As part of a realignment of his top staff, Gov. Bill Haslam named a former IBM executive as “chief operating officer” for state government Tuesday and tasked him with increasing oversight of various departments in state government.
Greg Adams, 58, has spent 37 years with IBM, most recently as a managing director in its financial service factor. His state salary will be $165,000 per year and begin serving July 8, according to a gubernatorial spokesman.
The move comes after Claude Ramsey, deputy to the governor, announced earlier his retirement effective Aug. 31, and Mark Cate was elevated from senior adviser to chief of staff. Ramsey’s salary is $187,452 per year; Cate’s $155,000.
The governor said Adams is “not a replacement” for Ramsey because “he’s going to do a very different job, but that there are “no plans right now” to name a new deputy.
“Now that I’ve been governor for two and a half years, I realize one of the things that is hardest about being governor for me is that I can’t spend the time I would like with each department.”
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An elderly nun and two other nuclear protesters asked Thursday to be released from jail as they await sentencing for breaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex and defacing the walls of a uranium processing plant.
A judge could rule on that next week, but on Thursday said they will have to stay in jail at least until then.
Sister Megan Rice, 83, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed (bohr-CHEE’ OH-bed’) were convicted Wednesday of interfering with national security and damaging federal property during last year’s incursion. They cut through security fences, hung banners, strung crime-scene tape and hammered off a small chunk of the fortress-like Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility inside the most secure part of the complex.
The break-in caused a temporary shutdown at the facility and a change in security contractors. But jurors weren’t swayed by the defense argument that the protesters actually aided national security by exposing flaws at the facility.
The trio appeared in court Thursday in handcuffs and leg irons seeking their release until their Sept. 23 sentencing. At one point, defense attorney Francis Lloyd asked U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar for permission to put his jacket over Rice’s shoulders, saying that the nun was chilly. The judge allowed it.
Prosecutor Jeff Theodore said the government opposes the trio’s release, noting that they testified during trial that they felt no remorse for their actions.
Defense attorney Bill Quigley argued that the defendants had refrained from any more incursions between when they were arrested in July and went to trial this week.
“The give their word not to engage in that kind of activity pending sentencing,” he said.
The three could get up to 20 years on the national security count, which they have asked Thapar to throw out on grounds of insufficient evidence. Thapar set July 29 as the deadline for legal filings on that motion.
Chattanooga Republican Greg Vital wound up putting $385,400 of his own money into an ultimately losing August GOP primary battle with fellow GOP candidate Todd Gardenhire, according to Action Andy’s review of new state filings. Vital, a successful health care entrepreneur and developer, reported spending $500,000 over the course of the campaign, according to his third quarter disclosure filed with the Registry of Election Finance.
Efforts Tuesday to contact Vital, who lost the open Senate District 10 race by a heart-stopping 45 votes, were unsuccessful.
As of Tuesday night, Gardenhire had not filed his latest disclosure, which covers the period from July 24 to Sept. 30 and includes final primary spending. The filing deadline is today.
Democrat Andraé McGary has yet to file as well. Up through July 23, Gardenhire reported total receipts of $116,205, including $86,205 in self-made loans, and expenditures of $105,000. The primary was Aug. 2.
News release from state comptroller’s office:
The Comptroller’s Division of Investigations reported today that Pikeville Mayor Greg Johnson stole money from the town for his personal benefit and wasted taxpayer dollars on unnecessary vehicle expenses. The Comptroller’s Division of Investigations reported five different instances of fraud, waste, and abuse by third-term mayor and sitting county commissioner over the past several years costing the town more than $250,000.
The Comptroller’s report details how Johnson spent $15,900 from the town coffers to purchase a 2008 Honda Element from a dealership in Nashville that was never titled to the town. Instead of the vehicle being used for town business, the mayor turned it over to a family member for personal use. The mayor purchased an additional 10 used vehicles, including Lexus, Land Rover and GMC sport utility vehicles, all from out-of-state car dealers that cost the town another $109,900. At least four of the vehicles appeared to have relatively serious damage. Nor did they seem to fulfill any official purpose. While the vehicles were never titled nor put into service by the town, the mayor admitted to taking a weeklong trip to Miami in one of them.
The mayor also received more than $130,000 in payments from an insurance reimbursement scheme he devised in which he would submit reimbursement claims to the town for health insurance premiums he never paid for himself or his family. Mayor Johnson, while covered by his wife’s insurance plan, submitted reimbursement claims for coverage on a town policy with the highest premium charged by the town’s insurance provider despite not purchasing insurance through the town’s carrier. The mayor also had the city pay him more than $37,000 for a vehicle allowance that was neither authorized by the board of aldermen nor included in his annual salary set by the board. In addition to the car allowance, the mayor purchased more than $6,000 worth of fuel in 11 months, which averages to more than $500 a month.
Johnson was indicted last month by the Bledsoe County Grand Jury for official misconduct and theft over $60,000. Both offenses are felonies with official misconduct carrying a penalty of up to two years in prison and theft over $60,000 carrying up to 12 years for a first-time offender.
“Elected officials are put in positions of public trust and they should act accordingly at all times,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “Unrestrained abuses of power undermine public confidence in local leaders and create an atmosphere of distrust of government that can take years to erase.”
To view the report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/repository/ia/20120809PikevilleReport.pdf
Greg Vital has conceded the District 10 state Senate Republican primary to Todd Gardenhire, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. The decision came after Vital mulled over the possibility of asking for a recount.
“Although it was a very close race, the election is over,” Vital said in a statement.
— UPDATE: Tennessee Ticket has posted the full Vital statement, HERE.
The Hamilton County Election Commission found 25 more votes for Todd Gardenhire in Tennessee’s Senate District 10 race Friday, and now his competitor, Greg Vital, wants a total recount, reports the Times Free Press. The votes, products of an electronic uploading error from voting machines, brought Gardenhire’s lead to 40 votes in the district. Election Commission Chairman Mike Walden said the uploading error from a machine in the Eastdale precinct didn’t count the votes for five candidates there, including Gardenhire.
“We’re in the process of re-uploading the cards again,” Walden said. “The [overall] results didn’t change.”
The new votes increased Gardenhire’s total to 8,020 over Vital’s 7,980 in a district that includes parts of Hamilton and Bradley counties.
Vital released a statement Friday calling for a recount. The election commission plans to certify the election Aug. 16, and Vital then will have five days to request the recount, election commission attorney Chris Clem said.
Early Friday, the Vital campaign hinged its hopes on provisional ballots, but election officials told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that there were only five — two in Hamilton County and three in Bradley County.
The hotly contested 10th Senate District Republican primary teetered on the edge of an electoral cliff late Thursday night, with Republican Todd Gardenhire holding a scant 15-vote lead over rival Greg Vital, according to unofficial returns.
From the Chattanooga TFP: But Gardenhire was unwilling to claim victory and Vital unwilling to concede defeat, saying uncounted provisional ballots and overseas military ballots could change the outcome. Gardenhire called the results “exciting. I don’t think anyone will get any sleep tonight,” he said.
Vital’s campaign said he remains optimistic.
“Tonight has been exciting, and too close to call. With provisional ballots still out, it is anybody’s race,” he said in a statement released late Thursday.
Andraé McGary, 32, a Chattanooga city councilman and former radio talk show host, emerged as the winner of the three-man Democratic primary, beating Hamilton County School Board member David Testerman and Quenston Coleman, a retired state probation and parole officer.
“Right now the fun begins,” McGary said. “Right now we have to convince a largely Republican area that we’re not laying down and playing dead.”
Greg Johnson, who is in his third term as mayor of Pikeville, is free on $10,000 bond after being arrested Wednesday on charges of official misconduct and felony theft in the wake of a months-long investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Office.
Further from the Chattanooga TFP: Officials at Pikeville City Hall said Johnson had not come into the office on Thursday. City Hall staff also said he has not submitted any correspondence regarding his plans as mayor.
Johnson, 50, was first elected to the Pikeville Board of Aldermen at age 19.
Mike Taylor, district attorney in the 12th Judicial District, said Thursday that Johnson is charged with four counts of official misconduct and one count of theft in excess of $60,000 on grand jury indictments issued Monday.
Among the accusations is that Johnson spent more than $100,000 on used cars never put in the city fleet, cashed a check for $16,000 for his own use and took a monthly stipend from the city to pay for health insurance when he already had health insurance elsewhere.
The investigation, which covered the period between July 2010 and February 2012, arose from complaints made to the prosecutor’s office around the first of the year, Taylor said.
“Back in the late winter, I started receiving complaints initially about the purchase of some used vehicles that had been stored at [a] building at the industrial park there in Pikeville,” Taylor said.
Soon after, other complaints were made that the mayor “was using public monies for his own use,” Taylor said, so the district attorney contracted the state Comptroller of the Treasury Office.
Bledsoe County Sheriff’s Investigator Ricky Seals said Wednesday that Johnson surrendered at the jail after having his attorney contact local authorities.
Johnson could not be reached for comment, and messages could not be left on his home phone.
Johnson’s legal counsel, Dunlap, Tenn., lawyer Steve Greer, said Thursday he couldn’t comment until he sees the formal indictment and that his comments would be limited even then.
He did say, though, that Johnson probably will keep his mayor’s post for now.
Republican state Senate candidate Todd Gardenhire accused his primary opponent, Greg Vital, of anonymously mailing to voters a 15-year-old request from Gardenhire’s ex-wife, asking for a protective order against him, but not telling “the rest of the story” — that a judge dismissed the entire matter nine days later.
An excerpt from the rest of Chris Carroll’s story: “The other thing missing from this [letter] was a disclaimer,” Gardenhire said Tuesday. “The disclaimer should have read, ‘This letter was authorized by the Pinocchio for State Senate Campaign, Greg Vital, chairman.'”
Both men are running in Senate District 10’s Republican primary to replace Sen. Andy Berke, a Democrat who’s declined a re-election bid in order to run for mayor of Chattanooga.
Gardenhire launched the accusations at Vital during a dramatic lunchtime meeting of the Hamilton County Republican Women’s Club at county GOP headquarters in Chattanooga. While both candidates verbally sparred, Vital never addressed whether his campaign mailed the petition.
Pressed about the mailer after the meeting, Vital initially refused to answer questions.
“You’re badgering,” he told a reporter. “I got one in the mail, too. That’s all I’m saying.”
Moments later, he threw up his hands and said, “I have no idea” when asked directly whether he or his campaign had any involvement in sending the mailer.
Gardenhire’s “Pinocchio” accusation came a week after the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported occasions in which Vital’s websites or Vital himself said he was a college graduate despite his never graduating.
Last week, an unknown number of Hamilton County homes received a handwritten envelope containing a petition for an order of protection. There was no return address.
Written June 27, 1997, by Gardenhire’s ex-wife, Kathy Gardenhire, the petition says she and their young son were “afraid for our lives” after Gardenhire “started raging,” “losing control” and “[throwing] things as hard as he can.”
“He raves through the house threatening me bodily harm,” she wrote in the petition.
But court records show that, nine days later, Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern signed an order dismissing the petition, noting that Kathy Gardenhire “asked that this action be dismissed.”
“[The] Court has determined that both parties have come to an agreement and a dismissal is in the best interest of the parties,” the order reads.
That information wasn’t included in the mailer. The Gardenhires remained married until “irreconcilable differences” led to a divorce that was finalized in 2008, court records show.
State Senate Republican candidate Greg Vital said he’s not a college graduate despite saying the opposite in a public forum, reports Chris Carroll. “That was a Freudian slip,” Vital said Tuesday. “It was a mistake.”
Vital is campaigning for the District 10 seat now held by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, who’s running for Chattanooga mayor.
On May 31, Vital spoke at a candidate forum sponsored by the Hamilton County Young Republicans. During his opening remarks, Vital said he “finished up” college in 1979 and “graduated with only $900 on my student loan.”
Vital’s campaign website says he “attended” Southern Adventist University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Officials at both schools confirmed Vital’s enrollment, but said he never graduated.
“It slipped,” Vital said in a phone interview. “What I meant was I finished college whenever I finished and I still owed $900. That was the point.”
Vital said he has “never embellished” his education in the past, but an online biography appears to discredit that claim.
A website for the Bragg Point condominiums in Missionary Ridge lists Vital as the residential project’s co-developer and includes a detailed professional biography that says: “Vital holds an undergraduate degree in business administration from Southern Adventist University.”