Friday, May 20, 2011

Team Spin chasing the rumors

This is rich. Apparently, the good spin docs over in the mayor's office hear that “a few commissioners” are “reportedly discussing the possibility of a tax increase."

Uh. No. They're not.

Here's the deal. Commissioners Amy Broyles and Sam McKenzie met with some deputies Wednesday night (yes the meeting was sun shined) to talk about employee pay raises.

This morning, Commissioner Mike Brown – on 100.3 FM – was asked about the pay raises and ta ax increase, the latter which he said he'd support as a last resort.

In the meantime, Team Spin – chief of staff Dean Rice and communications director Michael Grider – designed what I supposed was some type of preemptive strike against a rumor that no one in the administration bothered to follow up on. Or perhaps, they're all overworked and it was the voices they were hearing.


Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the administration said Broyles, Brown and McKenize were behind the discussions. They've all denied it.

“That is a lie,” Broyles said.

Man, I love this stuff.

Anyhoo, here's the spin release:

Knoxville, Tenn. — A few Knox County Commissioners are reportedly discussing the possibility of a tax increase to fund pay raises for Knox County Government employees and sheriff’s deputies. Friday, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett released the following statement indicating his strong opposition to such a move:

“I truly appreciate that some commissioners agree that we must be fiscally conservative and put taxpayers first.

“Our employees and law officers do a great job and work hard for the citizens of Knox County. However, at a time when private-sector employees are not getting pay raises, and many families are struggling, it is not right to take even more of their money so Knox County’s employees can get a pay increase.

“I’ve stated very clearly that, as a fiscal conservative, I am very much opposed to raising taxes in this economy or raiding our general fund’s emergency reserves. On May 2, I presented a proposal that would balance the budget without either a tax increase or a withdrawal of funds from the emergency reserves. I also proposed an additional week of paid vacation for fulltime employees as a way to show appreciation for the work they do.

“Our first priority must be the Knox County taxpayers. This simply is not the time to raise taxes. We must not increase the tax burden on our citizens in this economy, especially when those same taxpayers are already funding a defined benefit pension plan for Sheriff’s Department employees and a minimum 6 percent contribution match for county employee retirement accounts. Those benefits simply don’t exist for many private employees.”


Anonymous said...

"Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the administration said Broyles, Brown and McKenize were behind the discussions. They've all denied it.

“That is a lie,” Broyles said.""

Busted. Broyles and team most certainly did talk this up Wednesday at the Time Warp Tea Room. This was a plan to force a Burchett veto and embarrass the Mayor in front of county employees. Word was Broyles had six votes Wednesday. Today, one vote. Rats...sinking get the idea.

Anonymous said...

Man your intel is so bad Mike. Check out WBIR tonight. Broyles just said this afternoon at the Time Warp the knox county employee 3% raise, down from 3.5% Wednesday, would come from the rainy day fund this year with a property tax increase next year. And that is the truth.

So you believe Amy Broyles over Tim Burchett? You really are new here.

Ivan Rogero said...

You didn't vet this very well. What happened? Normally you do a good job.

Mike Donila said...

Answereing a bunch of questions at once here:

Intel is still good.
We'll always have conflicting reports. When I wrote this, it was the same. I followed up with Amy and as she pointed out - all of this has to do with THIS year. Not next year or the following year. But the here and now. I only report on this year. Hell, I'll probably be dead by next year anyway.
And btw, no, I don't put Bryles over Burchett. Nor do I out Burchett over Broyles.
Just like I hope you don't put WBIR over me.
Or me over them.

Mike Donila said...

When I said "THIS year" I meant the proposed year which starts in July. Whatever Broyles is talking about in regards to tax increase is in the year 2012.
And it has nothing to do with the relationship with tax increases and pay raises. TV is jumping to conclusions and not putting it into perspective or actually asking Amy the right questions. (Or following up.)

Anonymous said...

Where in the press release you posted does the administration say anything about a sspecific fiscal year? People dont have to be mean about it, but it does seem like some unnecessary assumptions were made in your post.

Anonymous said...

None of this matters. Haven't you heard we're getting raptured tomorrow?

Brian Paone said...

I don't care who thinks who said what about X. Our elected employees had best recognize that there will be NO tax increase.


Make what you have stretch, Commissioners. You don't have a damned choice.

Brian Paone said...

...well, okay, now I care.

Because it looks like Amy Broyles lied. And if that's the case, then I didn't know Amy like I thought I did.

From WBIR (grammar mistakes and all):

"(Broyles) said she would proposed a tax increase with next year's budget to help pay for the raise. That is something Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is strongly against. "

I know you comment on here, Amy. Let's hear an explanation.

And Sam, you better not have been a part of this. You may have your frat buddies, but there's a lot of people here in the First that are not very happy with your attitude toward the voters that are your bosses. Shape up or work in Oak Ridge full-time.

Anonymous said...

Yeterday Mike Brown said on WNOX a tax increse for a 3.5% raise for employees for the budget before them if it is necessay.

Ivan Rogero said...

Mike, explain what Amy said on WBIR. Because it seems to contradict your story. This looks like a coverup, from Amy. Are you sure about your sourcing?

Mike Donila said...

I've read the WBIR story, if you're referring to this one:

I don't see where she says it. I see where the writer says it. But I don't see where she says it. Maybe she did. I can only go with what I got.

As far as Brown goes, he told me he said he'd consdier raising taxes as a last resort but in no way was pushing it.

Brian Paone said...

Okay, so it's writer v. politico RE: who said what.

The writer usually wins those, but without knowing specifically who the writer in question was, it's hard to say for sure.

So, moving on:

I actually agree with Broyles. At least, about the fact that our rank-and-files need more money. But a tax increase is a pretty stupid way to fund one, especially when the City's managed pay increases without taxes OR significant dropoffs in services. (DAMN, it feels good to be a City resident!)

So, the county must manage to do the same - and hasn't for several years.

It's time for THIS Commission to step up and do what they haven't done in the recent past - take a hard look at the budget and make the decisions that are economically sound FIRST, and politically amenable LAST.

Knox County's taxpayers don't care about the politics. They care about having their money spent wisely. (Go ahead. Ask 'em.)

So here's a suggestion on where to start:

* Pool all requested funding for EVERY nonprofit initiative - county-run and private - into one batch. Put all current county-run and private nonprofit taxpayer funding to zero.

* Restore funding to everything that had funding last year, minus ten percent.

* Use the pooled money first to fund 5% raises for everyone making under $40,000, 1.5% for everyone making $40,001 to $75,000, and NO raise for anyone at $75,001 or above. (Why? Because that's already a TON of money, and if one can't live on $75k/year then I don't want 'em anywhere NEAR a budget!)

* Then, take the remainder and:

- Fully fund all essential nonprofit activities (i.e. medical clinics, volunteer fire/rescue outfits, etc.) first.

- Then fully fund all non-essential, county-owned nonprofit activities (i.e. senior centers, parks, etc.) next if possible.

- Then, if anything's left, divide equally among all non-essential nonprofit activities that are privately owned and are applying for taxpayer funding (i.e. Beck Cultural Exchange Center, etc.).

No tax increase, plus smarter allocation of funds. Thoughts from the pundits?

Mike Donila said...

Brian, I'll tell you why your plan won't work.
Because it makes way too much sense.

Anonymous said...

Broyles is lying:

This isn't the first time. You'll learn.

Anonymous said...

I used to not like you, but now i just feel sorry for you. You must be so miserable deep down. I hope you find happiness.

Mike Donila said...

Uh, OK. Not sure why I'd be miserable deep down. But whatever.

Anonymous said...

Amy's not the one who got caught lying within days of being sworn in.
Have y'all already forgotten the severance kerfluffle? Donila caught Burchett in a major whopper when he tried to say that he hadn't been informed about the severance arrangement.
And he compounded the lie by trying to claim he'd never said that.
And it looks to me like Broyles said she'd like to look at a tax increase "next year."
That would be 2012.
Not this budget. Burchett's just demagoguing for the usual suspects. And they're saluting.

Ivan Rogero said...

"And it looks to me like Broyles said she'd like to look at a tax increase "next year."
That would be 2012.
Not this budget."

Uh, that is the next budget. We are in the current budget. C'mon, no one is falling for that game.

Sam McKenzie is on Tennessee This Week with Gene Patterson at noon today doing the same "next budget" misdirection that Amy Broyles and Mike Brown are dancing to. Watch Sam squirm as he tells his story. Hand ringing too. Why so nervous Sam?

They really went off the deep end with this. And the amazing part is where Amy Broyles told the News Sentinel "I think that this budget is ridiculous, and I haven't talked to a single commissioner other than Commissioner (R. Larry) Smith who thinks otherwise, they all think it's ridiculous."

That sounds like a self admission of breaking the Sunshine Law. Normally the local media would be all over that. For those who don't know, the Sunshine Law is where you DON"T talk to other Commissioners about the budget unless in front of the press and the public.

Funny thing about the Sunshine Law is you can just admit you made a mistake and nothing happens. But if you lie about it, you can be ousted for lying. Strange law.

Monday should be quite interesting as Amy, Sam, and Mike have some splannin' to do in front of their Commission and Mayor.

Brian Paone said...

Mitchell, shut up and pick a better screen name. And watch your keyboard; public officials are tough to slander but it can be done.

Anonymous said...

Paone, you telling anyone to shut up is precious. Weren't you telling McKenzie to clean up his act?

Brian Paone said...

Yes. And?

Madeline Harmon said...

I thought it was a clever screen name.