Friday, October 2, 2015

Holleman Arrested For Violating Order of Protection For Allegedly Sending Slew of Texts

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 3:37 PM

  • Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
Three weeks after a devastating loss in his bid for a Metro at-large councilman seat, Jason Holleman was arrested Thursday for violating an order of protection. 

According to the affidavit, Holleman sent his ex-wife Margaret Martin approximately 30 text messages in the span of three to four hours. According to the affidavit, "these text messages, so far, have not been threatening in nature, but are very upsetting, and 'emotional' to her." 

Holleman posted $1,000 bond and was released the same day. 

Holleman's personal life tribulations became public knowledge about a year ago after his ex-wife said arguments between the two of them led her to call police on him three times over the better part of a year. In one such incident, she said he threw a lamp at her, according to a police report. Charges were never brought against him.

"Nine months ago, I agreed to give my ex wife an order of protection following a contentious divorce. I hoped that acquiescing to such an action would give us a period of separation and allow us to effectively communicate again," Holleman told Pith in a statement.

"I now regret agreeing to that, and I regret not going back to court in the months that followed to seek dissolution when subsequent circumstances warranted such action. Now, I find myself arrested for sending a single email to her, an email that was in no way threatening or profane," he said.

He later clarified that he meant to say text message and added, "ironically, the text was about how she has damaged me professionally with false accusations." 

Once a hopeful for a vacant state Senate seat, he dropped out of that race in 2013 citing concern the effect of serving in the statehouse would have on his family. The term-limited Metro Councilman from Sylvan Park then decided to run for one of five vacant at-large seats. Details of his past troubles with his ex-wife resurfaced during the election, exploited with the help of an anonymous mail piece. While he narrowly made the runoff in August, he came in last in the September election. 

Holleman is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, Oct. 13.  

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After Oregon Shooting, Ramsey Calls 'Serious' Christians to Arms

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 3:27 PM

As you will have heard or read or watched by now, a gunman killed 9 people, and wounded seven more, at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon Thursday morning. To say it was just another day in America would be wrong, because we average more than one of these horrible events per day. Thursday was the 274th day of 2015 and this was the year's 294th mass shooting.

The deceased gunman, identified as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, owned 14 guns, according to law enforcement officials, all of them purchased legally. The New York Times reports he brought "six guns, multiple extra ammunition magazines and a flak jacket" with him to the college.

As is to be expected, details about the shooting, the shooter, and what led him to this violence are still coming into focus. But some have emerged.

From the Times:

Family members of some survivors said their relatives told them that the gunman, identified as Chris Harper Mercer, 26, specifically targeted Christians. Law enforcement officials have not confirmed that.

“‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them,” Stacy Boylan, father of Anastasia Boylan, 18, told CNN. “ `And if you’re a Christian, stand up.’ And they would stand up and he said, `Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them, and then he kept going down the line doing this to people.”

He said his daughter was shot in the spine but survived.

Continue reading »

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Barry Plans Talks On Amendment 3 Implementation, Will Review AG Opinion

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 12:08 PM

Before 58 percent of voters decided the city should require local workers be hired on city construction projects, several groups pooh-poohed the idea, like the business community, builders and a few mayoral candidates. Then-Mayor Karl Dean opposed the amendment too. 

Add to that list state Attorney General Herbert Slatery who opined Thursday that the charter amendment — mandating 40 percent of construction hours on city projects with budgets of at least $100,000 be promised to local workers — runs afoul of state law.  

Despite the opinion, Mayor Megan Barry plans to meet with stakeholders anyway to chart out the best way to implement the new requirements as the city's legal team reviews the opinion from the state's top attorney. 

“We have asked the Metro Department of Law to review the opinion, but nevertheless, as I told the Metro Council earlier this week, my administration plans to bring together council members, business executives, labor leaders and others to work out the proper implementation of the local-hire charter amendment," she said in a statement Friday morning. "We are going to solve the problem Nashville voters asked us to solve.”

The provision is invalid, according to the attorney general's opinion. Local government cannot impose additional restrictions on state-licensed contractors, nor can it discriminate against them based on the contractor's non-residency in the municipality, he said, arguing contractors in Kentucky who are licensed here can get out of the benchmark for hiring local workers, but a company inside the Tennessee line cannot. In his opinion, he says:
Amendment 3 directly contravenes Tenn. Code Ann. § 62-6-111(i)(2)(c). Most — if not all — contractors bidding on or procuring public building project work for Metro would be required to be licensed contractors under the Act. Metro is prohibited by the Act from imposing any additional requirements on such state licensees or their employees and Metro is prohibited by the Act from discriminating against licensed contractors because they are not Metro residents. But that is what Amendment 3 does: it imposes additional requirements, namely residency requirements, on licensed contractors and it discriminates against non-resident contractors. Thus, Amendment 3 conflicts with a state statute.

Slatery’s opinion comes at the behest of state Rep. Glen Casada, the House’s Republican Caucus leader from Williamson County who is a perpetual thorn in Davidson County’s side. Casada orchestrated legislative maneuvers to undo county ordinances, such as regulating a prevailing wage and non-discrimination regulations for contractors doing business with the city.

Along with Casada, Gov. Bill Haslam is also opposed to the new requirement, as is Williamson County state Sen. Jack Johnson, a Republican and chair of the Commerce Committee. All represent the tip of the iceberg in Republican, business-minded legislature willing to muddy the waters between local and state policy control.

But many other people voiced concerns about the amendment, including several of the candidates who ran for mayor. Barry was one of few to openly support the amendment but said she expected the state to find a way to overturn it.

But she announced earlier this week plans to to tap the brakes on implementation of the amendment, which was supposed to go into effect Oct. 1. She explained that decision by saying time will give everyone more time to study how to make the plan work.
"This delay in implementation will give us all a chance to research best practices in other cities and for my office to meet with members of the Metro Council, the business community, labor leaders and other stakeholders to develop guidelines that will meet our goals of training and hiring more Davidson County workers for jobs funded with their tax dollars."

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Pinkston Argues He Doesn't 'Love a Fight'

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 8:40 AM

The Metro School Board's Will Pinkston is regularly a subject of great intrigue, and, likely for that reason, he found himself on the cover of this week's Nashville Ledger

In an article called, "Will Pinkston loves a good fight," the paper profiles the South Nashville school board representative, a former lieutenant in Gov. Phil Bredesen's administration who has a reputation for knocking skulls. But this lengthy profile focuses more on his battles of today, his lost friendships since his election to the school board and his fight against "charter zealots." (The article quotes his charter nemesis Townes Duncan, who, for full disclosure, is chairman of SouthComm, the Scene's parent company.) 

Pinkston's reaction to the profile?  

In it, the paper also attempts to tap into his political future, saying he's "neither ruling out nor contemplating running for higher office." Having served in state politics then switching gears to serve on the local school board, his political plans have been a curiosity.

In June, he told the Scene he would decide whether to run for reelection based on whether he is content with the next mayor (he was backing now-Mayor Megan Barry, so that's presumably a yes) and whether he is confident in the next superintendent (who will likely be selected after deadlines to run for election). With a series of possible lawsuits on issues like education funding or unabated charter school growth, it's unclear whether he would step away quite yet. 

Another takeaway? On the director's search, Pinkston sends a message for the kind of superintendent he is looking for. Among his wants, now out for any potential candidate to measure up against, is someone who is willing to put his or her foot down on the current proliferation of charters. 

As with most other topics, Pinkston has some strong opinions about priorities the next director should take.

Those include:
  • A focus on pre-kindergarten expansion
  • Adoption of English Language Learner initiatives
  • Efforts to improve reading in early grades
  • Reduction of standardized testing time
  • Turnaround strategies to remove 14 Metro schools from Tennessee’s “priority list” for poor performance
  • Lobbying for more funding at the state level (Metro is ranked 54th of 67 urban school systems in per-pupil funding at $9,000)
  • Creation of a teacher recruitment and retention plan
  • Stopping unabated charter growth

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Bill Purcell: The Complete Scene Interview

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge Bill Purcell - PHOTO: ERIC ENGLAND
  • Bill Purcell
Last week Megan Barry was sworn in as the seventh mayor of Metropolitan Nashville, and the first woman ever to hold the job. With former Mayor Karl Dean's successor now known, the Scene thought it would be instructive to sit down with his predecessor: Bill Purcell, Nashville's much-respected mayor from 1999 to 2007.

Admittedly, we did so in part to research our theory that Nashville mayoral terms run in cycles. We elect a big-spending big-picture mayor for a couple of terms — a Bredesen, a Dean — then go for a mayor who refocuses on the little things that matter: infrastructure, neighborhoods. Having followed Phil Bredesen, the man who brought major league sports (and stadiums) to Nashville, Purcell is perhaps best-known for his attention to the fine details of running a city.

That said, his eight years in office also planted the seeds for much of Nashville's recent booming growth, which gives him an unique vantage point on the transition from what has come before to whatever might come next.

Read the full transcript of our conversation, including talk of the election and — perhaps more importantly — Hot Chicken, after the jump:

Continue reading »

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Daily Links: Bear! Bear! T. Rex, and Another Mass Shooting

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From The Associated Press: Gunman Opens Fire At Oregon Community College, Killing 13

From GawkerReporters Are Rude During Tragedies Because They're Reporting

From The VergeWatch woman yell 'bear don’t eat my kayak' as bear eats kayak

From SB NationBreaking Madden: RGIII burns down Washington

From The New York TimesRussia Carries Out Airstrikes in Syria for 2nd Day

From The Washington Post‘Nation’s T. rex’ stands upright for the first time in 65 million years — and he’s scary

Those are the links. This is a lynx... 


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Does The State Really Want To Run Charter Schools? History Says No

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 3:15 PM

As local school leaders elevate the Nashville fight over charters to the state level, it is up to a panel — complete with several charter-friendly education officials — to decide whether the charter schools have a chance. 

But despite the makeup, the Tennessee State Board of Education and it’s staff have been stingy with their approvals, refusing to decide in favor of a charter school in three years.

“I really believe that our job is clear in the law and clear in the policy. We need to look at each individual appeal, separately, individually and in the best interest of students. And that’s really what we’re trying to do,” said Sara Heyburn, executive director of the Tennessee Board of Education.

In little more than two weeks’ time, Heyburn will recommend to the nine-member state board whether to approve charter school appeals from KIPP Nashville, a charter operator looking to open its sixth and seventh schools after narrow 5-4 rejections from the Metro Nashville Public Schools board in August.  

Heyburn will also advise the state school board whether to approve a charter application from Rocketship, an operator the board has approved for two schools before, and the International Academy of Excellence, a fringe candidate repeatedly denied by the district. Metro Schools’ committee of reviewers and school board resoundingly rejected both applicants twice this year. 

Heyburn and staff for the Board of Education listened to hours of arguments on the denial of KIPP and Rocketship charter schools, serving as something of a repeat for the Nashville education community familiar with the jockeying over charters after months of hearing arguments for and against approving local schools.

Continue reading »

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Front of the Book: Bill Purcell, Tent Cities, and NXT

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 1:06 PM

The International Black Film Festival is on the cover this week, with an overview and more coverage inside. Check it out. 

Here's what's in the front of the book:

Tent cities are neither humane nor permanent solutions to homelessness. But should the city accept them as short-term solutions to the affordable housing crunch? by Amanda Haggard:  

About a month ago, Metro Parks gave homeless campers a Sept. 15 deadline to leave Fort Negley, a historic site that was grounds for fugitive slaves during the Civil War. Last month, nearly 30 people were living there behind the Adventure Science Center.

Now, maybe fewer than 15 campers remain.

"I haven't been able to light a fire in this pit at night since we found out they'd be out here looking to kick us out," says Dorven, 46, who became homeless earlier this year after losing his job and then his wife in a car accident. "I've been too scared Ranger Rick and his sidekicks would be out here to get me."

Nashville's lack of affordable housing has raised the question of what to do about tent cities like the one Jim Dorven calls home. Makeshift encampments have popped up increasingly over the past few years, comprising roughly 200 sites as of the city's last count. A year ago, at an executive Metro Homelessness Commission meeting, someone asked a pointed question that's only gotten thornier: "Has any community effectively ended homelessness?"

That person was Nashville's new mayor, then At-Large Metro Councilwoman Megan Barry.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Daily Links: Evan Murray, the Lockerbie Bombing, and Carly Fiorina

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 5:15 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From GrantlandThe Death of Evan Murray

From The Washington PostOklahoma governor issues last-minute stay and halts execution of Richard Glossip

From The New YorkerAfter three decades, has the brother of a victim of the Lockerbie bombing solved the case?

From New YorkWhat Happened to That Meeting Between Donald Trump and Roger Ailes?

From SlateCarly Fiorina’s Big Lie

From The New York TimesLies, Carly Fiorina and Abortion


From SlateSlavery Myths Debunked

Those are the links. This is a lynx... 


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Homeless Man Memorialized At Downtown Library Park

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 2:13 PM

Nearly 60 people gathered across from the Nashville Public Library on Church Street this morning to honor a homeless man who spent hours in that park as many other people experiencing homelessness in the city do.

Jason Vaughn, 36, was seeking shelter in the vacant old public library building downtown about two blocks from that park when police say he met his tragic demise. Detectives think he may have died after shaking out a pair of pants over the granite ledge of the building when he slipped and fell 16 feet, hitting his head on the sidewalk early Saturday morning.

At the memorial service for Vaughn, Tammy Redmand, who is also experiencing homelessness, said she spent the past six 
click to enlarge Tammy Redmand remembers her friend Jason Vaughn, who passed away early Saturday morning after falling 16 feet from a ledge of the old library building. - AMANDA HAGGARD
  • Tammy Redmand remembers her friend Jason Vaughn, who passed away early Saturday morning after falling 16 feet from a ledge of the old library building.
years struggling on the streets along with him. Redmand's tears fell on the concrete as she described Vaughn and her sense of loss.

“He was just a really kind and good man,” said Redmand, who chose to play Vince Gill's version of "Go Rest High on That Mountain" to honor Vaughn at the memorial. "Close together, or far apart, we'll always have him in our hearts. I'm just hurt and don't know what to do."

Redmand and others described Vaughn as the type of guy who knew a little something about everything, as a symbol of love and peace in their community, as someone who would walk up and give you his extra food. Vaughn loved his rugged cowboy boots, hats, and Newport Reds.

"I knew Jason for three years," said Ryan Doughtery, who is living at Room In The Inn's guesthouse currently.  "... The thing I'll miss the most about him is his smile and his laugh. He always had that with him."

Continue reading »

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