local government

Confederate statute removal brings Democratic cheers, Republican jeers

House Republican leaders Thursday criticized the sale of two Memphis city parks to clear the way for removal of Confederate statues, suggesting there may be legislative efforts against the move. House Democrats, on the other hand, praised the Memphis maneuver.

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Memphis sells city parks, buyer removes Confederate statues

A private group headed by a county commissioner and fueled by anonymous donations bought two parks from the city of Memphis at little cost this week in a maneuver that cleared the way for swift removal of two Confederate statutes that have sparked conflict for years, reports the Associated Press.

Shelby County Commissioner and attorney Van Turner told a news conference Thursday that his group, Memphis Greenspace Inc., is ready for any lawsuits that arise from its deal with the city, which took months of planning to sidestep a Tennessee law that makes it tough to take down Confederate monuments on public grounds.

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Nashville getting Major League Soccer team

Press release from Major League Soccer

NASHVILLE – (December 20, 2017) – Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber today announced that the historic and culturally dynamic city of Nashville, Tennessee has been awarded an MLS expansion club.

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Judge’s law license suspended; legislator says no impeachment plans ‘at this time’

State Rep. Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville, tells the Kingsport Times News he has no plans “at this time” to launch impeachment proceedings against Hawkins County Juvenile Court Judge Daniel Boyd, whose license to practice law has been suspended because of acknowledged “dishonesty.”

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Blount County Commission chair succeeds Swann in House District 8

Blount County Commission Chairman Jerome Moon was chosen to succeed former state Rep. Art Swann in House District 8 with 16-2 vote by colleagues on the commission Tuesday, reports the Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times.

Swann had resigned the House seat after the commission earlier appointed him to fill the Senate District 2 seat vacated by former Sen. Doug Overbey, who resigned after being appointed U.S. Attorney for East Tennessee.

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Legislator proposes to stop $30M in fees paid by local governments to state Dept. of Revenue

State Rep. Jason Zachary, working with Knox County Commissioner  John Schoonmaker, is making plans to eliminate a fee charged local governments by the state Department of Revenue for collecting local sales taxes and distributing the money to counties and cities, reports the News Sentinel.

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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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