A tremendous victory was achieved this month. Commissioner Mike Akard and I have been trying to separate the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission since taking office. Our efforts were finally successful. Read my articles on the subject here and here. Business owners have expressed their concerns, to me, about the county purchasing procedures. This is our opportunity to reform business as usual in Blount County government.
Ultimately, real reform is dependent upon the quality of people elected to serve on the Purchasing Commission. Please contact the Mayor at 273-5700 and [email protected] with your suggestions for people to serve on the Purchasing Commission. Commissioner Akard would make an excellent member on the Purchasing Commission because he is a business owner with extensive purchasing experience and will ask the questions that need to be asked in order to improve county purchasing procedures.
At the Blount County Corrections Partnership meeting, on the 27th, my motion to hear from the Executive Director of the Institute of Law and Policy Planning on the Criminal Justice System Assessment Report that the county paid $95,000 for last year, passed out of the committee and will be sent as a recommendation to the Agenda Committee. Despite the final report being issued May 31, 2014, the commission has never been given a presentation on the findings in the report. The report addresses multiple ways to reduce the jail overcrowding problem. This should be on the commission agenda soon. You can read the study here, starting on page 264.
Unfortunately the political machine was able to muster the votes to appoint a habitual tax delinquent to the Budget Committee. The Trustee’s office told me that Sharon Hannum had 9 delinquent tax bills during 2011-2013. That means that she was delinquent on all of her property taxes during those three years. Six tax bills were parcels of property and three tax bills were related to Hannum’s business. The current business tax bill is only $6 for the year. The Mayor tried to justify putting someone who can’t manage her own household budget in charge of a $165 million budget. The people didn’t buy the Mayor’s excuses.
About two dozen emails filled commissioners’ inboxes asking us to vote no on Sharon Hannum. A few asked that the commission separate the Budget Committee and the Purchasing Commission. Furthermore, after the front page articles, people who have worked with Sharon Hannum contacted me, thanked me and shared their experiences and concerns about Hannum. Apparently, many people are in agreement with me but have been afraid to express their views for fear of being attacked like I have been.
Someone pointed out to me that no women or minorities spoke in favor of Sharon Hannum. It was just the good ole’ boys, who like to spend your money, who spoke at the meeting in support of her. This confirms my concern that she will be a yes woman for the political machine.
What was lost in the paper’s coverage of the nomination was Mitchell’s hesitation on fixed rate financing and the purchasing problems within county government. Those should have been the focal points of the nomination but they don’t make for good headlines.
Commissioners Andy Allen, Brad Bowers, Shawn Carter, Rick Carver, Grady Caskey, Mike Caylor, Dodd Crowe, Gary Farmer, Ron French, Jeff Headrick, Jerome Moon, Steve Samples and Tom Stinnett voted yes. Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Jamie Daly and Karen Miller voted no. Commissioners Cole and Lewis abstained. Jerome Moon was suppose to abstain and said so after the vote total was announced. Commissioners Melton and Monroe were absent.
The other bad news was the commission’s rejection of a highly qualified and accomplished nominee for the Jail Inspection Committee. At the Agenda meeting, I nominated Doctor Nancy McEntee to serve on the Jail Inspection Committee. There were four nominees and Doctor McEntee received the least number of votes.
Harry Grothjahn of Truth Radio contacted 3 of the 4 nominees, Brad Bryant, Nancy McEntee and Robert Mathis to inquire if they had read the jail study. Only Nancy McEntee was aware of the study.
Worth noting is Commissioner Tom Stinnett’s efforts to ensure that Doctor McEntee did not get nominated even though he voted for her. She resides in mine and Commissioner Stinnett’s district so he voted for her, which allows him to avoid criticism in his district. However, he got to vote last because of the alphabetical roll call vote and knew that the machine’s three nominees had already won election without his votes. At the Agenda meeting he seconded the motion to forward on the nomination of Robert Mathis, even though he didn’t vote for him at the Agenda meeting. He was able to help the good ole’ boys while appearing to save face in his district. These sorts of tricks are unfortunate but easily seen by those in attendance.
The three jail inspectors elected are Brad Bryant, Sharon Hannum (yes she was elected to this committee as well) and Robert Mathis. You can read about the committee responsibilities and the people who will serve on the Jail Inspection Committee here beginning on page 26. The machine made sure that the three elected to serve on the Jail Inspection Committee won’t rock the boat in any significant way.
Several attacks were launched against me because I wrote about someone who can’t manage her own household budget being nominated to manage your local government budget. It doesn’t pass the common sense test; therefore, I took to writing about the matter. I never said Sharon Hannum’s name in public, which the paper noticed and wrote about, yet Commissioner Rick Carver launched an attack against me at the Agenda meeting. Chairman Steve Samples allowed the attack to go into great length before commissioner Jerome Moon asked Chairman Samples to stop the attack. Chairman Moon has gotten pretty good about shutting down personal attacks. It wasn’t always that way but he has become consistent in stopping such attacks.
It’s times like this when I reflect upon why so few good people want to run for office. Hit dogs holler the loudest and there was plenty of hollering at me. However, I will carry on standing for your liberty and working to protect your wallets. As I always like to conclude my emails, let freedom ring!