A Bradley County man’s quest to have the Cleveland city manager and a councilman charged for ripping up his protests signs came to naught Tuesday, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Dan Rawls said Bradley County General Sessions Judge Sheridan Randolph refused to issue criminal summonses for City Manager Janice Casteel or Councilman George Poe on charges of vandalism, criminal trespass and official oppression.
After meeting with the judge to make his request, Rawls said Randolph told him that even if he signed the papers, the prosecutor’s office was likely to dismiss the charges.
The two city officials ripped up protest signs Rawls posted in front of his business, Cleveland Performance Center, when Gov. Bill Haslam was appearing across the street on July 11. Rawls said the hand-painted sign saying, “Haslam, shame on u,” was to protest the governor’s support for Common Core educational standards.
Poe said afterward that the signs were an embarrassment to the city and that they were on city right of way.
Photos showed them near a stop sign and a utility pole, but it’s hard to determine whether they are within the 6-foot right of way
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.”
Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth has fired back after a long-distance tongue-lashing from state lawmakers in Nashville, reports Andy Sher Members of a House subcommittee smacked Ruth around Wednesday over a column he wrote earlier this month. Ruth is supporting a bill that would require a doctor’s prescription for drugs such as Claritin D or Sudafed, which contain pseudoephedrine. The drug is a key ingredient in methamphetamine.
In the column, Ruth wrote, “The politicians, lobbyists, pharmaceutical companies and meth dealers that are blocking a new, effective law have made for some strange bedfellows.”
Some lawmakers took that as an accusation of corruption. Lancaster Republican Terri Lynn Weaver, for instance, said Ruth should “have the cojones” to come to her office “and look at me eyeball to eyeball and tell me I’m on the take.”
In a statement Friday, Ruth stuck to his guns. He said a December survey showed most law enforcement members in the state see meth as the No. 1 problem.
“I predicted I would come up against strong resistance, and I have,” Ruth wrote. “I see the wording and intent of my articles have been misquoted by some in an effort to come back at me as I indicated in those very same articles would happen.
From a Chattanooga TFP story: The ostensible reason for firing former Bradley County deputy Dallas Longwith was that he was seen mowing the yard in December, wearing only his underwear.
The real reason Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth fired him a year ago, Longwith claims in a federal lawsuit, is Longwith was open about plans to support state Rep. Eric Watson if he runs against Ruth next year.
“It had nothing to do with work-related stuff — it was just to get rid of me because I had an affiliation with the man who might be the next sheriff of Bradley County,” Longwith told the Times Free Press.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, seeks $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
In it, Longwith claims that Ruth, a Republican, “systematically demoted, cut pay and/or changed the shifts of Sheriff’s deputies who had openly supported” Democrat Steve Lawson.
Two of the three candidates opposing state Rep. David Hawk in this summer’s Republican primary acknowledge they had no plans to enter the contest until the incumbent was charged with domestic assault on his wife.
But now that the race for House District 5 is underway, all the candidates say that’s not really an appropriate topic for campaign discourse. Hawk says his attorney has advised him not to talk about the pending case. His challengers say, more or less, that they don’t need to bring it up.
Greeneville businessman Hawk, 44, has spent 10 years as a lawmaker and says the experience and relationship gained over that period warrant reelection to another term. In a speech to announce his candidacy, he declared “I’m the same person now that I was when you re-elected me four times.”
Hawk was charged in March with assaulting his wife, Crystal Goan Hawk, an attorney who is also president of Greene County Republican Women. According to the Greeneville Sun, Crystal Hawk has declared the organization will fully support the Aug. 2 GOP primary winner in the general election.
Hawk’s primary opponents are:
-Duncan Cave, 34, an attorney who works in a law firm with his father and two brothers. “My basic policy stand is deregulation for the government,” he said, adding this could include easing or eliminating state licensing for some professions and turning more decision-making over to city and county governments, perhaps even on matters such as gun control.
-Ted Hensley, 59, a county commissioner and real estate broker who characterizes himself as a “constitutional conservative” who feels political parties “are keeping us divided, stoking the fire to keep us divided” in situations where “working together” would better serve the public interest. Hensley also said he felt “compelled” to run, believing the nation is “under attack, not just from outside but from within.”
-Bradley Mercer, 30, an attorney who served as a legislative intern and worked two years with a Nashville lobbying firm before going to law school. That background gives him the needed experience for legislating, he said, and he entered the race because of a concern that Hawk, if the Republican nominee, could lose in the general election.
State Rep. Eric Watson resigned from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office after discussions over inappropriate use of his time, according to the Chattanooga TFP. The sheriff’s office expressed concern about Watson’s work schedule and how he was balancing duties between the county and the Legislature, sheriff’s spokesman Bob Gault said in a news release.
Watson, R-Cleveland, resigned from his position as a captain at the sheriff’s office Monday.
“Due to his dual role as a deputy and state representative, we stressed the need to avoid even the appearance of improper conduct or ‘double-dipping,'” Gault said.
“We have some deputies who will take part-time assignments from time to time,” Gault said. “They fully understand, however, keeping the peace and serving as a deputy sheriff always comes first.”
The sheriff’s office “with some difficulty” accounted for Watson’s time at the county when he was going back and forth from the Legislature last year, Gault said, but “subsequently there were some issues that in the future would be irreconcilable.”
He didn’t specify what the issues were.
Watson issued a written statement Wednesday before the departmental news release. In it, Watson said he resigned to help his father run the family tire business. His father recently had a “near-fatal accident,” Watson said.
“There is a need for me to join my family, to help operate my father’s business until his full recovery,” Watson said in the statement.
He added that he wasn’t going to resign from the Legislature.
State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, has resigned a a captain with the Bradley County Sheriff’s office, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Both Watson and the sheriff’s spokesman were mum Tuesday on reasons for the resignation, but more information is said to be forthcoming, probably later today.
House Republican Caucus spokesman Brent Leatherwood said Watson would be pursuing other opportunities, declined to elaborate on those opportunities. Steve Bebb, 10th Judicial Circuit district attorney, said he hasn’t decided if his office needs to open an internal investigation into Watson, but he declined to say why.
Leatherwood said Watson’s resignation had nothing to do with any kind of investigation.
Watson, who joined the sheriff’s office in 1991, was promoted to captain in 2010.
He was elected as representative in 2006 and he is currently chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
News release from Department of Finance and Administration:
NASHVILLE – After three decades of helping manage state finances, budget office director Bill Bradley is moving into a senior advisory role in the budget division, a move he requested for personal reasons. Bradley, 64, has been head of the state budget division in the department of Finance and Administration for the past 14 years, which included some of the most difficult economic years in Tennessee history.
“I want to devote more time and energy to family,” Bradley said. “Working in Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has been a pleasure, and I am grateful to all who have allowed me to work on the provision of services to the people of Tennessee.
“I look forward to continuing to work on the budget, in support of a new director and my excellent colleagues on the budget staff.”
Bradley has worked in state government for 37 years, serving as budget office director under three governors. He helped shepherd the budget and state finances through the recent long recessionary period, and became director just as an earlier economic slump began at the turn of the century.
“The citizens of Tennessee truly couldn’t ask for more from someone in this important position,” Commissioner Mark Emkes said. “He’s intricately detailed, solidly accountable, and retains financial information in unimaginable volumes. We are fortunate that he will continue to be involved in the budget process and offer more senior level insight.”
Emkes has appointed David Thurman, 45, who has been director of the office of Legislative Budget Analysis since January 2007, to succeed Bradley. He has worked in budget analysis for the General Assembly for 14 years, and began his career in 1988 as a budget analyst for the division he will now oversee in F&A.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to guide Tennessee’s budget, given the successful history of the state to manage its finances in a way that reflects a commitment to the citizens to spend less than we collect and look for ways to save money,” Thurman said. “I greatly appreciate being able to step into this position with the state’s budget house in order, due in large part to the leadership of Bill Bradley, but also to the competent and dedicated staff of the budget division.”
Thurman will step into his new role on October 10, 2011.
A dispute between Cleveland and Bradley County over more than $845,000 in sales tax revenue may be settled, according to the Chattanooga TFP. Lawyers are studying a Chancery Court ruling released Wednesday in which Chancellor Jerri Bryant ruled the city need not share with the county revenue generated by a city sales tax increase between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010.
That money is outside a sales-tax sharing agreement dating to 1967. City and county voters approved separate half-percent sales tax increases in 2009.
“The court holds the city did not have to share any property taxes with the county until such time as the county passed its own referendum,” Bryant’s ruling states.
“At that point in time, pursuant to statute, the city was allowed to collect its own sales tax through that current fiscal year which ended June 30, 2010. After that appointed time and absent any agreement between the parties, the statute sets the basis for which the sales tax is to be divided.”
She noted that the 1967 contract allowed the city and county to equally share sales tax revenue. It was amended in 1972 and 1980 to reflect new sales tax increases, but not to address the 2009 referendum.