The State Building Commission has approved spending $800,000 on updating a master plan for the future use of the old Tennessee State Prison on Cockrill Bend in West Nashville, reports The City Paper. The castle-like structure, which was used in the movie The Green Mile, has sat vacant since 1992. The state-approved money will help piggyback off a 2007 study regarding the building and surrounding properties
One of the options for the building includes a $27 million renovation, according to a commission agenda. But Tennessee Department of Corrections Commissioner Derrick Schofield said abandoning the property wasn’t out of the question either.
A spokesman for Tennessee Secretary of State Tré Hargett and state Election Coordinator Mark Goins said Sunday both welcome a settlement reached last week in a legal dispute involving state voter files, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Tennessee Democratic Party officials say their data experts found full or partial voter histories missing for about 11,000 state-maintained voter files they obtained last month. The assertions were introduced in federal court Friday in a lawsuit filed by Democrats and former Democratic U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, who was turned away from the polls in the March primary.
“We’re actually very happy with this settlement,” spokesman Blake Fontenay said in a telephone message on behalf of Hargett and Goins, both Republicans.
“Just like we offered to let you look at voter files to verify they’re not missing, we’re happy to let a special master come in to do that and we welcome the opportunity. … We want to be transparent.”
Judges sometimes appoint special masters in complex civil cases where their expertise would assist the court. The Times Free Press reported Sunday that U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp requested both sides agree to a proposed consent decree. They did so Friday night, and it will be submitted to the court this week.
A federal judge this week will consider naming a “special master” to get to the bottom of Tennessee Democrats’ assertions that voter data files received from state election officials contained partially or even totally blank voting histories for an estimated 11,000 voters. Andy Sher reports: Attorney George Barrett, who is representing Democrats in a federal lawsuit against Republican Secretary of State Tré Hargett and state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins, said U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp heard the case Friday in Cookeville, Tenn.
The judge asked both sides to agree on how to deal with issues raised in court testimony, Barrett said.
Barrett, who is representing the Tennessee Democratic Party and former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., said both sides agreed Friday night on a consent order, which they intend to submit to Sharp this week.
…”We agreed to ask the court to enter a consent order, first of all for the 11,000 voters with some kind of missing history between December 2011 and May 2012,” Barrett said. “We’ve asked the court to appoint a special master to investigate those facts and see what happened, if anything.”
…Democrats said they noticed the missing or incomplete voter histories while comparing voter files from December and last month, both obtained from the state. They said 527 Hamilton County voters were among those with missing information.
Democrats are not alleging the state deliberately wiped files, saying it could have been a mistake because Republicans, Democrats and independent voters were affected. But they still say an independent eye is needed.
The state Democratic Party’s communications director, Brandon Puttbrese, testified Friday and confirmed Barrett’s account of the hearing.
The state also has agreed not to purge any more voter rolls until after the November election, Puttbrese and Barrett said.
The issue is important, Barrett said, because an inactive voting history can lead to a voter’s being purged from the rolls.