local government

Lawsuit filed over White County jail inmate birth control program

From an Associated Press report:

A Tennessee sheriff and judge violated the constitutional rights of jail inmates by promising to reduce their sentences if they underwent birth control procedures, an ex-inmate says in a federal lawsuit.

Christel Ward was among the misdemeanor-level White County Jail inmates who took the deal, according to the lawsuit. She said Thursday that she still has the unwanted birth control device in her arm that authorities injected in her.

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Autopsy finds several drugs involved in death of Nashville mayor’s son

A Colorado autopsy report released Wednesday says Max Barry, son of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, died from a combination of several drugs, including opioids, reports The Tennessean.

Drugs found in Max Barry following his death were Xanax, marijuana and two opioids — liquid methodone and hydromorphone. The autopsy also showed that he had recently used cocaine.

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Scott County jail faces three lawsuits over medical care of inmates

Three federal court lawsuits have been filed accusing the Scott County jail of failing to provide proper medical care for inmates, reports the News Sentinel.

One contends the jail staff and private medical providers ignored “cries for help” from an inmate who wound up dead of a staph infection; another says a woman was left to languish without care while suffering hundreds of seizures; a third charges that a case of tuberculosis was ignored. All three alleged incidents came after the jail failed  a 2016 jail inspection by the Tennessee Corrections Institute in 2016 — and after the Institute declared problems with medical treatments had been corrected.

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Burchett officially kicks off campaign for Congress

Hundreds of people came out Saturday to hear Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett deliver a speech declaring himself a candidate for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr., reports the News Sentinel.

“The House was created before the Senate. It was created to represent the people…the farmers, the laborers and the small business owners, people we call our blue collar workers,” he said. “People, who in 2017, go to work every day with their names on their shirts.

“There’s a reason House seats are on the ballot every dad-gum two years, it’s because these seats belong to the people, not to any one candidate or elected official,” he continued.

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State Rep. David Alexander won’t seek reelection; will run for Franklin County mayor instead

State Rep. David Alexander has announced he won’t seek reelection to the House District 39 seat next year and instead will run for Franklin County mayor.

Alexander, R-Winchester, made the announcement in an interview on WCDT radio. A video of the interview is posted on Alexander’s Facebook page, HERE.

“I believe strongly in term limits and, since the state of Tennessee does not have term limits, I’m going to impose my own limits,” says Alexander.

Alexander, who was elected to the post in 2010, said he believes his experience as a legislator will help him as a county mayor. Alexander noted he had served on the House Finance Committee, starting in his freshman term, and “the learning curve I had wasn’t a curve – it was more like a rocket ship, straight up.”

House District 39, one of the more oddly shaped districts in the state, covers the northern portions of Franklin County and Marion counties and all of Moore County.

Mayor’s daughter and her husband face murder charges in toddler son’s death

The parents of a 2-year-old boy who died after being left in a vehicle overnight at the Gatlinburg home of a Middle Tennessee mayor were arraigned Monday on felony murder charges, reports the News Sentinel.

Jade Elizabeth Phillips, 24, and her husband, Anthony Dyllan Phillips, 26… are accused of causing the death of their son, Kipp, by leaving the toddler inside a car overnight and into the afternoon of July 14 while temperatures soared into the 90s. The child’s official cause of death has not been made public.

Division lines between husband and wife are already being formed in what could become a defense blame game – typical when two people are charged in the same crime.

Jade Phillips, daughter of Westmoreland Mayor Jerry Kirkman, has posted her $250,000 bond and has hired veteran Knoxville defense attorney Tasha Blakney. She appeared in court Monday dressed in a black dress and gray sweater, her father seated beside her in the courtroom before Ogle took the bench.

Her husband was dressed in a black-and-white striped jail jumpsuit, unable to post bond. There was no one there on his behalf. Amber Haas, a veteran with the 4th Judicial District Public Defender’s Office, was appointed to represent him. Anthony Phillips cast a glance at his wife as she was leaving the courtroom. She did not look in his direction.

Burchett schedules political announcement — likely that he’ll run for 2nd Congressional District seat

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, a former state senator, is widely expected to announce his candidacy for the 2nd congressional District seat now held by U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. next weekend. He’s scheduled an event in Knoxville Saturday to declare his future political plans, reports the News Sentinel.

“From my family’s military service, to my parents’ careers as public educators, I was raised around public service, and it’s something I enjoy,” Burchett said in a news release Monday. “I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work in the state Legislature and as Knox County mayor, and I am excited about what lies ahead for me and my family as we launch this campaign.”

Duncan, who has held the seat since 1988, has not yet announced whether he will seek another term.

Nashville Mayor Barry’s son dies of apparent drug overdose

News release from Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s office

Max Barry, son of Mayor Megan Barry and Bruce Barry, died from an apparent overdose in Denver, Colorado on the evening of Saturday, July 29. Mayor Megan Barry and Bruce Barry have released a statement on this tragic news:

“Early this morning, we received news that no parents should ever have to hear. Our son Max suffered from an overdose and passed away. We cannot begin to describe the pain and heartbreak that comes with losing our only child. Our son was a kind soul full of life and love for his family and friends.

Our family would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers, and would respectfully ask for privacy as we mourn the loss of our child and begin to understand a world without his laughter and love in our lives.”

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Mayors clash over Bible-quoting plaque at Knoxville police headquarters

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero are at odds over a city decision to take down a plaque quoting a Bible verse that now hangs inside a Knoxville police department building.

From the News Sentinel report:

Burchett, a Republican, made the comments in a rare public critique of Rogero, a Democrat, Thursday morning, a day after she announced the city would remove the plaque hanging in the department’s Safety Building.

The plaque quotes Romans 8:31 and includes, “If God be for us, then who can be against us?”

The city is planning to take down the plaque during a Friday morning ceremony and move it to a Hall of Inspiration inside the building that will be a place where multiple quotes and sayings will be displayed.

The East Tennessee chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint about the plaque and threatened a lawsuit if the city did not remove it.

Burchett said the Constitution protects his Christian views, adding the city should allow the group to take them to court.

“Mayor Rogero is my friend, but I would fight this one. I wouldn’t yield to extortionists,” he said. “Ultimately, I have to answer to God not some outfit from out of town who make their living just suing people … “What I don’t understand is with atheists if they don’t believe in God, what do they care? It just doesn’t make much sense to me,” he said.

“At some point folks that follow my belief systems are just going to be legislated out of existence and to me it is discrimination against me and my beliefs,” he said.

… Rogero issued a statement in response to Burchett’s comments Thursday afternoon.

“I’m happy to clear up some misunderstanding and overreaction to this issue. My friend Mayor Burchett will be glad to know the plaque is not being removed, it is merely being moved from one side of the doorway to the other, where it will share a room with other inspirational quotes,” Rogero said in the statement.

Note: Burchett, a former state senator, is considering a run for the 2nd District Congressional seat now held by Rep. John J. ‘Jimmy’ Duncan Jr.

Memphis boosts grants to 1968 sanitation strikers to $70K

The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday to increase the grants going to city workers who participated in the city’s 1968 sanitation strike, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The council voted 10-0 to give the 10 retirees and four active employees $70,000 grants, with all taxes paid by the city. The council voted two weeks ago to approve Mayor Jim Strickland’s proposal to give the strikers all-taxes-paid $50,000 grants.

The council also amended the wording of the grants resolution to allow active employees to collect their grants immediately as opposed to when they retire.