On the Commission agenda this month is a resolution (Item F7) to authorize the Mayor to apply for a liter grant from the State of Tennessee. That sounds good. I certainly am all for work programs to get inmates out of jail and back into society faster and for cleaning up the trash on the sides of our roads. However, in looking at the supporting documentation provided with the grant application, there is a provision that is alarming and deserves further research and discussion.
Page 566 of the Commission packet says:
Environmental Issues: An Environmental Court is envisioned for Blount County. KBB (Keep Blount Beautiful) Members lead this campaign by speaking with the members of the community about the need. Budget constraints continue to be problematic for the issue.
With the recent stormwater regulations controversy about property rights violations, I have to wonder what exactly the mission for the Environmental Court will be. Will the goal be to start dragging people into court for unintentionally planting a tree in a utility easement and slapping a hefty fine on the property owner? Will the goal to be to start dragging people into court for planting too many of one type of tree on their property? The idea isn’t so far fetched when you consider the the head of Keep Blount Beautiful just left to work for a stormwater association.
Who decided that this was a vision for Blount County and whether we should be giving tax money to a non-profit company (KBB) to promote the idea of establishing an environmental court? The work program for Blount County Tennessee Department of Transportation Litter Grant says that this vision was submitted by Beverly Collins on May 7, 2014.
That’s the problem with these grants. The commission authorizes applying for the grants and then bureaucrats gets to write the grants, goals and spend the money without any commission oversight. It doesn’t make for good government.