After reports last week that a convicted rapist who killed his wife was supposed to be on lifetime supervision, state corrections authorities have named a courts liaison to make sure such monitoring actually happens.
From the Chattanooga Times-Free Press: The liaison will work with judges and courts across the states to provide appropriate supervision for offenders, Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield said in a June 3 letter to department employees.
The liaison’s job will be “to lead education and implementation of our justice reinvestment initiative,” the letter stated. It described “justice reinvestment” as “our ongoing effort to ensure we do our part to manage the offender population through evidence-based practices and community alternatives.”
Mickie Daughtery, program director of the Davidson County Community Corrections Program, will fill the position June 17, the letter states.
— Terry Releford served most of a 17-year sentence on violent rape and assault charges before his release in 2012. Authorities knew he was mentally ill, and though state law said he should have been supervised for life by the Department of Correction, there was a paperwork slip-up, the Times Free Press reported last week.
No one was watching on May 19 when Releford, 34, beat his pregnant wife to death at their home near Soddy-Daisy and raped a teen girl before eluding authorities and shooting himself in a North Georgia motel room.
A Department of Economic and Community development memo, prepared while ECD considered state incentive grants to ProNova Solutions, pointed out that one of the company’s executives is a “personal friend” of Gov. Bill Haslam, reports Josh Flory. Earlier this year, ProNova Solutions — the local firm that is gearing up to create proton therapy equipment — announced plans for a new headquarters and research facility at Pellissippi Place technology park, in Blount County.
As part of that deal, the company is paying virtually nothing for 26 acres, and no property taxes for the first eight years after its phase one facility is completed. It will pay the full property tax rate only after 12 years.
But those local incentives aren’t the only ones on offer.
After the News Sentinel filed an open-records request, the state Department of Economic and Community Development confirmed this month that it has offered nearly $4.3 million in grants to ProNova, including $3.7 million for public infrastructure in the park and $525,000 for job training.
Clint Brewer, a spokesman for the department, said in an email last week that the project was working its way through the department’s approval process, and that the grant had not yet been contracted.
In addition, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has committed more than $1.5 million in State Industrial Access road funds for a road extension related to the project.
Like most such incentive deals, the package is based on the expectation that the state will reap plenty of rewards in terms of job creation.
ProNova is expected to invest $52 million in the project and employ 500 people by 2018, and ProNova CEO Terry Douglass has estimated that the company could have revenues of $3.5 billion by 2023.
The internal state documents provided an interesting look at the process, though.
A briefing prepared for ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty, in preparation for a call with a ProNova executive, noted that Douglass had previously met with Gov. Bill Haslam.
“Terry is a personal friend of the Governor’s,” the briefing added.
In an email, Brewer — the ECD spokesman — said the briefing was prepared in the spring of 2012. He said the notation about Douglass’ friendship with Haslam is not the sort of information that is typically included in such a briefing.
“The staff that prepared this briefing was trying to provide as much information as possible,” Brewer said. “The department’s decisions about incentives are based on the merits of a project and return on investment to the state. This information has no bearing on the department’s incentive process.”
Brewer said the commissioner never saw the briefing memo, which was prepared by staff no longer with the department.
Douglass said in an interview that he discussed ProNova with the governor about a year ago, although he said incentives weren’t discussed at that time.
Rep. Vance Dennis told fellow lawmakers that his bill to rewrite Tennessee knife laws has “drawn some sharp criticism” from law enforcement officers, so he proposed an amendment “to strip out the language sheriffs think is too pointed.”
Members of the House Finance Committee agreed and cut the bill (HB581) down to the size approved by the Tennessee Sheriffs Association and other law enforcement groups.
As passed by the Senate 27-3 last month, the bill repealed most of current state law on knives – including portions that now ban ownership of switchblades and, in some circumstances, carrying knives with blades longer than four inches.
Those provisions were slashed from the bill by Dennis’ amendment. All that remains is a section that says no local government can adopt an ordinance regulating knives that is more stringent than state law.
The revised bill, containing only the “state preemption” provision, was approved by the committee and sent toward a House floor vote. Dennis told the committee he will oppose any attempts to change the bill back into the form approved by the Senate.
Terry Ashe, executive director of the Tennessee Sheriffs Association, said the Senate-passsed bill is “a real officer safety issue” as he could personally testify “having been up against a switchblade” while serving as sheriff of Wilson County.
Ashe said law enforcement officers were “uniformly” against the bill in its original form, once they had heard about it, and believe that leaving only the preemption provision is “a pretty good compromise.”
Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said current state law effectively prohibits carrying a knife for self-defense purposes and the original bill would have allowed that.
In the House committee, Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, R-Ripley, at one point proposed an amendment to give brass knuckles equal footing with knives, but withdrew the idea after Dennis’ proposed his revision of the bill.
Terry Ashe will no longer be Wilson County’s sheriff after 30 years in the position, announcing Tuesday he has accepted an appointment to become the executive director of the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association, according to The Tennessean. Ashe, 63, will relinquish his post as sheriff on Sept. 30, and will take over as full-time executive director of the state Sheriffs’ Association Oct. 1. Assistant Chief Robert Bryan will take over as the Wilson County sheriff.
“I’ve learned a lot about public responsibility,” Ashe said. “This organization has a great opportunity. We’re fighting for victims of crime across the state. The training that we’re giving our sheriffs totally relates to doing the right thing and learning how to run the office of sheriff and working with these jails and trying to make sure these jails are run right. That training we’re giving our sheriffs comes out of this organization.”
Ashe has been the acting director of the sheriffs’ association about two years while keeping his post as Wilson County sheriff. He was a unanimous choice by the sheriffs’ association, whose main objective is to train sheriffs across the state, Ashe said.
Lifted from the News Sentinel:
CLINTON — Small business owner and native Anderson County resident Terry Frank announced Tuesday she’s running for Anderson County mayor.
Frank, 43, a resident of Clinton, is the first person to announce for the post in the special election in August 2012 to fill the unexpired term of former Mayor Rex Lynch.
Lynch, re-elected to a fourth term in 2010, resigned after he was charged in a sales tax fraud scandal involving vehicles he purchased and the sale to the county of a truck he owned.
County commissioners appointed Myron Iwanski to the mayor’s position, and Iwanski has pledged not to seek election to the special two-year seat.
Frank will be seeking the Republican nomination for mayor in the March 6 GOP primary that’s being held in conjunction with the state’s presidential primaries.
She said her candidacy will stress financial stewardship, low taxes and reducing debt.
A graduate of Anderson County High School, Frank has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Middle Tennessee State University. She has been a conservative blogger.
She’s served as chairman, vice chairman, secretary and treasurer of the Anderson County Republican Party.
Frank and her husband, Lee Frank, own and operate Nature’s Marketplace in Oak Ridge and have three children. Note: She has also been a blogger, columnist and radio talk show host — always espousing conservative values. THe blog has been inactive for a while.
The new head of a Tennessee agency that inspects and certifies jails will have authority over the jail run by her husband, Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe, reports Brian Haas. Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Beth Ashe to be executive director of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, an agency devoted to training, maintaining standards and inspecting jails in Tennessee. The appointment already has drawn fire for being a potential conflict of interest because her agency holds the key to keeping Wilson County’s jail approved to house state inmates.
“Her agency is responsible for inspecting and certifying her husband’s jail,” said attorney Jerry Gonzalez, who has represented inmates in lawsuits — including suits against Wilson County’s jail.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or an ethical philosopher to recognize that that is an inherent conflict of interest.” John Lachs, who actually is a professor of ethical philosophy at Vanderbilt University, agreed, saying Beth Ashe probably shouldn’t have been appointed in the first place..
“The obvious first thing to do is to not even create this perception of a conflict of interest,” he said. “You just avoid it.”
But the governor’s office, the institute’s chairman and Ashe herself defended the appointment, saying that any final decisions on jail matters are decided by the agency’s board, not her.
“I don’t see the connection,” Beth Ashe said. “I answer to the board of control, so they give me my direction.”