Tag Archives: Cleveland

Common Core Protest Signs Taken Down at Haslam Event

A Cleveland, Tenn., businessman says city officials crossed a line when they tore down protest signs he posted outside his business Thursday during a visit by Gov. Bill Haslam, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
“There needs to be a public apology,” said Dan Rawls, owner of Cleveland Performance Center, for what he says is trespass and violation of his right to free speech. “I think they need to take a course in the Constitution to learn not only that you can’t violate private property rights, you can’t violate First Amendment rights.”
But City Councilman George Poe said Rawls is the one who crossed the line by planting the handmade signs on city right of way near the South Cleveland Community Center, where Haslam announced $570,000 in grants for the center and the Mouse Creek greenway.
“The governor came to give us a half-million dollars, and I thought that was pretty nice,” Poe said Friday. “We come out the door, and there’s signs all over the place painted on cardboard boxes in orange spray paint. … It was a pretty big embarrassment to us in the city,” Poe said Friday.
Rawls planted signs in the grass near the street in front of his business to protest Haslam’s support for the Common Core standards…K-12 education guidelines that Rawls calls a “federally run school system.”
“Shame on you Haslam,” one read. A smaller sign next to it said, “Stop CC.”
Poe said he went with City Manager Janice Casteel when she said the signs were on the public right of way. He said she called the police codes enforcement officer and began pulling up the signs.
Then, Poe said, “This big muscled-up guy, screaming, yelling, slinging his arms around,” came out of Rawls’ business and ordered him and Casteel off his property. Poe said he “thought he was going to give Janice a shove,” so he used the police radio he carries to call for help.
Rawls said he ordered Casteel and Poe to get off his property but didn’t in any way threaten them. Police showed up in force, but calm was restored quickly.
From photos, it’s hard to tell whether the signs are in the 6-foot city right of way.

Former Bradley County Sheriff Named to Parole Board

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.”

Racial Remarks Spark Call for Resignation of Cleveland Councilman

The Cleveland City Council deadlocked Monday on a nonbinding request that Councilman Charlie McKenzie resign over racial slurs he allegedly made while working for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Chattanooga TFP.
The council voted 3-3 on a proposal of formal disapproval of McKenzie’s actions and a call for him to abandon his position as District 1 councilman. Councilmen Bill Estes, Avery Johnson and Richard Banks supported the measures; Councilmen David May, Dale Hughes and George Poe opposed them
The proposed sanctions, introduced by Estes, came two weeks after McKenzie, fellow councilmen and members of the Bradley County NAACP met about the situation. At that meeting, McKenzie said he apologized if he had ever said anything to offend anyone.
“I’ve said and I’ve said and I’ve said,” McKenzie responded Monday to a request for a statement.
Two white deputies with the sheriff’s office, Anthony Liner and Kristi Barton, both of whom worked alongside McKenzie when he served as a part-time deputy, filed statements Jan. 18 about racial slurs they maintain they heard McKenzie make, records show.
“Over the last several months, while training Deputy Charlie McKenzie, I have heard him make a number of derogatory statements regarding race,” Liner wrote. “I have heard him refer to African-Americans as spook, coon, spade and n —- .”

Life Care Centers Investigated for Medicaid Fraud

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — Federal prosecutors claim a Medicare fraud scheme at Cleveland-based Life Care Centers of America was cooked up and enforced by management.
According to recently unsealed court records obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/TkQ7wF) managers are accused of instructing therapists to assign patients to the highest level of therapy regardless of whether it was needed.
The “Ultra High” level and can pay a provider as much as $564, while the lowest rate of therapy pays $231.
The whistleblower lawsuits claim that employees who questioned the policies were often fired within weeks.
Company representatives declined comment to the newspaper, referring reporters to a letter stating that Life Care’s therapy programs improve patients’ conditions and quality of life.
If found guilty, Life Care could face hundreds of millions in fines.

Purchase of NFL Team by Gov’s Brother Gets Final OK

CHICAGO (AP) — The sale of the Cleveland Browns to Jimmy Haslam III was unanimously approved by NFL owners Tuesday, and team President Mike Holmgren will be leaving at the end of the season.
Haslam hired former Eagles executive Joe Banner as CEO of the Browns to replace Holmgren. But Holmgren will remain with the team through December to “help in the transition,” Haslam said.
No other personnel moves will be made before the end of the season, said Haslam, who expects the sale to be finalized on Oct. 25. Banner will become CEO on that date.
Haslam bought the team from Randy Lerner for $1 billion. Haslam, who built his fortune with Pilot Flying J truck stops, has been a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is in the process of divesting that stock.
Haslam and Lerner agreed to the sale in August just as training camp was opening. Haslam has said his mission is to bring winning football back to Cleveland; the Browns have made the playoffs once since returning to the NFL in 1999.
Holmgren was hired by Lerner in 2010. The Super Bowl-winning coach with Green Bay and former coach and general manager in Seattle has not been able to get the Browns into contention in the AFC North and Cleveland was the last team to win a game this season, improving to 1-5 with last Sunday’s victory over Cincinnati.
The fate of coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert, both Holmgren hires, won’t be determined until after the season, Haslam added.
Banner left the Eagles in June. He was with them since 1994 and was team president when he resigned.
The late Al Lerner, Randy’s father, purchased the franchise from the NFL in 1998 for $530 million after the original Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the Ravens. The elder Lerner died in 2002.
The Browns made the playoffs in 2002 and lost to Pittsburgh in the first round. They’ve had only two winning records in 13 seasons.

Governor’s Brother Jimmy Buys Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns confirmed Thursday that owner Randy Lerner has agreed to sell a majority stake in the team to Jimmy Haslam, CEO of Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J, and his family.
The sale is subject to a review by the NFL and a vote of the league’s owners.
“This is a very exciting time for my family and me,” Haslam said in a news release. “To own such a storied franchise as the Cleveland Browns, with its rich tradition and history, is a dream come true. We are committed to keeping the team in Cleveland and seeing it get back to the elite of the NFL – something all Browns fans want and deserve. We plan to bring relentless dedication and hard work to every aspect of this organization, and we look forward to getting to know this team and community as quickly as possible. Our family is committed to becoming an integral part of the Cleveland community. We also want to thank Randy Lerner for his friendship, counsel and support during this process.”
Full story HERE.

Governor’s Brother Negotiates to Buy Cleveland Browns

Knoxville businessman Jimmy Haslam grew up rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and in 2009 he bought a minority interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers, reports the News Sentinel. Now he’s negotiating to buy a controlling interest in the Cleveland Browns.
Haslam, president and CEO of travel center operator Pilot Flying J, could not be reached for comment Friday, but current Browns owner Randy Lerner confirmed he is in negotiations with Haslam.
A spokesman for Haslam said he was not available for an interview and referred questions to the Browns.
“We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private,” Lerner said. “Given that any transaction would require league approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season.”
Browns President Mike Holmgren said Friday that “(Lerner) is giving up controlling interest in the team.”
Holmgren’s comments came in a news conference at the team’s training camp in Berea, Ohio. Holmgren said he and Lerner have discussed the matter throughout the summer.
Knoxville businessman Jimmy Haslam grew up rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and in 2009 he bought a minority interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now he’s negotiating to buy a controlling interest in the Cleveland Browns.
Haslam, president and CEO of travel center operator Pilot Flying J, could not be reached for comment Friday, but current Browns owner Randy Lerner confirmed he is in negotiations with Haslam.
A spokesman for Haslam said he was not available for an interview and referred questions to the Browns.
“We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private,” Lerner said. “Given that any transaction would require league approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season.”
Browns President Mike Holmgren said Friday that “(Lerner) is giving up controlling interest in the team.”
Holmgren’s comments came in a news conference at the team’s training camp in Berea, Ohio. Holmgren said he and Lerner have discussed the matter throughout the summer.

City Ponders Shrinking Federal Funding Flow

From the Chattanooga TFP:
Cleveland city officials are taking stock of federal grants and considering what the impact would be if federal officials shrink them. Michael Keith, city director of finance, prepared a report for Monday’s Cleveland City Council meeting. His first list, totaling nearly $600,000, is of grants “the city has traditionally received” annually, Keith wrote.
They include $200,000 for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, $364,000 for a Community Development Block Grant, and $35,000 for a Police Justice Assistance Grant.

City Wins Dispute Over Tax Split With Bradley County

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.