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Bradley County leaders decision to tax and spend, not sitting well with taxpayers

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2013 at 10:52 AM

The Bradley County News room just received an email that I thought would make a very appropriate “Letter to the Editor” type blog to be addressed in this news outlet and shared with our 50,000 plus readers in 106 countries.

The relevance of the letter comes on the heels of a huge regional tax and spend program startup with meetings to be kicked off in the month of March.

The Local Chamber of Commerce and other NGOs will be gambling billions upon billions of your tax dollars on “economic development” for our 3 state, 16 County megaregional “Thrive 2055” growth program.

The enormity of this project will be horrendously expensive and we the taxpayer will get very little benefit and we will see very little oversight by our elected leaders as non governmental organizations run amuck with your hard earned tax dollars.

The biggest message I received from this email was our locally elected representatives are not concerned with reducing our debt, only receiving more grants to spur new spending sprees. That is a fantastic summation of where our leaders are directing us with this regional growth plan.

They all “say or preach” the right thing when the press is around or hog the print to fuss about DC when they are doing the same thing only at the local level and on a smaller scale.

It’s time the citizens and ultimately taxpayers speak up and say enough is enough. We do not like the direction our County is going and we want to preserve our children’s future not gamble it away for the next federal grant that may come our way.

I think it’s high time we take responsibility for our city and county. Act responsible and live within our means for a change, cut our debt instead of mounding it on our children’s backs, robbing them of their own ability to be prosperous.

Letter to the Editor:

Gentlemen,
Let me please begin by recalling some of your quotes that are the basis of this e-mail to you all.
 
Gary Davis quote from TFP article by Paul Leach on Jan. 11 2013:

“These are all very good signs that we are slowly but surely growing our way out of this recession and, at least in Southeast Tennessee, doing our part to generate the revenue we need without raising taxes”
 
Jeff Morelock quote from TFP article by Paul Leach on Dec. 5, 2012:

“Are we going to invest in future industry here and have growth so we don’t have to increase taxes, or are we going to tell industry we’re not interested in you coming here?”
 
J. Adam Lowe from a CDB article 2/22/2013 by David Davis:

He “absolutely despises the conversation about reducing the deficit. I want to eliminate the deficit. I want to reduce the debt”.
He said his parents would pay more in taxes if they knew it would go toward paying foreign debt.
“There is not trust it will go to that”. “Their concern is that it will continue to fund programs…”
 
Each of these articles were about different issues but I found a common thread running through each of them in your quotes. All of you rail against Washington. All of you talk about how federal debt is an issue and all you ascribe to the same basic political and economic philosophies as the solution.
 
We have our own ever increasing debt problem in Bradley County and none of you talk about it (at least publicly as I can tell). It’s always about how bad things are in Washington. As a proportion we are at least as bad as Washington in this county. Is it not hypocrisy on your part to attack Washington when our situation is approaching a mirror image? And unlike Washington, you can’t just print more money until it is as worthless as the the currency became during the days of  the Wiemar Republic just preceding Hitler.
 
Instead of remaining within the bounds of what is expected of your job you take on the task of “economic development” based on the principles of sustainable development, public/private partnerships and now regional growth. We have been at this kind of activity for over 20 years now? How has it worked for us? Have all these PILOT programs, incentives and business “attraction” produced a ballooning budget surplus yet that you have so hoped for? No it hasn’t and it never will. Do you know what else? I cannot find one study, one piece of documentation anywhere that tells us this unholy alliance between big business and bigger government works. I have multiple studies from the right wing (The John Birch Society) all the way to the left wing (The NEA) as well as many other legal and academic studies that show what you are engaging in always fails. I defy you to find me one study that shows the success of government directed economic development. Understand: I want to believe it works. I want to believe that I can turn all of life’s problems over to my government and they will create a “livable community” for me. The evidence does not bare that out.
 
“Whirlpool is still here.” “Look at Volkswagen and Amazon”: is not a study. Sorry. There are always silver shovel ceremonies and short term bubbles of economic growth (makes for great headlines and photo ops) but that bubble always bursts. Then it leads to more economic development which means more debt! You promote these deals, we provide infrastructure and services at no cost to these corporations. They take federal, state and local monies in these programs. The result: either they are long gone by the time it is time for them to begin paying their full tax burden or if they are still here, we are hit up for another PILOT agreement. You are all aware of cities that have gone bankrupt such as Stockton, Cal. The big lie in the media is that it was all about out of control public employee benefits, retirements and the SEIU. I know there is some truth in part. However the real issue in these California cities is their net bonded debt that they could not pay. This debt was created by redevelopment schemes and business attraction programs just like what is being unleashed in our area now. What makes you think you will do better this time? Regionalism? Thrive 2055 will take care of it?  
 
As stated earlier; none of you suggest addressing the spending side of the equation to solve our deficit issues and spending “needs”. All of you agree that your activity will generate growth, that will generate jobs, that will generate revenue. Once again, we have been doing this for a long time, where is the budget surplus? Where is the debt reduction? Why do you still despair over a lack of revenue?

Your quotes are essentially threats to the people: let us spend this money on economic development or we will raise your taxes. Those are the only options you give. Jeff Morelock, this is especially true of your quote. You clearly give no thought to spending reduction. You want to grow the tax base to match the size of this government that continually increases. How are any of you different than Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama? I can’t tell the difference. These are the ones you probably all criticize and complain about “strings attached” as you continually take money in federal grants and sit back and act appalled at their behavior.
 
Let me make it simple and if you disagree, then at least I said my peace to you.
PILOT programs, TIF and other Tax abatements are wrong for four reasons: 
1. People like free stuff. Whether it is an individual or a corporation. I don’t blame them: they would be stupid for not taking what you are offering because if they don’t, their competition will. Once people or corporations start taking free stuff, they will never stop and demand more free stuff. I asked another county commissioner this  question to his face one time: Where does it end? He shook his head and muttered “I don’t know”. How sad of a response; yet he still votes for all this.

2. Corporations that have tax abatements do not pay for the services they consume. If you want to perform an experiment: let all county residents only pay the school portion of their property taxes for 6 months and see how far you get. And you don’t even have to build us a new fire station or a new road! The NEA study takes my position because they know the safeguards written into the law to protect school taxes does not work.

3. As you start using our tax money as an incentive do you not think other municipalities, regional entities, etc… are doing the same against us? I know in business when someone cuts a price, there is always retaliation against the price cutter. Soon a price war ensues. Gary Davis: I know you understand this: That is why you were caught on a YouTube video at the Walden Club asking our local municipalities to “stop competing with each other, that’s the point”. You said: “We don’t need to compete”. In business, that is a clear violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust act; In government, I guess you can create any sort of Cartel you want. You must be really excited about Thrive 2055. This is a whole new layer of unelected, unaccountable government who make decisions on what businesses will go where and what areas grow. However, this didn’t work in ancient Rome where it was pursued by Emporer Constantine in Constantinople. It did not work in the Soviet Union, and it will not work here. Central planning ALWAYS fails and leaves a trail of debt and poverty. Again, I will share multiple studies if you are interested.

4. NGOs like the Chamber of Commerce and quasi-government organizations like the Industrial Development board shop our tax money to people and corporations. I know these things are not your creation but your quotes and actions show you are more than willing participants. Again, these are unelected organizations and individuals that have no accountability to the people of Bradley County but declare themselves as our “representatives”. There were some very smart people who wrote our various state constitutions who outlawed the very activity the IDB engages in. I know full well these industrial development boards were created to get around state constitutional restraints that forbid municipalites from lending their credit to private comapnies or individuals. Again, many of these things came into being as a result of the New Deal and are not your doing, but they are still wrong. You can choose to not go along with this if you want. 
 
In closing,
We are poor. Let’s start acting like it. Stop complaing about Washington when in truth Washington is your life blood. We rely on federal grant money and you know it as well as I do. Its’ not just funding our local government directly from Washington – you can even look at our local “growth”. For example look at Spring Creek which is being built with HUD 221 backed financing. This is not real, organic economic growth and you know it. These developments are built with non-recourse loans with a lower down payment than any mortgage today. This is a formula for disaster. That’s exactly what caused the housing bubble in the first place! However there is always a recourse – The American taxpayer!!

Show Washington how it’s done. You have your own debt problem to deal with.
J. Adam Lowe: If you are serious about debt, I suggest you offer up a proposal to raise property tax rates in the county with all the proceeds to go to a “lock box” for debt reduction. Think about it – you can be the Ross Perot of Bradley County!! Remember he ran on a platform to tax a gallon of gasoline $.50 that went right to debt reduction? I don’t think you will get that far in your political career by pointing attention to our local debt load but it’s worth a try.

The truth of the matter is that all of you don’t want more revenue for debt reduction: you want more revenue for more spending. My proof is the wheel tax proposal that failed. More money for more borrowing.

Gentlemen, please consider going in a new direction. Consider these words and I am happy to reconsider where I am wrong in my conclusions. Can you say the same about yourselves? I have nothing against any of you personally as I have not met many of you. It’s not any of you as a person that drives me to write this: It is the political and economic philosophies you are following that I find objectionable.
 
P.S.
Let’s start by pulling out of that exit 20 land deal that the city and county paid about $4 millon dollars too much for. I would like a copy of the property assessment for that land by the way. can one of you please scan and send your copy to me?
 
Thank you for your attention,
 
Rob Bower 

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Brymer Creek degradation, a result of talk, little action

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2012 at 8:05 AM

From the beginning the warning bells have sounded as many citizens spoke up about the economic and environmental impact of such a large construction project like the Spring Branch Industrial Park would have on our community.

I think Matt Bentley said it best almost a year ago as the vote to go forward with the park was being initiated.

“I want you to think long and hard about the pros and cons of this development,” community member Matt Bentley said.

Bentley said he and others in the community did not feel respected in the process thus far.

The above concerns by resident Matt Bentley and other concerned citizens, including members of the Tea Party of Bradley County now sound like an ominous warning that got neglected resulting in our elected leaders rendering the seriousness of this debate to an afterthought.

Repeated warnings of possible degradation to the environment around this sight and to the creek were voiced for almost a year prior to this most recent negative impact to the states fifth cleanest creek.

You can clearly see, a year ago, where the ball got dropped although two of Bentley’s concerns were addressed in a paragraph added before the original resolution, presented by 6th District Commissioner Robert Rominger as reported in the Cleveland Daily Banner.

This added paragraph said steps would be taken to limit the impact on the community from the industrial park. The proposed steps include: “(1) sewer service to the proposed Spring Brach Road site will be provided from an existing 8-inch sewer line on APD 40, (2) buffers will surround building sites as shown on the concept drawing, (3) Spring Branch Road will be closed and will not be used for ingress or egress from the industrial park and (4) Harriman Road will serve as a secondary method of ingress and egress from the site and every effort will be made to prevent traffic use other than in an emergency.”

The resolution does not address the community’s concern about preserving Spring Branch, Brymer Creek and Candies Creek from storm water runoff as reported in the Cleveland Daily Banner 12 months ago.

Seventh District Commissioner Bill Winters said the Commission does in fact respect the community’s concerns. Winters said he shared concerns about protecting the area’s creeks.

“I don’t think any of us want an industrial park to negatively impact your community,” Winters said.

Mr Winters spoke of it, showed concern, went a step further to say he heard our concerns and was interested in protecting the area creeks and not negatively impact them, but it appears to be only talk. To my knowledge, no plan or oversight was planned beyond talking about it and acknowledging that the problem or potential exists.

We are always so quick to form a committee to study one thing or another, this would and could have been an excellent opportunity to say we are going to follow this through to make sure this didn’t happen to one of the cleanest creeks in the state.

Fast forward one year and we see Brymer creek and the surrounding area being inundated and degraded by muddy polluted stormwater runoff at the Spring Branch construction site.

During the Bradley County Commission voting session meeting Monday evening, Commissioner Ed Elkins said, “Last week I reported on a situation down in the McDonald area or Exit 20 area involving some stormwater runoff. Subsequent to the meeting last week, I did learn that it had been looked at by TDEC and the environmental engineers from the city of Cleveland and I was assured that corrective action was in place to correct that.” Mr. Elkins was referring to the stormwater runoff coming from road and industrial development projects near Spring Branch causing muddy water to flow into Brymer Creek as reported by the Chattanoogan.com.

Dan Rawls addressed the commission stating, “This situation out in McDonald is why the people of McDonald were opposed to this. I don’t know if anyone has seen the video of the degradation of that creek, but you were warned about it from the beginning. Who is accountable for this? The people who are affected by this are in the county. How can you allow that to happen to a waterway that’s that clean and that recognized? We were all told that would never happen. Who is accountable, the government, the people who did it or the contractors? What’s the answer here? What’s going on? We tried to warn you that this was going to happen. Why were the systems not put in place to have prevented this in the first place? I fought this thing for over a year and they’ve fought it longer than that. I think there needs to be some answers and some apologies to the people that live out there around that creek that warned you about this.”

Commissioner Elkins responded, “The permit for that project was issued to the city of Cleveland. They have responsibility for it. The contractor did not take the necessary precautions and that was unfortunate. Once TDEC was notified, they did get on it and got the city down there. It’s kind of like closing the barn door once the horse escaped, but I’m told they are taking precautions to do that now. Clearly someone dropped the ball.”

Commissioner Peak Jones said, “The city of Cleveland does have precautions in place for that process. Where it fell through, nobody knows.”

Commissioner Elkins commented, “The city annexed that area and they pulled the general permit for that project to do the road. So, Bradley County really has no jurisdiction over it. I guess we could file a complaint with the city because where the damage is being done is inside Bradley County. It falls under the city to explore it. I think it would be appropriate for us to file a complaint with them and ask them to do this.”

Commissioner Adam Lowe said, “We went to great lengths to have meetings with people in that community. I remember listening to a very healthy active discussion about the pros and cons and figuring out how to mitigate as much as we could. I’m having trouble recalling if anyone from the city was there but it was prior to the annexation. Right now, I’m a little shattered about going to such great lengths as a county commission to try to hear from the constituents in that area. It was such a high priority in my opinion. I feel like for some reason, somewhere it stopped being a high priority.”

May I add something here Commissioner Lowe, while it was evidently labeled a “high priority” that’s all it was, a label. It was all talk and little action. This is where we always seem to get bogged down in the political machine. We gladly offer talk because it can easily be quoted in a news article, so we can cut it out and put it in our scrap book. Getting our hands dirty and doing something on the other hand is a whole new realm we seldom like to explore because it takes a little more effort.

Commissioner Yarber suggested Commission Assistant Amy Moore provide more information regarding the matter and recommended further discussion at a future work session to come up with a thought process to put in place on how to handle the situation.

Chairman Alford said, “Me and Mrs. Moore will get in touch with people from the city regarding the matter tomorrow to try to get more information. That is, if they are willing to meet with us.”

With all due respect to the Commissioners, City Councilmen and women, both Mayors, the Industrial Development Board and Doug Berry of the Chamber of Commerce, one thing clearly stands out in the paragraphs above of the coverage of tbe meeting.

We love to give lip service to the general public and say what we think the people want to hear. We are all very quick to listen to concerned citizens and their gripes and complaints and then talk about plans to fix it. This debacle has left many scampering for someone to blame with hoardes of elected and non elected officials washing their hands of the responsibility of the pollution of Brymer Creek.

Instead of one person stepping up and committing to making sure not one more ounce of pollution flows into Brymer Creek, it seems the only viable and forseeable solution is let’s talk and talk and talk about it till we have talked enough then let’s talk some more.

But when all is said and done the end result is a once clean creek is now dirty and polluted and all we have done is talk about it to the point of nausea.

Talking without followup seems to have gotten us in this dilemma. Lip service without a plan is exactly that, lip service.

Who is to blame? Ultimately the voter will decide. They will mull over the previous four years of service and make an informed decision.

It would have been so simple to take our concerns, formulate a plan, follow up on plan, provide oversight of construction and make sure that when the first scoop of dirt was moved, no runoff was going to pollute Brymer creek.

The ball was dropped indeed. Many chose to talk and even more failed to execute.

Source of info:

Please visit this site frequently as it is chocked full of note worthy news articles that affect us daily. http://www.chattanoogan.com/2012/9/5/233582/Stormwater-Runoff-Into-Brymer-Creek.

http://www.clevelandbanner.com/view/full_story/15419958/article-County-delays-industrial-park-funding-vote

Tea Party leader fires back about fliers

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2012 at 2:17 AM

Tea Party leader fires back about fliers

The ironic thing is there is not one mistruth is in this flyer! And our elected officials have stirred up one hell of a balew over it! It is all true! I am holding a document and would gladly provide a copy that clearly states that 300 homes in the downtown area will be “demolished and redeveloped” just as the flyer warns.

The mix up is that it is my belief that not even the Mayor is fully informed of the growth plan that he and his council have voted on and approved recently!

This is the price they pay for allowing 3rd parties and NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) such as industrial boards, Chamber of Commerce or economic development appointees or committee members to make all the in between vote decisions for them. Then when the informed taxpayer, in this instance, an informed tea partier does his due diligence, researches numerous documents and presents facts to our elected officials they have that deer in the headlight look as if seeing it for the first time.

I have a very alert, well educated and intelligent group of individuals in the tea party and they are willing to go to bat to stop this type of spin on the truth even if it means great personal conflict or loss! It is a belief in the constitution, that if followed will flush out many who do not belong in office.

We can no longer sit back and trust our elected officials with the rings at a full gallop. We must, as concerned citizens, pull back on the bit and slow the stallion down while occasionally having to break them with a steady firm hand.

Our politician bureaucrat types are attempting to discredit and silence any person that speaks the truth in an open venue, such as passing flyers out to the public.

Not one single mistruth permeates this flyer! The biggest lie told on this story comes from a very misinformed Mayor and council that is not even aware of the plans inside the plan they voted to enact just a few short months ago.

To make up for their information inadequacy they strike at the first person who happens to tell them something they have never heard or seen and instead of researching the data or “googling” the information as suggested, they assume the information is false and start a campaign against this valiant man and his family!

The campaign hoisted by this administration is irrehensible and truly has hurt those in it’s path! The ability of one person and it’s seven henchmen along with a willing press to do absolutely no research of any of the data in question is the true destructive component of a government and it’s governors that are sorely inconsiderate of their electorate.

I would truly be ashamed if this were my doing and hurting a family the way some have. The mental anguish this has placed on this person is almost unbearable and has caused a fine upstanding citizen to go underground to avoid tyranny from a runaway government.

Not a single reporter or elected representative that I am aware of has even bothered to raise a hand to research the facts. If they did they would clearly see that the information that is being hotly contested would bare out the truth and provide the answers and end the debate over truth or non truth.

It’s like Nancy Pelosi suggested on the Obamacare health care bill, sign it then we will read it later! The taxpayers are pretty aware of what is coming down the pike, it’s the elected officials that would sign on a paper bag without knowing what was in the bag, if it meant federal dollars coming their way!

Source: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jun/20/tea-party-leader-fires-back-about-fliers/?local

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The head of the Tea Party of Bradley County said Tuesday that Mayor Tom Rowland should resign after taking a stand against a flier — written by a tea party member — that says the city wants to destroy the homes in some Cleveland neighborhoods.

Donny Harwood, local tea party chairman, said Rowland thinks he is king.

The Cleveland City Council also voted unanimously to request a police investigation into the flier, a decision that Harwood says is “to basically manhunt down the source of the flier and have him arrested or brought up on charges.”

Harwood said the man who put out the flier recently joined the Bradley tea party and is “now in fear of his safety and well-being. I had to listen as his family wept in the background on a phone conversation because this mayor unjustifiably put out a bounty on his head!”

In his emailed statement, Harwood said the mayor and all the City Council, plus city planner Greg Thomas, should resign.

Rowland said Tuesday that “the job of city government is to protect its citizens and that includes misinformation that could put fear into senior citizens.”

Rowland has said there is no plan to destroy homes in the neighborhoods through a plan being developed by Bradley County, Cleveland and Charleston to accommodate growth for the next 25 years.

“The neighborhoods where the fliers were circulated are established neighborhoods where people have lived for two or three generations,” Rowland said. “They should not be given misinformation that creates fear.

“The council simply asked for an investigation to determine the source of the fliers so they can be given correct information. Of course, if any criminal laws are violated, that is a different matter,” Rowland said.

Calling the city government “runaway,” Harwood said that if he or the man who put out the flier are harmed, that the mayor, the council and Thomas “should be held responsible and investigated to the fullest extent of the law!”

Committee to preserve Georgetown speaks: No to rezoning for Industry

In Agenda 21, Farmers, Government on May 18, 2012 at 12:08 PM

About 100 citizens packed the Georgetown Baptist Church in Cleveland Temnessee tonight.

The citizens had a few things on their minds. No! No to rezoning! No to wide roads swiping their private property! No to big government telling the little man what to do! No to encroachment on their property! No to anything you do without our input! End of story!

The meeting was well organized and Jeff Miller was the main coordinator tonight! I asked Jeff why are you getting involved? He replied, “because it is in my backyard now.”

Often times the greatest patriots are born when the government makes it personal. This group of citizens were personally involved tonight and mad! The America I lived in as a kid when I was young returned tonight. The red white and blue was vivid and striking, patriotism was at a fever pitch, citizens of Georgetown, I applaud your efforts.

Many in the crowd provided input and many voiced discontent with plans to change their community with a rezoning request by a well connected citizen and realtor in their own community, Mrs Judy Allen.

Judy Allen has requested rezoning of her property for I1 commercial and it is rumored that some type of gravel or concrete company is planning to purchase her property and turn it into basically a parking lot with multiple huge buildings on it.

With this proposal our way of life will change forever. Infrastructure costs passed on to property owners, decrease in property value, increase in property taxes, environmental factors, water runoff, wetlands, wildlife dusturbance, blasting, runoff, pollution of creeks and environment, vilification of those that lead this effort, the BCC Comprehensive Growth Plan and how it figures into the big picture were among the issues discussed by the locals.

The ability and will of a group to organize itself against runaway government is refreshing. Just as the commoners in Boston railed against unfair taxes on their tea, so does the commoner of Georgetown Who says NO to new rezoning efforts which stand to change the landscape forever and never to return.

I say we continue to fan the flames of liberty in every community in Bradley County and into the US. The key is leaders in every community stepping up who are personally involved and encourage community input that will eventually turn that resentment for change on their elected and non elected appointees.

Eventually, and in great enough force the so called non appointed leaders will hear the cry of the citizens and not choose to ignore their demands.

The next group goal for the Committee to preserve Georgetown is to attend the County Commissioner meeting in force on June 4 th to send a strong message to their elected representatives and that message is to vote NO to the rezoning of Georgetown.

A giant has been awakened in Bradley County, years of education and awareness by tea party, 912, liberty and “regular citizens” types are starting to pay huge dividends for our republic.

In my observation, it doesnt take a particular designation to make waves, it takes being American and speaking up when you have been done wrong and you feel your government has taken that one step too far to stay quiet any longer.

Bravo, Georgetown! Bravo! Belief in the spirit of patriotism in me has been reenergized, restored and reinvigorated! Move forward cautiously I warned the group, “for some reason the good ole boy machine turns on the citizen when they speak up!” “Expect vilification, this is their game. Many steps will be taken before the vote on June 4th, don’t become complacent.”

“Folks in the room like Mr Mike Smith who have said the vote is safe, don’t be satisfied with that. I believe we have Mr Elkins and Caywood who will vote NO, but it takes 6 more to win the vote. Don’t stop the pressure! Dont accept a delay vote either, only a yes or no vote!”

“I have walked in and out of a commission meeting fully expecting a vote to go one way and it end up completely opposite. Many backroom meetings will be held, many ideas will flow from those who choose big business over the rights of the citizens.”

“Pressure will be added to these elected officials to vote one way or another over the next few weeks, some may cave to that pressure. Call them all and tell them to vote NO!”

“Beware as the proverbial strikes to your leaders will start as soon as soon as they leave this room tonight! Support them with your lives when they make this stand!” You have made our forefathers proud. Well done.”

The committee is encouraging large masses of people to be at the rezoning vote in Bradley County on June 4th at the Bradley County Courthouse at 7 pm. Great numbers will sway things and if they aren’t swayed by public outcry, we simply acknowledge a yes vote, mark in your memory bank and next election cycle send their bags packing.

It’s that simple and that is how we do thing in the good ole U S of A!

More later!

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