local government

Comptroller finds no major legal problems in Memphis Confederate statues maneuver

Press release from Office of the Comptroller

The Comptroller’s Office has completed a review of the City of Memphis’ December 20, 2017 sale of Health Sciences Park and the easement to Memphis Park to Memphis Greenspace, Inc.

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Bill to give legislators oversight of airports stirs flap in Northeast TN

Legislation introduced by Rep. Matthew Hill and Sen. Steve Southerland would create a board of state legislators to oversee – and overrule, if they wish – decisions made by regional airport authorities. The bill involves the Tri-Cities Airport Authority’s use of a $4.1 million state grant and is stirring controversy in Northeast Tennessee.

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Nashville Council approves May referendum on $5.4B (or $8.9B) transit referendum

The Metropolitan Nashville Council has voted 34-2 to give final approval to adding Mayor Megan Barry’s transit referendum to the local primary election ballot on May 1, reports The Tennessean.

But bucking the administration, the council tweaked the referendum language to list both the transit proposal’s present-day cost of $5.4 billion as well as the estimated amount of long-term revenue needed for the project, $8.95 billion. The mayor’s office had lobbied for only the lower amount to go on the ballot. 

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TN Supreme Court rejects refund of liquor stores’ overpaid taxes

Press release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. – In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that a taxpayer must pay disputed municipal taxes under protest before suing for a refund.

The city of Morristown, based on a state statute, adopted an ordinance imposing an inspection fee on licensed alcoholic beverage retailers. The city set the fee at 8 percent of the wholesale price based on the county’s population. By 2011, the county’s population increased, and under the ordinance, the inspection fee should have decreased to a maximum fee of 5 percent of the wholesale price. However, from 2011–2014, the city of Morristown continued to charge alcoholic beverage retailers 8 percent inspection fees instead of the authorized 5 percent fees.  Continue reading

Gubernatorial candidates talk on local control versus legislature

Excerpt from the Times-Free Press report on a gubernatorial candidate forum Thursday:

In response to a question about cities’ and towns’ complaints about the General Assembly’s propensity to wade into their operations on issues like guns in public parks, removal of Confederate statues and education, (Democrat Craig) Fitzhugh said, “I believe in local control” and put the blame on the Republican-run Legislature.

“It seemed to me that for many years, the Republican view was the best government was at the local level, but here recently at the Legislature, the majority party has taken it upon themselves to sort of get into cities’ business and counties’ business on various things. I think they had it right the first time.”

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More on Nashville mayor’s extramarital affair

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry says her extramarital affair was with Metro police Sgt. Robert Forrest Jr., who heads her security detail, and began in the spring or summer of 2016, just months after she entered office the previous fall, reports The Tennessean.

Forrest submitted his retirement papers Jan. 17. His final day was Wednesday.

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Nashville mayor acknowledges extramarital affair

Press release from Nashville mayor’s office

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (January 31, 2018) – Mayor Megan Barry has released the following statement regarding an extramarital affair:

“Today, I have acknowledged publicly that I have engaged in an extramarital affair with the former head of my security detail.

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Sen. Lundberg tangled in flap over firing of policeman who ticketed his daughter

Bristol city officials were concerned about “political interference and retaliation” by state Sen. Jon Lundberg after his daughter was ticketed by a police officer who was subsequently fired, reports the Bristol Herald Courier.

The Bristol Republican says he did not try to get his daughter out of the ticket and has actively opposed dismissal of officer Phil Kiersnowski – though he contacted the city police chief at the time to jokingly remark on his wife and daughter both being ticketed  by Bristol police on the same day.

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Lawsuit accuses county trustee of cattle rustling, womanizing

Hamblen County Trustee John Baskette is accused of cattle rustling in a lawsuit, reports the News Sentinel. The further contends Baskette used the money from the cattle sales “for his womanizing.”

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‘Grinch of a storm’ knocks down Nashville’s official Christmas tree

From an AP brief:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — O Christmas Tree! A Grinch of a storm has toppled the official holiday spruce in Tennessee’s capital city.

Area media outlets report that Nashville’s 40-foot (12-meter) Norway spruce was toppled overnight, with officials blaming a combination of wind, rain and possibly a defective anchor.

More than 2,000 people had turned out Dec. 1 for the tree’s lighting ceremony with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, including a performance by the husband-and-wife duo of Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires.

Adds WTVF: Wind gusts were recorded between 40 and 50 miles per hour across the Mid-State. The lights were still lit after the tree fell… The tree was decorated with more than 5,000 LED multicolored lights.

On Saturday, Mayor Megan Barry said on social media they could not save the tree, but she told the public another tree stood in Centennial Park that was also donated by the Jenkins family.

Note: The official Tennessee state Christmas tree, a 35-foot Norway spruce located outside an entrance to the state Capitol building, survived the storm.