- Associated Press - Thursday, February 20, 2014
TN official: UAW no deal breaker for Memphis site

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee officials promoting a 6-square-mile “mega site” outside Memphis say it would be ideally suited for a new auto assembly plant - even if its workers are represented by the United Auto Workers union.

Those comments by Bill Hagerty, the chief economic development official in Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s Cabinet, come after attempts by the UAW to represent workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga that were heavily criticized by the governor and other GOP politicians in the state.

The UAW ultimately lost the Volkswagen union in a 712-626 vote last week, and the state has since re-engaged in incentives talks with the German car maker.

Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker argued that a UAW win would have hurt the region’s ability to attract suppliers and other future business to the state, and fellow Republicans in the state Legislature warned that a vote in favor of the UAW would have threatened the approval of incentives to expand the plant.

Hagerty told reporters those concerns don’t enter into the thinking for the West Tennessee site.

“No, we’re ready and willing to market the site to any major company that’s interested in Tennessee,” Hagerty said.


Lawmakers seek compromise on school voucher bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Lawmakers trying to decide on a limited school voucher program in Tennessee or a broader one say they’re close to reaching an agreement on legislation.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville is carrying a proposal for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam that’s limited to students from low-income families attending the bottom 5 percent of failing schools. He had that measure withdrawn last year when Senate Republicans sought to expand to a larger number of children.

The measure now being proposed by Sen. Brian Kelsey is still broader, affecting students attending the bottom 10 percent of failing schools.

Under that proposal, the program would also be opened to anyone interested if the entire number isn’t filled by students from low-income families attending failing schools.

However, Norris told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a compromise is close, but that he couldn’t elaborate on the specifics of the legislation.

Kelsey’s proposal was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, but he delayed it. He said he’s willing to compromise.


Neglected girl’s dad charged with murder in Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The father of a disabled girl who died from gangrene and infected bedsores due to neglect has been charged with first-degree murder along with a home-health aide in what is being described as one of the worst child-neglect cases police have ever seen in Tennessee.

When 12-year-old Andrea Ruth died, paramedics and police are said to have reported that the Millington, Tenn., girl had sores so advanced the bones in her toes were visible.

The D.A.’s office announced on Wednesday that a grand jury has indicted the girl’s father, Errol Johnson, 42, and health care worker Chasara Jones, 41, on a charge of first-degree murder in perpetration of aggravated child neglect. A third defendant has been indicted but will not be named until the defendant has been transferred from Louisiana, the office said in a news release.

Records did not list attorneys for either Jones or Johnson, said Marie Finney of the Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk’s office.

The girl died in November 2012. An autopsy revealed she died from sepsis from the gangrene, said Vince Higgins, a spokesman for Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich.

“It’s one of the worst cases that I’ve ever dealt with,” Millington Police Sgt. Dennis Brunson said.


Court to control MLK Bible and Nobel Peace Prize

ATLANTA (AP) - Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize should be placed in a safe deposit box controlled by the court pending the outcome of a legal dispute over who owns the items, a judge said Wednesday.

The dispute marks the latest in a string of legal battles between the siblings.

The civil rights icon’s estate is controlled by his two sons, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King. Lawyers for the estate on Jan. 31 filed a complaint asking a judge to order that their sister, Bernice King, turn over the two prized items.

After about two and half hours of arguments from lawyers for both sides, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said he believes it is likely that the estate will prevail in the case. He said he would issue an order that both items be kept together in a safe deposit box in the name of the estate but that the keys would remain with the court until the ownership dispute before him is settled.

“I find that, at this point, that is a fair, equitable balance of the competing interests,” McBurney said.

Lawyers for both sides said after the hearing that they felt the judge’s temporary solution was fair.

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