Cari Wade Gervin provides a detailed critique of former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble’s appointment of former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble by Gov. Bill Haslam to the state Board of Parole under the headline, “Haslam’s New Parole Board Appointee Doesn’t Believe in Separation of Church and State or, Apparently, Ethics.”
An excerpt: In February, Gobble resigned from his position after a string of malfeasances, including abusing the city’s Facebook page; hiring a 19-year old friend from church he referred to as his “Jedi Knight” as the city’s communications director at $35,000 a year and then, when realizing that the appointment violated city code, deleting the code from the website in the hopes that no one would find out; threatening and suspending a court clerk over a case Gobble’s daughter was involved in; and even using his city credit card to pay for regular trips to Baskin Robbins as a “justifiable business expense.” (The last one we can at least understand — ice cream is pretty necessary to human existence.)
….And it’s true, Gobble does have lots of experience in law enforcement, which is conceivably a good quality for someone tasked with the ability to grant offenders parole. However, it turns out that Gobble wasn’t really good at those jobs either. He was reportedly fired from his position in the Secret Service and forced to resign from his position as director of the Bradley County Emergency Agency for violations of the Hatch Act — i.e., the law that prevents people using their offices to conduct campaign activities on the job. (Similar violations had previously forced him off the Cleveland City Council.)
Then, just before Gobble left his job as Bradley County Sheriff, the jail almost lost its certification with the Tennessee Corrections Institute for overcrowding, mold in the kitchen, and standing water in at least one cell. But all of that was ok with Gobble, we guess, because it seems his main concern with running a prison wasn’t maintaining it but rather bringing prisoners to Jesus. In a rather long essay, apparently penned while on the job and then posted to the actual official Bradley County Sheriff’s website, Gobble explains how “Our Christian Heritage” — that’s the essay’s title — is influencing how he runs his jail.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Tim Gobble of Cleveland to the state Board of Parole, filling the remainder of the term left vacant by the resignation of Charles Taylor.
Gobble’s appointment becomes effective Tuesday, July 16 and the term expires December 31, 2015. (Note: A board member is paid $93,732 per year.)
“Tim has demonstrated his commitment and responsibility throughout an extensive career in public service, and we are fortunate to have him on the Board of Parole,” Haslam said. “I am grateful for his willingness to serve in this important capacity.”
Gobble has been interim deputy chief in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office since May, returning after serving as deputy chief in 2010-2011. He served as city manager of East Ridge from April 2011-February 2013. Gobble was the sheriff of Bradley County from 2006-2010.
He served as director of the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency from 2004-2006 and was a special agent and supervisor in the United States Secret Service from 1989-2004, serving in Nashville, Houston, Washington D.C. and Chattanooga. He was a police officer in Cleveland from 1988-1989.
“I am honored to be appointed to this position by Governor Haslam, for whom I have great admiration and respect,” Gobble said. “I look forward to serving and working with Chairman Montgomery, other Parole Board members, Parole Board staff and relevant stakeholders in the effective operation of the criminal justice system.”
Haslam named Richard Montgomery chairman of the Board of Parole on July 1.
Gobble received a bachelor’s degree in government and public administration from David Lipscomb College, now Lipscomb University, in 1986. He and his wife, Christie, have been married 25 years and have two daughters and one son.
Note: The Tennessean adds some background not included in the news release: The move comes five months after Gobble was removed as the city manager of East Ridge, a Chattanooga suburb, after a tumultuous two years on the job.
Gobble ran into criticism for a decision to hire a member of his church as a personal assistant and for his disciplining of the city’s court clerks in a case involving his daughter.
Gobble was hired almost immediately by Hamilton County and given oversight of the jail. Gobble also has served as sheriff of Bradley County, director of the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency and a special agent and supervisor in the U.S. Secret Service.
— UPDATE: And there’s this from Nooga.com: Asked how he reconciled his pick with Gobble’s recent experience in East Ridge, Haslam declined to comment on the issue and instead focused on his other roles in public life.
“I mean, I can’t really speak for both sides of that issue,” Haslam said. “But I think from what I’ve seen of Tim, both as Bradley County sheriff, his time in Hamilton County and his federal government Secret Service work, I think he can add to the program.”
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Richard Montgomery as chairman of the Board of Parole. Montgomery replaces Charles Traughber who retired last week after serving nearly 40 years on the board, much of that time as chairman.
“I am grateful for Chairman Traughber’s many years of service and dedication to our state,” Haslam said. “His experience and counsel was extremely helpful as we restructured the board to transition probation services to the Department of Correction to provide a more seamless and accountable process.
“Richard will do an outstanding job for the citizens of Tennessee in this new role,” Haslam continued. “His passion for the citizens and welfare of this state are well known, and he has the right balance of compassion and common sense to lead this important organization.”
Montgomery, 66, was appointed to the Board of Parole in January. Prior to that, he served 14 years in the General Assembly representing Sevier County. He served as chairman of the House Education Committee and was a member of other key committees including the House Commerce Committee, the Select Committee on Corrections Oversight, the Calendar and Rules Committee, the Joint Lottery Scholarship Committee, the Joint Education Oversight Committee, the Joint Workers’ Compensation Oversight Committee, and the Select Committee on Children and Youth.
“I am extremely humbled and honored to be selected by the governor to chair this important board,” Montgomery said. “I feel fortunate to be working alongside such dedicated and knowledgeable staff and board members. It is a tremendous privilege to be able to serve the citizens of Tennessee in this capacity.”
Montgomery is retired from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he was operations manager for UT-Battelle for 27 years. He has also served on the Sevier County Board of Education along with several other community boards.
A graduate of Hiawassee Junior College and the University of Tennessee, Montgomery received the Gordon Fee Leadership in Education Award in 2012 from the Tennessee Business Roundtable. He also received the 2012 Leader in Education Legislative Award from the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. In 2010, he was named Legislator of the Year by the Tennessee Hospitality Association, and the Tennessee County Officials Association named him Legislator of the Year in 2002.
Montgomery and his wife, Ann, live in Sevierville and have a grown daughter and son-in-law, Megan and Monte Miller, and a granddaughter, Josephine Clair.
The State Board of Education on Friday approved controversial major revisions of the state’s minimum salary schedule for teachers that sharply reduces the value of experience and advanced degrees, reports Rick Locker. The board approved the changes sought by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration on a 6-3 vote despite opposition by teachers who packed the meeting room. They said the new plan could freeze their salaries at their 11th year in the profession. The plan proposed by State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman tops out at year 11, while the current plan tops out at year 21.
The current salary schedule lists the minimum annual salaries for teachers for each year of experience through 21 years and for each of five levels of college degrees they hold. The new minimum schedule lists only four pay levels based on years of experience up through the 11th year, and only two levels of college degrees — bachelor’s and any level of advanced degree.
The state’s 135 local school boards are free under the law to pay their teachers more, as all but three rural districts do. But about half the districts pay within 10 percent of the state-required minimums.
The board approved the plan at the urging of Huffman’s Department of Education despite requests to delay a vote by the Tennessee Education Association and the vice chairman of the state legislature’s House Education Committee, Republican Rep. John Forgety of Athens, the former superintendent of his county school district.
Arlington Middle School teacher Barbara Gray, vice president of TEA, told the board that teachers have “serious concern” about the plan. “These changes could seriously damage teaching careers and increase the inequity between the rich and the poor school systems,” she said. “The overall effect of the changes proposed is a substantial lowering of state requirements for teacher salaries.
“While no teacher will see a cut in their current salary, they may also never see another raise, resulting in drastically decreased lifetime earnings.”
Huffman lashed out at critics of the plan and media reports that it advanced under the radar with little public notice or discussion. A
“Tennessee law forbids any district from cutting an individual teachers salary,” Huffman told the board. “Two, there is more state money in the budget for salaries than at any time in Tennessee history. The state has added $130 million in taxpayer money over the last three years to the budget that goes to districts that has to be spent on compensation.
“Three, the proposed minimum salary schedule does not tell districts how to pay teachers. It gives almost complete autonomy to local districts to decide how to pay teachers. So anyone who says that this pay system does this over, that is just not accurate. Local districts are going to develop their own systems on how this gets implemented.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State lawmakers are speaking out against a proposal by the state Department of Education they believe would eventually hurt teacher salaries in Tennessee.
Democratic leaders held a press conference on Thursday to oppose the measure that seeks to change the minimum teacher salary schedule.
They note the proposal would reduce steps in salary increases from 21 to four and eliminate incentives for doctorate degrees and post-master’s training.
House Minority Leader Crag Fitzhugh said the proposal could deter individuals looking to teach in Tennessee.
“I don’t know that we can get career teachers anymore,” said the Ripley Democrat.
Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman is scheduled to present the proposal to the State Board of Education on Friday.
Hyffman said in an email that it’s against the law for any Tennessee school district to cut a teacher’s salary, and that Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has added more than $130 million in state money for teacher salaries over the past three years.
State officials say the proposed schedule provides school districts with more latitude to create compensation plans that meet their local needs.
“We will continue to look for ways to increase teacher pay, decrease state mandates and increase local control of school decisions,” Huffman said.
And here’s an excerpt from Rick Locker’s report:
The current schedule lists minimum pay levels for teachers statewide for each year of teaching up to year 21 and for five different levels of degrees attained. The 135 school districts are free to pay above the minimums. Clay, Hancock and Pickett counties pay at the minimum; 20 districts pay within 2 percent of the minimum and about half pay within 10 percent.
But all districts use the schedule’s basic framework of 21 annual step increases and five different levels of education: bachelor’s degree, master’s, master’s plus at least 30 hours of additional college credit, education specialist and doctoral degrees.
The Huffman plan would compress the schedule to four steps — $30,876 base for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree, get base plus $570 in year two, base plus $3,190 in year six and base plus $6,585 in year 11. Teachers with any level of advanced degree would start at a base $34,291, get base plus $7,030 raise in year six and base plus $10,890 in year 11.
Under the current schedule, minimum teacher pay tops out at 21 years (they may still receive pay raises locally but they’re not mandated by the state). The Huffman plan would top out at 11 years.
— Note: News release below.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Board of Pharmacy says it has adopted new regulations for compounding pharmacies licensed by the state following recent outbreaks of illnesses associated with tainted medicines created at these specialty pharmacies.
The Pharmacy Board said in a news release that the new rules will improve safeguards for public health while also ensuring that drugs in short supply will be available. Compounding pharmacies mix custom formulations of drugs based on doctors’ specifications.
The board said the changes include expedited suspension of sterile compounding by a pharmacy or manufacturer after a serious problem is discovered and adding sterile compounding registration to licenses issued by the state.
The University of Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College will receive less money from the state in the upcoming school yard than in the current year because of the Complete College Act passed by the Legislature in 2010, reports the Commercial Appeal. The Memphis schools are the only two among the Tennessee Board of Regents’ six universities and 13 community colleges that the new formula would have cut for the 2013-14 school year if the extra money wasn’t available, according to TBR figures.
The new outcomes-based formula takes into account the colleges’ and universities’ success in such factors as retaining students, advancing them steadily toward degrees and awarding degrees and other credentials. As a result, the schools are placing new emphasis on student success, including tutoring and advising centers.
U of M and Regents officials emphasize that the University of Memphis had positive outcomes under the formula and that the indicated reduction is due to other factors.
U of M faces a $737,300 reduction in its recurring funding from state appropriations for 2013-14 — but a one-time, or nonrecurring, appropriation of $1,976,600 will more than offset that reduction — for one year only.
Southwest Tennessee Community College is losing $2.2 million in recurring state funding and is getting about $1.2 million in nonrecurring funding, for a net reduction from the state of about $1 million. The Board of Regents is expected to approve tuition increases of 3 percent for the community colleges and 6 percent at the U of M later this month, to round out the institutions’ operational funding.
In contrast, the other five Regents universities will receive increased recurring funding from the state ranging from $893,100 at Tennessee State University in Nashville to $3.7 million at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville. And the 12 other community colleges will receive increases ranging from $463,100 at Volunteer State in Gallatin to $4.7 million at Chattanooga State.
TBR figures indicate that when the so-called “hold harmless” money — it holds the campuses “harmless” from funding cuts — ends after the upcoming school year, institutions on the lower end of the outcomes model could face state funding cuts unless the governor and legislature provide real increases in higher education operational funding across the board. They did that this year, for the first time in nearly a decade.
David G. Zettergren, vice president for business and finance at the U of M, said the university is taking several steps to control costs to compensate for state appropriation reductions while continuing to serve students. They include “streamlining, consolidating and reorganizing offices and services,” he said.
Memphis lawyer John Farris, a Board of Regents member and chairman of its Finance and Business Operations Committee, said he’s disappointed with the impact of base funding cuts on the Memphis schools.
Victor Ashe’s departure from a federal board that oversees the government’s foreign broadcasting agency is causing almost as much conflict as his tenure on the panel, reports Michael Collins. President Barack Obama is looking to replace Ashe on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent federal agency that watches over government-supported broadcasters such as Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe.
But Ashe’s removal has brought howls of protest from conservatives and some broadcasting groups, who note that he is the only Republican on the board, even though by law the panel is supposed to be evenly split among Democrats and Republicans. Obama has nominated another Republican, former Ambassador Ryan Crocker, as Ashe’s successor. But Ashe’s backers argue he should be allowed to stay on as well given the dearth of GOP representation on the panel.
What’s more, some of Ashe’s defenders suspect he is being replaced because his attempts to ferret out waste and mismanagement have rankled the broadcasting agency’s top executives.
“He has upset a lot of people who were used to having the board rubber stamp what they want to do,” said Timothy Shamble, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1812, the union that represents broadcasters and journalists at Voice of America.
Shamble and others have written letters to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asking him to help keep Ashe on the board.
Ashe, a former Knoxville mayor who also served as U.S. ambassador to Poland, said he is not seeking another term on the board. Obama appointed him to the panel in late 2009 to fill an unexpired term. Ashe’s term ended in August 2010, but by law he is allowed to continue serving until his successor is nominated and confirmed.
“I will continue serving until replaced and work on those issues which I have previously worked on,” Ashe said via email, citing openness in government, less waste, fairness to employees and outreach to people living under repressive regimes that censor objective news.
Ashe said Crocker is “an excellent nominee” to serve on the board. But he, too, believes it’s important to have four Democrats and four Republicans on the nine-member panel. (By law, the ninth board member is the sitting secretary of state.) A bipartisan split on the board “helps to assure an objective, honest approach to news reporting,” Ashe said.
Right now, five of the nine board seats are vacant.
Education officials from all over the state are saying they don’t anticipate using the new state law allowing teachers with police training to carry guns, the Tennessean reports, and many are adamant that the proposal won’t come up in their community. “We don’t want any guns in here,” said Michael Martin, director of the small Van Buren County school system. “I know most of the Upper Cumberland directors, and I don’t see us arming teachers.”
The Tennessee School Boards Association also knows of no school system planning to use the new School Security Act of 2013, but it believes conversations may heat up after July 1, when the law takes effect.
“I would anticipate more of those conversations just prior to school starting back,” said association spokesman Lee Harrell.
Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Jesse Register “has made it pretty clear that is not going to happen here,” system spokesman Joe Bass said Thursday.
Register several times voiced firm opposition to the idea when it first surfaced shortly after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut killed 26 people — 20 of them children.
Tennessee legislators began discussing the idea of arming teachers or other school employees almost immediately after going into session in January. Filed as an alternative to letting any teachers with handgun carry permits bring their weapons onto campus, the measure passed in the state House 82-15 and was approved 27-6 in the Senate. Gov. Bill Haslam signed it into law in May.
Under the law, school systems may hire retired law enforcement officers who meet certain requirements, such as completing a 40-hour school security course. The description could apply to teachers in a school’s criminal justice program, a police officer turned teacher or a volunteer with police experience.
State Sen. Frank Niceley, one of the bill’s chief sponsors, was not concerned about the slow pace of adoption. He said the bill’s primary purpose was to give small districts a cheaper alternative to school resource officers, regular-duty police officers assigned to schools.
“I’m not convinced everybody knows about it yet,” said Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. “It’ll sift down.”
The Tennessee Board of Regents is considering tuition increases ranging from 1.2 to 7.8 percent for students at Regents-governed colleges and universities this fall, reports The Commercial Appeal. Those rates were presented by TBR staff as the starting point for discussion by the Board’s Finance and Business Operations Committee last week. The staff will develop its formal recommendations for presentation to the committee on Tuesday. The full Board of Regents meets June 21 to approve tuition and fee increases — usually at the rate the committee recommends.
But if those rates are ultimately approved, it would mean a $419 increase per academic year for a University of Memphis student taking 15 hours and $136 per year for a student at Southwest. U of M students taking 15 hours currently pay $8,234 in tuition and mandatory fees for two semesters and would pay $8,653, excluding residence halls and meal plans. Annual tuition and mandatory fees for a Southwest student taking 15 hours are $3,717 and would rise to $3,853. (Note: The U of M increase would be 5.1 percent.)
The U of M has the highest tuition and mandatory fees (fees that all full-time students must pay) of any of the six Regents-governed universities. The second highest is Middle Tennessee State University at $7,492 per academic year.
However, those rates are lower than the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where tuition and mandatory fees totaled $9,092 during the 2012-13 academic year. The UT Board of Trustees meets June 19-20 to set tuition and fees for its campuses.
;;;The committee discussed tuition and fee increases at the other five universities: Austin Peay State University, 3.3 percent; East Tennessee State, 7.8 percent; MTSU, 4.8 percent, Tennessee State, 1.2 percent and Tennessee Technological University, 5.6 percent.
Increases discussed at the 13 community colleges were 3.7 to 3.8 percent.
The committee also discussed, but did not act on, a possible tuition increase of 0.8 percent for community college students to pay for a $2 million comprehensive marketing initiative for the two-year schools.