This weeks county and city meetings had a common theme going and it's called the Tennessee Sunshine Law or open meeting law. The law says this "the public policy of the state that the formation of public policy and decisions is public business and shall not be conducted in secret." T.C.A. § 8-44-101. As recognized by the Tennessee Court of Appeals, "Our Open Meetings Law is perhaps one of the most comprehensive and extensive in the nation. There are no exceptions except those situations which may be in conflict with the constitution." If only rules weren't just for the little people...more on that in a minute.
MLGW wanted to pass a water rate increase due to Cargill closing and going out of business. I don't know the details of why we need a water rate increase, I don't think we do need one especially with them approving 27.6 million for smart meters, but I am not an expert...Surprisingly enough, the council voted down the water rate increase. A small win but we will take what we can get when we can get it. I'm quite sure they will try and make up for it next year.
The 27.6 ,million for the next 50,000 new smart meters was rubber stamped. Be forewarned... if you think getting a new smart meter will save you some money, there are alot of people whose bills have increased because apparently their analog meter wasn't registering accurately what youf energy usage was. The more precise smart meter will save you money, that is after it adjusts for your previous energy hog behaviors and measures more accurately your energy expending self. Come on people, do you think MLGW is in the business of saving you money? Anyways, MLGW has predicted that the full cost of implementation will be 215,000,000 but at this rate it will be more like 1,000,000,000. Chattanooga's full implementation cost 500,000,000 when they thought it would cost around 170.000,000. MLGW projects like other government projects always cost more than they think they will and you, the ratepayer have their backs. Call me skeptical but I'm not buying the whole smart meter hype. Technology is advancing so fast, it's possible these smart meters will be out of date in 5 years...what then? Some provinces in Canada have begun the process of removing their smart meters and going back to the analogs. Could this happen here? Germany refused smart meters because of the cost. Financially, I don't see the return on investment but if you read about smart meters you realize it's not about a return on investment. Do your own research but look at the cities where they have already been implemented. It's not all rainbows and butterflies.
Myron Lowery was elected chairman of the council....AGAIN. He's only been the chairman FIVE other times. He replaced Jim Strickland. Lowery was confirmed unanimously thanks to some sunshine breaking emails lobbying for some votes. Next up was the election of vice chair where Wanda Halbert and Kemp Conrad were both nominated. I'm not one to fall back on gender politics but there does seem to be a good ol' boy network where no women need apply. Were there not any qualified women to be nominated I might could understand but Councilwoman Halbert is fully qualified to be vice chairman or even the chairman. I have been watching these meetings for several years now and am always impressed with how Halbert carries herself and I believe she is a libertarian at heart, though I don't think she knows it. Several people I know wanted Halbert to be the vice chair last year and she lost to none other than...can you guess? come on, I'll give you one guess. The 1st name starts with M and ends with y and he had been chairman FOUR other times. I happen to run into councilman Flinn one day after this vote last year and I asked him about why the council did not support Halbert for vice chair. I told him that we had hoped that she would be voted in as vice chair and that she was very capable and could be an example to others in the community being one of only two females on the council. Flinn stated that " Wanda is great but she doesn't play well with others". I found that interesting because what I have learned going to these meetings is that she doesn't vote straight up the party line and does not seem to be bought and paid for like some of the others, I won't name any names. I told Flinn that perhaps we needed more councilmen that don't play well with others. Oh well...maybe next year.
Halbert stated this afte Conrad won the vice chair "integrity is exceptionally important especially when a group where the citizens of a city look to your voice to be the voice of reason and to be the voice of decision and integrity. This council when we first started went back on a lot of its words. This council said that it would create a process that would eliminate exactly what we just went through. In that this has become a personality contest and this council should not be marred in that way. All of us don't get the phone calls....even tonight as people were running back and forth talking...all of us didn't get an opportunity to have a conversation about the pensions tonight. This council needs to decide if this council is going to be a council of integrity...and a council of its word because a lot is happening behind the scenes here and it doesn't feel comfortable and it doesn't look right. When you send an email and you ask for a vote, I don't care what kind of vote it is, maybe that's the right thing to do but I know the public has not heard us asking for a vote so I'm hopeful in the next year as we finish that policies and procedures work that this council decides for itself and the next council to come whether or not it truly is a body of integrity and a body of the people because sometimes it just doesn't feel like it." Amen Sister Halbert...Amen...
Emails lobbying for votes so you can be chairman for the FIFTH time....if that doesn't violate sunshine, I don't know what does. And what does Lowery have on the others that they all vote together to elect him? If you are a citizen that attends these meetings, I can assure you, the confidence in Lowery is misplaced, unless of course Lowery is there to represent the administration and whoever runs the City of Memphis behind the scenes, then it all makes sense. By the way, Lowery's son will probably be running for his seat next year. Best to keep it all in the family right?
We broke away from Britain to put an end to the Monarchy only to build it back up 200 years later.
Play the video at the top, it will make you feel better...