by Horatio Bunce
In my neck of the woods, a “food desert” somewhere in FEMA Region IV, a local business thumbs their nose at the “cell-phone-and-a-pen” unconstitutional platitudes emanating from Washington DC. Folks like us not receiving the corporate welfare benefits that result in forced acceptance of Bill Gates’ Common Core, Pearson Sharia Social Studies, PARCC/SBAC/AIR/UTAH SAGE test question rentals and now apparently co-ed public school locker rooms, are finding it hard to understand why the super-majority Republicans in Tennessee shake in their boots every time Hedy Weinberg utters a threat to federal funding. We “might” get sued. Uncle Sugar “might” withhold your money that was automatically “withheld” from you when you earned it to begin with. So keep turning those tricks Welfare Queen. You don’t want to get slapped by Uncle Sugar, do you?
All those liberties sold out chasing Uncle Sugar’s dollar (which was yours to begin with). They sure came cheap. You can call it “state-led” all you want, but it is plain to see who is in control.
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
Apparently several of the Tennessee House Democrats don’t think any international authority should infringe on the gun rights of Tennesseans. The Tennessee House voted 88-2 to pass legislation sponsored by a Democrat that will prohibit state and local government employees from enforcing international laws and treaties that restrict gun rights protected by the Constitution of Tennessee. It will be interesting to see how Republican Senator Doug Overbey votes on this one, since he infringes on the gun rights of law abiding Tennessee citizens.
by Horatio Bunce
Sen. Mark Green introduced a “Constitutional Carry” bill (SB1483) last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. This was one of many issues various Republicans promised to address if their party ever gained the majority in the state legislature. Years of Republican majorities later and now with a veto-proof super-majority, the only progress made is you can now drive with your legally purchased arms in your vehicle without a special tax paid to the state. However, you cannot bear your legally purchased arms outside of your home or your personal vehicle without paying a perpetual tax to the state to exercise your “right” to keep and bear arms, pay an exorbitant fee for an additional criminal background check and 8 hours of instruction by the THP carry permit monopoly and submit to fingerprinting – just like an arrested criminal. The original bill was simple: remove the currently unconstitutional infringements on the legal possession and bearing of arms by non-felons that are imposed by the state in the form of perpetual taxation for the exercise of a constitutionally-protected right. The ability to pay a perpetual tax to obtain an unconstitutional “carry permit” for reciprocal use in other states would remain if you so choose. A criminal background check (background tax and sales tax paid by the buyer) would still be required to purchase any new firearms.
Sen. Green had already acquiesced to amend the bill into “Less Than Constitutional Carry” by adding a requirement for the same mandatory 8 hours of training, currently controlled by the state Police For Profit class, that is required to get your unconstitutional “carry permit” (a.k.a. receipt of tax paid to exercise your “right”) in Tennessee. This, despite the fact that the same department currently is willing to issue reciprocity permits to visiting Alabama residents – where no training at all is required.
This amendment to the bill did two things: 1) It removed any argument by the Anti-Constitutionalists that there was no “safety training” of those bearing arms. Anyone carrying open or concealed would have to produce their state government-approved training certificate upon demand by the Police For Profit class. Again, that returns actually bearing arms to a state-sanctioned privilege controlled by the Police For Profit Class, not a right. However, they would receive the exact same 8 hours of training currently imposed on those obtaining the unconstitutional “carry permit”. 2) It maintained the Police For Profit class revenue source for all that mandatory training, although Sen. Green did dare to add that the training could be provided by the U.S. military. The one revenue stream dislodged would be the exorbitant $72 the Police For Profit class charges for a SECOND background check as they fingerprint you like a criminal for showing up to pay your 2nd Amendment Tax. Remember, that first background check only cost $10 when you purchased the weapon.
With over a half million Tennesseans already forfeiting their 2nd Amendment right to pay $150 every 7 years for the privilege of bearing arms in Tennessee, you can see the Police For Profit Class stands to lose a lot. You do the math on the revenue stream at stake.
You really should take the time to watch the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of this bill.
Note the timidity of judge-selector Brian Kelsey as he “reluctantly” seconds the motion to even hear the already-neutered bill. Hear the “legal opinion” that it is against Tennessee law to be in possession of a loaded weapon without the Police For Profit Class’ explicit permission – but unloaded is ok. Listen to the arguments made by the Anti-Constitutionalists and the Police For Profit head revenue agent Tracy Trott as they rationalize that while they know the status quo infringements are indeed unconstitutional (and therefore illegal as any real-smart attorney should know), in their opinion, they are not “unreasonable” unconstitutional demands. Trott is all about maintaining “control” of the revenue, and claiming they provide necessary “constitutional training” regarding use of deadly force to the permit holder. Apparently, Trott was daydreaming about his next highway robbery asset forfeiture stop of “trucky-trailers” when Sen. Green explained the amendment to the bill required the exact same 8 hours of training they are already providing – except we would not continue to fleece our innocent, law-abiding, already-passed-a-background check neighbors perpetually in order to exercise their constitutionally-protected right. Like Robot Rubio, head revenue agent Trott can only repeat the same couple of irrelevant lines over and over. The Anti-Constitutionalists have no response to the fact that Tennessee grants reciprocity to Alabama concealed carry visitors – who are not required to have any sort of training by their state (just pay us their money for the privilege of walking into Tennessee). Particularly, Senator Kerry Roberts had the courage to openly argue for your constitutionally-protected rights in support of Green’s bill and made very reasonable points exposing the hypocrisy of our current unconstitutional statutes.
End result: In the Republican-stacked committee (7-2), alleged Republicans Doug Overbey and John Stevens sided with the Democrats and the Police For Profit Class against the law-abiding citizens and the US Constitution. Republican Todd Gardenhire abstained, apparently believing restoring constitutionally-protected rights is a “bad bill”. Bill Fails to pass committee 4-4-1.
Yeas : Mike Bell, Janice Bowling, Brian Kelsey, Kerry Roberts
Nays : Doug Overbey, John Stevens, Sarah Kyle, Lee Harris
Present Not Voting : Todd Gardenhire
The politicians have made their first legal appointment after a campaign based on misleading people who haven’t read the state constitution into amending it to legalize appointing positions that were already unlawfully being appointed. Amendment 2 would have never passed if people had understood what they were voting on. Several people I spoke with, who voted for Amendment 2, regretted their votes. They all said that they didn’t know what the state constitution actually said about election judges until after they had voted.
Thank you Brian Kelsey and many in the Tennessee General Assembly for pushing Soviet style elections on us. I so look forward to voting for or against the R (Red ?) party appointments.
30-0 and 97-0. How many will line up to vote yes on the judges in the next retention “election?”
Suggested Reading: http://www.dartblog.com/data/2013/02/010669.php
Warrant statistics supplied by the Blount County Sheriff’s Office
2011 – Entered 7,245…Served 6,994
2012 – Entered 7,400…Served 7,051
2013 – Entered 6,677…Served 6,838
2014 – Entered 6,134…Served 5,237
2015 – Entered 5,603…Served 5,226 as of November 30th
As we give thanks for our material abundance this Thanksgiving Day, we would all do well to remember that there is more to freedom than choosing between Burger King and McDonalds and there is more to patriotism than flag waving.
Thank you Mr. Chairman. The situation before us is not uncharted territory. The jail was overcrowded before and the county was forced to build, leaving us with debt that we are still paying on. We should all be able to see where the current situation is headed.
The overcrowding wisely lead the commission and sheriff to commission a study from a national firm who has studied over 400 counties across this country to provide us with options to address our jail and criminal justice system.
The Sheriff has recently started sending us letters telling us that he expects the jail overcrowding to persist. He has been telling us that tensions are increasing. The Sheriff is actually making the case for why the time for us to act is now.
The next step is to hear from the jail consultant. It will cost us nothing further to hear from the consultant. 13 of us were not on the commission when the final report came out. It would behoove us too listen to the findings.
Let the Sheriff tell us what he is seeing in the jail. Let the consultant tell us what his recommendations are. Let everyone be heard. If we continue to ignore the situation then as the Sheriff said in his October 28th letter, “the repercussions could be detrimental to not only the Sheriff’s Office, but to Blount County also”.
Here are some of the situations we could find the county in if we remain inattentive. We could be closed down by the state or the courts. We could be sued and face allegations of our jail being unconstitutional. We could be sued by inmates because of overcrowding conditions in the jail. We could lose control of the jail to inmate riots from the overcrowding. We have a pill problem and some are warning of heroine being a public safety issue. The consultants recommendations may be helpful to our public safety, budget and very fabric of our wonderful community.
Many Counties in Tennessee are in similar situations and are acting while we are not. National media is publishing the stories. We will be next in the national headlines if we don’t get to work now.
I had to go back to 2006 to find a jail report that didn’t show serious overcrowding. A plan of action was issued in 2012. How much more longer can we afford to wait?
The Comptroller’s website lists Blount County’s FY 2014 debt as the 8th highest county debt in the state. It would be a tragedy for us to add to that financial burden when the county has already been down this costly road before. We should be proactive not reactive.
We as the funding body will have to make the tough financial decisions for the jail. It is not a tough financial decision to have open discussion on what we can do to reduce our inmate population and thereby reduce or eliminate the repercussions that the taxpaying people of Blount County will face if we sit back and let the problem continue.
Therefore, I urge you to join me in voting to move forward and have a hearing on the study that we commissioned two years ago and has been out for a year and a half. Thank you.
November 10, 2015 Agenda Committee meeting
Note: The jail has 350 beds. The March 15, 2007 jail report showed only minor overcrowding of 2 inmates (see page 147) while the rest of the 2007 showed serious overcrowding. The December 2006 jail inspection report listed 349 inmates (see page 81), which is 1 below capacity, and the last time these reports showed the inmate population being below the bed capacity.
My comments will address Item G4 which calls for a long awaited and much needed hearing by the full commission on the jail study. There are 4 verses in Proverbs that address the situation before us.
Proverbs 23 verses 1-4:
1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:
2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.
3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
Commissioners, I ask you where else does the Bible tell you that it would be better to put a knife to your throat and commit suicide than to fall for the deceitful ways of government officials? Today we call rulers leaders, politicians, commissioners, mayors and sheriffs. Sometimes we mistakenly call those in government servants but government officials are very much our rulers, dominating our lives, spending our money and telling us nearly every move to make.
The Mayor’s deceit with the jail study is obvious. There is no lawsuit. For those of you who voted no it’s time to realize the deceit and move forward. You have a chance to correct this deceit.
The Sheriff’s deceit with the jail study is obvious. The county does not make money keeping federal inmates and the report says that. The only way to make it appear like the county is profiting off the federal inmates is overcrowding the jail, packing the inmates into the jail like sardines in a can.
For those saying we need to keep the federal inmates for money, heed the words labour not to be rich, cease from thine own wisdom. Jails do not make money. The taxpayers foot the bill regardless of the level of government funding.
The next federal inmate that you sit back and allow to be brought into the jail to add to public treasury could be the one to files the lawsuit that brings the whole matter into the federal court. Then you will find out how wise it is keep federal inmates when a federal judge tells you every move to make. When you get the bill for the new jail pod then you will wish you hadn’t been given to appetite and fallen for the deceitful meat of the Mayor and Sheriff or sought the riches of federal money.
For those who would like to see more DUI enforcement, the Court of Criminal Appeals in Tennessee at Knoxville has affirmed that state law empowers citizens to arrest those driving under the influence of alcohol. See the opinion here: http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/2015/tn-privatecop.pdf
Arresting power of private citizens includes misdemeanors in addition to felonies. Most of us have had police officers blow past us at high rates of speed that far exceed the posted speed limit without having their lights on. I once witnessed an officer put his lights on to go though an intersection and then turn his lights off after he got through the intersection.
Minor traffic offenses are usually handled with a citation in lieu of arrest but more serious violations usually result in arrest. I wonder what would happen if private citizens started exercising this power to arrest officers for all the traffic violations that they commit in public. An officer once told me that courts frown on it, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Commissioner Tona Monroe has filed a resolution to have a teleconference hearing on the findings and recommendations of the Criminal Justice System Assessment Report presented by the Institute for Law and Policy Planning. Commissioner Monroe issued the following statement regarding the report and teleconference.
“In response to jail overcrowding the County commissioned a study that was conducted by the Institute for Law and Policy Planning (ILPP). Two years later the County Commission has not heard from the consultant about the findings of the study because of leadership changes on the Blount County Corrections Partnership and because of the Mayor’s false threat of a lawsuit to silence discussion.
The Blount County jail is overcrowded and the problem is not going to go away on its own. I commend the 7 commissioners who joined me in voting to have a hearing earlier this year and I challenge the other 13 to rethink their positions. With no lawsuit on the horizon it’s time for the commission to move beyond local obstructionist politics and get to work addressing the needs of our criminal justice system.”
Commissioner Tona Monroe
District 7 Seat B
Serving Big Springs, Carpenters, Friendsville, Happy Valley and Lanier
For more information see these articles:
Attorney Herb Moncier offered some insightful comments about the Tennessee Constitution. While discussions of rights usually center around the federal constitution, there are important and valuable protections of liberty in our state constitution.
As I recently wrote, it has been and continues to be my mission to provide open, transparent and accountable government in addition to restoring liberty. For those saying this is an exercise in futility, you are mostly right but if we don’t try we automatically lose.
My adventures in head banging started long before I (Tona Monroe) became a county commissioner. Describing my efforts in engaging the system as an “adventure” is at times an embellishment because it implies that there is some uncertainty in the outcome. Often the outcome is quite predictable. Bureaucrats will drag their feet as long as you will let them. Other times it is very much an adventure in head banging.
Several years ago, I sent an open records request and request for information to the Blount County Sherriff’s Office. I received a written response telling me that I would have to come to the Blount County Justice Center and provide a government issued photo ID. This seemed a bit excessive to me, especially since I had just made a similar request with the state of Tennessee and did not have to drive to Nashville with a photo ID.
Karen Miller, who at that time was a concerned citizen like me and had not yet been elected to public office, Harry Grothjahn, a member of the press, and my husband Troy Ball accompanied me the Justice Center to comply with the request from the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Chief, then called Assistant Chief, Jimmy Long placed us in the interrogation room while he photocopied my ID and made me restate the request even thought I had provided what I wanted in writing.
Flash forward a couple years. Karen Miller and I are both county commissioners, my website serves as a media source primarily publishing information about local government and restoring freedom, and obtaining information from local government still can be quite difficult.
After a series of unanswered request for open records and information from the Mayor’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office, earlier this year, I went above their heads to the State Office of Open Records Counsel. Amazingly both offices responded within hours of the Open Records Counsel telling them to comply with the state open records law.
The response from the Mayor’s Office to the Office of Open Records Counsel was reasonable. I was given the requested record that afternoon.
The response from the Sheriff’s Office was excessive and a waste of taxpayer money. The Sheriff’s Office had Not the County Attorney Craig Garrett send a written response, by email, to Open Records Counsel and cc’ed me on the email. You can read the letter here.
Ms. Ann Butterworth responded to the letter from the Not the County Attorney by email saying:
“Dear County Attorney Garrett:
Thank you for responding to my inquiry regarding public record requests made by Ms. Monroe. I support the County’s direction to develop a reasonable rule to govern public record requests. Tenn. Code Ann. Section 10-7-506(a) provides “that the lawful custodian of such records shall have the right to adopt and enforce reasonable rules governing the making of such extracts, copies, photographs or photostats.” Without properly adopted reasonable rules in place, a records custodian is not authorized to charge for copies.
I disagree with the approach the County is taking with regard to requests from citizens (whether they are also elected officials or not). The County, as the record custodian, does have the right to require proof of citizenship by presentation of a government issued photo ID with a home address. However, I do not see where the County requested Ms. Monroe to present the identification prior to viewing the record as permitted by Tenn. Code Ann. Section 10-7-503(a)(7)(A). Since Ms. Monroe is a Commissioner for the County, and a request for identification was not made, I do not see how the County could justify its refusal to respond to her public records request on the basis of citizenship.
The County, as the record custodian, should not ignore a request made under the Tennessee Public Records Act.
While custodians of public records do not have an obligation to review and search their records pursuant to a Public Records Act request, they do have the clear obligation to produce those records for inspection, unless otherwise provided by state law, and to provide a copy or copies of any such record requested by such citizen, upon the payment of a reasonable charge or fee therefor. T.C.A. § 10-7-503. Waller v. Bryan, 1999, 16 S.W.3d 770, appeal denied.
The appropriate response is a written denial indicating that no such record exists and that Tenn. Code Ann. Section 10-7-503(a)(5) does not require a custodian to create a record that does not already exist. Tenn. Code Ann. Section 10-7-503(a)(3) provides that failure to respond constitutes a denial and the requestor has the right to bring an action under Tenn. Code Ann. Section 10-7-505. If the requested documents did exist, I believe a court would find the County to be willful in its action of failing to provide the documents.
Whether or not a governmental entity has a full-time position designated to respond to public records requests, under Tenn. Code Ann. Section 10-7-503(a)(2)(B), record custodians are required to promptly make open public records available for inspection and, if requested, to provide copies of such records. If prompt response is not practicable, then a record custodian must respond using the form developed by this Office.
If you have any questions, or would like assistance with or review of the proposed rule for the County, please let me know.
Ann V. Butterworth Open Records Counsel & Assistant to the Comptroller for Public Finance”
About a week later, I received the record that I requested. It would have been much simpler if the Sheriff’s Office had responded in a timely manner, without wasting money on an attorney. This occurred after Chief Deputy Jeff French told the commission in June that any commissioner was welcome to come to his office to see where money had been spent. Hopefully open records and information requests in the future won’t result in letters from attorneys and placing citizens and members of the press in an interrogation room.
Why is all of this important to you?
Besides placing citizens and a member of the press in an interrogation room for asking for public records and information, and failing to respond to requests, the State of Tennessee is considering allowing local governments to charge you, the taxpaying citizens, just to look at your governments public records. Show up and speak out at the hearing in Knoxville on September 15. This is your government and its time to remind those who are suppose to “serve” you of that.
While we enjoy some personal freedom, there is a lot of room for improvement.