local government

Trump reportedly buys subdivision lot in Hawkins County

Through a representative, President Trump bought a Rogersville subdivision lot Friday, according to reports in the Kingsport and Rogersville newspapers  based on the seller’s press release. There’s no indication of why or how the property might be used.

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Lawsuit filed against Nashville law restricting home-based businesses

A team of attorneys is challenging a Metro Nashville law that prohibits residents from operating certain businesses in their homes, reports WPLN. The new lawsuit was filed on behalf of two people who say their home businesses were hurt after the city received anonymous complaints.

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FBI agents asking questions about Knox County Mayor Burchett

FBI agents have interviewed at least four people, asking questions about Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, who is running for the 2nd Congressional District seat, according to the News Sentinel. The people interviewed said FBI agents asked about issues ranging from possible tax evasion to potential bribery and a county contract.

When reached Thursday, Burchett said, “No truth to any of it.”

The USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee obtained a copy of a document drafted by an attorney that states Burchett’s ex-wife, Allison, was a confidential informant for the FBI, with the code name “Carbon,” since 2012.

Allison Burchett said she began working with the FBI in 2012 but declined further comment.

“I’m sorry I cannot comment on an ongoing FBI investigation,” she said.

The three other sources requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Federal investigators conducted several interviews this year, including as recently as October, sources said. The interviews were conducted in various locations, including the FBI’s Knoxville headquarters.

One source said an IRS agent also has been involved in the inquiry.

… “I’m not sure what they’re charging, but it’s coming pretty soon,” one source said. “This is very, very serious. It’ll blow Knoxville wide open.”

UPDATE: Burchett responded “defiantly” to the article a day later, reported the News Sentinel and other Gannet newspapers. Excerpted quote:

“I’ve never been contacted by the FBI concerning any of this stuff. I really don’t think there’s any such inquiry… To have a major news story based upon my convicted ex-wife and unnamed sources and for this to be treated as legitimate news, to me is beyond belief,”

Sheriff fires daughter, son-in-law for using illegal drugs

Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal has fired his daughter and son-in-law last week after discovering communications between them discussing their use of illegal drugs, reports the Johnson City Press.

Shelly Graybeal and her husband, Scott Johnson, who had each worked at the sheriff’s office for more than a decade, were terminated from their employment Nov. 20, Chief Operations Officer Leighta Laitinen said.

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Cumberland County, TDEC have a dam dispute

The Cumberland County Commission is refusing to pay a bill from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for inspection of a small dam, reports The Crossville Chronicle. The initial 2016 fee for inspection of Breckenridge Dam was $500, but that’s grown to $3,536.29 with penalties and interest.

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Burchett offered check (declined) and apology (accepted) after Saudi teen’s attack

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, a candidate for the 2nd Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan, was one of several motorists who came under attack from a Saudi Arabian citizen who recently enrolled at the University of Tennessee to study nursing, reports the News Sentinel. The youth’s lawyer says he suffered “an unexpected mental breakdown” in the episode, which warrants say involved pounding on cars and grabbing at the drivers as they passed him on a street near the UT Knoxville campus.

“Did they screen this guy at all for mental health issues?” Burchett said Friday of 19-year-old Nofl Hassan Alatyah. “I’m not getting any answers, and I’m very frustrated.”

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Rogero credited with paving the way to majority rule by women in Knoxville government

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero won’t say so out loud, but her election in 2011 and the efforts of a group called Women’s March Knoxville, helped pave the way for a transformation of city government in last week’s Knoxville elections, according to the News Sentinel.

For the first time in city history, four women will sit on the council. With Rogero included, the city’s representation will be five men, five women.

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Shelby mayor files lawsuit against county commission chair over opioid crisis lawsuit

 

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s administration has sued Board of Commissioners chairwoman Heidi Shafer in Chancery Court, challenging her hiring of a law firm last week to hire to sue pharmaceutical companies over the county’s opioid crisis, reports the Commercial Appeal.

In a news conference Tuesday, Luttrell said he was “irked” by Shafer’s decision to hire New York-based Napoli Shkolnik, the law firm known for winning a huge class-action settlement for sick Ground Zero workers, among others. He repeatedly emphasized that her action was “unilateral,” without input from the full commission or administration, and claimed she violated the county charter by usurping executive branch authority.

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Nashville mayor joins new national group pushing city infrastructure investments

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, seen by some as a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, is starting a nonprofit group with other mayors, union leaders and business executives to fund what they call innovation investments around the country, reports Politico. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, who is pushing a $5.2 billion infrastructure investment including a 26-mile light rail system, is one of the members of an initial advisory group.

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On a rural West TN doctor’s fight with feds, backed by area politicians appealing to Alexander, Kustoff

The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has shut off payments to Dr. Bryan Merrick after finding clerical errors in billings through McKenzie Medical Center for a handful of Medicare patients. The move threatens to shut down the center – which serves around 4,000 patients in a rural area with few medical providers — and has brought a bipartisan outpouring of pleas to help Merrick from West Tennessee political leaders to members of the Tennessee congressional delegation, so far without results.

The latest plea was a letter last week from McKenzie Mayor Jill Holland to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander as chairman of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, asking him to convene a hearing with the goal of “revocation or modification of a particularly egregious Obama-era regulation” that CMS used in stopping Medicare payments to Merrick that is now “jeopardizing health care to hundreds and eventually thousands of citizens” in Carroll, Weakley and Henry counties. As of this weekend, Alexander had not responded to the letter or a reporter’s email inquiry seeking comment.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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