The big government, gas tax increasing, oil baron, Republican governor of the great state of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, better known as Milquetoast the Cockroach for the strong resemblance and less than principled stances, has received a D rating from the Cato Institute for fiscal policies.
8 years of the anti-liberty, big spending roach has been more than enough. I look forward to him no longer infesting the governor’s mansion in the great state of Tennessee.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Thank you every much for the information. Your vigilance is quite impressive. This is definitely going to make an interesting story.
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
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?
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.”
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.
The author of this letter to the editor points out that there was a lawsuit in Knox County regarding state sentenced felons and the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) must take the TDOC felons. Here are the court orders regarding that lawsuit.
Remember that nonsense from former Chairman Jerome Moon about commissioners being sued in federal court over the jail? These court records should put this matter in its proper perspective.
District 7 includes those who vote at Big Springs, Carpenters, Friendsville, Happy Valley and Lanier.
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.
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.
Here are 12 statements that will help you identify the candidates who are swamp creatures or wanting to become part of the Blount County establishment. Without further ado, here’s your sign.
- The schools need more money. The $hool$ need more money. The $chool$ need more money.
- It’s for the children. It’s for the children. It’s for the children.
- The county makes money on federal inmates.
- The Blount Partnership is doing a great job recruiting businesses.
- The county is being run efficiently because we have clean audits.
- We have to do this. Federal law or state law says we have to.
- The sheriff should decide what inmates he keeps in the local jail.
- Our county employees work hard. They deserve to make more than the average taxpaying citizen.
- Our teachers do such a great job that they deserve two pay raises: a step increase and a percentage increase.
- Blount County has a secret sauce.
- Blount County needs a wheel tax because it’s not fair for the property owners to have to pay all the taxes.
- The commissioners work so hard that they deserve an 85% pay raise.
If a candidate is saying any of these things then you’ll know you’re talking to someone who is a part of the courthouse clique or wants to be part of the courthouse clique. You have been warned.
The Blount County Agenda Committee is a good meeting to watch to see you local government in action. Several of the incumbents seeking reelection must be feeling heat for their actions because Agenda Committee Chairman Grady Caskey started the meeting by reading a statement about the role of the Agenda Committee. He continued lecturing commissioners throughout the meeting and ruled with an iron fist. The treatment of a citizen and a couple of commissioners made this one of the worst meetings that I’ve witnessed in the 10 years that I’ve been attending Blount County government meetings.
For years, courthouse clique commissioners have defended their yes votes at the Agenda Committee meeting by saying that their voting to move something forward doesn’t mean that they’re actually for what they move forward. At the very meeting where Chairman Caskey chose to lecture the commissioners on the role of the Agenda Committee, the courthouse clique/political machine/good ole’ boys/establishment/swamp creature/status quo commissioners voted against even moving forward a resolution requesting that the county be assigned new auditors after having the same auditors for over a decade.
Harry Grothjahn spoke in favor of the resolution requesting new auditors. Commissioner Ron French objected to Grothjahn sharing a conversation he had with the Comptroller’s Office about the purpose of audits. Commissioner French’s objection was the Grothjahn’s sharing of that conversation was hearsay. The first amendment includes the petitioning of government for a redress of grievances. When a citizen has a grievance with their government, it is right for them to share that grievance and ask the government redress it. Apparently Commissioner French doesn’t even want a citizen mentioning their grievances with government.
Furthermore, the practice of cutting my microphone off returned this month. This meeting is a great examples of a chairman’s abuse of authority. Chairman Caskey cut my microphone off for discussing the hypocrisy in the resolution of wanting more local control but asking for the state to “significantly increase funding.” Caskey lectured the commissioners about what they were voting on. Does Caskey think that commissioners, with only have 5 months left in their 4 year term, don’t understand the makeup of a resolution and what they’re voting on?
Commissioner Mike Akard pointed out that Caskey had a conflict of interest, when he cut my microphone off, because he is a sponsor to the resolution. Caskey lacks the objectivity to be a chairperson. Unfortunately Caskey isn’t the only chairman to prohibit me from speaking. Rick Carver, Chairman of the Blount County Corrections Partnership, and former Commission Chairman Jerome Moon have also cut me off. These men have all used their positions of authority to stifle those they disagree with. Some of this resulted from the repeated objections from Andy Allen, Dave Bennett, Mike Caylor and Ron French.
What else is to be expected from Caskeu who insulted people by saying that peopole need to either be educated or jailed. He obviously doesn’t think much of all the hard working people who did finish high school but have paid the taxes for him to live on the government funded gravy train. He is the former President of the Blount County Education Association (BCEA) commonly called the teachers union. He has spent much of his life advocating taking more of your money. He was elected four years ago because his opponent died during the election and his name was the only name on the ballot.
I apologize to the citizens of Blount County for not making a statement at the end of the meeting about the treatment of the citizen sharing his experience with government. I had intended to make a statement but this and Caskey’s poor treatment of his fellow commissioners left me drained at the end of meeting and it slipped my mind.
If Commissioner French isn’t willing to listen to what the citizens have to say and Commissioner Caskey isn’t willing to listen to what the commissioners have to say, neither have any business being Blount County Commissioners. Both have challengers. Those living in district 8 can vote for Jeff Jopling for Blount County Commissioner and those living in district 9 can vote for Tracie Livesay for Blount County Commissioner.
Commissioners voting against asking for new auditor on regular basis include Andy Allen, Archie Archer, Brad Bowers, Shawn Carter, Rick Carver, Grady Caskey, Mike Caylor, Tom Cole, Dodd Crowe, Ron French, Scott King, Mike Lewis, Kenneth Melton, Brian Robbins and Tom Stinnett