Search Results for: Big Government Bob

Big Government Bob

A 22 Year Career Politician
with a Record of Wasteful Spending & Tax Increases

As County Commissioner, Big Government Bob Ramsey voted:

  • to Triple his Pay (from $300 to $900 per month pages 6-7)
  • to Quadruple the County Debt;
    • $506 Debt Per Capita when Bob took office in 1990 (page 3)
    • $2,038 Debt Per Capita when Bob resigned from the Commission in 2008 (page 84)
  • for 11 Tax Increases, including 10 Property Tax Increases
  • against a Senior Property Tax Freeze (page 5) after sponsoring a resolution in support of it (page 75).

Big Government Bob as State Representative:

A lobbyist used Big Government Bob’s Nashville computer to send an email.  Bob Ramsey must be cozy with the special interests for this to happen.

Big Government Bob has taken $13,050 in Dental PAC money.  In 2009, 3 of the 5 bills he sponsored were for the benefit of dentists.  Take a look at all the dentists that donated to Big Government Bob in the 2nd quarter of this year.  Notice how few local people actually donate to Bob Ramsey.  What’s he done to help you during these difficult economic times?  Nothing, unless you’re a dentist!

We are facing serious economic times that require careful and thorough analysis of government spending.  Instead of being meticulous with your tax dollars by thoroughly examining the State budget, Big Government Bob is spending his time collecting donations from PACs and dentists and sponsoring bills for them, while slothfully voting to let the State spend $250 million more than its projected increase in revenue.

Is Big Government Bob too lazy to do the work needed to stop wasteful spending in Nashville?  Or, is he in too thick with the good ol’ boys to care?  In any case, 22 years of this career politician are enough.  You deserve better!

The Daily Times hasn’t moved out of the Stone Age, loves big government

With the passing of Dean Stone and the retirement of penguin sex preacher and editor Buzz Trexler one would hope that The Daily Times would have moved out of the (Dean) Stone Age.   Alas that is not the case.  The stale big government, courthouse clique bias of Bob Norris remains and the new editor J. Todd Foster ran political hit pieces on Commissioner Mike Akard right before the election.  Norris does not reflect the values of many in this community but he and the editors have hidden behind their editorials and trash those who challenge the status quo.

Editors of the past and present at the paper love big government.  In a town where many are conservative, the best they can achieve is support for the establishment Republicans, just look at all the pro Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker editorials.  These big government Republicans and the big government Republicans in the courthouse clique love to tax you, spend your money and tell you how to live your lives.   Thus, the rag trashes those who try to hold the line on spending and question the authority of local government.  The four commissioners who have recently been the subject of hit pieces and an editorial are the four who have most consistently looked out for the taxpaying citizens of Blount County.

Look at the paper’s Twitter account.  The only two days, during the last year, that the paper has published a “sneak peak” of the front page of the paper are the two days where the new editor ran hit pieces on Commissioner Mike Akard.  Despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Mike Akard the new editor says he isn’t partisan, won’t publish the letter to editor I (Tona Monroe) wrote asking questions about the stories and won’t answer the questions that I raised about his stories.  https://twitter.com/DailyTimes/status/989698528195866625
https://twitter.com/DailyTimes/status/989354790714073088

The rag trashed Jim Folts, who served on the previous commission, when he was the lone ranger questioning local government spending.  Now on the eve of this local government primary election, the rag’s focus is on the three women commissioners, who have also challenged the status quo.

The rag should be focusing on important issues on the eve of the election.  However, if they did that it would make those they support, the big spending courthouse clique, look bad.  Many of these big government Republicans are in local office for selfish reasons.  Just look at the conflicts of interest that proceed commission votes.  I wonder what would happen, in this election, if the paper published a story about candidates with conflicts of interest the day before the election.

The Daily Times asked the three ladies on the commission to come be interviewed, not the other way around.  When have the courthouse clique officials sat down for an interview?  Would the paper respond by publishing an editorial the day before the election praising them for what they said?

The Daily Times did willingly publish a hate screed from Ed Mitchell telling Blount County to wake up because voters chose to replace some of the incumbent, courthouse clique commissioners in the last election.  What Ed Mitchell and the anonymous editor(s) are telling us is that they think those of us who voted for people who aren’t part of the courthouse clique need to wake up, because we aren’t smart enough to chose who governs.

The point that I made about being more effective as a citizen is misconstrued in the editorial.  The point was that an active citizenry can accomplish more than a few commissioner without an active citizenry.  When the citizens groups were active, the property tax increases were less.

To act like the three women never transitioned into being public servants is absurd.  The three women were the first three commissioners to hold public town halls after being elected.  They were asked to hold these public meetings by the now defunct Citizens for Blount County’s Future.  When have the political machine commissioners held town hall meetings?  Furthermore, three of the four commissioners that have been the recent focus of paper have worked to inform the public about Blount County government, when the paper often failed to cover issues.  This website is viewed by many and I have done several radio interviews.  Commissioner Jamie Daly has published a newsletter and Mike Akard has posted to Facebook.  These types of efforts to engage with the public are scant or non-existent with the rest of the commissioners.

Running on a platform and sticking by it is fulfilling what you said you would.  Another citizens group recognized that when it honored 6 commissioners, including the 3 women and Mike Akard, for doing what they said they would do.  Blount County Tax Revolt, and those in attendance of the awards ceremony dinner, certainly thought the former citizen activists were fulfilling their roles as public servants.

In fairness to the reporters at The Daily Times, they don’t all share the views of those who make the final decisions at the paper.  Even Joel Davis, the reporter most critical of me, wrote that he was impressed with my vigilance, when I found the secret $2 million jail plan in TCI Board of Control meeting minutes.

“Tona,

Thank you every much for the information. Your vigilance is quite impressive. This is definitely going to make an interesting story.

Best,
Joel”

The wrath of God resolution was over the top.  I doubt that it would have gotten a second but the courthouse clique shut the meeting down by voting against setting the agenda.  Commissioner Karen Miller was the only sponsor of the resolution.  Yet Jamie Daly and I are included in the editorial.  The paper talks about how embarrassing it was for Blount County, but it was The Daily Times that started the media circus surrounding the resolution.

The commission passed a resolution in 2017 after the death of Steve Samples quoting a scripture from the Bible proclaiming that he would enter into the joy thy Lord.  There was no media coverage, including the paper, on this resolution.  Does the paper think it’s OK to interject religion into a resolution by proclaiming and approving something from the Bible as long at it supports the courthouse clique?  Where’s the outrage from the editors telling us how embarrassing it is for the commission to think that it can determine who enters into the joy of the Lord?  This wasn’t a prayer proceeding the meeting.  It is a formally adopted resolution and official statement of the Blount County Commission and Mayor.  Karen Miller and I were the only two commissioners who did not sponsor this resolution.

The paper further criticizes the no votes of the women when doing routine business while praising the machine for finessing the shut down of a regularly scheduled meeting and lauding Mayor Mitchell for restoring “order”.  That kind of double speak makes clear the misguided priorities of those in the back rooms of the paper.  The courthouse clique can waste our money all day long.  That isn’t news worthy, unless you vote against it, but a non-binding resolution warrants a media circus and praise for shutting down a meeting.  Remember that it was the courthouse clique and the newspaper that made the huge deal out of the resolution.  It would have likely died for a lack of a second.

There wasn’t any mention of anything that Jamie Daly or I tried to do over the last 4 years.  Before going to vote, the anonymous editor(s) want(s) you to focus on one non-binding resolution that did not bear the names of 2 of the 3 they talked about.  What about the issues that matter?  What about the 15% property tax increase that a majority of commissioners approved shortly after the local option sales tax was raised?  The list of issues is extensive but this is what the paper choses to focus on.

The paper should have learned, from the media coverage of the most recent presidential election, to rethink their election and government coverage priorities. Whether you love or hate Trump or are somewhere in between, the relevancy of many media outlets wore thin on many people in the 2016 election because of the constant Trump bashing.  Many decided, that despite Trump’s numerous character flaws, they trusted him more than the biased barrage of media attacks.  This message was lost on those making decisions at The Daily Times.

People run for public office for a variety of reasons.  The paper is free to express what they think make good qualifications for public office but the people writing anonymous editorials at the paper need a reality check.  Their views don’t align with many in the community.  The number of subscribers has dropped because of it, while the population of Blount County is increasing.  People share their concerns about the bias when the paper solicits renewals, but even when the people trying to sell subscriptions agree and share that they hear this often, the message falls on deaf ears with the decision makers at the paper as we can see by the editorial today.

The Daily Times might increase its number of subscribers if it actually published the votes of every commissioner on every issue, rather than selectively publishing what it wants the public to see.  Of course, if it did that, then big government, courthouse clique Republicans that they support will not look so good.

Letter to the editor that self proclaimed nonpartisan editor Todd Foster won’t publish.

April 27, 2018

Dear Editor,

What I took away from the first article about Commissioner Mike Akard is that he burns wood and brush on his property, had a permit to do so and no wrong doing was found, fireworks have been let off in celebration of our nation’s independence and he had two traffic citations: one with a $50 fine and the other was dropped after driving school.

Who hasn’t done such horrible things as burn wood, let off fireworks and exceed the speed limit?  That hardly warrants the following day’s headline that Akard has a criminal past.

Is The Daily Times going to refer to everyone, who has been given a traffic ticket, as having a criminal past?  No other charges or convictions were stated.  Has The Daily Times researched the driving records of all candidates or just Mike Akard?

There was no comment from Akard about the two traffic tickets.  Did The Daily Times ask Akard for a comment, like it asked his opponent for an explanation about his criminal conviction?

Sincerely,
Tona Monroe
Greenback, TN 37742

Update: I received this in an email Tuesday evening.  “I canceled my subscription after I read that editorial today. Sounded like something the president would put in Twitter. Disgusting.”

Reps. Bob Ramsey, Art Swann & Senator Doug Overbey vote to raise gas tax

Blount County’s state legislators aren’t exactly know for fiscal conservatism or advocating liberty.  They’re supporters of big government.  It’s not surprising to see Tennessee Representative Bob Ramsey, Representative Art Swann and Senator Doug Overbey vote to raise the gas tax and tag renewal fees.

The increase on a tag renewal for non-commercial vehicles is $5.  The sales tax on food will reduce by 1%.  That means that a two car family will have to spend $1,000 on groceries to break even on the new legislation.  A three car family will have to spend more than $1,500 to see any savings and that doesn’t include the gas tax increase.  The state tax on gasoline will increase 6 cents per gallon over 3 years and diesel will increase 10 cents over three years.

Pay close attention to your local officials.  All three of these men were Blount County Commissioners prior to being elected to state office.

It’s a ‘fine’ day and night in Blount County and throughout Tennessee

Well the Tennessee General Assembly just voted to raise the seatbelt fine from $10 to $25.  This is a great way for Republicans to enrich public treasuries without ‘raising taxes’.  It’s no surprise that Blount County’s 3 nanny $tati$t $upported the tax… err fine.  Good Ole’ Big Government Bob Ramsey, Art Swann and Doug Overbey.

Here in Blount County the Commi$$ion just took an unconstitutional grant for nighttime $eatbelt demo.  Buckle up, or you will find out what a ‘fine’ place Blount County is to live, especially since the federal government and the Tenne$$ee General A$$embly made $ure that you’ll be adding more to the public trea$ury if you don’t.

Letter to Business and Utilities Chairman Art Swann on Fluoridation Referendum Bill HB1186

Dear Chairman Swann,
As a Blount Countian, I feel as though I have little to no representation in Nashville.  I have thought that you were better than Bob Ramsey and Doug Overbey who are dyed in the wool career politicians and because you are a small business owner and understand that red tape kills small businesses.

Doug Overbey use to respond to my emails when he was a Representative but as soon as he because a Senator his head became to big to respond other than once in a blue moon.  Big Government Bob Ramsey is pathetic.  He rarely responds and when he does, a elementary school kid could write a better response.  3 Representatives have joked or said very sharp things about Ramsey when I’ve had conversations with them about how he is so wishy washy and doesn’t take a stand on anything useful.  Harwell loves him, but those with principles don’t.  She’s a hypocrite, going around talking about how bad fluoride is, then donating the maximum allowable limit by law to ensure that the dentist is strongly for forcing us to have fluoridation is reelected.  Even the former Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Blount County Republican Party in separate conversations told me that Bob is lazy.  The people of Blount County can’t depend on Bob or Doug to assist them on anything.

I did believe that you were different, but I am not so sure anymore.  Your failure to cosponsor HB1186 when a constituent of yours asked you to, when the bill doesn’t require you to take a position on fluoride is absurd.  You know that utilities deserve stricter scrutiny than regular businesses because they are given government granted monopolies.  All HB1186 does is let the people have a voice where they have none with unelected boards that are so closed looped that they get to choose the nominees for the mayor to make his appointment from.

This isn’t even a difficult bill.  It just says the people can decide if they wish to continue being poisoned.  It’s a sad day for Blount County and Tennesseans when their legislators resist them against simple bills like this.  It doesn’t commit the State to spend anything and it doesn’t commit you to having to take a stand.  It passes the buck to the people, where it rightfully belongs.

Stand for freedom.  Don’t be Bob or Doug.  Blount County deserves at least one elected official who stands for something beyond the status quo in Nashville.

Vote for HB1186 and encourage your Committee members to support it as well.

Also, vote for HB373.  So as not to write a treatise, I’ll give you one good reason to vote for it.  I want you to.  I have the right to determine what is on my house and what isn’t and I don’t want a smart meter.  You were elected by the people, not the utility companies.  Support the smart meter bill because the people deserve to choose whether they want one of these contraptions or not.  I don’t and that’s all this bill does is says I don’t have to have one.

Both of these bills are necessary because of unaccountable utilities created by governments who set them up with very little accountability.  It’s time to demand some accountability to the customers.

Let freedom ring!

Early Voter’s Guide – Part 1

Richard Hutchens has started a series of voter guides.

For Those who Live in TN State Rep (District 20)

22 year Career Politician       Future Stateswoman
           Bob Ramsey          vs.      Tona Monroe

I encourage my fellow Patriots to take a minute to watch the attached video and read the attached Mailer of
Big Government Bob Ramsey’s voting Record

of Raising Taxes and voting to triple his salary when he was on the Blount County Commission.

If this is the kind of government we get when we elect
 “seasoned, experienced”politicians,
then I think it is Past Time to elect citizen representatives,
like you and me who have pay these high taxes.

Post Note from Richard Hutchens

I have known Tona Monroe for four years, and she knows and understands the Constitution more than I do.  She will be a Great, TN State Represenative for Dist 20.
Tona has outlined 9 Principles on her website which I encourage you to study.
http://www.tonamonroe.net/?page_id=19
Please Forward this to Fellow Patriots in Blount County

Big Government Bob Front                        Big Government Bob Back

 

Political Chicken

Untouched photo shows yearbook signature is fraud – 2 color inks, 2 different handwritings – credit: Thomas Wictor

by Horatio Bunce

If only Republicans had been as rabid in their demand that Ted Cruz “step aside” from the presidential race when five women claimed he engaged in “sexual misconduct” with a woman other than his wife as they have Roy Moore on the same level of “evidence” (except for them also knowing Cruz’s PAC gave $500,000 to one of the women’s employers in the Carly Fiorina campaign)…then maybe I could take the same useless dolts seriously that also wouldn’t impeach Bill Clinton despite the claims of Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Connie Hamzy, Juanita Broaddrick, Eileen Wellstone, Sandra James, Christy Zercher, Monica Lewinsky, Elizabeth Gracen, Dolly Browning, Sally Perdue, Susie Whitacre and Bobbie Ann Williams.

By the way, shouldn’t there have been a Cruz vs. National Enquirer defamation lawsuit by now? We are often reminded of what a smart lawyer Cruz is so…what’s the holdup?

The reason there hasn’t been one is the same reason the Rubio campaign held that Cruz information for leverage to defend Rubio’s own “sexual misconduct” if necessary. That’s a very important thing to remember any time you see these two operating in Congress. They are leveraged, compromised. How much of what they do every day in Congress is blackmailed?

Which brings me to Roy Moore.

Why now? If these allegations are true, then a lot of people know about the alleged philandering character of Roy Moore and they have known this for a long time. They have allowed him to achieve very high levels of political office in their state. And did nothing – that we know of. As hated as Roy Moore is by the left (for at least the last 16 years on the national stage), even after the “Roy’s Rock” ten commandments saga and the ignore unconstitutional federal supreme court Obergefell orders case, no one in media had this information? No one wanted to take Roy down enough until now? He was too powerful you might say. Is he not now more powerful than before? If the allegations are true, then is not Roy Moore also leveraged? Or more to the point, hasn’t he been for a long time? Has his usefulness suddenly expired for those holding the leverage? What are the odds that the Washington Post could simultaneously discover the existence of four women from his past, locate and interview them – just in time after Luther Strange gets spanked in the primary?

If the allegations are true, someone had this information compiled and was holding onto it, waiting for an opportune time to use it. They are not interested in justice (though it may be due).

Why isn’t Republican-ambulance-chaser Gloria Allred interested in “justice” for the victims she allegedly represents?

“Allred called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a public hearing where Nelson would voluntary appear and testify before lawmakers on the incident.”

A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing? How about filing a civil or criminal suit in Alabama – you know, the actual jurisdiction? Is it because Gloria Allred is not licensed there? Is her show-boating and offering legal services in Alabama illegal since she is not listed as an Alabama state bar member and neither are any of the attorneys in her firm? Or is the truth that what she is doing ISN’T actually practicing law OR offering legal services?

More importantly, if Roy Moore does not “step aside”, what “fullest extent” legal action will Allred pursue? Is it in reality NONE since neither she nor her firm are licensed in Alabama? Or could Roy Moore write a big check like Bill Clinton did to Paula Jones to “make it all go away”? Maybe send a big check to Luther Strange’s PAC like Ted Cruz did for Carly Fiorina (and everyone forgets until next time they need to remember and leverage you again).  If Moore drops out, will there be a sudden void where that demand for justice was just days before? Will those five “sexual misconduct” (whatever that means) lawsuits never materialize?

So I have to weigh those Republicans making statements denouncing, removing support, blah, blah, blah without a claim, without a lawsuit, without sworn testimony (despite the fake “yearbook signature” and Allred’s alleged victim apparently having also attended the Robbie Parker Sandy Hook No-Tears acting school) and their records, their deeds and their fraud foisted on the American people (Ryan, McConnell, ISIS McCain, Gay-marriage executive order Romney, Bailout Bob Corker, TPP Ted Cruz, et al) plus Gloria Allred (and yes, FOX NEWS also “Judge” Jeanine, Hannity, Ingraham no less than controlled opposition in this one) teaming up to attempt another Evan ISIS McMullen style “independent” write-in for Alabama.

When you idiots actually passed a law admitting that you will use our tax dollars to feed us propaganda, we know you are intentionally lying to us at least part of the time. The only decision to make is what not to believe.

March 2017 Commission Report

Agenda Committee
The commission recently started voting to receive reports and minutes from committees and entities that provides us with information because of the new software system that the commission started using in January.  Prior to the new system, these records were available in the commission packet as information without a vote.  I (Tona Monroe) pointed out that some of the meeting minutes were drafts and subject to being changed by their respective bodies.  The draft minutes were postponed until April so that the commission can figure out how to properly handle voting on minutes being received in the future.  The matter shows how most commissioners operate on auto pilot during the meetings and how little thought most put into the process.

Commission meeting
Commissioners Mike Akard, Mike Caylor, Tom Cole, Jamie Daly and Tom Stinnett were absent.

Evergreen pay study for Highway Department
The Evergreen Solutions salary study pay increase request for the Highway Department was back on the agenda after being pulled by Commissioner Dave Bennett last month without any explanation for it being pulled.  The request increased from $13,579.46 to $15,346.13.

The $15,346.13 will be used to increase the pay of 14 employees.  Shortly before this, one employee was about 2/3’s of this amount in one year.  Certain people get huge page raises while many get small ones.  According to the 2015 payroll, Assistant Superintendent Chico Messer made $71,999.98.  According to the 2016 salary list, Chico Messer’s salary increased to $82,801 on August 25, 2016 (see page 42).  In 2014, Messer’s annual salary was $66,000.06.  It’s interesting that Messer sought and received certification from the state to run for the position of Highway Superintendent but chose not to seek the postion.  Could the big pay increase be a deterrent to Messer running in 2018?

In 2015, the Blount County Commission voted to adopt the recommendations of the Evergreen Solutions employee classification and compensation study for all county departments except the Highway Department and the Schools.  This request adds the Highway Department to the rest of the General County government pay scale.

You may remember that one of my objections at the time was that the report wasn’t even finished when the commission was asked to vote to adopt its recommendations.  The final study was not made public until 7 months after the commission had voted on the matter.  Well this new study wasn’t in the Agenda Committee packet.  When I asked why, I was told by the Human Resources Director that she had just received the report that day.  That raises the question of why it had been put on the agenda last month when the report wasn’t finished.  Do these people ever learn?  Do they even care?

Furthermore, the previous study only compared Blount County to one other county.  The rest of the comparisons were to schools, even though Blount County Schools didn’t participate, cities and other entities.  This new study only compared Blount County to cities.  Not one county was included in the study.  It wouldn’t be that hard, particularly when you’re only looking at one department, to obtain the payrolls for other counties and analyze comparable positions.  Commissioners Karen Miller and I were the only no votes.

Service dogs
A couple donated $10,000 to the county for the purchase of a service dog.  Blount County currently has 7 service dogs and will soon have 10.

CTAS resolution
State legislation has been filed that would add the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) to the list of government entities that would sunset and have to be renewed by the Tennessee General Assembly after a review process.  All of the status quo, courthouse clique commissioners signed onto a resolution that opposed this legislation.

If enacted, an Evaluation Committee would review the objectives of CTAS.  TCA 4-29-105 says:

The Evaluation Committee shall have as its objectives:
1) The review of present programs and strategies of entities to determine the quality, efficiency, and success of such programs and strategies in implementation of legislative mandates.

What’s wrong with a regular review of CTAS?  CTAS can be political and is cliquish, picking their favorites.

On at least two occasions that I have asked CTAS questions, the local government consultant for this area, Wesley Robertson, has called Commission Chairman Jerome Moon and given him the answer to my questions rather than calling and giving the answers to me.

I’ve talked to local elected officials in several counties around the state.  Those who are principled reformers receive similar treatment.  A commissioner in another county shared with me that she has quit contacting CTAS because as soon as she inquires about anything, her CTAS government consultant calls her county mayor to inform him of what she is inquiring about.  Another elected official in a different county told me that we should get together and ask the Tennessee General Assembly for some real help, since we aren’t getting it from CTAS.  She shared with me how another lady she knows in local government is treated poorly by CTAS.  It seems that CTAS has a history of treating women who oppose the status quo, poorly.  However, I have talked with men in local elected office who don’t consult with CTAS either because they consider them to be part of the problem within the bureaucracy in government.

CTAS is a part of the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service (IPS).  IPS blocked me on twitter after I posted tweets critical of CTAS.  Amazingly, the IPS unblocked me the day before the commission voted on this resolution and is now following www.twitter.com/bcpublicrecord.

A thorough review of CTAS might be just exactly what it needs to provide better service.  It makes no sense to oppose a review process of your tax dollars at work; therefore I voted no.  Only Commissioner Karen Miller joined me in voting no.  Commissioners Akard and Daly, who were absent from the commission meeting, voted against putting this item on the agenda, at the Agenda Committee meeting.

Open records policy
The state legislature enacted a law requiring local governments to have open records policies by July 1st.  This should have been a law many years ago.  However, the law is not as specific as it should be and will probably require changes to it in the future.

As an elected official, I thought that it would be easier to obtain information but that is often not the case.  It can be difficult obtaining records needed to make important public policy decisions.  I’ve had to go to the Office of Open Records Counsel for assistant several times in obtaining records from Blount County government.  Several people have shared with me how difficult it can be to obtain help from the Office of Open Records Counsel.  Thus, a clear policy is needed.

Commissioner Jerome Moon chose to place himself and Commissioners Grady Caskey and Mike Caylor on the ad hoc committee that will write the open records policy.  Both Grady Caskey and Mike Caylor work for local governments and tend to favor government.  Hopefully the policy to be written will serve the people of Blount County well.

Lack of discussion
Other that the normal course of speaking required for the chairman to run a meeting, I was the only commissioner to discuss anything on the agenda that was put to a vote.  Many have said that these meetings are a done deal before the commissioners get there.  With no discussion except from me, I see why so many conclude this.

Commissioner Dodd Crowe’s only statement of the night came at the end of the meeting to inform those in the audience that the IT Department was working to ensure that all of the commissioners and their votes appeared on the screen displaying the votes.  All of the commissioners, and their votes, had not been showing on the screen because of an issue with the new software system.

Blount County Corrections Partnership
The Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) is a charade that exists to appease the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) to keep the jail certified.  Certification by the TCI Board of Control (BOC) is pretty close to worthless.  Jail standards are good but the TCIBOC has and continues to certify jails that are not in compliance with the standards because they jump through hoops.

One of those hoops is having the BCCP.  Part of the charade even includes TCI employees Detentions Facility Specialist (DFS) Robert Kane, who inspects the jail, and the Corrections Partnership Coordinator Bob Bass.  DFS Robert Kane makes false statements in his jail inspection report such as the March 3, 2016 report that gives the BCCP credit for things that it doesn’t do such as submitting monthly progress reports to the TCI.  It doesn’t, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office does that.  He says that the BCCP meets monthly and discusses the findings of the ILPP report.  The BCCP met 4 times in 2015.  You can read more about the report here.

CPC Bass serves as the bully for the TCI.  He comes to some of the meetings to talk tough to the BCCP about how the jail could be decertified if the county doesn’t build.  Talking tough is about all he can do, other than educate us in meetings with videos available on YouTube.  He once popped off to me about shutting the jail down but he and the TCI lack the authority to shut the jail down.  All he can do is go to the State Fire Marshal’s Office like the rest of us can and speak against the jail getting a nearly worthless certification from the TCI.

TCI certification is voluntary but many don’t know that.  Certification is used as a red herring for the TCI’s lack of authority to shut a jail down.  Jails that aren’t certified operate without being shut down.  Increased insurance rates can be a consequence of decertification, but this will not likely impact Blount County significantly because the county is self insured.  Read this letter from the legal counsel for the TCI on its certification and authority regarding shutting a jail down.

We are currently looking at architectural and engineering firms because Bob “the bully” Bass and Robert Kane came in and talked tough.  That was the excuse the political machine needed to start the expansion process.  Reality is that little to nothing would have happened if Blount County hadn’t solicited a firm because certification is a voluntarily process.

The only person to speak during public input was Commissioner Karen Miller.  She expressed how disappointed she is that the BCCP hasn’t actually examined the possible solutions that have been given in the studies that have been done and instead is wanting to pay an architectural firm to look at what the BCCP should be looking at.

Purchasing Agent Katie Branham Kerr spoke briefly about the jail RFQ process and how Michael Brady Incorporated (MBI) was chosen for jail renovation and/or expansion.  She was quick to say that the interviews for 3 of the companies that submitted qualifications were public but failed to mention that most of the process, including the decision making, was done in secret.  The Tennessee General Assembly last year decided that you the taxpaying citizens might some how corrupt the integrity of the process and made most of the purchasing process sealed.  Yes, state legislators thinks that you lack the integrity to interact with the Purchasing Agent and the evaluators that she selects until she has chosen a company and they made a law to stop you for interacting.  However, the names of the Screening Committee/Evaluation Team were published on this website before she made the names of the evaluators known.

MBI employee Jay Henderlight and John Eisenlau with TreanorHL gave a presentation on what they can and have done related to jails.  Eisenlau would work with MBI throughout the process.  I asked them if they were considering a new facility at a new location and was told that they haven’t considered that and didn’t think it would be necessary.  This is important because of what happened in Loudon County.

Loudon County Justice Center: Expansion and renovation vs a new facility
In the letter of engagement from MBI to the Loudon County Purchasing Agent, under Project Information the proposed improvements/use says “Expansion and Renovation of Existing Justice Center.”  The site location reads “12680 Highway 11 W., Loudon, TN” which is the location of the current Loudon County Justice Center.

Loudon County had previously paid MBI about $16,000 to see if the current location of their justice center was suitable for expansion.  After it was determined that the existing location is suitable for expansion, the Loudon County Corrections Partnership (LCCP) voted to move forward with expanding the existing facility in August of 2015.  However, that changed after the Loudon County Commission approved paying MBI up to $60,000 to provide options to expand the justice center at its current location.

MBI provided several expansion and renovation options but the recommendation that came from the LCCP in 2016 was the construction of a new facility at a different location.  While the LCCP was considering building at a new location, the Loudon County jail was decertified by the TCIBOC.  Who and/or what caused the change in plan from expansion of the existing facility to the construction of a new facility isn’t entirely clear.  What role, if any, MBI played in this isn’t clear either.  Who caused the deviation from expanding the existing facility to building a brand new facility at a different location?

Since MBI touts their work in Loudon County and PA Katie Kerr recommends MBI, both should be able to explain to the BCCP and the commission what happened in Loudon County.  I asked PA Kerr who she spoke to at Loudon County when evaluating MBI.  She said she would have to go back and look at her notes.  Even if she couldn’t recall the name of the person that she spoke with she should have been able to recall the conversation but she didn’t offer anything specific about her conversation with Loudon County.

Exactly how much research did Kerr do into MBI prior to recommending them?  Kerr has taken 11 months to complete the process of selecting a company.  Kerr’s office took nearly 3 months to issue the RFQ, despite her saying that 30 days should be sufficient time to issue the paperwork.

Furthermore, Kerr deviated from the jail RFQ issued by her office.  The RFQ says that the Screening Committee selected to evaluate the firms that submitted proposals would be county commissioners and employees Sheriff’s Office (see page 16).  2 of the evaluators were neither county commissioners or employees of the Sheriff’s Office.

I continued with my efforts to learn exactly what happened in the change of course in Loudon County but was prohibited from questioning Kerr further on the matter.  Chairman Rick Carver said that my questioning was out of order.  I challenged the rule of the chair and the rest of the voting members voted against allowing me to continue.

The people of the 7th district elected me to ask the though questions.  The BCCP voted to prohibit me from asking the necessary questions to make informed decisions the protect the taxpayers of Blount County and are in the best interest of the community.  We were there to decide whether to recommend the company chosen by the PA to the Blount County Commission.  I was prohibited by the BCCP from doing what I was elected to do.

What is point of attending these meetings if I am not going to be allowed to do my job?  The people deserve to know exactly what happened in Loudon County and how much research that PA Kerr did on MBI but I was prohibited from finding out.

When a new justice center was recommended to the Loudon County Commission, the matter died for a lack of motion.

MBI is the same company that was chosen for the renovation proposals for the high schools that was original estimated at $40M and has now ballooned up to $66M.  Given that the same company has been recommended for and involved in two important, and very costly proposals the people deserve answers that Commissioners Dave Bennett, Rick Carver and Mike Caylor and Blount County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jeff French and Jail Administrator John Adams prohibited me from obtaining.

This is a farce.  Nothing about the jail should be trusted.

I have requested Kerr’s notes related to MBI for the jail and high school renovations.  We’ll see what I get.

BCCP emails:
Chairman Rick Carver rcarver@blounttn.org
Commissioner Mike Caylor mcaylor@blounttn.org, bmcaylor@maryville-tn.gov
Commissioner Dave Bennett dbennett@blounttn.org
Commissioner Tona Monroe tmonroe@blounttn.org
Chief Deputy Jeff French jfrench@bcso.com
Jail Administrator John Adams jadams@bcso.com
Finance Director Randy Vineyard rvineyard@blounttn.org
General Session Judge Mike Gallegos mgallegos@blounttn.org
Circuit Court Judge Tammy Harrington tharrington@blounttn.org

Other Chairs:
Agenda Committee Chairman Steve Samples ssamples@blounttn.org
Commission Chairman Jerome Moon jmoon@blounttn.org

Up next: The commission will be considering MBI for work related to the jail and expansion and renovation of the high schools.  Some have contacted me about these matters.  If you want answers, you’re going to have to help me as I’ve been stonewalled by the courthouse clique.

June 2015 Commission Report

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”  2 Peter 2:3

This month I did a lot of writing on issues prior to the monthly commission meeting.  If you haven’t already done so, please take the time to read those articles prior to reading this report.  Alternatively, you can read those articles that are linked throughout this report.

Agenda Meeting
The Commission rejected my request to move the Commission meeting to a bigger venue.  A move to one of the school auditoriums would have given all people the opportunity to sit and watch the commission meeting.  Instead people who arrived early were locked out of the commission room.

As a result, people in the commission room were cold and those left standing outside the meeting room were burning up.  The request came after the Chairman, Jerome Moon, ordered standing citizens out of the room last month while allowing uniformed officers to line the wall.

Commission Meeting

The fix is in – Commission raises property tax rate before voting on budget

State law requires the commission to pass an appropriations resolution (annual budget) and a property tax rate resolution.  In the interest of protecting the taxpayers, I tried to have the budget placed ahead of the tax rate for purposes of discussion.  Putting the tax rate ahead of the budget means that the fix is in as there is no incentive to cut the budget after the property tax rate has been set.

In a poor economic environment, where the commission wants to hold the line on taxes but is handed a bloated budget from the Budget Committee recommending a tax increase, the commission could set the rate ahead of the budget and then work on the budget until it is balanced without a tax increase.  That isn’t what happened though and there are still problems with setting the tax rate first.

The tax rate isn’t just one number.  In past years the tax rate has fixed the levy for three funds, General County, General Purpose Schools and Debt Service.  This year, after a court opinion in McMinn County, a new fund for Capital Education Projects was added.  Thus, the Commission isn’t voting on just one number in the tax rate but four.  How would the commission know how much to fix for each fund without discussing the budget?  Debt service is straight forward but the rest require discussion.  It doesn’t make sense to set the rate before knowing how much you are going to spend in each fund.  Do you know any business that sets the price of the products or services before they have any idea what their expenses are?

Voting for the tax rate first and then discussing the budget allows commissioners to play political games with their constituents because some commissioners will vote no on the tax rate or abstain knowing that the increase will pass but then will vote yes on the budget which caused the increase.  Voting for the budget which caused the increase has the same effect as the vote on the tax rate increase.  It spends the same amount of your money and these commissioners are just as responsible as those who didn’t play games with their yes vote on the tax increase.

My motion to discuss the budget before the tax rate failed 3-18 with only Commissioners Daly, Miller and myself (Monroe) voting to discuss the budget before fixing the tax rate.  The fix was in with a tax increase approved before the commission discussed the budget.

A citizen contacted me several days before the vote and told me what the tax rate would be.  Another contacted me telling me that the tax rate had already been determined but I would not be included.

It came as no surprise when commissioners Rick Carver and Gary Farmer offered amendments that set the tax rate at what I had been told without explaining why that was the rate needed.  Somehow those of us who weren’t included were just suppose to magically know where the reductions in increases (some call these cuts) would be made when the tax rate was voted on before the appropriations resolution, without any discussion as to why the tax rate of $2.47 was the one to go with.

Consensus and stifling of debate
There seemed to be a consensus amongst the majority of commissioners.  How they would know where Rick Carver was going to amend the budget and why he felt no need to explain it to the commission or to the public why those were the changes to make is beyond me.  Debate was stifled through parliamentary procedure and the only explanation given to the citizens as to why Carver’s cuts were the only ones that should be made was the comment from the Finance Director.

Commissioner Andy Allen moved to cut off debate on all amendments and the main motion moving adoption of the budget.  Only four commissioners voted not to cut off debate on over $175 million of your money.  Commissioners Grady Caskey, Tom Cole, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe voted to continue debate.  The rest voted to stifle debate.

Six commissioners voted no on the tax rate and the budget
A game that some commissioners play with their constituents is voting no or abstaining on the tax rate but voting yes on the budget that requires a tax increase to pay for it.  Only six commissioners voted no on both.  The contradictory votes of the one who abstained and other who voted no on the tax rate but yes on the budget should be viewed for the game and hypocrisy that it is.

The six commissioner who voted no are Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Tom Cole, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe.

Conflicts of interest
Several commissioners read conflict of interest statements prior to voting on the budget.  Sadly there are more who should have read statements but didn’t.  Since debate on the budget was stifled through parliamentary procedure, the commission spent more time reading conflict of interest statements than it did voting on the main motion adopting the annual budget.

Obtaining information
The public should know how difficult it can be at times to obtain information to make informed decisions.  Some are quick to provide information while others are not.

During the budget process I met with the Finance Director Randy Vineyard.  While I have been critical of his withholding information and not giving me a straight answer in the past, he actually was quite accommodating during the budget process.  He hired a new lady, Angelie Shankle, who took my questions and got answers to me promptly.  There is another lady in Accounting named Susan Gennoe who quickly works to get answers.  Both of these ladies have pleasant demeanors and based on my experiences with them appear to be doing their jobs well.

Troy Logan, Finance Director for the Schools, has always given me straight answers.  I met with him and he provided me with everything that I asked for.

Last year when I asked for information about the jail John Adams and Jeff French were quick to provide me with information.  The budget process with the Sheriff’s Office was not a pleasant experience.  Marian O’Briant, the PR person for the Sheriff’s Office attacked me multiple times, was slow to respond and told me that she was getting paid overtime to write me a short email that didn’t answer my questions.  The Sheriff’s Office doesn’t need a PR person.  Upper management is paid well and could answer media questions.

I never received the complete breakdown of the compensation from the Evergreen study that I asked for.  The study was incomplete, inadequate and it was a hasty decision for the commission to act on the study.  It was my intention to propose an alternative pay option for deputies in the Sheriff’s Office instead of using an unfinished study to base pay raises on.  15 minutes prior to the start of the Commission meeting, I was given a tiny portion of the information that I had asked for.  It was not broken down into the categories necessary to propose the alternative pay option making it impossible for me to propose an alternate solution.

Employees to be paid above average wages based on unfinished study

The pay recommendations of the Evergreen study are not based on merit.  Furthermore, county employees will be paid above average wages.

The story told me about the need for the study is that county officials got together and decided that they wanted to pay “competitive” wages.  An economist friend of mine pointed out that many positions in government aren’t competitive because they don’t compete in a free market, with the only competition being between surrounding governments.  He said that the more accurate description is that that the study would look at paying similar or better wages.

The officials looked at paying better wages that are above average.  Officials didn’t look to bring wages to average based on the 50th percentile.  The study was based on a pay scale of the 60th percentile of pay.  That would be reasonable if Blount County had a robust economy but it doesn’t.

The ET Index shows that Blount County is the only county in the eight county region where pay has actually dropped .5% after inflation.  Blount County is tied for the biggest drop in median household income at 15%, and is about $7,000 less than it was in 2000.  This type of economic environment is not conducive to a big tax increase.  The people of Blount County are living on substantially less and will now be forced to live on even less thanks to the big property tax increase.  Office holders should have looked harder to control spending and make pay more equitable.  Pay raises based on the 50th percentile or my alternative proposal that I wasn’t able to make because of the lack of information provided would have been more reasonable.  Government often lacks reason in the way it approaches problems.

The Evergreen study still has the word draft stamped on it but the FY 16 budget was built around the draft which only contained 3 of the 5 chapters that will be available in the final report.  No one would run a business this way if they wanted to stay in business and it is embarrassing to see the county run this way.

Fear mongering and Sheriff’s political playbook
Several people wrote me about their displeasure with the head of the library using their email addresses to solicit support for the tax increase.  The fear mongering worked on some because I got a few emails telling me to support raising taxes because of the library.  Overall, people saw through it and weren’t happy about the situation.

Every couple of years the Sheriff drags out his playbook and we go through the same predictable procedure of hearing about the lowest paid deputies.  This tugs on heart strings causing some to be willing to support a tax increase without knowing how much of a pay gap exists within government departments and offices.  The state sets minimum salaries for office holders, which are much higher than they should be but the county is compelled by law to pay those salaries.

This commission can raise the salaries above the state minimum for some office holders and it did that in FY15.  The Sheriff makes about the cost of an entire deputy salary above the state minimum.  He has no credibility talking about how much he cares about the deputies.  Actions speak louder than words.  He could have given this money to his employees but chose not to.  The same is true for Tom Hatcher, Bill Dunlap and Ed Mitchell.

My motion to the cut the salaries of these elected officials failed 4-16-1.  Commissioners Akard, Daly, Miller and I voted to cut their salaries.  Shawn Carter abstained.  The rest voted no.

Probation Services is projected to lose money in the new budget year
The political machine has bragged for several years that Probation Services makes money for the county.  It’s not a lot of money but Probation has usually been revenue positive, leaving more in the general fund than was spent administer the service.  However, that seems to coming to an end.  The approved budget for FY 16 projects that Probation Services will actually lose about $2,200.

Notice the budgeted increase in pay for the Administrator position.  More on that later.

Fund/Cost Center Title FY 14 FY 15 FY 16
105 Administrator $57,250 $65,000 $65,462
53910 Probation Services $504,783 $606,563 $624,482
43393 Fees Probation $607,026 $657,245 $622,250

Schools get a big increase in local revenue
Blount County Schools will see a huge increase in local revenue.  The sales tax increase last year will result in $2 million in increased revenue.  The creation of a Capital Educations Projects fund will result in about a $1.27 million increase funded by a 4 cent property tax increase.  State funding for the schools will be about the same as it was last year because the school population is up only slightly.

The sales tax increase was promoted to the public to be used to fund the purchase of textbooks, technology and infrastructure improvements.  The schools will getting about $1.27 million earmarked for infrastructure improvements.  A recent article in the paper shows that the majority of the $2 million from the sales tax increase will go to increased compensation rather than textbooks and technology.  Thus, we may hear the same old stories next year about there being no money for textbooks and computers.

I recently learned about a book keeper who has been with the schools for over 40 years.  She makes less than the part time PR person employed by the schools.  It was upsetting to read in the paper that the increase will be used to make a part time PR position full time.  This is definitely not a priority item over textbooks and computers.  I’ve asked for a breakdown of the school budget to see exactly how much is going to be spent on technology and textbooks and waiting for that response.

Several teachers voted no on giving the schools a million dollars.  A motion was made to cut $1 million from the economic development budget leaving it with about $62,000 since there is little accountability to the taxpayers.  Commissioners Akard, Archer, Carter, Daly, Miller and Monroe voted yes.  Commissioners Cole and Farmer abstained.  The rest voted yes.  Commissioners Grady Caskey, Dodd Crowe and Tom Stinnett, all teachers, voted no on giving the schools the money and allowing the unaccountability of this taxpayer money to continue.

The Blount Partnership is a private entity and Bryan Daniels denied my request for their budget.  However, it consists of many of the same people involved with the Industrial Development Board (IDB) and the Chamber of Commerce.  Apparently the IDB can go out and make promises to private business and hand the taxpayers the bill.  The commission doesn’t vote on these deals/promises made to private business and we are often not even informed what type of deals/promises are made.  It is absolutely wrong to allow a board to go out and promise taxpayer money to private businesses and then levy a tax on your home to pay for it.  Furthermore, some of these same people are involved with the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority which is another unaccountable use of taxpayer money.

Budget
There is much more to say about the budget but I will stop here because this report is approaching a treatise.

Grant policy routinely violated
Office holders and department heads have repeatedly shown that the authority of the commission means nothing to them.  The commission is expected to rubber stamp grants and not ask questions.  The Chairman, Jerome Moon, tried to stop me from asking questions at the Commission meeting because I had asked questions at the Agenda meeting.  After the Agenda meeting, I did some homework and came prepared with questions to ask at the Commission meeting.  Apparently the Chairman doesn’t think you should actually do your job as a County Commissioner by researching matters and coming prepared with questions. What’s the point of having a meeting if you aren’t going to do your homework and come prepared to discuss the items on the agenda?

The deadline to apply for nearly every grant that the commission is asked to vote on has already passed before being brought to the commission.  Explanations are never given unless I ask why.  The Budget Committee never asks why the grants aren’t presented in a timely manner.  When I asked Jeff French why the deadline for the grant request from the Sheriff’s Office had already passed, he told me he didn’t know.  His name is listed as the reporting person.  See page 48.

The grant from the Facilities Coordinator, under the Mayor, didn’t even have a grant worksheet with the request in the Budget Committee and Agenda Committee meetings.  It only appeared in the Commission meeting packet after I pointed this out at the Agenda meeting.

While I was begrudgingly allowed to ask some questions about the energy efficiency grant for court house building improvements, I wasn’t able to ask everything.  When my questioning revealed that the county had already received the grant, without any commission oversight, knowledge or inclusion on the matter, the Chairman asked Commissioner Farmer to amend his motion to ratify the grant rather than to approve the worksheet to apply for the grant.  I had my light on to be recognized to speak to ask further questions but the Chairman turned it off.  I then asked if we were only voting on the amendment.  Chairman Moon shook his head yes in answer to my question.  After voting on the amendment, the Chairman proceeded on to the next Agenda item when we hadn’t even voted on the main motion, just the amendment.

I still had questions about how the county would benefit from energy efficiency in replacing the windows when the grant application said it would take over 179 years for the energy cost savings to be more than the cost of the windows.  See page 62 for the payback period.

RAC2 district created
The Commission voted to create what will eventually be a special new zone.  The wording is tricky saying that it isn’t creating a zone but it allows for it in the future and the effect is to allow special development privileges for a handful of properties.

“This section does not amend the Zoning Map, nor zone nor rezone any land to RAC2, but only identifies limits to location for any land that may in the future be zoned RAC2.”

This request morphed into nothing more than a crony deal for an office holder to develop his land when the rest of us can’t.  The matter has been the subject of discussion since 2013 in the Planning Commission.  It would have been quicker and simpler to have just sent the commission the crony deal to start with since the good ole’ boys get what they wanted.

Why do we have zoning regulations when anyone who is politically connected can get them amended to do what they want?  Zoning has become a tool of the politically connected to develop their land while squashing competition.  Unfortunately, some “conservationists” go along with this as those it’s a good thing for our community to create laws and regulations with special favors for the politically connected few while discriminating against everyone else.

Only Commissioners Akard, Cole, Daly, Miller and Monroe voted against this crony deal.  The rest took care of a political office holder while discriminating against you.

Blount County Corrections Partnership
The Corrections Partnership heard from Bob Bass of the Tennessee Corrections Institute.  He previously asked to speak to the Partnership about what he does in other counties, leading me to believe that he was going to offer solutions to reduce jail overcrowding.  He offered none.  His presentation was on the role of the jail and did not address how to reduce the overcrowding problem.

The only person to ask any questions was me.  I asked him what the TCI’s position was on keeping federal inmates when the jail is overcrowded.  He said the TCI doesn’t have a position.

After the meeting, it became apparent to me after further discussion with the people from the TCI that they want the county to build a new jail pod.  The inspector told me that work programs don’t work and the ILPP report didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know.  Actually the jail the report told me several disturbing things about our criminal justice system that I didn’t know.  It was the TCI presentation that didn’t tell me anything that I don’t already know.

A member of the community shared with me that the Sheriff didn’t get what he wanted in the jail study so he is trying to get what he wants out of the state, which is a position that the jail should be expanded.  Unfortunately I am afraid that this person is right.

There are people who need to be in jail.  However, I have heard from people in a variety of situations who should not be in jail.  There are numerous factors to the jail overcrowding.  The jail study addresses several of those factors.

One factor that would quickly reduce the number of inmates is to stop taking federal prisoners.  The ILPP study that the Mayor and Sheriff don’t want to talk about in public says that we lose money on federal prisoners.  The Mayor went so far as to threaten filing a frivolous lawsuit.  Where is that lawsuit Mayor?

There is genuine fear in the community about speaking out about the Sheriff, the judges and the condition of the jail.  People share their stories with me but won’t go public for fear of retaliation against them or their loved ones.  It makes my job of advocating for meaningful reform more difficult because people won’t share their stories with the public.  Couple the fear with a Sheriff who wants to expand political power with a bigger jail, and Mayor who has bowed to the Sheriff and some judges who can’t handle criticism and you have a mess.

The jail overcrowding is a multilayered problem.  One big layer of the problem that can be peeled off is the optional practice of keeping federal inmates.  For those of you who aren’t afraid of the Sheriff, tell him that you don’t want the county to keep federal inmates any longer.  His email address is jlb@bcso.com and his phone number is 273-5000.

Role of government
One thing that emerged during budget discussions with the people of my district is what the role of government should be.  I had several people telling me that they are tired of paying taxes for services that they don’t use.  People are tired of paying for the schools, library and parks when they don’t use them.  Others told me that they are tired of having to pay fees to use these three, when they are already paying taxes on them.  Theselegitament points are frequently buried and not fully vetted in debate about taxes.

People complained to me about the schools always saying that they never get enough money.  Others expressed to me that they aren’t happy with upper management making big salaries.  Others homeschooling or sending their kids to private school feel that they shouldn’t pay taxes for public education when they pay for their kids education.

People complained to me about having to pay for the library when they don’t use it.  Others told me that they love the library and would pay more taxes for it.  Others said that they find the fees that the library charges to use meeting rooms ridiculous when they pay taxes for the library.

People complained to me that they are tried of paying taxes for Parks and Rec when they charges big fees for summer time activities.

These are all legitimate points worthy of discussion, not suppression and emotional, libelous branding of the people who make them.  Should people pay taxes for services that they don’t use?  Some County Offices are fee offices like the County Clerk’s Office and the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.  They are funded by fees rather than taxes.  Should services like the library and Parks and Rec be funded by fees from the people who use them, rather than taxing the homes of people who don’t use them?  Some people certainly think so.

Media coverage
People regularly send me emails asking why the media doesn’t cover more local government issues.  They also complain to me about media bias favoring the good ole’ boys.

One person commented about the paper in Knox County offering a more balanced approach to the coverage of deputy pay while the local paper ran several puff pieces in support of the Sheriff’s Office.  Others have complained to me about the editorials always supporting Senators Doug Overbey, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.

The best place to address these concerns are with local media sources although I did publish some of what was sent to me here.

Up next
County Revenue Commissioners.  This is an old statute still on the books that I found that could bring some transparency and accountability to a local government that lacks an Audit Committee.  Newly elected Commissioners in multiple counties are trying to revive the positions since Audit Committees are optional unless the Comptroller requires one and even then an Audit Committee may do nothing.  The Comptroller is talking about having it repealed since they enjoy being in charge.  Tell your state elected officials that a fully functioning Audit Committee should be required or the County Revenue Commissioners law should stay.

Question for the people of Blount County
Each month I spend a great deal of time writing lengthy detailed commission reports.  One of my campaign promises included writing commission reports and I will continue to keep that promise.  Do you want the reports to continue to be as detailed as they are now?  Or would shorter reports suffice?

Dear Tennessee Legislators: Your anti-Common Core bills aren’t worth the paper they are written on

2013-02-27 19.31.04

Source: http://www.wjle.com/news/2014/governor-greeted-protests-over-education-standards-tennessee-view-videos-here

By Eric Holcombe
I wish it wasn’t so. There are several bills before the education committees of varying potential effectiveness to close the gaping wounds of Common Core caused by the state’s fraudulent end-around of the voters with the Race To The Top (RTTT) application. However, the Republican “leadership” just isn’t interested in some of these bills. See, Governor Haslam has a direct conflict of interest as a board member of Achieve Inc, the Washington D.C. corporation that received (still receives?) millions from Bill Gates, and the “project manager” for PARCC, the no-bid testing body created with RTTT money. His appointed commissioner of education, Kevin Huffman is on the board of PARCC so he too has a direct conflict of interest in altering Common Core or the mandatory online data mining of your children. He is also a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the other Washington D.C. corporation that received millions from Bill Gates. Plus our state attorney general Bob Cooper, who is appointed by the illegally “selected” judges in our unconstitutional “Tennessee Plan”,  is a signatory to the RTTT application that committed us to Common Core and the data-mining and also cannot afford to admit any fault in the claims made therein. So any bills that would seriously challenge Common Core “state” Standards or the desires of the federal government (but I repeat myself) will earn a quick “opinion” from the AG that we are being “unconstitutional” or that we shouldn’t dare challenge our federal overlords or some such poppycock his office is known for when it comes to anything remotely 10th Amendment related. Some bills just don’t have a chance – like SB2405/HB2332 by Beavers and Womick that would simply stop Common Core, or SB1469/HB1705 by Gresham and Faison that while it doesn’t really stop PARCC, it does limit the bizarre data-mining of children that the U.S. government has already suggested it wants to do. Unfortunately, this bill appeals to the data-gathering privacy limits imposed by FERPA, which Obama has already gutted by executive order because this was necessary since the PARCC/SBAC data-mining and subsequent 3rd party sale of your children’s privacy was already illegal under federal law. Rep. Rick Womick appears to be protesting the “leadership” gatekeepers of the “acceptable” bills just a bit here:

Other bills are simply too weak and would do nothing substantive to correct the error of RTTT and the obvious corruption in the state board of education and executive branch that brought it to us. The only bill that has progressed is SB1835/HB1549 by Gresham/Dunn (see amendments) which does nothing about the existing Common Core standards for English Language Arts or Mathematics, but only the adoption of future standards for science, social studies, health and sex education – which will still be done after the state board of education simply puts it on their website for 60 days. And believe me, it will happen. Because they want their sugar daddy money from the fed. This bill has the possibility of shutting out PARCC from TN, but again, we will be doing mandatory online testing for Common Core with somebody – because this bill does nothing about the existing tar baby we are attached to. But none of the bills will work anyway. Why? Because Obama is making our allegedly “state-led” standards mandatory as part of his federal education budget:

As Neil McCluskey from the Cato Institute explains:   “The big story in the proposal is – or, at least, should be – that the president almost certainly wants to make the Core permanent by attaching annual federal funding to its use, and to performance on related tests. Just as the administration called for in its 2010 NCLB reauthorization proposal, POTUS wants to employ more than a one-time program, or temporary waivers, to impose “college and career-ready standards,” which–thanks to RTTT and waivers–is essentially synonymous with Common Core. In fact, President Obama proposes changing Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – of which NCLB is just the most recent reauthorization – to a program called “College- and Career-Ready Students,” with an annual appropriation of over $14 billion.

This was utterly predictable. Core opponents, who are so often smeared as conspiracy mongers, know full well both what the President has proposed in the past, and how government accumulates power over time. RTTT was the foot in the door, and once most states were using the same standards and tests, there was little question what Washington would eventually say: “Since everyone’s using the same tests and standards anyway, might as well make federal policy based on that.”

Don’t worry, we have “Conservative Republicans” Bailout Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander (and his campaign manager Jimmy Duncan) watching our backs right? Maybe Doug Overbey and Brian Kelsey can tell you that I am all worked up about a problem that doesn’t exist yet…

So Bob Cooper (at “leadership” urging for opinions) will shoot down ANY of your bills – not that both houses wouldn’t just return to their RTTT vomit once they feared loss of the sugar daddy money (Yes, I noted the hand-wringing of Charlotte Burks last week).  Our executive branch and the necessary appointees are bought and paid for. The people lose.

My prediction: Tennessee will pimp your children some more for that almighty federal dollar. The names of the “standards” may change, as other states have already attempted to rebrand the BS into bovine scat, but it still smells the same.

It’s time to put the 10th Amendment pants on….if you have any. Or maybe borrow Sen. Ramsey’s boots. He doesn’t seem to be using them. I hope you have the courage to do so.

 

Commission passes election year County employee bribe bonuses, another sales tax referendum & more spending increases

Here’s a humorous, while direct  letter to the editor on the employee bonuses.

Item F6 took an interesting turn when Commission Jim Folts pointed out that there was no such parcel of land on the State Comptroller’s website maps.  Commissioner Burkhalter, who is running for Juvenile Judge, tabled the motion, only to bring it back up at the end and claim that he had found the parcel on the State’s website.  Then the County Purchasing Agent, Theresa Johnson, said that the parcel number was a typo, that the parcel number is 062.25 not 062.65.  This made Burkhalter look bad, because he claimed he found something that didn’t exist and said he needed to abstain after misreading the State’s website.  That wasn’t the only problem.  Commissioner Ron French inquired what the last Assessor’s appraised value was.  It was $150,400 in 2010, about half of what the resolution authorized purchasing the land for.  More waste from the Sheriff’s Dept.  The matter was tabled again.  This issue will likely be back.

Commissioner Folts, tried to find out what happened to the wrecked Animal Control vehicle, budget increase item F3.  A man in the audience said he knew, but he was not recognized and the Commission passed the purchase of a new vehicle at $24,295, without learning where the wrecked vehicle is.

Today’s article in The Daily Times does a decent job of reporting on part of the meeting.  The one thing that doesn’t come across in the context that it was spoken was Karen Miller’s statement about using the children as an excuse for tax increases.  She is very much concerned about the children and the people of Blount County.  If you want the full story, listen to her comments at the Commission meeting last night, here online.

Candidate comments for the orders of the evening.

Good evening Mr. Chairman.  What a beautiful day.  After you weather the storm, out comes the beautiful sunshine.  The people of Blount County have been weathering a storm on the level of a tornado bearing the burden of $221 million in debt. Tonight you have the opportunity to let the good people of this County to see a little glimmer of sunshine by rejecting this bribe called a bonus.

This bonus is about buying votes. Furthermore, it treats all employees the same, regardless of merit. Communism offers the same pay, regardless of effort.  Is that what you want for Blount County? Show the people of Blount County a ray of sunshine by sending all the turn back money to the rainy day fund to weather another storm or better yet, pay down some of this County’s astronomical debt.

Secondly, item F6, approving the purchase of 4 acres of land for $300,000.  Does this land contain gold or oil on it?  Why would anyone in their right mind spend $300 grand on 4 acres, unless it was sitting on a gold mine?

There are more problems with tonight’s agenda than I can cover in 3 minutes, so I’ll finish with item F8, increasing the sales tax.  Haven’t we been there and done that already, multiple times?  Didn’t this Commission waste $80,000 last year on a wheel tax referendum?  Einstein is credited with saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  The people have spoken several times already.  Enough is enough.

Vote down all these spending increases on the agenda tonight and you won’t need a sales tax increase.  Then Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, the people of Blount County will finally be able to see a ray of sunshine.

Tona Monroe Candidate for Commission District 7 Seat B

 

Hey there, my name is Douglas Benton from Alcoa and after reading the paper on Feb 2, about the “GRAND REWARD”, I became…well, sad and disgusted.

I am old now…and looking back, there are lots of things I would do different.  There are lots of things I did that were against the law, and thank goodness, I never got caught and went to jail.  I have told my share of lies…hidden the truth from people…spun a story in a certain way.  These things I wish I could change.   Do you ever feel that way?  When you are young…you really don’t understand how you are hurting the other person or people…but you know why.  Those lies are important now.  Every night, when I lay my head on my pillow, I think about what happened that day and re-evaluate the decisions I made.  Do you all ever do that?  YOU SHOULD !!!

You are NOT telling the taxpayers that WE are ~208 MILLION dollars IN DEBT.  YOU ARE LYING TO THE TAXPAYERS !!!  Does that bother you?  Are you grown-up enough where the LIES start to bother you?

I have been coming to these meetings for a couple of years now and I watch a couple of concerned citizens come before you and express their opinion…and then, you vote the way you want…without thinking about what the people want.  Why do you think they voted you here?…because they trust you to make the RIGHT decision.  The truth is…you don’t care.

BlountCounty employees earn a good living…paid for by the taxpayers.  They get a CADILLAC health plan that cost us TAXPAYERS “900 and something dollars a month per employee”…Mr. Vinyard couldn’t even give me a correct dollar amount last week in the Budget Meeting.  To me, that is a GIFT…THAT KEEPS ON GIVING !!!!  I don’t know anyone, in the private sector that is paying $25/month for their health plan.  And with this governmental takeover of our healthcare system…Obamacare…everyone I know is paying double and some are paying triple for their plan.  A friend of ours came in from Los   Angeles on Wednesday, and we started talking about Obamacare…and he told me that his plan WAS $316/month with a $1k deductible and no copay…now it is $1,367/month with a $9k deductible and a $50 co-pay.  “If you like your health plan…you can keep it” .   Obummer also said that every family would save around $2,500/year on their health plans.  These are the biggest lies of the century!

Did he learn to lie from you all or did you learn to lie from him.  No one trusts you all to do the right thing…that’s why they don’t come to these meetings.  They hate watching liers!!!

Mayor Mitchell, why DIDN’T you put in the article that BlountCounty was ~208 MILLION dollars in debt…instead of having them print “This resulted in a $2.3 million turn back from appropriations in the general fund” and “according to the state Comptroller’s Office’s audit, the county ended fiscal year 2012-2013 with an $11.4 million fund balance”.    Talk about spinning some BULL.    I AM VERY ANGRY NOW!!!    WE ARE AROUND 208 MILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT AND YOU WANT TO GIVE AWAY ANOTHER 543 THOUSAND DOLLARS OF MY MONEY…FOR WHAT???…FOR VOTES???? STOP GIVING AWAY OUR MONEY!

Douglas Benton Candidate for Commission District 2 Seat B

Douglas Benton’s comments off the agenda

I knew you would pass the $543 thousand dollar “GIFT”.  That’s why we call you the “bobbing heads of Blount County”…you can’t say no.  Mr. Mayor, here you go again, giving away our money.  A couple of months ago you were going to give the Park Service a chunk of our money for the government shutdown…and you didn’t even have the Commission’s approval…now you have given away ½ million dollars of the taxpayers money to buy votes from the employees of Blount County.  If you want to give them a gift…pull out your wallet.

I can’t wait for the Property Tax increase coming next year.  You are going to whine and say “its for the kids”…or “we’re going to have to lay off thousands of employees”…or something ridiculous like that.  I wish it was a law that you had to let the citizens vote on every expenditure over $25 thousand dollars.  That might stop you spending our BORROWED money…that you don’t have.  Or did you forget that we are ~208 MILLION dollars in debt?   And Mr. Vineyard….DEBT IS DEBT !!!!!!!!!

Common Core “state” Standards – Whodunit Part 1

by Eric Holcombe

As the Tennessee Senate Education Committee meets this week for a “fact-finding” session on the Common Core “state” Standards, I thought it was important to show you where these came from, who approved and lobbied for them at the state level and who should have a good memory about what they are and where they came from.

The “official” story we have been given is that the Common Core “state” Standards are a “state-led” initiative and originated through the work of a small number of state governors (including Phil Bredesen) via the National Governors Association (NGA); that they are internationally benchmarked academic standards for Math and English Language Arts (ELA) only; that these are “proven” and “rigorous” standards;  and that they apply to the P-20 years (meaning pre-Kingergarten to four years post college graduation). I have previously shown how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spent hundreds of millions of dollars influencing the creation and implementation of these standards and that federal taxpayer funds were used as a bribe in the Race To The Top (RTTT), a.k.a. Race To The Trough, initiative to force acceptance of the Common Core “state” Standards on the states in order to have any chance of receiving the federal money. In this post, I will introduce you to Tennessee’s application for RTTT and point out some key promises made in that application and more importantly WHEN those promises were made and exactly WHO made the promises. Future posts will explore some of the interesting players in the application that endorsed the idea of committing all the public schools in the state to the Common Core “state” Standards upon the condition of receiving federal money.

After you see some of this information and the players involved, you will like me be scratching your head at the idea that the state legislature needs to have a “fact-finding” meeting about Common Core or what is in it. The RTTT application is a lengthy document comprised of 264 pages that has seven appendices which include an additional 847 pages. The total application contains 1111 pages. At the time of this writing, the state Department of Education still has the documents on their website here. The RTTT application is dated January 18, 2010. The RTTT application deadline date set by the U.S. Department of Education was January 19, 2010. This date is important because of the testimony of Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the ELA expert on the Common Core Validation Committee:

“The deadline for producing a good draft of the college-readiness and grade-level ELA (and mathematics) standards was before January 19, 2010, the date the U.S. Department of Education had set for state applications to indicate a commitment to adopting the standards to qualify for Race to the Top grants. But the draft sent to state departments of education in early January was so poorly written and content-deficient that CCSSI had to delay releasing a public comment draft until March. The language in the March version had been cleaned up somewhat, but the draft was not much better in organization or substance – the result of unqualified drafters working with undue haste and untouchable premises. None of the public feedback to the March draft has ever been made available. The final version released in June 2010 contained most of the problems apparent in the first draft: lack of rigor (especially in the secondary standards), minimal content, lack of international benchmarking, lack of research support. In February 2010, I and presumably all other members of the VC received a “letter of certification” from the CCSSI staff for signing off on Common Core’s standards (even though the public comment draft wasn’t released until March 2010 and the final version wasn’t released until June).”

This is important because the people who signed off on this application and wrote letters of endorsement/encouragement and signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to the promises made in the application did so without even knowing what the Common Core “state” Standards were yet. At best, assuming the “poorly written, content-deficient” draft was available January 4, 2010, in a two-week span this 1111 pages was assembled along with many rubber-stamp letters of endorsement. Some of those were even made in December of 2009. We, the public, are told in the “official” story that this effort is “state-led”, that allegedly this is something we the people must have asked our state leaders for, yet, there was not even a public-comment draft of the Common Core “state” Standards available until two months after the state of Tennessee committed to them. So who made that commitment that the public didn’t ask for?

Here is the RTTT application (less appendices):

Race To The Trough Application by horbunce

You will find the signatory parties to the application on pages 2 and 3 of the pdf. They are: Governor Phil Bredesen, “Chief State School Officer” Timothy Webb (the former Lewis County School superintendent and deputy education commissioner that was appointed to Commissioner of Education by Bredesen), the President of the State Board of Education, B. Fielding Rolston (also appointed by the Executive branch and confirmed by the legislature), and the TN State Attorney General, Bob Cooper (appointed by the TN State Supreme Court judges, who are illegally selected by the governor contrary to our state constitution). This “Chief State School Officer” language is not used by the state of Tennessee, but is a federal term referring to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which is one of the parties paid multi-millions by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over recent years in Common Core implementation “encouragement”.

Beginning on page 10, there is a nice “imagine” story about a utopian public education system that would exist if only we had enough money. Some interesting quotes from that section:

page 11:“Two years ago, the American Diploma Project established the framework in our state for a public education system that is truly focused on college- and career-readiness. Today,
because of his powerful commitment and Tennessee’s extraordinary progress, Governor Bredesen is the national co-chair of Achieve, which leads the Diploma Project.

The Diploma Project was another program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Achieve Inc. was given over $12.6 million for this purpose in 2008. As I have written before, Bredesen out, Haslam in at the board of Achieve Inc. and the Gates money kept rolling in. I would like to know why our governors felt it necessary to be on the board of a Washington D.C. company that wasn’t part of creating these “state-led” standards and yet it is a bragging point in our application to get federal money which, if we receive, we will then implement the Common Core “state” Standards.

 

page 12:

“To demonstrate our commitment to the Race to the Top philosophy — and to meet President Obama and Secretary Duncan’s bold challenge for transforming public education in America — Tennessee is responding in a comprehensive and bipartisan manner.”

Wait a minute, shouldn’t this say something more like, let us states show you the “state-led” standards we have already created and are implementing? I thought the federal government had nothing to do with this…

Last week, Governor Bredesen, Democrat and Republican lawmakers, the State Board of Education, the Tennessee Education Association, school districts, business groups, and child advocates joined together in the State Capitol for an extraordinary session of the legislature in order to focus the total energy and will of government on the single task of improving education. The result? Lawmakers enacted the most sweeping set of education reform measures in a generation – the Tennessee First to the Top Act of 2010.”

This piece of legislation (Senate Bill 5), along with the Complete College of Tennessee Act of 2010 (Senate Bill 6) were both passed in special session. The Tennessee First to the Top Act of 2010 is also contained within the RTTP application in Appendix E (p. 16). It was passed on January 15 and signed by Governor Bredesen on January 16, 2010.  Judging by the name of the bill, apparently they may have known they would be “first” ahead of time and awarded Round 1 RTTT money. The Complete College of Tennessee Act of 2010 was passed the next week on January 21 and signed by Governor Bredesen on January 26, 2010. These bills amount to the education “reforms” that were passed by the Tennessee Legislature dealing with a litany of things: charter schools, teacher evaluations and merit pay, achievement school districts and otherwise laying the foundation required to implement the Common Core “state” Standards in order to keep the promises made in the application for the federal taxpayer funds. Much has been made of charters and teacher evaluations, but you didn’t hear much about those “state-led” standards that we allegedly were asking for.

In fact, this application includes a letter of support from all seven Democrat and Republican candidates for governor – a show of bipartisan support that ensures our application will be carried out no matter who holds the governor’s office.

This is true and in a future post I will highlight the candidates for governor along with other elected and unelected officials that committed to enforcing Common Core on the state. Notice that only the Big Two parties are invited. Apparently they also know in advance that no one else will be elected as governor. More importantly, it proves this is not an R vs. D issue. They are both involved in the federal takeover of public education. Neither private political party will step up to rescue you, because they are both in on the game.

In the next post, we will see whom else had committed to these standards without being able to review them as well as the specific promises to implement the Common Core “state” Standards within Race To the Top.

Don’t Yield an Inch

I considered posting about former FBI agent Tim Clemente’s “Welcome to America” comment some time ago, and I believe that Greenwald’s writing has since possibly opened the door for other people captive in the federal government to find a place they could vent to. This attempt to use the FBI-handled Tsarnaev brothers, who for some reason the FBI produced photos and needed our “help” in identifying despite that they had investigated at least the older brother two years ago, to push for even more unconstitutional invasion of privacy has backfired. Even in their press releases, the FBI admits that on request of a yet unidentified “foreign government”, they “checked U.S. government databases and other information to look for such things as derogatory telephone communications, possible use of online sites associated with the promotion of radical activity, associations with other persons of interest, travel history and plans, and education history.” of the older brother in 2011 (and then for some reason completely forgot who he was and needed your help for I.D.). I guess there must be a warrant out there somewhere signed by a federal judge allowing them to inspect all these things on hearsay from a yet unidentified “foreign government”, right (see video testimony of NSA director Keith Alexander below)?

When the most recent NSA/IRS/FBI/DHS/etc. alphabet soup scandals were breaking, I thought we might get some interesting tap dancing by both Republicans and Democrats who have in fact voted repeatedly to violate their oaths to uphold the U.S. Constitution and are the conspirators against the American people that instigated these actions. The fact is that every one of them that voted for the “Patriot” Act, any of its extensions, FISA or any of its extensions MADE IT ALL POSSIBLE AND “LEGAL”.

Take a look here for voting records on your favorite Democrats and Republicans on at least the “Patriot” Act, its renewals and the FISA extensions. They made it possible for the federal spooks to say “I’m just doing my job”. Note that unfortunately every single sitting Tennessee Representative and Senator except for Steve Cohen share the blame.

Bailout Bob Corker is first out of the gate with this:

 

Really? MOST of us had no idea Bob? MOST of us don’t get to vote. That is why you were elected. Most of us understand the language of the 4th Amendment. I don’t suppose we will be getting the “In Case You Missed It – Bailout Bob forgot his voting record (again)” email, so here, let me provide it for you. The president doesn’t pass legislation – you do. He signs illegal and unconstitutional executive orders and you fund them. I guess you can blame Obama for that.

What I am looking for is something more like this:

But then there are very few in Congress that can make these statements with a clear conscience. The vast majority are guilty of conspiring against current and future innocent Americans. And of course, the government spooks enabled by the elected representatives are liars too. Check out this exchange with Rep. Hank Johnson and Director of NSA Keith Alexander from last year:

You might dismiss Rep. Johnson because you are probably familiar with his stupid questions regarding the island of Guam “tipping over”. So what is this? Some kind of game – get Johnson on there, he won’t ask hard stuff? Or is it the Bill Clinton School on Public Speaking, where somehow the NSA isn’t lying to you, they are giving you the “least untruthful answer”? Which is it? The NSA does not and cannot do this and the FBI is the lead spook on American soil, or that the NSA can do it with a warrant? Remember the NSA is part of the defense department. Federal troops policing the citizens is prohibited by Posse Comitatus. Our Congress hasn’t declared war since 1942. This isn’t “emergency war power” time.

Knox News Spins Legislators Involvement in Pigeon Forge Liquor

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2013/jan/20/pigeon-forge-to-hold-fourth-liquor-vote-in-four/

It appears that the Knoxville News Sentinel is doing it’s best to cover for the legislators involvement in ram-rodding another liquor by the drink referendum on the voters of Pigeon Forge, after being rejected twice before.  The Knoxville News Sentinel has endorsed the legislators involved, so they are hardly an unbiased source.

In their endorsement of Ryan Haynes:

“Haynes has served only two terms but is making a mark for himself as a legislative leader. Haynes is disdainful of some of the more frivolous bills that created distractions during the last session and wants to build on education and tax reform begun by Gov. Bill Haslam.”

Leader of what?  The corrupt good ole boys club who seeks to circumvent the will of the voters?  His leadership must be appreciated by Speaker Beth Harwell, who made Haynes Chairman of the State Government Committee.  Rep. Bob Ramsey serves on that Committee as well.

Where’s the respect for the voters?

The article quotes Overbey saying, “I had no objection to an early referendum, provided that the local governmental body (was in favor).”  He also said he would sponsor it had he been asked in a timely manner.  This is very revealing about Overbey, because he is saying that he doesn’t care what the voters of Pigeon Forge want, just the local government.  He was elected to represent the people, not Pigeon Forge government.

Caption Bill

From the article:

After the city’s letter was written, Overbey and Montgomery turned to Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville, who had a relevant “caption bill” on file that could be amended to handle what the city was asking for.

Commenter Privileged Tax calls out Knox News and the good ole boys for failing to report the facts instead of parroting the comments from the good ole boy legislators.

Riiiiight. Except the bill history for HB1171 shows that the sponsor changed to Ryan Haynes on 01/11/12 – it wasn’t “his caption bill” until then. Note that almost a month later (Feb. 5 or 6)the Mountain Press published an article where Montgomery, Haynes, Wear and Ken Maples all denied the presence of a bill and/or even lobbying for one. So, if the original Belle Island-only special legislation is just a fairy tale and never went anywhere, why did Ryan Haynes make the change to be the sponsor of HB1171 before he was asked to – you know some time later in March when the City wrote the letter to Overbey and Montgomery and Swann?

Overbey claims he wasn’t contacted in time? Gee, it seems that Bill Ketron, Bob Ramsey and Ken Yager were contacted in time to write amendment #1 to Ryan’s bill. Bill Ketron claims on video discussion of the bill that he has a letter from the City Manager and Mayor Wear asking for the illegal referendum. Why did they write to Bill Ketron? If the letter was to Doug, why did he give it to Bill Ketron? And Bob Ramsey…and Ken Yager? Why didn’t “legal” recognize the obvious violation of state law in holding the referendum in less than two years from the last one? Did “legal” not review this bill or was it ignored?

Read that amendment. Note how ambiguous it is. They were counting on no sunshine.

If Hayne’s newely adopted bill was a “caption bill”, then why was it repeatedly put on the calender each week until Ramsey’s amendment?

What day in March did Pigeon Forge write a letter to Overbey, Montgomery and Swann?  Haynes said he was never contacted by Pigeon Forge.  Why did Bill Ketron have a letter, but not Haynes who moved the House side of the legislation before Ketron?

Rep. Bob Ramsey was ready with his amendment in March.  Did he receive a letter from Pigeon Forge?  Why didn’t Montgomery or Swann sponsor the Pigeon Forge liquor by the drink amendment if they were the ones who received letters?

The Knox News Sentinel endorse all those good ole boys as well.  Guess Knox News is right, Ramsey has earned another “stint”, after carrying the water for Montgomery and Swann.  Speaker Harwell rewarded Ramsey with Chairmanship of the House Health Committee.

It’s not a good system, but it’s the way we do it.”  Looks like the Knoxville News Sentinel is happy to carry the water for their good ole boys they endorse and who support them with advertising dollars.

Citizens Oppose Tourism Board: Commission Installs Fascism Anyway

The Commission approved the Tourism Board 15-2, with Commissioners Ron  French and Jim Folts voting no.  Commissioners Burchfield, Lambert, Lewis and Murrell were absent.  Only 3 Commissioners discussed it before voting on it.

It was really disingenuous what Commission Burkhalter did.  He essentially said that it would be OK for the Commission and the Tourism Authority to commit fraud.  By saying that the Commission has the power to reduce or eliminate the hotel tax, he is saying hey we (the Commission) have the power to let the Authority be reckless by starting projects that we the Commission can choose later not to fund.  That is FRAUD!  To start something that you have no intention of paying or later decide you don’t want to pay is nothing more than theft and fraud.

Who in their right mind would do business with the Authority after hearing the Commission can yank the magic carpet of tax money out from under them if you so choose?  No person with any reasonable sense would do business with fraudulent standards like that.  Instead, the only ones who will wind up doing business will be the good ole boys who know the tax payers are on the hook because of the tax money, while no one else will get a contract or conduct regular business relations with the fascist Authority.  Only the good ole boys will even bother applying to do business after Commissioner Burkhalter’s statements that the Commission will openly commit fraud if it feels like it.

He got this fradulent nonsense from Bryan Daniels the President of Blount Partnership.  Slothfulness and fraud as default positions should come as no surprise, considering the financial drain of the Economic Development Board.  Despite the Pellissippi Place debacle, the hogs feeding at the tax payer trough want another $800,000 this year.  They should be giving money back to the taxpayers, instead of taking more after their failed policies and “leadership”.

Carol Ross reminded me that Burkhalters statement was either a ruse or showed his ignorance of fulling examining the situation because cutting the hotel/motel tax revenue won’t cut off all funding.  The Authority can still get money from other sources including grants (still your tax money).

An attorney from Bass, Berry and Simms, Mark Mamantov, was present at the Agenda meeting and the Commission meeting, but no questions were asked at the Agenda meeting.  Here you can see Mr. Mamantov dozing off during the Agenda meeting, while the Commission failed to address the concerns of the citizens.  You can listen to him response to questions at the Commission meeting below.

Most of the Commissioners showed their true colors.  Apparently it’s better to do what the good ole boys want, rather than what the people want.  Commissioner Burkhalter even made the facetious statement that this Tourism resolution was “popular”.   I don’t wish to dwell solely on Burkhalter statements because in fairness he did at least try to justify why he was voting for this, even if his reasoning came across as dishonest.  Frankly, most of the rest of the Commissioners aren’t even smart enough to try to justify their reasoning, or lack thereof, for supporting this and other resolutions.

Here are the comments of the citizens in opposition to the Smoky Mountain Tourism Board.  Not one citizen spoke in favor of passing it.  The one citizen who said he heard some compelling arguments for it, requested that the Commission address the concerns of citizens before voting on it.

Tona Monroe:

No taxation without representation.  Those words are a mantra to Americans.  A war was fought over it among other things.  It is a foundational principle of the American way of life to have elected representation for the taxes that we the people pay.  The Smoky Mountain Tourism Authority creates a board with 70% unelected members.  Why do you wish to violate this foundational principle that our founders fought and died for?

Currently you have the authority to spend this tax revenue.  With a huge budget deficient coming up, which will require a massive tax increase, why would you waste 70% of the hotel tax revenue, when you can use it to prevent a property tax increase?

No one has bothered to explain to the people why this Tourism Authority is needed.  What problem are you trying to correct?  Or is this good ole boy politics?

Many of you are probably disgusted by Obama’s crony capitalism Solyndra scandal.  Why would you do the same thing in Blount County by handing over 70% of the hotel tax revenue to private business owners who will be able to promote their own selfish interest?

This Commission is all Republican and Republicans claim to support free market principles.  Yet, this Authority will allow private business owners to pick winners and loser in the tourism industry.  Why not let the free market work?  The government has no business running the tourism industry.  The free market can and should.

Italian fascist corporatism provided the basis for a tyrannical government that we fought another war over, among other things.

In essence this Tourism authority has at least 2 elements that Americans have given their lives to stop.  Through wars, Americans have defeated no taxation without representation and corporatism.  Therefore, I ask you, why do you ignore American history and dump these same tyrannical policies in our back yard.  Many of the people who died opposing no taxation without representation and government having the ability to run the economy through crony capitalism would consider this Tourism Authority to be un-American.

Mr. Chairman Blount County does have an Agenda 21 problem, but it’s not coming from the United Nations.  It’s right here in this Courthouse.  The Agenda of 21 Commissioners can install fascism in our own backyard.  I urge you to defeat Blount County Agenda 21 by rejecting this dangerous un-American fascist Tourism Authority.

Note: 70% of the tax was already going to the previous Board, but my point is that private unaccountable business owners will now get it and use it for selfish interest, when this money could be used to stop a property tax increase.

Dee Ann Martini:

Good Evening,

My name is Dee Ann Martini, and a resident ofBlountCounty, District 4.

I would like to respectively submit my comments on what I consider to be extremely important issues that will dramatically affect the future of the citizens inBlountCounty.

I would like to first thank Commissioners Peggy Lambert and Kenneth Melton for proposing  Resolution No.12-05-006 entitled  “Resolution Exposing United Nations Agenda 21”.  I would also like to declare that I am in total agreement with this resolution, because every word of this resolution is the truth, and that it is a much abbreviated version of a gigantic global agenda.  It has been insidiously veiled to represent “environmental” concerns, but has deeper roots that affect the liberties and Constitutional rights of American citizens that are supposed to be protected under oath by our elected representatives.

I appreciated Commissioner Lambert’s statement I heard recently over the local radio station WBCR, when she said that the United Nation’s Agenda 21 was the scariest thing she has ever seen in her lifetime, and that I agree with her sentiments.  If you truly study the United Nations Agenda 21 proposals, it’s all in black and white, and you will come to the same conclusion.

A brief analysis according to Freedom Advocates against Agenda 21 states that public policy throughoutAmericais implementing the global political-economic program referred to as a Sustainable Development.

Unfortunately, the majority of Americans, and many of our elected leaders do not know or understand the integrated policy and philosophy of Sustainable Development.

In summary, Sustainable Development seeks to implement:

(1)       The step by step abolition of private property, primarily through the implementation of      the Wildlands Project and Smart Growth (which we see developing under the PLAN ET- A “current” regional AGENDA 21 project in E.TN.)

(2)       Education of youth to prepare them for global citizenship.

(3)       Control and ultimate reduction of human population.

Under Sustainable Development, the recognition of the Unalienable Right to one’s life, liberty and property is lost.  This war on freedom is a Global to Local one.

I can inform you that the Stop Agenda 21 programs are being confronted in cities acrossAmericaand that so far, 600 cities that implemented Agenda 21 programs have been overturned because they are unconstitutional.

For more information you can go to freedomadvocates.org.

I am respectively asking for all commissioners to seriously consider their responsibilities to represent the constitutional rights of their constituents, and vote yes to pass the “Resolution Exposing United Nations Agenda 21”.

The second serious issue I would like to comment on is the Resolution No. 12-05-008 – A Resolution to approve a Private Act relating to Hotel-Motel Taxes and a Tourism Board, and approving the creation of a Tourism Development Authority.

I believe that this resolution appropriates “conflicts of interest” as usual, and opportunities for government waste of tax revenue in the hands of unelected representatives in establishing a “Tourism Development Authority”.   It is stated in Item 4 of the “resolution” that “The Board of CountyCommissioners, along with each of the other governments creating the Authority, indicates its willingness to appropriate sufficient funds, if necessary, to provide for the initial administration of the Authority.  The last sentence states in bold letters: NO SUCH FUNDS SHALL BE NECESSARY IN THIS CASE.

Item 4 provides a “loophole” to implement these funds somewhere down the road on this issue, and there’s no guarantee that tax revenues will not be used if the situation is deemed necessary by the “Authority” by special request – as we all know, loopholes are implemented in laws for this very purpose.

It is my opinion that this elected body of commissioners owe their constituents a more responsible form of accountability without abuse of powers over the tax revenues of this county, including their tax dollars.

The Tourism Authority Act is the “mother load” of opportunities for conflict of interest via political cronyism inBlountCountyaccording to everything I have read within the State legislative bill that was created for this very purpose.

Absolute power corrupts, and greed is the seed of corruption.  Through this resolution, the Blount Count Commissioners are relinquishing their representative governing powers to an unelected “tourism board of directors” to handle tax revenues.  I believe this is a BIG mistake.

I feel that they should not be involved in the tourism consumer base ofBlountCounty, and that it should be a separate entity to collect tax revenues only.  This is what representative government is all about.  Elected civil authorities should not be involved with consumer business on this level.

I am asking for a “NO” VOTE on this resolution.  It’s going to come back to haunt you.  You need only to look no further than your own backyard with Knox Countyand their recent issues of financial abuse within their Tourism Board.

Carol Ross:

“Where will I go, what will I do?”  “Frankly my dear I don’t give a darn!” The closing from the movie Gone With the Wind may well be the words spoken as the Tourism Authority takes property fromBlountCounty property owners in the future.

This is not without precedence inBlountCountyas we look at the Maryville Building Authority and the Tennessee Valley Authority.  These two Authorities have in fact used eminent domain to acquire property for monetary gain.

The Tourism Agency continues to say that it already exists and nothing will change except that the board will expand.

Let’s see if this is really true.  Do they currently have eminent domain?  NO! They will.  That’s change 1

Can they currently borrow money?  NO!  The county must currently borrow it for them. They will acquire this power – Change 2

Can they issue bonds?  NO!  That power is gained. – Change 3

Can they accept government grants without permission?  NO!  They get this privilege, too  Change 4

Currently you approve the agency’s budget – you will have no control over the Authority’s budget –  Change 5

Will this commission have oversight for the actions and activities of the Authority as you now do with the Tourism Board?  NO  Change 6

The current Agency’s records are available to the public; with the Authority this will not be the case –  change 7

That’s 7 changes in addition to the Board changes –  there are more –

Projects are not required to be connected with tourism, so I question why its name even includes tourism except as a distracter

The One Million dollars in debt is being used as a lure – very tempting, yes –  it is possible to reel many of you in.  But this is less than ½ of 1 % of the county’s total debt – and what are you giving up in exchange for it?

If you vote yes on this resolution tonight, remember this fact throughout your life:  In a symbolic sense you have agreed to accept 30 pieces of silver in exchange for the slavery of the people of Blount County.

Linda King:

First off, thanks for your support of the Resolution condemning Agenda 21.  For your information, the Mayor of Union County just rescinded their support from the 5-region PlanET.
Now I’d like to address the facts regarding the new Tourism Authority which is being voted on tonight.  While speaking with the Commission Chairman, he stated that it’s nothing new, just a few more people being added to the board so that the cities can have input into expenditures.
The truth is, this tourism board is vastly different.  It not only adds more people, it adds private individuals who are unelected by the citizens to decide how tax monies should be spent.  Do you really believe that they won’t have their private business interests in mind?
Socialist U.N. Agenda 21 recommends putting Non-Governmental people in charge of community affairs.  That way, the people have no way of petitioning their government for dealings which they feel are corrupt.  The agencies do not report to the governmental body and are, therefore, unaccountable to the people.  Their financial records are not made public.  Remember what happened in Knoxville?
This Tourism Board will have the authority to take loans and, contrary to what’s being stated, if they go bankrupt, the citizens will be held responsible for their debts.  Just check into similar circumstances in other states where this has occurred with non-governmental agencies.  In addition, not only can they take bonds, they can do so for longer periods of time than we recommend for county debt.
Of a greater concern, if that’s even possible, is that the Tourism Board will have the power of eminent domain.  How can you vote to give that right to individuals who are not elected by the citizens?  Why would you vote away your authority to approve or disapprove of important issues in this county?  Weren’t you elected to serve the people?  This tourism body was not!!
Please vote No to validating this agency and hold onto your authority and  independent sovereignty.

After the Commission meeting, Brett Dirr and Kim Tipton spoke to Commissioner Tab Burkhalter about the Tourism Authority.  The next morning, Brett wrote Commissioner Burkhalter.  His email is below.  Burkhalters response will be posted shortly.

Dear Mr. Burkhalter,
Thank you for speaking with Ms. Tipton and myself after the commission meeting on May 17, 2012, and explaining your position for your support of the Tourism Authority.
The more I thought about it the more it concerned me.  You told me if I and  the 12 others who spoke at the meeting were all concerned about the eminent domain and the “otherwise” wording in the resolution that we should contact Frank Nicely out of Knoxville or our representatives Art Swan and Bob Ramsey to have the public law amended at the state level explicitly stating that this so called authority doesn’t have nor will it ever have eminent domain powers.  Now you have pushed more responsibility onto we the people to do what should have been done in the first place.  Had every elected official in every county rejected this bill then there would be no need for us to take this action to have it amended.
I heard no one in the commission meeting speak in support of this, only 13 people asking for you to reject it as it stands.  You contact Nashville and have it amended because your constituents demanded that last night.  There is an outside possibility that you were swamped with calls in support of this, but I highly doubt that.  The vast majority of the people in this county have no clue that the commission even had a meeting last night, let alone what was on the agenda.
This commission has a bad habit of voting against the peoples wishes and then we end up with the Industrial Development Board which has it’s hands in my pocket and has given us wonderful things like the Pellissippi Place and the $2 million albatross of a empty building in the industrial park off of 321 that most of the commissioners don’t even know that the county has been paying for over the last 7 years!  Now this board wants $800K from me for the next fiscal year to sink us further in debt.  Mark my words, this new bureaucracy created last night will be in my pocket soon!
You also said the 70% of the hotel/motel tax that the “Authority” will be taking never went to the county and it wouldn’t affect us.  That 70% went somewhere before last night and whoever was getting it before them will want their money and will be in my pocket to get it somewhere.  Either more sales tax a use tax or something to get that money.  You claim they are bringing a $1 million grant with them another $1 million out of my pocket and going to someone’s pocket in this county.
This vote was another example of the hogs running to the trough to get the “free money”.  I am tired of pulling the cart so that all the hogs can sit in the cart while I labor away to provide all of this “free money”.  Let’s make a small, and I mean tiny, government with less taxes (or no taxes) – the ORIGINAL INTENT of this once great country!
Thank you for your time.
Brett Dirr

Where are the Republican “front-runners” on this?

By Eric Holcombe

Or “other Republicans” (including Ron Paul, John Boehner, Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander, Jimmy Duncan) or the “Media” (including Drudge and Beck) or “the Democrats”, etc? They are talking about gas prices, the oil pipeline to nowhere and etch-a-sketches and jokes about “flat-earthers” instead.

What is President Obama so afraid of?

Don’t be fooled. This executive order is long and took a while to put together. Obama sure didn’t craft it himself and it is being implemented with little fanfare from either Big Two party – exactly as intended. In fact, it is an amendment of older business by both Big Two parties (see the end).

Unless your candidate for President of the US will vow to repeal this unconstitutional garbage (as an executive order, this is the definition by default), you shouldn’t vote for them. Obama is already a lame duck. This is part of the reason more outrageous lawlessness will be perpetrated by Obama in his remaining days. He is designed to lose the election. Romney WILL be the RNC’s chosen one and will be the winner between he and Obama. The “conservative Republican” calls are already beginning for Santorum the sacrificial anode to quit. The familiar phrase “a vote for anybody but Romney is a vote for Obama” will be heard very soon.

But neither party will change this executive order. You need to be asking why.

Are you thinking, “so, what – this is only for use “in times of war””?

Remember that undeclared “war on terror” thing? The one that can never end because we didn’t declare war against a defined enemy that can be defeated? We are now permanently “in times of war”. You are now the terrorist. You and your food or your car or your tractor or the parts for your car or tractor or your medicine. Your garden is a threat to national defense. The government will just steal it and force you into service. And if you read closely, it doesn’t have to be “in times of war” or “emergencies” but also in “peacetime”.

THIS IS ABSOLUTE POLITICAL GOLD FOR ANY REPUBLICAN RUNNING AGAINST OBAMA. SO WHY DOESN’T ANYONE TAKE THIS AND RUN WITH IT?

I welcome any suggestions. Your search can begin in 1994 with Bill Clinton and Executive Order 12919 and then its amendment in 2003 by Executive Order 13286 by George W. Bush who altered it to include the Dept. of Homeland Security (the unconstitutional federal army policing the citizens). This latest executive order is just another amendment.

Think about what this all means when you realize it started LONG before what you know as the “war on terror”. Who held the congressional majority back in 1994 again? Who was there spouting off about Contract with America again? Wasn’t there something about a girl in a blue dress? Maybe you’d also like to review the balance of power from 2003. Nobody is clean here.

If your hope is in a political party, it is misplaced.