Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist hopes new legislation that targets nightclub nuisance cases is well received in Nashville during the 108th Tennessee General Assembly in January, according to the Jackson Sun. “I hope officials across the state will embrace this legislation because it is well-intended,” he said. “I appreciate Sen. (Lowe) Finney for introducing this legislation.”
Over the past year, the city of Jackson has taken action against at least five bars that officials feel pose a nuisance in the community. Finney, D-Jackson, plans to present at least two bills to tackle the issues of declaring a business a public nuisance and improving communication between state and local officials during investigations of liquor and beer license violations.
“There are a couple of bills that I’m planning to file,” Finney said. “They have come about as a result of what has happened in Jackson and around the state over the last year.”
In Jackson, the latest closure of a tavern occurred in early November when the owners of Larry’s Sports Bar agreed to shut down. City officials said the bar was a nuisance because of several instances of criminal activity reported there.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The chief lobbyist for the state’s largest teachers union is leaving the position this month.
Jerry Winters has represented the Tennessee Education Association at the state Capitol for over 30 years. His last day is Dec. 14.
Winters says he will continue to have a presence at the Legislature as an independent consultant and lobbyist.
He says he believes his years of experience at the Capitol give him some unique insights that may be helpful to others as they navigate the legislative process.
The Tennessee Education Association’s political arm has endorsed three East Tennessee Republican legislators facing contested primaries this summer while declining to take sides in incumbent-versus-incumbent Democratic primaries.
Republican incumbents receiving TEA support while facing primary challengers on Aug. 2 include Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville, Rep. Dale Ford of Jonesborough and Rep. Bob Ramsey of Maryville.
On the other hand, the TEA is backing Phil Morgan Jr. of Newport, the challenger to Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Grady Caskey, challenger to Rep. Art Swann, R-Maryville. Caskey is president of the TEA’s Blount County affiliate.
“The people we endorsed in Republican primaries are moderate Republicans who have voted pro-public education,” said Jerry Winters, TEA’s lead lobbyist at the Legislature and adviser to its PAC, which is traditionally one of the biggest donors to legislative campaigns. The PAC had a cash-on-hand balance of $384,501 at last report.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals judge has been charged with drunken driving in Knoxville.
Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk told The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/JmbTZi) that 58-year-old Jerry Smith of Nashville was arrested shortly before midnight on Monday.
DeBusk said an officer stopped Smith’s car because the rear hatch was open and luggage was about to fall out.
The officer then found that Smith had slurred speech and unsteady, bloodshot eyes.
Smith refused to submit to a blood alcohol test, bringing another charge for violation of the implied consent law.
Smith was ordered released on his own recognizance after he was sober.
A person answering the phone at Smith’s office said he has no comment.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters said Monday that he favors a proposal to close public access to teacher evaluation data because of the lack of confidence many educators have in the new evaluation system.
The measure is headed for a full Senate vote, and the companion bill is awaiting a vote in the House State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday.
Sponsors say access to the data should be limited to school officials and not available to the general public.
Winters spoke to reporters on Monday after hearing a presentation from a Tennessee Department of Education official on the implementation of the evaluation system.
After last year’s health-care reform law gave prosecutors expanded enforcement tools, President Barack Obama pledged that auditors would cut deeply into fraud he estimated at tens of billions of dollars each year.
Since then, according to the Tennessean, efforts in Tennessee alone have netted court orders and settlements recouping more than $100 million this year, up from $3 million. “It used to be that if you were a U.S. attorney, the fraud cases didn’t seem like the sexiest thing in the world,” said Patrick Burns of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Taxpayers Against Fraud. “Suddenly, fraud fighting, instead of having been a career liability, is in fact a career-maker.”
U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin, in interviews and speeches, has vowed to prosecute fraud cases of all sizes in Middle Tennessee, from individuals running sham storefronts to elaborate false-billing schemes. Prosecutors here have closed several cases in recent years, ranging from an $82.6 million judgment against a company charged with overbilling for equipment to a probation sentence for a Nashville-area psychiatrist and minister who billed Medicare for prayer sessions described as psychotherapy.
Hank Hayes provides a report on a Democratic rally in Northeast Tennessee, featuring an array of speakers — including Sen. Andy Berke, Chip Forrester, Mike McWherter and TEA lobbyist Jerry Winters.:
ROCKY MOUNT — Speakers at the “Muster on the Mount” rally for Northeast Tennessee Democrats honored teachers and skewered Republicans on a number of political fronts Saturday night.
The biggest thing state Republican lawmakers were taken to task for was taking away teachers’ collective bargaining rights enacted in the 1970s.
“Teachers have been basically attacked by this legislature,” said Jerry Winters, government relations manager with the Tennessee Education Association (TEA). “Unreasonable demands have been put upon education. Legislators are always saying that teachers should be held accountable. The legislators themselves ought to be accountable, too. They did things in a mean spirited way. They took rights away from teachers that they had for 30 to 40 years or more. … It’s time to get the message out that teachers are upset, that we might need some changes in the Tennessee General Assembly.”
The state AFL-CIO chapter has tapped a Nashville firefighters’ union president and state legislator to be its top leader as part of a top-management shakeup, reports the Tennessean.
State Rep. Gary W. Moore, D-Joelton, was elected president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council during the union’s biennial convention in Nashville earlier this week. Moore succeeds Jerry Lee, who did not seek re-election to the post he had held since 2003.
Another longtime union executive also stepped down: Eddie Bryan, who retired as secretary/treasurer after 32 years. James C. Hale, a former union official and labor activist from Sparta, Tenn., succeeds him.
Moore, 62, did not return telephone messages Wednesday. In addition to serving as a state representative, Moore is president of the union that represents Nashville firefighters.
“I think Gary will be a very energetic leader,” Lee said in a phone interview. Lee, 73, said he isn’t retiring from his union career but felt it was time for a change.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday disputed assertions by the Tennessee Education Association’s president that teachers feel demoralized and disrespected by new legislation, including a recently passed bill that would limit educators’ collective bargaining powers.
Speaking to reporters, Haslam said a state Education Department-sponsored survey “didn’t show that at all.”
The Tennessee Teaching, Leading and Learning Survey, which was conducted in February and March by the state Education Department, would give teachers and other certificated school personnel “a chance to give feedback on a lot of different issues,” the governor said.
“Can morale be better? You bet,” said Haslam, who plans to sign the bill shifting from collective bargaining to so-called “collaborative bargaining.” ”But it did not show a serious morale issue at all for Tennessee teachers.”
Educators were asked dozens of questions, including a number about “school leadership.” For example, three out of four teachers surveyed said they agreed or strongly agreed that “there is an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.”
But TEA lobbyist Jerry Winters said the survey, co-sponsored by the association, dealt with teachers’ attitudes toward individual school governance.
No questions were asked about the union-busting legislation, he told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.