local government

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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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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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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State Rep. Marc Gravitt becomes 17th incumbent to announce plans to leave a legislative seat

State Rep. Marc Gravitt, R-East Ridge, has announced he will not run for reelection to his House District 30 seat next year and instead will run for election as Hamilton County register of deeds, reports the Times Free Press.

He becomes the 17th state legislator to publicly indicate plans for a voluntary exit from the 132-member Tennessee General Assembly — a 12.8 percent turnover of seats apparently assured 15 months before the 2018 general election. (Note: This assumes confirmation by the U.S. Senate of President Trump’s appointments of Sens. Mark Norris as a federal judge and Doug Overbey as a U.S. attorney and House members proposing to run for their Senate seats.)

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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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