This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
ATLANTA (AP) — A 20-year-old man from Tennessee who plunged about 35 feet from the upper level of the Georgia Dome and struck another fan during the Tennessee-North Carolina State game has died, authorities said Saturday. The man fell on another fan seated in the mezzanine area during the game Friday evening, The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which operates the downtown football stadium, said in a statement.
NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam’s handpicked special state Supreme Court ran off the tracks at least temporarily Friday when three of the five justices, including former Chief Justice William “Mickey” Barker, of Signal Mountain, recused themselves. Haslam had appointed the special Supreme Court to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of how Supreme Court justices and other appellate judges are selected.
More than half the members of Gov. Bill Haslam’s hand-picked special Supreme Court have recused themselves from hearing a case to determine the constitutionality of how Tennessee selects appellate and high-court judges. Special Supreme Court Judges William Muecke Barker, George H. Brown and Robert L. Echols announced Friday they had disqualified themselves from the case because of a perceived conflict of interest. The three have ties to a group that lobbies against judicial elections, which is the issue at the heart of the case.
Three members of a Special Supreme Court named by Gov. Bill Haslam to decide whether the state’s plan for retention elections of appeals court judges violates the Tennessee Constitution have stepped down. The three — William M. Barker, George H. Brown Jr., and Robert L. Echols — had been accused of having conflicts of interest in the case by John Jay Hooker, the local attorney who is challenging the constitutionality of the state’s plan. Hooker says the plan violates the state’s Constitution because it explicitly calls for having Supreme Court justices chosen by the state’s voters.
NASHVILLE — The City of Memphis filed its lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court on Friday challenging Tennessee’s photo identification requirement for voting. The suit asks the court to declare unconstitutional the state’s Voter Photo ID Act for “imposing an undue burden on registered Tennessee voters’ right to vote, in violation of Article I, Section 5 and an additional qualification on such right in violation of Article IV, Section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution.”
Former Vice President Al Gore, who lost the 2000 presidential election by a narrow margin in the electoral college while easily winning the popular vote, has now called for abandoning the system. “Even after the 2000 election, I still supported the idea of the electoral college,” Gore said Thursday during coverage of the Republican National Convention on Current TV, which he co-founded.
There aren’t any white Protestants on the presidential ballot this year — a first in American history. Instead, the race features two Catholic vice presidential candidates, a Mormon Republican and an African-American mainline Protestant. Perhaps luckily for all of them, voters care more about issues such as social justice and gay marriage than they do about denominational brands.
Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman dined on a healthy lunch that included locally grown fruit and student-grown hydroponic lettuce on Friday during his tour of Liberty Technology Magnet High’s greenhouse and vegetable-growing program. This week is the launch of Local Foods for Local Schools, a new initiative with the goal of connecting local food producers to school communities.
Tennessee state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and police in Shelby and Tipton counties will use a new weapon provided by state lawmakers to combat driving under the influence this Labor Day weekend, officials announced Friday. A new “no refusal” law allows law enforcement officers to obtain search warrants and have blood samples drawn if drivers suspected of being under the influence refuse blood alcohol tests.
The Jackson Police Department will continue sobriety checkpoints and increased traffic enforcement throughout the city today as Labor Day weekend begins. The efforts began Friday to concentrate on removing impaired drivers from the roads. Officers also are looking for people violating seat belt and child safety restraint laws. The project is funded solely by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office.
Memphis Federal Court Judge Hardy Mays begins two days of hearings Tuesday, Sept. 4, that are pivotal to what happens next in the coming merger of Shelby County’s two public school systems. Mays will specifically hear arguments on claims by the Shelby County Commission that the state laws creating suburban municipal school districts violate the Tennessee Constitution. Mays will hear another part of the argument later alleging violations of the U.S. Constitution and claims that municipal school districts are intended to promote racial segregation.
The two men suing Hamilton County over prayers held at commission meetings have appealed a local federal judge’s ruling that prayers may continue while the case is litigated. Attorney Robin Flores, representing plaintiffs Thomas Coleman III and Brandon Jones, filed notice of appeal Friday with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Horse owners and a national animal rights advocacy group squared off in Murfreesboro Friday morning hoping to sway public opinion of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry in their favor. The controversy centers around what is known in the industry as the “big lick gait,” with the Human Society of the United States stating it is impossible for trainers to produce such a gait in show horses without the use of soring, the act of chemically or mechanically mutilating the legs or feet of horses in order to induce a high-stepping gait in the animals.
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — At the 2012 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration, Billie Nipper’s horse paintings stole the show. Nipper has been in town for the past two weeks, and the door of her temporary office/booth on the grounds of the Calsonic Arena, where the Celebration is held, constantly opened and closed as she showed her prints.
As a member of the Blind Boys of Alabama, Jimmy Carter said he and the gospel band he had been in for decades had it rough in the music industry. In a way, the eventual rise of the singing group he was part of was reflective of the civil rights activists who embraced their music in the 1950s and ‘60s. “We were determined,” Carter said. “We decided we weren’t going to let nothing turn us around.” Decades after the height of the movement, Carter’s determination was still on display as he and several historians discussed music’s role in the civil rights era at the First Amendment Center Friday evening.
In the months since Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett approved a plan to give workers under his purview an additional week of annual leave, most of the other countywide elected leaders have embraced the idea. Register of Deeds Sherry Witt, Circuit Court Clerk Cathy Quist, Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones and Property Assessor Phil Ballard all said they have approved the extra time off. And Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey said she more than likely will.
A giant government contracting firm that employs hundreds of workers in Oak Ridge is planning to split itself in two. Science Applications International Corp., a publicly traded company based in McLean, Va., said Thursday that its board had authorized executives to pursue a plan to separate the firm into separate, publicly traded companies.
On the heels of a bitter budget battle, Sumner County classrooms are bulging as a result of an abnormal increase in student population this year. Sumner County Schools added 1,256 students to its roster, bringing the district’s total student population up to 28,399, according to a recent report.
The Blount County Sheriff’s Office has implemented policy changes after the erroneous release in July of a federal inmate, who has been deemed dangerous and remains on the run. Dewyatt Hill, 55, was released July 18 from the Blount County Jail because of a paperwork snafu, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Marian O’Briant. Authorities said the 5-foot-7-inch man weighing 125 pounds should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.
There’s a gem going up in Red Bank. You just might not be able to see it. Tucked behind Red Bank High School, the new Red Bank Middle School project is taking shape, with walls, windows and roofing well under way. The $30 million school is on budget and on schedule to open by July, project managers say.
Goodlettsville’s Little League team is back home, but life isn’t quite back to normal for the players. Friday, the team made another stop on its U.S. championship baseball tour, visiting the Nashville mayor’s office for pizza and congratulations. Mayor Karl Dean praised the team as much for its conduct in the national spotlight as he did its victory in the U.S. championship.
Hyperbole and distortion are a constant in presidential campaign politicking, especially in presidential conventions. Yet candidates’ claims against their opponents have traditionally been rooted to some peg of reality, some scent of truthfulness. Alas, that was not the case in the just-concluded Republican convention. Truth there took a virtually unprecedented beating.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was finally able to open its doors after a two-year feud with a few concerned citizens. Some of the members of the Islamic Center have lived in Murfreesboro for more than 30 years and always felt at home; that is, until they needed a larger mosque. A soon as they broke ground, they became the subject of protests, vandalism, arson attacks and a bomb threat, as well as being dragged into the courts to defend their religion. The source of the contention was summed up by Joe Brandon, the attorney representing the anti-mosque contingency: “We don’t want Shariah law.”
In the wake of the two mass shootings within a 16-day span, some America physicians consider this country’s gun violence a social disease. Mass murders of citizens by other citizens occur with a frequency seen in no other nation in the world. The mass murders in Colorado and the racist mass homicides in Wisconsin are illustrative of a type of tragedy for which the U.S. holds a near monopoly. The facts speak for themselves.