Tag Archives: Tim Burchett

Knox mayor: Haslam broke promise on mental health funding

Excerpt from a Betty Bean column on Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s dispute with Gov. Bill Haslam, who the former state senator says had indicated the state would help with funding for a behavioral health urgent care unit (formerly known as the safety center).

Knox County put $1 million aside for the facility several years ago, plus another $200,000 in this year’s budget. Mayor Madeline Rogero has set aside $200,000. That won’t be enough, but Burchett vowed to find the money and dismissed the explanation he was given for the administration’s decision.

“I was misled about that, and I’m very put out about it. I was told, ‘Mental health is a local issue.’ Well, dadgummit, then, why do we have a Department of Mental Health in the state of Tennessee?”

He said the largest mental health hospitals in the state are the Shelby County, Davidson County and Knox County jails, and didn’t dodge the question of whether denial of state funds amounts to a broken promise by Gov. Bill Haslam:

“Yes. I’m of the opinion it was – but regardless of the state’s partnership, we’re going to go ahead with it…”

Burchett said about half of mentally ill inmates are veterans and accused the governor of breaking his promise that funding would follow the patients after he shut down Lakeshore Institute in 2012.

“We closed down Lakeshore and everybody loves Lakeshore Park – but where are those people going? You drive under any major bridge in Knoxville, you’ll see the human cost.”

A couple of days after his talk show appearances, Burchett still hadn’t cooled off, and said he was offended that Haslam was pleading budget constraints while spending $8 million subsidizing the TV show “Nashville.”

“They pulled the rug out from under us. I don’t like it when they start explaining that they didn’t get as much money as they expected, but I see all these little projects getting funded. I spent 16 years in the Legislature, was on the Senate Finance Committee and chaired the Budget Subcommittee. I know the system and I don’t like hearing that crap. I know that taking care of the mentally ill’s not sexy like that miserable TV show – which has been cancelled, thank goodness – but when they talk about return on investment, I say, ‘What about investing in somebody not going to jail when what they need is treatment?’”

Knox mayor prods Haslam on gas tax ‘gorilla’

Excerpt from the News Sentinel report on the Knoxville stop for Gov. Bill Haslam’s road show:

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett got blunt.

“What we’re talking about, eventually, is a gas tax,” Burchett said. “Everybody knows that. It’s the gorilla in the room that nobody is addressing and the fact is, those eight (lawmakers) in the room will get hammered by their voting public to support something like that.”

Burchett said it was up to the Haslam administration to convince the public that a tax increase is necessary or the state will not only stall out on future projects, but struggle to maintain its existing infrastructure.

“You got to get more to the grass roots, past the chambers of commerce,” Burchett told the governor. “I know that’s difficult to do, but you can send your folks out, let them get beat on and then you can come in and smooth it over.”

…”There are a lot of different alternatives,” Haslam said. “Some people talk about toll roads, a vehicle miles traveled tax. There are a lot of different solution, but at the end of the day, we’re not going to pull anything out of the air that’s going to magically produce free roads for us.”

Haslam said he wanted to wrap up his 15-city tour before deciding what, if any, solution he would propose when the General Assembly convenes in January. His final stop came Thursday afternoon in Lenoir City.

Knox mayor’s ex-wife charged with identity theft

Allison Burchett, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s ex-wife, has been charged with with identity theft, violation of computer law and tampering with evidence, reports the News Sentinel.

A presentment from a Knox County grand jury this week outlined 13 charges, primarily linked to a series of logins to electronic accounts connected to Jo Nicole Strickland, the estranged wife of Bandit Lites CEO Michael Strickland.

At one point, according to the indictment, Burchett posted on Nicole Strickland’s Facebook account with the intent to affect a pending “official proceeding.” The charges don’t explain what the post was.

Burchett was booked Friday at the Knox County Detention Facility and released on $10,000 bond.

The presentment alleges Burchett, on six separate occasions, used Strickland’s personal information to commit computer-related crimes. She is also accused of copying information from Nicole Strickland’s computer on six occasions.

A tampering charge alleges she created a fake document in a bid to affect the outcome of a divorce action.

The six identity theft charges carry a penalty range of between two and four years in prison each. The tampering charge carries a penalty range of three to six years.

Six unlawful use of a computer charges — related to making copies of records — are misdemeanors.

The charges came after a May 14 raid by the FBI Cybercrimes Task Force and the Knoxville Police Department, when officers and agents executed simultaneous search warrants at Bandit’s corporate headquarters on Sycamore Drive and Michael Strickland’s home in an upscale West Knox County neighborhood.

…Allison Burchett filed for divorce from Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett in 2012. Nicole Strickland filed for divorce from Michael Strickland in 2010.

McNally bill would make public names of tax-dodging businesses

At the urging of Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally says he will introduce legislation next year to make public the names of businesses that are not paying their taxes, reports the News Sentinel. The move comes after a recent audit showed a Knoxville area hotels owe a total of $475,000 in back taxes.

In a letter to McNally, R-Oak Ridge, former state senator Burchett described a current statute making businesses with tax delinquencies confidential as providing a “loophole” in the state’s open records law.

“We don’t want businesses’ proprietary information, but I think it’s important for citizens to know who isn’t paying their taxes,” Burchett said Friday. “These groups have excluded themselves and that creates a bad situation for mischief to take place.”

The News Sentinel two weeks ago submitted a public records request for the list of tax delinquent hotels after an audit sampling 44 local hotels showed more than half were behind on payments. The county, however, has pointed to a state statute it says prevents them from releasing the business names.

Burchett said he approached McNally because the two share a history of drafting “some of the strongest public records acts in the country” together when Burchett was also a state senator.

McNally said Friday he has already asked the Office of Legal Services to draft a bill that would say “that if the tax is delinquent, then it is not protected by the taxpayer confidentiality law.”

“It seems to me that if a property owner, or a business owner for that matter, can have their name in the paper if they’re delinquent on taxes, then if someone is delinquent on their business tax, that should be open record and be available,” McNally said.

…David Buuck, Knox County’s chief deputy law director, said (Knox County Property Assessor Foster) Arnett had been collecting taxes from the hotels that sent payments but has not followed up with the hotels that did not.

“Now that we know there are some horrendous delinquencies, he’s been advised by our office what he can do and what he should do,” Buuck said.

Buuck said his office sent a memorandum to Arnett early in the audit process informing him he needed to collect the taxes.

Arnett, who spoke to a reporter on Friday, said he supported making delinquent businesses public, but declined to elaborate further. He did not return a follow-up call seeking comment on whether he had received the memo from the law department.

Tim Burchett Eyes Run Against Lamar Alexander

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett tells the News Sentinel that he may challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in the 2014 primary election.

But Burchett’s first step, if he chooses to run, won’t be at an Aug. 31 political forum organized by the Nashville Tea Party and Coalition for a Constitutional Senate.

“I have to work. I keep a pretty busy schedule, seven days as week,” Burchett said. “I probably won’t be making that.”

The forum, announced on the coalition’s website, is intended to introduce candidates to go against what the group calls “establishment” Republicans.
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