Should a quasi-governmental agency be able to block 2 elected officials?

Well I see where The Daily Times is referring to the Blount Partnership as a quasi-governmental agency.  Thirty+ years career bureaucrat Jim Arnette, with the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, referred to Blount County Chamber of Commerce employees as “quasi-governmental” in a communication to me.

There is a Facebook post by the Blount Partnership where it says it is not a government entity.

BlountPartnershipTestKnowledges

What does “quasi-” mean exactly?
According to dictionary.com it means, “a combining form meaning ‘resembling,’ ‘having some, but not all the features of,” used in the formation of compound words:.”  “Quasi” is an adjective meaning, “resembling; seeming; virtual:”.

If it’s not a government agency, what is the Blount Partnership exactly?
The Blount Partnership (BP) is a peculiar organization listed in state paperwork as a 501(c)6 non-profit, mutual benefit corporation.  The President and CEO, Bryan Daniels, describes the organization as umbrella organization and a private entity.

We are told that the BP consists of the Chamber of Commerce (CoC), the Chamber Foundation (CF), the Industrial Development Board (IDB) and the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority (SMTDA).  The Facebook post says that it encompasses these organizations.  The IDB and SMTDA were authorized by acts of the Tennessee General Assembly and approved by the governments of Blount County, City of Alcoa and City of Maryville.  The CoC is a 501(c)6 corporation and the CF is a 501(c)3 corporation.

You can find the 990’s for the CoC and CF here.  Par for the course, I haven’t been able to find any completed 990 tax forms for the BP.  The state corporate paper work lists the BP as being qualified to do business in the State of Tennessee on 01/23/14 but the BP has been around much longer than 2 years.  That one, like so many others, hasn’t been explained to me either.

I also haven’t been able to find any agreement/contract between Blount County government and the Blount Partnership.  There is an agreement referenced in the annual Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority audit found in Section 2 A on page 20 (labeled page 13).

“The Tourism Authority is a joint venture with Blount County. The Tourism Authority is the successor to the Smoky Mountain Tourism Board, which was created pursuant to Chapter 63 of the 2012 Private Acts of the Tennessee General Assembly. The Tourism Authority shall have employees, including a President and CEO, as the Board of Directors of the Tourism Authority deems appropriate. The President and CEO of the board will be the President and CEO of the Blount Partnership as specified by the Joint Operating Agreement and have all such powers therefore described therein.”

Why can’t I get a copy of the agreement?
Bryan Daniels and the Blount Partnership blocked me (Tona Monroe) and commissioner Jamie Daly.  I asked the Mayor’s Office for a copy of the Joint Operating Agreement months ago.  That office doesn’t have a copy of the agreement but did say that a request would be made for one.

I have been blocked by the President and CEO of Blount Partnership, who is also the President and CEO of the SMTDA.  He is also the Chairman and CEO of the IDB (see page 3).  That makes it kind of difficult on my end to request information.

Bryan Daniels of the BP, IDB, SMDTA, CoC or any other hat he happens to be wearing at the moment reminds me of another fella who wore a lot of hats, Joe Ayers.  The IDB and SMDTA are subject to open records request but when the same man is wearing his BP hat, says it is a private entity, and blocks 2 duly elected county commissioners, it make it difficult for me and Jamie Daly to do our jobs.

Bryan Daniels brags about the BP being a best practice organization for the state.  Heaven help the State of Tennessee if it is.  If this best practice is so great, you’d think Daniels would willingly share what he and the boys (entities) are doing.  Could it be that best practices really aren’t?

Is quasi- a way to soften us to what this is?
One of the smart things that Daniels and his predecessors have done is curry favor with the media.  Truth Radio runs their ads and The Daily Times is an active member and the Publisher, Carl Esposito is a Division Director on the CoC Board.  You won’t see much challenging the status quo from the local media.

Quasi-government sounds like a modern day term for fascism.  The more in vogue terms are corporate cronyism, corporate welfare or crony welfare.  Some might say it sounds corrupt.  This is just the latest, more sophisticated, way to give your tax money to private businesses and to allow a handful of people to make a cushy living doing it.

At the heart of this is central economic planning.  A small group of elitist think they know better than the rest of us how to run our economy.  Crony deals are awarded at taxpayer expense.  Well orchestrated PR rhetoric is used, inundating us with words such as “bold,” “leadership,” “vision,” “future” or similar buzz words to sugar coat the expensive operations of central planning.

This is the opposite of a free market.  These people aren’t pro business.  They are anti-taxpayer.  They continually advocate taxing you to give your money to the businesses that they chose to give your money to.  They also give tax breaks to a select few companies.  These practices are actually anti-business because they favor a few businesses at the expense of the rest.  A free market wouldn’t pick winners and losers with taxpayer money.

Regardless of what you call it, the cozy relations between select corporations and government should have ended with WWII and no one should be able to hide behind a private entity that blocks 2 elected officials asking questions about your tax money.

Why should you be concerned?  Answer: Because of the results
Beyond some of your elected officials being blocked, the BP has indicated that it intends to take a more active role in local politics.  In the 2014 election, the BP encouraged people to look at certain candidates on its Facebook page.  Chamber VIP Board Chair, Kevin Shepard, is on the local Election Commission.  Take a good look at the members of all of these boards because you will see the same names show up over and over again.

Small businesses should reconsider their membership in the Chamber of Commerce.  It’s only a select few who get the corporate welfare and the contracts that go with development.  Small businesses are getting higher taxes.  The people of Blount County are getting higher taxes.  Sales tax is now the maximum allowed under state law.  The property tax rate went up nearly 17%.  Pay has not keep up with inflation and Blount County is tied for the highest drop in median household income in this region.

If the Blount Partnership, Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Development Board and Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority were doing such a great job you wouldn’t keep getting higher taxes, jobs that can’t keep up with inflation and a major drop in household income.  The results speak for themselves.

Do you think these people, with these kinds of results, should be more involved in your local elections?  If not, get involved.  It’s not too early to get involved.  These people are already involved in local government and you are paying for it.

Related stories:
Blount Partnership admits its blocking two county commissioners
No contract yet: Transparent Tennessee strikes again
Local Incentives Agreements
Chamber has article against EPA Water Rule
Does this look like someone who should be blocked?
All hail King Daniels!
How do the Mayor and Bryan Daniels explain these economic indicators?

Thank you Sam Duck for helping gathering information.

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