Archive for October, 2011

Sheriff Kent Harris Booked, Fingerprinted & Released from Jail

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Erwin-Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris turned himself in this afternoon to the Unicoi County jail. Harris wore his uniform to his booking. According to the arrest page, he walked in at 1:30 p.m., was fingerprinted and processed then left 45 minutes later.

Judge Lynn Brown issued a criminal summons so Harris did not have to post bond.

The political implications of Harris’ arrest could be widespread. He was appointed, just this year, to serve on the Tennessee Post Commission. They develop state law enforcement standards.

Harris is also a prominent Republican. He served as Congressman Phil Roe’s campaign chairman in Unicoi County, donated over $2,000 to the Roes campaign in 2008, and announced his re-election bid in 2010.

Mr. Harris remains Sheriff at this time. A Monday meeting of the County Commissioners may shed new light on his continued employeement as Sheriff. The District Attorney General Tony Clark and County Attorney Doug Shults may make recommendations on that issue but that remains unclear at this time.

Harris’s faces 10 indictments from a Grand Jury in Unicoi County.

According to a release issued by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the six counts of official misconduct are the result of incidences occurring on several dates in June and July of 2010 when Harris allegedly had Unicoi County inmates perform labor on property owned by him at 604 N Mohawk Drive in Erwin. The deed was transferred to his brother, Jason Harris, this year.

The document states that on or about Sept. 6, 2008, Harris committed the offense of tampering with evidence, Harris altered or destroyed evidence that was part of investigation at this time. The presentment said this evidence involved confiscated moonshine.

According to the charges, Harris committed the offense of criminal simulation in September 2008 by “making or altering a memorandum requesting payment from the county for vehicles valued at $4,500 that were actually donated.” The theft over $1,000 also occurred in September 2008 when Harris received $4,500 belonging to the county, according to the presentment.

The presentment states that Harris’ charge of attempted aggravated assault was the result of his confrontation with Unicoi County resident J.D. Henley. This followed a July meeting of the county’s finance committee and, according to the TBI release, Harris was charged after attempting to assault Hensley with a deadly weapon. The weapon was a cane carried by Harris.

The TBI is looking into “other matters” but what those matters may be, they will not say.

Is this simply Republican politics as usual in Unicoi County?

Unicoi County Sheriff Indicted on 10 Felony Charges

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Erwin – Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris was indicted on 10 charges on Friday night. According to General Attorney Tony Clark, a Unicoi County grand jury found sufficient cause to put Sheriff Harris on trail for 10 charges.

The grand jury returned 10 true bills against the sheriff. Harris was served will all 10 counts and will face indictment. The indictments have been sent to court.

The charges include six counts of official misconduct, and one count of each of the following: criminal stimulation, tampering with evidence, theft over $1,000, and attempted aggravated assault.

The accusations came after a long investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigationn (TBI). Two investigations stemming from incidents in 2009 and 2010 have combined. Both incidents stem from misconduct and misuse of inmates. The TBI is investigating other matters and other charges may be pending.

There is also investigations related to evidence tampering. Harris allegedly had inmates from the Unicoi County Jail perform labor on private property located on North Mohawk Drive.

Judge Lynn Brown declined to issue a warrant for Harris’s arrest. “Judge said it was his decision, that it’s his call,” not to arrest the sheriff. A move which was opposed by the TBI and District Attorney’s office who intended to arrest Harris.

Harris is required to report to jail for fingerprinting and booking within 10 days. He will appear before Judge Brown for a formal arraignment hearing on Nov. 22.

Clark also said some witnesses offering testimony have been threatened and harrassed. Although, he said this activity will not be tolerated by his office.

Will this be another example of Republican politics as usual?

Occupy Wall Street Protests Wall Street’s “hog troughts of greed”

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street protest that started in New York three weeks ago is now spreading across the country; people are standing up and saying enough is enough. It’s time for banks to be a safe place for our money, not another place to get mugged.

The people who gave us the financial crisis continue their lust for greed and disregard of the plight of most struggling working middle class families. Their greed and irresponsibility demolished our economy leaving us to bail them out—and how do they thank us? They’re going right back to business as usual, getting rich off the working middle class and spending millions lobbying Republicans against new rules proposed by Democrats to prevent a future crisis.

New York– The message of the Occupy Wall street protest is clear: the demonstrators are seeking accountability from Wall Street and corporate America for the financial crisis and the growing economic inequality gap. This message is a warning shot in regards about the kind of civil unrest that may emerge – if the economy continues to struggle.

It was over a week, after the protest started, before public radio even mentioned it, so it is a testament to the passion of the protestors involved that not only does the protests continues to grow but the movement is now becoming too big to ignore. When it appeared apparent that the police were prepared to tighten down on the protesters, unions stepped in and protected the protesters. Now a growing number of Democrats are expressing support for the protesters,

Occupy Wall Street is beginning to look like an event that may become a turning point with growing disparity between the top 1% and the remaining 99%. The protestors’ indictment of Wall Street is correct; greed has become a destructive force, both politically and economically. There is a growing concern on Main Street that justice will never be served to those responsible for our current economic woes.

The bankers took advantage of Republican deregulation and ran wild, they over paid themselves and inflated huge bubbles through reckless spending. But, the bankers got bailed out by taxpayers with little of no accountability attached, while the working middle class and poor begin to suffer loss of jobs and loss of homes as consequences of the banker’s “greed” sins. Then bankers turned on the middle class who bailed them out and threw their support and financial backing behind Republicans who promised to lower taxes for bankers and the wealthy while dismantling the mild regulations created by Democrats to address the financial crisis.

It is time that protesters and Americans denounce the unfettered greed that is laying our nation to waste. Ultimately this movement is about unchecked power and greed that threatens the working middle class and increasing the ranks of the poor.

There will be real political opportunities from these protests but not for the Republicans who have stuffed their pockets full of banker’s blood money made off the backs of the working middle class while condemning the protests as “class warfare.”

Democrats and President Obama will be wise to give the protesters the serious attention they deserve. While protesters generally don’t talk much about politics, most appear to lean left and most have issue with the actions of those associated with the right, who created the dire financial situations that threatens the working middle class.

Many feel that “Like the Tea Party was about reinvigorating the right; Occupy Wall Street will reinvigorate the left.” It appears these growing protests could be the start of a populist movement on the left that pales in comparison the Tea Party on the right. Unlike the Tea Party movement, Occupy Wall Street protests appears to be such an event where the anger is correctly directed at the right people (those greedy folks on the right who destroyed the economy).

Today, plutocrats, Wall Street and business lobbyists and Republican hacks flood the talk shows and continue to call the protesters anarchists, while praising the Tea Party movement (sponsored by the mega wealthy Koch brothers) as the real grass roots movement. Only time will expose whom drinks from “hog troughs of greed” and whom stands with the remaining 99%. .

Tennessee Legislator and sponsor of Tennessee’s “Guns in Bars” Law is Busted Drinking While Driving and Carrying a Gun

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Having a gun makes you feel safe, doesn’t it? At least, provided that you practice gun safety, know how to shoot, and are responsible. It also makes many in “red” states feel really big.

In spaghetti western cowboy movies the cowboy in the white hat was always the good guy. The cowboy in the black hat was always the bad guy. The good guy always won. Today, it is hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys and the good guys rarely win.

This would be the best case “worst case scenario” that exists in the hearts and minds of those who supported the “guns in bars” bill.

There is a stark difference between Hollywood movies and real life. Now back to reality.

The factors that have been left out are the presence of alcohol, nerves, a tense situation, a shaky hand, a bad aim, a crowded restaurant, more “cowboys in white hats” seeing other “cowboys in white hats” mistaking them for the “cowboy in the black hat”, and finally confusion resulting in more people shot than if the cowboy in the black hat were the lone gunman.

Tennessee Republicans passed the controversial “guns in bars” bill. Sponsor of the bill, Collierville Republican Rep. Curry Todd, was arrested Tuesday night for driving drunk while carrying a loaded gun. This event would be laughable if it not so disgusting.

Bar owners, law enforcement and others opposed the guns-bars legislation, which allows permit holders to take a handgun into businesses that sell alcohol providing they don’t drink. In 2009, Todd assured other legislators that permit holders were responsible and would obey the restriction on drinking while carrying a gun.

Police, prosecutors, bar owners and others opposed the guns-in-bars legislation, which allows permit holders to take their handguns into businesses that sell alcohol as long as they don’t drink. During debate in 2009, Todd assured his fellow legislators that permit holders were responsible and would obey the restriction on drinking with their guns.

So, what can we do as citizens? We aren’t State Senators or Representatives. What power do we have? WE are the people who will either vote FOR them or AGAINST them to be re-elected should they so choose to run again. Unfortunately, people in the state of Tennessee decided to vote for folks like Curry Todd.

The Tennessee Legislature remains an embarrassment to Tennesseans and a nation joke!

Greed: We wonder why they protest?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Why are people protesting Wall Street? Corporate greed. The Institute for Policy Studies published a damning report chronicling the extent of greed. It noted: • Twenty-five major U.S. corporations paid their CEOs more than they paid the federal government in taxes. As the divide grows between the haves and the have nots… the American people are sick of greed and the damage it has reaped on the nation.

Protests that started on Wall Street three weeks ago has spread to dozens of cities across the country, as protesters rally against corporate greed, tax breaks for the top 1%, unemployment and the role of financial institutions in the current economic crisis.

The Republicans whine “class warfare” as they wage warfare on the working middle class. They have shown us their extreme agenda and their intent to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Organized Labor, Voting Rights, Injury Compensation, Unemployment Compensation, Public Education, School Lunches and all social programs designed to strengthen the working middle class while they fight to continue tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires and corporate welfare.

It is interesting that Republicans say we can’t afford Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Compensation, Food Stamps, School Lunches and Public Education but we can afford corporate welfare and tax breaks for the top 1%. The Republicans are correct; there is class warfare, and they are waging it against the middle class.