By Adrian Sanz, Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. is rejecting comparisons between his financially challenged city and Detroit, the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy.
Wharton told reporters Friday he reluctantly called a news conference to address questions about Memphis ending up like Detroit, which filed for bankruptcy this week. He said Memphis is not in denial about its financial challenges, but stressed that they are not as bad as the Michigan city.
“I’ve gotten a number of questions and they just get straight to the bottom line of, ‘Well, is Memphis like Detroit?” Wharton said. “My initial reaction was to say ‘I’m not going to dignify it by starting to try to make that kind of comparison.'”
He added: “I do hurt for what has happened in Detroit. This is not a time for piling on and saying how bad they are. After all, it’s not a government that will suffer. It will be citizens that will suffer.”
Democratic candidate Steve Glaser, his wife and law practice owe nearly $88,000 to the Internal Revenue Service in delinquent taxes, penalties and interest, according to The Tennessean. Glaser is seeking the House District 44 seat being vacated by Rep. Mike McDonald, D-Gallatin. Federal and state tax collectors have filed at least 15 liens against Glaser for unpaid personal income, unemployment and business taxes as far back as 1988 and as recently as Aug. 14. The debts total more than $158,000, according to records on file with the Sumner County Register of Deeds.
Glaser, an attorney and former Portland city judge, conceded he owes the IRS back taxes but said he could not recall how much.
“I’m not ashamed of anything,” he said. “I’m doing the best I can to live in the world like everybody else. In life, you’re going to have successes and failures. It’s what you do about it that matters, and I’m paying my taxes.”
Glaser resigned as Portland’s city judge on Aug. 20, stepping down from a position he had held for nine years, to focus on his race against Cottontown Republican William Lamberth, a Sumner County assistant district attorney.
“I’m not a perfect candidate; I’ve had ups and downs just like everyone else. If the voters are looking for the perfect candidate, I’m not him,” Glaser said.
The liens against Glaser range from $82.43 in 2008 to $55,540 for unpaid federal income taxes between 1988 and 1992.
Of the $158,000 in total liens filed, records indicate Glaser has been released from $70,237 in back taxes owed from 1988 through 1994, 2001 and 2002.
Courtney Rogers and her husband filed for bankruptcy in 2005, reports Andrea Zelinski, after an oil distributorship brought before the 9/11 attacks failed. And even though it stemmed from the failure of her husband’s company, Rogers is being sucked back into that difficult chapter in their lives now that she’s running for state political office. Rogers is waging a dark horse campaign to unseat one of the House’s leading Republicans, GOP Caucus Leader Debra Maggart, of Hendersonville.
Michael Rogers’ company — BSR Petroleum Distributors Inc. — consumed $55,000 of the Rogers family’s savings as profit margins shrunk following the terrorist attacks, forcing the pair to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Rogers and her campaign said.
“There was nothing we could do. We fought it off for a few years, we emptied our savings. But the margins never came back,” said Rogers.
Rogers and her husband filed for bankruptcy in March of 2005, according to court records. The couple listed liabilities of more than $930,000, with most of those debts, nearly $730,000, tied to his company. Their legal obligation to pay their debt was gone three months later, and their assets were liquidated.
“I don’t know that we’d do anything different because no one could foresee that,” she said of her husband buying Pulaski-based Chiles Oil Inc., and launching their business six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The revelation of Rogers’ bankruptcy is the newest twist in the Aug. 2 primary race for District 45 in Sumner County between the two conservative Republicans. A handful of interest groups are flooding Rogers with support in an effort to unseat the politically powerful Maggart as payback for leading the charge against issues they hold dear, including the National Rifle Association, which so far has plugged more than $75,000 into the race.
Rogers has not filed a disclosure of the bankruptcy with the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
It’s unclear whether she is in violation of election law, which requires candidates running for election to fill out paperwork listing “any adjudication of bankruptcy or discharge received in any United States district court within five years of the date of this report.” Omitting information could result in a fine up to $10,000.
Gov. Bill Haslam may soon be able to forget about a legal headache, according to Josh Flory. The former Knoxville mayor had previously served as a director and chairman of Dallas-based Harold’s Stores Inc., which sought bankruptcy protection in 2008. The following year bankruptcy trustee Douglas Gould sued Haslam and several other defendants with ties to the company.
In a recent filing, Gould asked the court to dismiss all claims against Haslam, without giving a reason for the action. An attorney for Gould could not be reached for comment.
A spokeswoman for Haslam could not be reached for comment. The governor previously said he never had an operational role at Harold’s and that there was no basis to the allegations of mismanagement.
In an amended complaint filed last year, Gould alleged the company was dominated by a controlling shareholder, Ronald de Waal, and a majority of directors and officers whose interests were adverse to those of the company. The suit said de Waal had personal and professional relationships with the directors and officers that made them beholden to him and that Haslam served as CEO of Saks Direct, Inc., during the time that de Waal was vice chairman of its parent company.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal bankruptcy judge in Nashville has ordered the sale of a flood victim’s home after the lender refused to foreclose, in what legal observers say is a first-of-its-kind ruling.
Sheryl Pigg lost nearly everything in the 2010 flood, according to The Tennessean. She ultimately found a new home, declared bankruptcy and discharged her debts.
But a 2005 change to federal bankruptcy code made Pigg liable for continuing homeowners association fees at her abandoned home, because she was still the legal owner. Pigg sued mortgage holder Bank of America to get the lender to foreclose, accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure or allow a sale of the Nashville condominium.
In his ruling, Judge George Paine II ordered Pigg’s bankruptcy reopened so that a trustee can sell the home, with the proceeds going first to the homeowner’s association and then the bank. He reasoned that Bank of America has consented to the sale of the flood-damaged condominium through its inaction.
“With the real estate collapse, lenders, who otherwise have the right to do so, are choosing not to foreclose on their collateral leaving homeowners in limbo,” Paine wrote. “Congress’ broadening of (the bankruptcy code) to protect HOAs deprives the debtor of a fresh start, and thwarts the goals of the entire Bankruptcy Code.”
JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — The Lambuth University Board of Trustees voted Thursday to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The 168-year-old United Methodist campus officially closed after years of financial difficulties and the loss of its academic accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Board Chairman Mike Keeney said in a news release that the school has been trying to sell its assets to settle its debts. But with debts remaining and time running out, the board decided to ask for an expedited bankruptcy plan.
The trustees also voted to accept a proposal from a group of stakeholders to sell the campus for $7.9 million. However, there is not yet a signed letter of agreement, so the purchase is still tentative.