News release from state comptroller’s office:
Allegedly, it was supposed to be used to clear a field for a police firing range. But documents and other evidence reviewed by the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations suggest that a bulldozer owned by the town of Monterey ended up on the former police chief’s property wasn’t going to be used for that purpose.
The investigators’ findings were part of a report that was publicly released today.
Monterey town officials obtained the bulldozer in early June of last year through the state’s military surplus program. In an agreement with the military surplus office, the police chief said that the bulldozer would only be used for law enforcement purposes and would not be leased to others, sold or otherwise disposed of by the town.
According to interviews with officials who were working for the town at the time, when the town received the bulldozer from military surplus, it was transported directly to the police chief’s property so a blade could be attached. The bulldozer was later moved back to town property after questions arose in a public meeting regarding its location.
NASHVILLE – Sara P. Kyle announced her resignation from the Tennessee Regulatory Authority Wednesday after 19 years of serving on the agency and its predecessor, the Public Service Commission.
“I have enjoyed working with and learning from the best and brightest team anywhere in the nation,” said Kyle in a statement. “I have truly appreciated the opportunities afforded me and I wish the directors and staff much success in the future.”
Kyle was elected to the PSC in 1994, becoming the third woman elected to statewide office in Tennessee. The PSC was abolished and replaced with the TRA in 1996.
Since then the TRA has gone through other changes that, in general, reduced its authority in various areas. A bill enacted at the urging of Gov. Bill Haslam last year eliminated the TRA’s three-member full-time board and replaced it with a five-member part-time board, though Kyle remained as one of the part-time directors.
In her statement, Kyle said the 2012 law “severely limited our ability to render fair and just decisions.
“With less time and reduced staff, we have fewer checks and balances and less opportunity to protect Tennessee consumers from unfair practices in the utilities industry.”
A former teacher, legislative staffer and attorney, Kyle was elected as a judge in the Memphis City Court system in 1991, resigning from that position for her successful run as a Democratic PSC candidate in 1994. She is married to state Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle.
Her current term would have expired next year. She had been appointed to the TRA by then-House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh.
— Update Note: For more details, see the Commercial Appeal report.
Roane County native Nancy-Ann DeParle, who helped craft President Barack Obama’s health-reform law, has left the White House, reports Michael Collins. A White House spokesman confirmed that DeParle had departed this week from her position as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff.
The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, announced recently DeParle will join the organization as a guest scholar in economic studies. Shealso plans to lecture at Harvard Law School.
DeParle, who grew up in Roane County, was hired as director of the White House Office of Health Care Reform shortly after Obama took office in 2009. Often called the president’s health reform “czar,” she helped write the administration’s sweeping health reform law. Obama considered her input so pivotal he hailed her as one of the “unsung heroes” of his health reform team.
DeParle was promoted in January 2011 to assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff.A graduate of the University of Tennessee, she previously worked in the White House budget office under former President Bill Clinton and was involved in the administration’s attempt at health-care reform in the early 1990s.
David Leaverton, who came to Tennessee in 1996 to become a punter for the University of Tennessee football team, has resigned as senior field director for U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and is returning to his home state of Texas.
From Georgiana Vines: After representing the senator in a 15-county area for 5½ years, he said he and wife Erin are moving to Dallas to be near their families. They have a 1-year-old daughter, Grace, and another child is on the way.
“It made a lot of sense for us personally to be close to family. It’s also someone you trust to leave your child with. It’s not the same as with a baby sitter,” Leaverton said.
He said he will join Pioneer Natural Resources, an exploration and production company in Irving, Texas, in its public affairs staff.
Fighting back tears, Cheatham County director of schools Tim Webb (who was state commissioner of education under former Gov. Phil Bredesen) told the school board Monday that he is stepping down, reports the Tennessean. “I have taken all I can take,” said the former Tennessee commissioner of education, who apologized for being emotional.
Some board members said they would not accept his resignation, and an emergency board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at the Board Annex on Elizabeth Street in Ashland City.
Webb has made a number of changes in the Cheatham County district since taking office in November 2010, and some have been unpopular with the community. All principals and administrators had to reapply for their jobs this school year, and eight schools got new principals.
Webb dismissed some longtime employees and brought in people he had worked with elsewhere. In addition, changes were made in the school calendar, including the elimination of fall break and an abbreviated winter break. Support expressed Several board members expressed their support for Webb during Monday’s meeting before his announcement.
News release from House Speaker Beth Harwell:
Speaker Beth Harwell made the following statement today regarding Representative David Hawk: “I have spoken with Representative David Hawk and he has informed me that he will relinquish the chairmanship of the House Conservation and Environment Committee.”
Representative David Hawk made the following statement today: “My dedication continues to be caring for my family and serving my constituents. Proving my innocence will take much of my focus, so I feel relinquishing my chairmanship will best serve these goals.”
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The executive director for the Upper Cumberland Development District has resigned after a series of news reports that agency funds had been spent on a million-dollar house in Putnam County amid other expenditures.
WTFV-TV in Nashville reported (http://bit.ly/GDcdNT ) that Wendy Askins resigned Tuesday morning during a closed-door meeting with lawyers hired by the agency.
The board had previously suspended her and asked lawyers to recover $300,000 spent without board approval, and they requested a state investigation of their own auditor.
Askins said in a prepared statement that she had made some mistakes but denied ever personally profiting from her job. She said that the publicity of the reports has harmed her to the point where she could no longer be effective.
BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A West Tennessee high school principal resigned on Thursday after the American Civil Liberties Union said the principal threatened to expel gay students who showed affection for someone of the same sex.
According to a news release from the ACLU, Haywood High School Principal Dorothy Bond also said that gay students were “not on God’s path” and were “ruining their lives.”
The published policies of the Haywood County schools list “physical contact” as a minor infraction. But students complained to the ACLU that during a Feb. 9 school assembly, Bond said that gay students showing affection could face 60-day suspensions, assignments to an alternative school or expulsion.
The ACLU also said Bond has incorporated prayers and proselytizing into school events and once told a lesbian student that she would go to hell.
Bond did not return a call seeking comment.
Attorneys for the board of education on Thursday issued a statement saying the group “acknowledges its student body’s right to free speech” and “strives to provide an atmosphere of tolerance and diversity while maintaining high academic standards.”
In a letter to Haywood County Schools Superintendent Marlon King, the ACLU asked the school system to let students know they have a right to identify themselves as gay, to acknowledge that two students of the same sex are dating and to express gay-friendly political views.
After the ACLU issued its news release on Thursday, gay rights organization the Human Rights Campaign launched a petition asking members and supporters to protest Bond’s comments. The group said it collected 5,000 signatures within four hours.