Tag Archives: morris

Special Supreme Discloses Haslam Donations

Parties in a lawsuit challenging how high-ranking Tennessee judges are selected are presently more wrapped up in who will rule on the case than the merits of the case itself, observes Andrea Zelinski.
Gov. Bill Haslam last week appointed three new members to a Special Supreme Court to hear a lawsuit against him challenging the constitutionality of how the state has picked judges over the past four decades. Haslam’s earlier appointees stepped down after John Hay Hooker, a longtime political gadfly behind the lawsuit, pressured them to recuse themselves for having ties to an organization that lobbies against popularly electing judges.
Now, another special justice, W. Morris Kizer, has revealed that he donated to Haslam’s campaigns for Knoxville mayor in 2003 and governor in 2010. Kizer’s household gave $3,000 to Haslam’s gubernatorial campaign, according to campaign records.
Kizer insists his political donations don’t “constitute a basis for disqualification,” but Hooker contends every link is suspect.
“It’s like a football game between the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt,” said Hooker, an 82-year-old former Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate who today is asking the Special Supreme Court to take up his case. “Do you want the referee to be a graduate from the University of Tennessee or Vanderbilt? That’s a no-no.”
…”If you ask anybody if they’re alive and human, they have an opinion about things,” Haslam said last week before naming the three new members to the panel. “That’s different than having a conflict. I think anybody that we will appoint will understand that difference and will make sure there’s no conflicts.”
Appeals judge Alan Glenn, chairman of the Judicial Ethics Committee, said the governor’s interpretation is correct. The tricky part, he said, is defining what conflicts can “reasonably” be questioned.
“Like defining what’s fairness and what’s beauty, everyone has their own ideas,” he said. “What is reasonably questioned impartiality? Everyone has their own views on it.”

Knox Election Commission Keeps Democratic Precinct Closed

From Georgiana Vines:
The Knox County Election Commission voted 3-2 along partisan lines today not to reopen Belle Morris Elementary School as a voting precinct in the Nov. 6 presidential election but agreed to meet with community leaders early in 2013 to determine what to do in the future.
Voting against a motion to reopen the school were Chairman Chris Heagerty, who broke a tie vote, Bob Bowman and Rob McNutt, all Republicans. Voting for the motion were Democrats Dennis Francis and Cassandra McGee Stuart.
The vote followed a contentious exchange between Bowman and former Knox County Commissioner Mark Harmon over events following a March meeting where the commission voted 4-0 to merge Belle Morris with the Larry Cox Senior Recreation Center.
Harmon presented a petition with 146 signatures calling for the Belle Morris to be reopened and reiterated disagreements with Cliff Rodgers, election administrator, on the Cox Center being more handicapped accessible and having better parking arrangements.
Harmon said the unstated reason for the closing was the strong Democratic vote at Belle Morris and that “bogus” reasons had been asserted.
Bowman said Harmon had made “bald accusations against Mr. Rodgers” and worked behind the scenes by organizing a press conferences and using the Internet to stir up a controversy instead of communicating directly with Rodgers or the commission.
Bowman was successful in getting the commission to agree to meet with community leaders at the first quarterly meeting of the commission next year to discuss the closing of Belle Morris. At one point during the meeting, he suggested Fulton High School might be an alternative choice.

Voting Precinct Shift Dismays Knox Democrats

A key Democratic precinct in what has been state Rep. Harry Tindell’s 13th House District has been combined with another precinct by Knox County election officials and Democrats are not happy.
From Georgiana Vines:
Gloria Johnson, chair of the Knox County Democratic Party and the only Democratic candidate seeking Tindell’s seat, said Belle Morris (Elementary School) was her precinct and she didn’t know the change (to Larry Cox Senior Recreation Center) was coming.
In addition, her campaign called 500 voters in the district a week ago and nobody knew the precinct had been changed, she said. She did receive a new voter registration card on Wednesday, she said.
It was included in a letter from the Knox County Election Commission notifying voters of a change in precinct, said Cliff Rodgers, elections administrator. Rodgers said he recommended Belle Morris be closed because the Cox Center is more handicapped accessible. When elections are held while school is in session, the disabled entrance at Belle Morris is locked and voters must be allowed in through the school office, he said.