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Commission Chairman Jerome Moon spoke to commissioner about being sued over jail ahead of vote

Mayor Ed Mitchell called a commission meeting to approve authorizing the Purchasing Agent to solicit a request for qualifications (RFQ) to expand the jail and/or programs.  During public input, Marilyn Willocks said that she had heard that Blount County Commission Chairman Jerome Moon had been telling commissioners that they could be sued if they didn’t vote to authorize the RFQ.  Moon interrupted the speaker, saying “I have not told” and then stops speaking.  Ms. Willocks continues on saying, “Well this is what I hear out in the public.”  Moon didn’t say anything further on the matter during the meeting.  What is it that he did not tell?

After the meeting, Mary Cook asked Jerome Moon why he had told her son-in-law, commissioner Tom Cole, that he would be sued if he didn’t vote for the RFQ.  This sort of intimidation tactic seems to works on people who have no desire to find or listen to solutions, like commissioner Mike Caylor.

Moon’s tactic sounds more like a threat than the truth.  It was Tennessee Corrections Institute bureaucrats bully Bob Bass and William R. Kane, who continues to make false statements in the “note” section of his inspection reports, who read the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) the riot act, not federal officials.  Although, the US Marshal’s Service should be taking notice because they are willfully housing inmates in the Blount County Adult Detention Facility.

The commission voted 12-6 for the RFQ.  This is to be expected when Rick Carver is allowed to act as a dictator prohibiting a commissioner from adding something to the BCCP agenda that would actually reduce overcrowding in the jail.  Ms. Willocks said commissioners plural.  Did Jerome Moon talk to other commissioners before the vote?  What are Rick Carver and Jerome Moon so afraid of that they do their dirty deeds in secret?

Commissioner Mike Caylor keeps embarrassing himself

MrPotatoHead-Vector-Gradient

One is Mr. Potato Head, the other is Mike Caylor. You decide which one is which.

Mike Caylor was recently appointed to the Budget Committee.  Caylor wasn’t the Mayor’s first choice, or second, or third or even Special Ed Mitchell’s fourth choice for the Budget Committee.  Commissioners Kenneth Melton, Steve Samples and Tom Cole have all resigned from the Budget Committee.  Archie Archer turned down a seat on the Budget Committee.  Caylor was pretty far down on the Mayor’s list but going to a 5th string bench produced a yes man.

Caylor is a City of Maryville Fire Department employee.  Caylor has been chosen by the commission to serve on a board that contains city and county members.  It raises the question of whether he is representing the city or the county in this position.  Couldn’t the county find someone who isn’t a city employee to fill this role?

He embarrassed himself in 2013 when he read a letter from the Mayor’s Attorney, Craig Garrett, attacking Jim Folts for posting something on his website that had been readily available on the county’s website for over 2 years.  Jim Folts set the record straight on that.

He’s probably never been as brazen as he was when he said that he’d broken a commission rule and said that he would do it again.  His latest pattern of behavior is to interrupt me and declare a point of order when I question the supposed need to expand the jail.

He is the only commissioner to serve on the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) since its inception.  He openly admits that he doesn’t know what to do to address the jail overcrowding.  He should be embarrassed to admit that since the county paid for a report that offered solutions.

He says that we’ve talked this to death.  However, the Blount County Corrections Partnership only met 4 times in 2015 and Caylor voted against even hearing from the jail consultant that was paid to do a criminal justice system assessment.  When was this talked to death when the consultant never got to present his final report?

At the April 7, BCCP meeting Caylor said that we need to recommend that the commission approve a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to buy some time.  Really?  Buy some time for what, the hope that he will come up with a solution?  He’s already said he doesn’t have a solution and he voted against talking to the jail consultant about the Institute for Law and Policy Planning report which proposes solutions.

He wasn’t even sure how to properly make that recommendation.  The Purchasing Agent was overheard saying, “they don’t know what they’re doing” after responding to questions about how to handle the RFQ.

The jail is a volatile situation.  As a firefighter, Mike Caylor should know better than to play with matches.  If he spent as much time seeking solutions to address this problem as it appears that he has been spending reading this website, while at his cushy job, he would have some solutions.

Buying time isn’t a solution.  If he doesn’t have any solutions, he should resign from the BCCP and stop working to silence those who are trying to propose solutions.

Purchasing Agent & Director of General Services chose $65K consultant over $18.5K option

Last year the Blount County Sheriff’s Office chose to follow the advice given in the Institute for Law and Policy Planning Criminal Justice System Assessment Report (jail study) to hire a consultant to renegotiate the federal inmate per diem rate.  The jail study said that the county was losing money housing federal prisoners and that the only way to make money was to crowd the jail and understaff it, which is what is currently happening.

The federal government is complicit with this practice because the US Marshal’s Service contracts with the Blount County Adult Detention Facility to house its pretrial inmates in the local jail, knowing that the jail doesn’t have enough beds.  The State of Tennessee is complicit with it because it allows the Sheriff to unilaterally contract to house inmates in a facility that lacks adequate bed space to keep these inmates and also fails to move state sentenced inmates to state penitentiaries, leaving them in local jails.

The county received $58.50 a day, per diem to house federal inmates and a transportation rate of $14 an hour.  $14 an hour does not cover the hourly costs of corrections officers.  While we’ve been told in the past that the county makes money housing inmates and the rhetoric changed to offsetting fixed expenditures, the county clearly wasn’t being adequately compensated because the rate increased to $75 a day.

The company selected by the Purchasing Agent at that time, Teresa Johnson, and approved by Director of General Services Don Stallions charged a consultation fee of $65,000.  The Summerhill Group LLC offered to be paid this amount only if they were successful at receiving a rate increase.  See page 5 for complete details.

Being paid based upon success seems reasonable, except that another company offered to do similar work for $18,500.  Moseley Architects required payment as services were rendered and said that the exact price would be determined after a meeting to finalize exactly what the county wanted.

The Blount County Commission and the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) were not told about the Sheriff’s Office seeking a consultant to renegotiate the per diem and travel rates.  While the purchasing process is open to the public, many people don’t get the paper and most who do, don’t pay attention to the public notices for RFPs.

Why choose a company that costs 3.5 times more?
I have to wonder if the more expensive company was chosen to avoid commission scrutiny since the Sheriff’s Office would have needed commission approval to spend the money upfront, rather than promising to pay after the rate negotiations.  As such the commission was presented with a $65,000 bill after the work had already been done.  The budget increase request was rubber stamped by the commission.

Take a look at the strange way the financial transactions concerning the funding for this matter were handled.  First there was a transfer within the Sheriff’s Office that is marked information only (see page 20).  Then there is an increase to the Sheriff’s Office to put the $65,000 back into the account that it was transferred out of (see attendants on page 19).  Notice that the Sheriff did not date his budget amendment requests when he signed them.  This looks like shuffling of money to avoid asking the commission for a budget increase until the Sheriff got what he wanted.

While the $18,500 proposal wasn’t set in stone, most reasonable people would have chosen Mosley, even if the actual cost had been slightly higher than the proposed cost.  Instead local department heads went with a company that proposed charging 3.5 times the lowest offer.

Chalk this up to the same people involved in a pile of scandals and political obstructionism surrounding the jail.  Some of those scandals include the cover-up of the jail study, the phony threat to sue the jail consultant, the million dollars jail expansion earmark done in secret with a plan for another million and the conflicts of interest, dysfunction and recent dictatorship of the BCCP.  This is just the latest to be uncovered.

.01% growth but we’re suppose to believe the economy has recovered

What Did Fed Chairman Yellen Tell Obama?

by Ron Paul

This week, President Obama and Vice President Biden held a hastily arranged secret meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. According to the one paragraph statement released by the White House following the meeting, Yellen, Obama, and Biden simply “exchanged notes” about the economy and the progress of financial reform. Because the meeting was held behind closed doors, the American people have no way of knowing what else the three might have discussed.

Yellen’s secret meeting at the White House followed an emergency secret Federal Reserve Board meeting. The Fed then held another secret meeting to discuss bank reform. These secret meetings come on the heels of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s estimate that first quarter GDP growth was .01 percent, dangerously close to the official definition of recession.

Thus the real reason for all these secret meetings could be a panic that the Fed’s eight year explosion of money creation has not just failed to revive the economy, but is about to cause another major market meltdown.

Establishment politicians and economists find the Fed’s failures puzzling. According to the Keynesian paradigm that still dominates the thinking of most policymakers, the Fed’s money creation should have produced such robust growth that today the Fed would be raising interest rates to prevent the economy from “overheating.”

The Fed’s response to its failures is to find new ways to pump money into the economy. Hence the Fed is actually considering implementing “negative interest rates.” Negative interest rates are a hidden tax on savings. Negative interest rates may create the short-term illusion of growth, but, by discouraging savings, they will cause tremendous long-term economic damage.

Even as Yellen admits that the Fed “has not taken negative interest rates off the table,” she and other Fed officials are still promising to raise rates this year. The Federal Reserve needs to promise future rate increases in order to stop nervous investors from fleeing US markets and challenging the dollar’s reserve currency status.

The Fed can only keep the wolves at bay with promises of future rate increases for so long before its polices cause a major dollar crisis. However, raising rates could also cause major economic problems. Higher interest rates will hurt the millions of Americans struggling with student loan, credit card, and other forms of debt. Already over 40 percent of Americans who owe student loan debt are defaulting on their payments. If Federal Reserve policies increase the burden of student loan debt, the number of defaults will dramatically increase leading to a bursting of the student loan bubble.

By increasing the federal government’s cost of borrowing, an interest rate increase will also make it harder for the federal government to manage its debt. Increased costs of debt financing will place increased burden on the American people and could be the last straw that finally pushes the federal government into a Greek-style financial crisis.

The no-win situation the Fed finds itself in is a sign that we are reaching the inevitable collapse of the fiat currency system. Unless immediate steps are taken to manage the transition, this collapse could usher in an economic catastrophe dwarfing the Great Depression. Therefore, those of us who know the truth must redouble our efforts to spread the ideas of liberty.

If we are successful we may be able to force Congress to properly manage the transition by cutting spending in all areas and auditing, then ending, the Federal Reserve. We may also be able to ensure the current crisis ends not just the Fed but the entire welfare-warfare state.

Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/april/17/what-did-fed-chairman-yellen-tell-Obama/

Citizen comments from BCCP meeting

The paper had a decent article on the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) meeting last night.  What was missing from the story are comments from the citizens.

Shirley Rupert did a lot of research prior to the meeting and spoke.  Her comments are posted here.

As a lifelong resident of Maryville, I am very concerned with the direction our Justice Center is taking.  On this date (4/7/16) there are 568 inmates in a facility made to house 350.  Below is a breakdown of those inmates:

TN Dept of Corrections:  147
FEDERAL:  68
Sentenced Felon: 100
SENTENCED MISDEMEANOR:  61
PRETRIAL FELON :    123
PRETRIAL MISDEMEANOR:  69

Looking at these numbers and doing some simple math will show what is causing the overcrowding.

IF we eliminate the TN Dept. of Corrections (147) and the Federal (68) inmates, there will be no crowding.  These inmates are a drain on our local economy.  Although, Blount County is reimbursed to facilitate them, it is not enough to cover the costs completely.

The number of citizens that are our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers awaiting trail is also a reason for concern.  Having 192 citizens waiting to be assigned an attorney and/or a date with the judge is not acceptable.  In this economy, one week from work will result in loosing a job, housing, vehicle, and when extended, even their family.   These inmates are sleeping on floors without bedding, not receiving medical attention and/or being subjected to cruel behaviors.  All of this is prior to being convicted of any crime!

Another issue for concern is the staff at the Justice Center.  Even though, we house 568 inmates, we only staff enough employees for the 350 limit.  These employees are expected to care and manage an excessive number of inmates for the same pay.  This is a stressful situation for many of or neighbors that work for the Justice Center, resulting in high rate of job changes.

Upon release, the inmates receive an invoice for the expenses incurred by the County and will be assigned a Probation Officer.  They must meet with the Officer once a month and pay a fee for said Officer, along with reimbursing the county for their court costs and stay in the facility.  If, for any reason, they miss an appointment, a warrant will be issued for their arrest.  Many of us work long hours just to maintain our households.  A monthly appointment requires leaving work, obtaining funds and meeting with an Officer that has nothing to offer, other than encouragement to make your next appointment.

According to a Warrant Study from 2011, over 7,500 Warrants were issued that year.  Of those, 5,000 were violations to the court!  These include:  Failure to Appear, Contempt, and/or Violation of Probation.  More emphasis is being put on keeping our citizens in the system than keeping our county safe.  The majority of the inmates are in jail because they were unable to either pay fines, or obtain a attorney.

I appreciate the fact that our county is safe and one of the most sought after places to live.  I highly doubt that bringing in additional Federal and State Inmates will add to our charm.  In fact, I would anticipate that a Federal or State Penitentiary would definitely be a blemish to our town.

*Note: Inmates without beds are given a sled with a mattress unless the number of inmates exceeds the number of sleds available.

3 ladies on commission looking out for taxpayers

The three ladies on the commission Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe are looking out for the taxpayers and the best interests of everyone in the community.  All three spoke against jail expansion at the Blount County Correction Partnership (BCCP) meeting Thursday and against housing federal inmates in the local jail.

Housing federal prisoners has been a financial drain to the taxpayers of Blount County for many years.  The jail study, which the political machine tried to bury after spending over $94,000 of taxpayer money, said that the only way the Sheriff could claim to make money on housing federal inmates is to overcrowd and understaff the jail.  This creates a dangerous situation for everyone: the officers in the jail, the inmates and the taxpayers.

It may also be creating an unconstitutional jail.  The jail study says our jail is bordering on unconstitutional.  Deliberately housing discretionary inmates in an overcrowded facility, sounds willfully indifferent to me.  Whether a judge would see it that way, I don’t know.

Alarmingly, the Sheriff’s employees on the BCCP don’t seem to care.  They continue to support the practice of housing federal inmates, to the determent of our wonderful community.

The officers working in the jail should pay close attention to this matter.  The Sheriff has created a dangerous situation by crowding the jail with federal inmates and their supervisors (BCCP members Chief Deputy Jeff French and Captain John Adams) defend the practice of a crowded jail that is understaffed to “make money” housing federal prisoners.  And why not?  Both of these men are well paid while the corrections officers are not.

The sheriff makes $117,835.  Jeff French makes $84,824.  John Adams makes $63,278.  Plus, have you seen the fancy cars that the Sheriff and his choice, top deputies drive around in?  Corrections officers in the jail, those without rank, are making in the low to mid thirties.

While the sheriff has convinced some of his employees that the three women are against them, they aren’t the ones drawing big salaries and riding around in fancy cars.  Furthermore, its the sheriff who unilaterally continues to overcrowd the jail with federal prisoners, putting more on the staff than they should handle all in the name of making money.  It’s the three ladies who are speaking out and trying to stop this money losing, dangerous and possibly unconstitutional practice; thereby, looking out for the safety of the officers and protecting the taxpaying citizens.

Bob Bass of TCI tells press and citizens to turn cameras off: Shows them video already on YouTube

As a shining example of trashing openness and transparency in government, Bob “the Bully” Bass, County Corrections Partnership Coordinator and Detention Facilities Specialist with the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) told the press and citizens present at an open public meeting to turn their cameras off.  His reason?  The presentation contained law enforcement sensitive information.

That might have had some validity had Bob “the Bully” Bass not said later in the meeting that the video he showed was available on YouTube.  Yeap, that’s right.  You can watch the video online on YouTube.

Now back to that open meeting thing.  It’s an OPEN MEETING BOB.  You know, the kind where the public is invited to attend so that they can see what their government is up to.  Oh that’s right, you and the machine don’t want the people watching you.

Even the press didn’t show up to the last Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) meeting.  The paper watched the recording available online and reported on it two days after the meeting.  What’s the press going to do when they don’t show up and the meetings haven’t been recorded?

The investigative journalist providing the video told me that the meetings of the County Corrections Partnership, in the county where this video was recorded, are held in a restricted area.  Yeah, that’s right.  The meetings open to the public are held in a restricted area.  Just exactly how many people are going to make an effort to get through security and into a restricted area to attend an “open” public meeting?

That reminds of the meeting here in Blount County last June when Bob “the Bully” Bass gave the same presentation to the Blount County Corrections Partnership.  That meeting was held at the Justice Center not the courthouse.  The IT Director had made arrangements to record that meeting but Bob “the Bully” Bass stopped that recording as well.

The rule makers want it this way.  The meetings are “open” to the public but they don’t have to be convenient or recorded.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Except that it is your wallets they are emptying.  Remember the jail study which said that Blount County needed to totally rethink the use of its jail?  Remember the $1 million plan with a plan for another million?  Now Bob “the Bully” Bass is pushing to build after his off the video camera presentation.  A member of the TCI Board of Control said that Blount County could use a nice 100,000 person jail.

Do you want Blount County to be the location of the next Brushy Mountain prison?  If not, show up Thursday at 5:30 in room 315, where there isn’t a video camera rolling and the machine hopes you aren’t present and watching them.

Where do you want to cut the budget?

What budget(s) would you like to see cut?

Library
Mayor’s Office
Parks and Rec
Schools
Sheriff’s Office
Something else
Cut it all
Don’t cut anything

Poll Maker

State law limits what can be cut. However, please express where you would like to see budget cuts.

March 2016 Commission Report

Special called meeting to appoint Blount County Clerk
Commission Chairman Jerome Moon called a meeting to appoint a replacement for former Blount County Clerk Roy Crawford who passed away last month.  Former Deputy Clerk Margaret Flynn was chosen unanimously by all members present.  Ms. Flynn will serve until a new office holder is elected and sworn in.

There was at least one good person interested in the position who did not seek it after they learned that there would be no primary election.  State law allows the Parties to choose their nominees for the county general election in August since there is no time for a primary election.

Ms. Flynn is probably a good choice for the position because she worked in the clerk’s office for many years.  However, the commission was not given any information prior to the meeting and only told who she was and what her experience was at the meeting.  At the very least we should have been given a resume a few days in advance of the meeting.

Agenda Committee
Chairman Jerome Moon pulled a resolution that he had sponsored and voted for the day before in the Budget Committee that would have allowed General County office holders and their employees to lease new cars.  This may come back in the future.

Commission meeting
I was unable to attend the commission meeting because my husband suffered an injury and spent the afternoon in ER.  He is doing well, all things considered.

Commissioners Mike Caylor, Tom Cole, Dodd Crowe and I were absent.  The meeting was really short, primarily because I wasn’t there to ask questions.

Mike Caylor added to Budget Committee
The commission approved adding City of Maryville employee and Blount County Commissioner Mike Caylor to the Budget Committee, to replace commissioner Tom Cole who resigned from the committee.  Commissioner Karen Miller was the only no vote.

I can count on one hand the number of spending questions that Caylor has asked since I’ve been on the commission and still have fingers left over.  He will make a great government of the government, for the government and by the government member of the Budget Committee.  There is no one on the Budget Committee who will look out for the taxpaying citizens.

Commission votes on all new business in one motion
The other reason the meeting was so quick, besides my absence, is the commission voted on all 8 items under new business in one motion.  Cramming as many items as you can under one vote is the Washington DC approach to government.  Local government politicians appear to be learning the tricks of the trade from Washington DC.

Commissioner Jamie Daly was the only commissioner to ask any questions related to any of the items.  She inquired about the $65,000 that the commission was being asked to approved to pay a consultant for renegotiating the rate paid to the county to house the federal inmates awaiting trial.

No one from the Sheriff’s Office was at the meeting to answer questions.  The commission packet didn’t even name the consultant being paid.  See pages 18-21 to see what the commission was given regarding the budget amendment request.  The commission never voted to approve housing federal prisoners.  I’ve written about that in the past.  Furthermore, the commission was never told that the rate was being renegotiated, although I did learn about it and posted it along with more jail information.  (See Summerhill Group)

Taxpayers paying for legal agreements to be written
One of the items under new business that was rubber stamped without discussion was renewal of a lease agreement for a community club.  Community clubs have historically been important parts of the community.  It would be wonderful to see them grow again.

My only concern is that the taxpayers, for the second month in a row, are paying to draw up legal agreements for organizations who are getting something for nearly nothing.  Lawyers usually aren’t cheap.

Last month when I asked what the costs were to the taxpayers of Blount County, the mayor and finance director didn’t know.  However, the company benefiting from the agreement said they would pay the legal costs to prepare the agreement.  I had hoped to see the same thing this month.

At the Agenda Committee meeting, I asked the finance director to provide the commission with the cost of preparing the lease agreement.  However, nothing was provided in the packet and no commissioner asked for that information.  The county needs to adopt a policy that will reimburse the taxpayers for the costs of the legal fees for preparing these legal documents.

Conflicts of Interest
Commissioner Karen Miller abstained on the vote for all 8 items because she has a relative who works for one of the companies doing work for the county.  That is the only time that she has ever had any conflict of interest and she did what someone in her position should do: abstain.  However, another commissioner, Andy Allen, works for a man who owns a company who was awarded a county project that was included in the 8 items.  However, he voted for the budget increase rather than abstaining.

Blount County Corrections Partnership – rush to get bids to build
The most alarming thing of the month was the push to rush through a bid process to look at the costs of building another jail pod or new facility.  If you haven’t been paying attention to this issue, now is a good time to start because this could get expensive, quickly.  If you are new to the website, please read some of the history on the jail overcrowding and much more here.  There are several articles to read.

The Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) was finally given some important numbers related to Recovery Court, which was previously called Drug Court.  The information wasn’t joyfully provided.

I’ve asked for more information on Recovery Court for over a year.  Circuit Court Judge Tammy Harrington, who serves as the judge of Recovery Court, was curt, telling me she didn’t have time to gather the information.  What I had actually wanted was for the Program Director to gather the information and present it to us.  However, the Director did not attend the meeting, or any since I’ve been on the BCCP.

At the Budget Committee Workshop last week, Budget Committee member Mike Lewis asked for more information related to the staff costs for Recovery Court vs incarceration costs.  His requested information was included in the information given to the BCCP.

Harrington’s demeanor before the Budget Committee was more pleasant than it has been before the BCCP, probably due to her request for another budget increase.  The increase would be used to fund more staff and training to accommodate more participates.  In general, I support providing more financial resources for Recovery Court but it not responsible to just throw money at something without proper planning.  This was the first time that we were given anything in writing about Recovery Court.

The BCCP was presented with this information after it was presented to the Budget Committee, not before.  The BCCP has been treated as a formality rather than a place to work to reduce the overcrowding in the jail and thereby improve society.

Very few citizens attend the BCCP meetings.  However, a few that have attended have spoken to me after the meetings about Tammy Harrington’s behavior at the meetings.  After the meeting a citizen described her as hostile.  After a previous meeting a citizen described her as condescending.

Harrington told the BCCP that we were dysfunctional because we didn’t immediately settle on a meeting date.  The people of Blount County should be questioning whether someone with that kind of impatience should be sitting as a judge with authority to make life altering decisions.

The Chairman has traditionally announced a date to the BCCP to see if it is agreeable to the members.  No one said they couldn’t attend but the date was rejected because it wasn’t soon enough to ram through a process to seek bids for building estimates.  The BCCP settled on a meeting date after consulting with the members, as it usually does.

She pontificated that she didn’t want to be a part of the BCCP if we weren’t going to take action (while we were talking about seeking an architect to build) but then spoke out of the other side of her mouth saying later that it shouldn’t be assumed that she wanted to build.  Of course, she hasn’t offered much in the way of solutions, so what else is there to conclude from her pompous lecture?

Early into my commission term, I reached out to her to invite her to attend the BCCP to share what she does as a judge and what her goals are for the future.  I also supported adding her as a non-voting member to the BCCP.  However, given how little she has actually brought to the table and her overbearing attitude, it may be best if she does step aside and just occasionally attends.  Perhaps then we might actually hear from the Director of Recovery Court.

Judges Tammy Harrington and Robert Headrick have never faced opponents in contested elections.  Both judges were appointed to their positions.  Headrick was appointed by the county commission to replace judge David Duggan when he vacated the General Sessions judgeship.  Judge Harrington was appointed by Governor Haslam to replace judge Dale Young.

These two are in their positions because they were good at convincing politicians to choose them rather than the people choosing them.  It would be healthy for these two to face opponents in our democratic process rather than remaining in office for life because people are afraid to challenge incumbent judges.

Bob Bass of TCI pushed seeking architect
It became clear to me last year that Bob Bass of the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) intended to push the BCCP to expand the jail.  He popped off that he would have our jail shut down if we didn’t toe the line.  However, he is more mouth than authority.  He doesn’t have the authority to shut a jail down.  He also doesn’t have authority to make us build.  He toed the line at the January BCCP meeting after I spoke with his supervisor about what authority he actually has.  However, he was back true to form this month.

After the meeting a citizen said to me, I didn’t understand what point Bass was making when he spoke.  At the heart of his rant is a bully pushing to build.

Bass knows that he can’t order the county to build and he knows that I know that.  His tactic was to tell us that if we get some estimates on building that the jail may be recertified.  He implied that the jail will lose its certification if we don’t get bids.  That was enough for sheriff’s minions, commissioners Mike Caylor and Rick Carver, to jump on board and proceed full steam ahead without asking the many necessary questions that should be asked. The first question that should be asked, regarding building is build what exactly?  That important detail was not discussed.

The one thing that stopped them from rubber stamping a recommendation to seek building proposals was that that I pointed out that seeking bid proposals wasn’t on our agenda and we couldn’t vote to do something that wasn’t on our published agenda.  That’s the only thing that stopped them from sending that recommendation forward to the commission.  However, that won’t stop them for long.  A meeting has been scheduled for April 7th at 5:30 in room 315 at the courthouse.

The machine has wanted to move the meetings back to a smaller room, where the meetings aren’t video recorded and there is less space for the public to attend.  The only reason they haven’t all been moved downstairs away from the cameras is because I have insisted that the meetings remain in the commission chamber with the cameras rolling.  However, Bob Bass wants them in smaller rooms away from cameras as well, because he doesn’t like being on cameras either.

BCCP is dysfunctional – 5 of 6 voting members are Sheriff’s pals or employees
In her impatience about setting a meeting date Harrington said the BCCP is dysfunctional.  She is right, but for the wrong reason.  The BCCP is dysfunctional and unproductive, as I have written in the past.  The BCCP is dysfunctional because most of the members are closely affiliated with the Sheriff.

There are 6 voting members:
Chairman Jeff Headrick – married to a relative of the Sheriff
Vice Chairman Rick Carver – Sheriff donated to his first commission campaign
Jeff French – Chief Deputy of Sheriff’s Office
John Adams – Captain in the jail
Commissioner Mike Caylor – City of Maryville employee who serves on Boards with the Sheriff.
Commissioner Tona Monroe – no affiliation with the Sheriff

Minions or a couple of Blount County Corrections Partnership members?
Photo: www.designbolts.com

The BCCP is dysfunctional because it was never designed to work in the first place.  The BCCP was originally an ad hoc committee to study jail overcrowding.  This was the second time a committee had been created to look at the matter.

The first ad hoc committee recommended building but the economy tanked; therefore, jail expansion didn’t happen.  The second ad hoc committee was chaired by Tab Burkhalter who actually wanted to explore all options before building.  That threw a kink in the machine’s plan to build.

Rather than getting a quick recommendation to build, a study was commissioned to look at all our options.  That has been buried.  Furthermore, the TCI wanted the ad hoc committee to continue under the new name, the Blount County Corrections Partnership.  It has continued to exist to appease the state and because it can be used as a tool to achieve the goal of expanding the jail.

The machine has been working behind the scenes to make building happen.  The powers that be succeeded in getting Bob Bass to do for them what they lacked the guts to do themselves: push the BCCP to recommend seeking quotes to build.

The political machine really shows what gutless cowards they are on this matter.  The sheriff controls the mayor.  He controls the commission.  He controls the BCCP.  He is good friends with the judges.  He is well connected with the feds.  There has been no groundswell of public opposition against expanding the jail.  Yet, despite being well connected and firmly in control, the sheriff can’t pull the trigger (figuratively speaking).

What the sheriff and his minions have done is get Bob Bass and William Robert Kane to come in and issue a tough sounding, empty fiat, that we need to do something (build).  It is just that, tough sounding talk from bureaucrats, but the sheriff’s minions are treating it as though it has the force and effect of law.

The sheriff, mayor and the commission could have indebted the citizens of Blount County several years ago with a jail expansion but their political cowardice has been what has stopped them.  It is not because they are good stewards of tax money.  It is because they are afraid that the people will unite and throw them out of office.  Therefore, I say it is time to unite and do just that.

Summary
A study was done that said jail expansion wasn’t necessary.  That study was buried with the false threat of a lawsuit by the mayor, to silence discussion on the matter.  There has never been a meeting to hear the conclusions, findings and recommendations of the final report.

The Finance Director and sheriff intentionally cut their budget revenue projections on federal inmates so that money would accumulate and could be used to build, without telling the commission or the public about their plan.

The county has been losing money on the federal inmates for many years.  Costs are higher than the Sheriff’s Office has been saying.

The Tennessee Corrections Institute does not have authority to make Blount County expand its jail.  Bob Bass of the TCI is a bully and his words mean little or nothing.  He has no vote on the Board of Control.  Neither does the Detention Facility Manger William R, Kane, who is actually recommending to the Board of Control that the county’s formal Plan of Action be updated and approved by the TCI Board of Control.

There is more to cover on this matter.  I will write more about this in the future.

Should Blount County expand its jail?  Vote now.

Rick Carver acts as dictator
The Chairman, Jeff Headrick, was absent from the BCCP meeting because he was attending the Republican Party Executive Committee meeting, where he was chosen as the Republican Party’s nominee for Highway Superintendent.

Vice Chairman, Rick Carver, chaired the meeting.  He used the meeting to practice his skills as a dictator.  I requested that discussion and possible action of housing federal inmates be added to the agenda.  Rick Carver said the BCCP couldn’t do anything about it so he wasn’t going to allow it on the agenda.  I asked him if he had authority to stop me from putting anything on the agenda.  He said he didn’t know.  That was a cop-out.  He knows that he can’t stop a commissioner from putting an item on the agenda.  However, the public notice was issued with the agenda item that I requested.

If you would like to tell the BCCP members that the Chairman is not a dictator, here are the email addresses for the BCCP members.

“Jeff French” <jfrench@bcso.com>, “Jeff Headrick” <jheadrick@blounttn.org>, “John Adams” <jadams@bcso.com>, “Michael Gallegos” <mgallegos@blounttn.org>, “Mike Caylor” <bmcaylor@maryville-tn.gov>, “Randy Vineyard” <rvineyard@blounttn.org>, “Richard Carver” <rcarver@blounttn.org>, tharrington@blounttn.org, “Tona Monroe” <tmonroe@blounttn.org>

The bottom line
The only thing that can be done to bring accountability to this matter is YOU.  I am shining light on the matter but I need your help.  If you don’t want your wonderful community to become the next Brushy Mountain prison then you need to rise up and say no to turning the beautiful mountains into the Smoky Mountains mega jail.

Up next
Annual budget hearings are underway.  The next one is April 1, 8:30 AM-4:30 PM at the Blount County Public Library.

Where do you want to cut the budget?  Vote now.

BCCP meeting April 7, 5:30 in room 315 – to ram through a request for cost estimates on building

Is a tax increase coming?
People are asking that question.  Politicians in Blount County can’t keep wasting money the way they have been doing without eventually treating the people as nothing more than ATM machines to withdraw money anytime they want.  I don’t know if there will be a tax increase this year or not.  There have already been several tax increase and there will be more in the future if you don’t get involved.

Please get involved.  That is the only thing that can truly let freedom ring!

New rabies guidelines

“On March 1, 2016, the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control Committee, under the auspices of the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, published revised recommendations for the handling of pets overdue for a rabies re-vaccination in the event they’re exposed to the virus.

The new guidelines, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, recommend that cats and dogs exposed to rabies who are overdue for a vaccine be given a booster shot (re-vaccination) followed by an observation period rather than be quarantined or euthanized.

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2016/04/06/overdue-rabies-vaccine.aspx