Saturday, July 17, 2010

July 17, 2010 Commissioner Stancil Ford's Hit-and-Run

County Commissioner Stancil Ford of Cedar Hill Road was involved in a hit-and-run accident on June 30, 2010, just an hour-and-a-half before the above picture was taken at the County Commission meeting at 5:00 PM on that same day.

Did the local "news"paper report that Stancil's truck had hit a vehicle in which a couple in their 70s were riding just 90 minutes before Stancil arrived at the June 30th County Commission meeting? That Stancil's truck just kept on going after side-swiping the couple's car? That Stancil's truck was found abandoned in a driveway at the intersection of 11E and Merchants Greene?  That the driver had fled on foot or had been picked up before the police arrived?  No, No, No, and No.

Did lots of people know about this? Yes. Who? County Mayor David Purkey, some county commissioners, some elected officials and courthouse employees, EMA Director Eric Carpenter, hospital personnel, EMS, and on and on the list goes.

But why no mention in the "news"paper about Stancil Ford's hit-and-run? Why no mention of Stancil's illness?  "News"paper owner Jack Fishman pulls the strings on what is reported in the "news"paper. 

Somebody ordered and directed the cover-up of Stancil's hit-and-run, and that somebody has managed to keep a tight lid on it.  It's been over two weeks, and the "news"paper hasn't mentioned it.  The documents below, the Vehicle Impound Form and the first three pages of the Traffic Crash Report, give you information about Stancil's hit-and-run that Jack and his "news"paper don't want you to know. Click on the images to enlarge and read.

Now if a county commissioner or city councilman or an individual that Jack Fishman and company dislike had been involved in a similar hit-and-run, Jack and his crack reporter Bobby Moore would have been all over it--pictures and maybe a series of articles. Commission Chairman Stancil Ford is involved in a hit-and-run, and it's like it never even happened. 

Anyone can have an unexpected medical problem such as a stroke or heart attack or black-out while driving. If that's what happened and if someone was afraid to wait for an ambulance and took Stancil from the scene directly to a hospital to get medical attention, then that should have been reported.

But if Stancil had a medical problem and simply ran from the scene or had someone take him from the scene to the Courthouse just so he could swing the gavel at a brief County Commission meeting, that's a serious problem involving not only Stancil but also whoever took Stancil from the hit-and-run to the Commission meeting without talking with the police and without checking on the couple who were hit.

And if Stancil had been in the hospital just a few hours before the accident and left the hospital against the advice of his doctors--just so he could swing the gavel at a brief County Commission meeting--then the public and especially the people that he hit need to know this.

Now, we'll see if the "news"paper continues to ignore Stancil's hit-and-run. The "news"paper will either continue to stonewall this story or it will start "spinning" the story as it makes excuses for Stancil's actions on June 30th. 

Yes, if Stancil had a medical problem and was taken directly to the hospital after the accident for treatment, that's understandable. But if Stancil was involved in an accident, didn't stick around to talk to the officer, didn't go directly to the hospital, and didn't check on the couple that he hit but, instead, went to a county commission meeting, then there's a lot of explaining to do.  And the big question is (1) Where was Stancil and who was he with between 3:38 PM (when the officer arrived to investigate and found Stancil's truck abandoned in a driveway) and 5:00 PM (when Stancil was sitting in the Courthouse swinging a gavel)? 

Friday, July 09, 2010

July 9, 2010 Democrat Candidates Offer Two-Year "10% Salary Rebate"

In an interesting move yesterday, the Democrat candidates for Mayor (John Litz), Sheriff (Ernie Burzell), County Clerk (Scotty Rines), and Circuit Court Clerk (Bobby Davis) held a press conference to announce that each, if elected, will turn back 10% of his salary to the county for their first two years in office. Click here.

The Democrat candidates, of course, challenged their respective opponents (Bill Brittain, Esco Jarnagin, Linda Wilder, and Teresa West) to do the same.

Maybe the Republican opponents will meet the challenge and do the Democrats one better and offer a 20% salary rebate for four years.  Maybe we will have a bidding war for public office. Low bid gets the office.

There might even be people who are qualified and who would perform the jobs for a very modest salary  plus the insurance and guaranteed retirement.

The salaries for these jobs are not peanuts and the benefits (health insurance and retirement) are great. Most people would gladly take these salaries, give back 10% or 20% or more, and be in good shape!

These are approximate yearly salaries for these positions from the 2009 audit, page 147, at the State Comptroller's website:

County Mayor: $90,000+.  [NOTE: Mayor David Purkey's salary of over $90,000 exceeds the state minimum because the current County Commission threw in an extra $7,200 for the County Mayor as a car allowance "salary" at Purkey's request.]

Sheriff: $79,000+

County Clerk: $70,000+

Circuit Court Clerk: $70,000+

July 9, 2010 Morristown Mayor and City Council Pass Amendment Increasing Tax Rate from $0.98 to $1.05

Councilmembers Gene Brooks and Frank McGuffin weren't present yesterday, but Mayor Barile and Councilmembers Bob Garrett, Claude Jinks, Doc Rooney, and Kay Senter passed the amendment increasing the property tax levy of $0.98 that was passed in June to a figure of $1.05.

2010 is a reappraisal year. The whole budget/city tax rate fiasco occurred because City Administrator Tony Cox and Budget Director Brian Janish--and the Mayor and Council--refused to wait for the reappraisal and appeal process to run its course with receipt of the certified tax rate from the state.

Cox and Janish set budget, new garbage fee, and tax rate votes for June 15 and June 17 at which time a property tax rate of $0.98 was approved. 

Just 11 days later, the reappraisal numbers were finalized and a certified tax rate of $1.05 was received from the state for the City of Morristown.

The City, which had "jumped the gun" by approving a tax rate before receipt of the certified tax rate, then  decided to re-do or amend its previous tax vote and adopt the higher $1.05 tax rate.

[Unlike the City, Hamblen County recognized the requirement to wait for the final reappraisal process and receipt of the certified tax rate before voting on a new tax rate and budget. Click here for when the county delayed its scheduled vote on a tax rate because the certified rate had not been received. Click here for info on the certified Hamblen rate that was received June 28.  And click here for when a vote on the Hamblen County tax rate and budget took place on June 30 after receipt of the certified rate.]

Thursday, July 08, 2010

July 8, 2010 Public Hearing on Increase of City Tax Rate from $0.98 to $1.05 and soon the RETREAT!

A public hearing and vote on raising/amending the city tax rate from $0.98 to $1.05 takes place today at 4:00 PM at the City Center.

It's a public hearing, but Mayor Barile and most Councilmembers don't really listen to comments.

The tax rate vote and the budget that includes a new $10/month garbage "fee" for citizens and a $100,000 new budget line item for the Mayor and Council and $30,000 new budget line item for the Administrator and increased "travel" money for the Mayor, Council, and Administrator are done deals.

City Administrator Tony Cox, Mayor Barile, and Council have socked it to the citizens while budgeting extra new money in the Administrator and Council budgets.  Now they are ready, in politicial lingo, "to move on."

On Tuesday, July 6, they started making plans to hold a council "retreat."  The Administrator wanted to have a "facilitator" work with council--sort of a Dr. Phil scenario. The Council nixed that--at least temporarily--and opted first for a Friday-Saturday meeting in Johnson City that may involve an overnight stay at a Johnson City hotel.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

July 7, 2010 First Reading: City Tax Rate Is Increased from $0.98 to $1.05; Garbage Fee of $10/month Is Still in Place

With a 7-0 vote, Mayor Barile and City Council "increased" the City of Morristown property tax rate from $0.98 to $1.05 on first reading yesterday. The second and final reading will take place tomorrow (Thursday, July 8) at a special called meeting at 4:00 at the City Center.

This amended and increased rate comes just a little over two weeks after the property tax rate was first set at $0.98 on June 17 AND a $10/month garbage fee was voted in for residents of Morristown.

The new garbage "fee"--forcing residents to start paying a separate "fee" for garbage pick-up that has previously been a service paid for by taxes--was put in by Mayor Barile and Councilmembers Bob Garrett, Claude Jinks, Kay Senter, and Doc Rooney. Councilmember Frank McGuffin "abstained" on the garbage vote due to a potential conflict of interest in that his family owns a garbage service (Tidi-Waste). Councilmember Gene Brooks voted "no" on the garbage fee.

Why a new garbage "fee"? Mismanagement, waste, illegal money transfers, excessive and unnecessary spending, loads of debt, violations of the City Charter, $100 Million dollar wish lists, and on and on.

Higher property taxes (2007), increased sales taxes (from the 2008 "pick-your-poison" sales tax referendum), red light camera revenues, and illegal money transfers (taking money from the sewer fund and putting it in the general fund to "cover" for financial mismanagement) no longer did the financial trick at the City Center.

Since Mayor Barile, Garrett, Jinks, Rooney, and Senter didn't want to repeat any of the recent previous tax hikes/revenue "enhancements,"  they came up with a brand new "fee" to take an extra $1 million from the residents of Morristown.

And the $10/month starter rate is just a way for the Mayor and Council to get their foot in the door and get residents used to paying a fee for garbage pick-up even though there has not been any additional charge for garbage pick-up in previous years. 

Watch out!  In the coming years--- if the Mayor, Council, and City Administrator do what they have said they are going to do (pull all tax money from the sanitation fund so they can spend that tax money elsewhere and collect a garbage "fee")-- then the garbage "fee" of $10/month will end up being $17 or $18 per month or more.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

July 6, 2010 City Administrator Cox Has First Reading to Increase City's Property Tax Rate on TODAY'S City Council Agenda

At today's City Council meeting at 4:00 PM, City Administrator Tony Cox is asking the Mayor and Council to change the $0.98 tax rate that they passed just a little over two weeks ago to the maximum state certified rate of $1.05. Cox has set a public hearing and second reading two days later on July 8!

Cox presented the council with a budget and tax rate of $0.98 in June. Cox's proposed budget also included a NEW $10/month garbage fee for Morristown residents. [Garbage costs have not gone up. Garbage pick-up has been a part of the city general budget for years and has been paid for with tax monies. This new "fee" is simply a way of taking more money from the residents to pay for a service that they already pay for with taxes.]

On June 17, Mayor Barile and five councilmembers (Bob Garrett, Claude Jinks, Doc Rooney, Frank McGuffin, and Kay Senter) voted for the budget and the $0.98 tax rate. Those same individuals (less McGuffin who abstained) voted for the new $10/month garbage fee. Councilmember Gene Brooks voted "NO."

Now, Cox is saying "oops" and is asking the Mayor and Council for a tax rate do-over to increase the recently passed tax rate to $1.05.

A more complete post on this proposed "amended" increase is printed in an earlier post today or click here.

July 6, 2010 City Prepares to Increase the Tax Rate ($0.98) Adopted Less Than 2 Weeks Ago to the Maximum Certified Rate of $1.05

Above is the state certified tax rate $1.0571 that was received by the City of Morristown on June 28, eleven days after City Administrator Tony Cox pushed a budget with a tax rate of $0.98 through the Morristown City Council with a  6-1 vote on second reading. Councilmember Gene Brooks was the only "no" vote. 
Now Cox has said "oops" and he wants to hold a special meeting to increase the $0.98 tax rate that he just pushed through to $1.05.

PUBLIC NOTICE (Local "news"paper, July 4, 2010)

The City of Morristown, Tennessee will hold a "Special Called" City Council Meeting on Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm in the City Council Chambers of City Center, 100 West First North Street. The purpose of the meeting will be for amending Ordinance No. 3393 -Fiscal Year 2011 Budget by levying a property tax rate of $1.05 per $100 on assessed valuation of all real and personal property.

Anthony W. Cox
City Administrator

Haste makes waste.  So Cox and Company want a tax rate do-over!

This has been an interesting budget year for the city. Finances are in chaos. Laws are broken by the City. A budget gets zoomed through. Garbage pick-up services used to be part of the regular city budget paid for with tax money.  This year, however, the Mayor and five councilmembers (Garrett, Jinks, McGuffin, Rooney, and Senter) have decided that all the tax increases of past years aren't enough to pay for years of financial mismanagement at the City Center and years of Mayoral and Council failure to ask questions, failure to provide financial oversight, and failure to even read the City audits!

Mayor Barile and Council raised property taxes about 3 years ago. Later they did a "pick-your-poison" sales tax referendum.  Then sewer fees were raised last year and again this year. Now, Cox and Company (Mayor Barile, Garrett, Jinks, McGuffin, Rooney, and Senter) have decided to start a brand new garbage fee ($10/month) to pay for the budget that they passed. This new garbage fee will hit and hurt elderly and low-income/fixed income residents harder than anyone else. 

But all is not gloom and doom at the City Center.  Despite the desperate financial situation at the city and the start of garbage fees on residents, City Administrator Tony Cox, Mayor Barile, and five of the six councilmembers have managed to ADD $100,000 to the council's budget and $30,000 to the Administrator's budget along with increased "travel" money in both the Council's and Administrator's budgets. Maybe these "special" monies can be used for a nifty weekend retreat for the Mayor and Councilmembers in some cozy house overlooking the lake or in a hotel outside of Hamblen County.

[Yes, discussion of a Council "retreat" is on the work session agenda this afternoon following the regular council meeting at 4:00 PM. This was brought up by Administrator Tony Cox weeks ago for team building and vision unity. With the financial mess the City is in, the Administrator, Mayor Barile, and Councilmembers don't need to "retreat" anywhere. They need to stay right here in Morristown where the problems are.]

Now what does the new budget have for the citizens and taxpayers of Morristown?  No retreat! No goodies! No travel! Just a new garbage fee of $10/month.  After all, the extra $130,000 and extra travel money for the Administrator and Mayor and Councilmembers and all the City Center perks and car allowances have to be paid by someone.  And this $10/month fee will increase to about $18/month when the garbage fund is fully supported by "garbage fees" instead of continuing to be a service funded through property and other taxes.

This may be a rare, one-of-a-kind vote in Morristown with a tax rate being amended just two weeks after it passed!  But you can bet that there won't be an amendment to cut out the special new funds that are in the council's and Administrator's budgets.

But never fear, the "six" who were solid in June for a $0.98 tax rate and who voted to balance the city's budget on the backs of the residents with a brand spanking new $10/month garbage fee---while putting an extra $100,000 in the council's budget and an extra $30,000 in the Administrator's budget and extra travel dollars in both the council's AND Administrator's budgets---will be just as solid for increasing the tax rate in July to $1.05. 

The Mayor and Councilmembers couldn't wait for the certified tax rate. City Administrator Tony Cox couldn't wait for the certified tax rate. Budget Director Brian Janish couldn't wait for the certified tax rate. Well, since the tax rate they passed in June ($0.98) is not over the certified tax rate of $1.05, maybe the "six" should just give property owners a break and let their hasty $0.98 tax rate stand. Nah, that won't happen.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

July 4, 2010 The Declaration of Independence

July 4, 2010. Independence Day. The 234th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress, officially declaring that the thirteen colonies were independent states and no longer a part of the British Empire.

The Revolutionary War ended with the surrender of the British at Yorktown in 1781 and the eventual establishment of the United States of America and adoption of a constitutional form of government.

From the Declaration:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The next section of the Declaration of Independence is the famous preamble, stating the ideals and basic principles of the Declaration. The Preamble also asserts what is known as the "right of revolution"--asserting that people have certain rights and when a government violates these rights, the people have the right to "alter or abolish" that government.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

July 1, 2010 Stancil Ford Leaves Meeting with Help and Is Hospitalized

This picture of Commission Chair Stancil Ford talking to Commissioner Larry Baker was taken at yesterday's Hamblen County Commission meeting where the tax rate and budget for 2010-2011 was approved.  Right after the meeting concluded, Stancil Ford was helped out of the building and reportedly taken to M-H Hospital. [Several officials reported that Stancil had been in the Emergency Room earlier yesterday but had insisted on leaving the hospital so he could attend the county's brief budget meeting at 5:00 PM.  He got through the meeting, but he was obviously very disoriented and unfocused.]