By Jay Polk
From the article: “This one involves Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who’s running on his tough-as-nails budget-cutting credentials. Come tomorrow, Walker will commit no less than $400 million of taxpayer money to a stadium deal to keep the NBA Bucks in Milwaukee:
The state would put $250 million toward the arena, with interest adding up over decades. The subsidy, approved last month with bipartisan support in Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature, wasn’t addressed in the first presidential debate Thursday. That might change in future forums—or attack ads.
That’s bad enough, of course. But what makes the situation even worse is that Walker is actually trying to sell it as something other [than] politically motivated corporate welfare of the basest sort:
Walker, 47, argues that the subsidy is a “good deal,” partly because Wisconsin would lose revenue if the Bucks leave, as they had threatened. The owners of the Bucks, a team whose value Forbes pegged at $600 million, will pick up half the cost of the $500 million arena.
You got that? A business worth $600 million doesn’t have the cash or the credit to build its own…palace (despite covering just half of costs, the Bucks will get virtually all revenue generated by venue forever and ever amen).”
And so it goes that Republicans are just as bad as Democrats on wasting your hard-earned money. Why do fiscal conservatives support Republicans again?
When is the Mayor going to be true to his word to the Smoky Mountain Tea Party Patriots (SMTPP) and appoint new people to the water board? He told the SMTPP that he knew water fluoridation is harmful, because Linda King kept him informed on the latest research.
If the Mayor knows that water fluoridation is harmful why does he reappoint the same people and allow the practice to continue?
There are some in the community who think that everything on this website is written by me (Tona Monroe). That is not the case. This site was never intended to be a website solely with material written by me. I own domains with my name and could just as easily write the material there.
There are some in the community who think that I agree with everything written on this website. That is not the case either. My intention in creating this website was never to have complete and total agreement with every word posted here.
The litmus test for content on this website was never complete and total agreement with my views and is not the case now. My goals are to promote freedom and transparency in government. Those are the reasons why I started this website and why I continue publishing on this website. Those are also the reasons that I ran for office and what I hope to achieve while in office.
The content here is intended to be thought provoking while promoting freedom and openness in government. Everything that is posted here should no more be viewed as my opinions than letters to the editors are viewed as being the opinions of the editors at newspapers.
As I’ve said many times before and will continue saying, let freedom ring!
by Eric Holcombe
Tennessee State Constitution Article 1 Section 3: That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience; that no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any minister against his consent; that no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or
mode of worship.
I am tired of paying for the worshippers of Molech and their child sacrifices.
Achieve Inc. board member Haslam should stop chasing Forrest’s pre-conversion ghost and put an end to the current Negro Project we are being forced to fund.
The Blount County Director of Schools, Rob Britt, will now be the highest paid official on the Blount County government payroll, excluding the General Sessions Court Judges. He will now make $124,954.83 while the Mayor, Ed Mitchell, makes $123,727. Britt’s raise is 4.5%.
How many of you got a 4.5% raise this year? How many of you make $100,000 or more?
From The Daily Times:
“He (Compton) stated that most certified employees received between $2,600 and $2,700.”
How many of you got a $2,600 raise this year? How many of you have a gravy train health care plan for $25 or a family plan for $125-175?
Do your public servants listen to you?
Are they serving your or their own interests and the interests of their friends and family?
Are you public servants aware that Blount County is the only county in the region where pay hasn’t kept up with the rate of inflation?
If they know, do they care?
If they care, how to they explain these pay raises when the taxpayers aren’t keeping up with the rate of inflation?
If they don’t care, what are you going to do about it?
If we can’t even clean up our own back yard, how are we ever going to clean the mess in Washington DC up?
Suggestions: The next time you have the opportunity to vote these people out, seize that opportunity. Please get involved in the campaigns of good candidates. If there is no good candidate in your district, pick up a petition and run for office.
A Daily Signal article takes a look at criminal justice reform in Alabama, a state with severe overcrowding problems.
“Criminal justice reform in Alabama is incredibly complex,” says Bennet Wright, executive director of the Alabama Sentencing Commission, an agency created by the legislature in 2000 to study sentencing policies with an eye toward reducing the prison population.
“If you want to move the needle on criminal justice reform in Alabama, you have to touch a variety of policy areas, and at the same time you have to be cognizant that it touches all three branches of government,” Wright says, adding:
You can’t just change sentencing to change the whole system. At the actual sentencing phase, that’s a judicial function. However, you have an executive branch function in the parole board that can make the decision whether to actually let the inmate out. This reform bill is the first attempt to wrap its hand around the entire criminal justice problem.
Further in the article:
“It’s not about changing this or that—it’s changing everything you do once somebody comes in the system,” Wright says:
Blount County would do well to follow the advice of the criminal justice system assessment (jail study) that it paid for and begin working on the things that it can address locally. Instead only 8 of the 21 commissioners even wanted to hear from the consultant on the matter.
by Ron Paul
During my time in Congress, I regularly introduced legislation forbidding organizations that perform abortions from receiving federal funding. The US Government should not force taxpayers to subsidize an activity they believe is murder. Thus, while I was horrified by the recently released videos showing Planned Parenthood officials casually discussing selling the organs of aborted babies, I am glad that the reaction to these videos has renewed efforts to end federal funding of abortion.
My experience in Congress does not leave me optimistic that federal funding of Planned Parenthood will be ended this year, however. This is not just because the current US president is pro-abortion. When I started my efforts to end taxpayer support of abortion, I was shocked to find out how many Republicans, including some self-described “pro-life” leaders, were unsupportive of, and sometimes hostile to, my efforts.
Most pro-life politicians preferred to add language to funding bills prohibiting federal funds from being used for abortions, rather than denying federal funds to abortion providers. This approach does not stop US taxpayers from subsidizing abortions. The reason is that money is fungible. Giving Planned Parenthood $100 to use for non-abortion activities allows it to spend an additional $100 of its non-government funds on abortion.
Foreign interventionists in both parties were particularly hostile to my efforts to eliminate federal funding for international organizations that performed or promoted abortions. This is a foolish policy that gives people around the globe another reason to resent the US government.
Planned Parenthood may have abandoned the explicitly racist and eugenic views of its founder Margaret Sanger, but the majority of its abortion “services” are still provided to lower-income and minority women. Every day nearly 2,000 African-American babies lose their lives to abortion, a rate five times higher than the Caucasian abortion rates.
I support the black lives matter movement. I have long advocated an end to the drug war, police militarization, and other threats to liberty that disproportionately victimize African-Americans. However, I wish some of the black lives matter movement’s passion and energy was directed to ending abortion. Unborn black lives also matter.
The federal government has no constitutional authority to permit, fund, or even outlaw abortion. Therefore, efforts to make abortion a federal crime are just as unconstitutional as efforts to prohibit states from outlawing abortion. A Congress that truly cared about the Constitution would end all federal funding for abortion and pass legislation restricting federal jurisdiction over abortion, thus returning the issue to the states.
While passing legislation may help limit abortion, the pro-life movement will never succeed unless it changes people’s attitudes toward the unborn. This is why crisis pregnancy centers, which provide care and compassion to women facing unplanned pregnancies, have done more to advance the pro-life cause then any politician. By showing women they have viable alternatives to abortion, these centers have saved many lives.
One factor hindering the anti-abortion movement’s ability to change people’s minds is that too many abortion opponents also support a militaristic foreign policy. These pro-lifers undercut their moral credibility as advocates for unborn American lives when they display a callous indifference to the lives of Iraqi, Iranian, and Afghan children.
Libertarians who support abortion should ask themselves how they can expect a government that does not respect the unborn’s right to life to respect their property rights. Therefore, all those who wish to create a society of liberty, peace, and prosperity should join me in advocating for a consistent ethic of life and liberty that respects the rights of all persons, born and unborn.
Read online: http://bit.ly/1OXZavR
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 King James Version (KJV)
County Revenue Commissioners
Thirteen commissioners voted against implementing a state transparency law governing county receipts. It was a sight to see commissioners Jerome Moon, Grady Caskey and Ron French fall all over themselves making excuses for why the county doesn’t need to follow a state law that allows for three citizens to inspect the county books and issue a report on their findings. Basically their arguments were that the law was outdated, that the information is already online and that we should have an Audit Committee.
Commissioner Moon’s feeble attempt at excusing the county from following the state law included reading a statement from the Comptroller’s Office which revealed that Blount County is one of only two counties in the state to not have an Audit Committee. The success of an Audit Committee will be dependent of the quality of the people serving on it. If the Commission puts the same people on the Budget Committee, the H.R. Committee or their friends on the Audit Committee to audit their results of their own rubber stamping and decisions, don’t expect much from any such Audit Committee.
The Comptroller’s Office wants the County Revenue Commissioners statute repealed and wants the county to go with an Audit Committee. A commissioner from another county shared her frustrations with me on how worthless she feels their Audit Committee is and how worthless the state Comptroller’s Office is in resolving audit findings and accounting problems in their county. She would know. Her husband is a CPA and a Certified Fraud Examiner. She has shared the numerous problems that she and her husband have experienced with transparency and accountability in their local government and getting the state to address the matters.
The County does have an annual audit, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), performed by the state Comptroller’s Office. The audit is useful information providing a snapshot of the county books at the end of the fiscal year but it is not a detailed audit of everything the county does.
We should have an Audit Committee. Hopefully it will do more than our non-functioning Purchasing Commission.
Commissioner Karen Miller was absent from the meeting. The rest were present.
The Commission routinely appoints people to important bodies without any discussion on the nominees. This month the Commission rubber stamped appointments to the Emergency Communications District Board and the Ocoee River Regional Library Board.
Several people have shared with me their concerns about one of the nominees having a history involving alcohol. The Ocoee River Regional Library Board nominee approved the Library Director sending out an email in support of the tax increase.
Blount County has a population of around 125,000 people. The commission should take its time and not rubber stamp every name submitted to it.
Even though the commission just passed a budget that includes a 16.7% property tax increase, there were several budget increases.
Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher had a technology increase request. As usual he was not present to answer questions. I voted no on the request because I didn’t receive answers to my questions. It is amazing how little information the commission actually wants to know about voting to spend large sums of money. Only commissioners Akard and Monroe voted no. After the meeting, I received a call from a citizen telling me that Hatcher had time to eat dinner with several commissioners, after the Commission meeting.
The Schools received a huge increase in local revenue this budget year but were back for more with the new budget being only a few weeks old. The School Board had already approved spending the increase and wanted the commission to approve using fund balance. The School Board has failed to prioritize for a long time. Only commissioners Mike Akard and Tona Monroe voted no.
Attacks on commissioners Mike Akard and Tona Monroe
Since taking office, I have been attacked several times. In July commissioner Mike Akard was attacked by a fellow commissioner and then called out off the agenda. If you live in the Alcoa area know that commissioner Mike Akard is standing up for you, as I have been for the citizens of the Big Springs, Carpenters Elementary, Friendsville, Happy Valley and Lanier, as evidenced by the attacks occurring against us.
County residents don’t have a lot of options available for glass recycling. The reason is because it costs more to process and haul glass to companies willing to reuse it than they are paid for the product.
A company that manufacturers table tops using recycled glass is moving to Blount County. While this won’t use all of the glass available for recycling, it is exciting to see this manufacturer locating here.
State of county fiscal health
The Mayor assured us that great things are coming to Blount County. Today increases in the number of free and reduced lunches were reported. Ask your commissioner(s) why he felt it was a good idea to increase taxes in this economic environment.
Emergency Services Medical Board and Audit Committee
Last month, Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell and Bryan Daniels of the Blount Partnership and Industrial Development Board (IDB) assured us that great things are in store for Blount County. Today one of the lead stories is about the increase in the number of free and reduced lunches that children are receiving in the local government schools.
This while the taxpayers saw a 22% increase in the local option sales tax in 2014 and a 16% increase in the property tax in 2015 (FY16).
Mitchell and the Finance Directors statement’s about the financial health of Blount County haven’t exactly been on target. Here is a January 2, 2014 email where the Finance Director assures the commissioners that “Blount County is on sound financial footing.”
A year and half later, the citizens of Blount County got a huge property tax increase a year after a 22% increase in the local option sales tax.
From: Randy Vineyard
Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2014 6:08 PM
To: Pat James
Subject: Fiscal year ended June 30, 2013 highlights
The Mayor asked that I provide some commentary on the recent correspondence you received from the State Comptroller’s Office.
The State Comptroller’s Office completed the annual audit of last fiscal year’s financial activities. The audit report has been posted on the Blount County website for public review.
First, the County has received an unqualified opinion which is always our goal. There were no audit findings and that too is our annual goal. There is a suggestion that the County consider creating an Audit Committee and this is a recurring suggestion over the past few years. There was no exit conference this year since there were no audit findings.
The following comments pertain only to the General County Fund 101 and the numbers are rounded for simplification purposes only.
The operating results for the year ending June 30, 2013, General County net assets increased $2.97 million. The ending Fund Balance was $13.05million with $11.4million of that being Undesignated and Unobligated.
Total General County Revenues were $44.55 million and total General County Expenditures/Transfers were $41.58 million on a final amended budget of $43.88 million. If you recall we missed the value of a penny on the tax rate and that resulted in $1.1million less in property tax revenue in Fund 101. However, that was offset by higher fee revenue collected by the various office holders and higher inmate reimbursements from the State and Federal governments.
On the appropriation side of the budget, the officeholders and department heads did an outstanding job of managing their budgets and significantly underspent their appropriations.
There will be a proposed budget amendment submitted to the Budget Committee at their meeting on January 6 to outline a plan to position the County for some matters likely to come up over the next several months.
First resolution, a recommendation to give non-recurring compensation supplement to County employees in Fund 101. This would be $1000 per full time employee and $500 per part time employee.
The total cost including benefits is approximately $539,100. Our employees contributed to the financial success the County attained last year and it is reasonable for us to show that recognition with a non-recurring increase in pay.
Second resolution, a recommendation that the Commission Designate/Obligate approximately $1.36million for Capital needs and Self Insurance funding needs. These two items are not appropriating or spending any money, but set aside and obligate for future needs. The Self Insurance needs are in the Workers Comp Fund and the General Liability Fund. Over the past few years we have not assessed premiums sufficient to cover claims experience. That has to be addressed soon to avoid an audit finding by the Comptroller’s Office. Therefore, should Commission decide to appropriate an amount less than is proposed to be designated for self-insurance purposes, it will be my recommendation that the designation be shifted to the Capital needs.
We will be providing a synopsis of the highlights of the budgeted funds to you in a few days.
I am very pleased with the results of the past fiscal year. This does not mean the upcoming FY ‘14/’15 budget will be without challenges because we are planning to use up to $3.3million in fund balance in the current budget year. This was a result of shifting 9 pennies from General County to Schools to meet the state mandated maintenance of effort (MOE).
However, this certainly gives us a better starting point and it validates the initiatives currently underway. Those being upgrading technology in our various fee offices for improved reliability and efficiency; reducing our annual variable rate debt costs on our existing long term debt; retiring two long term notes; and using common sense in spending the public’s tax dollars.
The take away is Blount County is on sound financial footing. We are making incremental improvements to make further operational progress in the future barring unforeseen circumstances. This could not have happened without the good leadership of our elected office holders.
I welcome your comments and encourage you to contact me with any questions.
Randy Vineyard, IOM
Blount County Finance Director
At the July Agenda Committee meeting, I placed an item on the agenda to elect three County Revenue Commissioners. It appears to me that 13 Blount County Commissioners voted to break this state transparency law.
Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe voted yes on the state transparency law.
Commissioners Andy Allen, Brad Bowers, Rick Carver, Shawn Carter, Grady Caskey, Mike Caylor, Tom Cole, Dodd Crowe, Ron French, Mike Lewis, Kenneth Melton, Jerome Moon and Steve Samples voted no.
Commissioners Gary Farmer and Tom Stinnett were absent.
The good thing that came out of this vote is that commissioner Jerome Moon read a statement from the Comptroller’s Office that said that Blount County is one of only two counties in the state that doesn’t have an Audit Committee. Perhaps we will finally get an Audit Committee in light of the fact that there is only one other county besides Blount without one. However if we get an Audit Committee that exists on paper but never meets, like our Purchasing Commission, then what good will it do the taxpayers of Blount County?
5-8-601. Appointment — Tenure — Oath.
(a) (1) The county legislative bodies, at their July term, shall elect three (3) competent citizens, not members of the county legislative body, county clerk, or deputy county clerk, who shall be known as the “revenue commissioners” of the county.
(2) One (1) of these commissioners shall be an expert accountant.
(b) Their term of office shall begin on the first Monday in September following their election, and they shall hold office for two (2) years, and until their successors are elected and qualified.
(c) Before entering upon their duties, they shall subscribe to an oath before the county clerk that they will well and truly discharge all duties that may devolve upon them by law.
HISTORY: Acts 1907, ch. 602, § 76; Shan., § 935; Code 1932, § 1650; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 7, 22, 36; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 5-831.
(a) On Tuesday before the first Monday in January, April, July and October of each year, the revenue commissioners shall meet and critically examine the settlements of the county mayor, with all the collecting officers of the county.
(b) They shall inspect the reports of those collecting officers made to the county mayor, and the books of those officers, if necessary.
(c) They shall also carefully examine the financial report of the county mayor.
(d) They shall examine the checks and warrants on which disbursements from the treasury have been made, and compare these with the books of the treasurer or trustee.
(e) They shall ascertain what warrants have been drawn by the county mayor during the preceding quarter, which of these have been paid, which have been registered with the trustee and remain unpaid, and how many, if any, have been either registered or paid.
(f) The commissioners in each case shall see that the balances as stated in the report of the county mayor correspond with the balances shown to be on hand by the books of the trustee and exhibit of the cash or assets which the trustee has or should have on hand.
HISTORY: Acts 1907, ch. 602, § 76; Shan., § 936; Code 1932, § 1651; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 16, 36; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 5-832; Acts 2003, ch. 90, § 2.
The revenue commissioners shall report, in writing at the end of each quarter, the result of their investigation, and it shall be their special duty to call attention to any neglect or violation of duty that they may observe on the part of any official.
HISTORY: Acts 1907, ch. 602, § 76; Shan., § 937; Code 1932, § 1652; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 5-833.
(a) The revenue commissioners shall be paid for their services such compensation as may be allowed them by the county legislative bodies of the respective counties as follows: not to exceed ten dollars ($10.00) per day for the chair and not to exceed eight dollars ($8.00) per day for other members for the time actually engaged in the discharge of their duties.
(b) (1) In counties having a population of: Click here to view image.
according to the 1970 United States census or any subsequent United States census, such compensation shall not exceed twenty dollars ($20.00) per day for the chair and not exceed fifteen dollars ($15.00) per day for other members for the time actually engaged in the discharge of their duties.
(2) In counties having a population of not less than fourteen thousand nine hundred (14,900) nor more than fourteen thousand nine hundred twenty-five (14,925), according to the 1980 federal census or any subsequent federal census, such compensation shall not exceed thirty dollars ($30.00) per day for the chair and twenty-five dollars ($25.00) per day for other members for the time actually engaged in the discharge of their duties.
HISTORY: Acts 1907, ch. 602, § 76; Shan., § 938; Acts 1921, ch. 135, § 2; Code 1932, § 1653; Acts 1959, ch. 231, § 1; 1971, ch. 294, §§ 1, 2; 1975, ch. 18, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 7, 36; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 5-834; Acts 1984, ch. 509, §§ 1, 2.