By now, you probably know a three-judge panel recently struck down the 2022 Tennessee state Senate map, saying seats in the same county weren't properly consecutively numbered.
Since the problem is in Davidson County, none of this is very relevant in Hamilton County, where the senatorial districts, 10 and 11, are numbered consecutively.
However, lawmakers have only until Jan. 31 to redraw new districts and submit them. While whatever happens is not likely to significantly alter Republicans' super-majority in the Senate, among the considerations in drawing the new map is as few county splits as possible.
One proposed map that offers the fewest splits is one created in 2022 by state Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville. The current map has nine county splits, but Yarbro's has only six. And one of those involves Hamilton County.
It would reduce District 10, now served by Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire, to an area that includes much of the southern part of Hamilton County. District 11, now served by Republican Sen. Bo Watson, would include the north and far eastern parts of Hamilton county, plus Marion, Sequatchie and Bledsoe counties. However, Gardenhire's district now would be weighted toward Democrats.
It's not likely to happen, but stay tuned.
Crime down; murders on par
With only two months of reporting to go in 2023, "Hamilton Counted," an online statistical look at issues in the county, shows one fewer murder (26) than the county had through the first 10 months of 2022. All violent crime, as mentioned in this space earlier this week, is off 3.17% and property crime down 17.78%.
Among the county's municipalities, overall crime is down 14.18% in Chattanooga and 25.74% in Collegedale, as well as 16.37% in unincorporated Hamilton County, while it is up 10% in Signal Mountain and 3.26% in Soddy-Daisy.
Both the numbers of sexual assault calls to the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, and subsequent exams, are down by 21 and 15, respectively, over the first 10 months from 2022. Domestic violence calls to the agency are down from 426 in 2022 to 420.
Substance abuse trends in the first 10 months show fatal overdoses are down from 188 in 2022 to 167 in 2023 and administrations of Narcan by Emergency Medical Services for overdoses fell from 916 to 845, but emergency room visits for suspected overdoses are up from 1,681 to 1,765.
The year over year number of patients (counted only once) at the Homeless Health Care Center has risen 1.05%. The report notes the highest number of clinic visits among the homeless population are due to tobacco use disorder, smoke and tobacco use cessation, and hypertension.
Price of police misconduct
Police going above and beyond the call of duty in Tennessee (and most states) rarely makes the news, but police misconduct is usually trumpeted far and wide.
A new report from pre-settlement legal funding company High Rise Financial, though, shows that among the 34 states and the District of Columbia that reported, Tennessee police departments have had to pay the fourth lowest amount in litigation settlements between October 2009 and July 2023.
The numbers show that the total of police settlements in the state was $1,050,000, with an average payout of $75,100. Only Kansas, Maine and Utah had to pay lesser amounts.
Not surprisingly, five of the top 10 states and D.C. with the largest payouts (New York, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio) are five of the states with the largest population.
On a nationwide scale, U.S. states have spent more than $2.3 billion on police settlements, for violations such as excessive use of force, discrimination and bias, unlawful arrests and detentions, and abuse of power, over the period.
We hope this means, despite the notoriety when police misconduct occurs, that police in Tennessee follow their training.
Hakeem blood runs red
When officeholders do something positive, they ought to be called out for it, regardless of party.
Today, we congratulate state Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, on donating his tenth gallon of whole blood to Blood Assurance, a nonprofit, full-service regional blood center serving health care facilities in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and North Carolina.
For those who have never donated, 10 gallons means 80 pints, meaning the former Chattanooga city councilman has made 80 trips to a donation center, answered health questions 80 times, had his finger pricked 80 times, been poked with a needle 80 times and pumped out his blood for someone else 80 times.
Hakeem has been donating since 2001, according to a news release, and was presented with a certificate to commemorate his milestone donation.
"I was taught to treat people the way I would like to be treated," the honoree said in a news release. "If I ever needed blood at any time in the future, I wanted to be in the position of having already given to others. My love of people demands that I help others, and I hope some will follow this example to donate blood and help those of us in need."
Be like Yusuf. Donate. It may save a life.