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?
I guess Tennessee will be forced to recognize the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
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?
I guess Tennessee will be forced to recognize the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
To the great people of Blount County:
I have been employed for 28 years by a retail company where I am in charge of millions of dollars of merchandise each year. This has given me the experience to carefully watch the resources of the taxpayers and to represent the people as a county commissioner. I have two beautiful daughters that are my life. I have lived in Tennessee my entire life and have been in Blount County for more than 20 years now. I do not like the direction our governments have been going: local, state and federal.
When my opponent wouldn’t give me straight answers about important issues that the county is dealing with, I could not sit on the side line and not do my part to change the direction of our local government. My opponent has voted for 3 budgets funded by the same 16% property tax rate increase from 2015. He also voted to restrict private property rights back in 2015 with the water buffer resolution. My opponent is against transparency. After the November 2014 Human Resources Committee meeting, my opponent told another commissioner to hide benefits information from public view. Please ask yourself: Is this the person you wish to have representing you as the citizen taxpayer?
Our county government owes over $214 million dollars in debt and total liabilities (see page 25). Some elected officials can not control their spending. We have schools that are in disrepair, yet over the past 3 years the county mayor and finance director set aside two-million dollars for jail expansion. The commission just approved spending $118,000 on a condemned bridge instead of repairing our schools. As both a voter and taxpayer, I do not think this is the way things should be done. I will prioritize the county’s spending.
I stand for the Constitution, and I will vote to insure that the money of each taxpayer will be spent wisely and not wasted on non-priority items like bridges to nowhere. I promise to vote against new taxes of any kind. We as a county do not have a funding problem; what we have is a spending problem. We need to prioritize spending and pay down our debt and in turn keep our government running efficiently. I support a transparent government that conducts its business openly rather than working behind closed doors and hiding things from the public. I humbly ask for your vote come May 1, 2018.
Thank you for considering me for Blount County Commissioner in the 7th district.
The agenda was lengthy this month, containing 17 items under new business (one added at the last minute) as well as items under the consent calendar and elections, appointments and confirmations. Some of the items won’t be covered in this commission report but you can ask any questions that you may have about those items in the comments section below. Commissioners Dave Bennett and Gary Farmer were absent.
The consent calendar contained a resolution titled “A RESOLUTION HONORING ALL VETERANS AND THE EMPLOYEES OF THE BLOUNT COUNTY VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE FOR THEIR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTIONS.” In the September 2017 Commission Report, I explained why I frequently vote no on these resolutions honoring people. I abstained on this vote, which is something I rarely do. Many of our veterans are worthy of honor, which is why I abstained rather than voting no.
While the veterans are listed first in the title of the resolution, they are barely mentioned in the resolution. The resolution is mostly about the staff of the Blount County Veterans Affairs Office. This resolution really diminishes our veterans. Once again politicians were using their political office to honor government employees.
Some speak highly of Veterans Service Officer Nathan Weinbaum. That’s good that there are people who are happy with the job he is doing. However, he is being well paid for this job. His salary is substantially more than the average taxpayer in Blount County. Furthermore, he works in air an conditioned building and has great fringe benefits. He is already being rewarded by the taxpayers with the generous salary and benefits that he receives which exceed more than the majority live on. The people of Blount County are free to honor him anytime they so chose, without the Blount County Commission telling them to.
Donation for employee recognition
Item F4 on the agenda was a resolution to approve spending $1,500 donated to pay for a recognition luncheon for Blount County Sheriff’s Office employees. This is a much better way to honor those who people feel are doing good for the community, than the resolutions that the county commission passes. Actions like this speak louder than the commission’s words on paper.
Highway Department employee handbook – who has authority to approve it?
The commission was asked to approve updates to the Blount County Highway Department Employee Supplement Handbook. I questioned why the commission was voting on this when Highway Superintendent Jeff Headrick has authority under TCA 5-23-103 to adopt a policy without commission approval.
“Any county official whose employees are governed by the base personnel policies adopted by the county legislative body shall have the right to adopt separate base personnel policies applicable to the employees of such official’s office by filing approved base personnel policies with the county legislative body in the same manner as set out in subsection (a), at the following times.”
Blount County government appears to have an authority problem. The sheriff did not bring the federal inmates contract to the county commission for approval before signing the contract. Yet, the commission is approving policies that state law says office holders have the authority to adopt without commission approval. If state law says an office holder has the authority to act, then commission should leave the responsibility to the office holder.
Fireworks ban repeal request
The possession, sale, manufacture, storing and use of pyrotechnics (fireworks) was made illegal in Blount County under a 1949 private act. Punishment can be severe, with fines ranging from $50-400 and/or jail time ranging from 30 days to 11 months and 29 days.
You can legally buy fireworks in Loudon County but you can’t bring them into Blount County legally. People routinely do this and the law isn’t being enforced. As such, the law either needs to enforced, repealed or amended to something more reasonable.
A letter from Blount County Sheriff James Berrong explains that the main complaint his office receives from fireworks is related to noise. Berrong’s suggestion is for the fireworks ordinance be rewritten to prohibit the use of fireworks between the hours of 11 PM through 7 AM.
The resolution requests that the Tennessee General Assembly repeal the private act. Chairman Moon declared that a 2/3rds majority of 14 votes was needed, and the resolution was postponed because of the uncertainty of whether a simple majority or a 2/3rds majority is required for a resolution requesting repeal of a private act. One has to wonder why Ron French, who questioned the number of required votes, didn’t know the answer since he is in the 4th year of his 4th term as a county commissioner.
Commission Mike Caylor topped himself this month by flying off the handle and pointing at Mike Akard after Akard spoke in favor of the resolution. Unfortunately that the commission video doesn’t zoom in close enough for the citizens to see Caylor’s disrespectful actions.
Purple Heart Highway
The commission passed a resolution supporting the designation of US Highway 321 through Blount County the Military Order Purple Heart Highway. The title of the resolution shows how sloppy the wording of resolutions can be.
The title reads, “RESOLUTION NAMING U.S. HIGHWAY 321/LAMAR ALEXANDER PARKWAY FROM LOUDON COUNTY/BLOUNT COUNTY LINE NORTH TO BLOUNT COUNTY/SEVIER COUNTY LINE THE MILITARY ORDER PURPLE HEART HIGHWAY.” The commission wasn’t actually renaming the 321 but rather showing support for the designation. The title of a resolution should reflect what the commission is actually doing. The title should have used the word requesting or supporting instead of making it read that the road would actually be given a new name.
Interlocal agreement between Blount County and the City of Friendsville
Item F14 is a resolution to approve an interlocal agreement between the county and Friendsville. The City of Friendsville is in my commission district but no one from the City of Friendsville contacted to discuss this matter before bringing it to the commission. I learned of the agreement when I read the Agenda Committee packet.
The agreement requires the Blount County Sheriff’s Office to enforce city ordinances that will be adjudicated in Blount County General Sessions Court. The agreement says, “this agreement shall extend until such time as the City requests and expresses their intent pursuant to the applicable statutes that their designated municipal ordinance is no longer to be prosecuted by the Sheriff and General Sessions Court.” This only mentions what happens if the city wants out of the agreement.
The resolution says, “this Interlocal Agreement is necessary and required by T.C.A. § 12-9-401 to provide for the appropriate court costs and costs of enforcement.” The fines collected go to the city, according to state law. The court costs are $177 for each city ordinance violation and are paid into the county’s general fund, except for processing fees collected by the clerk.
I inquired what would happen if the county needed to increase its costs for enforcement. No answer was provided. As such, I didn’t think it wise to approve something saying that the county would do something until Friendsville no longer wanted to continue, without knowing how the county could increase court costs if needed to cover its expenses.
Duty to report law
The county commission approved a resolution requesting that the Tennessee General Assembly enact legislation “to require a person to report a person in distress by calling 911 or a first responder.” This resolution is dangerous to liberty for many reasons.
While the resolution doesn’t mention the word crime, this is a request to make anyone who doesn’t call 911 (the government) or a first responder a criminal. A law without a penalty is usually just a suggestion. We need to be very careful about what we allow government to require us to report or be penalized if we don’t. If you see something, say something resulted in this family’s dog being killed by government.
Distress isn’t defined in the resolution. Thus, the commission didn’t know precisely what it asking the state legislature to outlaw.
Without a clear definition of what constitutes distress, it’s possible to envision a scenario where you’re driving down the road one day minding your own business and harming no one, pass a car on the side of the road and find yourself charged with a crime a few days later because you didn’t report the person inside the vehicle who was distressed. You could have been recorded with a government surveillance camera or an I-phone and you would then have to explain to a judge why you didn’t call 911.
The second whereas clause says, “a person who knows that another person is exposed to great physical harm and in need of assistance, and can give assistance without danger or peril to himself, should report the person in distress by calling 911 or a first responder.” This doesn’t appear to address those instances where the person rending aid is successful in resolving the problem. Why should someone who is rendering assistance be required to report their own help if it successful without further medical intervention?
What if someone is fearful of the government or medical practitioners? Is it right to report someone’s problem to 911, government or emergency responders if they don’t want their situation reported? What if the person being required to report is fearful of those they would be required to report to? Not everyone views assistance from the police, government and allopathic medicine practitioners as being productive or amicable. What if someone doesn’t think that reporting a distressed person to 911, government or emergency responders is the best course of action? This appears to request that individual judgement be criminalized.
This matter stems from the disappearance of Eric Ashby, a former Tennessee resident who moved to Colorado to hunt for a “chest containing treasure fit for a pirate,” that is thought to be buried in New Mexico. It is bizarre that the Blount County Commission was being asked to vote on a resolution asking for state law in Tennessee because someone from Tennessee moved to Colorado to hunt for a modern day pirate’s treasure that may be in the state of New Mexico.
Ashby disappeared after his raft capsized in the Arkansas River. Those with Ashby on the treasure hunting trip made it safely back to land but Ashby did not. None of those who returned safely reported Ashby’s emergency. Thus, the commission was asked to support the enactment of a new law because those with Ashby didn’t call police for help.
However that isn’t the whole story. It turns out that a bystander who witnessed the incident did report it to the police. Thus, it seems likely that the law Ashby’s family and friends are requesting would not have saved his life, unfortunately. I offer condolences to Ashby’s family and friends for his tragic loss of life but we don’t need to pass another law that could make criminals out of Tennesseans when it likely wouldn’t have saved Ashby’s life if it had been the law in Colorado.
The commission will be filling the Tennessee Senate seat vacated by Doug Overbey who was appointed the U.S. attorney for East Tennessee.
Harry Grothjahn of Truth Radio AM 1470 hosted the 3rd annual Bill of Rights dinner in Alcoa today. State Senate candidate Scott Williams was the keynote speaker, speaking about the history of states holding conventions to address problems.
Grothjahn presented the three ladies on the Blount County Commission, Commissioners Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe, with the Blount Patriot Eagle Award. Grothjahn told the Blount County Commission last month that only the women on the commission are standing for righteousness in government. The plaques feature an eagle and are engraved with a scripture from the book of Isiah.
Yet those who wait on the LORD will gain new strength: They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary. -Isaiah 40:31
Nervous about traffic stops? John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute is and says you should be too.
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.