.  Today marks the 6 month point of the commission approving the RFQ.

The submissions are in but no Evaluation Team has been empaneled to evaluate the companies.  Neither the commission nor the Blount County Corrections Partnership identified what Blount County needed before handing this manufactured crisis to the Purchasing Department to deal with.  It appears that wasn’t such a grand idea/plan after all.

What’s the hold up?
Director of General Services Don Stallions told me that the Evaluation Team hasn’t been empaneled yet because they are still looking for citizens to serve on the team.  Apparently its hard to find a few citizens in a county with a population of about 125,000.  Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me either but would you expect anything different from these people?

Measureable progress?
TCI Director Beth Ashe said that the Board of Control looks for measurable progress.  How is 6 months of nothing but the status quo (keeping discretionary inmates on slates and/or the floor, setting another million aside, the BCCP doing nothing, etc.) measureable progress?

Iceland Today, the US Tomorrow?

By Ron Paul

During the 2008 economic crisis, Iceland’s government froze offshore accounts held by foreign investors in that country’s currency, the krona. Recently, the government of Iceland announced it would unfreeze the accounts if the account holders paid a voluntary “departure tax,” which could be as high as 58 percent. Investors who choose not to pay the departure tax would have their investment “segregated” into special funds that only invest in CDs issued by Iceland’s central bank. These CDs are expected to only provide a rate of return of at most 0.5 percent a year. So investors in offshore accounts can thus choose between having their money directly seized via the departure tax or indirectly seized via the inflation tax.

Iceland’s freezing of offshore krona accounts was part of a “stabilization and recovery” program implemented under the guidance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which also provided Iceland with a $1 billion loan. So US taxpayers not only helped the IMF bail out Iceland’s government, they may have helped the IMF advise Iceland on how best to steal property from American investors!

The IMF’s role in Iceland’s seizure of the property of foreign investors shows the hypocrisy of IMF officials, who recently expressed concerns about the increasing support for protectionism supposedly exemplified by the Brexit vote. However, freezing of assets held by foreign investors is a particularly harmful form of protectionism, while Brexit was more about rejecting the European Union’s bureaucracy than rejecting free trade. Perhaps what the IMF and its supporters are really worried about is losing their power to use taxpayers’ money to force other countries to adopt IMF bureaucrats’ favored economic policies.

Iceland is not the only government to turn to a departure tax to raise revenue. Just last year, in order to raise revenue for federal transportation programs, Congress gave the IRS the power to revoke the passport of any American accused of owing more than $50,000 in back taxes.

As an increasingly desperate Congress looks for new ways to squeeze money out of the American people to fund the welfare-warfare state, it is likely that more Americans will have their liberties limited because the IRS accuses them of not paying their fair share of taxes. It also is likely that the Federal Reserve will follow the example of its counterpart in Iceland and devalue the holdings of anyone who dares to resist the IRS’s demands.

Those hoping that the presidential election will result in real changes are bound to be disappointed. While Donald Trump seems to appreciate how current Fed policies help the incumbent administration while harming the people, he does not appear to understand that the problem is not with certain Fed policies, but with the Fed’s very existence. While Mr. Trump does support tax cuts, he also supports increasing government spending on infrastructure at home, militarism abroad, protectionism, and an economic cold war with China.

Hillary Clinton has actually said it is inappropriate for candidates to criticize the Fed. Sectary Clinton has also called for massive increases in government spending and taxes. Hillary Clinton may be more hawkish than Donald Trump, since Mr. Trump has rejected Secretary Clinton’s calls for a new cold war with Russia.

Instead of looking to politicians to save us, those of us who understand the dangers of our current course must continue to spread the ideas of liberty among our fellow citizens. Politicians will only change course when a critical mass of people stops falling for the war party’s propaganda, stops demanding entitlements, and starts demanding liberty.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/october/17/iceland-today-the-us-tomorrow/

Where have we seen this before?

The jail situation in Claiborne County appears to be similar or the same as Blount County.  The rotund mayor appears to be a figurehead who does what the sheriff wants and the media appears to be more interested in he said, she said than reporting the facts and doing investigative journalism.

http://claiborneprogress.net/news/9238/a-dog-days-journey-into-night

The paper in Claiborne County referred to the August commission meeting as a dogfight.  The local rag had “fur flies” in the headline and said that hackles were raised.

The people working to protect the taxpayers are blamed for the poor financial decisions of others and the truth is their opinion/interpretation until state officials say it isn’t just their opinion/interpretation.

One thing that is different about Claiborne County is that Circuit Court Judge John McAfee, in his private capacity, is looking out of the taxpayers in his county.  Blount County’s judges, with the possible exception of Kenlyn Foster, are part of the political machine or court house clique.

10th amendment goes out the window when federal money is on the line

Tennessee could lose federal funding because it doesn’t have a law on the books that complies with a federal rule concerning the blood alcohol level of those between 18 and 20.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2016/08/26/tennessee-attorney-general-joins-fight-save-road-funds/89421304/

Sheriff Berrong said he doesn’t want to keep state prisoners and they’re only a good deal for the state

In April, Mayor Ed Mitchell called a special commission meeting for the sole purpose of the commission
voting to authorize the purchasing agent to issue a request for qualifications related to jail design and program services.  At that meeting, Sheriff James Lee Berrong said that he and his staff try to get rid of state prisoners every day, that it is out of his control whether the state takes its prisoners, that he doesn’t want to keep the state prisoners and that the revenue the state sends the county is only a good deal for the state of Tennessee.

Direct quotes from Sheriff James Lee Berrong at the meeting include:

“We try every day to get rid of the state prisoners.  I don’t want to keep the state prisoners.”
“We make a request every single day.” (to get rid of state prisoners)
“Out of our control (state prisoners).  We get like $37.50 which is not a good deal for anybody other than the state.”

You can listen to the sheriff’s statements.

How do these statements compare to the sky is falling Chicken Little PR propaganda that we’re hearing now that the state actually removed many of its prisoners from the jail?

Which is the biggest tall tale: the mayor saying there has been no conversation about expanding the jail or the sheriff saying that he doesn’t want to keep state prisoners and tries to get rid of them every day?

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.

Claiborne County voters to determine jail expansion bond issue

ClaiborneCoNoJailExpansion

Sign in Claiborne County

Voters in Claiborne County will determine whether the county should issue bonds for jail expansion in this August 4th election.  A Circuit judge, acting in his private capacity as a citizen, is opposing jail expansion saying the county losses money on its inmates, just as I (Tona Monroe) have been saying here in Blount County.

There has been confusion about the role of the Tennessee Correction Institute (TCI) and the TCI Board of Control.  The TCI inspects local jails.  The TCI Board of Control votes to certify a jail as being in compliance or not in compliance with jail standards.  The TCI and its Board of Control can not shut down a jail for not being in compliance with state standards.

The Blount County Purchasing Agent finally issued the RFQ for jail expansion last week, 12 weeks after the commission authorized it.  With the state inmates being removed, the only thing the county should look at expanding is programs.  If the Blount County Commission pushes for an unnecessary jail expansion, then the citizens of Blount County should be able to weigh in on the issue through a referendum.