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Nashville’s L&C Tower Owner Says State Wrongfully Broke Lease, Owes $4 Million Plus

The owner of the downtown L&C Tower filed a claim with the state earlier this week in response to the state’s plans to sever its lease and move out of offices it has occupied in the tower since 2004, reports The Tennessean.
401 Church St., which owns the building, names the Department of General Services, the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Department of Finance and Administration as defendants in its complaint with the state Division of Claims Administration. The complaint seeks $4.15 million in potential lost rent and between $250,000 and $2 million in additional damages.
Because of the state’s new plan to condense and modernize its office space, General Services told the tower’s owners they were severing the lease agreement. But the L&C owners argue that the state needed to receive approval from the owner’s lender, CIBC, before it severed the lease agreement. No such approval was ever sought, according to the complaint.
In 2005, the state received a break on its rent in exchange for eliminating the lease provision that allowed the state to break the lease for essentially no reason. Under the most recent version of the lease, which went into effect in 2004, the state can sever the agreement provided it gives one of eight agreed-upon reasons.

TN Constitution Ain’t Broke, Don’t Need Much Fixin’

(Note: This is an unedited version of a column written for Sunday’s News Sentinel..)
The old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” could be wisely applied to the vast majority of Tennessee’s aging state constitution. There are now 41 resolutions that propose fixes officially awaiting consideration of the 107th General Assembly when it returns in January.
One proposed amendment, promoted by anti-abortion activists, was given legislative approval earlier this year after years of effort and will go before the voters in a 2014 referendum.
Like the amendment or not, the proposal known as SJR127 does provide an example of something that was reasonably perceived as broken being fixed. The breakage occurred, from the standpoint of the activists, with a 2000 state Supreme Court decision interpreting the state constitution to provide a strong right to an abortion, though the subject is not mentioned within the venerable document.
Some of the other pending proposals have no such foundation. They are pure political pandering and/or posturing.
One example is the most-discussed of the pending proposals, namely a measure to prohibit a state income tax. In this matter, state courts have consistently ruled that a state income tax is already prohibited. So it ain’t broke.
Yes, there have been attorneys general opinions stating that, with carefully structured language, an income tax could conceivably be fashioned to win the approval of the state Supreme Court.
That, of course, would require a majority of the state Legislature eager to enact a state income tax and a court willing to ignore precedents. Both, frankly, are inconceivable given the current state of state affairs.

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