This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a $10,000 reward from the state for information on the death of Rashaud Singletary in May 2012 in Springfield. “I encourage anyone with information in this case to contact the local authorities immediately so those responsible for this crime can be brought to justice,” Haslam said. The state reward of $10,000 is for information leading to the apprehension, arrest and conviction of the person or persons who have committed, attempted to commit or conspired to commit the murder of Singletary.
Gov. Bill Haslam has announced a $10,000 reward from the state for information that can help in the case of a man killed in Robertson County. Investigators say Rashaud Singletary was shot in the back of the head in Springfield last year, and that there was a large group of people present when the shooting occurred. A man was indicted in the case, but the 19th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office said further investigation was needed before the case can move forward.
Tennessee is cautioning consumers about deceptive travel promoters and timeshare resellers as part of a joint multi-state, multi-national law enforcement initiative, coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission, Attorney General Bob Cooper announced today. Attorney General Cooper and Gary Cordell, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs (a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance), are urging consumers to beware in light of complaints of deceptive conduct by some timeshare and vacation club companies.
Tennessee children who suffer from toxic stress, abuse, and other everyday challenges such as hunger — and who aren’t tended to early — face serious consequences throughout their lives. State health and child well-being experts delivered that message Friday morning while releasing the latest “KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child in Tennessee” report. This year, the annual study examines challenges to raising kids in Tennessee, and whether state programs are doing enough to help them.
These days, it seems like office real estate brokers are fighting tooth and nail to find office space for government tenants. While office brokers are typically chasing new business to town or urging existing firms to grow, they’re now looking for office space for government agencies, which have emerged as prominent players in the local office real estate sector. For instance, the state of Tennessee has been out looking for space with two requests for proposals totaling more than 300,000 square feet, according to a first quarter office market view from CB Richard Ellis Memphis.
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. 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.
Fracking method likely for extraction The University of Tennessee on Friday began formally seeking bids from companies interested in leasing the natural gas rights on 8,600 acres it owns in Morgan and Scott counties. The release of the request for proposals is the latest move in the UT Institute of Agriculture’s efforts to drill for natural gas in its Cumberland Forest research area. Since at least 2001, UT has explored the idea, and earlier proposals touted the move as a way to generate revenue. The latest effort focuses on research into the environmental effects and best-management practices for extracting natural gas from the Chattanooga shale.
The Southern Environmental Law Center urged University of Tennessee trustees in a letter Thursday to review the school’s proposal to drill for oil and gas on university land in Morgan and Scott counties. The university’s governing board had not previously planned to take up the proposal in its meeting later this month or in future meetings, the UT General Counsel’s Office told a student last week. UT, in December, told the News Sentinel it plans to lease land in the Cumberland Research Forest to an oil and gas company and use royalties from wells to fund research on the controversial extraction method called fracking.
A Warren County man has been arrested on TennCare fraud charges originating in Putnam County, police said. Charles Aaron Driver, 36, of Havron Drive, McMinnville, was arrested at his home yesterday by Putnam Sheriff’s Deputy/U.S. Marshal’s Agent Patrick Storie. Driver was indicted by the Putnam grand jury earlier this week after John Morgan, of the state’s Office of the Inspector General, presented evidence. That indictment alleges that on August 27, 2012, Driver fraudulently obtained TennCare controlled substance benefits to which he was not entitled, apparently doing so here in Putnam County.
After being jeered by hundreds of conservative activists this week, Middle Tennessee Muslims say they will keep up their outreach efforts in Coffee County. “The comments, the rhetoric, the yells, we’ve heard all of those,” says Remziya Suleyman of the American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee. “If it was to scare us off, if it was to push us away in anyway, it actually did the opposite for me.” The meeting that has now attracted national attention to Muslim relations in Manchester was organized by the U.S. Attorney’s office, which intended to discuss what constitutes a hate crime. The presentation – at times – turned into a shouting match.
The number of health care fraud cases filed in the Middle District of Tennessee has increased over the past few years, and if recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is any indication, we’re not alone. New data released Thursday shows that over the past four years, the federal government has recovered $14.9 billion in health care fraud judgments, settlements and administrative impositions. In addition, CMS has revoked the ability of 14,663 providers and suppliers to bill in the Medicare program since March 2011.
With every phone call they make and every Web excursion they take, people are leaving a digital trail of revealing data that can be tracked by profit-seeking companies and terrorist-hunting government officials. The revelations that the National Security Agency is perusing millions of U.S. customer phone records at Verizon Communications and snooping on the digital communications stored by nine major Internet services illustrate how aggressively personal data is being collected and analyzed. Verizon is handing over so-called metadata, excerpts from millions of U.S. customer records, to the NSA under an order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian.
State and local officials talked financial incentives with top Volkswagen brass this week in the effort to lure production of a possible new sport utility vehicle to Chattanooga. “No doubt it takes incentives,” said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger on Friday. Coppinger, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Economic Development Charles Wood and two state officials traveled to VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. Berke said the Tennessee delegation met with key VW officials including Michael Macht, the automaker’s board of management member in charge of global production.
Besides National Doughnut Day, Friday was the day 16 community day care centers got word that their pre-K funding from Shelby County Schools was restored. At Red Robin Academy on Cooper, doughnuts just made it sweeter. “In May, we had the children make signs that said ‘Save our pre-K,’ said center director Robin Mayweather. “By Monday, they’ll say, ‘Thank you for saving our pre-K.’” Mayweather and center directors in every corner of town now have to figure out how to alert families that the money is back and that mandatory pre-K screenings start at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Nissan is shifting into high gear in Rutherford County. The automaker continues to move forward, and quickly, as the Technology Center Director Lynn Kreider confirmed recently that the state will build a Nissan Training Center as part of a branch of Tennessee Technology Center of Murfreesboro on property across from Smyrna plant. The state is in the process of purchasing 22 acres of a former retail site off Nissan Drive for a 154,000-square-foot educational facility to be built by the Board of Regents. It’s an illustration of what happens when towns attract the right kind of company.
Having taught high school math in Rutherford County schools for the past four years, I am puzzled at the tendencies of our supposedly “conservative” state government with relation to teacher evaluation. Let me begin by saying that I am a political conservative. I never joined REA, TEA or NEA, and I welcome the diminished role of teacher unions in legislation (much to the chagrin of some of my teacher friends). The end-game for the new teacher evaluation system was to do away with tenure (which I also support) and to begin a progression toward merit pay.
The Shelby County commissioners who gave preliminary approval to Commissioner Henri Brooks’ amendment removing $300,000 for Juvenile Court from the coming year’s budget are playing with fire. The money would be used to pay for stipulations in a memorandum of agreement the court and the county mayor’s administration reached with the U.S. Department of Justice to carry out federally mandated Juvenile Court reforms. The court had asked for $1 million. The commission on Monday approved $700,000 to upgrade medical-related deficiencies cited by the Justice Department.
Wondering if federal agents are reading your secret emails to forbidden friends, or your Internet searches for how to beat taxes? Are you worried the deep health secrets you enter on Internet symptom programs will be cataloged? Do you have concerns that your texts to coworkers will be discovered? Those are concerns and frustrations popping up all over the country as privacy concerns rise in the wake of news that the Patriot Act isn’t as patriotic as it seemed when it was passed and implemented just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks.