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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.

Blount Memorial Hospital Transparency

With all the recent discussions about the hospital’s nonprofit embezzlement scandal and today’s coverage of the taxpayers being on the hook for hospital debt, it is worth taking a look at what I (Tona Monroe) wrote about the debt and lack of information provided by Blount Memorial Hospital in November 2016.  Some of you may recall that then Chairman Jerome Moon, who was appointed state representative by 16 yes men on the commission, cut me off for discussing information that the hospital should have been forthcoming with prior to asking the commission to approve refinancing its debt.

Mayor Ed Mitchell and Commissioner Dave Bennett are acting indignant now, but these two and most of the commissioners didn’t seem to be concerned about the taxpayers when they reauthorized putting the citizens on the hook for variable rate debt that have swaps attached.  You can listen to the meeting here and will hear Bennett objecting to my pointing out that approving the hospital’s variable debt means that the county will still be responsible for variable rate debt.

Furthermore, when two hospital board appointments came before the commission in January 2016, I moved to postpone it for a month so that we could learn more about the nominees’ plans for the hospital debt and vision for the future. (See page 3.)  The majority of commissioners didn’t seem to care enough to think we should discuss future plans for the hospital.

Thus, there are some who are acting indignant now but where was this concern when I tried to shed light on how the hospital was/is operating?

Those voting to approve the Blount Memorial Hospital Board nominees in January 2016
Allen – yes  Archer – yes  Bowers – yes  Carter – yes  Carver – yes  Caskey – yes  Caylor – yes  Cole – yes  Crowe – yes  Farmer – yes  Headrick – yes  Lewis – yes  Melton – yes  Moon – yes  Samples – yes  Stinnett – yes

Those voting not to approve the nominees in January 2016
Akard – no  Daly – no  Miller – no  Monroe – no

French was absent. There were 16 voting yes, 4 voting no, 0 abstaining, and 1 absent. Chairman Moon declared the appointments approved.

Those who voted to approve renewing the variable rate debt with interests rate swaps
Allen, Bennett, Carver, Caskey, Caylor, Cole, Crowe, Farmer, French, Lewis, Melton, Moon, Samples, Stinnett

Those who voted not to approve renewing the variable rate debt with interests rate swaps
Archer, Daly, Miller, Monroe

Those who were absent
Akard, Bowers, Carter

There were 14 voting yes, 4 voting no, 0 abstain, and 3 absent.  Chairman Moon declared the motion to have passed and the resolution adopted.

Local debt
The next time you hear that the county’s debt is finally fully fixed rate keep in mind that much of the hospital debt is variable, with swaps attached, and that you’re on the hook for it if the hospital defaults, thanks to a lackadaisical commission majority and mayor who didn’t demand more accountability and transparency from the hospital.

Rick Carver has a conflict of interest
Commissioner Rick Carver works for East Tennessee Medical Group, which is owned by Blount Memorial Hospital.  He has a conflict of interest and should have abstained on both of these votes.  He did not declare that he has a conflict of interest and voted yes on both.

Let freedom ring!
Tona

2017 Pork Report is Here!!

The Beacon Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee. Every year they publish what’s called “The Pork Report” detailing all the waste of taxpayer funds on the state and local level here in Tennessee. To see the report for 2017, Click Here.

As a side note: The state government has been under Republican control since 2011. You think it might be time to try Libertarians?

Dude, where’s my Bitcoin?

photo: www.cointelegraph.com

by Horatio Bunce

As the Bitcoin crypto-currency bubble expands from $12000 to $13000 in one day, the cryptocurrency market cap now exceeds that of Citigroup (over $220 Billion). For electrons…..that are “mined”….by solving math problems with computers. Sounds legit.

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon (the pot) previously called the cryptocurrency kettle “black”:

“You can’t have a business where people can invent currencies out of thin air and think that people who are buying it are really smart. It’s worse than Tulip Bulbs; it won’t end well. It’ll eventually blow up; it’s a fraud.”

Ironically, he wasn’t talking about the federal reserve notes electronically created out of thin air they trade every day. So of course, JP Morgan will now engage in trading futures on the cryptocurrency they declared “a fraud”.

Meanwhile,

Largest Crypto-Mining Exchange Confirms It Was Hacked, Over $50 Million In Bitcoin Stolen

Gee, who could see that coming…electronic theft of fake electron “money”….and how does Bitcoin, on this good news today of its immediate disappearability (new word) increase in “value” 8% IN ONE DAY?

Thought for the Day

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=83182

by Horatio Bunce

Does anyone else think it strange that the guys that are so poor they don’t have lights at night have the funding and skills to simultaneously complete the Manhattan Project and Space Race?

What could possibly go wrong?

https://libertymaniacs.deviantart.com/art/1984-INGSOC-Thoughtcrime-Print-213414138

by Horatio Bunce

Facebook Announces It Will Use A.I. To Scan Your Thoughts “To Enhance User Safety”

Under the guise of “suicide prevention”, Facebook is allegedly using artificial intelligence to evaluate its users and engage government intervention to “save lives”.

Kind of reminds me of the same excuse used by Columbia University/Pfizer with their evil TeenScreen program that declared 84% of screened kids “mentally ill” and subsequently put many of them on black-box-warning SSRI psychotropic drugs….that instead of preventing suicide, help turn them into homicidal maniacs (see Columbine, Kip Kingle, Red Lake Minnesota, Virginia Tech shootings for example) which is exactly why they were outlawed in some European nations. But it was all “for the children” and “saving lives”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the product update in a post today, writing that “In the future, AI will be able to understand more of the subtle nuances of language, and will be able to identify different issues beyond suicide as well, including quickly spotting more kinds of bullying and hate.

By curtailing frivolous and “fighting” words, the Party seeks to narrow the range of thought altogether, such that eventually thoughtcrime will be literally impossible. The same goes for disruptive or subversive behavior.
George Orwell
1984

 

Political Chicken

Untouched photo shows yearbook signature is fraud – 2 color inks, 2 different handwritings – credit: Thomas Wictor

by Horatio Bunce

If only Republicans had been as rabid in their demand that Ted Cruz “step aside” from the presidential race when five women claimed he engaged in “sexual misconduct” with a woman other than his wife as they have Roy Moore on the same level of “evidence” (except for them also knowing Cruz’s PAC gave $500,000 to one of the women’s employers in the Carly Fiorina campaign)…then maybe I could take the same useless dolts seriously that also wouldn’t impeach Bill Clinton despite the claims of Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Connie Hamzy, Juanita Broaddrick, Eileen Wellstone, Sandra James, Christy Zercher, Monica Lewinsky, Elizabeth Gracen, Dolly Browning, Sally Perdue, Susie Whitacre and Bobbie Ann Williams.

By the way, shouldn’t there have been a Cruz vs. National Enquirer defamation lawsuit by now? We are often reminded of what a smart lawyer Cruz is so…what’s the holdup?

The reason there hasn’t been one is the same reason the Rubio campaign held that Cruz information for leverage to defend Rubio’s own “sexual misconduct” if necessary. That’s a very important thing to remember any time you see these two operating in Congress. They are leveraged, compromised. How much of what they do every day in Congress is blackmailed?

Which brings me to Roy Moore.

Why now? If these allegations are true, then a lot of people know about the alleged philandering character of Roy Moore and they have known this for a long time. They have allowed him to achieve very high levels of political office in their state. And did nothing – that we know of. As hated as Roy Moore is by the left (for at least the last 16 years on the national stage), even after the “Roy’s Rock” ten commandments saga and the ignore unconstitutional federal supreme court Obergefell orders case, no one in media had this information? No one wanted to take Roy down enough until now? He was too powerful you might say. Is he not now more powerful than before? If the allegations are true, then is not Roy Moore also leveraged? Or more to the point, hasn’t he been for a long time? Has his usefulness suddenly expired for those holding the leverage? What are the odds that the Washington Post could simultaneously discover the existence of four women from his past, locate and interview them – just in time after Luther Strange gets spanked in the primary?

If the allegations are true, someone had this information compiled and was holding onto it, waiting for an opportune time to use it. They are not interested in justice (though it may be due).

Why isn’t Republican-ambulance-chaser Gloria Allred interested in “justice” for the victims she allegedly represents?

“Allred called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a public hearing where Nelson would voluntary appear and testify before lawmakers on the incident.”

A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing? How about filing a civil or criminal suit in Alabama – you know, the actual jurisdiction? Is it because Gloria Allred is not licensed there? Is her show-boating and offering legal services in Alabama illegal since she is not listed as an Alabama state bar member and neither are any of the attorneys in her firm? Or is the truth that what she is doing ISN’T actually practicing law OR offering legal services?

More importantly, if Roy Moore does not “step aside”, what “fullest extent” legal action will Allred pursue? Is it in reality NONE since neither she nor her firm are licensed in Alabama? Or could Roy Moore write a big check like Bill Clinton did to Paula Jones to “make it all go away”? Maybe send a big check to Luther Strange’s PAC like Ted Cruz did for Carly Fiorina (and everyone forgets until next time they need to remember and leverage you again).  If Moore drops out, will there be a sudden void where that demand for justice was just days before? Will those five “sexual misconduct” (whatever that means) lawsuits never materialize?

So I have to weigh those Republicans making statements denouncing, removing support, blah, blah, blah without a claim, without a lawsuit, without sworn testimony (despite the fake “yearbook signature” and Allred’s alleged victim apparently having also attended the Robbie Parker Sandy Hook No-Tears acting school) and their records, their deeds and their fraud foisted on the American people (Ryan, McConnell, ISIS McCain, Gay-marriage executive order Romney, Bailout Bob Corker, TPP Ted Cruz, et al) plus Gloria Allred (and yes, FOX NEWS also “Judge” Jeanine, Hannity, Ingraham no less than controlled opposition in this one) teaming up to attempt another Evan ISIS McMullen style “independent” write-in for Alabama.

When you idiots actually passed a law admitting that you will use our tax dollars to feed us propaganda, we know you are intentionally lying to us at least part of the time. The only decision to make is what not to believe.

Lamar! demands removal of Confederate Statue, recommends worshipping plagiarist fraud instead

photo credit: flickr Joel Kramer

Playboy author and plagiarist fraud Alex Haley idol in Knoxville

By Horatio Bunce

Sorry, I just couldn’t let this go. I see the “party of Lincoln” is still sending their Freedman’s Bureau agents in to create strife between free blacks and whites. Folks, this little event should plainly reveal to you just what kind of character Lamar Alexander is – and how he, like the Freedman’s Bureau agents, is still baiting and exploiting the black man today with his version of the Bureau’s false promise of “40 acres and a mule”.

WKRN in Nashville reported a couple of weeks ago that Lamar! was calling for the removal of the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest inside the state capitol building:

“The senator said there “is a place to honor” all of those in the Civil War whether it be the “battlefield, birthplaces or museums” but “places of honor should be for those who inspire all of us.”

He then said, “There is a place for General Forrest’s bust, but not in a place of honor at the state capitol.”

 

Forgetting for the moment that Lamar! did not mention where “a place” would be for confederate monuments, I would think that Nathan Bedford Forrest might be a worthy example of the era to promote –  if the goal were truly racial unity, not that many people ever enter the state capitol building for that sort of thing. I believe he is a great example of the power of God to change people, make them new creations in Christ. But then maybe I am expecting too much of a U.S. Secretary of Education to know about U.S. history, heck, his own home state history for that matter. As an alternative, Lamar! suggests that this place of honor in the capitol building should go to other Tennesseans such as Alex Haley:

“Instead, he said that place of honor should have Tennesseans like “Roots” author Alex Haley, Senator Howard Baker, or World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York.”

Ah yes, the alleged “Roots” “author” Alex Haley. Playboy magazine author Alex Haley. Plagiarist fraud Alex Haley. Surely a U.S. Secretary of Education and actual contemporary of Alex Haley would remember that Haley was sued for stealing significant portions of “Roots” from “The African”, a work of fiction by a white man, Harry Courlander written in the 1960’s. The plagiarism trial happened in 1978 when Lamar! was walking across the state in his plaid shirt campaigning for governor. After the presentation by the prosecution, the defense “settled” rather than proceed with the case. Further, it has been proven that many of Haley’s claims regarding his “ancestors” in the book cannot be true.

Alex Haley’s Fraudulent Roots

‘Roots’ Plagiarism Suit Is Settled

But it isn’t like Alexander is not aware of all this. Unlike Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose history we might forgive Lamar! for not knowing, Haley was a “close friend” of Lamar! according to Vanderbilt University which has received his correspondence with Alexander as part of the “pre-Senate” papers donated for an exhibit there:

Other highlights are the papers of Honey Alexander and correspondence with Alexander’s close friend, author Alex Haley. Haley and Minnie Pearl were co-chairs of Homecoming ’86, a statewide celebration that provided Tennesseans an opportunity to rediscover their past and identify the uniqueness of their communities.”

You may also remember that Lamar! invited Haley to co-chair (with Minnie Pearl) the 1986 Tennessee Homecoming campaign.  So, he knows Haley. He likely knows he was a plagiarist fraud. He likely knows Haley exploited the lives of slaves in America for a dollar, stole from Harry Courlander to foist a fraudulent “history” of his “ancestors” on America and sell it as the truth. Lamar! likely knows “Roots” is a lie.

So why does Lamar! insist on continuing to promote this fraud as hero? Could it be we really have no interest in the truth about either Nathan Bedford Forrest or Alex Haley? Is it more important that Haley’s fraudulent work has “shaped the contemporary African American consciousness” with lies?

Read the fine print

Government ‘Aid’ Makes Disasters Worse

By Ron Paul

Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey, including my family and me, appreciate the outpouring of support from across the country. President Donald Trump has even pledged to donate one million dollars to relief efforts. These private donations will be much more valuable than the as much as 100 billion dollars the federal government is expected to spend on relief and recovery. Federal disaster assistance hinders effective recovery efforts, while federal insurance subsidies increase the damage caused by natural disasters.

Federal disaster aid has existed since the early years of the republic. In fact, it was a payment to disaster victims that inspired Davy Crockett’s “Not Yours to Give” speech. However, the early federal role was largely limited to sending checks. The federal government did not become involved in managing disaster relief and recovery until the 20th century. America did not even have a federal agency dedicated solely to disaster relief until 1979, when President Jimmy Carter created the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by executive order. Yet, Americans somehow managed to rebuild after natural disasters before 1979. For example, the people of Galveston, Texas successfully rebuilt the city following a major hurricane that destroyed the city in 1900.

FEMA’s well-documented inefficiencies are the inevitable result of centralizing control over something as complex as disaster recovery in a federal bureaucracy. When I served in Congress, I regularly voted against federal disaster aid for my district. After the votes, I would hear from angry constituents, many of whom would later tell me that after dealing with FEMA they agreed that Texas would be better off without federal “help.”

Following natural disasters, individuals who attempt to return to their own property — much less try to repair the damage — without government permission can be arrested and thrown in jail. Federal, state, and local officials often hinder or even stop voluntary rescue and relief efforts.

FEMA is not the only counterproductive disaster assistance program. The National Flood Insurance Program was created to provide government-backed insurance for properties that could not obtain private insurance on their own. By overruling the market’s verdict that these properties should not be insured, federal flood insurance encourages construction in flood-prone areas, thus increasing the damage caused by flooding.

Just as payroll taxes are unable to fully fund Social Security and Medicare, flood insurance premiums are unable to fund the costs of flood insurance. Federal flood insurance was almost $25 billion in the red before Hurricane Harvey. Congress will no doubt appropriate funding to pay all flood insurance claims, thus increasing the national debt. This in turn will cause the Federal Reserve to print more money to monetize that debt, thus hastening the arrival of the fiscal hurricane that will devastate the US economy. Yet, there is little talk of offsetting any of the costs of hurricane relief with spending cuts!

Congress should start phasing out the federal flood insurance program by forbidding the issuance of new flood insurance policies. It should also begin reducing federal spending on disaster assistance. Instead, costs associated with disaster recovery should be made 100-percent tax-deductible. Those who suffered the worst should be completely exempted from all federal tax liability for at least two years. Tax-free savings accounts could also help individuals save money to help them bear the costs of a natural disaster.

The outpouring of private giving and volunteer relief efforts we have witnessed over the past week shows that the American people can effectively respond to natural disasters if the government would get out of their way.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/04/government-aid-makes-disasters-worse/