Saturday, September 27, 2003

GIBBONS: CHALLENGES TO SMITH 'RED HERRING'

GIBBONS: CHALLENGES TO SMITH 'RED HERRING'

Posted By on Sat, Sep 27, 2003 at 4:00 AM

In what sounded like a fairly strong defense of beleaguered Shelby County medical examiner O.C. Smith, District Attorney General Bill Gibbons said Saturday that the Phillip Workman defense team’s efforts to impugn Smith’s judgment constituted a “red herring.” Going further, Gibbons said he “never had any reason to doubt the findings” of Smith in any case in which the county medical examiner testified. The D.A. noted that Smith had never offered testimony in any legal proceeding involving Workman that required a verdict. His only involvement was to testify in a clemency hearing for the convicted murderer of a Memphis policeman. Workman, currently on a four-month reprieve of his death sentence ordered by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, was convicted of the 1981 fatal shooting of Memphis Police Lt. Ronald Oliver. His legal team has attempted a number of challenges to his conviction and his death sentence, most recently challenging the state’s contention that it was Workman’s gun -- not that of Oliver’s partner -- that fired the fatal round during a shootout following a holdup attempt by Workman. When former governor Don Sundquist was reviewing the conviction at a clemency hearing two years ago, Smith corroborated prior findings that the fatal round came from Workman’s weapon. Bredesen’s stay order was apparently related to the Workman team’s challenge of Smith’s testimony. Gibbons, who was interviewed during his annual fundraising Fish Fry at the Catholic Club in Southeast Memphis, reiterated that he would not “rule out” using Smith’s testimony in future cases. Spokespersons for Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton had alleged that the mayor’s current efforts to replace Smith were in part based on Gibbons’ unwillingness to employ Smith, but Gibbons has said those allegations were in error. Smith is apparently under investigation by federal authorities in the wake of a bizarre incident last year in which he was found outside his office bound in barbed wire, with a bomb attached to him, claiming that he was the victim of an attack.

Friday, September 12, 2003

CITY SCHOOLS AWARDED FEDERAL READING GRANT

CITY SCHOOLS AWARDED FEDERAL READING GRANT

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2003 at 4:00 AM

On the heels of last week's notice of officially "targeted" Memphis schools and education-related visits to Memphis by Governor Phil Bredesen and to Nashville by President Bush comes this grant notification by Tennessee's two U.S. senators. From their release: "FRIST, ALEXANDER ANNOUNCE OVER $300,000 FOR MEMPHIS CITY SCHOOLS "WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced that Memphis City Schools have been awarded $334,073 from the U.S. Department of Education to improve reading achievement of students through enhancements to school libraries citywide. “'Strengthening education must be one of our top priorities and this funding will allow Memphis to make the necessary improvements to school libraries to help maximize our students’ reading potential,' said Frist. 'We face many challenges in education today. Our schools must be proactive, innovative and forward thinking when it comes to the future of education. This program authorized through "No Child Left Behind" will help many educators get a leg up on reading achievement by ensuring that students have access to the most comprehensive library services available.' “'Children in Memphis will benefit greatly from improvements to their school libraries,' said Alexander. 'All Tennessee students should have the most up-to-date materials to help them learn and to become better readers.' "The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (LSL) program is designed to improve the reading achievement of students by providing them with access to up-to-date school library materials; technologically advanced school library media centers; and professionally certified school library media specialists. This discretionary grant program was authorized in 2002 as part of the “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB). It provides competitive one-year grants to local educational agencies, primarily school districts, in which 20 percent of the students are from families with incomes below the poverty line. "There are 73 projects in 26 states are being funded in 2003. These projects intend to serve over 277,000 students in more than 600 schools. Over half the funds will be used to improve collections. "In addition to education funding through grant programs like the LSL, Memphis will receive more in overall education funding that it has in subsequent years. For example, last year Memphis schools received over $31 million in Title I funding to improve programs for disadvantaged students. With the increased funding levels in NCLB, Memphis is slated to receive close to $40 million in 2004."
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