The University of Tennessee has fired the director of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and hired a local lawyer to investigate whether she had improper relationships with student-athletes, reports the News Sentinel.
Jenny Wright, an office employee since 2008, tried to step down from her position Thursday, but UT refused to accept her resignation. Instead, Provost Susan Martin sent Wright a pre-termination letter Friday.
“Based on information we have received to date, and based on your refusal to cooperate in an investigation into allegations regarding your actions, the university has reason to believe that grounds exist to terminate your employment for unsatisfactory work-related behavior,” Martin wrote in an email Friday.
Wright was given the chance to meet Monday to discuss her status, but she did not show up, documents show. Martin sent another letter Monday informing Wright that she was fired.
The university began looking into accusations of improper behavior before hiring Beecher Bartlett,a Knoxville attorney with a background in employment cases, last week.
UT declined to release any documents related to the probe while it’s ongoing. Bartlett also declined to give any details about the accusations, how many students may be involved and how the officials first learned of the alleged behavior.
Donna Kaye Wright was a bookkeeper at the former Bank of Friendship in Crockett County and attended the town’s United Methodist Church, but the Commercial Appeal says little more is known about her except Friday she got a presidential pardon. Wright, 63, who was sentenced to serve just 54 days on federal charges she embezzled and misapplied bank funds, was given the rare presidential clemency in an announcement late Friday afternoon by the White House. Sixteen others, including people from Athens and Chattanooga, in Tennessee, got pardons.
And this from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press: A Chattanoogan and an Athens, Tenn., native were among 17 people who were pardoned Friday by President Barack Obama on Friday, largely for minor offenses
Donald Barrie Simon Jr., of Chattanooga, had been sentenced to two years in prison and three years of probation for aiding and abetting in the theft of an interstate shipment.
Roy Eugene Grimes Sr., of Athens, Tenn., had sentenced to 18 months’ probation for falsely altering a U.S. postal money order, and for passing, uttering and publishing a forged and altered money order with intent to defraud.
The White House offered no details on why these particular people, or any of the other 15, were selected by Obama, who has issued relatively few pardons since taking office.
Those receiving pardons came from 13 states and had been sentenced for crimes that included falsely altering a money order, unauthorized acquisition of food stamps, drug violations, and possession of an unregistered firearm.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia Department of Transportation and a Tennessee construction company have agreed to pay one of the largest fines in the history of the federal Clean Water Act for possible violations during highway expansion projects, federal officials said Monday.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced that Wright Brothers Construction Co. of Charleston, Tenn., and Georgia’s transportation department have agreed to pay $1.5 million in penalties and spend more than $1.3 million to resolve environmental issues. Federal officials say the state allowed the company to dump excess soil and rock into seven primary trout streams in northeast Georgia between 2004 and 2007, which may have reduced the water quality and hurt trout populations downstream.
Springville resident Steve Wright, a Democrat,has announced his bid for state representative in the 75th District, a seat now held by freshman Republican Tim Wirgau of Buchanan, reports the Paris Post-Intelligencer. Jobs creation was one of the main issues Wright addressed during the luncheon.
“I feel like there is a real urgency for people who need help in this district, and the number one need right now is jobs,” said Wright, who criticized current state legislators for their lack of focus and action regarding unemployment. “When a man or woman can’t find a job, that takes away their dignity.”
Wright said he would like to see the creation of more high tech jobs in this area, which he said would require more training and educational opportunities in high tech fields.
Wright, a former chairman of the Henry County Board of Education, also said he is going to focus on education, and pointed to what he called the current legislature’s attack on teachers and public schools as one of the reasons he has chosen to run for this office.
Wright criticized the state’s new evaluation system for public teachers, calling it cumbersome and a real burden on teachers.
“I believe we should have a means for evaluating teacher performance,” Wright said, “but I’ve talked to a lot of teachers who have been staying up until eleven or twelve every night just filling out all the required paperwork.”
Wright said he disagrees with taking away tenure status for teachers.
“I don’t think teachers should be the whipping post for all the problems in public education,” said Wright, who also said funding for public schools should not be funneled toward charter schools.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the state will issue a $5,000 reward to the person or persons providing information leading to the apprehension, arrest and conviction of any person who committed, attempted to commit or conspired to commit the homicide of Lorenzen Wright.
Additionally, the governor announced that the state will match up to $5,000 if any other organization offers a reward for a potential total of $10,000.
Haslam offered the reward in response to requests made by Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich and Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton.
“It is my hope that this reward leads to information about who committed this crime,” Haslam said. “Lorenzen Wright’s family has been through a lot, and they deserve answers.”
Tennessee Code Section 40-8-101 authorizes the Governor to offer a reward for information leading to the apprehension, arrest and conviction of person involved in certain criminal activity.
Wright’s body was discovered on July 28, 2010 in southeast Shelby County. He played college basketball at the University of Memphis and was a former NBA player who played for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Georgiana Vines takes a look at the money aspect of the developing race to succeed state Sen. Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville, who has announced plans to resign at the end of the current session. There’s a rundown on prospective candidates, too.
City Councilwoman Marilyin Roddy, who announced she’s dropping a run for Knoxville mayor to seek the Senate seat instead, “appears to be narrowing the field of other candidates in one respect – fundraising.” She had been lead fundraiser in the mayor’s race. A fundraiser planned for May 1 in her mayoral race will continue as a Senate fundraiser, she said Thursday in an interview. It will be held at the home of Dr. Linett Wilkerson in The Holston building downtown on Gay Street.
Chris Connolly, her campaign manager in the mayor’s race, will run her Senate campaign, she said. Ward Baker, a Nashville political consultant who has directed strategies for U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackwell and Diane Black, will be a consultant.
Knox County Commissioner Dave Wright, who represents the 8th District, said he feels “good” that people have mentioned him as a prospective Senate candidate but he considers it a “passing-fancy sort of thing. I would never have countywide support in dollars that Marilyn has.
….Commission Chairman Mike Hammond, who is at an-large commissioner, has said he’s exploring the race. So is former state Rep. Jim Boyer.
A potential candidate who could raise money is Becky Duncan Massey, sister of U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, and executive director of the Sertoma Center.
…(Former state Senate Republican Leader Ben) Atchley or his wife, Sue, are being mentioned as a potential appointment on an interim basis.
“That might be a possibility,” Ben Atchley said.
“I don’t know. That kind of blows my mind,” Sue Atchley said.
While county commissioners haven’t discussed it, they are likely to appoint someone who would be a “caretaker,” Hammond said.