Tag Archives: hearing

Hawk’s Domestic Assault Hearing Postponed, DA Recuses Self

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A preliminary hearing in the domestic assault case of state Rep. David Hawk has been rescheduled and the district attorney has recused himself from the case.
The Greeneville Sun reports (http://bit.ly/PTjV05 ) a hearing scheduled for Monday was moved to Sept. 11, after the Aug. 2 primary election in which Hawk is running against three other Republicans to keep his state house seat.
Hawk said the election was not the reason for the delay. He said Joseph Baugh, who was appointed as special prosecutor after District Attorney General C. Berkeley Bell recused himself, asked for the hearing to be rescheduled.
Hawk pleaded not guilty to the charge filed in March by his wife, Crystal Goan Hawk, who said her husband struck her in the face with his hand, knocking her down.

Fracking Draws Critics at Hearing on New TDEC Rules

At a Tuesday public hearing in Knoxville Tuesday, there were many opponents of the controversial method of drilling for natural gas in deep shale and tight formations — called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” reports the News Sentinel.
About 50 people attended the hearing at the Knoxville field office of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. A second meeting was held Tuesday night.
The meetings were the latest step in an 18-month process by TDEC, as it tries to iron out standards and guidelines for fracking, which has basically been unregulated in Tennessee. A wide range of environmental groups and concerned individuals have also weighed in with their opinions.
The practice of fracking requires large amounts of water and chemicals to be injected at high pressure into the shaft, freeing the flow of natural gas.
About a dozen people spoke at Tuesday’s afternoon meeting, with most warning of dire consequences unless stringent guidelines are eventually written in law for fracking in Tennessee.
Sierra Club representative Axel Ringe said “two-thirds” of Tennessee will eventually be targeted for natural gas extraction via fracking.
Among the risks commonly associated with fracking are groundand surface water contamination, and degradation of natural habitat due to excessive water and chemical use in the drilling process.
Ringe said it’s imperative to get the rules and regulations right before fracking becomes commonplace in the state.
“This gives us time to set up regulations that are truly protective,” said Ringe.
Limestone resident Trudi Tolliver said she’s concerned that fracking could contaminate her well-water.
“I depend on a well for my drinking water,” said Tolliver.
“I would like to ban it (fracking) completely in our state. We need more evaluations on the health risks.”

DesJarlais, Black, Corker, Haslam, Hagerty to Rage Against Federal Regulations

News release from U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ office:
WASHINGTON, DC – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today announced an official Congressional field hearing entitled, “Tennessee Job Creation: Do Federal Government Regulations Help or Hinder Tennessee’s Economic Development?” The hearing will begin at 9:00amCST on Monday, June 18, 2012 at S102 Business and Aerospace Building, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The hearing, which is open to the public, will feature testimony from state leaders and Tennessee job creators on the effects of state and federal policies and regulations.
“The federal government has yet to grasp the effects of burdensome regulations that obstruct job growth and economic recovery. During the course of this Administration, regulatory costs have grown for American job creators across the board,” said Chairman Issa. “We’re going to Tennessee to hear directly from those on the ground who are surviving in this stifling regulatory environment because the private sector is not ‘doing fine.'”
“Last year, I embarked on my Tennessee Job Creators Tour in an effort to talk directly with businesses owners here in Tennessee about ways that the federal government was hurting their ability to grow and create jobs,” said Representative DesJarlais. “What I heard from them painted a troubling picture of Washington regulators imposing mountains of job-crushing bureaucratic red tape. I look forward to having Chairman Issa down to Tennessee to hear from our local job-creators on ways that Washington can reduce the barriers to private sector job creation.
Details for Monday’s hearing in Murfreesboro:
What: Official Congressional Field Hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “Tennessee Job Creation: Do Federal Government Regulations Help or Hinder Tennessee’s Economic Development?” with Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Scott Desjarlais (R-TN). Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) will join Chairman Issa and Rep. Desjarlais on the dais.
Date/Time: 9:00am CST on Monday, June 18, 2012
Location: S102 Business and Aerospace Building, Middle Tennessee State University, 1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132
Witnesses confirmed to testify include:
The Honorable Bill Haslam, Governor, State of Tennessee
The Honorable Bob Corker, United States Senate
Mr. William “Bill” F. Hagerty, IV, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
Mr. H. Grady Payne, Chief Executive Officer, Conner Industries, Inc.
Mr. Scott Cocanougher, Chief Executive Officer, First Community Bank of Bedford County
Mr. Mark Faulkner, Owner, Vireo Systems, Inc. on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business
Mr. Bob Bedell, Sales Unit Manager, Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated on behalf of the Beverage Association of Tennessee
Press Conference: Between witness panels (around 10:00 CST), Governor Haslam, Senator Corker, and Commissioner Hagerty will join Chairman Issa, Rep. Desjarlais, and Rep. Black to answer questions from the press.

Rep. Todd Waives Hearing on DUI, Gun Charges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Rep. Curry Todd waived a preliminary hearing on drunken driving and weapon charges and his case was sent to a grand jury on Tuesday.
The Collierville Republican lawmaker’s case was in General Sessions Court in Nashville before Judge Michael F. Mondelli.
Todd was arrested on charges of drunken driving and carrying a loaded handgun while intoxicated when police stopped his vehicle in a neighborhood near Vanderbilt and Belmont universities on Oct. 11. He’s also charged with violating Tennessee’s implied consent law by refusing to submit to a breath-alcohol test.
Todd is a retired Memphis police officer and the main architect of a state law allowing handgun carry permit holders to be armed in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
He stepped down as chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee after his arrest.
Worrick Robinson, Todd’s attorney, told reporters outside the courtroom that prosecutors could have used a new statute and scheduled a hearing on the implied consent issue, but waived their opportunity and bound it over with the other charges.
Todd did not talk to the media. However, Robinson said the case is “weighing heavily” on his client.
“You want to try to resolve your case,” Robinson said. “But if you’re going to resolve it, you have to resolve it in a way that you can live with, and that you’re comfortable with. And we’re not there.”
Robinson said he’s not sure when the grand jury will get the case. Until then, he said he will continue to review it to make sure decisions are made that are in Todd’s best interest.
“You can’t always evaluate the case totally early on,” Robinson said. “This would give us some additional time to look at everything, to make sure we’ve covered all the bases and decide whether or not there’s an opportunity to work out or resolve the case with the DA’s office.”

Rep. Todd’s Hearing Delayed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Rep. Curry Todd’s hearing on charges of drunken driving and carrying a loaded handgun while intoxicated has been delayed until next month.
The Collierville Republican was arrested in a neighborhood near Vanderbilt and Belmont universities on Oct. 11.
Todd is a retired Memphis police officer and the main architect of a new state law allowing handgun carry permit holders to be armed in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
He stepped down as chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee after his arrest.

Supremes Hold Hearing on Changing Rules for Judges

State Supreme Court justices held a four-hour hearing on proposed new rules for judges – including some dealing with their involvement in politics – without reaching any conclusions, reports Chas Sisk. The decision on adopting them likely will come sometime early next year with the Legislature in session.
The effort comes as the Republican-controlled state legislature is considering several bills that would restructure Tennessee’s system of choosing, electing and disciplining judges. It also comes amid criticism that judges have been unresponsive to complaints of conflicts of interest and that many are too distracted by outside pursuits to do their jobs effectively.
Associate Justice William C. Koch Jr. acknowledged criticism of the bench at the hearing’s outset. Koch asked Chattanooga attorney Max Bahner, who presented the TBA’s recommendations, whether the effort had been prompted by complaints that the judiciary is out of control.
“Frankly, I have never heard any of those comments from anybody,” Bahner said.
“You haven’t been spending much time in Nashville,” Koch replied.

Court of Judiciary hearings draw complaints and a defense

An “ad hoc” committee of state legislators spent the day Tuesday hearing complaints from citizens and lawyers about discipline of Tennessee judges and a general defense of the process from Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft, the presiding judge of the Court of the Judiciary.
The Tennessean did a report on the proceedings, which continue today:
Of the 334 cases that the Court of the Judiciary disposed of last year, 314, or 94 percent, were dismissed. State Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, questioned why 181 complaints were thrown out last year by the commission’s contract disciplinary counsel without a preliminary investigation.
Craft said many complaints are ridiculous. He said he doubts taxpayers would approve of the court expending resources to investigate a 60-page complaint filed by “an inmate off their psychotropic medication” or a mother complaining about the judges in her daughter’s beauty pageant.
Since 1992, 5,193 complaints have been filed with the Court of the Judiciary. Those cases have resulted in eight suspensions, 31 public censures or reprimands, 46 private actions and 36 deferred discipline agreements, which allow judges to avoid punishment if they correct their behavior. Five judges have been recommended for removal since 1978, the last in 1998.
“Just because no one has been impeached does not mean the system is not working,” Bradley County Chancellor Jerri Bryant said.
Beavers was not convinced.
“How do we know if we don’t know what kind of complaints are being filed, whether it rises to that level?” Beavers asked, referring to the work done in private.
Craft said this secrecy is important to protect judges from being smeared by baseless complaints. Craft said private disciplinary actions are used to correct minor or temporary issues, and that such resolutions might not be possible if complaints were public from the outset because judges would have nothing to lose in fighting the complaint.
Critics said judges, as public officials, don’t deserve that kind of shielding from public scrutiny.
“The Court of the Judiciary is in the whitewash business,” said John Jay Hooker, a former two-time Democratic governor nominee and critic of the Court of the Judiciary and state Supreme Court. “They ought to get a pair of overalls and a brush.”

Judge Acquits Protesters Who Disrupted Legislative Hearing in March

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Seven protesters who disrupted a state Senate committee hearing in March have been acquitted of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges.
“We argued they were exercising their First Amendment rights, and we think the First Amendment is really important,” said defense attorney Jay Steed, who represented the group in Davidson County General Sessions Court with partner Jonathan Farmer.
Judge Casey Moreland found the group not guilty on Friday.
The seven men and women who were arrested on March 15 were mostly students from the University of Memphis who were at the Capitol to denounce a bill to strip teachers of their collective bargaining rights. They were among a group that stood up during a Senate hearing to chant about “union busting” by the Legislature.
Most demonstrators left the hearing room after a half-hour, but a small group tried to lock arms to keep from being removed. Troopers pulled the holdouts out of the room one by one, while lawmakers, lobbyists and other observers looked on.
A bill replacing teachers’ collective bargaining rights with a concept called collaborative conferencing was later passed and signed into law.
The measure would replace union contracts with binding memorandums of understanding on issues such as salaries, grievances, benefits and working conditions. But it would shield other areas such as differentiated pay or evaluations from discussions.
Supporters of the bill said it was a good compromise, but detractors noted that the legislation would allow school districts to dictate terms to teachers if no agreement is struck.
Note: See also Andy Sher, who lists the protester names, including one from Chattanooga.

Did the Amazon Deal Set a Precedent for Secrecy in State Government Dealings?

Tennessee political leaders’ decision against requiring Amazon.com to collect sales taxes when it opens facilities in the state “has short- and long-term ramifications for Tennesseans’ pocketbooks and potentially their jobs,” writes Richard Locker.
Much of the article reviews the Senate Finance Committee hearing on a bill — subsequently dropped — that would have required sales tax collections. An Amazon executive was on hand along with spokesman for companies that do collect sales taxes. Locker suggests a precedent for state secrecy may have been set there.
Rarely have a senior executive branch official and a top executive of a global corporation sat before an important legislative committee and denied legislative committee requests for information.
…”The state should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, cutting special secretive deals to give one entity advantage over another. It’s not fair for the future of Tennessee because this deal could mean millions and eventually billions of dollars in lost revenue to the state over time,” (said an Autozone executive at the hearing).
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, a member of the Finance Committee, said he didn’t like the process that left lawmakers in the dark. “I found that offensive and that needs to be fixed. I suspect it will be.”