Tag Archives: chattanooga

McCormick for mayor?

State Rep. Gerald McCormick says he had no thought of running against incumbent Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke when he decided against another term as House Majority leader, but lots of people have raised the possibility since — and he’s not ruling it out.

Further from Andy Sher:
“That was definitely not on my mind,” McCormick said Tuesday of the idea of running for mayor. “It’s been surprising the number of people who’ve called me.”

Berke, a Democrat and former state senator, recently announced he is running for a second four-year mayoral term in the city’s March 7 election. City Councilman Larry Grohn last month announced he is challenging Berke for the non-partian position.

…The lawmaker, who noted he personally likes Berke, said “I’ve had people I respect very much” raise the issue in the days since about running for mayor. “I do not have any plans to run for mayor and if I had to give a quick answer the answer would be no.”

But, McCormick said, “I don’t want to close out the door completely.”

Berke, 48, has been embroiled in controversy after a domestic incident involving adviser Lacie Stone and her husband, Bobby. Bobby Stone has alleged his wife was having an affair with Berke. The mayor has denied the claim.

McCormick is a principal in the commercial real estate firm of Stone Fort Properties. He recently became a director with the investment banking firm of Decosimo Corporate Finance. In addition to overseeing Chattanooga-based Stone Fort, McCormick is assisting Decosimo in sourcing and executing sell-side advisory engagements and debt and equity raises.

Democrat gets Berke’s backing in Senate District 10 (but not former foe’s)

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is now backing Khristy Wilkinson, the Democratic nominee against Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire, though she defeated a top Berke aide that the mayor strongly backed in the primary, according to an Andy Sher look at the Senate District 10 campaign.

On the other hand, the top aide she defeated in August, Nick Wilkinson (no relation)), has not offered any help, says according to Khristy Wilkinson.

“Mayor Berke has helped me and he continues to help me,” Wilkinson said last week in an interview during a trip to Nashville, where she met with several Senate Democrats and potential contributors.

…(Berke) “gives me advice whenever I call, and he’s made contributions to my campaign. And he has asked folks who support him to support me.” Wilkinson said she has been “well received by members of the city council and people who work in City Hall and things like that. [Berke’s] using his voice to help me as much as he can now that he is, of course, running his own reelection campaign” for mayor.

…During the primary, Berke gave whole-hearted support to Nick Wilkinson, his deputy for economic development. The mayor, who held the Senate seat from 2007 to November 2012, personally contributed $1,000 to his aide, while a leadership political action committee that Berke created during his Senate tenure, gave another $11,000, according to disclosures filed with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

…But Khristy Wilkinson, the former philosophy professor and mother of two who supported Bernie Sanders in this year’s Democratic presidential primaries, pulled off an upset on a shoe-string budget in Democrats’ primary.

.…In response to a question about whether her former opponent, Nick Wilkinson, is helping her in her effort against Gardenhire, Khristy Wilkinson said he wasn’t. Asked whether she had requested help from him, she smiled and said, “I would if he returned my phone calls.”

…Gardenhire, who is seeking his second Senate Term, said that after having had no opponent in his August GOP primary, he’s not taking anything for granted in the general election with Wilkinson.

“The thing that worries me the most is she’s a hard worker,” he said. “She’s an intelligent person.”

However, he said he’s heard from a number of his supporters that he has “no problem.”

“That’s the worst thing I could hear,” the senator said, worrying backers could be over confident, with Republicans not showing up on Nov. 8.

Jury awards $560K back pay to police officers

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A jury in Hamilton County has ruled that the city of Chattanooga failed to give police officers promised raises and to maintain fair conditions of employment.

The Chattanooga Times Free-Press reports that on Thursday the jury awarded 25 officers more than $560,000 in back pay for the time that they worked without receiving the raises.

The case stemmed from a pay policy that allowed recently hired officers to earn higher salaries than their supervisors.

The officers said that the city had sent a document to police in 2010 that laid out changes to police salaries. They said the document promised future pay raises that they never got.

The jury also rejected the officers’ claim that the city discriminated against them because of their age

Court overturns FCC Chattanooga broadband order

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned a Federal Communications Commission ruling allowing city-owned broadband services to expand into areas overlooked by commercial providers.

The decision comes as part of a dispute between the FCC and two states, Tennessee and North Carolina, about expanding superfast internet service in their respective cities of Chattanooga and Wilson to surrounding areas.

Both states had passed laws preventing such expansion. The FCC last year voted 3-2 to override those laws. The states then asked the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the FCC’s ruling.

The appeals court said that the FCC’s order pre-empted the state laws and “the allocation of power between a state and its subdivisions.” The court said the FCC’s action requires a “clear statement” of authority in federal law, but the law does not contain a clear statement authorizing pre-emption of Tennessee’s and North Carolina’s laws. Continue reading

House candidate’s brother killed in Chattanooga

A 28-year-old man who was shot and killed Friday in Chattanooga was the brother of Dennis Clark, a Democrat who is running for Tennessee House District 28 seat, reports the Times-Free Press.

Jeremy Clark was in a lot at 2008 Glass St. with several other people when he was shot once. Police said Friday they were still working out exactly what happened, but it does not appear the shooting was a drive-by.

Court records show Jeremy Clark is a known member of the Gangster Disciples, but police have not said whether the shooting was connected to his gang involvement.

…A suspect has not been named or arrested in Clark’s death.

Following his brother’s death, Dennis Clark released a statement Friday, giving his thanks for the outpouring of support he and his family had received from the community, saying he would continue his campaign despite the tragedy.

“As we struggle to understand why his life was taken so suddenly, my family and I have chosen, in his honor, as he would have liked it, to continue my campaign for change in our community and to fight to end the violence occurring in our neighborhoods,” he said.

“There is no better time than now, for us to stand together in solidarity to begin the healing process in making our communities whole and safe again.”

He went on to condemn the violence, lamenting for him and his family, the loss of a son, a brother, and a friend.

“No parent, brother, sister or friend should have to face this kind of sadness, this kind of loss. And yet we have joined the ranks of those families who still mourn their loved ones who have fallen to other senseless acts of violence,” he said.

…Clark is the 21st person to be killed in Chattanooga so far in 2016. Like Clark, most of the people killed in this year were black men, with 13 of the 21 victims, or about 62 percent, black.

Note: Dennis Clark is opposing Rep. JoAnn Favors of Chattanooga in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary for House District 28.

Berke to resign in sex flap? ‘No, of course not’

In the course of a WGOW radio talk show appearance Thursday, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said he has no intention of resigning and refused to talk about allegations he had a sexual relationship with a senior aide. He has previously and adamantly denied the allegations, raised by the woman’s husband.

From the TFP report:

One caller asked Berke if he would step down if any of the allegations proved true.

Berke responded by saying he has said all he would on the matter, but later added, “No, of course not,” when Joyce asked him if he had any intentions of stepping down.

Joyce also asked Berke if the allegations were politically motivated, considering he is a Democrat “in a sea of red.”

“I honestly don’t think about it,” Berke said. “It’s not important.”

Reality is much different than the world of social media talk surrounding the allegations, Berke said, citing encouragement he has received from people in the community when talking with them face-to-face.

There is no way he can focus on improving Chattanooga’s economy and public safety if he worries about social media chatter, Berke said. Work has been a refuge for him during this time, he said.

On a personal level, Berke said it has been a trying time for his family and his adviser’s family.

Initially, he added, he reacted to the allegations with shock.

“I was surprised,” he said. “It took me a minute to get my arms around it.”

Then it came time to deal with it, Berke said, praising his family’s willingness to make the kind of sacrifices they’ve had to make for him to be in the political arena. They said it was worth it if he could achieve some good, he said.

“We know that you have to have a thick skin and you have to be ready for what comes at you” when you run for elected office, Berke said.

Chattanooga mayor denies sexual relationship with staffer

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke denied allegations that he maintained an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of his senior advisers Wednesday, five days after his adviser’s husband was arrested for domestic assault.

Further from the Times-Free Press:

As soon as Bobby Stone, 54, went to jail, rumors quickly began to spread that he attacked his wife, Lacie Stone, 38, after discovering she was romantically involved with Berke, who is also married. Berke said in a statement that Bobby Stone was lying.

“Upon being arrested and charged, her husband made numerous false allegations about me and other people involved in city government,” Berke said. “It is unfortunate that this situation escalated to the point of a domestic assault. Let me be clear: the allegations are absolutely false.”

Berke did not answer multiple previous requests for comment from the Times Free Press and declined to comment further, “out of respect for the ongoing investigation.”
Continue reading

NLRB lets stand VW union vote in Chattanooga

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday declined to take up Volkswagen’s challenge of a union vote at its lone U.S. assembly plant in Tennessee.

In a 2-1 decision, the panel refused to consider the German automaker’s appeal on the basis that it raised “no substantial issues warranting review.”

Volkswagen had unsuccessfully sought to block a union vote among a group of about 160 workers specializing in the repair and maintenance of machinery and robots, arguing that labor decisions should be made by all 1,400 blue-collar workers at the plant. The company also questioned the timing of the vote amid its struggles to cope with the fallout of its diesel emissions cheating scandal.
Continue reading

Democrat seeks Senate District 10 seat

Nick Wilkinson, deputy administrator of Chattanooga’s department of economic development, announced Thursday he will run as a Democratic candidate for the state’s 10th District Senate seat, reports the Times-Free Press. He said support for Insure Tennessee would be a major campaign issue.

Representing the 10th District is just part of his overall mission of seeking to improve the Chattanooga area, said Wilkinson, who told his supporters he wants to increase opportunities for children, help working families get ahead and ensure that the district’s voices are heard in Nashville. Republican Todd Gardenhire now holds the seat.

“Right now, Nashville is more interested in special interests than the people they represent, and I’m running to make sure we are looking out for East Tennessee families,” Wilkinson said.

…His leadership experience includes Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, in which he helped create more than 10,000 homes and kept thousands of other families in their homes, Wilkinson said.

While leading economic development initiatives for Mayor Andy Berke’s administration, his efforts spurred the creation of more than 6,500 jobs, he said. Wilkinson said he will continue serving as the deputy administrator of economic development for Chattanooga.

During the announcement, Wilkinson introduced Mike Allen, a Chattanooga veteran who suffered permanent injuries in a car accident but was uninsured despite his steady job as a restaurant manager.

“I see Nick Wilkinson not as a change, but as a progression of what Chattanooga is going through as a community,” Allen said.

The cold refusal of the state Legislature to afford Allen — and other Tennesseans like him — the health care opportunities many of us take for granted has forced him and his wife into poverty, Wilkinson said.

“I plan to change that by listening to the voices of our neighborhoods, fighting for our families and working to pass Insure Tennessee,” Wilkinson said.

Navy asked to christen the USS Chattanooga

Members of Congress from Tennessee and Georgia have asked the Navy to name a ship the USS Chattanooga in honor of five servicemen killed in a terrorist attack in the East Tennessee city last summer, reports the News Sentinel.

In a letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the lawmakers said Friday that naming an “appropriate naval vessel” after the city in which the servicemen were killed would be a way to honor their sacrifice.

“In the wake of this tragedy, we believe that it is appropriate for the U.S. Navy to honor the legacy of those who lost their lives,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, both Tennessee Republicans; U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah; and U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga.

A lone gunman opened fire last July on a military recruiting station and the Navy and Marine Corps Operational Support Center in Chattanooga.

Killed in the attacks were Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” Wells and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith.

The shooter, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, was killed in a gunfight with police.

All five of the servicemen were awarded the Purple Heart last December because the attacker was found to be inspired by propaganda from a foreign terrorist organization.

Note: Resolutions have been filed in the General Assembly urging the secretary of the Navy to name a ship Chattanooga, but the legislative website indicates no action on them (HJR526, SJR556.)