Shelby County

Shelby mayor files lawsuit against county commission chair over opioid crisis lawsuit

 

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s administration has sued Board of Commissioners chairwoman Heidi Shafer in Chancery Court, challenging her hiring of a law firm last week to hire to sue pharmaceutical companies over the county’s opioid crisis, reports the Commercial Appeal.

In a news conference Tuesday, Luttrell said he was “irked” by Shafer’s decision to hire New York-based Napoli Shkolnik, the law firm known for winning a huge class-action settlement for sick Ground Zero workers, among others. He repeatedly emphasized that her action was “unilateral,” without input from the full commission or administration, and claimed she violated the county charter by usurping executive branch authority.

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Shelby School Board joins Nashville board in defying state order to give student data to charter schoos

The Shelby County School board voted Tuesday night to defy an order from state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen requiring that student contact information be turned over to charter schools, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

The board’s action means Tennessee’s largest district more than likely will be sued by the state of Tennessee. On Oct. 18, the state sued Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools after its board declined to hand over information to three state-run charter schools.

A spokeswoman for Tennessee’s Department of Education said the state will evaluate its options in the wake of the board’s vote.

“We are disappointed by this decision from the Shelby County Schools Board of Education as we in good faith provided the district with additional time to comply,” said spokeswoman Chandler Hopper.

The vote came after members discussed their legal options with the district’s top lawyer during a closed executive session. At issue: Whether to stick by the board’s earlier resolution to be in solidarity with Nashville’s board, or to turn over the information after giving parents the chance to opt out. (About 7,700 Memphis families met this week’s opt-out deadline set by Superintendent Dorsey Hopson.)

Board member Chris Caldwell offered up an amendment stating that the Memphis board will not comply with Green Dot’s request. The vote was unanimous, with two members absent.

State suing Nashville schools to force turnover of student data, but probably not Memphis schools

While the state Department of Education has filed a lawsuit to force Metro Nashville schools to turn over student information to charter school operators, the Memphis school system has taken a different approach to data release and may avoid a lawsuit, according to Chalkbeat Tennessee.

Leaders of Nashville’s school district have repeatedly defied an order from Tennessee’s Education Commissioner Candice McQueen to share student addresses, phone numbers, and other information with the state’s controversial turnaround district, as required by a new state law. The state filed a lawsuit this week in Davidson County Chancery Court to force release of the information.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Memphis district have spoken out about the rule — but are preparing to comply. The district has given parents until Sunday, Oct. 22 to opt out of sharing their contact information with charter schools.

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Nashville school board votes to join Shelby County in school funding lawsuit

The Metro Nashville Public Schools board voted Tuesday night to join Shelby County’s schools in a lawsuit seeking more state education funds, reports The Tennessean.

The motion to join Shelby County Schools in the district’s ongoing litigation for increased education funds passed with a 7-0 vote by the Nashville school board. Two board members were absent — Sharon Gentry and Mary Pierce.

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Senate Democratic Leader running for Shelby County mayor

State Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris is running for Shelby County mayor and will not seek re-election to the Senate District 29 seat, reports the Memphis Daily News.

“On the campaign trail, I plan to force a real conversation about creating more meaningful opportunities for our students and reducing poverty,” Harris said Wednesday, Oct. 4, in a written statement announcing his candidacy. “It’ll be one of the first times that this has happened in this community.”

Harris, who is also a former Memphis City Council member, was elected to the state Senate in 2014 from the council seat.

He joins former Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism in the May (Democratic) primary…  And in the process has started a scramble for his state Senate seat which is on the ballot in the August state and federal primaries.

The Republican primary for mayor, so far, is a contest among Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir, Shelby County Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliatos and Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland.

Contenders in the 2018 county elections cannot begin pulling qualifying petitions for the ballot until Nov. 17.

“I’m not in this for layups,” Harris told The Daily News. “I’m in this for real serious challenges.”

Governor names new Shelby County judge

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed David M. Rudolph Circuit Court Judge for the 30th Judicial District, which serves Shelby County. The vacancy was created by the retirement of Judge Robert L. Childers on June 30.

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McQueen sides with charter school company in dispute with Shelby County schools

Tennessee’s education commissioner has sided with a charter school operator in its ongoing dispute with the Shelby County Schools system and the state’s Achievement School District over student contact information, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

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Reorganized Shelby County Democrats elect new chairman

A restructured Shelby County Democratic Party elected Naval Reserve officer and lawyer Corey Strong as chairman on Saturday, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Strong, 36, became the party’s first chairman since it was forcibly disbanded by the Tennessee Democratic Party a year ago.

“My goal is to have a unified message across various interest groups and people of different backgrounds,” Strong said. “The values that we share are the values we want represented in our government, our communities and our neighborhood.”

Strong, a graduate of White Station High and the U.S. Naval Academy, served eight years on active duty in the Navy. He received a law degree from the University of Memphis in 2014 and is a special project manager in the Shelby County Schools finance department under a foundation residency program.

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Shelby County Mayor Luttrell backs Boyd for governor

From the Commercial Appeal:

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell on Wednesday endorsed Randy Boyd in the Tennessee gubernatorial Republican primary election.

Standing next to Boyd at Evolve Bank & Trust on Poplar in East Memphis, Luttrell emphasized Boyd’s business background, emphasis on education and heritage in West Tennessee. Boyd, who formerly headed up state economic development efforts under Gov. Bill Haslam, was born in Knoxville but has family on this side of the state.

Luttrell said he and Boyd became friends as they worked together on development and education initiatives for Shelby County. Boyd, who resigned as commissioner of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to run for governor earlier this year, managed Haslam’s “Drive to 55” and Tennessee Promise education initiatives as an un-paid adviser.

“Randy Boyd is an entrepreneur who has a passion for education,” Luttrell said before quipping that they were probably the only two people in the room who knew the location of Fruitvale, a small town northwest of Jackson.

From the Boyd campaign

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Report bashes Shelby County DA Amy Weirich for ‘misconduct;’ She bashes ‘grossly inaccurate’ report

A Harvard Law School project has ranked Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich highest in Tennessee for prosecutorial misconduct, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Researchers with the Fair Punishment Project reviewed court opinions involving allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in California, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee from Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2015.

“In the time period we reviewed, the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office had the highest number of misconduct findings—with more than a dozen—and the most reversals in Tennessee,”  according to the report. (Note: The document is HERE.)

…Weirich disputed the report’s finding.

“This is a grossly inaccurate and incomplete account of these cases as seen through the eyes of a defense advocacy group,” Weirich said in a statement released by her office Thursday. “I became a prosecutor to hold the guilty accountable and to protect the innocent in every case, and that is what I have tried to do throughout my career. I will never apologize for trying to seek justice for victims of crime.”

… The Fair Punishment Project is a project of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice and Criminal Justice Institute, The Bronx Defenders and the Accountable Justice Collaborative at The Advocacy Fund.