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Federal Judge: Tennessee can’t revoke driver’s licenses from people who can’t pay court costs

Glad to see this.  This law should be repealed.  It was/is all about the $$$ money, as is the drivers license.  This case talks about a right to drive.  It’s worth reading this law review article on the right to drive.

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2018/07/03/federal-court-tennessee-law-revoking-drivers-licenses-unconstitutional/754596002/

So was the Supreme Court wrong today, in 1992 or both?

by Horatio Bunce

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has ruled today that they were completely wrong in 1992 when they ruled that states could not collect sales taxes for sales that didn’t occur in their state (gee, what a concept). Unless of course the seller has some sort of building in the purchaser’s state – even if the item you are importing does not exist in the state you reside in, in that building the seller owns. Now, they say that states can force their own tariffs for items imported from other states, aka a “trade war” to correct their “trade deficit” with our neighbors. It seems that the money involved is just too tempting to let go, independent states be damned – whether there is any real burden imposed or services required as a result of these foreign sales imports “for the public good” which is supposedly the only reason to collect taxes in the first place. The justification from tax-and-spend Republicans Haslam, Corker and Alexander has always been couched in a “marketplace fairness” argument, that it is unfair of you to import goods from another state of your choice instead of purchasing the same items from a brick and mortar store within the state. Supposedly, you are the bad guy for avoiding paying your fair share of high TN sales taxes – and covering the high taxes on the brick and mortar store. I say they must be high because, well, how else does the state that is near the bottom on cost of living (implying wages are in the lowest quartile too) explain losing out to other states where you import your goods from? After all, there must be a real brick and mortar business in that other state you purchase from. Of course, the same tax-and-spend Republicans offer corporate welfare to businesses like Amazon in the form of not collecting sales taxes despite having an in-state presence and not paying property taxes. Somehow this is “marketplace fairness” in their minds I guess. Some of them even claim to have “grave concerns” about President Trump’s tariffs on foreign imports – while salivating at the idea of creating their very own tariffs on other Americans. I guess raising the gas taxes (another bump coming next month!) and vehicle registration taxes just isn’t enough for the tax-and-spend Republicans in Tennessee. They are hungry for more.

As I have written before, the states have no right to taxes on imported goods from other states. According to the U.S. Constitution, where the SCOTUS finds its reason for existing at all, the states can only collect taxes on imports with permission of the U.S. Congress.

Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution states in part:

No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.”

The states don’t get their permission from the SCOTUS. It comes from the Congress. Any net proceeds beyond the cost for inspections are supposed to go to the federal treasury. All those tax laws are subject to revision and control of the Congress.

Welcome to the federal sales tax.

So, I’d like to know, was the SCOTUS wrong in 1992, today or both? Sounds like a great gubernatorial debate question to me. And since the SCOTUS HAD to be wrong at least once on this issue (and in recent times – not 200 years ago when we “couldn’t foresee the power of the internet”), why are we automatically inundated with their latest decisions as the “correct interpretation” that cannot be questioned?

Does this mean I waited too long…

by Horatio Bunce

…to hatch my scheme to force a Wal-Mart bakery to make me a cake decorated with a Confederate battle flag and colored with rainbow icing?

Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Banning MAGA Hats, Gadsden Flags At Polling Places

I guess Tennessee will be forced to recognize the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Audit: Most Tennessee cities, counties require photo ID to access public records

The Blount County Commissioner referred to in this article is me: Tona Monroe.  The state agency that is discussed is the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance which is responsible for providing meeting minutes for the Tennessee Corrections Institute Board of Control

https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/local/tennessee/2018/05/21/tennessee-public-records-open-government-id-required/617790002/

Last year, when the commission adopted an open records policy, I said during discussion that a photo ID should not be required.  Then Chairman Jerome Moon, now a state representative, defended requiring papers just to see records.  Most of the commissioners must have agreed because only Commissioners Mike Akard, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and I voted against this policy.

It is good to read that a few counties don’t demand papers, proving identity, just to see records.  Requiring proof of citizenship is an unnecessary impediment to a society that is suppose to be free and claims to be transparent.  The USA is not Nazi Germany.

Read the audit herehttp://tcog.info/public-records-policy-audit/

On another note, this is the second article in which a request that I made is discussed without naming me.  The other involved questions that I submitted to Troy Logan, fiscal administrator for Blount County Schools.  Some teachers had several questions about the schools related to how money is spent.  I submitted their questions.  A response was sent me as well as the other 20 county commissioners.

A few months later, there was a story in The Daily Times about this request for information.  Then Blount County Board of Education Chairman
Trevis Gardner told the paper that he supported charging for looking at records because they’d received a big request that took a lot of time to respond to.  He citied the questions that I submitted with his support for charging you to look at records.

The paper requested a copy of the questions and answers, and knew they were submitted by a commissioner, but did not mention this in its story.  Gardner said the response took time away from administrators focusing on classrooms but failed to mention that the answers included comparisons to other school systems, which were not part of the inquiries.  Such a comparison may have required time but it was not what was requested.  Furthermore, the fiscal administrator is a records custodian so his job duties include providing records.

Logan said the questions were frequently asked which is why he submitted the response to all 21 Blount County Commissioners.  Thus, having written answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) may have saved the schools time and money in responding to FAQs.

The Daily Times hasn’t moved out of the Stone Age, loves big government

With the passing of Dean Stone and the retirement of penguin sex preacher and editor Buzz Trexler one would hope that The Daily Times would have moved out of the (Dean) Stone Age.   Alas that is not the case.  The stale big government, courthouse clique bias of Bob Norris remains and the new editor J. Todd Foster ran political hit pieces on Commissioner Mike Akard right before the election.  Norris does not reflect the values of many in this community but he and the editors have hidden behind their editorials and trash those who challenge the status quo.

Editors of the past and present at the paper love big government.  In a town where many are conservative, the best they can achieve is support for the establishment Republicans, just look at all the pro Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker editorials.  These big government Republicans and the big government Republicans in the courthouse clique love to tax you, spend your money and tell you how to live your lives.   Thus, the rag trashes those who try to hold the line on spending and question the authority of local government.  The four commissioners who have recently been the subject of hit pieces and an editorial are the four who have most consistently looked out for the taxpaying citizens of Blount County.

Look at the paper’s Twitter account.  The only two days, during the last year, that the paper has published a “sneak peak” of the front page of the paper are the two days where the new editor ran hit pieces on Commissioner Mike Akard.  Despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Mike Akard the new editor says he isn’t partisan, won’t publish the letter to editor I (Tona Monroe) wrote asking questions about the stories and won’t answer the questions that I raised about his stories.  https://twitter.com/DailyTimes/status/989698528195866625
https://twitter.com/DailyTimes/status/989354790714073088

The rag trashed Jim Folts, who served on the previous commission, when he was the lone ranger questioning local government spending.  Now on the eve of this local government primary election, the rag’s focus is on the three women commissioners, who have also challenged the status quo.

The rag should be focusing on important issues on the eve of the election.  However, if they did that it would make those they support, the big spending courthouse clique, look bad.  Many of these big government Republicans are in local office for selfish reasons.  Just look at the conflicts of interest that proceed commission votes.  I wonder what would happen, in this election, if the paper published a story about candidates with conflicts of interest the day before the election.

The Daily Times asked the three ladies on the commission to come be interviewed, not the other way around.  When have the courthouse clique officials sat down for an interview?  Would the paper respond by publishing an editorial the day before the election praising them for what they said?

The Daily Times did willingly publish a hate screed from Ed Mitchell telling Blount County to wake up because voters chose to replace some of the incumbent, courthouse clique commissioners in the last election.  What Ed Mitchell and the anonymous editor(s) are telling us is that they think those of us who voted for people who aren’t part of the courthouse clique need to wake up, because we aren’t smart enough to chose who governs.

The point that I made about being more effective as a citizen is misconstrued in the editorial.  The point was that an active citizenry can accomplish more than a few commissioner without an active citizenry.  When the citizens groups were active, the property tax increases were less.

To act like the three women never transitioned into being public servants is absurd.  The three women were the first three commissioners to hold public town halls after being elected.  They were asked to hold these public meetings by the now defunct Citizens for Blount County’s Future.  When have the political machine commissioners held town hall meetings?  Furthermore, three of the four commissioners that have been the recent focus of paper have worked to inform the public about Blount County government, when the paper often failed to cover issues.  This website is viewed by many and I have done several radio interviews.  Commissioner Jamie Daly has published a newsletter and Mike Akard has posted to Facebook.  These types of efforts to engage with the public are scant or non-existent with the rest of the commissioners.

Running on a platform and sticking by it is fulfilling what you said you would.  Another citizens group recognized that when it honored 6 commissioners, including the 3 women and Mike Akard, for doing what they said they would do.  Blount County Tax Revolt, and those in attendance of the awards ceremony dinner, certainly thought the former citizen activists were fulfilling their roles as public servants.

In fairness to the reporters at The Daily Times, they don’t all share the views of those who make the final decisions at the paper.  Even Joel Davis, the reporter most critical of me, wrote that he was impressed with my vigilance, when I found the secret $2 million jail plan in TCI Board of Control meeting minutes.

“Tona,

Thank you every much for the information. Your vigilance is quite impressive. This is definitely going to make an interesting story.

Best,
Joel”

The wrath of God resolution was over the top.  I doubt that it would have gotten a second but the courthouse clique shut the meeting down by voting against setting the agenda.  Commissioner Karen Miller was the only sponsor of the resolution.  Yet Jamie Daly and I are included in the editorial.  The paper talks about how embarrassing it was for Blount County, but it was The Daily Times that started the media circus surrounding the resolution.

The commission passed a resolution in 2017 after the death of Steve Samples quoting a scripture from the Bible proclaiming that he would enter into the joy thy Lord.  There was no media coverage, including the paper, on this resolution.  Does the paper think it’s OK to interject religion into a resolution by proclaiming and approving something from the Bible as long at it supports the courthouse clique?  Where’s the outrage from the editors telling us how embarrassing it is for the commission to think that it can determine who enters into the joy of the Lord?  This wasn’t a prayer proceeding the meeting.  It is a formally adopted resolution and official statement of the Blount County Commission and Mayor.  Karen Miller and I were the only two commissioners who did not sponsor this resolution.

The paper further criticizes the no votes of the women when doing routine business while praising the machine for finessing the shut down of a regularly scheduled meeting and lauding Mayor Mitchell for restoring “order”.  That kind of double speak makes clear the misguided priorities of those in the back rooms of the paper.  The courthouse clique can waste our money all day long.  That isn’t news worthy, unless you vote against it, but a non-binding resolution warrants a media circus and praise for shutting down a meeting.  Remember that it was the courthouse clique and the newspaper that made the huge deal out of the resolution.  It would have likely died for a lack of a second.

There wasn’t any mention of anything that Jamie Daly or I tried to do over the last 4 years.  Before going to vote, the anonymous editor(s) want(s) you to focus on one non-binding resolution that did not bear the names of 2 of the 3 they talked about.  What about the issues that matter?  What about the 15% property tax increase that a majority of commissioners approved shortly after the local option sales tax was raised?  The list of issues is extensive but this is what the paper choses to focus on.

The paper should have learned, from the media coverage of the most recent presidential election, to rethink their election and government coverage priorities. Whether you love or hate Trump or are somewhere in between, the relevancy of many media outlets wore thin on many people in the 2016 election because of the constant Trump bashing.  Many decided, that despite Trump’s numerous character flaws, they trusted him more than the biased barrage of media attacks.  This message was lost on those making decisions at The Daily Times.

People run for public office for a variety of reasons.  The paper is free to express what they think make good qualifications for public office but the people writing anonymous editorials at the paper need a reality check.  Their views don’t align with many in the community.  The number of subscribers has dropped because of it, while the population of Blount County is increasing.  People share their concerns about the bias when the paper solicits renewals, but even when the people trying to sell subscriptions agree and share that they hear this often, the message falls on deaf ears with the decision makers at the paper as we can see by the editorial today.

The Daily Times might increase its number of subscribers if it actually published the votes of every commissioner on every issue, rather than selectively publishing what it wants the public to see.  Of course, if it did that, then big government, courthouse clique Republicans that they support will not look so good.

Letter to the editor that self proclaimed nonpartisan editor Todd Foster won’t publish.

April 27, 2018

Dear Editor,

What I took away from the first article about Commissioner Mike Akard is that he burns wood and brush on his property, had a permit to do so and no wrong doing was found, fireworks have been let off in celebration of our nation’s independence and he had two traffic citations: one with a $50 fine and the other was dropped after driving school.

Who hasn’t done such horrible things as burn wood, let off fireworks and exceed the speed limit?  That hardly warrants the following day’s headline that Akard has a criminal past.

Is The Daily Times going to refer to everyone, who has been given a traffic ticket, as having a criminal past?  No other charges or convictions were stated.  Has The Daily Times researched the driving records of all candidates or just Mike Akard?

There was no comment from Akard about the two traffic tickets.  Did The Daily Times ask Akard for a comment, like it asked his opponent for an explanation about his criminal conviction?

Sincerely,
Tona Monroe
Greenback, TN 37742

Update: I received this in an email Tuesday evening.  “I canceled my subscription after I read that editorial today. Sounded like something the president would put in Twitter. Disgusting.”

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.

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.”

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

Employees in higher pay grades are receiving higher percentage pay increase under Evergreen compensation pay scale

After 7 weeks of emails, I received answers to questions related to the annual pay increases that Blount County government employees are receiving under the Evergreen employee classification and compensation pay scale.  The top pay grade employees are eligible for a higher annual percentage step increase, with a satisfactory job performance, than the lower pay grades.  With the same percentage increase, those in higher pay grades would receive a bigger pay raise than those in lower pay grades because 1.84% of a larger number is more than 1.84% of a smaller.

It turns out that the people at the top of the pay scale are getting bigger pay raises.  The commission should not fund two different pay raise rates when the higher rate is for the best paid employees.  This pay scale applies to all county departments/offices except for the schools.

—–Original Message—–
From: “Jenny Morgan” <jmorgan@blounttn.org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 8:27am
To: tona@breezeair.net
Cc: “Randy Vineyard” <rvineyard@blounttn.org>, “Ed Mitchell” <emitchell@blounttn.org>
Subject: Re: Evergreen pay raises

Commissioner Monroe,
Please see my answers below in red.
Thank you,
 
Jenny Morgan
Human Resources Director
Blount County Government
397 Court Street
Maryville, TN 37804

On Sun, Mar 25, 2018 at 12:45 PM, <tona@breezeair.net> wrote:

—–Original Message—–
From: tona@breezeair.net
Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2018 1:43pm
To: “Jenny Morgan” <jmorgan@blounttn.org>
Cc: “Randy Vineyard” <rvineyard@blounttn.org>, “Ed Mitchell” <emitchell@blounttn.org>
Subject: Re: Evergreen pay raises

Dear Mrs. Morgan,

2 follow up questions:

The step increases of 1.84% and 2.11% have been the same annually since the Evergreen pay scale was adopted?

Yes

Why are people in positions with higher pay grades being given a larger percentage increase than those with lower pay grades?

​ Typically, in compensation programs, the higher grades have wider ranges and larger grade progressions. Or said another way, it is common that top salary grades have a wider range and that the lowest salary grades often have the most narrow range.  There are approximately 20 positions in pay grades 113-120.

Sincerely,

Tona

—–Original Message—–
From: “Jenny Morgan” <jmorgan@blounttn.org>
Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 2:17pm
To: tona@breezeair.net
Cc: “Randy Vineyard” <rvineyard@blounttn.org>, “Ed Mitchell” <emitchell@blounttn.org>
Subject: Re: Evergreen pay raises

Commissioner,
We have used these percentages since we implemented the compensation system that was adopted by Commission in 2015.  The steps are built into the budget but only given if the employee has a favorable performance evaluation.  As it pertains to total budget increases, that information is provided annually as part of the Budget Committee’s work papers and is available online.
Thank you,
 
Jenny Morgan
Human Resources Director
Blount County Government

On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 11:14 AM, <tona@breezeair.net> wrote:

Hi Jenny,

Thank you for the information.  However, this doesn’t tell me what year you are referring to.  Are these numbers for the current FY or what will be proposed in the budget in the upcoming year?  Furthermore, I am wanting to know the percentage of increase for each FY since Evergreen was adopted.  Please provide that.

Thanks,
Tona

—–Original Message—–
From: “Jenny Morgan” <jmorgan@blounttn.org>
Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2018 2:47pm
To: tona@breezeair.net
Cc: “Randy Vineyard” <rvineyard@blounttn.org>, “Ed Mitchell” <emitchell@blounttn.org>
Subject: Re: Evergreen pay raises

Commissioner Monroe,
Each employee who is in a position in pay grades 101-112, is eligible for a 1.84% step increase.  Those employees who are in positions in pay grades 113-120 are eligible for a 2.11% step increase.  They receive the step increase provided that we have a positive performance evaluation on file in the HR office.  This is consistent with the compensation plan adopted by County Commission.
Thank you,
 
Jenny Morgan
Human Resources Director
Blount County Government

On Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 9:11 AM, Randy Vineyard <rvineyard@blounttn.org> wrote:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: <tona@breezeair.net>
Date: Thu, Feb 15, 2018 at 2:58 PM
Subject: RE: Evergreen pay raises
To: Randy Vineyard <rvineyard@blounttn.org>

—–Original Message—–
From: tona@breezeair.net
Sent: Monday, February 5, 2018 11:30am
To: “Randy Vineyard” <rvineyard@blounttn.org>
Subject: Evergreen pay raises

Dear Finance Director Vineyard,

Please provide me with the base percentage increases that have been provided as pay raises since the Evergreen Solutions pay scale was adopted.  I realize that there is some flexibility within the pay ranges.  What I am requesting is the amount budgeted each year for percentage increases.

Sincerely,
Tona

 

Randy

 

Randy Vineyard, IOM

Blount County Finance Director

341 Court Street

Maryville, TN 37804

865-273-5719 (office)

rvineyard@blounttn.org

Update: I confirmed that the approximately 20 positions in pay grades 113-120 do not include office holders whose salaries are set by state law.

—–Original Message—–
From: “Jenny Morgan” <jmorgan@blounttn.org>
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2018 10:46am
To: tona@breezeair.net
Cc: “Ed Mitchell” <emitchell@blounttn.org>, “Randy Vineyard” <rvineyard@blounttn.org>
Subject: Re: Evergreen pay raises

Commissioner Monroe,
Yes, the positions where the salaries are set by state law (elected officials, administrator of elections and clerk & master) are excluded from the pay grades.
The state set salaries are on the Accounting website under Budget Reports in the March 23rd workshop file.
Thank you,
Jenny Morgan
Human Resources Director
Blount County Government
397 Court Street
Maryville, TN 37804
865-273-5781

On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 2:10 PM, <tona@breezeair.net> wrote:

Dear Ms. Morgan,

Do the approximately 20 employees in pay grads 113-120 exclude office holders and those whose salaries are set by state law?
Sincerely,
Tona

A “survivor” huh? Kind of like I “survived” 9-11?

by Horatio Bunce

 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

Watch as CFR-controlled Fake News’ Parkland shooting “survivor” David Hogg explains how he wasn’t there…

Now, if you believe this story and his alleged on-the-scene “video” as an alleged “student” who wasn’t at school, well you’ll probably be willing to trade liberty for safety – and deserve neither.

If your position is that you aren’t old enough, mature enough, stable enough, etc. to own a firearm and therefore the age limit for purchases needs to be raised (which suddenly morphed into demands for all-out gun bans), just what makes you (an admitted immature, unstable youth) qualified to decide public policy on firearms?

If a minor is too young, irresponsible, or immature to own a gun, why are they forced to register with selective service to potentially be forced to handle full auto weaponry for the U.S. Military within 30 days of turning 18? Why are their educations held hostage with conscription before they can have any federal financial aid for college?

Are military recruiters still allowed on high school campuses? How about ROTC? What, no marches about any of that stuff? Is it illogical that those with EBG (Evil Black Gun) Syndrome don’t ask these questions, and don’t seem interested at all in the ongoing promotion of full auto weapons right under their noses? Or does the 501C4 “non-profit” funding these fakes need to tell them everything?

And what about these students that talk about confusion with prior active shooter drills (same as Newtown) and multiple witnesses claiming there were multiple shooters, one of them walking down the hall evacuating the building with alleged shooter Cruz while simultaneously hearing other shots being fired? There is enough testimony here to tell they are not recounting a drill, but the day of the alleged shootings. These videos are being pulled by YouTube and reposted many times daily. What about these survivors? Are they liars we need to censor, or are they just as legitimate as Hogg who wasn’t actually there?

 

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 Blount County citizens being 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

September 2017 Commission Report

Commissioner Steve Samples passes – Scott King appointed as replacement
After the death of Steve Samples, a meeting was called to appoint a replacement to Seat A of the 3rd district.  Scott King was appointed to fill vacancy.

Commission meeting
Commissioner Dave Bennett and Mike Lewis were absent.

Consent Calendar – no standards for resolutions honoring people
I (Tona Monroe) frequently vote against the Consent Calendar.  It’s possible that I’ve voted no on the consent calendar more than any other commissioner in Blount County history.  It’s certainly true in the 10 years that I’ve been attending commission meetings, with 3 of those years as a commissioner and 7 years as a citizen activist.  My reasons for voting no have never been thoroughly explained.

The commission approved a resolution honoring Steve Samples.  I was the only no vote at the commission meeting.  I did not intend for the resolution honoring Steve Samples to be resolution that resulted in an explanation of why I frequently vote no but the circumstances surrounding and within the resolution warrant discussion.

There is no standard for honoring someone with a resolution in Blount County, other than a commissioner deciding to sponsor it and a majority of commissioners voting to approve the resolution.  Any commissioner can file a resolution honoring anyone that they want to, for any reason they want to.  I don’t recall seeing any resolution honoring anyone being voted down during the decade that I’ve been attending commission meetings.

There has been recent controversy at the state level with who Tennessee should honor.  This country is struggling with who the USA should honor. Considering the lack of standards, it is understandable why people would get upset over some of the people that politicians chose to honor.

A free society doesn’t need the government making decisions about who to honor.  People should be free to honor whomever they want.  Some of the last people we need telling us who and what to honor are politicians.

The proper role of government is to assist in protecting your life, liberty and property while you pursue happiness.  A position of trust should be used for that reason, not to honor your friends, relatives, coworkers and those you deem worthy of praise and honor.  We have the right to peacefully assembly in this country.  Politicians who want to honor people should exercise that right, like any other citizen.

Perhaps governments’ role in honoring people should be limited to naming land marks, roads, bridges, buildings, and governments after people.  Governments and roads do need to be named.

At the very least, governments should develop standards to determine those who are worthy of honor if governments are going to continue honoring people.  This of course opens up a can of worms and is why decisions of honor are best left for people to make up their own minds.

         Debt
Some would say that Steve Samples is worthy of honor and give their reasons.  I’ll give a major reason why I chose not to honor him with a public resolution proclaiming how wonderful he is: debt.  Like so many politicians, Steve Samples voted to indebt future generations.

When he died, the county had debt extending into 2037.  He left a future generation to pay for the decisions that he made.  He was not a good fiscal steward who made sure that the county paid its way as it went.  The resolution says Samples “leaves behind a legacy of compassion, loyalty, and dedication to his fellowman,” but it fails to mention the debt he leaves behind.  Leaving future generations to pay for what you do today is inexcusable and certainly not honorable.

          Commission claims authority to proclaim that people enter into the joy of the Lord
My name was placed on the resolution honoring Steve Samples, without asking me if I wanted to sponsor the resolution.  This had never happened before.  I had my name removed for the reasons described and because of what was contained in the resolution.  The last WHEREAS clause of the resolution says:

“As the scripture says in St. Matthew 25:21, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Let me start by saying that I am in no way making the case that any mention of religion should be completely prohibited in or around government buildings.  The founders did not intend for the 1st amendment to the federal Constitution to prohibit people from praying before a government meeting.

This scripture is included in the whereas section of the resolution as though it is a statement of fact.  When did the Blount County Commission decide that it has the authority to proclaim who is entering into the joy of the Lord?  What’s next?  Will the commission claim the authority to sell indulgences?

Some of these same commissioners voted against even setting the agenda containing a resolution in 2015 that mentioned the wrath of God, among other things.  Now, as sponsors of the resolution, 19 commissioners and Mayor Ed Mitchell are claiming authority to determine who enters into the joy of the Lord.

During the statement portion of the meeting, Commissioner Mike Caylor berated Commissioner Karen Miller and me because we chose not stand with them during their honoring ceremony.  Miller and I stood but we chose to remain at our commission seats.  I stood out of respect for the people who elected to me to this position of trust and to be respectful of the proceeding but I did not participate in the ceremony portion for the reasons described.  Does Caylor’s boorish behavior show a lack of respect for the process?  Or is his boorish behavior the way he treats those that he disagrees with?

Vocational career equipment for schools
The commission approved spending money provided by the state to purchase welding equipment and a robot that is similar to what Denso uses at its training facility.  It is good to see funds being used for career training.  There has been far too much emphasis on going to college.

Teachers union lawsuit settled
The commission approved spending the funds to settle a lawsuit brought against the Blount County Board of Education (School Board) by the Blount County Education Association (commonly called the teachers union).  The budget was increased $417,657 to pay for salaries that had been in dispute.  Commissioners Grady Caskey, Dodd Crowe and Gary Farmer abstained because they are school employees.  Caskey was the President of the BCEA at the time the lawsuit was filed.  You can read what he wrote about the funding of education during that time here.  One has to wonder who exactly Caskey is representing in his capacity as a Blount County Commissioner.  Caskey was unopposed in the May 2014 primary election because the incumbent died shortly before the election.

Smart meter opt-out resolution
Excluding those absent, the commission unanimously approved a resolution thanking local utilities that allow their customers to opt-out of smart meters.  Privacy, health and safety concerns have been raised by many who do not want to be forced to have a smart meter as a condition of electric service.  Commissioner Akard stated that he hoped the City of Alcoa would allow its electric customers to opt-out of smart meters.

Commission pay raise pulled
Commissioner Ron French pulled his resolution to increase pay for county commissioners from the agenda.  This was French’s second attempt this year to increase the pay of commissioners.

The first attempt failed in the Agenda Committee.  The second attempt made it out of the Agenda Committee.  No reason was given for why Commissioner French pulled the resolution.  Commissioners Andy Allen, Archie Archer, Dave Bennett, Brad Bowers, Rick Carver, Shawn Carter, Grady Caskey, Mike Caylor, Dodd Crowe, Gary Farmer, Ron French, Scott King, Mike Lewis, Kenneth Melton, Jerome Moon and Tom Stinnett voted yes at the Agenda Committee meeting to send the pay raise to the commission.  Commissioners Mike Akard, Tom Cole, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and I voted no.