Tag Archives: chief

Saltsman Running Fleischmann Campaign on Volunteer Basis

Despite recent setbacks regarding litigation and his own critical remarks about his job, Chip Saltsman, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann’s chief of staff, said Tuesday that his indefinite, unpaid leave of absence is “all part of the plan.”
More from Chris Carroll:
Saltsman has been on leave since June 8, but Fleischmann’s office never publicly announced the news.
Interviewed Tuesday, Saltsman, who earned more than $156,000 last year as Fleischmann’s top aide, said he left the government payroll to supervise “all aspects of Chuck’s campaign” on a volunteer basis until at least Aug. 2, when Fleischmann faces three challengers in a hotly contested 3rd Congressional District Republican primary.
Saltsman described the “long-planned leave of absence” as “a pretty common thing for chiefs of staff to do,” but his remarks to a national media outlet two days before he left were anything but ordinary.
On June 6, the website Politico published a story quoting Saltsman as saying, “I didn’t want to take the job as [Fleischmann’s] chief of staff. I said ‘No’ the first three times he asked me.”
Saltsman acknowledged the comments Tuesday.
“I’ve loved working for Chuck, but you know, that was not my first choice,” Saltsman said. “That’s not what I was going to do the first time around.”
Fleischmann’s office did not make the first-term congressman available for an interview Tuesday, but in the June 6 article, Politico quoted him describing Saltsman as “an outstanding individual.”
Not long before Saltsman’s leave of absence became public, the Chattanooga Times Free Press published excerpts of a deposition Saltsman gave in a lawsuit brought against him and Fleischmann by Mark Winslow, a former aide to Fleischmann’s top 2010 opponent, Hamilton County’s Robin Smith.
A 2010 attack ad mentioned in the lawsuit alleged that Smith, a former state GOP chairwoman, paid “lavish bonuses” to a top aide at a time the party was in debt. That claim appeared to be debunked when Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said he was the one who paid Winslow as part of a severance agreement.
In his own deposition, Fleischmann testified he had no literal grounds to make the “lavish bonuses” charge against Smith.

State Gets News Chief Medical Examiner

Doctor John Dreyzehner, Tennessee Health Commissioner, announced Monday that Doctor Karen Cline-Parhamovich will serve as Tennessee’s chief medical examiner, effective July 1st, reports the Bristol Herald Courier.
Cline-Parhamovich currently works as the Director of Forensic Pathology for ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine. She served as the Interim Chief Medical Examiner and Deputy Chief Medical Examiner since December 2010.
Cline-Parhamovich said she looks forward to making sure the state’s autopsy process is as efficient as it can be. “It’s going to expand my responsibilities to be more involved in developing initial education as well as continuing education for local county medical examiners and medical investigators,” said Cline-Parhamovich.

Lamar Changes Chiefs

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced today that his chief of staff, Matt Sonnesyn, will leave the office to pursue private interests.
Sonnesyn will be succeeded as Alexander’s chief of staff by Ryan Loskarn, staff director at the Senate Republican Conference. Loskarn will begin as chief of staff on November 28th and will also continue serving as staff director at the Conference for the remainder of Alexander’s chairmanship through early 2012.
Alexander said, “Matt Sonnesyn is one of the most talented policy advisers on Capitol Hill. For ten years we have worked closely together. I will miss his counsel, but have no doubt that the next stage of his career will be even more successful than the first. I am fortunate that Ryan Loskarn is willing to transfer his considerable skills from leading the Republican Conference to leading my Senate staff.”
RYAN LOSKARN
Staff Director of Senate Republican Conference for the past two and a half years, Loskarn has worked at the Conference since 2007 under former Chairman Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Chairman Alexander. Prior to serving as staff director, Loskarn was communications director both for the Conference and Alexander. Before the Senate, Loskarn spent seven years in the House of Representatives as a legislative aide to Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), deputy press secretary at the House Rules Committee, and communications director for Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) from 2003 to 2007. Named one of Roll Call’s “Fabulous 50 Movers and Shakers” on Capitol Hill, Loskarn earned a B.A. in history and political science with honors from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
MATT SONNESYN
Matt Sonnesyn first worked for Alexander as a graduate student at the Harvard Kennedy School where he was asked to serve as Alexander’s research assistant to design a new graduate level course on “The American Character and American Government.” Since that time he has served as the senator’s chief policy aide, managed day-to-day operations at the Senate Republican Conference, and, most recently, served as chief of staff. Over the last decade he has advised the senator on nearly every major policy decision, as well as worked on much of Alexander’s signature legislation, including the America COMPETES Act – bipartisan legislation to strengthen our country’s competitive edge in science and technology. He was policy director for Alexander’s 2002 Senate campaign and U.S. Senator Bob Corker’s 2006 campaign. He has also worked at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. Sonnesyn holds a B.A. in international relations from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, and a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

TDOT Gets a Chief of Staff

News release from Department of Transportation:
Nashville, TN – Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer today named Lyndsay Thurston Botts as his Chief of Staff. Botts is currently the Director of Communications and Community Relations for TDOT. As Chief of Staff, Botts will serve as a top aide and advisor to the Commissioner and will have oversight responsibilities for the department in areas of communications, policy, and government relations.
“Lyndsay has proved to be a valuable asset to me as I direct and lead this great agency,” Schroer said. “This appointment will allow her to assist me in day-to-day operations, as well as focus on key initiatives and special projects.”
Botts joined TDOT in March of this year and previously served as the Field Director and Assistant Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. Prior to that post, Botts was a news anchor and reporter for the FOX affiliate in Chattanooga.
Botts will be replaced by B.J. Doughty as the department’s Director of Communications and Community Relations. Ms. Doughty served as TDOT’s Community Relations Officer in Middle Tennessee since 2006, prior to serving as TDOT’s Public Information Manager.
“B.J. has done an exceptional job in establishing solid working relationships with the media and effectively communicating the department’s information to the people of Tennessee,” said Schroer. “I know she will do excellent work in her new assignment.”
In her new role, Doughty will have management responsibilities of TDOT’s Community Relations Division, which oversees and directs the areas of media relations, public involvement and constituent services. Doughty will continue to serve as the primary media contact for the department pertaining to statewide issues. Before joining TDOT, Doughty was a news producer for ten years at the ABC affiliate in Nashville.

New TDOT Environment & Planning Chief Named

News release from Department of Transportation:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer names Adetokunbo “Toks” Omishakin as the new Chief of Environment and Planning for the department. Omishakin will also assume the role of Assistant Commissioner for TDOT. In his new post, Omishakin will direct the Environment and Planning Bureau which oversees the Project Planning, Long-Range Planning, Multimodal Transportation Resources and Environmental Divisions.
Before joining TDOT, Omishakin served as the Director of Healthy Living Initiatives in the Mayor’s Office in Nashville. Omishakin also held positions as the Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator, Senior Planner and the Director of “Music City Moves” for the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Omishakin holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) with a concentration in transportation planning and urban design. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology with a concentration in architecture and computer- aided design.
“TDOT is very fortunate to have Toks Omishakin as our new Chief of Environment and Planning” said Commissioner Schroer. “Toks’s expertise in transportation planning will be a tremendous asset to the department and I am confident he will lead our efforts to be an environmentally sensitive agency.”
“I appreciate Commissioner Schroer’s confidence in my ability to direct the Environment and Planning Bureau,” said Omishakin. “I look forward to the critical role of managing project development while balancing the state’s transportation needs with TDOT’s commitment to protect the environment.”
Omishakin will assume his role with TDOT on October 24. A high resolution image of Mr. Omishakin is attached to this e-mail.

Justice A.A. Birch Dies, aged 78

From The Tennessean:
Justice Adolpho A. Birch Jr., the first African-American elected to a Nashville judgeship and the first to lead the Tennessee Supreme Court, died Thursday. He was 78.
Former Vice Mayor Howard Gentry, who was recently elected by the Metro Council to be the next Davidson County Criminal Court clerk – the first African-American to hold that role – confirmed Birch’s passing.
“I was hoping he would be at my swearing in Tuesday,” Gentry said in a text message this morning.
Birch retired from the bench in 2006 after 13 years on the state Supreme Court, six on the Tennessee Court of Appeals and 18 on Davidson County’s General Sessions and Criminal courts. He was chief justice of the Supreme Court in 1996-97, then won a hard-fought election to an eight-year term in 1998.
Birch underwent surgery in July 2004 and then had radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer. He took time off but returned to work full-time in November of that year.
…..Earlier in his life, before he became an attorney, an assistant public defender and a prosecutor, Birch worked as a cab driver.
Nashville named a new, $49 million general sessions and criminal courts building for Birch in 2006. It sits across James Robertson Parkway from the historic courthouse.
A statement from the current Supreme Court chief justice is below.

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Former Police Chief, City Recorder Arrested for Theft

News release from state Comptroller’s office:
Whitwell’s former police chief and former city recorder were arrested this week on theft charges following an investigation by the Comptroller’s Division of Municipal Audit.
The investigation revealed that both Robin Nipper, the former city recorder, and Ronnie Davis, Jr., the former police chief, had used city credit cards to make unauthorized personal purchases.
Nipper used a city credit card issued in her name at stores such as GameStop, Aeropostale, Hot Topic and Dish Network. She made more than $9,100 in online payments on the cards from the city’s bank account. While she did reimburse the city for some of the charges before the investigation was completed, she repeatedly made personal charges that far exceeded her payments. Nipper also issued herself a duplicate payroll check in May 2009 for more than $1,000.
Auditors also discovered that Davis made more than $4,500 in personal purchases at stores such as Abercrombie and ACT Programs on a city credit card issued in his name. He also repaid the city for his personal charges before the investigation was completed. In interviews with state auditors, Davis admitted he made the personal charges on the credit card, but claimed the former city manager authorized him to make personal charges as long as he reimbursed the city. The former city manager has denied that assertion.
The Comptroller’s report, which will be released in a few days, also highlighted a number of issues with the way the city’s finances were managed during the period covered by the audit, which spanned from July 1, 2008 through Oct. 31, 2010. The report outlines how the city failed to adopt purchasing and credit card policies, failed to adequately separate duties among city personnel, failed to provide documentation to support disbursements and paid more than $2,200 for unnecessary Internet services. City officials have agreed with the Comptroller’s recommendations and are taking corrective action to address the issues identified in the report.
“I am encouraged that Whitwell city leaders are taking steps necessary to improve their purchasing and bookkeeping practices,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “However, it is unfortunate that this is happening only after two individuals placed in positions of trust were able to misappropriate taxpayers’ money. This should be a cautionary reminder to other communities about the importance of adopting and following appropriate financial management procedures.”