Another reason, among many, why it isn’t a good idea to house pretrial detainee inmates in the Blount County jail. The arsenic gravy on top of the horse biscuit is that the Blount County Sheriff’s Office didn’t even know about this until the press contacted them.
Why Do We Blame Women For Prohibition?
Today marks the 100 year history of the ratification of the alcohol prohibition amendment. Prohibition of alcohol was a failure, like prohibition of marijuana. At least 100 years ago, the federal government sought an amendment to take such action, where today it just acts, often without authority.
Recipient of last year’s Eagle Award, then Blount County Commissioner Tona Monroe, will be the speaker at the 4th annual Truth Radio Bill of Rights Banquet on Tuesday December 18th. The topic of the speech will be Proof of Authority and the Proper Role of Government: The Foundation of a Constitutional Republic.
A dinner will be held at 7 PM at RJ’s Courtyard located at 3749 Airport Hwy, Louisville, Tennessee 37777. Book your meal by calling WBCR at 984-1470.
The National Motorists Association (NMA) is a grassroots alliance of motorists joined together to protect the rights of drivers in their vehicles, on the streets, and in the courts. Formed in 1982, the NMA lobbies for traffic regulations and enforcement actions based on safety considerations. Too often traffic enforcement is influenced by ticket quotas and revenue goals. And when for-profit companies, such as red-light and speed camera vendors, are contracted by municipalities to take over any of the enforcement responsibility, the quest for revenue has frequently become a corrupting influence. That makes it all the more important that an organization like the NMA exists to serve as the primary advocate for its members and the driving public at large.
The pillars of the NMA’s mission:
- Traffic laws fairly written and reasonably enforced
- Full due process rights for motorists
- Traffic penalties based on sensible standards that differentiate between responsible and unsafe behaviors
- Reasonable highway user fees assessed for maintaining and improving highway infrastructure, not for wasteful overhead or political boondoggles
- Traffic safety produced by sound engineering solutions, not gotcha tactics designed to generate revenue
- Driver education that emphasizes early development of advanced driving skills
National Motorists Association members number in the thousands and are active in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in several provinces and territories of Canada. For more information, visit https://www.motorists.org/.
Rural (In)Justice: Covering America’s Hidden Jail Crisis
National Conference and Fellowship Launch
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
New York City, NY
July 10-11, 2018
Read more here: https://thecrimereport.org/covering-americas-jail-crisis/
There will be a Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) meeting on Thursday at the Blount County Courthouse in room 430 at 5:30 PM. The BCCP met only twice in 2017, with one of those meetings being a workshop.
Glad to see this. This law should be repealed. It was/is all about the $$$ money, as is the drivers license. This case talks about a right to drive. It’s worth reading this law review article on the right to drive.
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.
Mayor Ed Mitchell started a Facebook page in 2014 and posted a few pictures but then posted nothing for nearly 3 years. Mitchell, or someone in his office, has started posting now that it is election time and he has opponents.
Mitchell will likely win reelection because his opponents don’t have the money that it takes to win a county wide race. One of his opponents, Harry Grothjahn, has done more in a year to keep the citizens informed about local government than Mitchell has done in his both of his terms combined.
Before you head to polls, keep in mind a few things about Ed Mitchell.
- Remember when Ed Mitchell threatened to sue the jail consultant to stifle discussion on the jail study that said the status quo would cost $68-124 million (page 30). There was no lawsuit – just obstructionism.
- Remember when he and his finance director assigned $2 million for a jail expansion transition facility but they lacked the authority to express the county’s intent.
- Remember when his purchasing agent asked the commission to hire an IT firm being sued in federal court that wanted to use foreign labor.
- Remember when he really hesitated about voting for fixed rate financing in the November 2014 Budget Committee. Remember that he didn’t go to fully fixed rate in his first term but only did so during his second term when the commission wanted fixed rate financing.
- Remember how Ed Mitchell made the taxpayers pay for a recycling facility that the county was previously getting for free. Remember that the county now has less recycling locations now that the taxpayers are paying for them.
- Remember how he didn’t want to put a fiscally conservative elected woman on the Budget Committee so he nominated an unelected woman who couldn’t manage her own budget by paying her property taxes on time.
- Remember how he made Joni Serratt, from a political machine family, the head of probation, gave her multiple pay raises and she presented a budget that projected losing money.
- Remember when Ed Mitchell voted for and signed one of the biggest property tax increases in recent Blount County history.
- Remember when the purchasing agent and his general service director chose a company that was 3.5 times the lowest offer.
- Remember how his general services director failed to provide information about lawsuits. It’s been more than 2 years and the information still hasn’t been provided.
- Remember how the county has spent millions of dollars on IT but the commission meetings are no longer live streamed.
- Remember when the EPA wanted to regulate nearly all waters in the USA and Ed Mitchell vetoed a common sense resolution asking congress to roll this back. The US House of Representatives had already passed common sense reform.
- Remember how he supported the Evergreen pay scale, which mostly compared Blount County to cities rather than counties, pays above the average of what these cities and those the county was compared to are paying was approved 7 months before the final report was released and gives the higher pay grade employees a bigger percentage pay increase.
- Remember how Ed Mitchell gave himself a big pay raise by signing a budget that gave himself and 3 others pay supplements.
A business owner reminded me recently that Ed Mitchell has lived on the government gravy train his whole life and said that anytime Ed Mitchell wants something all he knows is go to the taxpayers and make them pay for it. Blount County, Tennessee needs a new mayor with private sector work experience.
During the last election, several of you asked me to post a list of who the good candidates are. There are some candidate profiles already posted to this website, which provide information about the best choices for sheriff and county commissioners. Early voting starts today (Wednesday April 11th) and runs through April 26th. Election day is May 1st.
Please vote for Patrick England for Blount County Sheriff. I’ll give you two good reasons to vote for Patrick England.
1. Patrick has a plan to improve response time, when you call the sheriff’s office. Response times can be slow to some areas of the county. Patrick has studied the situation closely and will implement some much needed changes to have officers at your home or businesses quicker when you need them.
2. Patrick opposes jail expansion. He realizes that the overcrowding problem is largely due to the housing of discretionary inmates in the jail. There are state felons and pretrial federal inmates that do not have to be housed in the local jail. He does not think it is necessary to put Blount County further in debt to house inmates that the county does not have to house.
There are numerous reason not to vote for 28 year incumbent James Lee Berrong. He appears to have acted without authority when he signed the federal inmates contract without seeking commission approval.
Berrong has a history of threatening to burn peoples’ houses down. This is documented in a court opinion. Please read more here: If someone threatened to shave your dog, sugar your gas tank and burn your house down would you report them to the sheriff or vote for them for sheriff?
Berrong has gone unopposed for several terms. This is our chance to drain the swamp of Blount County government.
Let freedom ring!
Patrick England issued the following statement about his candidacy for Blount County Sheriff.
“When my football career came to an end due to an injury my senior* year, I went from being a team player on the field to being a team player in the community serving the citizens of Blount County as an officer with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office.
As a life long Blount Countian, with 23 years of law enforcement experience, I understand what servant leadership means to the citizens of Blount County. With an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice and Bachelors Degree in Organizational Leadership, I am well suited to provide the improvements in public safety that this community is looking for. As your sheriff, I will put an end to jail expansion that could turn our beautiful mountain community in the next Brushy Mountain prison and save the taxpayers the burden of paying for an expensive, unnecessary jail expansion.
Blount County has been a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family but many have expressed concern about the direction this county is headed. I look forward to restoring confidence in the servant leadership that a sheriff offers the community. That is why I am offering myself as a candidate who will limit himself to two terms against a 28 year incumbent career politician.”
*Update – Correction: The original press release stated that Mr. England was injured during his senior year but a correction was issued stating that he was injured during his junior year.
England’s campaign website is https://england4sheriff.com/
Harry Grothjahn of Truth Radio AM 1470 invited me to speak on his Sunday morning radio show to discuss important issues that you need to know about before voting in the upcoming May 1, 2018 local government primary election. The interview was recorded so that you can listen to it and the slide show presentation is attached for your information and review.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of important local issues. This is a good starting point in becoming informed for the upcoming May 1st primary election.
Let freedom ring!
Blount County Commissioner
Light month for spending – equipment for Animal Shelter approved
In a rare change of pace, none of your hard earned tax money was spent this month. The only budget increase was a use of Animal Shelter donation monies to purchase kennels to house cats.
Grant process remains dysfunctional
The Blount County Commission is habitually asked to approve grant worksheets, which are requests to apply for grants, after grant deadlines have passed. There were three grant worksheets and all three deadlines had already passed. The grants include state funds to purchase bullet proof benches for Juvenile Court, equipment for used oil collection and equipment for recycling at the new convenience center.
The Juvenile Court security grant application was provided with the worksheet. The recycling equipment grants were not included with the worksheets.
Internal Control Policy approved
The commission approved an Internal Control Policy for Blount County government. You can read the policy here.
The policy lacks specifics on maintaining internal controls because the policy is based on principles for standards. The preface explains this:
“This policy summarizes internal controls based on standards for establishing internal controls published in September 2014 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Standards for Internal Controls in the Federal Government (Green Book) and the Internal Control Manual for Local Governmental Entities and Other Audited Entities in Tennessee (the “Internal Control Manual”). Establishing and maintaining a system of internal controls is required by federal and state law.
This policy is based on principles as opposed to providing a detailed method of implementing internal controls because the GAO Green Book is principles based.”
Page 5 of the policy says, “Management reviews all new grant applications and grant agreements to identify potential risks due to changing grant requirements or other circumstances.” Often the commission only receives a grant worksheet, when it approves a request to apply for a grant. If management is identifying potential risks, the commission isn’t receiving a memo identifying or explaining potential risks. It’s possible that grants with potential risks are being identified and aren’t being brought to the commission. After reading this, I think it would be helpful for a statement of potential risks be included with a grant worksheet.
Page 6 of the policy says, “Management insures that separation of duties is observed; proper reporting and reconciliations are adopted; proper authorizations are received.” There have been some issues with separation of powers and proper authorizations. Read this and this. What happens when the separation of powers and proper authorizations involves management?
Page 6 of the policy says, “Management requires third party service organizations to provide a Service Organization Control (SOC) report as a method of holding them accountable for their internal control systems.” I’ve asked the finance director questions related to this. If/when I receive answers, I may write further on this.
Page 7 of the policy says, “The information systems software, which is fully documented and includes backup and recovery processes, is approved by the Information Technology Committee.” I’d like to see the IT Committee records showing that the IT Committee approved an information systems software. Readers of this website may recall that I serve on the IT Committee and that I’ve written more than once that I don’t understand why the county has an IT Committee since it usually doesn’t do anything. Many of the important IT decisions are made without input and approval from the IT Committee.
Page 8 of the policy says, “The Audit Committee has established a process for employees, taxpayers, and citizens to report suspected fraudulent, illegal, wasteful, or improper activity confidentially to the Audit Committee.” The Audit Committee page on the county’s website contains no contact information for the members of the committee and there is nothing there explaining how to report anything to the Audit Committee.
Page 9 of the policy contains only the word Appendix at the top and is otherwise blank. Page 1 of the policy says, “See Appendix for a complete list of all boards and committees.”
Much of this policy sounds good but I have to wonder if it is worth the paper it is written considering everything that I’ve just explained.
It’s time to consider reforming the grant worksheet approval process. Suggestions for reform are welcomed.