Local

Rutherford County Adult Detention Center Offers Parenting Program to Incarcerated Mothers

The Rutherford County Adult Detention Center has started a novel initiative to assist incarcerated mothers by offering parenting classes and increased visits with their children, the Daily News Journal reports. The program, incepted in January, is operated in cooperation with the Family Center, an organization that provides guidance and assistance to families coping with trauma. There are currently four moms enrolled in the program and the jail plans to offer participation to fathers in the future. Rutherford County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Chris Fly believes the resource will be beneficial to deputies as well by showing them a different side of inmates.

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Stewart County Director of Schools Facing DUI Charges

Stewart County Director of Schools Leta Jo Joiner on Tuesday was arrested on DUI charges, The Leaf Chronicle reports. Joiner, who has been the director since 2014 after serving as a principal at Dover Elementary School, is due in court on May 28.

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Shelby County Owes Suburban School Districts Millions

Shelby County’s suburban school districts are owed about $5.2 million by the county regarding funding of capital school projects, The Commercial Appeal reports. Current policy states that there be an equitable disbursement to each district; however, recent changes to the schools’ funding system when the suburban school districts seceded has created a two-year backlog on project development. Several of the schools affected were forced to find creative funding for existing projects such as bond sales, dipping into reserves — which cannot be reimbursed with county money — and completing projects piecemeal over several fiscal years.

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Bradley County Commissioner Arrested for Domestic Assault

Bradley County Commissioner Erica Davis on Wednesday was arrested on domestic assault charges after a “heated argument” in her home, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call at the house where they reported a man with visible injuries, subsequently taking Davis into custody. She maintains that she did not assault the man and that the injuries were self-inflicted. In addition to commissioner, Davis serves as a behavioral intervention specialist with Bradley County Schools and on the municipality’s Finance, IT, Juvenile and Law Enforcement committees.

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Metro Nashville Government Releases Report on Tax Incentive Funding

The Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County released its Tax Increment Financing Study & Formulating Committee Report, which examines Metro’s Tax Incentive Funding (TIF) used to promote redevelopment in blighted areas. Mayor David Briley signed ordinance BL2018-1315 creating the committee to formulate recommendations on implementation of and ensure more transparency regarding the municipalities use of TIF. In its report, the committee compiled a number of observations and 17 recommendations, formally asking the Mayor’s Office to provide Metro Council with a description of agencies or departments that will address the recommendations, including cost estimates for implementation. The committee was scheduled to present its recommendations to the Metro Council last week. 

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Shelby County Swears in First Female Chief Public Defender

Shelby County swore in its first female chief public defender yesterday, The Commercial Appeals reports. Phyllis Aluko has spent 25 years in the office where she began as a volunteer, then moving to the trial division for 10 years, later transferring to the appellate division. Judge Bernice Donald of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said at the ceremony: "Phyllis Aluko is now, has been and will be an exceptional public defender … She understands the needs of the office, the needs of the community." Aluko replaces former Shelby County Public Defender Stephen Bush, who retired in February.
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Scooter Firms Eyeing Chattanooga Market

Commuters in Chattanooga will soon have another transit option: electric scooters, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Currently a common conveyance in Nashville and Memphis, the scooters have become ubiquitous on city sidewalks, with the municipalities grappling with ways to regulate their use. In fact, the scooters were initially banned in Nashville just two days following introduction last May, with city leaders expressing concerns over pedestrian safety and sidewalk obstruction. Nashville’s Metro Council eventually rescinded the ban, putting in place a permit process and new rules allowing the companies to be fined for scooters left on sidewalks, also requiring riders to stay off sidewalks in business districts and use hand signals when turning. City leaders in Chattanooga have expressed similar concerns and intend to methodically address these concerns over a 12-month pilot period. Companies that wish to offer the service in Chattanooga will pay a $110 fee for each newly permitted dockless vehicle.

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Third Stewart County Election Commissioner Resigns

The Stewart County Election Commission on Tuesday received its third resignation this month only hours before a scheduled meeting, The Leaf Chronicle reports. Martha Vaughn, a Democratic commissioner and the group's secretary, submitted the letter that only stated that she was resigning effective immediately. This comes just weeks after a joint resignation by former commission members James Adcock and Betty Gibbs, who left the group because of “unethical outside political interference” and the “lack of proper protocol, respect and decency" shown to members of the commission.

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Citizen Requests Ouster Investigation of Knox Commissioner Gill

Following news of settlement in the case where Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill was accused of abusing an 11-year-old autistic boy, a member of the county’s ethics committee and resident in Gill’s district is calling for her ouster, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Michael Covington, who is considering running against Gill in next year’s commission race, sent a letter to Law Director Bud Armstrong Tuesday saying: “Mrs. Gill, by her actions, has shown that she lacks the character and temperament needed to function effectively in her current role with the county.” Covington further stated that while he doesn't think Gill has done a good job in office, this goes beyond that because “this is an incident that suggests that we didn’t really know her.” Gill is currently the only Democrat on the 11-member commission.

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General Assembly Will Consider Changes to Open Record Laws

The General Assembly will consider legislation seeking to limit certain government record requests, despite pushback from open government advocates, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. One such bill — HB0335/SB0386, Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisburg — requires recordings of any emergency communications only be used for "public safety purposes and as necessary for law enforcement, fire, medical, rescue, dispatching, or other emergency services," a move Tillis contends will protect callers from news organizations using them in reporting, but detractors argue might obscure problems with investigations and limit government official accountability. Another bill — HB1107/ SB1346, Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville — builds on this, prohibiting personally identifying information including names and contact information from entering public record in motor vehicle accident reports. When asked about the measures, Senate chairman of the joint committee on open records Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga said: "We're trying to streamline the process and make it a more open dialogue on these exemptions to open record laws and (will) have a process of review after five years on any new ones that come along."

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