The city of Chattanooga will pay its former General Services Director, Paul Page, nearly $12,000 a year for the rest of his life even though he retired after a federal finding that he sexually harassed one employee and was disciplined for harassing another, according to the Chattanooga TFP.
Page worked for the city for six years and was vested in its General Pension Fund automatically after five years. He’s eligible for $11,549 annually, or $962 a month, based on his highest three earnings years. Those were 2008-10.
Even if Page had been fired, his benefits would not have been affected, said Doug Kelley, the city’s personnel records specialist.
“That has no effect on your general pension or your eligibility for benefits,” Kelley said.
From an article in Metro Pulse:
Over the past week, you might have seen this headline from Gizmodo floating around your social networks: “Tennessee Just Made Offensive Online Pictures Illegal.” Yes, influential bloggers and tweeters across the country are yet again making fun of Tennessee. The problem is, very few of them seem to have bothered to read the law.
Take that Gizmodo post, which says “an online image of anything that offends anyone is now illegal” and likely to land you in a Tennessee jail. Or Ars Technica, which writes, “for image postings, the ’emotionally distressed’ individual need not be the intended recipient. Anyone who sees the image is a potential victim.” Sounds like a reason to panic, right? But it turns out these comments are off base.
…In an e-mail, University of Tennessee law Professor Glenn Reynolds says he thinks the law is “probably overbroad and thus unconstitutional–though whether it’s sufficiently overbroad to be unconstitutional in general, and not just in some applications isn’t open-and-shut, but it probably is.”
But, Reynolds adds, “Cyberstalking is a real problem, and it’s often hard to get authorities to do much even when it’s by phone or e-mail. This statute isn’t–as some have portrayed it as being–some sort of crazy ban on all offensive images. It’s a perfectly reasonable technological update that just isn’t very well drafted.”
Of course, anyone filing a complaint because he or she is offended by a random Internet image will have to go through the whole criminal process. Somehow, it seems unlikely that law enforcement authorities across the state will suddenly devote their already stretched resources to pursuing spurious claims of harassment from citizens offended by their local newspaper’s website.
In any case, the newly changed law seems most likely to end up being challenged in court before we see any of the worst-case scenarios dreamed up by bloggers.
The House and Senate have approved two bills presented as ways to combat “cyberbullying,” defined as the use of electronic devices to intentionally inflict emotional distress or fear of physical harm.
One of the bills, HB301, amends the state’s general law, which makes harassment or intimidation of another person a misdemeanor, to include electronic communication via email, text messages, website postings and the like. It also declares that law enforcement officers and prosecutors can demand records from operators of social networks and other service providers to determine the origin of an electronic communication.
The bill passed the Senate 29-1 on Thursday after being amended to make a conviction punishable by community service work only. It passed the House earlier 76-18, but now returns to that body for concurrence on the Senate amendment.
The sponsors, Democratic Rep. Charles Curtiss of Sparta and Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, said the measure will help law enforcement officers track down offenders and clarify current law to assure it covers electronically transmitted threats that cause “emotional distress” or a reasonable fear of bodily harm.
Most criticism focused on concerns that the bill is too broad and could interfere with free speech. Among the opponents was Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge.
“I do not think we ought to limit free speech of our citizens just because someone is offended,” he said.
The other bill, HB300, gives school boards the authority to take disciplinary action against students who engage in “cyberbulling” against another student or students, even if the acts in question were committed off a school campus.
It inspired considerably less debate and passed 87-8 in the House, 29-1 in the Senate. The measure, also sponsored by Curtiss and Ketron, now goes to the governor.
(Note: The Senate vote count was initially stated as 30-0 on this post. It has been corrected to 29-1. The sole no vote came from Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville.)