I asked, and you folks responded. Big time. And you responded with a degree of uniformity seldom seen in these divided times.
My long-standing opposition to Hamilton County commissioners each having access to $100,00 a year in discretionary funds made last Saturday's column predictable.
What was not predictable was how many of you responded, both to me and, according to your emails, your county commissioners.
Since I asked for your input, it's only right that you see what some of you said.
> I received 34 emails after the column ran, and all 34 were against the idea of commissioners having $100,000 in taxpayer funded accounts to use on whatever pet projects they deem suitable, causes they view most important and for whichever group of voters they want to please at any given time;
> Twenty four of those emails came with copies of correspondence or your plans to directly reach out to your respective commissioners. That's pretty cool, gang;
> Of those who copied their correspondences, I know that commissioners Chip Baker, Randy Fairbanks, Sabrena Smedley, Greg Martin, Katherlyn Geter, David Sharpe and Chester Bankston received something from you asking them to vote against it;
> I received 12 texts from people who have my cell number, and 11 of them were against discretionary accounts. The one text I got in favor of the discretionary accounts was actually from a county commissioner, so the challenge is far from over, friends.
Here are some of your thoughts:
"Just wanted to let you know that I have emailed both my Commissioner, Randy Fairbanks, and the County Mayor concerning being adamantly opposed to the re-implementation of the discretionary funding for Commissioners. It is clearly a ploy to buy future votes. I fully supply Commissioner Martin's views on returning unused funds at the end of the year although I can see some Commissioners wasting the funds as is typical for governmental agencies in general."
(Copy of email sent to District 6 Commissioner David Sharpe) "I write to ask you not to approve the very sensitive topic of commissioner discretionary funding. This is so heavily equated with the buying of votes that to approve this is too closely akin to legalized political graft for which we are all too familiar. Please oppose this measure loudly. The county can still approve taxpayer funding for non-profits with grants, etc. without this method which just reeks of former, dishonest days in our past."
"Absolutely NOT! No such fund for county commissioners. Cut my property tax before you [vote] for this corrupt use of public funds. Vote FOR it and watch how many citizens vote AGAINST you. County taxes will fall this year due to the pandemic so where exactly does the income for the rapacious idea come from? Death taxes on our 37 dead? Buy some school buildings, or pave some roads or do your job, but don't walk around giving the exorbitant taxes I pay just anywhere you please. This would be a CRIME in a banana republic, just like in Hamilton County Tennessee, our own third-world kleptocracy."
(Yes, I had to look up some of those words too, just to be safe.)
And finally, "We are writing this email to inform you that we are not in favor of reinstating the Discretionary Spending Account for Hamilton County Commissioners. We believe that the traditional budgeting process should be followed, providing for both accountability and responsibility. Funding by taxpayer dollars should NOT be provided to commissioners for their personal special interests. Doing so would create the expansive opportunity for discrimination, which is not only legally wrong, but also morally and ethically wrong. Each Hamilton County Commissioner has a fiduciary responsibility to the County's citizen base. Re-creating Discretionary Spending Accounts is a step in the exact wrong direction."
Exactly, and when everything in our county — from prep athletics to police officers to everything in between — is staring at an uncertain fiscal future, the timing could not be worse.
We'll see Wednesday which of the commissioners is listening to you, and which ones want to do what they please with our money whenever it suits them.
Hopefully, they will remember who our elected officials work for and do the right thing.
Contact Jay Greeson at email@example.com.