Roy Herron has returned to full-time work — and pay — as chairman of the state Democratic Party after serving as an attorney in monthlong trial that resulted in a $15.2 million verdict for his client, a young man left permanently disabled by alleged malpractice of a doctor and hospital.
Herron, a former state senator, stopped drawing his chairman’s salary May 15 to prepare for the trial, which began June 3 and ended July 3 with a Weakley County Circuit Court jury verdict in favor of Cody Wade of Martin, Tenn., who was 17 when left with brain injuries while under the care of the defendants following a traffic accident.
Herron, who was part a team of attorneys representing Wade and his grandparents, returned to the party headquarters to resume full-time work on Monday, according to Democratic spokesman Brandon Puttbrese.
Defendants in the case were Dr. Susan Lowry of Martin and Cane Creek Rehabilitation Hospital, owned by Rebound LLC, an affiliate of HealthSouth Corp. They may appeal the verdict.
“This verdict can mean that he lives in Weakley County with his family and those who love him, instead of the state taking Cody from his family and shipping him to Memphis, Nashville or even East Tennessee to languish and survive in a distant nursing home that takes ventilator-dependent patients,” Herron told the Union City Messenger.
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.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Parole Board Chairman Charles Traughber is retiring this week after working with offenders for more than 40 years.
In 1969, Traughber became a prison counselor at the then-Tennessee State Penitentiary, which closed in 1992 after the opening of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.
He worked his way up to director of counselors before becoming a charter member of the full-time parole board that was established in 1972, then eventually the board’s chairman, the title he has held the past 30 years.
Traughber has overseen countless hearings, including the only parole hearing of probably one of Tennessee’s most notorious offenders — James Earl Ray, who pleaded guilty in 1969 to killing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Traughber said Ray’s parole was denied because of the “seriousness of the offense.”
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), June 20, 2013 — Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) has been reelected Chairman of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR). The election took place during a two-day meeting of the commission in Nashville on June 19 and 20. Norris has served as Chairman since 2009 and begins his third two-year term.
“I appreciate the confidence that the members have placed in me to serve another term in this leadership role, ” said Senator Norris. “I look forward to continuing to build strong relationships between state, municipal and county governments and to work on solutions to substantive issues that we face together as Tennesseans.”
The General Assembly approved legislation this year directing TACIR to conduct a comprehensive study on annexation and make recommendations to the General Assembly on how to improve the process statewide. Their report is due in January. “This study requires in-depth research by the staff and thoughtful consideration by the members of the commission. I am pleased to continue to lead TACIR as we look into this issue as well as many others.”
TACIR began in 1978 after legislative findings indicated the need for a permanent intergovernmental body to study and take action on questions of organizational patterns, powers, functions, and relationships among federal, state and local governments. The 25-member group is made up of public officials from state, county and municipal governments as well as private citizens. Mayor Tom Roland of Cleveland, TN, was reelected to serve as Vice-Chairman.
Senator Norris has served as Tennessee’s Senate Majority Leader since 2007. He is Chair-elect of the Council of State Governments, a national organization which also fosters and encourages intergovernmental cooperation.
State Democratic Chairman Roy Herron is foregoing his party pay while acting as an attorney for the plaintiffs in an ongoing medical malpractice trial that he says could last “five or six weeks.”
Herron sent an email to fellow Democrats saying that he had committed more than five years ago to “a wonderful couple, both devout Democrats, that I would represent them in a case seeking medical care and redress for grievous injuries to their severely disabled grandson.”
In an interview Wednesday, Herron said Cody Wade, 17 at the time, underwent surgery on his trachea that allegedly left him unable to breath for a period of time, resulting in severe disabilities. The lawsuit, brought by Cody’s grandparents and conservators, Reba and Ronnie Wade of Martin, is against HealthSouth King Creek Rehabilitation Hospital and two physicians.
A jury trial began Monday in Weakley County Circuit Court.
Herron said he decided to forego his salary as party chairman starting May 15, when he attended a son’s college graduation, and will continue in that status until the trial has ended and he can resume fulltime duties as party chair.
The former state senator said that, in effect, he is returning temporarily to the “volunteer chairman model” followed by seven of the last ten state Democratic chairmen. His two immediate predecessors, Gray Sasser and Chip Forrester, were full-time chairs with a full salary – as was he until now.
Herron said he still expects to average 80 hours per week for the full year, since he often spends 100 hours per week on party labors otherwise. Even during the trial, Herron said he is remaining active in fundraising, overseeing staff including the hiring of a new deputy finance director and other duties.
— Note: Text of Herron’s email is below.
News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron called the current private school voucher proposal another battle in the “Republican War against public schools” today at a press conference in Nashville.
Herron derided the influence of big special interests, which accounts for about $2 million of known spending in the effort to allow public tax dollars to flow into private institutions.
At least four special interest groups are spending big money to push vouchers in Tennessee, including
•The Beacon Center of Tennessee, which has been funded by Washington, D.C.-based special interests, is currently airing deceptive television ads in Tennessee;
•Students First, which has spent at least $900,000 on lobbying and candidate contributions;
•The American Federation for Children is spending $800,000 on advertising supporting private school vouchers; and
•the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conglomeration of big corporate backers that hosts conferences for state legislators annually, is a longtime supporter of privatization and school vouchers.
Herron’s prepared remarks can be read below:
News release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s office:
(February 25, 2013, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) congratulates Dr. Jeff McMillin of Bristol on his election as chairman of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TFWC). The TFWC works with the State Legislature to provide direction and oversight to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Dr. McMillin was appointed to the commission by Lt. Governor Ramsey in 2009 and elected chairman at the commission’s February meeting.
“I am extremely proud to see Jeff elected chairman of the TWRA. His deep and abiding love of the outdoors cannot help but be transmitted to everyone with whom he comes in contact,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “As a fellow outdoorsman, I have appreciated Jeff’s dedication to serving on this commission. He is a treasure to the state and the perfect person to oversee TWRA’s mission of conservation and preservation of Tennessee’s fish and wildlife.”
A native of Sullivan County, Dr. Jeff McMillin has been a practicing dentist in Bristol, Tennessee since 1981. After graduating with honors from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 1978, he acquired his doctorate of dental surgery (DDS) from University of Tennessee Memphis in 1981. Dr. McMillin has lived his entire life in Tennessee and his hobbies include hunting ducks, turkey and big game, saltwater, river and stream fishing. He also enjoys planting food plots and improving wildlife habitat on his hunting property in East Tennessee. Dr. McMillin and his wife, Debbie have two adult children, Bart and Sara, and one grandson, Colt.
Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission oversees Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The TWRA was established in 1949 and completely reorganized in 1974. It now consists of more than 600 professionals dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and enhancement of Tennessee’s fish and wildlife for the enjoyment of all Tennesseans and visitors.
– Note: The selection of McMillin as chairman comes after the previous chairman, William ‘Chink’ Brown of Chattanooga, was effectively removed as a member of the commission by the Legislature’s refusal to confirm Brown’s appointment to a new term by Gov. Bill Haslam. Previous post HERE. A spokesman for Ramsey says McMillan’s election as chairman, preceeded the effective rejection of Brown’s confirmation, contrary to an earlier version of this post.
Former state Sen. Roy Herron became the Tennessee Democratic Party’s new chairman Saturday, winning a solid majority of executive committee members’ votes despite criticism he is too conservative on some issues such as abortion.
From the Andy Sher report: The 59-year-old Dresden attorney outpolled Dave Garrison, a Nashville attorney, 39-27. Garrison was backed by the state’s two Democratic congressmen along with House and Senate Democratic Caucus leaders and the mayors of Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, as well as labor unions.
Herron will lead an embattled party that has seen Republicans seize the governor’s mansion and absolute control of the state Legislature.
Following his election, Herron charged that under Republican rule, “we’ve gone from common sense to nonsense.”
He accused the GOP of “trying to destroy the public schools” and said “those things that unite us as Democrats are far more important than those things that divide us.”
But his election left some Democrats uneasy.
At the end of the meeting, executive committee member Jerry Maynard, a Metro Nashville councilman, took the unusual step of asking Herron to declare his support of President Barack Obama.
Maynard said he had never heard Herron endorse Obama during the election campaign.
“I voted for the president, I announced I was for the president, I told anybody who asked me that I was for the president,” Herron replied. “I support the president, I support what he’s trying to do for the country, and I support the United States of America.”
…Herron succeeds Chip Forrester, who was elected four years ago despite opposition from top Democrats such as former Gov. Phil Bredesen and major party fundraisers. They punished Forrester by largely withholding support for the party.
Speaking before the vote, Forrester said he now was sorry he ran “without the support of the majority of the elected officials of this state.”
“Because of that I and my staff have faced an uphill battle for four years unifying this party.”
On the eve of the election of a new chairman for the Tennessee Democratic Party, there’s a bunch of commentary on the race among Democratic-oriented bloggers. Much of it is themed on concern about Roy Herron’s apparent lead over Dave Garrison – and Herron’s credentials as a ‘progressive’ Democrat — in the contest that will be decided Saturday. A good summary with links is HERE.
I would add a link to the Pam Strickland perspective, HERE. And maybe David Briley’s email, HERE.
The Democratic Party’s influence may be shrinking in Tennessee, but competition to rule over it has become something of a crowded field, observes Andrea Zelinski in a rundown on the race to succeed Chip Forrester as TNDP chairman. From all appearances, (former state Sen. Roy Herron’s) strongest rival for the job is Dave Garrison, who has worked closely with the party’s board for three years as treasurer. Following him are former party communications director Wade Munday and vice president and political liaison for the Chattanooga Area Labor Council Jane Hampton Bowen.
…Herron officially committed to joining the race during the holiday break, a decision he said he had put off after dealing with deaths and illnesses in his family. But the late start isn’t the only factor that sets him apart from his opponents.
Herron is a life member of the National Rifle Association with a legislative record that includes favorable votes for contentious bills the party fought strongly against, such as allowing guns in bars and parks. He has also positioned himself as anti-abortion, although like his Democratic counterparts he voted repeatedly against movements to insert anti-abortion language into the state Constitution.
…Herron’s fans say his experience on the campaign trail set him apart from the competition. And although Herron insists he’s not thinking about a bid for higher office, some think he could revisit his abandoned try for governor in the long term and that ultimately, it would be a win-win for the party.
“To even have a shot at statewide office, the party needs to be in better shape. So maybe that would be a good thing, because the party needs to be better off for him to swing that,” said Ben Smith, a former hopeful for the chairman’s seat who exited the race last week in favor of Herron.
A Nashville attorney, Garrison is in his first race with his own name on a ballot.
“I don’t take it as a criticism that I haven’t been running elections for 20 years,” said Garrison. “I think it’s an asset that I bring a fresh perspective, but the know-how and the ability to build coalitions and get things done at the party.”
“I don’t believe that the chair of the party necessarily needs to be a political candidate,” he added. “It needs to be somebody’s who’s raised money for others, and the party; it needs to be somebody that can build coalitions; it needs to be somebody that can run and manage an organization, and it needs to be somebody who can bring people that are not at the table back to the table or new people to the table of the Democratic Party,” he said.