Sunday, October 29, 2006

October 29, 2006 A Special Tree

This beauty glows.

October 29, 2006 Fall Back!

Fall is a beautiful time of year.

Leaves on the trees are brilliant colors of red, orange, yellow, gold, brown, and every shade in-between.

East Tennessee is special. The beauty of Nature is all around.

While you enjoy the colorful fall leaves, remember to turn all your clocks back one hour ("fall back") as we change from Daylight Savings Time to Eastern Standard Time.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

October 28, 2006 County Building Projects and Accountability

Accountability is being able to say how much you spent, what you spent it on, and where the money came from.

I asked the county Finance Department in early August for accountability for taxpayer money---millions of dollars---spent on the jail annex, courthouse addition, children's library, dental clinic, justice center HVAC, justice center roof, justice center generator, etc.

Weeks passed with no response. So I asked then-Chairman of the Commission (Joe Spoone) to inquire about the requested information. Joe responded publicly at the August meeting of the Commission that he had been told by Finance Director Nicole Epps that a report would be provided to the commission by August 31, 2006.

Well, no report was provided on August 31, 2006.

And now-- over 10 weeks after the request for accountability was first made-- still no report has been provided.

Obviously, if the County Mayor and his Finance Department know what has been spent and where all the money came from, they need to provide that information.

If the County Mayor and his Finance Department don't know what was spent on each project and where the money came from, then they need to be upfront and admit that instead of saying they will provide a report and then stonewalling.

Hopefully, Commission Chair Stancil Ford and other commissioners (Baker, Bruce, Collins, Fullington, Harville, Parker, Phillips, Spoone) who were on the commission when the 5-year plans were adopted or when millions in capital expenditures were made will be able to get a report and accountability for these dollars.

Five of the new commissioners (Lebel, Massey, Sexton, Swann, and Wampler) did not vote for the original plans or subsequent expenditures, but these new commissioners are businessmen and one of them is an accountant (Swann).

Business people and accountants know how important it is to know how much has been spent on a building project and where the money came from.

With the last capital project coming up ---the painting of the courthouse--- there should be accountability for all capital spending to date.

I checked again with Joe Spoone on October 19 about accountability for these funds. He said he that he didn't know why a report on the capital spending hadn't already been provided.

It's now October 28 and there is still no accountability and no report for the total spent on each building project and where the total spent came from (bond money or other sources).

Before new requests for capital spending are voted on and before spending on the last of the "old" capital projects is approved (the courthouse painting), it sure would be nice to know that the County Mayor and his Finance Department are able to account for the millions spent on county buildings and improvements.

There are two posts today...scroll down to read the first October 28 post.

October 28, 2006 Why haven't there been posts for a month?

The answer to the title of this post is simple.

I decided to sit back for a while and watch Hamblen County government and officials in action without any blog comments.

Now, after watching for a month, I will be posting and offering comments and information about what's going on.

It is obvious that multi-million dollar expenditures are being pushed rapidly to the forefront and, I suspect, are headed for quick public votes.

Quick decisions are intended to make it all a "done deal" as soon as possible with little (public) discussion and few (public) questions.

Of course, public questions about where public money is going don't get answered anyway (see my other October 28 post), so it is easy to understand why few questions are asked.

Still...this blog will provide information and let Hamblen Countians know why their local taxes (property, sales, wheel, etc.) and fees are headed for the roof.

Hang on! It's going to be an expensive ride over the next four years.