April 2016 Commission Report

If you demand better government you will get better government.  Blount County Commissioner Tona Monroe

Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP)
BCCP Chairman Jeff Headrick missed the March and April BCCP meetings.  Vice Chairman Rick Carver filled in.  Carver showed that he has little or no respect for our constitutional participatory process*.  Citizens have shared with me the horrible faces that he makes when they are speaking and when I am speaking.  Apparently he can’t hide his contempt for the people he is suppose to be representing.

Last month BCCP Vice Chairman Rick Carver asked the BCCP whether we should ram through a request for qualifications (RFQ) to expand the jail.  This matter wasn’t on the agenda.  Another meeting was called to place the item on the BCCP agenda, to ensure that the rush to vote on seeking an RFQ to expand the jail and look at program services would be legal.  What does that say about some local government employees and officials that they would want to ram through something this important without giving the public time to comment?

This wasn’t Carver’s only legally questionable move related to the BCCP.  He also prohibited me from adding an item to the BCCP agenda.  At the end of the March BCCP meeting I requested that discussion and possible action to make a recommendation about housing federal inmates be placed on the agenda.  Rick Carver said he would not allow it to be placed on the agenda.  I asked him if he had authority to stop me from placing an item on the agenda.  He said that he didn’t know.

After the meeting I (Tona Monroe) told Rick Carver that he couldn’t do what he had just done.  He told me to add it to the agenda.  I called Rhonda Pitts, the Commission Secretary, and shared that Rick Carver told me to add it to the agenda.

The agenda was released without the item that I requested.  Neither Pitts or Carver have the integrity to answer who told Pitts to exclude the item from the agenda.  However, records that I have obtained indicate that Rick Carver was making decisions related to the BCCP, in the absence of Jeff Headrick.  Pitts has also failed to properly record the motions that I make into the BCCP meeting minutes.

Historically, no commissioner has ever been prohibiting from adding items to the agenda, that I am aware of.  The commission is free to reject the item and even remove it from the agenda if they choose not to discuss it.  However, prohibiting a commissioner from adding something to the agenda is unprecedented and it trashes the fiduciary responsibility and sacred trust that elected officials have been given.

If it seems trite to talk about this scared trust, it is because people like Rick Carver have thrown our system of governance into the trash bin of antiquity, preferring a oligarchy to our constitutional republic.  No commissioner should be allowed to dictate what can and can not be placed on a meeting agenda.  Why have a committee if one person, acting as chair, can bottleneck and determine the entire agenda?  Committees are suppose to discuss ideas not stifle them.

Defining moment – dangerous precedent
This is a defining moment in Blount County government.  If Rick Carver is allowed to get away with his actions, then the machine will never again have to allow commissioners to place items on the agenda that they don’t approve of.

I am doing what I can to stop this deplorable action from happening again but I can’t do it alone.  It is time for you to step up and demand that this stop.  If you demand better government, you will get better government.

Rick Carver’s phone number is 984-6674 and his email address is rcarver@blounttn.org.  Commission Secretary Rhonda Pitt’s can be reached at 273-5830 and her email is rpitts@blounttn.org.  County Clerk Margaret Flynn, Rhonda’s supervisor, can be reached at 273-5804 and her email is maflynn@blounttn.org.

The RFQ was approved with only me voting no.  This should come as no surprise.  Of the 5 voting members present, 2 are employees of the Sheriff (Jeff French and John Adams), one was finically supported by the Sheriff during his campaign (Rick Carver) and the other sits on a board with the Sheriff (Mike Caylor).

I made a motion to amend the RFQ recommendation it to program services and not expansion of the jail.  Mike Caylor embarrassed himself by speaking out of order by saying that he wouldn’t accept my amendment to his motion, rather than allowing the process to work.

There was further embarrassment when clarification had to be sought from the Purchasing Agent, Katie Branham, as to whether the recommendation needed to be sent to the commission.  The Purchasing Agent said that under the Purchasing Act of 1957, which the county operates under, the BCCP could recommend that she issue the RFQ without commission approval.

It is no wonder that the Purchasing Agent was overheard saying, they don’t know what they are doing.  She is correct.  Rick Carver and Mike Caylor don’t know what they are doing.  They do what they are told and many times they can’t even do what they are told correctly.

No solution Mike Caylor asked the Finance Director, Randy Vineyard, what he thought about the procedure for handling the RFQ process.  The Finance Director, who is usually quite happy to run things while the mayor is out to lunch or cutting a ribbon, told Caylor you’ve heard the same things that I heard.  Caylor said, I just wanted to hear you (Vineyard) say it and laughed.  Once again no solution Caylor was showing that he doesn’t want to do the thinking and is just there as a rubber stamp for the machine.

Agenda Committee
Favoritism shown
Toward the end of each meeting there is a section on the agenda for statements and announcements from commissioners.  The Agenda Committee Chairman Steve Samples frequently skips over the section.  I had my light on to speak and he skipped me and went straight to public input for items on the agenda.

Rather than letting me make my statement in my commission seat, where commissioners normally make their statements, Jerome Moon insisted that I go to the podium and speak which I did.  However, Samples let commissioner Ron French speak from his seat.  Moon did not insist that French go to the podium and speak.  Samples apologized to me after the meeting but he let Moon have his way.

Called Commission meeting
The commission approved the RFQ to look at costs to expand the jail and/or programs.  I made the motion to remove jail expansion and just focus on programs.  My amendment failed with Commissioners Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Tom Cole, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and me voting for it.  These are the same 6 who voted against the RFQ.

The paper reported the final vote wrong.  Jerome Moon did not abstain and Gary Farmer left before the final vote.  Jeff Headrick was absent at the start of the meeting but came in late and voted yes.  Headrick and Carver are the two sponsors of the resolution.

What Jerome Moon abstained on was my challenge to his ruling as Chair.  No solution Mike Caylor who wanted to hear from the Finance Director, who had nothing to say, declared a point of order saying that I was out of order because I was referring to the Institute for Law and Policy Planning report which discussed why we didn’t need to build.  It is not out of order for a commissioner to talk about why we shouldn’t be doing something before the body (commission) and reference resources that support that position.  However, Jerome Moon declared me out of order and the commission voted to shut my discussion on the matter down by upholding Moon’s ruling.

I wasn’t the only one shut down when referencing the jail study.  Moon shut citizens down who spoke about the study.  He also told commissioner Tom Cole that he could be sued if he didn’t vote for the RFQ.

What has Blount County government become?
Think about what Blount County government has become and decide if it is serving you well.  If not, you shouldn’t put up with this and should demand better from those who are suppose to be your public servants.

  • The Blount County Adult Detention Facility (jail) is overcrowded, exceeding its certified capacity of 350 beds.
  • The sheriff and US Marshal’s service willfully contribute to the crowding problem by agreeing to house federal inmates in the jail.
  • The taxpayers funded a $94,580 study to address jail overcrowding.
  • The study is a criminal justice system assessment and not just a plan to expand the jail.
  • Several of the powers that be were upset with the findings, conclusions and recommendations.
  • The BCCP recommended that the commission conduct a teleconference hearing with the jail consultant.
  • The Mayor threatened to sue the consultant to stop discussion on the study.
  • The county paid $3,710 in legal fees to the mayor’s attorney.
  • There was no lawsuit and the commission still rejected hearing from the consultant.
  • The study said that the county is losing money housing federal inmates and that the only way to make it seem like money is being made is to understaff and overcrowd the jail.
  • I requested that the issue of housing federal inmates be added to the BCCP agenda.  It took 7 months for this to happen.
  • After some discussion with figures showing that the county isn’t making money on federal inmates, the BCCP Chairman Jeff Headrick cut discussion off and moved to the next item before I could make a motion to recommend that we stop taking federal inmates.
  • The Finance Director and Sheriff’s Office cut the revenue projections for housing federal inmates.
  • More revenue accumulated than projected.
  • The Finance Director, Mayor and Sheriff secretly planned to use this accumulated revenue to build.
  • The Purchasing Agent chose a company charging 3.5 times more than the lowest offer to renegotiate the federal inmate per diem daily rate.
  • The county was obligated to pay the $65,000 consultant fee but the commission wasn’t presented with a budget amendment until after services were rendered.
  • I tried to place the federal prisoners issue back on the BCCP agenda, to make a recommendation but Vice Chairman Rick Carver stopped it from being placed on the agenda.
  • Commission Secretary Rhonda Pitts has refused to record the words of my amendments in the meeting minutes.
  • Mike Caylor declared a point of order prohibiting me from speaking about why we didn’t need to build.
  • Jerome Moon ruled that I was out of order and commission upheld that a commissioner can’t talk about why we shouldn’t build, when being presented with resolution seeking approval of an RFQ to build.
  • The sheriff told the paper in December that he hasn’t asked the commission for a new jail.
  • The sheriff still hasn’t asked the commission for a new jail or expansion.

Why are we doing this?

Commission meeting – a spending spree
Mike Caylor was absent.

The majority of commissioners showed again that they have no fiscal discipline and that they are happy to accommodate government anytime it wants to go on a spending binge.

The schools were back for more budget increases despite being given a huge increase in local revenue this year and already receiving another large budget increase a few months back.  I have never received the information that I requested regarding new hires and part time jobs being made full time this fiscal year.  Only commissioner Karen Miller and I voted against giving the schools another big increase.

The commission was presented with a lease for laptops for the Sheriff’s Office.  There were numerous problems with this lease.  Neither the Purchasing Agent or the new $100+ hourly Mindboard IT consultant could answer questions about the agreements that they negotiate.  I asked why the paperwork listed a 4 year warranty for a 3 year lease.  The $100+ hourly IT consultant did say what was already obvious, that this 3 lease is just a way to go and get new laptops again in 3 years, rather than using the laptops for the life of the equipment.  During the meeting commissioner Mike Akard was able to find a lower price for the same model laptops from the same vendor.  Why we need someone making over $100 a hour involved in a laptop lease is beyond me.

The most potentially dangerous item approved by the commission is a lease agreement for county employees to lease new cars for 5 years.  The Sheriff’s Office and Blount County Schools are excluded.  The rest will be able to get new cars if they can find the money in their budgets.  With all the transfers taking place, it won’t surprise me to see several people with new cars soon.

Besides the obvious opening the door to get new cars, this matter was not presented in a business like manner to the commission.  The commission should have been given an expense sheet documenting the cost of purchasing and maintaining cars for at least the last 3 budget years, preferably more.  We should have been given a list of market options, beyond leasing new cars.  There are software programs that handle fleet management but nothing like this was presented, even though the lease agreement was sold to the budget committee as a way to solve our lack of having a fleet management system.  All the market options should have been presented to us so that we could determine what the best option was.  We were given none of this.  While the laptops were a bad deal for the taxpayers and few cars will quickly cost more than the laptops.  Only myself and commissioner Karen Miller voted no on this poorly thought out way to manage county vehicles.

The annual litter grant, with language about an Environmental Court being envisioned, was back.  Last year I pointed this matter out and put forth an amendment to ensure that no funds would be used for this purpose.  That amendment failed and it failed again this year.  If there is no agenda or desire for an Environmental Court, why does this statement keep getting submitted to the state?

Information Technology (IT) Steering Committee meeting canceled
The IT Committee meeting was canceled.  No explanation was given for the cancelation.  Mike Cain, Assistant IT Director and custodian of the IT Committee minutes, has not responded to my email inquiring why the meeting was canceled.  This is bad for the taxpayers of Blount County because it reduces oversight on major, expensive IT projects.

IT costs have soared the past couple of years.  The IT Committee should be meeting regularly to ensure good fiscal stewardship of the large sums of taxpayer monies that have been allocated to IT projects.  However, the opposite is occurring.

The IT Committee is only scheduled to meet 4 times a year and this meeting was canceled.  With no meeting on the near horizon and an Assistant IT Director who won’t respond to emails, it makes it difficult for me to ensure that taxpayer money is being spent wisely.  I never had a problem getting a timely response from the former IT Director John Herron.

Unfortunately this is business as usual.  The Mayor and his staff willfully leave those who might question their decisions in the dark.  Canceling a meeting, when we should be discussing how the $1.3 million IT fund is being spent is the latest way to avoid accountability.

Up next
The commission will chose a replacement for Jeff Headrick, who was appointed by the commission to the office of Highway Superintendent, to serve until the next election.

Call to action – Please get involved in your government
As I stated above, if you demand better government you will get better government.  Make phone calls, send emails, write letters to the editor and attend commission meetings.  Local government is right here.  You don’t have to drive to Nashville or Washington DC to be heard.  If you don’t show up, you will have to pay up, because your taxes will keep going up to pay for all the poor decisions being made right in your back yard.  This is your government.  Take charge of it.  Let freedom ring!

 

*Constitutional participatory process: this is commonly called the democratic process.

Commission Chairman Jerome Moon spoke to commissioner about being sued over jail ahead of vote

Mayor Ed Mitchell called a commission meeting to approve authorizing the Purchasing Agent to solicit a request for qualifications (RFQ) to expand the jail and/or programs.  During public input, Marilyn Willocks said that she had heard that Blount County Commission Chairman Jerome Moon had been telling commissioners that they could be sued if they didn’t vote to authorize the RFQ.  Moon interrupted the speaker, saying “I have not told” and then stops speaking.  Ms. Willocks continues on saying, “Well this is what I hear out in the public.”  Moon didn’t say anything further on the matter during the meeting.  What is it that he did not tell?

After the meeting, Mary Cook asked Jerome Moon why he had told her son-in-law, commissioner Tom Cole, that he would be sued if he didn’t vote for the RFQ.  This sort of intimidation tactic seems to works on people who have no desire to find or listen to solutions, like commissioner Mike Caylor.

Moon’s tactic sounds more like a threat than the truth.  It was Tennessee Corrections Institute bureaucrats bully Bob Bass and William R. Kane, who continues to make false statements in the “note” section of his inspection reports, who read the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) the riot act, not federal officials.  Although, the US Marshal’s Service should be taking notice because they are willfully housing inmates in the Blount County Adult Detention Facility.

The commission voted 12-6 for the RFQ.  This is to be expected when Rick Carver is allowed to act as a dictator prohibiting a commissioner from adding something to the BCCP agenda that would actually reduce overcrowding in the jail.  Ms. Willocks said commissioners plural.  Did Jerome Moon talk to other commissioners before the vote?  What are Rick Carver and Jerome Moon so afraid of that they do their dirty deeds in secret?

Commissioner Mike Caylor keeps embarrassing himself

MrPotatoHead-Vector-Gradient

One is Mr. Potato Head, the other is Mike Caylor. You decide which one is which.

Mike Caylor was recently appointed to the Budget Committee.  Caylor wasn’t the Mayor’s first choice, or second, or third or even Special Ed Mitchell’s fourth choice for the Budget Committee.  Commissioners Kenneth Melton, Steve Samples and Tom Cole have all resigned from the Budget Committee.  Archie Archer turned down a seat on the Budget Committee.  Caylor was pretty far down on the Mayor’s list but going to a 5th string bench produced a yes man.

Caylor is a City of Maryville Fire Department employee.  Caylor has been chosen by the commission to serve on a board that contains city and county members.  It raises the question of whether he is representing the city or the county in this position.  Couldn’t the county find someone who isn’t a city employee to fill this role?

He embarrassed himself in 2013 when he read a letter from the Mayor’s Attorney, Craig Garrett, attacking Jim Folts for posting something on his website that had been readily available on the county’s website for over 2 years.  Jim Folts set the record straight on that.

He’s probably never been as brazen as he was when he said that he’d broken a commission rule and said that he would do it again.  His latest pattern of behavior is to interrupt me and declare a point of order when I question the supposed need to expand the jail.

He is the only commissioner to serve on the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) since its inception.  He openly admits that he doesn’t know what to do to address the jail overcrowding.  He should be embarrassed to admit that since the county paid for a report that offered solutions.

He says that we’ve talked this to death.  However, the Blount County Corrections Partnership only met 4 times in 2015 and Caylor voted against even hearing from the jail consultant that was paid to do a criminal justice system assessment.  When was this talked to death when the consultant never got to present his final report?

At the April 7, BCCP meeting Caylor said that we need to recommend that the commission approve a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to buy some time.  Really?  Buy some time for what: the hope that he will come up with a solution?  He’s already said he doesn’t have a solution and he voted against talking to the jail consultant about the Institute for Law and Policy Planning report which proposes solutions.

He wasn’t even sure how to properly make that recommendation.  The Purchasing Agent was overheard saying, “they don’t know what they’re doing” after responding to questions about how to handle the RFQ.

The jail is a volatile situation.  As a firefighter, Mike Caylor should know better than to play with matches.  If he spent as much time seeking solutions to address this problem as it appears that he has been spending reading this website, while at his cushy job, he would have some solutions.

Buying time isn’t a solution.  If he doesn’t have any solutions, he should resign from the BCCP and stop working to silence those who are trying to propose solutions.

Purchasing Agent & Director of General Services chose $65K consultant over $18.5K option

Last year the Blount County Sheriff’s Office chose to follow the advice given in the Institute for Law and Policy Planning Criminal Justice System Assessment Report (jail study) to hire a consultant to renegotiate the federal inmate per diem rate.  The jail study said that the county was losing money housing federal prisoners and that the only way to make money was to crowd the jail and understaff it, which is what is currently happening.

The federal government is complicit with this practice because the US Marshal’s Service contracts with the Blount County Adult Detention Facility to house its pretrial inmates in the local jail, knowing that the jail doesn’t have enough beds.  The State of Tennessee is complicit with it because it allows the Sheriff to unilaterally contract to house inmates in a facility that lacks adequate bed space to keep these inmates and also fails to move state sentenced inmates to state penitentiaries, leaving them in local jails.

The county received $58.50 a day, per diem to house federal inmates and a transportation rate of $14 an hour.  $14 an hour does not cover the hourly costs of corrections officers.  While we’ve been told in the past that the county makes money housing inmates and the rhetoric changed to offsetting fixed expenditures, the county clearly wasn’t being adequately compensated because the rate increased to $75 a day.

The company selected by the Purchasing Agent at that time, Teresa Johnson, and approved by Director of General Services Don Stallions charged a consultation fee of $65,000.  The Summerhill Group LLC offered to be paid this amount only if they were successful at receiving a rate increase.  See page 5 for complete details.

Being paid based upon success seems reasonable, except that another company offered to do similar work for $18,500.  Moseley Architects required payment as services were rendered and said that the exact price would be determined after a meeting to finalize exactly what the county wanted.

The Blount County Commission and the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) were not told about the Sheriff’s Office seeking a consultant to renegotiate the per diem and travel rates.  While the purchasing process is open to the public, many people don’t get the paper and most who do, don’t pay attention to the public notices for RFPs.

Why choose a company that costs 3.5 times more?
I have to wonder if the more expensive company was chosen to avoid commission scrutiny since the Sheriff’s Office would have needed commission approval to spend the money upfront, rather than promising to pay after the rate negotiations.  As such the commission was presented with a $65,000 bill after the work had already been done.  The budget increase request was rubber stamped by the commission.

Take a look at the strange way the financial transactions concerning the funding for this matter were handled.  First there was a transfer within the Sheriff’s Office that is marked information only (see page 20).  Then there is an increase to the Sheriff’s Office to put the $65,000 back into the account that it was transferred out of (see attendants on page 19).  Notice that the Sheriff did not date his budget amendment requests when he signed them.  This looks like shuffling of money to avoid asking the commission for a budget increase until the Sheriff got what he wanted.

While the $18,500 proposal wasn’t set in stone, most reasonable people would have chosen Mosley, even if the actual cost had been slightly higher than the proposed cost.  Instead local department heads went with a company that proposed charging 3.5 times the lowest offer.

Chalk this up to the same people involved in a pile of scandals and political obstructionism surrounding the jail.  Some of those scandals include the cover-up of the jail study, the phony threat to sue the jail consultant, the million dollars jail expansion earmark done in secret with a plan for another million and the conflicts of interest, dysfunction and recent dictatorship of the BCCP.  This is just the latest to be uncovered.

Evaluating the 2016 Tennessee Republican Party convention delegates – Part 1: Hey, nobody voted for them!

Boss Haynes - photo: Getty Images

Boss Haynes photo: Getty Images

by Horatio Bunce

This is Part 1 in a series of posts evaluating the 2016 Tennessee Republican Party delegate slate approved by the TNGOPe. Much is being made of the Trump campaign “whining” about being cheated when it comes to delegates selected by the GOPe. Alleged GOP “outsider” Ted Cruz seems to be getting much of the benefit of the totally “insider” selected delegate states (see Colorado and Wyoming) where no vote of the people is taken. Cruz “the outsider” calls Trump a sore loser and says he should know the rules of the game better. Apparently “outsiders” are all “inside baseball” that way. I am willing to bet most loyal Republican voters that have held their noses voting for Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander, etc. also aren’t aware of those rules. They think when they cast votes for committed delegates that the elections are fair, the delegates receiving the most votes win and go to the convention voting for the candidate they committed to. Yet again and again they find themselves taking another one for the team when the RNC feeds them their fourth or fifth choice of candidate as the nominee and your “conservative” committed delegates you thought you had deliver another unanimous convention floor vote for the next yellow dog.

So, let’s take a look at the 2016 Tennessee Republican party approved slate of delegates and compare that to the ballot you were given and the recorded votes. You probably read/heard some weak stories about the slate like this reported in a scorecard fashion like Trump 33, Cruz 16, Rubio 9 and probably thought, “that sounds about right based on the popular vote, right”? You have to actually look at the delegates approved by the state party to see what the result is. In this post I will address delegates and alternates on their approved slate that nobody voted for – because they were not on the ballot. Now, this is also part of those “rules” that the GOPe and Cruz make fun of Trump for not knowing and being a “sore loser”. I’m expecting you will be just as “sore” when you see what has been done to your votes.

You can find a sample ballot for the 2016 Republican presidential primary for Blount County here.

You can find the “unofficial” voting results here.

You can find the Tennessee Republican party approved slate of delegates going to the 2016 Republican National Convention here.

Keep in mind that not all delegate candidates appear on your ballot, since the congressional district portion of the ballot where you selected three delegates are only those residing in your district. There are nine congressional districts in the state. The at-large delegates are the same on every ballot as they can reside anywhere in the state. You selected up to 14 of them, presumably those declaring themselves committed to your candidate. Many of these congressional and at-large delegates are party insiders, incumbents or former office-holders.

If you take a look at the party-approved slate of delegates you will notice several names that did not appear on any ballot, i.e., nobody voted for them:

Scott Carey – Cruz Delegate – attorney, managing shareholder of Baker Donelson and general counsel to the state Republican party

Chris Devaney – Cruz Delegate – Former state party chair 2009-20015, resigned to become executive director of Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti just a few months after defeating Joe Carr for the position. Also supported Lamar Alexander against primary challenger Joe Carr.

Frank Colvett – Cruz Alternate – Memphis city councilman, Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee member and TNGOP Treasurer

Paula Sedgwick – Cruz Alternate – Bartlett, TN alderman, Haslam appointee, Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee member

Just look at all those Cruz “outsiders”!

Ryan Haynes – Rubio Delegate – Pigeon Forge liquor-by-the-drink lobbyist (while a Knox Co. representative), current state party chair.

Dave Black – Rubio Alternate – Founder and chairman of Aegis Sciences Corp. and husband of U.S. Rep. Diane Black.

Bill Haslam – Rubio Delegate – Achieve Inc. board member, Common Core promoter, project manager for federal testing entity PARCC, Utah test question renter, and oh yeah, the governor.

Betty Cannon – Trump Delegate – TNGOP Vice Chairman

Ken Gross – Trump Delegate – Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee member and known anti-Trump facebook poster. Interesting he is now a forced-upon-you delegate for the man he called a “liberal Democrat”.

Peggy Lambert – Trump Delegate – Republican National Committee member for Tennessee, former Blount county commissioner

John Ryder – Trump Delegate – Republican National Committee member for Tennessee, RNC General Counsel, He was the chairman of the Redistricting Committee and the RNC Presidential Nominating Schedule Committee. He was a delegate for the 1984, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Republican National Conventions. Ryder served on the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee and currently serves on the Rules Committee.

Beverly Knight Hurley – Trump Alternate – Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee member from Davidson County

Gee, look at all that establishment support for not-a-Republican Trump! Who Knew?

There are now 14 delegates appointed by the state executive committee of the party. They pretty much appoint themselves, and a few slots are automatic: the party chair and the two national committee members (Haynes, Lambert and Ryder). These appointments are a relatively “new” thing implemented by the party in 2012. Why? To remove you pesky voters from the process. It is getting harder all the time to force the next Single Digit Jeb on you. So throw in an automatic 25% of the vote fixed in advance and voila, they can “elect” a yellow dog if necessary. In this case, the GOPe are now on Plan C with Cruz and likely do not truly support him either, but these fix-is-in delegates will vote as required for two rounds at the convention. More importantly, they will be a protectionist vote of the establishment when it comes to the required votes on potential rules and procedures changes. Their RNC “rules” expire every four years and have to be renewed before business at the convention. Don’t forget John Boehner and his teleprompter from Florida. It was getting messy. The GOPe needed to “fix” things so this didn’t happen again. However, a 40% populist vote for Trump wasn’t supposed to happen. The TNGOP fix-is-in construct did not account for that kind of opposition. So, even more rigging is necessary, which we’ll look at in Part 2.

.01% growth but we’re suppose to believe the economy has recovered

What Did Fed Chairman Yellen Tell Obama?

by Ron Paul

This week, President Obama and Vice President Biden held a hastily arranged secret meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. According to the one paragraph statement released by the White House following the meeting, Yellen, Obama, and Biden simply “exchanged notes” about the economy and the progress of financial reform. Because the meeting was held behind closed doors, the American people have no way of knowing what else the three might have discussed.

Yellen’s secret meeting at the White House followed an emergency secret Federal Reserve Board meeting. The Fed then held another secret meeting to discuss bank reform. These secret meetings come on the heels of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s estimate that first quarter GDP growth was .01 percent, dangerously close to the official definition of recession.

Thus the real reason for all these secret meetings could be a panic that the Fed’s eight year explosion of money creation has not just failed to revive the economy, but is about to cause another major market meltdown.

Establishment politicians and economists find the Fed’s failures puzzling. According to the Keynesian paradigm that still dominates the thinking of most policymakers, the Fed’s money creation should have produced such robust growth that today the Fed would be raising interest rates to prevent the economy from “overheating.”

The Fed’s response to its failures is to find new ways to pump money into the economy. Hence the Fed is actually considering implementing “negative interest rates.” Negative interest rates are a hidden tax on savings. Negative interest rates may create the short-term illusion of growth, but, by discouraging savings, they will cause tremendous long-term economic damage.

Even as Yellen admits that the Fed “has not taken negative interest rates off the table,” she and other Fed officials are still promising to raise rates this year. The Federal Reserve needs to promise future rate increases in order to stop nervous investors from fleeing US markets and challenging the dollar’s reserve currency status.

The Fed can only keep the wolves at bay with promises of future rate increases for so long before its polices cause a major dollar crisis. However, raising rates could also cause major economic problems. Higher interest rates will hurt the millions of Americans struggling with student loan, credit card, and other forms of debt. Already over 40 percent of Americans who owe student loan debt are defaulting on their payments. If Federal Reserve policies increase the burden of student loan debt, the number of defaults will dramatically increase leading to a bursting of the student loan bubble.

By increasing the federal government’s cost of borrowing, an interest rate increase will also make it harder for the federal government to manage its debt. Increased costs of debt financing will place increased burden on the American people and could be the last straw that finally pushes the federal government into a Greek-style financial crisis.

The no-win situation the Fed finds itself in is a sign that we are reaching the inevitable collapse of the fiat currency system. Unless immediate steps are taken to manage the transition, this collapse could usher in an economic catastrophe dwarfing the Great Depression. Therefore, those of us who know the truth must redouble our efforts to spread the ideas of liberty.

If we are successful we may be able to force Congress to properly manage the transition by cutting spending in all areas and auditing, then ending, the Federal Reserve. We may also be able to ensure the current crisis ends not just the Fed but the entire welfare-warfare state.

Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/april/17/what-did-fed-chairman-yellen-tell-Obama/

2016: The Year the Americans Found out Our Elections Are Rigged

Tweed

Boss Tweed or Ryan Haynes? photo: Getty Images

by Horatio Bunce

I want to encourage you to read an article at TheAntimedia.org and watch/read the linked information there.

via TheAntimedia.org:

“What we are witnessing — for the first time on a large scale — is the political establishment’s true role in selecting the president of the United States. The illusion of choice has become apparent. The establishment anoints their two picks for president, and the country proceeds to argue vehemently over the two candidates they are spoon-fed. This dynamic is reminiscent of a prophetic 1998 quote from philosopher Noam Chomsky:

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

Ahh, the illusion of choice. Sure, in reality there are third party candidates who should be given a fair shake, but in our mainstream media-augmented reality, third parties do not exist. They aren’t mentioned. They aren’t even included in presidential debates. This is another way the media stifles healthy debate, stamps out dissenting opinions, and preserves the status-quo.

We The People” don’t choose our presidents; they are hand-picked by a powerful group of political party insiders — parties that have long since sold out to the highest bidders. What we have on our hands in America is a rigged oligarchy, and that’s not a conspiracy theory — it’s fact.

Linked in the article is a video of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz explaining Democratic party superdelegates:

[Schultz]: Unpledged delegates exist, really, to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists. We are, as the democratic party, really highlight and emphasize inclusiveness and diversity at our convention and so we want to give every opportunity to grassroots activists and diverse committed Democrats to participate, attend and be a delegate at the convention, and so we separate out those unpledged delegates to make sure that there isn’t competition between them.

To show I am “fair and balanced”, listen to Republican National Committeeman Curly Haughland explain how your Republican primary votes for delegates don’t mean anything either:

[Haughland]: “We have a problem with the media unfortunately, the cable networks are trying to determine…”

[CNBC]: “I don’t think this is a problem with the media, I’ve heard from a lot of voters who say if they feel like their votes got stolen, that they would be very unhappy and very angry. I think you are looking at a different situation. I realize these have been the rules, but the last time these rules were put in place was 1976 – it’s been a long time since then.”  

(ed: Right……back when the GOP fought just as hard against Ronald Reagan as they are Trump today and stole the nomination from him to usher in Leslie Lynch King, Jr., a.k.a. Gerald Ford, the appointee who was never elected to office by anyone – to ultimately hand the win to Jimmy Carter).

[Haughland]: “Yeah, they’re still there. Yeah that’s a problem. The, the uh, the media has created the perception that the voters will decide the nomination and that’s the conflict, that’s the conflict here. The question is…”

[CNBC]: “We feel like we live in a democratic society, what you’re telling me is it’s not a democratic society and your votes don’t necessarily matter because it’s a democratic representation, correct?”

[Haughland]: “No that’s not what I’m trying to say, what I’m trying to say is that there’s a…we’re just one of the political parties. There’s [sic] many political parties. But political parties choose their nominee, not the general public, uh, contrary to popular belief….again…”

[CNBC]: “Then why bother holding the primaries?”

[Haughland]: “That’s a very good question.”

Indeed. But hey Big Two sheep, thanks for paying for it all! We appreciate your financial “participation” general public….uh, I mean “Friend”!

ColoradoCronies

Colorado GOP announces via Twitter that the Republican peasants’ votes won’t be necessary this time around.

As Ukraine Collapses, Europeans Tire of US Interventions

by Ron Paul

On Sunday Ukrainian prime minister Yatsenyuk resigned, just four days after the Dutch voted against Ukraine joining the European Union. Taken together, these two events are clear signals that the US-backed coup in Ukraine has not given that country freedom and democracy. They also suggest a deeper dissatisfaction among Europeans over Washington’s addiction to interventionism.

According to US and EU governments – and repeated without question by the mainstream media – the Ukrainian people stood up on their own in 2014 to throw off the chains of a corrupt government in the back pocket of Moscow and finally plant themselves in the pro-west camp. According to these people, US government personnel who handed out cookies and even took the stage in Kiev to urge the people to overthrow their government had nothing at all to do with the coup.

When Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was videotaped bragging about how the US government spent $5 billion to “promote democracy” in Ukraine, it had nothing to do with the overthrow of the Yanukovich government. When Nuland was recorded telling the US Ambassador in Kiev that Yatsenyuk is the US choice for prime minister, it was not US interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine. In fact, the neocons still consider it a “conspiracy theory” to suggest the US had anything to do with the overthrow.

I have no doubt that the previous government was corrupt. Corruption is the stock-in-trade of governments. But according to Transparency International, corruption in the Ukrainian government is about the same after the US-backed coup as it was before. So the intervention failed to improve anything, and now the US-installed government is falling apart. Is a Ukraine in chaos to be considered a Washington success story?

This brings us back to the Dutch vote. The overwhelming rejection of the EU plan for Ukrainian membership demonstrates the deep level of frustration and anger in Europe over EU leadership following Washington’s interventionist foreign policy at the expense of European security and prosperity. The other EU member countries did not even dare hold popular referenda on the matter – their parliaments rubber-stamped the agreement.

Brussels backs US bombing in the Middle East and hundreds of thousands of refugees produced by the bombing overwhelm Europe. The people are told they must be taxed even more to pay for the victims of Washington’s foreign policy.

Brussels backs US regime change plans for Ukraine and EU citizens are told they must bear the burden of bringing an economic basket case up to European standards. How much would it cost EU citizens to bring in Ukraine as a member? No one dares mention it. But Europeans are rightly angry with their leaders blindly following Washington and then leaving them holding the bag.

The anger is rising and there is no telling where it will end. In June, the United Kingdom will vote on whether to exit the European Union. The campaign for an exit is broad-based, bringing in conservatives, populists, and progressives. Regardless of the outcome, the vote should be considered very important. Europeans are tired of their unelected leaders in Brussels pushing them around and destroying their financial and personal security by following Washington’s foolish interventionism. No one can call any of these recent interventions a success and the Europeans know it.

One way or the other, the US empire is coming to an end. Either the money will go or the allies will go, but it cannot be sustained. The sooner the American people demand an end to these foolish policies the better.

Copyright © 2016 by Ron Paul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Read online.

Citizen comments from BCCP meeting

The paper had a decent article on the Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) meeting last night.  What was missing from the story are comments from the citizens.

Shirley Rupert did a lot of research prior to the meeting and spoke.  Her comments are posted here.

As a lifelong resident of Maryville, I am very concerned with the direction our Justice Center is taking.  On this date (4/7/16) there are 568 inmates in a facility made to house 350.  Below is a breakdown of those inmates:

TN Dept of Corrections:  147
FEDERAL:  68
Sentenced Felon: 100
SENTENCED MISDEMEANOR:  61
PRETRIAL FELON :    123
PRETRIAL MISDEMEANOR:  69

Looking at these numbers and doing some simple math will show what is causing the overcrowding.

IF we eliminate the TN Dept. of Corrections (147) and the Federal (68) inmates, there will be no crowding.  These inmates are a drain on our local economy.  Although, Blount County is reimbursed to facilitate them, it is not enough to cover the costs completely.

The number of citizens that are our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers awaiting trail is also a reason for concern.  Having 192 citizens waiting to be assigned an attorney and/or a date with the judge is not acceptable.  In this economy, one week from work will result in loosing a job, housing, vehicle, and when extended, even their family.   These inmates are sleeping on floors without bedding, not receiving medical attention and/or being subjected to cruel behaviors.  All of this is prior to being convicted of any crime!

Another issue for concern is the staff at the Justice Center.  Even though, we house 568 inmates, we only staff enough employees for the 350 limit.  These employees are expected to care and manage an excessive number of inmates for the same pay.  This is a stressful situation for many of or neighbors that work for the Justice Center, resulting in high rate of job changes.

Upon release, the inmates receive an invoice for the expenses incurred by the County and will be assigned a Probation Officer.  They must meet with the Officer once a month and pay a fee for said Officer, along with reimbursing the county for their court costs and stay in the facility.  If, for any reason, they miss an appointment, a warrant will be issued for their arrest.  Many of us work long hours just to maintain our households.  A monthly appointment requires leaving work, obtaining funds and meeting with an Officer that has nothing to offer, other than encouragement to make your next appointment.

According to a Warrant Study from 2011, over 7,500 Warrants were issued that year.  Of those, 5,000 were violations to the court!  These include:  Failure to Appear, Contempt, and/or Violation of Probation.  More emphasis is being put on keeping our citizens in the system than keeping our county safe.  The majority of the inmates are in jail because they were unable to either pay fines, or obtain a attorney.

I appreciate the fact that our county is safe and one of the most sought after places to live.  I highly doubt that bringing in additional Federal and State Inmates will add to our charm.  In fact, I would anticipate that a Federal or State Penitentiary would definitely be a blemish to our town.

*Note: Inmates without beds are given a sled with a mattress unless the number of inmates exceeds the number of sleds available.