By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes seriously the concerns of environmentalists that two East Tennessee mines are a threat to endangered fish, a spokesman says.
The Sierra Club and several other groups claim in a lawsuit filed on Thursday that Fish and Wildlife did not use the most up-to-date science when it agreed to allow surface mining at Zeb Mountain and Davis Creek. They say two endangered fish are threatened by the mining work because the runoff water from the sites is high in dissolved salts, making nearby streams too salty for the blackside dace and Cumberland darter to survive.
“We take very seriously our duty to protect endangered species, and we will look at all aspects of this lawsuit to ensure the best protection for the species involved,” Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom MacKenzie said in a phone interview from his Atlanta office. He said the service’s legal advisers will prepare an appropriate response to the suit.
From a Beacon Center of Tennessee Watchdog Report: Recipients of EBT cards in Chattanooga and Knoxville used their benefits at a strip club, a bar, a tobacco shop, malls, high-end clothing stores, hotels and other places where non-essential items are sold.
As it did with EBT transactions in Memphis, Tennessee Watchdog accessed state records and examined almost 22,000 EBT purchases in Chattanooga and Knoxville. These transactions took place in June 2012.
Of the transactions (available for viewing here), 13,566 took place in Knoxville, while 8,424 occurred in Chattanooga.
As was the case in Memphis, most of the transactions occurred at grocery stores– but a small number of transactions were at businesses that do not specialize in selling essential items.
According to state records, an EBT card was used to make three separate transactions at the Th’Katch Show Club in Knoxville (Photo courtesy of TreeHugger.com).
An EBT can offer two different types of benefits — the first being food products, commonly known as food stamps, and the second deriving from the Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF). Unlike food stamps, which are limited to certain food and related purchases, families on assistance through TANF receive as much as $500 per month in cash benefits and use them as they see fit.
Weston Wamp said a new study validates his charge that U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann hasn’t honored a campaign pledge to save taxpayer cash, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. “Mr. Fleischmann’s record shows that his walk does not line up with his talk,” Wamp said Thursday in a news release. “When he had a chance to make a difference and cut spending, he couldn’t pull the trigger.”
Wamp, who along with two others is challenging Fleischmann in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District Republican primary, was remarking on a study released by the Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth. The study tracked House votes on this year’s 25 proposed amendments to appropriations bills that would have slashed spending and put the savings toward debt reduction — something Fleischmann claims to attempt every time he visits the House floor.
Not so, according to the study. Fleischmann supported 11 of 25 amendments overall, scoring 44 percent and finishing last among seven House Republicans from Tennessee.
The average Republican scored 59 percent.
Fleischmann defended his voting record.
“Most of these votes would have adversely impacted Oak Ridge [Tenn.], and I have said from day one … that the ongoing national security and nuclear energy work at Oak Ridge is a top priority of mine,” Fleischmann said in a email sent by campaign spokesman Jordan Powell.
In his release, Wamp, the 25-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, did not say whether he would have supported all the appropriations amendments, but in the past he has praised his father’s support for Oak Ridge and pledged to continue that tradition.
— Note: The Wamp release is below.
A federal judicial panel’s decision to reprimand a Nashville judge for belonging to Belle Meade Country Club has forced others in the legal profession to question their continued membership at an institution that includes no black or female members who are eligible to vote or hold office, reports the Tennessean. Multiple members said the club is preparing to take steps to address the panel’s conclusion that Belle Meade engages in “invidious discrimination” in hopes of preventing an exodus of members worried about the ethical or political fallout of a continued affiliation with the club.
Gilbert S. Merritt, a Nashville-based senior judge on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a Belle Meade club member, said he has received indications from confidential sources that “people who are associated with the Belle Meade Country Club who have significant influence in rectifying the situation” plan to do so in the coming weeks.
Merritt — who said he feels bound by the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability’s decision to publicly reprimand George C. Paine II, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Nashville — said he will be forced to leave the club in coming months “unless there is a correction of the problem of no resident African-American members and a correction of the problem or confusion or whatever it may be on women members.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — A panel of federal judges said Thursday that a bankruptcy judge’s membership in a Nashville, Tenn., country club that has no women or blacks as full-fledged members violates the judiciary’s code of ethics.
But the panel said it will not take any disciplinary action against Judge George Paine II because he is planning to retire next month. Paine is the chief bankruptcy judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, which includes Nashville and nearly three dozen counties.
He has belonged to the Belle Meade Country Club since 1978. The club has never had a woman or a black with membership privileges that include voting and holding office.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Environmentalists have sued coal mining interests in federal court in Knoxville seeking to enforce pollution limits.
The Sierra Club, the Tennessee Clean Water Network and Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM) claim National Coal LLC is violating legal limits on its selenium, iron and manganese discharges into local waterways.
Environmentalists said in a news release that three suits were filed this week citing provisions of the Clean Water Act.
The Sierra Club said the suits are the latest in a series of actions brought by environmentalists in an effort to protect Appalachian streams.
A telephone call to National Coal by The Associated Press was unanswered Tuesday. Another number listed for the company was disconnected.
Note: A news release is below.
News release from comptroller’s office:
Riverdale High School’s football team has had tremendous success on the field over the last two decades – winning four state championships and finishing as state runner-up five times.
However, a review by the Comptroller’s Division of Municipal Audit found a number of off-the-field problems not with the championship players, but with a group of adults that raises money to support the Rutherford County football powerhouse.
The investigative audit uncovered numerous problems with the collection and accounting of funds by the Riverdale High School Quarterback Club that appear to have led to thousands of dollars in missing or misspent fundraiser profits.
Also, auditors found that the club paid at least $7,000 to the school’s athletic director, an assistant football coach and a volunteer wrestling coach in violation of school board and Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association rules. Auditors were unable to find any documentation that the club issued IRS Form 1099 for tax purposes to those three individuals.
The audit, which covers the period from January 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009, was launched in the fall of 2008 but its completion was delayed by a year because club officers refused to produce documents auditors needed to finish their work.
The findings of the audit, outlined in letters sent to Riverdale High School Quarterback Club and Rutherford County school officials today, also disclosed that the Quarterback Club ran its concession stand in violation of state law for the 2008 football season by not maintaining proper documentation of expenses and profits. Because records were inadequate, state auditors were unable to determine whether the lower-than-expected profit was the result of theft, mismanagement or other reasons. The audit noted that the former club president, who was in charge of ordering products for the concession stand, was also the salesman for the company from which most concession products were purchased.
Documentation of other fundraising activities by the club was also inadequate, making it impossible for auditors to determine if fundraising proceeds were properly deposited or misappropriated. The club’s treasurer didn’t issue any receipts for collections between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009 and documentation was insufficient to determine if deposits were made for at least two of the fundraising activities.
Auditors also discovered that the Quarterback Club’s debit card was used to purchase alcoholic beverages and that the club received and deposited collections from season ticket sales which, according to state law, belonged to the school.
“It is obvious that the students, parents, teachers and administrators at Riverdale High School have a great deal of pride in their football team,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “It’s very unfortunate that poor record-keeping and accounting practices by the Riverdale High School Quarterback Club could distract from the on-field accomplishments of the team and its student-athletes. Also, in the future, I hope club officials will be more mindful of the requirements they have to provide certain financial information to our auditors.”
To view the report online, go to: