Part 1: Theater of the Absurd
Before the commission even got to #1 on the agenda, Chairman Roland sees there are a lot of people in the audience and a lot of speaking cards have been turned in and they all want to speak on the same subject. Most of the people were from the Dept. of Corrections at the Penal Farm. Apparently they make a couple of dollars less than corrections officer who work at 201 Poplar. It's budget time and they are setting the tax rate and they want a pay increase. I don't blame them, I want a pay increase too.
I feel for these people. Their wages have been stagnant and their healthcare costs have increased. It's doubtful any of them have the connection between the detrimental Obamacare and these increases but I digress....
Most of America is not receiving pay increases. They aren't the only ones feeling this pinch. But, since the mayor has once again magically found a 22 million dollar surplus this shouldn't be a problem right? Riiiight. We shall see in the coming weeks.
After they finished speaking, Commissioner Mark Billingsly spoke glowingly about all of those who had come down to speak. It seemed to me to he was playing to the crowd a bit but hey, all politicians do this. He was getting kudos from the audience but then when he finished, Chairman Roland lit into to him like a politician scorned. I looked at my friend...she looked at me....did we miss something? Had the Commissioner Billingsly stepped out of line?
Billingsly retorted back to Roland, who is known for grandstanding and called Roland out for his reputation of grandstanding. While that may be true, this particular calling out was an example of the pot calling the kettle black. You could tell Roland had really gotten under his skin because Billingsly's face was beet red. And his face stayed beet red for the whole meeting. After some back and forth, tempers calmed after Roland was also able to score some political points by pointing out his record on voting with the Dept. of Corrections.
Information my friend and I were able to gain tells me this...
Commissioners were blindsided by this issue coming up today, blindsided by the showing of about 50 to 60 Dept. of Corrections officers who came to speak, even the county's administrator, Harvey Kennedy, was blindsided as I heard him say to a distinguished gentleman sitting behind me after they were done with the matter "Did you enjoy that? Well, did you see this coming?" Distinguished gentleman says No and Kennedy replies "Neither did I".
So my take on the whole episode is this. Keep in mind I could be wrong...but I'm probably not...
Budget season is upon us. This is a time where influence on the council can be most helpful for politicians. The Dept. of Corrections employees are due for a raise. Commissioners know there is a 22 million dollar surplus. What if....I(insert Commissioner name here) get as many corrections employees to come and speak about how they need a pay raise, then I speak about how great those employees are and that it's a shame we haven't addressed this situation already and yes definitely we should do that in committee next week and get this fixed, I(insert commissioner name here) will get brownie points from all of the employees present and they will tell their friends how I(insert commissioner name here) took care of them and vote for me next election or whatever else I'm running for....
Only a fork in the road comes up when another grandstanding politician got ambushed by an item that was never on the agenda and while one specific commissioner is looking good, the rest of the group not so much since this issue is coming up now and the good commissioner has only been on the commission a couple of years. The commissioner feeling ambushed points out this issue has been ongoing for several years and he doesn't remember the good commissioner taking up this issue on his own until now. Geez! All of the planning for the one public relations moment for the good commissioner out the window! Sucked out by another grandstanding politician who has dreams of being the next Shelby County mayor. Wow! End curtain for the Theater of the Absurd.
Part 2: The Tax Rate
On to the tax rate...it's the 1st reading so the tax rate stays the same...for now. I'm quite sure the fireworks will be coming up soon. The schools are short 47 million and that has to come from somewhere and it will probably be the overtaxed taxpayer unless we can stop it. I am confident it can be stopped if enough of you get involved in the coming weeks.
Part 3: Grants So Complicated Nobody Wants Them!
Everyone knows that green policies can not survive without government crack money known as grants. What if I told you there is a program called the County Green Community Program which has to be good right? Because it's green? And they wanted to pass a resolution requesting that the Administration use Energy Conservation Bonds to establish one County Green Community Program. By the way, whenever you see the word bonds? Replace it with debt. They are nothing more than instruments of debt. Anyhoo there's apparently tens of million of dollars just waiting to be claimed by many who could pad their pockets if only the commission would go along.
This issue failed in committee because there are a lot of people saying this is a bad idea. Including the mayor, which shocked me because he is never met a green policy or idea he didn't love ...until this. Harvey Kennedy pointed out that all over the country, no one has applied for any of this grant money in over a year. Now why would that be? Apparently there are very onerous restrictions and regulations that make it almost impossible to deal with. You just can't make this stuff up.
Now isn't this grand? A bureaucratic green induced policy with much grant money available can't breathe because of the bureaucratic red tape, regulations, and restrictions that will kill it. It's poetic justice really. Who would ever thought the governments own stifling rules work to stop the bureaucrats their policies have created? That to me is hilarious and I'm still gloating over the irony. It was kicked back to committee where some will try to overcome the redtape their kind have created.
Part 4: The Return of Willie Herenton
The mayor who resigned under a cloud of controversy and investigation is involved with opening a private school for juvenile offenders and only came to the council to get a vote of confidence for his effort. He doesn't want any money? That's what he said but he became agitated when it wasn't apparent that his resolution would pass. His effort is part of a 4.7 billion dollar 20 state effort to send young criminals to private schools that I'm sure taxpayers are going to pay for and if it's anything like the schools he use to run, it won't end well. Commissioner Jones had it kicked back to committee I'm sure in an effort to save it.
Stay tuned for more Government Gone Wild episodes...