The Memphis City Council on Tuesday approved a nondiscrimination ordinance that includes workplace protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, ending a debate that began in 2010, according to the Commercial Appeal. “City of Memphis employees will go to bed tonight and wake up in the morning to hear the news that their hard work will be respected and their ability to contribute to their community will be preserved,” said Jonathan Cole, vice president of the Tennessee Equality Project, one of the backers of the legislation. “It’s a new day in Memphis, Tennessee.”
The legislation sponsored by council members Lee Harris and Shea Flinn and approved in a 9-4 vote includes protections against discrimination for “sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ethnicity, national origin and disability.”
It applies only to employment by the city of Memphis, not private individuals or groups that may contract with the city.
Council members Flinn, Harris, Harold Collins, Edmund Ford Jr., Janis Fullilove, Wanda Halbert, Reid Hedgepeth, Myron Lowery and Jim Strickland voted for the ordinance. Council members Bill Boyd, Joe Brown, Bill Morrison and Kemp Conrad voted against it.
EAST RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) — A vote by the East Ridge City Council got the Viar family’s goat.
On a 3-1 vote with no discussion, the council on Thursday killed a proposal that would have made exceptions for pigmy goats and pot-bellied pigs in the city ordinance that bans farm animals.
Jeffrey Viar told the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/Qp6C4R) his family would pack up their pigmy goat named Oreo and move.
East Ridge Animal Control Supervising Officer Jonathan Cooper urged the council to pass the exception. He argued the 40-pound black and white goat isn’t much different from medium-sized dogs.
Viar said he has been looking for the past few weeks and hopes to move just across the Georgia border so he can stay close to his mother and brother in East Ridge.
The Memphis City Council has approved including sexual orientation in a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance, but delayed a final vote on the measure for 30 days, reports the Commercial Appeal. During the delay, legal experts will research whether the legislation would violate the city’s charter. City Councilman Lee Harris originally sponsored an ordinance to ban the city from discriminating against individuals based on “age, ethnicity, national origin and disability.”
Harris and councilman Shea Flinn amended the measure Tuesday to include sexual orientation in the list. That amendment was approved 7-5, but council members later voted to delay their final vote after the city attorney and the council’s attorney raised questions about the legality of the amendment and whether it would require a referendum.
Council attorney Allan Wade and City Atty. Herman Morris said Harris’ proposed ordinance could face legal challenges for overstepping the charter, which bans discrimination on “religion, race, sex, creed or political affiliation.”
“On the face of it, it would be an expansion of our charter and would require a charter amendment,” said Wade. “You pass this tonight and there will be a group of citizens that says, ‘This is something we should speak on,’ and we will be sued. There’s no doubt about that.”
Memphis City Councilman Lee Harris is pushing passage of a city ordinance that, as it stands, would declare the city cannot discriminate in hiring on the basis of race, age or gender, which is not very controversial. But Jackson Baker reports he’s also proposing an amendment that would add “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”
...And that’s where some resistance could arise, both on the Council and in the city. Harris said Sunday night he thought most of the organized opposition in the city — “90 percent” — emanates from Cordova and specifically from Bellevue Baptist Church, where pastor Steve Gaines and church members have mounted a campaign against the ordinance.
As for the population at large,l Harris doesn’t foresee much objection to the inclusion of the sexual categories, loosely characterized by the initials LGBT (for “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered/transsexual”). “We wouldn’t be doing anything radical. We wouldn’t even be moving ahead much. We’d just be catching up,” said Harris, who said most major American cities have already moved to extend workplace protection to people in those categories.
Nor does Harris believe such an ordinance would be in conflict with legislation passed by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2011 that prohibits local jurisdictions from passing anti-discrimination provisions at variance with those ordained by state law. Harris, who consulted legal authorities in and out of city government, said he was assured that, so long as his ordinance confined itself to municipal government and did not apply to “third party”employers, it would pass muster.
But Harris said his decision on whether to include the sexual categories in his anti-discrimination ordinance will be based solely on a simple practical test: “Do we have the votes? That’s it, pure and simple.” The ordinance will need 7 of the Council’s 13 votes to prevail.
And Harris was explicit on the subject. There are five Council members who would definitely support the more inclusive version of the ordinance, Harris said…Two other Council members — Wanda Halbert and Ed Ford — Harris counts as undecided, the swing voters on the issue.
Finished with a sentence of six months’ home detention and two years’ probation that ended in 2010, former state Sen. Ward Crutchfield won’t answer one of the juiciest political questions in Chattanooga, reports Chris Carroll. Will he run for City Council in March?
“A lot of people would like to know,” the 83-year-old said with a reedy laugh at a local Democratic gathering last week. “I’m getting calls from all over.
“I’m not trying to be funny,” he said, “but that’s all I’m going to say about it right now.”
Two years removed from open-heart surgery, Crutchfield navigates salad bars instead of the steak dinners he enjoyed as a state senator. He’s the lingering ghost of a bygone era, a shadow of the cigar-chewing political bull he once was.
A try at resurrection would follow perhaps the most epic tumble in Chattanooga political history.
…Crutchfield’s still-active campaign account shows a balance of $145,809, according to disclosures filed in July. Officials said he could use the money in a City Council bid.
In the last four years, Crutchfield has donated $20,000 to various organizations and candidates, including $4,650 to the Hamilton County Democratic Party
…The qualifying deadline for City Council is Dec. 20.
“I’m doing well, feeling fine,” Crutchfield said. “You’ll hear a lot out of me later.”
Chris Anderson, a Chattanooga City Council candidate, publicly told the media Wednesday that he is gay, reports the Times-Free Press. “I’m not really coming out because I’ve been open for years,” he said.
Anderson, the first openly gay candidate to run for elected office in Chattanooga history, said he wants his campaign to be transparent and he wants the contest set for March 2013 to be honest. Anderson is running against current City Councilman Manny Rico.
He said he expects some amount of backlash due to his sexual preference.
“I’m sure there will be people to use it as such,” he said. “But I think the voters are smart enough to see through that.”
Just hours after the Davidson County Election Commission voted Tuesday not to use electronic poll books for voting in November, Metro Council members voted to hold off on paying for the machines, reports The Tennessean. The poll books, which replaced paper poll books recently in 60 of the county’s 160 voting precincts, have been at the center of criticism in the past week because some voters received the wrong ballots during the Aug. 2 primary.
The commission had planned to use the new poll books in all 160 precincts for the Nov. 6 general election. But four of the five commission members voted Tuesday to revert back to the paper poll books for all precincts.
The electronic poll books will be used only for poll workers to look up voter lists. Funding for those additional poll books — about $400,000 — was part of an appropriations bill that was before the Metro Council Tuesday evening. Last week, Metro Councilwoman Megan Barry called for the city to hold off on approving that money pending an audit of the election processes.
The council voted to approve her amendment and take up the issue of whether to fund the purchase of the equipment at a later date.
“I think it’s our responsibility to have the election commission come before us with all the uncertainty,” said Councilman Lonnell Matthews.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Four members of the Metro Nashville Council will ask that the city withhold $400,000 for more electronic poll books after a several prominent Democrats were given Republican ballots in the primary.
County Administrator of Elections Albert Tieche has admitted there was a problem with the electronic poll books that were used in some precincts to check in voters but he denies that the problem was widespread.
He says there were generally more Republican ballots given out in precincts that used the old paper poll books than at those using the new electronic ones.
The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/O8N3N0) reports that Democratic leaders in the state Legislature are citing their own set of figures to show the problem was widespread. They say that 19,714 voters used a GOP ballot this year, compared to an average of about 5,800 in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 August primaries.
Party leaders asked the state not to certify the election results until the issue was studied.
The electronic poll books were used in 60 of Nashville’s 160 precincts during the primary. Tieche wants to roll them out for all precincts during the general election in November, but state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins has not yet said whether he will approve it.
If Councilwoman Megan Barry has her way, though, the question could be moot. She wants to withhold funding for additional electronic poll books until there is an audit of the process used in the Aug. 2 elections. Council members Lonnell Matthews, Jerry Maynard and Ronnie Steine have joined that call.
The newest mover and shaker in East Ridge politics likes to eat shrubbery, weighs 40 pounds and goes by the name Oreo, according to the Chattanooga TFP. The 1-year-old, black-and-white-haired pygmy goat scampered into the spotlight last week, when his owner Jeff Viar came before the East Ridge City Council and pleaded with the city not to take away the pet goat.
City code outlaws goats and other livestock in residential areas, but Oreo’s family say they did not know that until they found a citation on their front door this month.
…The city’s Facebook has been flooded with comments like “Save Oreo!!!” and “Awww let Oreo stay.” Some residents have discussed starting a petition to keep Oreo in East Ridge.
The goat has found some sympathy among city leaders, who say Oreo’s case is unusual because he’s domesticated and clean.
“Oreo is cute, no question about it. I’m actually kind of a fan of goats,” said East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble, who has posted photos and “notes from Oreo” to the city’s Facebook page. “But we have to enforce the ordinance or come up with an alternative.”
Gobble said the city’s animal control officer cited the family after receiving several anonymous complaints about the goat.
The Viars have had Oreo for a year — since he was just a spindly-legged kid. They got him from a family friend in Chickamauga, Ga., after their two children begged for a goat.
“They just didn’t want a dog. They wanted a different kind of animal,” Samantha Viar said.
…East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert said he can relate.
“I have young children; I can imagine how devastated they would be over losing a pet,” said Lambert. “If we can create a narrow exception in the law for Oreo and similar animals, certainly I’d be willing to look at that,”
…Gobble said he will ask the council for a 120-day moratorium on enforcing the anti-Oreo ordinance until the Hamilton County Regional Agency can look at the issue and provide some suggested course of action.
The council plans to continue the discussion at next month’s council meeting, set for Sept. 13.
Memphis City Council member Janis Fullilove and her husband Vernon Chalmers were arrested Tuesday in the latest in a series of domestic altercations at their home southeast of Memphis International Airport, reports the Commercial Appeal. Each suffered minor injuries and both were charged with domestic assault causing bodily harm.
Police responded to the couple’s home in the 3300 block of Morningview at about 12:17 a.m. Chalmers, 55, told officers he had been out baby-sitting the couple’s grandchildren and visited a friend afterward. When he returned home, Fullilove, 62, accused him of cheating on her and began throwing dishes, according to police.
Chalmers told police that Fullilove had been drinking and that he pushed her to the floor and held her down. Officers reported that Chalmers’ arm was cut in the confrontation.
Fullilove passed out on the sidewalk while being taken to a police car.