All the Commissioners were there, except for Henri Brooks so no residency issues for me but not for thee to contend with unless you are secretly pondering the whole Justin Ford residency for me but not for thee issue and wondering how does one live without utilities for 3 years, hint, he doesn't...but they have decided that he "probably" lives in his district. Don't try and use this "probably" card in your personal life, you are the little people and as you know rules are for the little people, at least as long as not few citizens coming to these meetings to hold their officials accountable but, I digress...
Chairman Harvey made note of the fact that A Shelby County Employee died today when the tractor he was using to cut grass fell on top of him. He was 29 years old, married with kids. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.
Before the agenda even got off the ground, Chairman Harvey allowed some guests to speak who apparently wouldn't be able to speak later due to time constraints. Rep. Hardaway from the Tn General Assembly , ex-commissioner Julian Bolton, and a couple of others spoke on the issue of honest and fair elections and since this commission had passed a resolution several months ago voicing a no-confidence vote against Richard Holdren, they wanted assurances that Shelby County would not have the same problems we had in the last few elections. Bolton said that he had heard from constituents in Whitehaven that the voting machines went down there during a very busy time of the day for voting. He did not give other specific issues and no real proof that this was intentional but he had specific things he wanted for August 7th.
1. He wants the U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton to monitor the elections this Thursday.
2. He wants Cyber Monitors. What that means was not really answered.
Having worked the elections since 2008, I can agree there needs to be more oversight. There needs to be a paper trail and currently there is not one, not in the sense of how we used to have paper ballots which obviously left a paper trail that could be audited.
I did find it interesting that these guests who were there to speak, not on an agenda item, were able to pull a resolution out of the commission in what seemed an obvious breech of protocol which Commissioner Basar called out but was quickly put down by the chairman. I believe Basar had a good point about the rules and the appropriate time for measures like these but hey, I'm part of the country class and rules are mostly for the little people right? I also don't think I or anyone else of low stature would get the same treatment by the commission, but I'm not complaining...it is what it is.
The agenda was a short one and none of the issues were particularly controversial but anytime your leaders are spending your money, there should be citizens there to oversee what they are spending money on. On different issues pertaining to money from the general funds, about 5, 516, 266 dollars was allocated. Grants, which if you read this site much, you know they are nothing more than the total redistribution of wealth, totaled about 2,513,446. Grants should be called what they are, taxpayer funds and basically interfere's with a free market and creates bureaucracies that never go away. These items are passed on what's called the consent agenda which the public does not get to speak on (how's that for consent?), unless you can get a commissioner to pull the item to the Regular Agenda. Once the consent agenda is passed, 90% of those present, left. After all, they were only there to make sure they were getting the grant funds (TAXPAYER FUNDS) they are so used to getting.
The last item was dealing with the the permanent rules of order to allow the chairman to set the commission meeting schedule. In July, the commission voted to change the start time for the commission meetings to 3:00 instead of 1:30. Commissioner Mark Billingsly sponsored the bill and if this item had passed today, It would have undone that start time. Commissioner Billingsly spoke very eloquently and on the side of making these meetings more accomodating for the general public who can't attend due to work. Billingsly remarked today about the audience before the commission, that other than some county employees and the media, there was only about 2 actual citizens( I was one), I thought there might have been maybe 4 which is abysmal in such a large population county. How novel of an idea that our elected officials would want to get more of the people involved in the governing process, you know that whole "of the people, by the people, and for the people" thing? It shouldn't just be a cliche and even though 3:00 is still an obstacle for some people, it is a step in the right direction and the Midsouth Sentinel applauds Commissioner Billingsly for coming up with this idea and following through.
Well, without the drama we have been accustomed to at these meetings, I feel like something is lacking. Not to worry. there is always another meeting. This was a quiet one and that's mostly a good thing.
I have a dream that one day more people will turn away from the apathy and indifference that most people have towards local government and instead of 2 citizens there paying attention to what their government officials are doing, there will be 20 and hopefully more there. Your elected officials need you, not just to hold them accountable, but sometimes to give them support for doing the right thing. If you don't do it, who will?
Until next time...