02/25/2005: Memphis News: The Week In Review
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2/18: Memphis news isn't quite All Senator John Ford All The Time, but you'd be forgiven for concluding that it was. Senator Ford's legal woes keep piling up. Disclosures from his recent Juvenile Court child support case piqued the interest of the State Senate Ethics Committee, which went so far as to subpoena Ford's Juvenile Court case file, which includes such juicy tidbits as the Senator's income tax returns. It may also make Tennessee legal history; while the Tennessee Constitution gives legislative committees subpoena power, this is the first time that any Legislature watchers can recall any legislative committee issuing a subpoena. Not as impressive as being the butt of a Jay Leno monologue, granted, but there's little that can top that. Later in the week, we learned that Senator Ford initially fought the enactment of an ethics law requiring disclosure by state legislators and officials of money received for "consulting services" performed for any entity doing business with the state, though eventually Ford wound up voting for the law (which ultimately failed anyway, when the legislative session ended before the House and Senate could iron out differences in their bills). By Wednesday, Ford was beginning his counteroffensive by charging that a local television reporter was harassing him, but this was only a mere distraction from intensifying interest in possible connections between Ford and a consultant doing work for TennCare, an allegation which, if true, could be a major violation of state law. Though the news for Senator Ford isn't completely bad; vagueness in the wording of the statutes governing residency in Tennessee may mean that he'll get a break on charges that he doesn't reside in the district he represents.
2/19: The city (through City Administrator Keith McGee) announces budget cuts will require the layoff of 2,100 city employees, including close to 200 full-time employees. Meanwhile the Memphis blogosphere (both sides of the aisle, you may note here) makes extended comment on the most noteworthy feature of the announcement: why did it come from the lips of City Administrator McGee, instead of those of Mayor Herenton? Steve Steffens weighed in on LeftWingCracker:
Remember, we can't start collecting signatures for a recall petition until 75 days prior to the filing deadline for the May 2006 election. However, I assure you, we WILL get this on the ballot because 2007 just isn't soon enough to get him out of there.In addition to the layoffs, some city services are being cut back, including the imminent closing of the local planetarium and major cutbacks in the local museums (which receive significant funding from the city).
2/25: In legal news, a Shelby County Circuit Court jury awarded damages of over $50 million (if I'm adding correctly) to the family of two women killed when an SUV hit their Dodge Caravan head on. The award included $48.8 million punitive damages against Daimler-Chrysler, the manufacturer of the Caravan. And a federal jury begins deliberations today to decide whether former Shelby County Medical Examiner O.C. Smith lied to federal investigators about the unusual incident where he was found bound and gagged with barbed wire and attached to a bomb.
Len on 02.25.05 @ 08:51 AM CST