local government

Court of Appeals upholds removal of Confederate names from Memphis parks

The state Court of Appeals in Jackson, affirming a February ruling by the Shelby County Chancery Court, has ruled that the City of Memphis had the legal authority to rename despite contentions to the contrary from the Sons of Confederate veterans, reports the Commercial Appeal.

In 2013, the city parks changed the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Park to Health Sciences Park, renamed Confederate Park as Memphis Park and declared the former Jefferson Davis Park to be known as Mississippi River Park.

Lee Millar, a spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp No. 215, said the group is a digesting the 18-page ruling it received Wednesday and has yet to decide whether to appeal the court’s decision to the state Supreme Court.

“They’ve been known for their history and historic naming for decades and decades,” Millar said of the parks. “They shouldn’t be frivolously renamed. They’re part of our history — Memphis’ history as well as America’s history.”

Wednesday’s ruling doesn’t affect the city’s legal efforts to remove a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest or the graves of he and his wife from Health Sciences Park. The city still plans to argue for the statue’s removal in Davidson County Chancery Court in November following the state Historical Commission’s Oct. 13 rejection of a waiver.

Note: The full Court of Appeals decision is HERE.

Coffee County commissioner seeks House District 47 seat

News release from Rush Bricken campaign

Republican Rush Bricken has announced plans to seek election to the Tennessee House of Representatives.  Bricken is a candidate for the House District 47 seat that includes Coffee County and parts of Warren County.  Incumbent Representative Judd Matheny is running for Congress and not seeking another term.

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County, company settle probation lawsuit for $14.3M

Rutherford County and Providence Community Corrections have settled a class action lawsuit over private probation practices for $14.3 million, reports the Murfreesboro Post. The settlement will compensate nearly 30,000 Tennesseans for fees the company allegedly extorted from probationers.

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Former county mayor, employees indicted on theft charges

News release from state comptroller’s office

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, working in conjunction with the investigator from the 24th Judicial District, has released an investigation related to several former Decatur County employees and former County Mayor Michael Smith.

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Memphis council hiring lobbyists, maybe at over $100K budget

The Memphis City Council plans to hire The Ingram Group, a high-powered Nashville-based strategy firm, to serve as its envoy to state and national lawmakers, reports the Commercial Appeal.

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Boyd gets more endorsements from mayors

News release from Randy Boyd campaign

Crossville, Tenn. – After completing his historic run across East Tennessee and his climb up the Cumberland Plateau, Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd has not only racked up more than 216 miles of his historic 537.3 mile run across the state, but also the political endorsement of dozens of East Tennessee mayors.  Continue reading

School boards in Nashville and Memphis defy state order

Elected school leaders in Memphis and Nashville are digging in their heels against a state order to release public information about their students to state-run charter schools, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

Shelby County’s school board agreed Tuesday night to defy the order, a day after the chairwoman of Nashville’s school board sent a letter to Education Commissioner Candice McQueen indicating that her district would do the same.

Meanwhile, McQueen said she would request the state attorney general’s opinion on the matter.

At issue is student directory information, including names, phone numbers, addresses and emails. Charter operators say they have a right to the lists under the state’s new charter school law, but local districts don’t want to share the information so they can retain their students.

…Both boards cite a committee discussion in February when state lawmakers were asking questions about the charter school bill as it made its way through the legislature. Rep. John Forgety of Athens said the information could not be used as a “recruiting tool,” and Chuck Cagle, an attorney for the state’s superintendents group, agreed. No one disputed their statements.

However, the final bill that passed excluded language that prohibits using the information to market to students, even as the law prohibits charter schools from sharing the information with anyone else.

Three charged with election law violations in Bluff City

News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

JOHNSON CITY – An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in three Bluff City residents being charged with violating an election law.

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TN sheriff gets prison time for having sex with women jail inmates, beating male inmate

Former Fentress County Sheriff Charles S. “Chucky” Cravens was sentenced to two years, nine months in prison Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger of Nashville, reports The Tennessean.

I do take responsibility for my actions,” he told the judge, hands folded behind his Wranglers. “What I done, I done it myself.”

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Wheel tax referendum fell short on valid signatures in Hawkins County

A petition drive seeking a special election to consider repeal a recent $40-per-vehicle increase in the Hawkins County wheel tax fell 127 signatures short of the number required, according to the Rogersville Review. Indeed, county Election Administrator Donna Sharp says there were more invalid signatures than valid. Advocates needed 1,095 valid signatures.

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

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