Giles Free Speech Zone

The purpose of the "Giles Free Speech Zone" is to identify problems of concern to the people of Giles County, to discuss them in a gentlemanly and civil manner, while referring to the facts and giving evidence to back up whatever claims are made, making logical arguments that avoid any use of fallacy, and, hopefully, to come together in agreement, and find a positive solution to the problem at hand. Help make a difference! Email "mcpeters@usit.net" to suggest topics or make private comments.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Closing of the Blog

I want to thank all those who have been readers and contributors of this Blog. During the past few years over a million visits were made by people interested in the news that was not generally available through the radio station or newspapers.  Subjects were discussed, behaviors were exposed, coverups were uncovered and in all things I presented an honest opinion with the facts to support those opinions. While I was accused many times of lying and called numerous vile names, mostly by those who were being exposed,  not one single time was there ever any proof offered that showed I lied about anything that carried my name under it.

The experience of publishing this Blog has been one of both great frustration and satisfaction. Because the frustration of dealing with repulsive language and outrageous lies has come to outweigh the satisfaction of sharing real news with readers, I have decided to suspend the Blog, at least temporarily for now. I truly appreciate your support and contributions during the life of this blog. Thanks, wab.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Gas Tax Increase Is Actually A Tax Reduction???????

At a recent Giles County Republican Party Meeting, 11 July 2017 at the Staar Theater, Representative Barry Doss addressed the group on the subject of his having worked for and voted for the governor's "Improve Act".  As many of you know, that was the very controversial legislation that increased the fuel taxes and vehicle registration. The legislation also slightly reduced the tax on food, the Hall Income tax and some business taxes. Rep. Doss made a number of assertions during this meeting, among them was that no fuel tax money goes into the state's General Fund, is spent on Mass Transit or anything but "roads and bridges".

There were other parts to the discussion but I want to focus on the main part of Rep. Doss's claim, that the "taxes on fuel are not spent on anything but roads and bridges, not one cent".

These are copies of the actual state budget for 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. As you can easily see these actual budgets do not fit the narrative presented by you last evening.  Over $189,000,000 dollars were diverted from the "Highway User Fee" funds to the General Fund,  Education and to Debt Services”. Notice also that the gasoline tax is not the only state tax on fuels. While I dont expect an apology,  I do want you to know that, your facts were somewhat misleading and inaccurate.



Sources of Highway User Fee Taxes

  State of Tennessee Budget, FY 2015-2016

         Actual
  
Highway User Fee Tax                                   $                                 %

Gasoline Tax.                                         659,915,000                     55.3%

Motor Fuel Tax                                     172,336,300                     14.4%

Gasoline Inspection Tax.                        67,380,500                       5.6%

Motor Vehicle Registration Tax          271,197,800                     22.7%

Motor Vehicle Title Fees                        22,781,500.                     1.9%

Total Highway User Fee Taxes          1,193,611,100.                 100.0%


Source: Budget: State of Tennessee, FY 2017-2018    Page A-65

Table 2 below breaks down how those “highway user fee taxes were spent by the state of Tennessee in FY 2015-2016.
                                            
Table 2
 Uses of Collected Highway User Fee Taxes

 State of Tennessee Budget, FY 2015-2016

                    Actual
Uses of Highway User Fee Taxes.                           $                             %

Diverted to General Fund                               98,002,700                      8.2%

Diverted to Education Fund.                                 69,300                      0.0%

Diverted to Debt Service Fund                       91,500,000                      7.7%

Transportation’ at Cities & Counties           309,187,700                    25.9%

Highway Fund                                                694,851,400                    58.2%

Total Uses of Highway User Fee Taxes      1,193,611,100.                 100.0%



Source: Budget: State of Tennessee, FY 2017-2018    Page A-65
TDOT WORK PROGRAM FY 2016-17 

DESCRIPTION                      FEDERAL          STATE               OTHER                  TOTAL 

Administration                            0                      $ 80,149,900              0                   $ 80,149,900 
   
HQ Operations                            0                        31,706,800.              0                     31,706,800 
Field Operations                         0                         63,090,200.              0                     63,090,200 
Garage and Fleet Operations.     0                         36,112,500        4,600,000              40,712,500 

Capital Improvements                0                                         0.                    0.                              0

Highway Maintenance               0                    $ 306,323,900                     0         $ 306,323,900

Betterments                                 0                          $ 800,000        $ 100,000                $ 900,000 

State Aid                                    0                            30,622,000         625,000              31,247,000 

State Industrial Access              0                            30,000,000          200,000              30,200,000

 Local Interstate Connectors     0                              2,000,000.      2,000,000               4,000,000 

Subtotal                                      0                         $ 63,422,000    $ 2,925,000          $ 66,347,000 



Mass Transit.                          $ 92,188,400.         $ 49,735,000           $ 0               $ 141,923,400 

 Planning and Research.            17,300,000.              6,571,000             0                    23,871,000 

Interstate                                  164,187,000             18,200,000.            0                  182,387,000 

Forest                                              700,000                  200,000             0                         900,000 

Highway Construction             711,835,000           150,844,700       21,500,000          884,179,700 

Air, Water, and Rail                   13,500,000.            38,200,000         2,500,000.         54,200,000 
Subtotal                                $ 999,710,400         $ 263,750,700      $ 24,000,000   1,287,461,100 

TOTAL D.O.T.                     $ 999,710,400         $ 844,556,000      $ 31,525,000.  1,875,791,400 




Highway User Taxes.                $ 670,000,000 

Miscellaneous Revenues                19,656,000

Fund Balance & Reserves              29,000,000 

Bond Authorization                        87,700,000 

Transportation Equity Fund           38,200,000 

TOTAL STATE FUNDING       $ 844,556,000 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Did Taxpayers Get Bitten Again?

I read in the "Pulaski Citizen" that there would be Holiday Closings, as there should be,  in observance of Christmas and New Years.  The announcement told about altered Garbage Collections and when the Pulaski Electric System would be closed.  This information was very helpful and appreciated.

What was missing in the "closing announcements" was the County Offices. Nothing was stated about any County Office being closed. Of course we knew that the people in those offices not only were authorized time off but were very deserving of extra time off for such special events.

What came as a huge surprise was the fact that so much time would be taken off. The Courthouse and  Annex with all it's offices closed Friday 23 December,  Monday 26 December and Tuesday the 27th.  Who knows what will happen for New Year's Day?

Is it reasonable that the Courthouse Offices be closed for such a long time when many have business that needs to be conducted. A twenty mile round trip to a closed Courthouse Office is very frustrating especially if it could have been avoided by a simple statement in the newspaper announcing closings.

There is another segment to this issue and that is the fact that county employees assigned duties in the Courthouse and the Courthouse Annex already are being paid for forty hour work weeks while only working thirty five hours per week. They already have what is perhaps the most lucrative pay and benefits in the County. How many places in the County are there that allows a person to retire after only ten years with over $500.00 a month of taxpayer money for life?

Isn't it time that the taxpayer funded County Worker come under the realities of life in the private sector? Is there such a great turn over among County employees that they have to be paid more and be given greater benefits than the private sector worker? It certainly isn't the fault of the County employee that their pay and benefits are so far out of line with the private sector, like any reasonable person they only take what is offered to them. The fault lies in a lack of a realistic, responsible examination of the pay and benefits that are currently available to many County employees.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Why Are Some Still Given Special Privileges?

If seems Commissioner Campbell, awaiting trial on more than one felony, continues to receive or take special privileges at different offices in the Courthouse and Annex. 

It was reported that Commissioner Campbell made a little trip to the Election Office during early voting, not to vote but for other business that was so important to him that he just walked behind the counter and into the Supervisor's Office all in violation of rules prohibiting anyone other than the office staff and the poll workers from being in contact with voting information. 

Did Commissioner Campbell come in direct contact with voter information, I'm sure the public will never know for certain. Certainly he should not be allowed unfettered access to any County Office, especially the Election Office during voting periods.  
Appearance alone are enough to create questions and outrage in these times of questionable voting irregularities.
  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Request For Action From Ethics Committee

News has come to me that a new letter to the County Ethics Committee has been sent requesting they take action against Commissioner Campbell. 

The letter, I am told, asks that the Ethics Committee meet, discuss and vote to sent a request to the full County Legislative Body to issue a public censure of Commissioner Campbell.

The County Ethics Code adopted in 2007 states, "The Committee may, in the case of an official, refer the matter to the County Legislative Body for possible public censure if the County Legislative Body finds such action warranted."

Commissioner Campbell is scheduled to appear in court on 17 October 2017. I understand that this will be merely a preliminary appearance to set a date for an actual trial sometime in January or February 2017. 

I have been told that discussions have been held to form a deal that would drop some charges and allow Commissioner Campbell to plead to lesser crimes.  

Friday, October 07, 2016

School, Property and Budget Committees Met 6 Oct 2016

Three different governmental committees, School, Property and Budget, met this morning primarily to approve the expenditure of $1,550,000.00 by the school system on various repairs, upgrades and architect drawings for a new school. The money was approved to be taken out of the School surplus funds. 

Some discussion was held about various issues that had resulted in less than adequate contractor work in the past. This was addressed by both School Director Wright and Asst. Director Gonzales who described new oversight procedures that will avoid most poor quality work in the future. I congratulated Mr. Gonzales on his efforts and more strict oversight of projects. 

Also approved were repairs and upgrades at a cost of $67,951.00 at the Agri-Park. Those expenses would be taken out of the Hotel/Motel tax revenues which has over $300,000.00.

Also during the Budget Committee Mrs Vanzant announced that the amount of money to be given to the E-911 Board would be $112,000.00 instead of the $132,000.00 requested and first approved by the county Legislative Body. I complemented Mrs Vanzant on this decision as she had led the way in the reduction and getting clarity on the county's responsibility to E-911.

A very interesting thing happened at the School Committee meeting. It was called to order at 8:30 AM and adjourned at 8:47 AM. Commissioner Campbell came into the room at 8:50 and signed both the sign in sheet for the School Committee and the Property Committee meeting that was preparing to meet. Getting paid for meetings not attended seems to continue being a problem, except for those very few unscrupulous commissioners who just can't seem to resist free money. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

ETHICS????? ETHICS IN GILES COUNTY?????

The County Ethics Committee was finally formed this morning (28 Sept. 2016) and convened to discuss and act on an official complaint against Commissioner Campbell, who has been charged, but not tried yet, with a number of very serious crimes and behaviors.

To define the Ethics Committee Meeting this morning as surprising would be surprising. It went exactly as I had predicted, with absolutely nothing being done other than to show the utter contempt some have for taking a stand against wrong behavior. It always amazes me how good, honest, moral people seem to buckle under the responsibility of making public moral decisions.

Most of the Commissioners have expressed their disgust with the Tommy Campbell situation privately but taking a public stand seems to be more than they are capable of. 

Instead of doing the research for themselves and reaching out beyond the very limited confines of the courthouse to find the truth, committee members instead relied on an attorney that seems willing to say whatever the ventriloquist says.  So, instead of depending on the written word of the law they took the unrelated comments of a shyster who tried to make everything about an “ouster suit” instead of a simple “suspension” that was requested.

I clearly stated that the issue before the committee had nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of Commissioner Campbell, that was to be settled in a court of law but that it was about suspending him until his legal problems have been resolved. One reason supporting suspension is the fact that one of the charges against Commissioner Campbell is “coercion of a witness”. By remaining  a County Commissioner he continues to be in a greater position to “coerce” especially with the perception that many hold of officials being above the law.   

The County Attorney, Mr. Chris Williams, stated that the Ethics Committee “could do nothing” in relation to the complaint that was filed. Even when I was allowed to read T.C.A. 8-47-116 titled “Suspension Pending Hearing”, that defines the means of suspension, Mr. Williams continued to refer to the section as about “OUSTER” thus confusing the issue even more. 


Even when I read article two of the county ethics policy that states, “The committee may, In the case of an official, refer the matter to the county legislative body for possible public censure if the county legislative body finds such action warranted”. Mr. Williams interpreted the term “may” as meaning “may not” and stated such to the committee. So the committee, based on Mr. Williams faulty advice chose to do nothing. Essentially giving a stamp of approval to Commissioner Campbell and his behavior. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Why So Much Foot Dragging By The County Ethics Committee

Why does it take action from a private citizen to get the Giles County Ethics Committee to organize and act on one of the most severe and notorious ethics violations in recent times?

These are some important requirements of the Ethics Legislation adopted by the state in 2006

1 Local ethics policies must be adopted by the county legislative body in each county by June 30, 2007. 
2 The policies are required to cover two things: (1) disclosure and/or limits on gifts and (2) disclosure of conflict of interests. 
3 The policies cannot include personnel, employment, or operational regulations of local government offices. 
4 The policies apply broadly to all officials and employees in all offices, agencies, and departments of the county and to the members, officers, and employees of all boards, commissions, authorities, corporations, or other instrumentalities of a county. 
5 CTAS is required to draft and distribute a model policy to counties to provide guidance and direction. The county may choose to adopt the model or draft standards of its own. 
6 The policies are led with the State Ethics Commission. If the county adopts the CTAS model policy, then, instead of ling the policy, the county simply notifies the State Ethics Commission in writing that the county adopted the CTAS model policy. 
7 Enforcement remains as provided under current law. 
8 A failure or refusal to adopt standards by a local governing body by the deadline subjects its members to ouster.

This section is what governs the events needed to be addressed.  

Section 5. Ethics Complaints. A County Ethics Committee (the “Ethics Committee”) consisting of various members shall be appointed to one-year terms by the County Mayor with confirmation by the county legislative body, to be appointed each year at the same time as internal committees of the county legislative body. At least three members of the committee shall be members of the county legislative body; one member shall be a constitutional county officer or, should no constitutional county officer be willing to accept appointment, an additional member of the county legislative body; and the remaining member may be either a member of a board, committee, commission, authority, corporation, or other instrumentality governed by this policy, or an additional member of the county legislative body. The Ethics Committee shall convene as soon as practicable after their appointment and elect a chair and a secretary. The records of the Ethics Committee shall be maintained by the secretary and shall be filed in the office of the county clerk, where they shall be open to public inspection.
Questions and complaints regarding violations of this Code of Ethics or of any violation of state law governing ethical conduct should be directed to the chair of the Ethics Committee. Complaints shall be in writing and signed by the person making the complaint, and shall set forth in reasonable detail the facts upon which the complaint is based.
The County Ethics Committee shall investigate any credible complaint against an official or employee charging any violation of this Code of Ethics, or may undertake an investigation on its own initiative when it acquires information indicating a possible violation, and make recommendations for action to end or seek retribution for any activity that, in the Committee’s judgment, constitutes a violation of this Code of Ethics. If a member of the Committee is the subject of a complaint, such member shall recuse himself or herself from all proceedings involving such complaint.

The Committee may:
(1) refer the matter to the County Attorney for a legal opinion and/or recommendations for action;
(2) in the case of an official, refer the matter to the county legislative body for possible public censure if the county legislative body finds such action warranted;
(3) in the case of an employee, refer the matter to the official responsible for supervision of the employee for possible disciplinary action if the official finds discipline warranted;
(4) in a case involving possible violation of state statutes, refer the matter to the district attorney for possible ouster or criminal prosecution;
The interpretation that a reasonable person in the circumstances would apply shall be used in interpreting and enforcing this Code of Ethics. When a violation of this Code of Ethics also constitutes a violation of a personnel policy or a civil service policy, the violation shall be dealt with as a violation of the personnel or civil service provisions rather than as a violation of this Code of Ethics.

Now, this is the main element of the Ethics Resolution adopted by Giles County that pertains to this situation. If you would like to read the entire document it is posted, as outlined in this document, on each county bulletin board in the courthouse.

Ouster law—T.C.A. § 8-47-101 sets out conduct that is punishable by ouster from office, including misconduct in office and neglect of duty.

8-47-101.  Officers subject to removal -- Grounds. 

  Every person holding any office of trust or profit, under and by virtue of any of the laws of the state, either state, county, or municipal, except such officers as are by the constitution removable only and exclusively by methods other than those provided in this chapter, who shall knowingly or willfully commit misconduct in office, or who shall knowingly or willfully neglect to perform any duty enjoined upon such officer by any of the laws of the state, or who shall in any public place be in a state of intoxication produced by strong drink voluntarily taken, or who shall engage in any form of illegal gambling, or who shall commit any act constituting a violation of any penal statute involving moral turpitude, shall forfeit such office and shall be ousted from such office in the manner hereinafter provided.

8-47-103.  Investigation and institution of proceedings. 

  It is the duty of the attorney general and reporter, the district attorneys general, county attorneys, and city attorneys, within their respective jurisdictions, upon notice being received by them in writing that any officer herein mentioned has been guilty of any of the acts, omissions, or offenses set out in § 8-47-101, forthwith to investigate such complaint; and, if upon investigation such person finds that there is reasonable cause for such complaint, such person shall forthwith institute proceedings in the circuit, chancery, or criminal court of the proper county, to oust such officer from office.

8-47-116.  Suspension pending hearing -- Filling of vacancy. 

  Upon petition or complaint being filed, praying for a writ of ouster against any of the officers herein named, and whether such action is brought by the attorney general and reporter, district attorney general, county attorney, city attorney, or by relator citizens and freeholders, the court, judge, or chancellor may, on application of the attorney general and reporter, the district attorney general for the state, the county attorney, city attorney, or relator citizens and freeholders bringing such action, suspend such officer or officers so accused from performing any of the duties of their office, pending a final hearing and determination of the matter; and, thereupon, the vacancy shall be filled as the law provides for the filling of vacancies in such office, and such person or persons so filling such vacancy shall carry on the duties of the office until such hearing shall be finally determined or until the successor of the officer so suspended shall be elected or appointed as provided by law, and shall have qualified.

8-47-117.  Hearing on suspension. 

  No person shall be suspended under this chapter until at least five (5) days' notice of the application for the order of suspension shall be served upon such person, which notice shall set forth the time and place of the hearing of the application, and the officer shall have the right to appear and make any defense that the officer may have, and shall be entitled to a full hearing upon the charges contained in the complaint and upon the application for the order of suspension; and no order of suspension shall be made, except upon finding of good cause therefor.

8-47-101.  Officers subject to removal -- Grounds. 

  Every person holding any office of trust or profit, under and by virtue of any of the laws of the state, either state, county, or municipal, except such officers as are by the constitution removable only and exclusively by methods other than those provided in this chapter, who shall knowingly or willfully commit misconduct in office, or who shall knowingly or willfully neglect to perform any duty enjoined upon such officer by any of the laws of the state, or who shall in any public place be in a state of intoxication produced by strong drink voluntarily taken, or who shall engage in any form of illegal gambling, or who shall commit any act constituting a violation of any penal statute involving moral turpitude, shall forfeit such office and shall be ousted from such office in the manner hereinafter provided

This is the letter of complaint sent to the Ethics Committee Members, the County Executive and the Pulaski Citizen newspaper. The name and address of the writer has been withheld.

8 September 2016


County Executive Giles County
Members of Giles County Ethics Committee

Dear Mrs. Vanzant:

Please accept this letter as a formal complaint against Commissioner Tommy A. Campbell based on the charges recently brought against him by the TBI and District Attorney's office and which are currently pending in court.

Since a Motion was filed to continue the original arraignment date from yesterday until October 17th, this matter could continue for several months. Therefore, respectfully request the Ethics Committee of Giles County meet to possibly discuss suspending Mr. Campbell from all official duties as a County Commissioner until a decision is handed down through the courts, and that an interim Commissioner be appointed by the Legislative Body.

District 7 and the citizens of Giles County do not need to be under- represented until the charges against Mr. Campbell are resolved.  Until some action by the Legislative Body is taken a continued pall hangs over our County Government and it is time to move on. 
Since Mr. Campbell is a member of the Ethics Committee and by law is recused from discussion, I am not including him in distribution of this letter.

Thank you.


Sincerely,

Monday, August 22, 2016

Unusual Behavior At Highland Baptist Church?

The question has arisen as to just who were the mysterious visitors at Highland Baptist Church Sunday?

They are described as three middle eastern looking men who backed their car up to the door of the church during services then opened the trunk and got backpacks which they carried into the church building.

It seems that their story was they had never been to a church in the USA and wanted to take some pictures of what it was like. They left without incident.

Our prayer is that they were indeed as they claimed and this was nothing more than the curiosity of someone unfamiliar with our customs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Giles County commissioner accused of aggravated statutory rape, sexual exploitation

Courtesy: Giles County Sheriff's Department
Courtesy: Giles County Sheriff's Department 
GILES COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A 71-year-old Giles County commissioner was arrested by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Wednesday following an almost three-month investigation.
Tommy Campbell’s arrest comes after he was indicted on two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, coercion of a witness, aggravated statutory rape, aggravated assault, misdemeanor theft, and carrying a firearm in a government building.
According to the indictment, Campbell attempted to influence a witness by allegedly firing a weapon in an effort to intimidate her.
The arrest followed a joint investigation that began in May when the TBI and the Pulaski Police Department began looking into allegations that Campbell was having sex with a minor.
According to the TBI, authorities found evidence that Campbell had sexual relations with a minor “on or around April 9.”
Campbell is being held at the Giles County jail. His bond is set at $75,000.
He also serves on the Giles County law enforcement committee, according to the district attorney.
News 2 is committed to covering crime across Middle Tennessee. Visit wkrn.com/crimetracker for more coverage.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Voter Fraud Through False Petitions Is A Crime Unless It Happens In Giles County


Obama Admin. Officials Convicted Of Voter Fraud In Obama Election


If you thought that Obama’s 2008 election just didn’t seem right, it turns out you were on to something. At the end of last month, two Democratic officials from Indiana were arrested and convicted of ballot fraud. It appears that Obama truly wasn’t eligible to be on the ballot.
Chairman Butch Morgan Jr. from St. Joseph County was convicted of felony conspiracy to commit petition fraud and forgery. Dustin Blyth, who served on the Board of Elections, was charged with felony forgery and several counts of making a false petition. Both men were charged and convicted for submitting fake names and signatures on petitions that were designed to get Obama and Hillary Clinton onto the 2008 primary ballots. Morgan seems to have been the driver of the actions.
County Sheriffs have uncovered that many locals of St. Joseph county appeared on the petitions, although they have sworn they never signed them.  
Unfortunately, the case wasn’t brought to the court until 2011, when Lucas Burkett of the Board of Registration decided that he felt too guilty to continue carrying the secret. Authorities determined that had the criminal action not taken place, Obama probably wouldn’t have appeared on the ballot in St. Joseph County.
What do you think should be done about such fraud?


Officials found guilty in Obama, Clinton ballot petition fraud

A jury in South Bend, Indiana has found that fraud put President Obama and Hillary Clinton on the presidential primary ballot in Indiana in the 2008 election. Two Democratic political operatives were convicted Thursday night in the illegal scheme after only three hours of deliberations. They were found guilty on all counts.
Former longtime St. Joseph County Democratic party Chairman Butch Morgan Jr.  was found guilty of felony conspiracy counts to commit petition fraud and forgery, and former county Board of Elections worker Dustin Blythe was found guilty of felony forgery counts and falsely making a petition, after being accused of faking petitions that enabled Obama, then an Illinois Senator, to get on the presidential primary ballot for his first run for the White House.
Morgan was accused of being the mastermind behind the plot.
According to testimony from two former Board of Election officials who pled guilty, Morgan ordered Democratic officials and workers to fake the names and signatures that Obama and Clinton needed to qualify for the presidential race. Blythe, then a Board of Elections employee and Democratic Party volunteer, was accused of forging multiple pages of the Obama petitions.
"I think this helped uphold the integrity of the electoral system," the prosecutor, Stan Levco told reporters.
“Their verdict of guilt is not a verdict against Democrats, but for honest and fair elections,” he said.