Idaho House Concurs with Senate: Returns to Constitutional Carry

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photo: TarheelTeaParty.org

by Horatio Bunce

via Breitbart:

On March 18 the Idaho House concurred with the Senate by passing legislation that abolishes the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed handgun in the state.

The legislation–Senate Bill 1389–now goes to Governor Butch Otter’s (R) desk…….

…The bill abolishes the permit requirement for Idahoans 21-years and older who want to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense. Carrying a handgun openly in Idaho is already legal, and SB 1389 ensures that people carrying guns will not suddenly be criminalized if their jacket, sweat shirt, or other article of clothing covers their gun….

If Governor Otter signs the bill, Idaho will join Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Vermont, Wyoming, and West Virginia, as states in which the Second Amendment is your concealed carry permit.

Of course, the Constitution does not grant any rights. Rights are inalienable. Constitutions can only acknowledge them and claim to protect them.

And guess what the fiscal note was in Idaho for the state to mind their own business and stop infringing on the innocent, law-abiding people?   ZERO!

How’s that Tennessee Republican Super-Majority working out for you?

Maybe one day the Republicans will make Tennessee as “conservative” as the home of Bernie Sanders instead of ignoring the U.S. Constitution and violating federal law:

18 U.S.C. § 242 : US Code – Section 242: Deprivation of rights under color of law

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

Doug Overbey votes with Democrats and the Police for Profit Class against Constitution

Sen. Doug Overbey with Single Digit Jeb, Common Core promoter - photo submitted to Daily Times

Sen. Doug Overbey with Single Digit Jeb, Common Core promoter – photo submitted to Daily Times

by Horatio Bunce

Sen. Mark Green introduced a “Constitutional Carry” bill (SB1483) last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  This was one of many issues various Republicans promised to address if their party ever gained the majority in the state legislature. Years of Republican majorities later and now with a veto-proof super-majority, the only progress made is you can now drive with your legally purchased arms in your vehicle without a special tax paid to the state. However, you cannot bear your legally purchased arms outside of your home or your personal vehicle without paying a perpetual tax to the state to exercise your “right” to keep and bear arms, pay an exorbitant fee for an additional criminal background check and 8 hours of instruction by the THP carry permit monopoly and submit to fingerprinting – just like an arrested criminal. The original bill was simple: remove the currently unconstitutional infringements on the legal possession and bearing of arms by non-felons that are imposed by the state in the form of perpetual taxation for the exercise of a constitutionally-protected right. The ability to pay a perpetual tax to obtain an unconstitutional “carry permit” for reciprocal use in other states would remain if you so choose.  A criminal background check (background tax and sales tax paid by the buyer) would still be required to purchase any new firearms.

Sen. Green had already acquiesced to amend the bill into “Less Than Constitutional Carry” by adding a requirement for the same mandatory 8 hours of training, currently controlled by the state Police For Profit class, that is required to get your unconstitutional “carry permit” (a.k.a. receipt of tax paid to exercise your “right”) in Tennessee. This, despite the fact that the same department currently is willing to issue reciprocity permits to visiting Alabama residents – where no training at all is required.

This amendment to the bill did two things: 1) It removed any argument by the Anti-Constitutionalists that there was no “safety training” of those bearing arms. Anyone carrying open or concealed would have to produce their state government-approved training certificate upon demand by the Police For Profit class. Again, that returns actually bearing arms to a state-sanctioned privilege controlled by the Police For Profit Class, not a right. However, they would receive the exact same 8 hours of training currently imposed on those obtaining the unconstitutional “carry permit”.  2) It maintained the Police For Profit class revenue source for all that mandatory training, although Sen. Green did dare to add that the training could be provided by the U.S. military. The one revenue stream dislodged would be the exorbitant $72 the Police For Profit class charges for a SECOND background check as they fingerprint you like a criminal for showing up to pay your 2nd Amendment Tax. Remember, that first background check only cost $10 when you purchased the weapon.

With over a half million Tennesseans already forfeiting their 2nd Amendment right to pay $150 every 7 years for the privilege of bearing arms in Tennessee, you can see the Police For Profit Class stands to lose a lot. You do the math on the revenue stream at stake.

You really should take the time to watch the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of this bill.

Note the timidity of judge-selector Brian Kelsey as he “reluctantly” seconds the motion to even hear the already-neutered bill. Hear the “legal opinion” that it is against Tennessee law to be in possession of a loaded weapon without the Police For Profit Class’ explicit permission – but unloaded is ok.  Listen to the arguments made by the Anti-Constitutionalists and the Police For Profit head revenue agent Tracy Trott as they rationalize that while they know the status quo infringements are indeed unconstitutional (and therefore illegal as any real-smart attorney should know), in their opinion, they are not “unreasonable” unconstitutional demands.  Trott is all about maintaining “control” of the revenue, and claiming they provide necessary “constitutional training” regarding use of deadly force to the permit holder.  Apparently, Trott was daydreaming about his next highway robbery asset forfeiture stop of “trucky-trailers” when Sen. Green explained the amendment to the bill required the exact same 8 hours of training they are already providing – except we would not continue to fleece our innocent, law-abiding, already-passed-a-background check neighbors perpetually in order to exercise their constitutionally-protected right.  Like Robot Rubio, head revenue agent Trott can only repeat the same couple of irrelevant lines over and over. The Anti-Constitutionalists have no response to the fact that Tennessee grants reciprocity to Alabama concealed carry visitors – who are not required to have any sort of training by their state (just pay us their money for the privilege of walking into Tennessee). Particularly, Senator Kerry Roberts had the courage to openly argue for your constitutionally-protected rights in support of Green’s bill and made very reasonable points exposing the hypocrisy of our current unconstitutional statutes.

End result: In the Republican-stacked committee (7-2), alleged Republicans Doug Overbey and John Stevens sided with the Democrats and the Police For Profit Class against the law-abiding citizens and the US Constitution. Republican Todd Gardenhire abstained, apparently believing restoring constitutionally-protected rights is a “bad bill”. Bill Fails to pass committee 4-4-1.

Yeas : Mike Bell, Janice Bowling, Brian Kelsey, Kerry Roberts

Nays : Doug Overbey, John Stevens, Sarah Kyle, Lee Harris

Present Not Voting : Todd Gardenhire

Fiorina Endorses Cruz

fiorina-cruz

photo: Reuters

by Horatio Bunce

Remember, I asked you to watch for endorsements by the shills as they drop out. This is because any delegates they have earned along the way go to the endorsee. It reveals the GOPe (e=establishment) pre-selected “nominee” for you.  GOPe  vote splitter candidate Carly Fiorina endorsed Ted Cruz today.

“There are some people in our party saying Donald Trump isn’t so bad … but he’s a deal maker; he can make deals. The truth is Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are two sides of the same coin. They’re not going to reform the system, they are the system,” she said.

Says Fiorina….as she endorses an incumbent U.S. Senator. Ah yes, the Ron Paul Treatment™. We know it well. Say they aren’t a Republican, say a vote for them is a vote for Democrats, make up a new name to call them so you never refer to them as Republican, etc.

The Tennessee Republican primary ballot revealed that Fiorina was merely a shill campaign with only two at-large delegates to choose from – and one of those an incumbent state representative. I.e., if you used all 14 of your at-large votes then 86% of your delegate vote had to be for someone else. The GOPe must cover their bases in the proportionally awarded delegate states and ensure they have placed sufficient connected party faithful with all candidates they expect to earn delegates on primary day. Just study the committed delegate names a little. You’ll see what I mean. Note to Jerome Moon: your services will no longer be required per Roger Ailes.

Well, it isn’t easy maintaining a pretend campaign (and there were several of them) for president and pay for keeping up appearances through February, but this shill campaign has had to wait until after Super Tuesday to cough up their earned delegate (as in she only has one) since Single Digit Jeb! was failed Plan A and Rubio/Cruz was Plan B. And, since Fox News chief Roger Ailes has declared “we can’t do the Rubio thing any more”, the only choice remaining is to give the delegate….uh, I mean endorsement, to Cruz.

But maybe the question Cruz supporters should be asking/answering is:

Why did Ted Cruz’s PAC give half a million to Carly Fiorina’s?

“The Cruz PAC raised just over eleven million dollars by the end of June, nearly all of it from a Robert Mercer, a Wall Street hedge fund manager. The $500,000 donation to CARLY for America is its largest expenditure to date. The remainder of the $36,169 it spent went to polling research and legal fees.”

Do We Need To ‘Rebuild The Military’?

Written by Ron Paul

The Republican presidential debates have become so heated and filled with insults, it almost seems we are watching a pro wrestling match. There is no civility, and I wonder whether the candidates are about to come to blows. But despite what appears to be total disagreement among them, there is one area where they all agree. They all promise that if elected they will “rebuild the military.”

What does “rebuild the military” mean? Has the budget been gutted? Have the useless weapons programs like the F-35 finally been shut down? No, the United States still spends more on its military than the next 14 countries combined. And the official military budget is only part of the story. The total spending on the US empire is well over one trillion dollars per year. Under the Obama Administration the military budget is still 41 percent more than it was in 2001, and seven percent higher than at the peak of the Cold War.

Russia, which the neocons claim is the greatest threat to the United States, spends about one-tenth what we do on its military. China, the other “greatest threat,” has a military budget less than 25 percent of ours.

Last week the Pentagon announced it is sending a small naval force of US warships to the South China Sea because, as Commander of the US Pacific Command Adm. Harry Harris told the House Armed Services Committee, China is militarizing the area. Yes, China is supposedly militarizing the area around China, so the US is justified in sending its own military to the area. Is that a wise use of the US military?

The US military maintains over 900 bases in 130 countries. It is actively involved in at least seven wars right now, including in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and elsewhere. US Special Forces are deployed in 134 countries across the globe. Does that sound like a military that has been gutted?

I do not agree with the presidential candidates, but I do agree that the military needs to be rebuilt. I would rebuild it in a very different way, however. I would not rebuild it according to the demands of the military-industrial complex, which cares far more about getting rich than about protecting our country. I would not rebuild the military so that it can overthrow more foreign governments who refuse to do the bidding of Washington’s neocons. I would not rebuild the military so that it can better protect our wealthy allies in Europe, NATO, Japan, and South Korea. I would not rebuild the military so that it can better occupy countries overseas and help create conditions for blowback here at home.

No. The best way to really “rebuild” the US military would be to stop abusing the military in the first place. The purpose of the US military is to defend the United States. It is not to make the world safe for oil pipelines, or corrupt Gulf monarchies, or NATO, or Israel. Unlike the neocons who are so eager to send our troops to war, I have actually served in the US military. I understand that to keep our military strong we must constrain our foreign policy. We must adopt a policy of non-intervention and a strong defense of this country. The neocons will weaken our country and our military by promoting more war. We need to “rebuild” the military by restoring as its mission the defense of the United States, not of Washington’s overseas empire.

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.

Read online: http://bit.ly/1U5mlsd

Will the Republican Party of Blount County release its bylaws before picking the County Clerk and Highway Superintendent?

The Republican Party of Blount County, Tennessee hasn’t exactly been known for transparency or fairness.  Several Republicans were denied entrance to a meeting in 2013.  The Party left Commissioner Jim Folts off its website.  When I was asked to speak to the Republican Party about why I thought Ron Paul was the best choice for President in 2012, then Chairman Susan Mills wouldn’t let me speak even though I had been an approved delegate candidate for Ron Paul, twice (2008 and 2012).  When Gerald Kirby lost his primary commission race to Jamie Daly, the party big whigs went to work for Kirby’s write-in campaign, even though party leadership is suppose to support Republican candidates.

Now the Republican Party Executive Committee will get to pick the Republican candidates for Blount County Clerk and Blount County Highway Superintendent.  The selection meeting will be a spectator sport.  You and I will be able to watch but we will not be able to participate.

The August general election for these two offices could be a Soviet style election.  If the Democratic Party doesn’t nominate candidates and no independents run, then the people of Blount County will get to go vote the R party or not the R party.  Actually it will be worse than that because you won’t even get to vote NO on the candidate.

Unless someone runs as a write-in, any write-in votes will not count.  Even if an independent or Democrat runs, barring some major scandal, the Republicans will win.  There are no independents or Democrats in elected office in Blount County, excluding the nonpartisan School Board.

With this kind of power, the Republican Party should release its bylaws.  I asked the Blount County Republican Party Chair, Patsy Lundy, for a copy of the bylaws.  She said the bylaws were being revised.  That’s the same excuse that has been used to deny releasing the bylaws for years.  The Tennessee Republican Party said it is checking with the County Party to see if the bylaws that it has are current.

I asked Lundy for a copy of the current bylaws.  She said she would check with some people (apparently the Chair has to get permission from her bosses) to see if she could release the bylaws to me.

The bylaws for the Blount County Democratic Party are available on the Tennessee Democratic Party’s website.  The Blount County Libertarian Party uses the bylaws of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee.  Both are available online for review, although the bylaws posted for the State Libertarian Party are over 4 years old.

People are talking about the Republican establishment coming unhinged because more voters are backing Trump than Rubio.  People would do well to pay attention to what the local GOP is doing.  Since it is likely that the Republican Party Executive Committee is going to pick 2 of our local office holders the least the Executive Committee can do is release its bylaws.

Assistant emergency management director requires 3 years experience: Director had none

Blount County Government is looking to hire an Assistant Emergency Management Director.  The position requires a minimum of 3 years experience working in emergency management and an Associates degree or 5 years of emergency management experience.  That seems reasonable.

However, the current director had no emergency management experience.  Mayor Ed Mitchell must have been looking for a PR person when he hired a reporter to be the director.

Assistant = 3-5 years experience
Director = no experience

You can’t make it up.

SO MITT, were you lying to us then or are you lying to us now?

teet by Horatio Bunce

Mitt “Two-Face” Romney Endorses, Disses Donald Trump

(link not an endorsement of TruNews)

 

 

And….for your GOPe debate-viewing pleasure…..

 

Guess Who’s In Charge Of Tomorrow Night’s GOP Debate? Hint…R-O-M-N-E-Y

Romneyette“Most are likely unaware that a sizable portion of the debate’s ticket allocation was controlled by the Michigan Republican State Chair. That position is held by the woman pictured above. Her name is Ronna Romney McDaniel. And yes, as the name implies, she’s a Romney.

Mitt Romney is her uncle. Her mother was the wife of Mitt Romney’s brother, Jack and thus the daughter-in-law of former Michigan Governor, George Romney.

In what is likely NOT a coincidence, Mitt Romney is scheduled to hold a press conference on his views regarding the current state of the Republican primary tomorrow as well. There is a great deal of speculation the former candidate for president is going to use that time to pummel the Trump campaign.

And then Trump will have the privilege of stepping in front of a GOP debate audience stacked with party operatives chosen by Mitt Romney’s niece.”

Kinda makes you wonder how #RobotRubio got his job….

Apparently, Florida Senate seats are for sale by the GOPe….

GOP operatives to pitch Ben Carson on Florida Senate run

#RobotRubio roughed up by Rubio supporters in New Hampshire

#RobotRubio roughed up by Rubio supporters in New Hampshire

(CNN) GOP operatives told CNN early Wednesday morning that they’ll push Ben Carson to drop out of the Republican presidential race, and instead run for a U.S. Senate seat from Florida.

It’s unclear how receptive the retired neurosurgeon will be to their pleas. Carson did not appear to be going anywhere as Tuesday night drew to a close.”

Rubio failed to achieve 20% a few times last night = no delegates. They need Carson’s votes….no matter how small.

February 2016 Commission Report

2 special called commission meetings
The Mayor called two commission meetings this month.  Mayor Ed Mitchell has decided that his role is to cut ribbons and attend every breakfast and dinner that he can rather than running the courthouse.  He has entrusted too many things to his Finance Director, Randy Vineyard, who is not even a good finance person, let alone qualified to run the courthouse.  This has lead to poor management decisions, which have been costly to the taxpayers.

1st meeting to offer a new insurance plan
The first called meeting was to offer a new health care plan to county employees because the state deemed the current plan to be inferior to the state plan.  The state provides some funding for health insurance for teachers.  The local plan has to be as good or better than the state plan or the county can lose those funds.

The problem is that the state offers several plans while the local government offers only one plan.  The comparison wasn’t done to all state plans, which I was told would have likely showed that the single plan overall is just as good as the state plan and costs substantially less.  The broker shared that the state has miscalculated its costs and is actually going to have to significantly raise employee costs next year.

The new plan isn’t much different than the old plan.  You can see them both on page 2 here.  This situation was bureaucratic red tape and the people who went to Nashville seemed hopeful that the state won’t require unnecessary hoops to jump through next year.

I took the opportunity to ask the Finance Director, Randy Vineyard, to provide the commission with a monthly report on the financial status of the self insurance fund.  He wasn’t happy about that and told the commission we could look the numbers up in the general ledger if we wanted them.  The Finance Director didn’t realize why the fund was losing large sums of money until state auditors pointed it out to him.  A good quality financial person would be tracking this and providing regular updates on the fund to the board.

2nd meeting to hire an IT consultant
Commissioners Archie Archer and Gary Farmer were absent.

A meeting was called in December, after the commission canceled its scheduled meeting, to ram through the creation of a $1.3M Information Technology (IT) capital fund.  This month an IT consulting firm was rushed through in a called meeting.

Blount County has several IT needs.  It is why I sought to be added to the IT Committee.  However, after serving on the IT Committee for over a year, I am left wondering why we have an IT Committee.  The Mayor and his Finance Director have no respect for the authority of the IT Committee.  They have bypassed the IT Committee for all major IT decisions.

The Mayor’s Finance Director got the cart before the horse.  He pushed for Kronos before upgrading the county’s IT infrastructure.  A good analogy is that the Mayor and Finance Director went out and bought the most expensive wheels that they could find and put them on a car with engine problems.

The Kronos software project is likely the largest and most costly IT project in county history.  Read more about that project here.  It has been mismanaged and is behind schedule.  It is generally not a good idea to start more IT projects when your current project is behind, but that doesn’t seem to concern the mayor and finance director who are proceeding full steam ahead with your money.

When the Kronos project was first presented to the commission in 2014, then commissioner Jim Folts warned of the problems that would happen if Vineyard was allowed to proceed with the Kronos project as planned.  One of his biggest concerns was that a volunteer from the Sheriff’s Office, an attorney, would be in charge of the project.  The attorney quit the project, early into it.  Folts’ concerns have been realized.

Vineyard realized that attempting a major IT project without a dedicated manager/director was a big mistake but has failed to acknowledge that he was forewarned of the problem.  His solution for upcoming IT projects is to hire expensive consultants to manage the projects.  However, there are problems with this approach as well.

The county had a good IT Director who ran the county’s IT Department on a shoe string budget while using old technology.  John Herron had managed the IT Department for 30 years.  He left last year to work for Blount County Schools.

The county has been operating with an Interim IT Director since August.  I was stunned when the Interim Director told me that the mayor isn’t looking to hire an IT Director.  Instead the mayor (and finance director) sought to employ an IT consulting firm to manage the county’s IT projects.

Mindboard Inc. was presented to the commission.  The Purchasing Agent, Katie Branham, chose this company based on the scores of a team that she chose to evaluate prospective companies and because of their references.

The evaluation team consisted of select members of the IT Committee.  I am on the IT Committee and she never told me that she was going to choose member of the IT Committee.  She did not invite me to listen to the interviews either.  It would have taken her about 1 minute to send me an invitation by email.   She smugly told me that the meeting was advertised in the paper.  Apparently she thinks that county commissioners should have to subscribe to the newspaper to know what their government is doing.  One of the people she chose was Jimmy Cox from the Highway Department.  I asked her what his IT experience is.  She told me that she didn’t know.

In Mindboard’s response to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ), they give 5 references.  Only one of those lists a project budget over $60,000.  The capital fund (budget) is over 22 times this amount.  With a capital fund containing over $1.3 million, having only one project with a budget anywhere close to this is not very assuring.

This company, and some of its employees, are currently being sued.  The representative (Principal) for the company said the suit is frivolous.  I hope for the sake of the taxpayers that none of the allegations are true.

The company has applied for several H1B visas to employ foreign workers.  These are good paying jobs that could be going to workers who are not US citizens.  Blount County government should not be taxing citizens making minimum wage or living on social security checks to pay foreign workers far more than the taxpayers are making and living on.

The agreement (contract) looked like a boiler plate document that hadn’t been reviewed by an attorney because of obvious mistakes that should have been fixed.  However, the agreement was actually reviewed by two attorneys, who apparently don’t pay close attention to details.

The agreement lists Blount County government as a company rather than a county.  The principal office line in the first paragraph was blank in our packets.  These two items are what made me think it was a boiler plate document.  It turns out that it is.  The Purchasing Agent told me that the agreement was written by Mindboard with input from the county.  Apparently the county gave so little input that it didn’t even request to be called a county or have its address typed into the document.

There is no mention of software in the agreement.  Article 5 defines work product but does not mention software.

Perhaps the most alarming thing is the blank page in the contract.  Page 13 is blank.  Usually pages that are blank say they are intentionally left blank.  Frankly, the taxpayers should ask for their money back from attorney Craig Garrett who supposedly reviewed the agreement for form.

The resolution refers to him as the County Attorney but there is no official position of County Attorney.  That office/position has never been created.  Commissioner Karen Miller made a motion to correct the description of Craig Garrett but her motion failed.  Apparently the commission is OK with someone misrepresenting who they are.

The Purchasing Agent should not be given a pass for these errors either.  She is an attorney.  This agreement was reviewed by two people who are attorneys.  There is no excuse for such poor quality work.

The agreement does not give actual project expenses.  All it gives are hourly rates.  The Finance Director said that we don’t have the actual costs because we don’t know how much these projects will cost.  We’re suppose to turn these consultants lose at hourly rates exceeding $100 so that they can provide us with the costs.  The Purchasing Agent told us that Mindboard thinks it will take about 2 months for them to analyze the county’s IT needs.

In the private sector, if a financial person came to a board and said we don’t know what this will cost, give us some time with some expensive consultants and we’ll figure it out, he/she would be laughed out of the room and possibly offered a mental health evaluation on the way out.  I felt like I had entered the land of Oz with Vineyard as the man behind the curtain, listening to this nonsense.

The former IT Director had actually provided a list of capital needs in 2014 but it was not acted upon.   The county paid an IT consulting firm to examine the county’s IT needs last year.  The Mayor’s Finance Director described that study as the 10,000 foot view.  What was the point of that study, if we’re going to have to pay consultants big hourly rates to study the situation again?

The contract manager said he will be moving to Blount County for a couple of years.  He will be one of the $100+ an hour consultants.  If he works full time at 40 hours a week, that one position could cost over $450,000 over a 2 year period.  There are too many unknown variable with this agreement and capital fund.

Commissioners Mike Akard, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and I (Tona Monroe) voted no.  These are the commissioners watching out for you the taxpayers.  It’s a short list but an important list.  Share these names with the people you know because these are the commissioners worth reelecting.

Commissioner Archie Archer voted no on the creation of the capital fund in December but he was absent for this vote.

The better approach – hire an IT Director
The better approach for the county would be to hire a top notch IT Director.  I suggested to the commission that an IT Director be hired on a salary and that he/she be given a bonus, along with the staff, for successful completion of IT projects that are on time and under budget.

Some of the IT projects will still need to be outsourced.  However, an IT Director who plans to stay with the county for several years would be motivated to see that things are done correctly.  Additionally, outside consultants may end up doing things that an IT Director may not find useful for the county.  It boggles the mind that Blount County has embarked upon over $4 million in IT projects without an IT Director to lead the way.

Commission Meeting
Commissioners Archie Archer and Gary Farmer were absent.

Nominations finally where they should be
At the January commission meeting, I spoke against the practice of putting important nominations under the consent calendar to rush the process through with little discussion.  The consent calendar is suppose to be for non-controversial items that require no discussion.  The commission has been doing a great disservice by putting these names on the consent calendar and offering no discussion.  This practice has allowed the commission to vote on the people being nominated, appointed or elected before public input is allowed.  You can see the order of the agenda here.

For several months I have been trying to get Agenda Committee Chairman Steve Samples and Commission Chairman Jerome Moon to place appointments and confirmations to important boards under the correct agenda item where they belong.  I am pleased to announce that the appointments were on the agenda in the correct place this month, under Elections, Appointments and Confirmations.  The public can now offer comments and concerns about elections, appointments and confirmations during the time for public input on the agenda.

Federal grants
I attended commission meetings for several years before being elected to office.  While I was aware that the county applied for and received many federal grants, I didn’t realize just how many grants the county received until I took office.

The first thing that I did was raise my right hand and take an oath to support the constitutions of Tennessee and the United States of America.  The subject matters of most of the grants are not found in the delegated powers given to the federal government in the constitution.  Congress does not have authority to spend money on most of these projects and programs.  Therefore, in order to remain true to my oath of office I have and will continue to vote no on these unconstitutional grants.

Furthermore, many grants have strings attached.  The commission is given little, if any, information about the conditions that come with these grants.  While many talk about the 10th amendment and the power of the states, that talk quickly goes out the window when federal money is involved.

Cost of feeding inmates is higher than the numbers the sheriff gives
One of the selling points for keeping federal prisoners is the low cost of feeding the inmates.  The Sheriff told the Blount County Corrections Partnership at its November meeting that it costs $2.50-3 a day to feed an inmate.

The adopted food budget for the jail is $430,000.  The Sheriff’s Office requested a $250,000 increase which would bring the food budget total to $680,000.

The average daily inmate total for 2015 was 528.  At $2.50 a day, with an extra day for the leap year the cost of feeding 528 inmates a day would be $483,120.  The cost at $3 a day is $579,744.

Both of these numbers are less than $680,000.  At 528 inmates per day, the cost would be about $3.52 a day.  Food costs are rising.  $3.52 is not an unreasonable price but it should no longer be said that the inmates are being fed for $2.50-3 a day.

Budget amendments form updated
Last month, there was some confusion about the actual impact that budget amendments had on the budget.  Each time a budget request is made throughout the year, after the annual budget is adopted, a form has to be filled out explaining the amendment.  The form had two boxes to check, one for transfers and one for increases and decreases.

A new form was presented providing four options: transfer, decrease, increase and adjustment.  The example that the Finance Director gave for an adjustment was actually an increase because it would spend more of you local tax money.  The description given, on the new form, for an adjustment says, “(correction to adopted budget due to “grant award” or “budgetary adjustment”).”  An increase, using local tax money, should not be recorded as an adjustment; therefore, I moved to strike the words budgetary adjustment and replace them with the word reimbursements.  An example of a reimbursement is the money that the county received from CSX for work done during the train derailment.  It is technically an increase to the budget, but it is not an increase in the use of tax dollars.  My amendment failed.

Commissioner Mike Akard said the changes still leave the water muddy.  I agree.  Allowing increases in spending of your local tax money should not be classified as adjustments.  The commission could have fixed this but didn’t when it rejected my amendment.  Commissioners Mike Akard, Brad Bowers, Karen Miller and I voted no.

Chairman Moon allows return to old, bad ways
In the past, it was common for commissioners to blurt out call the question, without being recognized, in order to shut debate down.  Commissioner Steve Samples did that this month.  Chairman Moon told him that he would recognize him if he would turn his light on.  Samples turned his light on and Chairman Moon recognized him, even though there was a commissioner who was had been waiting to speak.  This is a dangerous practice to return to, allowing a commissioner to blurt out call the question to end discussion and ignore those who have been patiently waiting their turns.

Up next:
A meeting has been called for the commission to appointment a replacement for Roy Crawford who recently passed away.  Roy was the only elected official in the courthouse who did a good job, would give you a straight answer and actually deserved to be reelected so many times, like he was.  Richard Hutchens gave him the first Statesmen Award.  He will be missed.

The commission will also be tasked with finding a replacement for Bill Dunlap who retired at the end of January.

2015 Blount County Government Payroll and City of Alcoa Payroll

By far the most visited posts on this site, after the articles on the home page, are the payroll posts.  This post will help boost the number of visitor to this website since there’s been a strange drop in the number of City of Maryville employees visiting this website after I reported that the city should conduct an audit to see how many of its employees were surfing this site on the taxpayers’ dime.

Commissioner Andy Allen pulled up this site during a recent commission meeting to access a county government payroll.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  I wish I had taken a picture to post here but I didn’t think about it until afterwards.

It did my heart good that a constituent of mine found the payroll on BC Public Record and thought she was on the county’s website.

Without further ado, here is the payroll for Blount County Government for 2015.  It includes annual salaries/earnings.  A note from the Finance Director is included FYI.

“Commissioner,

The report does not have a date range on it, but is for calendar year 2015. There will be variances from prior years since we converted to a bi-weekly pay period and holding employees one week in arrears.

Randy”

Additionally for the benefit of the public, the payroll for General Services in the City of Alcoa is also posted.  This report was generated in January, 2016.  I hope to have the Alcoa City Schools payroll soon.

Thank you Douglas Benton for providing the City of Alcoa payroll.

As always, when looking for payrolls:

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