"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Scottsboro City Council, Regular Session June 24, 2013

Monday was a regular session of the Scottsboro City Council. 1) Additional holidays were approved  for 2013, Friday July 5 and Monday December 23; 2) Uniform bids change and approval. Originally at the work session it was stated that ARAMARK was the low bidder; it was announced this Monday that this was an error and the actual low bidder was CINTAS. CINTAS was awarded the bid. 3) Landfill gas collection project expansion engineering services was approved, CDBG was awarded the contract. 4) A budget amendment for up to $4200.00 was approved for the Senior Center so they may repair their air conditioning unit. 5) Board and Committee vacancies were announced - Museum Committee, 3 vacancies due to resignations; Industrial Development vacancy; Historic Preservation Committee has 4 vacancies. All requests must be turned into the City Clerk no later than Jul. 17, 2013 by 4:00PM, for more information contact the City Clerk at 256-574-3100.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jackson County Commission Regular Session June 24, 2013

Monday was a regular meeting of the Jackson County Commission. The commission voted to replace the phone system within the courthouse. Commission chairman Matthew Hodges stated, "we estimate an annual savings of approximately $25,000. The commission also voted to publish a Request for Proposals, RFP's, from the AMERSCO energy audit. Previous blog article:  http://arklite.blogspot.com/2013/06/jackson-county-commission-work-session.html   



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Scottsboro City Council Work Session, June 17, 2013 - 4 Part Video Series - Cedar Hill Cemetary, Municipal Courts Issues

Monday evening was a work session of the Scottsboro City Council. This report will be presented in 4 different video parts due to the length of the session. Part 1 is the Cedar Hill Cemetery Issue; Part 2 will cover Recycling Report from Scottsboro's Solid Waste Department, Holidays and Uniform Bids. Part 3 & 4 will involve the Municipal Court IT Software issue. 
"...Cemetery needs help...looks like junk yard... it is just not a beautiful restful place...mish mesh of personal items...I would like to see some kind of regulations;" quote from Ms. Helen Vizzini on the condition of Cedar Hill Cemetery. Ms. Vizzini presented several photos expressing her concern about the cemetery's appearance. 
The Cedar Hill Cemetery memento and appearance issue could turn into a hot button First Amendment issue. City officials have indicated they understand the complexity of this issue and intend on using the utmost care in insuring that citizens religious values are upheld while maintaining reasonable standards of cemetery appearance.
 Cedar Hill Cemetery tour on this blog:  
Part 1, Cedar Hill Cemetery Memento Issue

Part 2, Recycle Report, Holidays, Uniform Bid

Part 3, Municipal Court IT software and operations system issue.

Part 4 Municipal Court IT software and operations system issue questions and answers (edited).

Jackson County Commission Work Session, June 17, 2013

Monday was a work session of the commission.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jackson County Commission Regular Session, June 10, 2013

Monday's June 10th Regular Session of the Jackson County Commission. The commission voted to hire another county administrator. Citizen radiation monitoring project and report information.

Scottsboro City Council, Monday June 10, 2013

Monday was a regular session of the Scottsboro City Council. Clyde Butler was selected for the Scottsboro Parks and Recreation Board, better known as the Goose Pond Colony Board; the Scottsboro Bond refinancing issue was approved - bond interest rates continue to rise. Repair for the blown transformer in the Recycle for Scottsboro Building was disapproved.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

More Bellefonte Delays and TVA Executive Mismanagement

TVA's $48 billion dollar dream
TVA comes to town, Scottsboro, Al.,  in their multi-million dollar jet, or a similar one, to make an announcement.
Bellefonte - TVA's dream of 4 nuclear reactors which would cost TVA rate payers in excess of $48,000,000,000 - Forty-eight-billion dollars - takes another set back. The TVA has been attempting to finish Bellefonte #1, but there is a problem as this al.com article explains: 
"The Tennessee Valley Authority said today it will slow down work at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant site near Scottsboro cut 400 positions and reassess the need for the plant's completion." http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/06/tva_slowing_work_cutting_jobs.html
Chattanooga Times Free Press article: "By September, TVA expects to have cut its current 540-person staff working at Bellefonte to about 140 workers. TVA spokesman Mike Bradley said the utility will still conduct engineering studies and analysis on the Babcock & Wilcox-design reactors, but the pace of work will slow to better align with future power projections." http://timesfreepress.com/news/2013/jun/12/tva-cut-400-jobs-bellefonte-nuclear-plant/
TVA does not have the financial assets to finish Bellefonte. It will be lucky to complete the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Rhea County Tn. TVA has a $25 billion dollar plus debt load with a Congressional mandated debt cap of $30 billion; Watts Bar is scheduled to cost $5 billion to complete and Bellefonte Unit 1 will cost another $5-7 billion to complete.
 . TVA announced in 2011 their plan was to sell Watts Bar then lease it back when complete - good luck on that Ponzi scheme! If TVA were a private corporation their executives would have sunk it many years ago due to unnecessary nuclear power construction. TVA's total long term financial commitments, including leases and fuel contracts are in excess of $65 billion dollars.
Selling an unneeded nuclear plant to finish another unneeded nuclear plant at RATE-PAYERS expense so that the multi-national nuclear corporations will grow richer along with their political puppets is beyond ridiculous, it is negligent and a poor use of our money and resources. http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2011/08/22/tva-to-sell-new-watts-bar-reactor-to-pay-for-bellefonte-completion-0822021.aspx
UPDATE - 6:30PM Jun.12,2013- Daily Journal: "So far, the utility has not formally abandoned the Bellefonte project. However, Skaggs said TVA officials are in the process of determining how the plant fits into the utility's overall needs. Workers will continue performing maintenance at the site, protect the plant's records and keep working on an estimate outlining how much it would cost to finish one of the site's two reactors." (Not for profit usage.) http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/0d72b70969204cd5a4ac2ed2e63e4a64/AL--Bellefonte-Plant/

Monday, June 10, 2013

Jackson County Commission Administrator "Terminated for Cause," says Commission Chairman

Jackson County Commission Administrator Sandra Erickson was terminated for cause today per vote of the county commission. Commission Chairman Matthew Hodges made the announcement today along with a prepared statement in the continued regular session.
The commission remained in executive session for 1 hour and 17 minutes. At 10 minutes into the executive session Ms. Erickson and her attorney, Julian Butler of Huntsville, entered into the executive session and emerged approximately 30 minutes later.
Mr. Hodges, Commission Chairman, stated the public works budget was $1.2 million dollars over committed. Budget over commitments was the stated reason for the county administrator's termination. It was previously reported by the Chairman of the Commission that there was a General Fund Budget deficit of $1.2 million. This equals a total of a 2.4 billion dollars deficit in the county budget when compared to expected income. It is significant to note that TVA-in-lieu-of taxes to the county will be at lower levels due to decreases in power sales. 
The question at this point becomes, will there be a curtailment of services or layoffs as a result of budget deficits?
VIDEO with Commission Chairman Matthew Hodges' statement.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Jackson County Commission - Regular Session Continuation & Work Session - County Administrator Saga Continues

Monday, June 3rd was a state holiday, Jefferson Davis's Birthday, the Courthouse was closed. The continuation of the May 27th commission meeting regarding an undisclosed personnel action was continued until the June 4 meeting.
The County Commission has placed the County Administrator, Sandra Erickson, on Administrative Leave with pay pending a final commission action.
June 4, 2013 WAFF 5PM News Sand Mountain Reporter Steven McLamb announced that Sandra Erickson's attorney, Julian Butler of Huntsville, had no comment. John Porter, Jackson County Attorney, had no... comment during or after the meeting. Porter would not disclose the name of Erickson's Attorney. http://scottsboro.waff.com/news/news/161463-meeting-continued-jackson-co-administrator-leave#comments
The Administrator's contract is listed below.

Make note of "Cause" and "In the event..." the personnel action decision will be continued until next Monday, June 10, 2013 at 3PM. According to the commission chair this was requested by Ms. Erickson's Attorney, Julian Butler.
Citizen Presentation from Garry Morgan regarding request for recordings involving public officials.
Public officials had made recordings of conversations between public officials during the last commission's term.
Request for Public Writings

UPDATE - June 6, 2013 - Horace Clemmons FaceBook post about the County Administrator - County Commission: "For my Friends that live in or around Jackson County this post will make sense, for everyone else, sorry about that."

"Having been contacted by several in the press with questions about the County Administrator situation I decided to send each a document with my thoughts, rather than just answering questions. Below is what I sent, you can determine how closely they stuck to what I said and intended."

"First to Sandra’s abilities. During the hiring process Sandra was the only applicant that was both a Board Certified CPA and had experience with County Government Fund Accounting. County Government Accounting is significantly different from personal and business accounting. These points alone put her at the top of the list. A check of her references verified her abilities and her integrity."

"Further testimony to her abilities can be gained by reviewing the State Audit results the three years prior to her hire and the results during her tenure. These results are public information, I would encourage everyone to review them."

"During my term as County Commissioner I found Sandra to be competent, professional and a person that I would trust with my own checkbook. I believe that her integrity is beyond reproach."

"I believe that it is important to understand why the previous Commission gave Sandra a contract that goes as far as it does to protect her rights. While we (the previous Commission) were better known for not getting along, at times on important issues we did manage to come together. Sandra’s contract, I believe was one of those. The Commission had lengthy debates on how to keep favoritism and nepotism out of County hiring. Hiring Sandra was not the best political decision, she is not a Jackson County resident. Her contract was an attempt to ensure politics do not somehow override the best decision."

"For the life of me I cannot understand the current situation. In running a major business I learned that terminating an employee without first giving them notice of their specific shortcoming and putting them on an improvement plan could result in significant legal issues."

"Some of the current situation could be due to a lack of communications and understand. Much like the initial budget issue where the Chairman said that the County was broke and that the budget from the previous Commission would leave the County with negative cash flow. That turned out to not be true, it was just a misunderstanding. I will say that the previous Commission did spend money at a time when the economy was in a down turn that did not leave the incoming Commission in a very good position."

"I believe that this issue is one that the public has a right to know all of the logic behind the decisions. While the County Administrator may work for the Chairman, everyone in the County system, elected or hired, works for the taxpayers of Jackson County. We have the right to understand how our government is being run so that we can ensure that we have entrusted the running of it to the right people. Horace Clemmons "

Concerning the negative cash flow comment from Mr. Clemmons, "Some of the current situation could be due to a lack of communications and understand. Much like the initial budget issue where the Chairman said that the County was broke and that the budget from the previous Commission would leave the County with negative cash flow..."  Mr. Hodges did not make that specific comment.  He commented if the budget was not corrected there would probably be a negative cash flow in future budget years. I have Mr. Hodges on video making that comment. Concerning that statement, there is a misunderstanding but it ain't from Mr. Hodges.

VIDEO from Feb. 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Scottsboro City Council - New City Clerk Seated

Monday was a work session of the Scottsboro City Council. (photo by G. Morgan)
City of Scottsboro's new City Clerk is seated, Whitney Phillips.
Morris Necklaus made a presentation concerning a blown transformer in the city's old bailer building. The city leased the building for $1.00 per annum to Mr. Necklaus for recycling materials. The City Attorney stated that in accordance with the lease Mr. Necklaus's business, Recycling for Scottsboro, is responsible for making all repairs. The City of Scottsboro leased its old Recreation Center on South Broad St., next to the Scottsboro Police station, to a church. The city replaced the roof on the church at no cost to the church. Mr. Necklaus commented that the building has been without electricity for a week.
A picture of Scottsboro's Bond Debt - total debt service after subsidy, including School debt, Goosepond Colony debt, Industrial Development debt is $86,681893.82. Principal on all bond debt is $58,450,000.00; total debt service is $98,178,119.31 as of  Apr. 11, 2013. 

" Painted Debt of the city," presented to the City Council by Larry Ward of Raymond James Inc., bond refinancing discussion.
Bob Young of Frazier Lanier Inc. also made a presentation on bond refinancing