As he leaves office Monday, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield faces a final defeat, reports Andy Sher — his effort to persuade the state Legislature to toughen Tennessee’s anti-gang laws. The problem for Littlefield’s Gang Free School Zone Act is its costs for housing gang members expected to go to state prisons under its effects.
By year 10, legislative analysts project it would cost $2.3 million annually to imprison an estimated 77 criminal gang members under the proposed law’s three provisions.
In the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire, of Chattanooga, had an amendment that sought to provide funding for the bill in Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed annual spending plan. It failed for lack of a motion.
The official death knell for this legislative session is expected Monday afternoon when the bill is scheduled to come before the full Senate Finance Committee.
“They can still hear it, but basically I’m told they won’t take action on it this year because of the fiscal note. If I can count correctly, if it wasn’t for the fiscal note, it would pass,” Gardenhire said of the bill which received an enthusiastic bipartisan thumbs up in the Judiciary Committee and its House counterpart.
SPRING HILL, Tenn. (AP) — A Middle Tennessee court has temporarily barred Spring Hill from limiting residents to one political campaign yard sign per office.
According to The Daily Herald (http://bit.ly/YgGNpv ) in Columbia, the restraining order was obtained by George Jones, who is running for mayor of Spring Hill. He says a local ordinance limiting campaign signs to one per resident for each office is unconstitutional. Jones is a former mayor of the city of more than 23,000 residents.
Circuit Court Judge Robert L. Holloway issued the temporary order Wednesday, pending an April 5 hearing. The city election day is April 11.
Spring Hill City Administrator Victor Lay said the city will comply with the judge’s instructions, but he declined further comment.
Former state Sen. Andy Berke won election as mayor of Chattanooga in Tuesday’s city elections with an overwhelmingly margin over opponents Robert Chester Heathington Jr. and Guy Satterfield, reports the Chattanooga TFP. “The time for renewal is now,” Berke told a cheering crowd of more than 200 people in the Waterhouse Pavilion at Miller Plaza.
Voter turnout was anemic, at just 16 percent, Hamilton County Election Commission records show. Of the 111,324 registered voters in the city, 18,194 ballots were cast.
Berke won 72 percent of the vote. Satterfield received 24 percent and Heathington recorded 3.7 percent of the vote. All vote totals are unofficial until provisional ballots are counted.
Once in office, Berke will make $146,607 annually and will serve a four-year term. He will oversee a $210 million budget to serve a city of 170,000 people.
Berke announced last May that he would run for the city’s top elected seat. Since that time, he raised more than $670,000, the most for a mayoral candidate in Chattanooga history.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Police have arrested former Shelby County interim Mayor Joe Ford on charges of writing a bad check and theft.
The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/TFy6Iy) reports Ford was lodged on Tuesday morning in the Shelby County jail. A police report says the charges stem from a $1,301.23 check written to Lauderdale Liquors.
Online jail records don’t show whether he has an attorney.
Ford served on the County Commission and was then appointed as interim county mayor from December 2009 until August the next year, when he lost an election to Mark Luttrell.
In the race for Chattanooga mayor, reports the Times-Free Press, former state Sen. Andy Berke has some things in his favor: $674,000, 300 volunteers, four paid staff and wealthy donors. His opponents are working with notably less. Former city employee Guy Satterfield has only spent $1,800 so far, all his own money. He doesn’t command dozens of helpers or host fundraising parties.
“If there’s a sign out, I put it there,” Satterfield said. “If there’s a door hanger, I put it there.”
Still, Satterfield and frequent candidate Robert Chester Heathington Jr. said the end of the campaign is unwritten and their runs shouldn’t be dismissed.
“The election’s going to be an upset,” Heathington said Friday. “A real big upset.”
Kingsport’s mayor and some other city officials “apparently have a strained relationship” with state Rep. Tony Shipley that stems from the lawmaker’s Republican primary battle last year with Alderman Ben Mallicote, according to the Kingsport Times-News.
The following is from a story appearing Friday: At the time, Mayor Dennis Phillips said of Mallicote, “hopefully you’ll be serving us in Nashville.” In addition, Phillips, Alderwoman Valerie Joh, the Kingsport Firefighters Association and the Kingsport Coalition of Police appeared in ads supporting Mallicote.
Carl Moore, a lobbyist and former state senator from Bristol, said in a recent interview that Mallicote’s announcement and Phillips’ endorsement upset Shipley, and that he overheard Shipley express some disturbing emotions concerning the BMA members who were supporting Mallicote.
“That morning I was in a cafeteria in Nashville and Tony came by and was upset about it,” Moore said. “(Shipley) said ‘I don’t understand why … I’ve tried to help them all I can do. I guess I can’t do anything else for them.’ It was very colorful language (Shipley) used and I’ve heard nothing since.”
Phillips said last week he has heard about some troubling comments made by Shipley.
“During and since the election, Tony has been very cold,” Phillips said. “I sent him an e-mail when the election was over, saying ‘I supported your opponent and you won and it’s in everyone’s best interest if we work together and I’d like to have lunch one day.’ I haven’t heard any response.”
Since the election, Phillips said there have been events in Kingsport that he thought Shipley would attend, but he has not, such as the public hearings held last month on the State Route 126 improvement project — the cornerstone of Shipley’s 2008 campaign.
…Responding in an e-mail Shipley said, “Over the past four years, I’ve been fortunate to build close working relationships with local and county officials throughout the 2nd District. Together, we’ve worked to strengthen DUI laws, address the dangers of ‘bath salts’ and improve infrastructure. We’ve done so with a common goal of improving the lives of Tennesseans, both in the city and county. I will continue to work with everyone who sets the importance of improvement in our community above political spats that don’t achieve progress for the people we represent.”
Vice Mayor Tom Parham said …”Shipley has strength and support in the Colonial Heights areas and there’s developed some animosity towards Kingsport, fueled by that election… It’s the city’s challenge to heal that rift. We must engage the people in Colonial Heights … to be new residents in the city and work very hard to include all of our elected representatives with our plans as we go forward.”
Almost two months after Hamilton County Democratic officials said they would stay out of the March Chattanooga mayor’s race, they changed their minds and endorsed Andy Berke, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
The qualifying deadline for the Chattanooga City elections passed last week, as the newspaper also noted in a separate story.
Three people qualified for the mayoral race — former state Sen. Andy Berke, perennial candidate Chester Heathington Jr. and former city employee Guy Satterfield.
Former East Ridge Manager and Red Bank Public Works Commissioner Wayne Hamill expressed interest in running last week but did not qualify. Another potential mayoral candidate, businessman and former Parks and Recreation Director Rob Healy, dropped out last week.
The exit of a potentially strong candidate from the 2013 Chattanooga mayor’s race Friday appears to leave almost a clear path for former state Sen. Andy Berke to walk into office, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Rob Healy, former Parks and Recreation director and businessman, dropped out Friday. Wayne Hamill, former Red Bank public works director and East Ridge city manager, and Chester Heathington Jr., a perennial candidate in local races, picked up qualifying papers.
Former city employee Guy Satterfield also is running.
“That would seem to be no contest at all,” said Dr. Richard Wilson, political science professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
He said it is unprecedented for such a weak field to be lining up against a strong candidate in an open election. Mayor Ron Littlefield is term-limited and can’t seek re-election.
“I’m surprised the community is not putting up an alternative,” Wilson said.
Healy sent out a news release Friday saying he was ending his run and hinting that lack of money was the reason.
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.
Gov. Bill Haslam doesn’t live in Knoxville anymore, but still considers it home and says that his hometown ties may provide some indirect benefit to those still living there.
“I love my job and we like being in Nashville,” he said. “But if people ask me where I’m from, I say I’m from Knoxville.”
He and his wife, Crissy, live in the state-owned executive residence in Nashville, which went through major remodeling and renovation initiated by his predecessor, former Gov. Phil Bredesen. But for legal purposes, including voting, he maintains his official residence in Knoxville.
Haslam visits the city he served as mayor fairly often — though not as much as he would like, he said in an interview.
A review of the governor’s public schedule indicates that Haslam’s trip to Knoxville to vote on Friday, Oct. 26, was the 41st publicly announced appearance at an event in Knox County since his inauguration on Jan. 15, 2011.
For comparison, Haslam has had 38 events in Shelby County at the other end of the state during the same time period. His wife, Crissy, grew up in Memphis and still visits family members there “as often as they can,” according to a spokesman.