By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has fired two top officials at the Department of Environment and Conservation, while a third has announced his retirement.
The department said in a statement Friday that the changes are “designed to streamline our structure and build management efficiencies.”
Changes are to include the creation of a single water resources division encompassing the department’s pollution control, water supply and groundwater management programs, according to the statement.
The fired officials are Mike Apple, head of the department’s solid waste management division, and Paul E. Davis, who was in charge of water pollution control. Meanwhile, Mike Carlton is retiring as director of Tennessee state parks.
The Tennessean newspaper first reported the TDEC shakeup on its website Friday afternoon. Apple told the paper he had been called in to the office of deputy commissioner Shari Meghreblian earlier this week, and that he was given no explanation for the firing other than that “they wanted to make a change.”
From Matt Lakin:
Outrage over state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s remarks on AIDS could be leading to a recall movement — even though state law won’t recognize any such effort.
About 680 people liked the Recall TN State Senator Campfield page on Facebook by Monday night, about a day after its creation. The page doesn’t list its creator, and even some fans acknowledged in posts they’re organizing in vain.
Tennessee law allows recall votes only for officials at the city and county level. State legislators can be removed only by impeachment.
The page’s fans said they don’t see any harm in spreading the word or in showing their support for the Bistro at the Bijou, whose owner, Martha Boggs, banned Campfield when he showed up for Sunday brunch.
“I’ve been posting nonstop since I heard about the Bistro,” said Gary Elgin, a former director of the Knoxville Pride and Rainbow Community Awareness Project. “He really does need to be recalled if not at least censured. He’s made us a national punchline.”
Meanwhile, others have started an online petition asking Gov. Bill Haslam, President Barack Obama and members of Congress and the Tennessee Legislature to fire Campfield. The petition boasted nearly 1,000 signatures Monday night.
The senator’s detractors said they hope to keep the spirit alive until Campfield faces re-election in 2014.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A dispute over money was apparently behind an incident at the Occupy Nashville encampment near the state Capitol.
There were no injuries when someone threw gasoline onto the tent of an Occupy protester and set it on fire.
People who were taking part in the protest caught the suspect Thursday night and held him until police arrived, according to WTVF-TV.
The station reported the man accused of setting the fire complained a woman it belonged to has stolen money from him. The tent was destroyed.
It wasn’t clear whether the suspect was also a protester.
The charred brick remains of a former kitchen has revealed a glimpse into how James K. Polk spent his final hours. reports the Columbia Daily Herald.. Detached from the main residence, the two-story kitchen was ravaged by two fires that started within 14 hours of each other. The Columbia Fire Department responded to the West 8th Street residence first at 3 p.m. on Aug. 16 and again about 5 a.m. on Aug. 17.
“It’s quite a tragedy for me to have lost that,” said homeowner Rubin Lombardini. The main residence was not damaged by the fires.
The kitchen was part of the Rally Hill property that dates to the 1840s, said Maury County Archives director Bob Duncan. It was one of the last places Polk, the 11th U.S. President, visited before dying of cholera on June 15, 1849, three months after his presidential term.
Duncan said Polk stopped in Columbia to visit his sister, who lived at Rally Hill, while on his way to Nashville.
“He didn’t realize it was his last visit, because he was coming down with cholera, but he had his last meal in that house,” Duncan said. “Of course, it would have been cooked in that kitchen.”
More recently, Lombardini used the detached kitchen to store his book collection as he built libraries to permanently house them in the main residence.
….Fire department officials said electrical wiring sparked the Aug. 16 fire, but the cause of the second fire was undetermined.
“The case has been closed,” deputy fire chief Steven Cross said. “Based on the resources available to us and the amount of damage (to the structure), it just wasn’t possible to determine the cause.”
Lombardini said he has been restoring the entire property for the past four and a half years and plans to rebuild the detached kitchen to its original condition.