Tag Archives: Dean

Bail Bondsmen Bill Stirs Post-Session Controversy

A bill that “slipped through” the Legislature during the last session rewrites a portion of state law on bail bonds to allow bondsmen to avoid liability once a defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty, reports The Tennessean. It’s apparently causing some turmoil in the criminal justice system.

No longer will bondsmen remain liable until a defendant is actually sentenced.

A review of videotapes of House and Senate sessions shows there was little discussion of the bill, and confusion dominated what little discussion took place.

Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, plainly told an inquiring colleague just before the final House vote that the bill would require the bonds to remain in effect until the time of sentencing.

“It requires the surety to remain in effect till sentencing,” Dean said in response to a question from Rep. William Lamberth, a Republican from Cottontown.

Instead, judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers say the law, which already has gone into effect, allows bondsmen to withdraw from a case at the time of a guilty plea or verdict, leaving the defendant liable to be put in jail or pay for another bond. Sentencing can come days or weeks after a plea is entered.

Opponents say that if the defendant is jailed from the time of a guilty finding until sentencing, the state or county will have to pick up the cost of that additional jail time.

The new law prompted judges of Davidson County’s criminal court to issue a rare emergency order, which remains in effect indefinitely, requiring that bondsmen at least notify their clients of plans to revoke the bonds. It sets different requirements for bonds in effect before the May 6 effective date of the new law.

Bonding companies failing to comply with the notice requirements risk having all bonding privileges in Davidson County suspended.

…Charles White, head of the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents, said the “very unusual” edict by the Davidson County judges amounts to “extortion. The judges have usurped the power of the legislature.”

White said the association pushed for the change because the risk of flight increases once a defendant is found guilty.

“Once there is a guilty finding or a plea, our work is done,” White said, “but they want us to remain liable.”

…Lamberth, the legislator who raised questions about the bill, said he was pleased that another provision in the measure was eliminated. That provision would have set time limits on how long a bond would remain in effect, depending on the crime committed.

As to Dean’s answer to his question, Lamberth said, “I can only assume it was a misunderstanding.”

Dean also said it was a misunderstanding and added he would be willing to work out a correction.

“I try my best to work with everyone,” he said.


Note: The bill is SB736/HB102 by Dean and Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga.

Another Late Lobbyist Registration for Tom Ingram

Tom Ingram and another executive with his influential lobbying firm worked with Mayor Karl Dean’s office more than a month ago to put together an incentive package for the television show “Nashville” but didn’t register with the city as lobbyists at the time, according to The Tennessean..
On June 24, Dean announced $500,000 in incentives, pending Metro Council approval, to keep the ABC drama filming here.
Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson said officials in the mayor’s office communicated with Ingram and fellow Ingram Group executive Sam Reed when negotiating the incentive deal. Ingram Group has long been the lobbyist for Gaylord Entertainment, now Ryman Hospitality Partners, which is one of the show’s executive producers.
The Metro code defines lobbying as communicating “directly or indirectly, with any official in the legislative branch or executive branch for pay or for any consideration, for the purpose of influencing any legislative action or administrative action.”
Last week, Reed and another Ingram Group lobbyist, Marcille Durham, registered with the city as representing Ryman. Ingram has not registered.
But government transparency expert Dick Williams, chairman of the nonprofit group Common Cause Tennessee, said Ingram and Reed should have registered with the city when it was negotiating, based on lobbying disclosure requirements

Tourism Business Wants to Add a Little ‘Fee’ to Nashville Sales Tax

Sales tax on certain goods sold in downtown Nashville would effectively increase by a small fraction under state legislation Mayor Karl Dean’s administration supports as a way to generate new funds to recruit conventions to the Music City Center, according to the Tennessean.
The proposal, which originated with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau and a handful of Lower Broadway merchants looking for new ways to attract large conventions, would institute a new 0.025 percent fee on goods and services within Nashville’s downtown business district.
Tourism officials plan to use the funds to underwrite the rent of Music City Center as an incentive to lure conventions here. Sales tax in Davidson County is currently 9.25 cents on every dollar.
The legislation calls the measure a “fee,” one that would produce an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million annually. It would go into effect in 2014.
“The CVB and downtown business owners brought forward this idea and we support it as something that will further bolster our tourism industry,” Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said in a prepared statement.
The bill, introduced by state Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory, and co-sponsored by the majority of Davidson County’s state delegation, heads to the State Government Subcommittee this week
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TN’s ‘Big 4’ Mayors on Guns

The mayors of three of the four largest cities in Tennessee say they support U.S. Attorney General Eric Hoder’s call for universial background checks for gun purchases, reports the News Sentinel. The exception is Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who didn’t take a “clear position” on the proposals when commenting via statement instead of interview.
The four mayors differ on some other gun control proposals and only two – Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield – are members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“That group was kind of a lightning rod,” (Knoxville Mayor Madeine) Rogero said. She’s the second recent Knoxville Mayor to eye the group with trepidation. Gov. Bill Haslam was a member as the city’s mayor, “then he pulled back,” Rogero said.
…Nashville Mayor Karl Dean was not available for interviews, but released a statement Thursday. Like Rogero, he’s not a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
….”It is clear that state law pre-empts any Metro action with regard to the regulation of guns,” Dean wrote. “Hopefully, as this issue is debated on the national level, consensus will be found to close loopholes that allow dangerous individuals to obtain weapons and attention will be given to mental health programs and laws.”
He wrote that “attitudes toward guns vary greatly,” but did not take a clear stance on high-capacity magazines, background checks or other legislation.
…”The key is the three words — against illegal guns,” Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton said.
Wharton wants stronger punishments for gun theft.
“I hope to have the legislature enhance the punishment for criminals who use stolen guns at the local level,” he said. “I want to seek increased bail for folks who are possessing stolen guns.”
…Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield also leaned on the power of the local office in gun control.
“It is our responsibility to engage the public in whatever fashion we can, to use the bully pulpit that we have,” he said.
Littlefield would like regulation expanded beyond just assault rifles and high capacity magazines.
“It’s time, and that has been underscored with more recent tragic events, for us to have a more general conversation,” he said, “of not just illegal guns, but the paraphernalia that has been contributing to illegal tragedies.
“I’m talking about bulletproof clothing, armor-piercing ammunition and large capacity magazines, all of those things which are not hunting-related

Democrats See Mayors (especially Dean?) as Future Candidates

From a Tennessean story on state Democratic efforts to find candidates for statewide office in the future:
They say those future contenders are already running governments in the state’s biggest population centers.
“The big-city mayors are clearly the future leaders of our party,” said Chip Forrester, the state Democratic chairman since January 2009. “They’re on a platform to run statewide when those opportunities arise.”
At the top of the list is Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who has his share of critics but has managed to guide the capital city through a recession and a flood with a pro-business, education-reform platform. Forrester said being the mayor of “the media center of the state” also gives Dean an advantage.
Dean, who will leave office in 2015, is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and was mingling — in his affable but soft-spoken way — with other delegates and party officials at the delegation’s breakfast Tuesday. But his office said in a statement last week that he’s not laying the groundwork for any statewide run at this point.
…Forrester and other Democrats said Dean is just the first of several mayors with potential. They also praise A C Wharton of Memphis, Madeline Rogero of Knoxville, Kim McMillan of Clarksville and state Sen. Andy Berke, who is running for mayor of Chattanooga.
Forrester called Wharton “a uniter” and said McMillan — who ran for the Democratic nomination for governor two years ago — and Berke have put together strong records as state lawmakers. He said Rogero showed “tremendous crossover appeal” by getting elected in a “traditionally Republican city.”
“Coming from East Tennessee gives her some panache,” he added. “Madeline has really been focused on results in Knoxville, not party labels. And we’ve been working hard to encourage women to step up and run.”
Dean, Rogero and Wharton are scheduled to speak to the state delegation here in Charlotte on Thursday.

Nashville Eyes Bid for Hosting Future Political Party Convention

Nashville is considering making a pitch for a future national political party convention, according to the Tennessean.
“We’re clearly at a position as a city that we could do it,” Mayor Karl Dean said. “With the new convention center, the new hotels coming online, we have the infrastructure to do it, and I think Nashville would have a great appeal.
“There’s an enormous cost involved. It’s something that would involve a lot of work. But it’s something we should be thinking about, and we will.”
Dean, who will go to Charlotte next month as a voting Democratic delegate and pay attention to how the city operates, said a political convention is “the ultimate convention.”
The numbers bear that out. Tampa is expecting 50,000 delegates, media members, campaign officials, celebrities and other guests, and 16,000 hotel rooms have been set aside, said James Davis, communications director for the Republican National Convention, which has booked more than 90,000 room nights for various groups in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

On Democrats Competing to Challenge Rep. Vince Dean (House 30)

Democrats running in their party’s state House District 30 primary say they’re in the contest in part because of concerns over where the Republican-led General Assembly is taking Tennessee, reports Andy Sher.
Brock Bennington, Sandy Smith and Brian White of East Ridge are vying for their party’s nomination in the Aug. 2 primary. They acknowledge that whoever wins will face an uphill fight to unseat Republican Rep. Vince Dean, also of East Ridge, in November.
…They said their focus will be on promoting public education and jobs-related efforts zeroing in on the district, which includes East Ridge, East Lake, East Brainerd and part of Collegedale.
“We need to be looking at real issues and not the evolution bill or the ‘gateway sexual activity’ bill,” said Smith, a retired Hamilton County teacher, calling those types of issues “red herrings.”
“I just feel we have so many more important things to deal with.”
Bennington, a private investigator for a local law firm, took aim at the 2012 “evolution” law that proponents said was needed to provide a framework to protect public school teachers who address controversies over theories like evolution and climate change.
“To me it’s a waste of our tax dollars [spending hours] debating the issue in committees,” Bennington said. “It just made us a laughingstock when corporations are looking at moving here.”
But Benningston, Smith and White all said they are conservative enough to appeal to voters in the general election. All said they support a controversial guns-in-parking lots bill that would prevent employers and others from barring handgun-carry permit holders’ ability to store weapons in their vehicles on private or public lots.
Smith, however, said schools should be excluded while White said he thinks it shouldn’t apply to universities.
White, who worked as a security guard but said he is now at home caring for his elderly father, also took issue with Dean’s support of two laws, which he contends are Dean’s main achievements. One allowed businesses in East Ridge to sell fireworks and the other bans motorcyclists from popping wheelies.
“There’s a lot of injuries” associated with fireworks, White said. “A lot of elderly people don’t like the noise. I don’t like the noise.”

Nashville Mayor Seeks Property Tax Increase

Saying Nashville has a choice to make that will guide its trajectory “for decades to come,” Nashville Mayor Karl Dean proposed a 53-cent property tax increase Tuesday to fund his $1.71 billion Metro budget proposal.
From The Tennessean:
The tax increase would generate about $100 million in new revenue, Dean said. It would raise the tax rate to $4.66 per $100 of assessed value in the Urban Services District — 3 cents below the rate when Dean took office in 2007, before a countywide reappraisal — and $4.09 in the General Services District.
Assessed value is 25 percent of the appraised value for residential property and 40 percent for commercial property. The mayor said the 12.83 percent tax increase for a typical homeowner would amount to about $16 a month, or $192 a year, on a $145,400 home, the median price in Nashville. Assuming the home was appraised at the purchase price, that would raise the annual tax bill to $1,693.91.
The city would use the revenues to raise starting teacher salaries by $5,000, moving Metro Schools into the top tier of Tennessee school districts; retain 50 police officers whose federal grant funding soon will run out; give a 4 percent pay raise to most city employees, and pay debt service on building projects that will touch schools and the general government alike.
Without new revenue, the city would have to make big cuts in government services, Dean said.

Dean to Stick With House Seat

State Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, says he plans to seek re-election to his House District 30 seat and not run for the state Senate, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
“I will be submitting my qualification papers on Monday morning to the Hamilton County Election Commission,” Dean said in a statement.
Dean said that, while he has been “overwhelmed by friends and supporters that have urged me to seek Senate District 10, I feel that currently, I need to continue my focus on my House duties.”
Senate District 10 has leaned Democratic in the past but now favors Republicans as a result of the recent passage of a GOP-drawn redistricting plan by the state Legislature. The seat is now held by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, who has announced he won’t run again and seriously is considering a 2013 race for Chattanooga mayor.

Mayor’s Letter to Legislators: Please, Let Us Have an Anti-Bias Ordinance

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has written a letter to the state Senate, urging lawmakers to reverse their reversal of Metro’s nondiscrimination ordinance, reports Chas Sisk.
In a one-page letter given to members of the Senate State & Local Government Committee last week, Dean says he supports Senate Bill 2762. That bill would let Metro reinstate a nondiscrimination ordinance that the city passed last April but the legislature quickly nullified in May.
“That local ordinance prohibited Metro Government contractors from discriminating in their employment practices based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Dean wrote. “I believe it was an important expression of the fact that Nashville is an open, welcoming place that does not tolerate discrimination, and I was proud to sign it into law.
“A number of cities throughout the country have passed local ordinances similar to Nashville’s. Such ordinances represent the decisions of locally elected government bodies, and I believe they deserve the respect of the state legislature. Now is not the time to abandon our belief in local government.”
The letter once again put the mayor on the record in favor of the Metro nondiscrimination law. But it’s not likely to do a whole lot else
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Note: A vote on the bill was postponed last week after Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said he was undecided and asked the sponsor, Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, for more time to think about it… leading proponents of repeal more optimistic than before. Still, as Chas says, a Republican reversal is rather unlikely.