This document by attorney Jeff Cobble explains how Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Orders ordering Tennesseans to stay-at-home and limit the number of people peacefully gathering are unconstitutional.
I wrote Mr. Cobble suggesting one change to this otherwise excellent document. From me:
“There is one word that I think should be changed in this document. On page 6, the last sentence of the third paragraph the word right should be replaced with power. A mayor, or for that matter any government official, has no right to do anything. They only have the power to do something as authorized in the TN Constitution.”
Mr. Cobble’s response:
“You have made an excellent point. Upon reflection, I agree with you that the better word would be ‘power,’ but alas, I have already ‘fired off’ the document to a variety of source, and so it should probably remain as it is. However, if questioned about my word choice, I will acknowledge that ‘power’ is a better word.”
The Blount County Budget Committee will hold its annual budget hearing meeting on Monday June 10th at 5 PM in room 430 at the courthouse.
The proposed budget will increase the amount of property tax collected from the businesses and citizens of Blount County by approximately $8.3 million over the current budget.
The increase is due to the proposed budget including a tax rate of $2.47 rather than the certified rate of $2.25. The value of a penny in the current budget is $347,000 but under the reappraisal the penny will be worth $378,000, meaning that property owners will be taxed $8.3 million more in the new (proposed) budget.
Art Swann, Tennessee State Senator from Blount County, is trying to ban talking on cell phones while driving. Simply talking on your cell while driving is not in and of itself a danger, excluding the health effects from radiation.
People use their hands while talking to passengers and driving every day. Should that activity be criminalized as well since it involves using our hands and talking while driving?
The state of Tennessee already has a distracted driving law. That is sufficient to stop people who pose a danger.
The very fact that legislation is being discussed to criminalize what is usually safe activity means that most cops don’t view driving while talking on your cell phone as dangerous activity. If they did, they’d be charging people with distracted driving. Safe activity shouldn’t be criminalized.
These bills will be heard by the Finance Ways and Means Committees of both houses next week. Please encourage the members to vote against these bills. You can find the members here:
State Representative Bob Ramsey, also from Blount County, is a cosponsor of the house legislation.
Let freedom ring!
Another reason, among many, why it isn’t a good idea to house pretrial detainee inmates in the Blount County jail. The arsenic gravy on top of the horse biscuit is that the Blount County Sheriff’s Office didn’t even know about this until the press contacted them.
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.
Rural (In)Justice: Covering America’s Hidden Jail Crisis
National Conference and Fellowship Launch
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
New York City, NY
July 10-11, 2018
Read more here: https://thecrimereport.org/covering-americas-jail-crisis/
There will be a Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) meeting on Thursday at the Blount County Courthouse in room 430 at 5:30 PM. The BCCP met only twice in 2017, with one of those meetings being a workshop.
The Blount County Commissioner referred to in this article is me: Tona Monroe. The state agency that is discussed is the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance which is responsible for providing meeting minutes for the Tennessee Corrections Institute Board of Control
Last year, when the commission adopted an open records policy, I said during discussion that a photo ID should not be required. Then Chairman Jerome Moon, now a state representative, defended requiring papers just to see records. Most of the commissioners must have agreed because only Commissioners Mike Akard, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and I voted against this policy.
It is good to read that a few counties don’t demand papers, proving identity, just to see records. Requiring proof of citizenship is an unnecessary impediment to a society that is suppose to be free and claims to be transparent. The USA is not Nazi Germany.
On another note, this is the second article in which a request that I made is discussed without naming me. The other involved questions that I submitted to Troy Logan, fiscal administrator for Blount County Schools. Some teachers had several questions about the schools related to how money is spent. I submitted their questions. A response was sent me as well as the other 20 county commissioners.
A few months later, there was a story in The Daily Times about this request for information. Then Blount County Board of Education Chairman
Trevis Gardner told the paper that he supported charging for looking at records because they’d received a big request that took a lot of time to respond to. He citied the questions that I submitted with his support for charging you to look at records.
The paper requested a copy of the questions and answers, and knew they were submitted by a commissioner, but did not mention this in its story. Gardner said the response took time away from administrators focusing on classrooms but failed to mention that the answers included comparisons to other school systems, which were not part of the inquiries. Such a comparison may have required time but it was not what was requested. Furthermore, the fiscal administrator is a records custodian so his job duties include providing records.
Logan said the questions were frequently asked which is why he submitted the response to all 21 Blount County Commissioners. Thus, having written answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) may have saved the schools time and money in responding to FAQs.
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
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.
Thank you every much for the information. Your vigilance is quite impressive. This is definitely going to make an interesting story.
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
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?
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.”
The author of this letter to the editor points out that there was a lawsuit in Knox County regarding state sentenced felons and the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) must take the TDOC felons. Here are the court orders regarding that lawsuit.
Remember that nonsense from former Chairman Jerome Moon about commissioners being sued in federal court over the jail? These court records should put this matter in its proper perspective.
Here are 12 statements that will help you identify the candidates who are swamp creatures or wanting to become part of the Blount County establishment. Without further ado, here’s your sign.
- The schools need more money. The $hool$ need more money. The $chool$ need more money.
- It’s for the children. It’s for the children. It’s for the children.
- The county makes money on federal inmates.
- The Blount Partnership is doing a great job recruiting businesses.
- The county is being run efficiently because we have clean audits.
- We have to do this. Federal law or state law says we have to.
- The sheriff should decide what inmates he keeps in the local jail.
- Our county employees work hard. They deserve to make more than the average taxpaying citizen.
- Our teachers do such a great job that they deserve two pay raises: a step increase and a percentage increase.
- Blount County has a secret sauce.
- Blount County needs a wheel tax because it’s not fair for the property owners to have to pay all the taxes.
- The commissioners work so hard that they deserve an 85% pay raise.
If a candidate is saying any of these things then you’ll know you’re talking to someone who is a part of the courthouse clique or wants to be part of the courthouse clique. You have been warned.
People have been asking for a list of who to vote for and there are several posts on this website providing information about the good candidates. Blount Lifestyles PAC identifies who the swamp creatures of Blount County are. If a candidate appears on this list, then don’t vote for them. These are the courthouse clique/good ole’ boys/establishment/political machine/swamp creatures being funded by the swamp creatures.
These are the people who will drain your wallet. Let’s drain the swamp instead.
During the last election, several of you asked me to post a list of who the good candidates are. There are some candidate profiles already posted to this website, which provide information about the best choices for sheriff and county commissioners. Early voting starts today (Wednesday April 11th) and runs through April 26th. Election day is May 1st.
Please vote for Patrick England for Blount County Sheriff. I’ll give you two good reasons to vote for Patrick England.
1. Patrick has a plan to improve response time, when you call the sheriff’s office. Response times can be slow to some areas of the county. Patrick has studied the situation closely and will implement some much needed changes to have officers at your home or businesses quicker when you need them.
2. Patrick opposes jail expansion. He realizes that the overcrowding problem is largely due to the housing of discretionary inmates in the jail. There are state felons and pretrial federal inmates that do not have to be housed in the local jail. He does not think it is necessary to put Blount County further in debt to house inmates that the county does not have to house.
There are numerous reason not to vote for 28 year incumbent James Lee Berrong. He appears to have acted without authority when he signed the federal inmates contract without seeking commission approval.
Berrong has a history of threatening to burn peoples’ houses down. This is documented in a court opinion. Please read more here: If someone threatened to shave your dog, sugar your gas tank and burn your house down would you report them to the sheriff or vote for them for sheriff?
Berrong has gone unopposed for several terms. This is our chance to drain the swamp of Blount County government.
Let freedom ring!
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.
Americans have been conditioned to call 911 or the police when fearing for loss of life, liberty or property. Many accept this as being what they’re suppose to do, but who do you call when the person threatening your life, property or liberty is the sheriff?
A 2014 court opinion from the Tennessee Supreme Court Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel at Knoxville, stemming from a meeting in 2002 between Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong and his former secretary Jo Dean Nuchols, refers to a disturbing, habitual problem from Berrong. From page 4:
“Sheriff Berrong, Chief Crisp and Mr. French testified that at the meeting, the Sheriff was upset because he believed Ms. Nuchols had gossiped to his wife about alleged improprieties. All testified that the Sheriff’s actual words were that he would ‘shave her dog, sugar her gas tank and burn her house down.’ Chief Crisp and Mr. French stated that this was a phrase the Sheriff used frequently. Two other witnesses, Martha Reagan and Dennis Garner, also confirmed that the Sheriff often used that phrase.”
Threats to shave someone’s dog, sugar their gas tank and burn their home down should not be tolerated from anyone, let alone the chief law enforcement officer for Blount County. Anyone often making such a threatening statement is wholly unfit to hold public office.
Ms. Nuchols’ workers compensation case was dismissed because of a failure to provide notice, not because her claim was frivolous. From page 18:
“In its alternative findings, the trial court held that Ms. Nuchols had a claim for 100% total disability. Unfortunately for Ms. Nuchols, she failed to perfect her claim by providing the defendants notice until she filed her claim almost a year later.”
This matter appears to originate from the sheriff’s concern about Nuchols talking with his wife. From page 2:
“It is not disputed that Sheriff Berrong believed that Ms. Nuchols had a telephone conversation with his wife, Gayle, on May 29, during which Ms. Nuchols implied that he had been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a female employee of the department.”
The female employee is identified as Kathy on page 3 but no last name is included. Did the sheriff have an inappropriate relationship with a female employee named Kathy? The citizens of Blount County deserve to know.
Berrong’s website talks about his aggressive approach to drug enforcement and sex offenders. Perhaps Berrong should apply an aggressive approach toward improving his own behavior. Shouldn’t a sheriff lead by example?
It’s time for a new sheriff in town. The election on May 1, 2018 is the day to make that happen.