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Letters: All about candidates

Johnson City Press • Mar 16, 2018 at 6:00 AM

Want to have your voice heard? Send a Letter to the Forum. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

Grandy expectations

As we near the April 11 date for early voting to begin, it’s time for each of us to give thought to what communication skills, people skills, education, expertise, and community service experiences best prepare a candidate to serve as county mayor.

The county mayor’s role is not that of being the “boss man” of 450-plus county employees. In fact, there are only a small number of employees who report to the mayor. Most employees report to the specific elected county official in whose office they work. The county mayor is actually the chief financial officer of the county whose charge is to efficiently and effectively plan and manage the financial mechanisms of the county to assure both short term and long term financial stability.

In my opinion, there is only one man who has the education, experience, and skills to serve as our next county mayor: Joe Grandy. A graduate of Randolph Macon College, Joe knows what it takes to obtain a quality education and how to successfully manage a company for some 30 years.

While serving the past eight years as a highly respected county commissioner and as the president/general manager of a large company, Joe has found time to serve on many local boards of directors of both charitable and business associations.

As a fellow commissioner, I have watched Joe Grandy devise a financial plan that will enable our county to pay off more than $130,000,000 in debt that was inherited from the 2006-2010 commission. Joe’s plan will not only pay off the old debt, but will enable us to build a new 1,100-student K-8 school in Boones Creek and a complete remodeled/rebuilt K-8 in Jonesborough. Let’s Go With Joe!

TOM KRIEGER
Jonesborough

Black mark for tax policy

Diane Black has without a doubt has started her campaign to be our new governor, based on all the ads on TV recently.

She seems to be really excited about her involvement in the new tax policy, I cannot imagine her as our new governor if she feels that is a good thing. The pittance we will get from that will be consumed by the rising price of gas alone by summer time, not to mention our small share will vanish in 10 short years, while the wealthy and corporations’ shares will continue, also a very large cut in benefits is forthcoming, and our taxes will have to increase eventually to pay for the giveaway.

The federal debt increases, estimated to be well over a trillion from a $3.2 trillion tax (giveaway) relief plan, with about 80 percent going to people who need it the least. Makes you wonder, why not just make it a tax break for regular people, just one time? Conservative, I think not.

DON WILLIAMS
Piney Flats

Van Huss’ overtime

Tennessee state legislators are part-time by design, on the assumption that various careers, training and experience make for better governance. In 2017, the legislature convened for approximately 18 four-day weeks. The rest of the year, barring special sessions or occasional committee work, is theirs to manage.

Base salary is $22,000, but a few years back legislators passed a $1,000-a-month raise, avoiding public outcry by disguising it as compensation “for work in district,” with no accountability required. Unlike other part-time state employees, they have Cadillac insurance and pension benefits. There’s mileage and per diem allowance of $220 ($229 in 2018) for in-session days and other days with any documented legislative work.

A Jan. 29 exposé of per diem claims in The Tennessean provided what seems like strong evidence of abuse. For 2017, $2.4 million was claimed (almost as much as for all salaries combined), with 14 legislators, from both parties, claiming more for out-of-session service than for in-session. A Memphis Democrat led the pack with $39,500 in “reimbursement,” and the Sixth District’s own Micah Van Huss came in second at $34,200.

Here’s some perspective. Calculated for 365 days, Monday through Sunday, in 2017 it looks like Mr. Van Huss claimed from Tennessee taxpayers a per diem of $93.70. If we include his monthly $1,000 “for work in district” allowance, those days, in-session and beyond, were each worth about $128.00 above base salary. How can that be? Well, let’s say he calls Matthew Hill every day and talks for 20 minutes about guns, or abortion, or the Bible, he can charge us $220, because, as The Tennessean frames it, per diem can be “for 20 minutes or five hours.” Character counts when the system can be so easily — and legally — exploited.

JOHN BAKER
Johnson City

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