by Horatio Bunce
Does “Constitutional Carry” also mean I can have a BB gun in Johnson City – or does the U.S. Constitution not apply there?
by Horatio Bunce
Does “Constitutional Carry” also mean I can have a BB gun in Johnson City – or does the U.S. Constitution not apply there?
By guest writer Eric Peters
The problem with speed limits is they’re arbitrary and presumptive.
A velocity maximum is decreed, and you are presumed a threat to others if you exceed it. Almost everyone understands this is silly—else almost everyone would not “speed” routinely. Most of us do not play Russian roulette, for instance, irrespective of any laws forbidding it, because we don’t need to be threatened with a ticket to refrain from putting a loaded gun to our heads.
Almost everyone understands that driving five, ten mph, or even faster than above whatever the speed limit is isn’t like that. That “breaking” the speed limit is like stepping on sidewalk cracks and not likely to break your momma’s back. It is why few feel shame or guilt when “caught” going faster than the speed limit. Indeed, the opposite is likely true. Drivers resent being extorted by the courts and insurance mafia over something we know caused no harm and was not likely to cause harm.
Interestingly, this defeats the supposed purpose of speed limits if the purpose isn’t to pretextually fleece motorists.
Ostensibly, speed limits are posted—gird yourself—for “our safety.” It is an almost mathematical axiom that the very last thing intended is the plain meaning of those two words when you hear those two words.
An altogether different meaning is intended, which can be demonstrated by pointing out how useless speed limits are as information about how fast or not it is safe to drive on any given road, especially an unfamiliar one.
This ought to be the purpose of speed limits—advisory rather than arbitrary. Suppose limits convey useful information about speed in relation to the road ahead instead of the set-deliberately-below-the-speed most people drive on that road. More might actually drive the advisory speed limit. Inevitably, most drivers ignore the posted limits and see them as easy pickings for on-the-go tax collection.
Part of the problem is vocabulary.
A speed limit sounds like some engineering threshold, like an engine’s RPM limit. Exceed the redline, and engine damage is probable because the engine’s mechanical limits have been exceeded.
Most people take care not to exceed the redline because they know it has objective informational value, and they’d better pay attention to it.
But a speed limit is nothing like that. It is a statutory limit—something illegal to exceed because it has been so decreed but not necessarily harmful in and of itself.
It is obviously not an objective threshold beyond which danger lies, which is why most people do speed, regardless of any statute. General contempt for speed limits is universal, which undermines “our safety.”
It is not because people “speed,” but because the correlation between the signage and conditions is so tenuous that most of us ignore the signs unless police are in the vicinity. While some drive too slowly relative to the speed, the rest of us are driving to make sure that traffic does not needlessly bunch up when it could be flowing much more smoothly. This sets up a bizarre and irritating dynamic.
The speed limit obeyers are often taking a kind of righteous delight in their rigid obedience, which in their minds justifies not yielding to the drivers exceeding the speed limit because they are breaking the law! While the “speeders” understandably get exasperated by the “slowpoke” ahead who is preventing them from driving at a speed they know isn’t dangerous, even if statutorily unlawful.
If “our safety” rather than our money is desired, the gov, perhaps, should post speed advisories with no fines attached.
This would benefit drivers not familiar with a given road by giving them a sound ballpark idea about how fast they ought to enter an unfamiliar curve, for instance. They would be given heed for the sake of safety as opposed to fear of a fine.
Because we have speed limits, people tend to either completely ignore them—knowing they can likely take the curve up ahead at ten or even twenty MPH faster than the sign says is “safe” (even at the risk of a ticket) because they have been driving that road and taking that curve every day for the past ten years at ten or even twenty MPH faster than the sign says is “safe.”
If a driver is not familiar with the road and has not taken the curve up ahead every day for the past ten years, they see the sign that says twenty-five MPH and creates a road hazard by driving preposterously slow for the curve. The next time they take that road, they’ll probably ignore the sign, like almost everyone else.
Motorists then habituate a combination of contempt for the signage as well as mindless obedience of signage irrespective of conditions, and neither is of much service to the cause of “our safety.” The entire regime is as counterproductive and cynical as it is profitable.
This explains why probably speed limits as absolute won’t end anytime soon.
Eric Peters lives in Virginia and enjoys driving cars and motorcycles. In the past, Eric worked as a car journalist for many prominent mainstream media outlets. Currently, he focuses his time writing auto history books, reviewing cars, and blogging about cars+ for his website EricPetersAutos.com.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author.
by Horatio Bunce
The State of Tennessee has a Covid-19 dashboard site now that allows you to look at the trends for Coronahoax tests in each county. The graphs show the number of positive tests in gray, negative tests in a bluish color and the 7-day average of percentage of positive tests as a red line. The same graph format is used for each county, but the scale on the graph changes so that the scary red %positive trend line is always big and apparently the highest value at first glance. But, they use two different scales, the one on the left side is the % positive for the red line and the right side scale is the number of tests. You can move your cursor along the timeline at the bottom and see the actual numbers for each calendar day. I thought it might be interesting to see how the mask-mandated counties are looking compared to others. What you will see in nearly every county is a sudden ramp of positive case percentage beginning in last week of September into October. Just as Coronahoax appeared to have nearly eradicated the flu and pneumonia in the spring (along with many other deadly diseases), I expect the “second wave” that was amazingly predicted for the never-been-seen-before Coronahoax, will be again attributing nearly all influenza “cases” as Coronahoax.
I have been expecting the typical, “influenza-like-illness” ramp up again this fall as soon as the “free” flu shots were getting pushed out. It turns out that injecting people with influenza creates widespread “influenza-like-illness” in your community. I believe the people receiving the flu shot who then immediately become symptomatic for a number of days are spreading the flu shot strain to the community around them. They spread it to their households and people they are in contact with. Kids take it to school and spread it throughout the school and typically at some point during the year, schools shut down for a week or more because of viral sickness. This happens every year. This never happened in Tennessee in the 1970’s-80’s when I was in K-12 schools. But we didn’t have “free” flu shots pushed by the government and big Pharma every year at taxpayer expense. No flu shot signs on every shopping center corner, no $5 bribes to get your flu jab. We also know that the flu shots give you a 36% greater chance of contracting another respiratory virus (besides the one you just injected yourself with) such as the Coronahoax. We knew this last fall when the Dept. of Defense study came out. The CDC then recommended high-dose (4x the normal dose) flu shots for all people over 65 years of age in the following weeks. It is unbelievable that anyone in “public health” is advocating flu shots at this point if they really believe the Coronahoax is deadly enough to justify shutting down society. The test graphs for most of the counties show this ramp which coincides with the roll-out of flu vaccines. It doesn’t care whether your county makes you wear a mask or not. When rising positive test rates are pointed out for the mask-mandated areas, they want to blame it on people not adhering to the mandated rules. When rates are low in non-mask areas, those same people want to point to population density and say the people are all spread out so they don’t spread the virus. Well, if the masks and social distancing work, how come these areas get this ramp at the end of September into October? Did every single one of the masked up areas suddenly rebel against the rules at the exact same time? Maybe, just maybe face diapers don’t protect you from a virus that was injected into your arm. And they don’t prevent you from shedding your flu shot virus to others.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Blount County: Note the ramp beginning in the end of September.
by Horatio Bunce
Good to know Sen. Kelsey thought it important that county/local folks have zero power to do anything about it. Important enough to sponsor Google’s “autonomous vehicle technology” bill to protect robot cars instead of us.
“Another day, another story of a horribly irresponsible Tesla owner “beta testing” the company’s Autopilot software while putting countless other lives at risk. And likely, another day the NHTSA in the U.S. will do nothing about it. Today’s story comes out of Canada, where a 20 year old man is facing charges for sleeping behind the wheel of a Tesla that was doing more than 90 mph. The RCMP was called when witnesses saw “a speeding Tesla electric car heading south of Edmonton, and what appeared to be no one behind the wheel,” according to NBC. Both front seats were fully reclined and both the driver and the passenger appeared to be asleep, according to the report. The car was doing about 87mph on a roadway with a posted speed limit of about 68mph. Police say that when chasing the Tesla down, it accelerated to more than 90mph as other drivers on the roadway pulled over after seeing the patrol car’s lights. RCMP Sgt. Darrin Turnbull said: “Nobody was looking out the windshield to see where the car was going. I’ve been in policing for over 23 years and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I’m speechless. I’ve never, ever seen anything like this before, but of course the technology wasn’t there.”
by Horatio Bunce
“Stunning, but sadly no longer surprising video was posted on Tik Tok this week of what appears to be three 20 something guys, indulging in alcoholic beverages while their Tesla – with no one in the driver’s seat – barrels down the highway.
It is the latest thumbing of the nose to the NHSTA, who has repeatedly failed to meaningfully address how Tesla’s Autopilot has played a role in several fatal crashes across the nation.”
“A Tesla on Autopilot smashed into the back of a patrol vehicle on the side of the road near Benson, Arizona today, according to Arizona’s Department of Public Safety Twitter feed….”We can confirm the driver indicated to troopers the Tesla was on autopilot at the time of the collision….The impact caused the patrol vehicle to collide with the back of an ambulance, but fortunately the occupants of the ambulance weren’t injured. The driver of the Tesla had non-life-threatening injuries.”
You can see the Tesla using “autonomous vehicle technology” swerve and lock wheels as it approaches the pedestrian, then release brakes and pile head-on into an overturned truck.
“Recall, earlier this year the NTSB revealed that Autopilot had played a role in a fatal 2019 Model 3 accident in Delray Beach, Florida.
The driver had set the car to go 69 miles per hour 12.3 seconds before the crash took place on a highway that had a speed limit of 55 mph, according to Bloomberg. The NTSB also revealed that the driver’s hands were not on the wheel for the final 7.7 seconds before the crash.
The NTSB had also arrived at similar findings regarding a 2016 Florida crash where another Tesla driver didn’t react to a truck in the roadway. In that instance, the NTSB found that Tesla’s Autopilot design contributed to the cause of the accident.”
Do these reports of accidents caused while using driverless vehicles or “autonomous” vehicle technology concern you? Do you know that Tennessee Republicans made it impossible for your local county or municipal government to do anything about them operating on the roads you pay for? Here’s how it happened:
Tennessee District 35 Representative Jerry Sexton first took office in 2015 as part of the 109th General Assembly. As a freshman legislator, one of his first sponsored bills was HB0616 which prohibited county and local governments from making any ordinances or statutes regulating operation of a vehicle in their boundaries using what was then called “autonomous vehicle technology”. A pretty strange topic for a freshman legislator from a rural district. Why would Rep. Sexton feel that autonomous vehicle technology was being unreasonably assaulted by his neighbors and needed some form of protection back in 2015? I am willing to bet that exactly ZERO Grainger and Claiborne county constituents were requesting this legislation. So how did the bill originate? Who “gave” it to Sexton to sponsor? Who was it supposed to benefit in the future – knowing that people WOULD eventually want to control killer robot cars that crash themselves and spontaneously combust after the lithium batteries are punctured like Tesla vehicles have many times been shown to do? At the time, a handful of Republicans argued in support of this bill and stated that this type of technology already existed – citing technology such as proximity sensors in bumpers or parallel park assist. The bill seemed like a solution in search of a problem. No locality in Sexton’s district was trying to prohibit vehicles with backup cameras, proximity alerts or park-assist. However, these legislators so concerned about “autonomous vehicle technology” completely ignored other existing autonomous vehicle technology such as large trucks with compression or “jake” brakes which actually ARE discriminated against by county/local governments. Plenty of towns still have their “No Jake Brakes” signs, including those in Rep. Sexton’s district (see Highway 25E northbound entering Tazewell for example) – a “state highway” where allegedly this bill would protect autonomous vehicle technology as it was sold. This is also proof his constituents didn’t and still don’t believe in the principle of the original “autonomous vehicle technology” bill. It is proof the TNGOP was not really defending autonomous technology that pre-existed – because they have never removed these prohibitions IN THEIR OWN DISTRICTS.
Once successfully tying the hands of the people with Sexton’s freshman bill, the redefinition of “autonomous vehicle technology” has changed to reveal the true purposes and what corporate interests would benefit from future bills. If you watch the very first video in Transportation sub-committee, Sexton mentions Google as a beneficiary that was in process of driverless vehicle experimentation, but it was carefully not described to the committee members voting on the bill. They would have had to read the bill – I know, a foreign concept in modern legislative bodies – to see the plain language:
by Horatio Bunce
A formal complaint has been lodged against fraudulent “Dr.” Deborah Birx with the State Office of Investigations for Health Related Boards. The complaint states that Birx has no active medical license, no license at all in Tennessee and is guilty of practicing medicine without a license by prescribing medical devices called masks to be worn by all residents in Tennessee. These types of complaint submissions are confidential and copies of the complaints cannot be obtained by the public (protects victims, but also convenient to make them disappear). Decisions by the Board cannot be appealed. A complainant can submit their private information with the complaint (often necessary for the investigation into claims) or they can remain totally anonymous. In this case, the complainant provided their contact information, though the acts in question were quite intentionally public by Birx in her press conference with Governor Bill Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper. A response to the complaint is required, but may take months to occur. The information contained within the complaint has been provided to me and is presented below. Governor Lee and Mayor Cooper were listed as witnesses in the complaint. Interesting that the CDC’s “top medical advisor” telling us all what to do isn’t interested enough in her medical profession to maintain a legal license to practice medicine…isn’t it? A lot like the fraud attorney Gloria Allred presenting herself as a representing attorney in Alabama, despite not being licensed in the state, nor was anyone in her firm. Except Gloria actually does have a current license, unlike Birx. It will be interesting to see if the Board disciplines Birx for the violations or if Attorney General Slattery will pursue the 6+ million misdemeanor charges that appear warranted, because the Board cannot address the criminal activity. Maybe they could just brush it off with a $50 fine for each instance, avoiding the jury trial guaranteed by our State Constitution for fines or considerations thereof in excess of $50, the way corrupt municipalities do with traffic $camera$ and their $160 “court costs”. I am sure they could use $300+ Million right now for the unemployment fund due to the CDC’s “expert advice” on the Coronahoax. Or will they somehow try to justify an unlicensed person masquerading as a physician giving medical directives to millions with no consequences or liability? I thought Obamacare was supposed to let me keep my doctor, not force some fraud on me I don’t want.
“Deborah Leah Birx was practicing medicine without a license in the City of Nashville, in the State of Tennessee on Monday July 27, 2020 as was well documented and reported by multiple mass media sources. Below are just two examples:
These web pages have been archived at www.archive.org.
Tenn. Code Ann. §63-6-204 defines “practicing medicine” as:
“(a) (1) Any person shall be regarded as practicing medicine, within the meaning of this chapter, who treats, or professes to diagnose, treat, operates on or prescribes for any physical ailment or any physical injury to or deformity of another.”
Birx used the title “Dr.” and prescribed the use of medical devices to our State Governor and additionally our 95 County mayors to be mandated to all residents of the State of Tennessee for the ailment of “SARS-COV-2” transmission or “COVID-19”. Birx effectively made this prescription of medical devices for over 6 million residents of the State of Tennessee, deeming that all residents require her prescription with the statement:
“Whether you live in a rural area or an urban area, you need to wear a mask to protect your family.”
This prescription was made despite the fact Birx has neither seen, met nor communicated with the vast majority (millions) of these persons. Birx made no individual patient evaluation to determine if masks are appropriate for all residents. Birx also did not create patient medical records and it will therefore be impossible to follow up in a clinical setting to see if there are any side effects to wearing the masks she prescribed. This drive-by diagnosis is reckless behavior for a medical professional. But when you have no license to begin with, what do you have to lose?
By Horatio Bunce
Because….trained professionals…uhhhh…whose brains work different than yours…like the government constantly reminds you that you are incapable of multi-tasking in those radio PSAs and distracting text message signs over the interstate…trained professionals, they never do that…
Recipient of last year’s Eagle Award, then Blount County Commissioner Tona Monroe, will be the speaker at the 4th annual Truth Radio Bill of Rights Banquet on Tuesday December 18th. The topic of the speech will be Proof of Authority and the Proper Role of Government: The Foundation of a Constitutional Republic.
A dinner will be held at 7 PM at RJ’s Courtyard located at 3749 Airport Hwy, Louisville, Tennessee 37777. Book your meal by calling WBCR at 984-1470.
Glad to see this. This law should be repealed. It was/is all about the $$$ money, as is the drivers license. This case talks about a right to drive. It’s worth reading this law review article on the right to drive.
Some have been touting how wonderful Blount County government is because of receiving three “clean” audits in row. That does sound good but as was recently pointed out here, audits don’t reflect assets well managed or monies well spent.
After discussion with a Polk County Commissioner, who shared with me that the state Comptroller’s Office has been using the same auditors for several years in Polk County, I reviewed Blount County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) and found that the same thing has occurred with Blount County’s audits.
Utilizing the same auditors for more than a decade is unacceptable. Familiarity between auditors and those being audited is not in the best interest of the taxpayers. Relationships can develop and those being audited learn what specific auditors are looking for and possibly more importantly what the auditors aren’t looking for.
To address that matter, I (Tona Monroe) have filed a resolution requesting new auditors for Blount County’s fiscal year 2018 audit. Audit reports for Blount County are available on the Comptroller’s website here.
A review of the audit reports from 2004 through 2017 shows that one auditor has participated in all 14 years of audits, another 13 out of 14 and another 9 out of 14 years. The situation in Polk County is similar to Blount County. 2 of the auditors have participated in all of the audits for the past 13 years.
Furthermore, the state legislature passed a law making the job performance evaluations of Comptroller’s Office employees confidential. The job performances of those tasked with looking out the taxpayers are secret. You aren’t allowed to know the quality of work they are doing. This open records exemption needs to be repealed.
Another problem that needs to be addressed is allowing Comptroller’s Office auditors to become local finance directors. Former Blount County Finance Director Dave Bennett worked for the Comptroller’s Office before working for the county. The same thing happened in Hamblen County with Joey Barnard. It’s not in the best interest of the taxpaying citizens to allow someone to be in charge of keeping your local government’s books when they could be friends with the state’s auditors, because they’ve worked with them in past. The positions of county finance directors and state auditors should not be a revolving door.
These issues involving auditors, finance directors are the Comptroller’s Office are ripe for reform to protect the people of Tennessee. Instead the Tennessee General Assembly went the other way by adding more secrecy when it sealed the performance evaluations from public view. One of Blount County’s state lawmakers, Representative Bob Ramsey, was the House sponsor of the legislation. Senator Ken Yager was the Senate sponsor. These two are waterboys for the Comptroller’s Office. It looks like we the people need to reform our state legislature by sending better lawmakers to Nashville.
State mandated minimum salaries and additional pay supplements for local elected officials vs what taxpayers are making
When you look at important economic indicators such as median household income and average annual income, Blount County taxpayers haven’t fared well in recent years. When adjusted for inflation, 2014 numbers show that average pay in Blount County actually dropped and that household income averages a double digit drop.
The State of Tennessee mandates very generous salaries for elected officials that are 2, 3 and 4 times what the average Tennessee taxpayer is making. I (Tona Monroe) have written the state legislature for a couple of years on this matter but this matter has largely fallen on deaf ears when it comes to taking action. A few lawmakers have agreed with me that the mandated minimums are too high but none have taken action to provide reform.
You can view the state mandated minimum salaries for local elected officials here.
2018-2019 2017-2018 2016-2017 2015-2016 2014-2015 2013-2014
2012-2013 2010-2011 2009-2010 2008-2009 2007-2008 2006-2007
This figures show huge increases to the base pay for local elected officials being mandated by state law. Despite being paid double and triple, and in the case of judges almost quadruple what the average taxpayer is making, 4 of these local elected officials are receiving pay supplements above the already large state mandated minimums. Blount County taxpayers are paying $96,717 more than state minimum for the circuit court clerk, highway superintendent, sheriff and mayor. It’s obvious these people don’t feel the same economic pain that many Blount Countians are feeling.
2 important primary elections will be held this year. The local government primary election will be May 1, 2018 and the state and federal primary election will be held August 2, 2018. All office holders elected in partisan elections are Republicans in Blount County. There isn’t a single Democrat or independent in office in Blount County, excluding the school board which has nonpartisan elections. Thus, it is highly likely that all upcoming offices, excluding the school board, will be decided in the primary elections. If you wait to vote in November, you will miss your best opportunities to have an impact on who governs at the local and state levels. There will be no county elections in November and only state and federal general elections occur in November.
The May 1 and August 2 primary elections provide opportunities for you to clean house of these state and local officials who refuse to hold the line on these outrageous salaries. Only Commissioners Mike Akard, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and myself have voted to cut the pay of these 4 elected officials down to the state minimum, which is already much higher than it should be.
Questions to ask before heading to the polls on May 1 and August 2:
1) Why have local elected officials refused to cut the pay of these officials to the state mandated minimums?
2) Why have the state legislators continued funding huge increases for elected officials?
3) Why did Jerome Moon try to lead the commission to believe that these pay supplements weren’t optional?
Please consider these questions before casting your votes in the May 1 and August 2 elections.
What does this measure?
Median household income, adjusted for inflation. Half of households earn below the median, and half are above.
Why is this important?
Median household income is a gauge of overall economic health of the region and the financial resources of households.
How is our region performing?
In 2010-14, median household income in the region was $45,100, slightly higher than the state ($44,600) but lower than the nation ($53,500). Among local counties, median household income was highest in Loudon ($50,600) and Knox ($47,500) and lowest in Union ($36,000) and Monroe ($37,200). The region, state, and nation all saw their median income fall by double digits from 2000 to 2010-14 (down 12% in the region, 14% in the state, and 10% in the nation). Median income fell much faster in the region from 2005-09 to 2010-14 than in the nation and state (16% decrease in the region compared to a 6% decrease for the state and the nation). Among the counties, median household incomes decreased most from 2000 to 2010-14 in Sevier, Monroe and Blount (all 14%). Union experienced the smallest rate of decline (7%), but still has the lowest median household income in the region.
Notes about the data
Figures are presented in 2014 dollars. The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census.
What does this measure?
The average annual salary in a region in a given year, adjusted for inflation.
Why is this important?
Salaries are a gauge of overall economic health and a measure of the degree to which employees are sharing in the prosperity of a community. They also indicate the vitality of a region and its ability to compete and attract workers.
How is our region performing?
In 2014, the region’s average salary was $43,000, below the average for the state ($45,200) and the nation ($51,400). Since 2000, the region’s average salary increased by 6%, on par with growth nationally and but below statewide (7%). Roane County’s average annual pay grew by 26% over the same time period, more than any other county, while average salary fell in Blount and Sevier counties over that period (both less than 1% respectively). Between 2013 and 2014, the region’s average annual salary increased by 1%, on par with the state increase.
Notes about the data
Data presented in 2014 dollars.
The agenda was lengthy this month, containing 17 items under new business (one added at the last minute) as well as items under the consent calendar and elections, appointments and confirmations. Some of the items won’t be covered in this commission report but you can ask any questions that you may have about those items in the comments section below. Commissioners Dave Bennett and Gary Farmer were absent.
The consent calendar contained a resolution titled “A RESOLUTION HONORING ALL VETERANS AND THE EMPLOYEES OF THE BLOUNT COUNTY VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE FOR THEIR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTIONS.” In the September 2017 Commission Report, I explained why I frequently vote no on these resolutions honoring people. I abstained on this vote, which is something I rarely do. Many of our veterans are worthy of honor, which is why I abstained rather than voting no.
While the veterans are listed first in the title of the resolution, they are barely mentioned in the resolution. The resolution is mostly about the staff of the Blount County Veterans Affairs Office. This resolution really diminishes our veterans. Once again politicians were using their political office to honor government employees.
Some speak highly of Veterans Service Officer Nathan Weinbaum. That’s good that there are people who are happy with the job he is doing. However, he is being well paid for this job. His salary is substantially more than the average taxpayer in Blount County. Furthermore, he works in air an conditioned building and has great fringe benefits. He is already being rewarded by the taxpayers with the generous salary and benefits that he receives which exceed more than the majority live on. The people of Blount County are free to honor him anytime they so chose, without the Blount County Commission telling them to.
Donation for employee recognition
Item F4 on the agenda was a resolution to approve spending $1,500 donated to pay for a recognition luncheon for Blount County Sheriff’s Office employees. This is a much better way to honor those who people feel are doing good for the community, than the resolutions that the county commission passes. Actions like this speak louder than the commission’s words on paper.
Highway Department employee handbook – who has authority to approve it?
The commission was asked to approve updates to the Blount County Highway Department Employee Supplement Handbook. I questioned why the commission was voting on this when Highway Superintendent Jeff Headrick has authority under TCA 5-23-103 to adopt a policy without commission approval.
“Any county official whose employees are governed by the base personnel policies adopted by the county legislative body shall have the right to adopt separate base personnel policies applicable to the employees of such official’s office by filing approved base personnel policies with the county legislative body in the same manner as set out in subsection (a), at the following times.”
Blount County government appears to have an authority problem. The sheriff did not bring the federal inmates contract to the county commission for approval before signing the contract. Yet, the commission is approving policies that state law says office holders have the authority to adopt without commission approval. If state law says an office holder has the authority to act, then commission should leave the responsibility to the office holder.
Fireworks ban repeal request
The possession, sale, manufacture, storing and use of pyrotechnics (fireworks) was made illegal in Blount County under a 1949 private act. Punishment can be severe, with fines ranging from $50-400 and/or jail time ranging from 30 days to 11 months and 29 days.
You can legally buy fireworks in Loudon County but you can’t bring them into Blount County legally. People routinely do this and the law isn’t being enforced. As such, the law either needs to enforced, repealed or amended to something more reasonable.
A letter from Blount County Sheriff James Berrong explains that the main complaint his office receives from fireworks is related to noise. Berrong’s suggestion is for the fireworks ordinance be rewritten to prohibit the use of fireworks between the hours of 11 PM through 7 AM.
The resolution requests that the Tennessee General Assembly repeal the private act. Chairman Moon declared that a 2/3rds majority of 14 votes was needed, and the resolution was postponed because of the uncertainty of whether a simple majority or a 2/3rds majority is required for a resolution requesting repeal of a private act. One has to wonder why Ron French, who questioned the number of required votes, didn’t know the answer since he is in the 4th year of his 4th term as a county commissioner.
Commission Mike Caylor topped himself this month by flying off the handle and pointing at Mike Akard after Akard spoke in favor of the resolution. Unfortunately that the commission video doesn’t zoom in close enough for the citizens to see Caylor’s disrespectful actions.
Purple Heart Highway
The commission passed a resolution supporting the designation of US Highway 321 through Blount County the Military Order Purple Heart Highway. The title of the resolution shows how sloppy the wording of resolutions can be.
The title reads, “RESOLUTION NAMING U.S. HIGHWAY 321/LAMAR ALEXANDER PARKWAY FROM LOUDON COUNTY/BLOUNT COUNTY LINE NORTH TO BLOUNT COUNTY/SEVIER COUNTY LINE THE MILITARY ORDER PURPLE HEART HIGHWAY.” The commission wasn’t actually renaming the 321 but rather showing support for the designation. The title of a resolution should reflect what the commission is actually doing. The title should have used the word requesting or supporting instead of making it read that the road would actually be given a new name.
Interlocal agreement between Blount County and the City of Friendsville
Item F14 is a resolution to approve an interlocal agreement between the county and Friendsville. The City of Friendsville is in my commission district but no one from the City of Friendsville contacted to discuss this matter before bringing it to the commission. I learned of the agreement when I read the Agenda Committee packet.
The agreement requires the Blount County Sheriff’s Office to enforce city ordinances that will be adjudicated in Blount County General Sessions Court. The agreement says, “this agreement shall extend until such time as the City requests and expresses their intent pursuant to the applicable statutes that their designated municipal ordinance is no longer to be prosecuted by the Sheriff and General Sessions Court.” This only mentions what happens if the city wants out of the agreement.
The resolution says, “this Interlocal Agreement is necessary and required by T.C.A. § 12-9-401 to provide for the appropriate court costs and costs of enforcement.” The fines collected go to the city, according to state law. The court costs are $177 for each city ordinance violation and are paid into the county’s general fund, except for processing fees collected by the clerk.
I inquired what would happen if the county needed to increase its costs for enforcement. No answer was provided. As such, I didn’t think it wise to approve something saying that the county would do something until Friendsville no longer wanted to continue, without knowing how the county could increase court costs if needed to cover its expenses.
Duty to report law
The county commission approved a resolution requesting that the Tennessee General Assembly enact legislation “to require a person to report a person in distress by calling 911 or a first responder.” This resolution is dangerous to liberty for many reasons.
While the resolution doesn’t mention the word crime, this is a request to make anyone who doesn’t call 911 (the government) or a first responder a criminal. A law without a penalty is usually just a suggestion. We need to be very careful about what we allow government to require us to report or be penalized if we don’t. If you see something, say something resulted in this family’s dog being killed by government.
Distress isn’t defined in the resolution. Thus, the commission didn’t know precisely what it asking the state legislature to outlaw.
Without a clear definition of what constitutes distress, it’s possible to envision a scenario where you’re driving down the road one day minding your own business and harming no one, pass a car on the side of the road and find yourself charged with a crime a few days later because you didn’t report the person inside the vehicle who was distressed. You could have been recorded with a government surveillance camera or an I-phone and you would then have to explain to a judge why you didn’t call 911.
The second whereas clause says, “a person who knows that another person is exposed to great physical harm and in need of assistance, and can give assistance without danger or peril to himself, should report the person in distress by calling 911 or a first responder.” This doesn’t appear to address those instances where the person rending aid is successful in resolving the problem. Why should someone who is rendering assistance be required to report their own help if it successful without further medical intervention?
What if someone is fearful of the government or medical practitioners? Is it right to report someone’s problem to 911, government or emergency responders if they don’t want their situation reported? What if the person being required to report is fearful of those they would be required to report to? Not everyone views assistance from the police, government and allopathic medicine practitioners as being productive or amicable. What if someone doesn’t think that reporting a distressed person to 911, government or emergency responders is the best course of action? This appears to request that individual judgement be criminalized.
This matter stems from the disappearance of Eric Ashby, a former Tennessee resident who moved to Colorado to hunt for a “chest containing treasure fit for a pirate,” that is thought to be buried in New Mexico. It is bizarre that the Blount County Commission was being asked to vote on a resolution asking for state law in Tennessee because someone from Tennessee moved to Colorado to hunt for a modern day pirate’s treasure that may be in the state of New Mexico.
Ashby disappeared after his raft capsized in the Arkansas River. Those with Ashby on the treasure hunting trip made it safely back to land but Ashby did not. None of those who returned safely reported Ashby’s emergency. Thus, the commission was asked to support the enactment of a new law because those with Ashby didn’t call police for help.
However that isn’t the whole story. It turns out that a bystander who witnessed the incident did report it to the police. Thus, it seems likely that the law Ashby’s family and friends are requesting would not have saved his life, unfortunately. I offer condolences to Ashby’s family and friends for his tragic loss of life but we don’t need to pass another law that could make criminals out of Tennesseans when it likely wouldn’t have saved Ashby’s life if it had been the law in Colorado.
The commission will be filling the Tennessee Senate seat vacated by Doug Overbey who was appointed the U.S. attorney for East Tennessee.
Blount County Commissioner Tona Monroe was a guest speaker on Speaking Freely on 92.3 FM this evening. She discussed her recent nomination of Scott Williams to replace Doug Overbey in the state senate, her political philosophy, the secrecy in purchasing that occurred with a state law passed last year and scamera and speeding tickets.
No surprise here. Overbey’s comment on the matter was reported here on BC Public Record a month ago.
Hopefully now we’ll finally be rid of him from the Tennessee General Assembly.
According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, the average daily cost to house an inmate in state prison is $76 a day. That is more than twice what the state pays counties to house state felons. The state currently pays counties a daily per diem of $37. It’s no wonder that the state is content with letting their felons be housed in local jails. It makes their costs lower, their books look better and it frees up more money to spend elsewhere.
But don’t worry the state is here to help local governments out by increasing the daily per diem rate for housing state felons in local jails to $39 a day. That’s a whopping $2 daily increase. Never mind that, at $39 a day, the state still averages saving $37 a day.* State lawmakers and officials need to be able brag about being good stewards of taxpayer money by keeping the state budget lower and having a $2 billion surplus of your money.
Some good news: statewide recidivism was down in 2016.
*The cost savings to the state may be less in counties with a contract for state sentenced felons.