Just what we need, a law giving government more power to spy on us.
Good reading and listening material on the subject:
At the beginning of each Commission meeting an emergency evacuation notice is required to be read. It isn’t read by a person and for quite some time I’ve wondered where the voice in the sky is coming from. Someone recently told me that it’s an audio recording. It saves time and eliminates the need to make sure that you have the notice handy to read. It’s easy for the Chairmen to simply push a button and play the notice.
The Commission could save a lot of time if the three most common reasons to rush something through were recorded and played as an audio at the start of each Agenda item instead of having to recognize Commissioners and listen to them give the reasons over and over and over. There are 3 common reasons employed by Commissioners that work every time.
The three most common reasons to rush passage of Agenda items are:
1) The County is up against a deadline and chaos will ensue if the Commission doesn’t hurry and pass the item.
This reason was given twice at the October Commission meeting. When I inquired into the age of the equipment that the Commission was being asked to approve, Commission Andy Allen stated that the software reference in the resolution may be about to expire. He gave no date or supporting information. That worked because it passed 15-4.
The reason was used again to approve $60,000 for a software that will be used for open enrollment for employee benefits. The new software Kronos was suppose to fill this need and was used to rush it through (another example of the Commission allegedly having to rush something through) even though the project is behind schedule. Instead of informing the Commission on the delay, the Commission was asked to approve $60,000 as a one year “stop gap” measure for open enrollment since Kronos will be used next year.
The new HR Director told me that the former HR Director handled this, which means that it was done prior to September when the new HR Director took over. One would logically ask how the previous HR Director knew in advance that there was a need to seek software from our benefits advisor. Someone knew that Kronos was not going be implemented in time and sought this software, but never mind that important detail. The Commission just needed to pass it or chaos would ensue. This worked because it passed 16-3.
Bottom line: Office holders and Department heads leave the Commission in the dark and the Commission rubber stamps what they want.
2) This isn’t property tax or local tax money
This reason was given by Commission Steve Samples to pass the technology request from Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher because the money came from Court costs. This works every time because it passed 15-4.
Bottom line: Your money is spent without due diligence.
3) The federal or State government says we have to do this
This reason was employed twice at the October Commission meeting. Commissioner Andy Allen muddied the water when he told Commissioners that the FCC won’t allow us to turn down tower applications. No federal law was given and no examples were given as to what circumstances the County allegedly has to approve towers. He said that an attorney told this to the BZA. When I asked if there was an attorney opinion, Chairman Moon cut me off and no information was obtained. This worked because the Commission passed the resolution 11-8.
This reason was also given as an excuse to not have any oversight on reconstruction work on the Childrens Home. I asked for the federal law that said that the Drug Fund couldn’t be used for renovations. Guidelines were provided rather than the actual federal law. That worked because my amendment to require approval for spending over $1,000 failed 10-9 (11 votes are required).
Bottom line: It’s easier to blame something on federal or State governments than it is to actually do your own research.
Solution: In the interest of time, it would be simpler for the Commission to record these 3 reasons and play them at the start of each Agenda item because they always work and the Commission could adjourn quicker. Due diligence takes a back seat to these 3 reasons. On the flip side, perhaps I should start using them since they work every time.
1. The Libertarian Party supports all of your freedoms, all of the time
2. The Libertarian Party is consistent and principled
3. Voting for old party politicians tells them that you want to keep government big
4. Voting Libertarian is the only clear message you can send
5. Voting Libertarian forces the old parties to take the libertarian positions
6. Because the old parties don’t want you to
7. Voting Libertarian helps your favorite “libertarian-leaning“ old party politician
For great explanations to each of these reasons, click the link above or here.
Law enforcement isn’t suppose to discuss the use of Stingray cellphone spy equipment.
Although the majority of the December 2012 document is redacted, a paragraph from FBI special agent Laura Laughlin to Police of Chief Donald Ramsdell reveals that Tacoma officers were told they couldn’t discuss their use of IMSI-catchers with anyone.
“We have been advised by Harris Corporation of the Tacoma Police Department’s request for acquisition of certain wireless collection equipment/technology manufactured by Harris Corporation,” the FBI letter reads in part. “Consistent with the conditions on the equipment authorization granted to Harris Corporation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), state and local law enforcement agencies must coordinate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to complete this non-disclosure agreement prior to the acquisition and use of the equipment/technology authorized by the FCC authorization.”
The Feds are trying hard to stop information from being released to the public.
As RT reported recently, the US Marshals Service recently intervened in a dispute between the police department in Sarasota, FL and the ACLU by seizing cell phone records collected by an cop-owned StingRay before the civil libertarians could review them.
“This is consistent with what we’ve seen around the country with federal agencies trying to meddle with public requests for Stingray information,” ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed told Wired back in June. “The feds are working very hard to block any release of this information to the public.”
May the good lord have mercy on the poor souls suffering torture.
It’s been a brutal first week of early voting at the polls. Gerald Kirby, who lost his primary for County Commissioner Seat 10B to Jamie Daly, managed to get a monopoly permit for the whole grassy area, in front of the parking lot, except for a small piece to the side. The property belongs to the County, but a permit from the City of Maryville is required because the City maintains the side walks. The City should not give a permit to one candidate, at the exclusion of all others.
Kirby, and/or his supporters, repeatedly called the cops on anyone who put a chair and umbrella in the area, even though there was plenty of room. The cops repeatedly showed up and were apologetic and respectful telling everyone that Kirby had a monopoly and if they’d just move to the tiny patch of grass left, they could set their umbrellas up there.
There are a couple of other tiny grassy areas that the campaign volunteers set up on after a couple of days, when they learned that Kirby did not have a permit for those small areas. Sam Duck had a permit for the same area as Kirby in the May primary, but he didn’t call the cops on anyone. The problems didn’t stop with the monopoly permit.
Libby Breeding, Administrator of Elections, blew-up at two volunteers standing at Everett. An undercover detective, in an unmarked car, was sent to spy on the volunteers at Everett. After a volunteer handed the undercover detective literature and spoke briefly to him, the detective asked the volunteer if that was all he had been doing. The detective told the volunteer he was a detective, who was sent to see what the volunteers were doing and that he couldn’t see anything wrong with what the volunteer was doing. Unfortunately it didn’t stop there.
The next day a woman complained saying she was being harassed by a volunteer, but the volunteer never talked to the woman. Several people have commented that Blount County elections are starting to resemble Chicago style politics. Thankfully some of the harassment inflicted upon the volunteers may stop after a State election official told Libby Breeding that the volunteers were within their rights to campaign and to leave them alone.
Another interesting development is the support of Republican Party officers for Kirby who lost the Republican primary. There were four winners of Republican primary elections for County Commission at the Courthouse on Friday and one write-in candidate. Susan Mills, the former Chairman of the Blount County Republican Party, is the 2nd district State Executive Committeewoman for the Republican Party of Tennessee and is unopposed on the ballot. She spent her time standing under the write-in candidate’s tent (Kirby). Kenneth Melton was also under the Kirby tent. Susan Mills left without speaking to the other 3 Republican candidates for County Commission who were all close by. Those three ladies are Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe.
What’s the position of Republican Party of Blount County? Does the Party support it’s nominees for office or not? Party leaders and numerous Republican elected officials spent the first week of early voting hanging out under the Kirby write-in tent.