Chamber has article against EPA Water Rule

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce posted an article yesterday about the EPA water rule and why it should be stopped.  The article says, “EPA’s regulatory overreach is so outrageous that hundreds of local government and business organizations back the bill.”

The local government of Blount County, Tennessee opposed the EPA’s water rule and supported legislation to stop it through the resolution that I (Tona Monroe) sponsored (see page 522).  So why did Bryan Daniels of the Blount Partnership and Chamber of Commerce work to kill my resolution?  What exactly was Daniels’ agenda?

This comes while the local Chamber of Commerce and Blount Partnership are bragging on Facebook about their 5 star accreditation from the U.S. Chamber.  The Chamber says, “we performed an intensive self-assessment of our operations in nine areas of work, including governance, government affairs, and technology.

The comment that was posted asking why the Chamber/Partnership blocked me and commissioner Jamie Daly if they were working on governance and government affairs appears to have been quickly deleted.


County paperwork lists “Denny Garner” as County Department

“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”  Will Rogers

Snakes_and_laddersDouble dipping Denny Garner, who is somehow managing to work what was previously two full time positions, is moving on up in Blount County government.  He submitted county paperwork listing his name as the Department for a recent budget increase.  See page 25 of the October Commission meeting packet for the request from the Department of “Denny Garner”.

The explanation part of the paperwork is blank.  At the commission meeting, I tried to find out what the money will be used for.  The chairman was not happy about it and asked the Finance Director a question when the Chairman is suppose to facilitate the meeting and step down from the Chair if he wants to ask questions.

The Finance Director, Randy Vineyard, did not give me any details for the use of the money, choosing to speak in generalities saying the funds were for “additional maintenance work”, “not any specific item” and for what “may arise”.  All the Finance Director had to say was repairs are costing us more than we anticipated and we need more money to make it through the year.  He didn’t thought.

The amount was $32,988, which is the exact amount that the paper reported the week before for repairs to the courthouse clock.  The clock repair was already well underway before Facilities Manager Denny Garner, Vineyard and the Mayor Ed Mitchell felt the need to ask the commission for an increase in the maintenance budget that happens to be the same cost as the project.  The commission is treated like a minor formality.

Remember the nearly $1 million capital needs money that was set aside when there was no plan and then the Finance Director and Mayor sprang onto the scene a month later with a plan to spend all of it and a whole lot more?  The courthouse clock sounds like a capital need but that money was spent on Kronos almost as fast as it was set aside.

The Budget Committee consisting of Jerome Moon, Mike Lewis, Sharron Hannum and the Mayor rubber stamped the budget increase without asking a single question.  I wonder if Chairman Moon would have been so quick to try to put me down if he realized that he pencil whipped paperwork that failed to list the correct department and gave no explanation for the use of funds.

Only commissioners Cole, Miller and Monroe voted no.  Commissioner Carter abstained.  Commissioners Akard and Allen were absent.

Commissioner Tona Monroe to request long awaited jail study hearing

Commissioner Tona Monroe has filed a resolution to have a teleconference hearing on the findings and recommendations of the Criminal Justice System Assessment Report presented by the Institute for Law and Policy Planning.  Commissioner Monroe issued the following statement regarding the report and teleconference.

“In response to jail overcrowding the County commissioned a study that was conducted by the Institute for Law and Policy Planning (ILPP).  Two years later the County Commission has not heard from the consultant about the findings of the study because of leadership changes on the Blount County Corrections Partnership and because of the Mayor’s false threat of a lawsuit to silence discussion.

The Blount County jail is overcrowded and the problem is not going to go away on its own.  I commend the 7 commissioners who joined me in voting to have a hearing earlier this year and I challenge the other 13 to rethink their positions. With no lawsuit on the horizon it’s time for the commission to move beyond local obstructionist politics and get to work addressing the needs of our criminal justice system.”

Commissioner Tona Monroe
District 7 Seat B
Serving Big Springs, Carpenters, Friendsville, Happy Valley and Lanier

For more information see these articles:

Does this look like someone who should be blocked?

Earlier this year Commissioner Daly and I (Tona Monroe) sponsored a resolution asking congress to pass legislation, which has passed the House, to repeal draconian EPA stormwater regulations.  The resolution passed despite Bryan Daniels trying to kill it so he could get credit for giving the farm away to bring jobs (a composites manufacturer?) to the area.  Our area would have to be in attainment status in order for the manufacturer to come in the area without having to install more pollution control equipment.

The Blount Partnership/Chamber of Commerce and what ever entity that Byran Daniels and his cohorts choose to be at the moment have blocked Commissioners Jamie Daly and me.  Despite the secretive, back stabbing, pancake eating, ribbon cutting, PR stunt craving ways of Daniels and Mayor Ed Mitchell, Jamie Daly commented on one of the Facebook pages of the royal deities about the possibility of more industry for the area.  Did the hard hitting comment, “Now we can have more industries.” instill in Daniels such a paralyzing fear that he felt the need to block communication with an elected official?  That comment was hardly a hard hitting rebuke, like I am known to deliver.

Bryan Daniels, his Chamber cohorts, Ed Mitchell, Chairman Jerome Moon and Bob Norris who hides behind his anonymous editorials are PR sensitive wimps.  Anyone can be a boot licker and take credit for giving the farm away.  Benjamin Franklin did it for years before he finally realized it was time to stand up to the crown and fight for the rights of the people.


County has no resume for double dipping Denny

After reporting that Denny Garner became the Facilities Coordinator for the county in addition to the Fleet Manager in the Sheriff’s Office, I inquired further into the matter.

No resume
Request for a resume from the Sheriff’s Office, Mayor’s Office and HR have revealed that the county does not have a resume for double dipping Denny Garner.  Yes, you read that right.  The county doesn’t think it important enough to request a resume from the man with the keys to the county buildings and the Sheriff’s fleet (and it’s a big one).

Chief Deputy Jeff French with the Sheriff’s Office told me that the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t ask for resumes because it uses an online application process.  When I asked if the Sheriff’s Office had a copy of the application, French responded saying, “There was not a copy in his personnel file.

While it would appear that the Sherriff’s Office did ask some questions prior to hiring Denny Garner, one is left to wonder how thorough it was since there is no application available in his personnel file.  One would think that someone put in charge of county building maintenance and a large fleet would have to demonstrate that he has some relevant work experience in both areas before he is made head honchos (remember these were TWO full time positions) but then again this is Blount County government that we’re talking about.

No straight answer given on how someone can work two full time positions at the same time
The HR Director wouldn’t give me a straight answer on how someone who was working over time on a full time position could take on an additional full time position and manage both.  However, the Director did say that the two positions have been consolidated and that double dipping Denny won’t be paid overtime anymore.

According the HR Director, double dipping Denny’s annual salary is $68,033.32.
$38,033.32 is paid from 101-054110-500142
$30,000 is paid from 101-051800-500105

Full time hours + full time hours + overtime hours for one of the full time positions = how many hours?  One does have to wonder when double dipping Denny sleeps.

No contract yet: Transparent Tennessee strikes again

Rocky Top Politics (RTP) has been speculating on potential gubernatorial candidates for the 2018 election.  In their latest digs at Governor Bill Haslam and Tom Ingram (there’s plenty to dig into), RTP further explores the candidacy of Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd.  Name recognition for Boyd is growing here locally while he and the Governor of the Great State of Tennessee have their faces plastered all over the media for bringing jobs to Blount County.

Always interested in knowing what the costs to the taxpayers will be for these jobs, I was a tad bit surprised (yeah ok I should not be surprised because this is government we are talking about) to learn that Boyd doesn’t know how much these jobs will cost the taxpayers.

From the Knoxville News Sentinel:

“Asked about incentives offered to AMI, State Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd said those have not been finalized in a contract.

“So, there is not anything I can say,” he said.”

Call me old fashioned, conservative, libertarian, a concerned citizen, a free thinker, a county commissioner or whatever you want, but someone has to ask the obvious question.  Shouldn’t a contract be written before PR celebration?  Does anyone remember a brewer that left town after ground was broken?

Oh those pesky little details.  Inquiring about those kinds of things (taxpayer moolah) can get you blocked by the people that don’t want you to know.

According to The Daily Times, “Details of local and state incentive packages for AMI were not available Tuesday.”  Now this one did not surprise me at all.  Government failing to provide information is par for the course.

Here’s a chicken and egg scenario.  Did Bryan Daniels and the local cronies learn from Haslam’s secret privatization work or did Haslam and Boyd learn from Bryan Daniels and the Blount Partnership that blocking the commissioners who ask questions is the best way to remain secret?  Maybe they’re learning from each other.

Transparency could easily be achieved if that was the goal rather than PR press conferences.  Top secret discussions started in April.  Six months ought to be enough time to have some details about incentives to give to the public at a press conference.

In fairness to Commissioner Boyd, an unfinished contract may not be anymore cause for concern than adopting a pay scale that still has the word draft stamped on it, or signing the signature page of a contract without having a copy of the contract, or passing a massive health care ‘reform’ bill so that you can find out what’s in it or trying to privatize state jobs in secret.

For all the folks who have been worried the judicial tyranny/wrath of God resolution would hurt business recruitment to the area, you can stop worrying.  AMI founder and Executive Chairman Jim Antich said, “The Good Lord led us to East Tennessee.”  There you have it.  It wasn’t Byran Daniels and the umbrella Blount Partnership, or the Governor and his economic development commissioner or even the financial incentives of the yet to be finalized contract.  But that won’t stop the publicity seeking hounds from taking credit for bringing jobs to Blount County.

Neither Bryan Daniels or Blount County’s “effective conservative” Senator Doug Overbey have ever seen camera they don’t want to stand in front of.  Governor Haslam is going to great lengths to get his picture on the front pages of newspapers across the state.  Nearly every time there’s a “jobs” announcement, Haslam is there standing in front of the cameras.  That’s a lot of effort for publicity from someone who is term limited.  Randy Boyd is right there with him.  Future political aspirations for both?  Time will tell for both.

Boyd for Governor and Daniels for Commissioner of Economic and Community Development – Transparent Tennessee here we come.

County IT and Kronos

Last week I received this email:

“Hi Tona,
Do you think the dawn of Kronos and the computerized purchasing of the county labor pool (mathematics, abstract, yet incorruptible and undefiled, always leaving an indelible audit trail) has had an impact on county government fiscal responsibility?   Do you think it ever will or ever could?

I would hope the county would begin to implement a similar system for tracking the execution of material procurement and contract services.”

Next Monday the Information Technology (IT) Committee will meet.  The packet sent to me earlier this week containing a memorandum on Kronos, the IT software system chosen to replace the current in house payroll system and to implement HR and benefits.  Previous memorandums were from the former IT Director John Herron.  This one is from Mark Poole.

My response to the questions:

Well the IT Director John Herron, working in the department with the longest average tenure of any county department (according to a draft version of the Evergreen Study see page 10), just left and went to work for the schools.  Multiple county employees shared with me that the Finance Director Randy Vineyard wanted Herron gone and it appears that Vineyard got his wish.  Herron was reluctantly put in charge of the Kronos project because a few commissioners found it odd that the Sheriff’s volunteer (an attorney) was going to head up the project.

The commission separated the Budget Committee (putting Sharron Hannum who can’t manage her own budget on it) from the Purchasing Commission.  The Purchasing Commission didn’t meet until the Mayor had six months to put an attorney (yeah another attorney) in charge of purchasing.  One of its members isn’t very prompt in paying his taxes either.

The Sherriff’s volunteer backed away (taking a “reduced role”) from the Kronos project and now Herron is no longer issuing the updates on the Kronos implementation schedule.

Does anything sound abnormal to you?

Debt Ceiling Debate: Don’t Mention Warfare/Welfare State!

By Ron Paul

The US Treasury’s recent announcement that the government will reach the debt ceiling on November 3 means Congress will soon be debating raising the government’s borrowing limit again. Any delay in, or opposition to, raising the debt ceiling will inevitably be met with hand-wringing over Congress’ alleged irresponsibility. But the real irresponsible act would be for Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

Cutting up its credit card is the only way to make Congress reduce spending. Anyone who doubts this should listen to the bipartisan whining over how sequestration has so drastically reduced spending that there is literally nothing left to cut. But, according to the Heritage Foundation, sequestration has only reduced spending from $3.6 trillion to $3.5 trillion. Only in DC would a less than one percent spending reduction be considered a draconian cut.

Defense hawks have found a way around sequestration by shoving billions of dollars into the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. OCO spending is classified as “emergency” spending so it does not count against the spending limits, even when OCO is used for items that do not fit any reasonable definition of emergency.

Yet, even using OCO to boost military spending by as much as $80 billion does not satisfy the military-industrial complex’s ravenous appetite for taxpayer dollars.

During the majority of my time in Congress, debt ceiling increases were routinely approved. In fact, congressional rules once allowed the House of Representatives to increase the debt ceiling without a vote or even a debate! Congress’ need to appear to respond to growing concerns over federal spending has forced it to end the practice of rubber-stamping debt ceiling increases.

Continuously increasing spending will lead to rising inflation as the Federal Reserve tries to monetize the ever-increasing debt. This will eventually lead to a serious economic crisis. When the crisis occurs, Congress will have no choice but to cut spending. The question is not if, but when and under what circumstances, spending will be cut.

The only alternative for cutting spending in response to economic crisis involves Congress gradually unwinding the welfare state in a manner that does not harm those dependent on federal programs. Congress will not even consider doing this until enough people have embraced the ideas of liberty to force the politicians to reconsider the proper role of government.

Those who accept the premises of the welfare statists are incapable of making principled arguments against welfare and entitlement programs. Thus, they can only quibble over spending levels or how to more efficiently manage the federal bureaucracy. While fiscal conservatives may gain some minor victories with this approach, their failure to challenge the welfare state’s morality or effectiveness dooms any effort to seriously curtail welfare state spending.

Similarly, one cannot favor both serious reductions in the military budget and an aggressive foreign policy. So-called cheap hawks may achieve some reforms in the Pentagon’s budget. They many even succeed in killing a few wasteful weapons projects. However, their unwillingness to oppose a foreign policy of perpetual war means they will always cave in to the war hawks’ demands for ever-higher military budgets.

Those who understand the dangers from continuing on our current path should support efforts to stop Congress from raising the debt ceiling. However, supporters of liberty will not win the political battle over government spending on welfare and warfare until we win the intellectual battle over the role of government. Those of us who know the truth must do all we can to spread the ideas of liberty.

Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Read online:

Blount Partnership admits its blocking two county commissioners

The Blount Partnership, which the CEO/President Bryan Daniels describes as an umbrella organization for the Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Foundation, Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority and Industrial Development Board (also referred to as the Economic Development Board), has admitted that it is blocking communication from two Blount County Commissioners.  Commissioners Jamie Daly and Tona Monroe have been blocked.

The Daily Times has a story today on the matter.

To read more about the economic environment created by entrusting large sums of tax dollars to the Industrial Development Board and the Smoky Mountain Tourism Authority, both part of the Blount Partnership, click here.

The Blount Partnership says, it “is the sole economic development agency for the Blount County area.”  An active citizen in the community and frequent commenter on this website, recently wrote me saying, “I think a “Blount County Industrial Guild” would work wonders for Blount.” 

What do you think?  A government subsidized monopoly has given us the results of being the only county in the region where average pay isn’t keeping up with the rate of inflation and being tied for the biggest drop in median household income. 

If you’d like to communicate with Bryan Daniels, his email address is