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Local Politics

    A DeKalb County city is enlisting companies from around the country to help promote it as a tourist destination. The Brookhaven Convention and Visitors Bureau has a budget of $1.6 million this year, Executive Director Renée Areng said. While the bureau is a nonprofit and a separate entity from the city government, it is funded by the city’s hotel-motel tax. The BCVB is using BrandStrategy, Inc. and Zehnder Communications to help in its branding and marketing effort. Zehnder will manage $700,000 of the bureau’s budget, while BrandStrategy, Inc. is being paid $116,000, Areng said. MORE DEKALB NEWS: » 2 years after fire at music school, the songs play on » Creeks near homes in DeKalb flooding BrandStrategy, based in Washington state, is “leading an extensive research and market analysis project” that will form a marketing strategy for the city, the statement said. Zehnder, an advertising agency with offices in Louisiana and Nashville, will help with a range of marketing, public relations and advertising services. The Convention and Visitors Bureau, created under the city’s charter, was established in 2018 as a way to market Brookhaven as a tourist destination. Brookhaven, a city of more than 50,000 people, incorporated in 2012. “We are building a brand from the ground up,” Areng said in a statement. “This year will be a time of major growth for the Brookhaven CVB ... Our city has a rich history and so much to offer locals and visitors.” Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:
  • The secret legal settlement between former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration and fired airport general manager Miguel Southwell has become a major focus of the on-going federal corruption investigation at Atlanta City Hall, new records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show. The development is significant because prosecutors appear to be probing unanswered questions about how the city’s law department negotiated the settlement’s terms, why a portion of it was kept from City Council and who paid Southwell $147,000 to resolve the dispute. “It’s important for us to understand how that occurred, where the money came from, and who allowed it to occur,” Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore told the AJC. Mark Trigg, the attorney hired by the city to negotiate the 2016 settlement with Southwell’s attorney, testified Dec. 11 before the federal grand jury considering evidence in the now four-year-old corruption probe, according to legal bills and emails obtained by the AJC. Trigg also provided federal prosecutors with text, email and voice mail messages related to the Southwell settlement, after extended negotiations with federal prosecutors over allowable redactions intended to protect attorney-client privileged communications, the documents show. Prosecutors continued seeking unredacted messages as recently as Feb. 27. Attorney Thomas O’Brien and other lawyers with a Los Angeles-based firm that is working for the city on federal investigation issues submitted legal bills to the city for work from Oct. 19 to Jan. 31, with at least 44 instances of billable hours for work related to Trigg. “Prep meeting with Mark Trigg and (his) counsel; meeting with (federal prosecutors) and FBI to discuss disclosure limitations; attend grand jury; debrief with Mark Trigg and counsel; update mayor and city attorney,” says a Dec. 11 entry that billed the city law department for 6 hours at $950 per hour. The AJC received the invoices after requesting them through the Georgia Open Records Act. One of Trigg’s attorneys on Wednesday provided the AJC with a statement that described Trigg as a witness. The statement also said Trigg turned over information at the request of federal prosecutors about issues that the city “has expressly authorized him to provide.” “Mr. Trigg has been advised that he is neither a subject nor a target of the pending investigation,” the statement says. “Quite to the contrary, he is merely a fact witness regarding certain isolated events within the scope of the investigation.” Testimony before federal grand juries is secret. Witnesses aren’t prohibited from revealing what they told the grand jury, but Paula Junghans, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney for Trigg, declined to provide additional information. Settlement defused a crisis Reed fired Southwell in May 2016 — a move that set off explosive allegations, with both men accusing the other of illegal activities. The broadsides came at an inopportune time for Reed, who was a surrogate for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and was being vetted for a high-profile role in her administration. By August of that year, the two men reached a detente. They released a vaguely worded statement in September retracting their previous allegations of illegal conduct. The statement also referenced a “resolution” to the matter, although a Reed spokeswoman denied Southwell had been paid as part of it. City Council approved a $85,516 settlement in December 2016, which council members were told would pay for career counseling, job placement assistance and health insurance. The Reed administration told council that the money represented the full settlement with the fired airport boss. But last summer the AJC and Channel 2 Action News revealed the secret portion of the agreement after the news organizations obtained emails and other documents that showed Trigg and Southwell’s attorney, Lee Parks, finalizing plans for $147,000 in additional payments to Southwell from unspecified sources. The agreement was remarkable because the full settlement was hidden from City Council, and it turned out the vast majority of the $85,516 authorized by council actually went to Parks’ law firm for his fee in negotiating the secret portion of the settlement. Parks told the AJC in August that “the manner in which the (Southwell) settlement was memorialized was dictated by the attorney for the City and Mayor Reed.” Parks declined comment for this story. The city’s law department is responsible for hiring outside counsel and approving its work. Cathy Hampton was the city attorney at the time of the Southwell negotiations. She stepped down from that position in 2017. Thursday, the AJC reported that prosecutors are also examining the relationship between Hampton and Paul Hastings LLP, another law firm handling legal matters for the city in the federal probe. Expert: ‘They see some fire’ Demanding grand jury testimony from an attorney about a client is an unusual move by federal prosecutors because it typically requires obtaining permission from high-ranking officials in the Justice Department’s main office in Washington, D.C., said two former federal prosecutors. “It speaks to how important this information may be and how important this investigation is to the (U.S. Attorney’s) office,” said Bret Williams, a former federal prosecutor in Georgia and New York who is now in private practice. “I think they don’t just see smoke. I think they see some fire.” Some of that fire, Williams said, could be conspiracy or wire fraud, particularly if officials in the Reed administration sent emails or other electronic communications indicating intent to mislead the council on terms of the settlement. Reed said last summer that the circumstances surrounding Southwell’s firing were “thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and no wrongdoing or improper behavior was found.” He did not respond to text messages seeking comment on Trigg’s grand jury testimony. The city also did not respond to a request for comment. Testimony from attorneys rare Caren Morrison, a law professor at Georgia State University who was a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York, said the legal invoices make her think prosecutors are looking at issues surrounding that settlement — as opposed to the allegations Southwell made after his firing that Reed steered contract awards to favored airport vendors. “I think they’re following up with the attorney specifically because it doesn’t seem that they’ve fully unraveled what exactly was going on with these payments in the first place — why City Council was lied to, why the payment to the lawyer was masked,” Morrison said. “And the attorney seems to be in an extremely good position, being one of the principles dealing with this matter or trying to set up this unusual payments scheme. “Attorneys are not frequently brought in before a grand jury. But when the investigation relates to a (process) that the attorney is an active participant in, then it makes sense to examine the attorney before the grand jury.” Though the settlement agreement did not disclose the source of the $147,000 payment to Southwell, emails from October 2016 showed Parks complained that his client had not been paid some two months after the agreement was reached. And the emails mentioned prominent Atlanta developer Scott Taylor, who at the time had major business ventures pending with the city. “Mark this is getting out of control,” Parks wrote to Trigg. “Scott Taylor now wants a contract that absolves him from payment. We have a contract with the city. It is your obligation to work with whoever is going to make the payments, without our having to separately contract with them.” Taylor’s firm, Carter, said it hired Southwell as a consultant for work related to airports outside Georgia after Reed fired him as Atlanta’s airport general manager. A spokesman for the company said Taylor had no knowledge of any settlement negotiations with Southwell, and didn’t know either of the lawyers involved. A lawyer for Trigg said Friday that Trigg “played no role in any third-party contracts to which Miguel Southwell may have been a party.” The legal invoices and emails obtained by the AJC for this story do not mention Taylor, who declined to comment.
  • Social media posts about mold and abuses inside the DeKalb County jail have led to a second week of protests. Pictures and complaints circulated on Instagram and Twitter last week, including allegations that prisoners were not receiving medical care and had been served moldy food. “DeKalb jail is mistreating us,” an inmate wrote on a disposable food tray, according to one image that was posted. Meg Dudukovich got involved with prisoner-rights group Atlanta Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee after seeing the viral posts. She said current and former inmates and their families have provided information about deteriorating conditions at the 24-year-old jail, and the Sheriff’s Office has been slow to respond. “They’ve been very dodgy about all the questions,” Dudukovich said. For the past two years, DeKalb Sheriff Jeffrey Mann has requested more funding in the county budget to address mold and aging equipment. Last year, he received $1.5 million in emergency funding to address mold and plumbing issues. » Related | After mold discovery, fixes coming to DeKalb jail The county commission and CEO Michael Thurmond allocated another $9.5 million in the 2019 budget to fix up the 1 million square-foot facility, including mold remediation, new elevators and other repairs. Atlanta Incarcerated Workers is planning a protest outside the jail on Memorial Drive at 5:30 p.m. tonight.  The first protest last Friday attracted about 50 people. The group reported that four people were arrested after protesters pushed their way into the jail lobby with bread they said they wanted to give prisoners.
  • A city plan to put contextual markers citing slavery as a cause of the Civil War next to four of Atlanta’s Confederate statues this spring has hit a snag. The proposed markers are part of a larger city initiative to address the presence of controversial Confederate-named streets and monuments in Atlanta. A City Council committee charged with implementing the overall plan, which includes the markers, projected in January that they would be installed by late spring. During a committee meeting on Wednesday, however, members said it would take at least until the end of the year to get them in place. The reasons for the delay: Deciding who will pay for the signs and the process of getting the proposal vetted and approved by other city departments before it’s voted on by the full council. “I wanted to have this done by now,” said Council Member Carla Smith, who heads the three-member street names and monuments committee. The monuments in question are the Confederate Obelisk and Lion of Atlanta in Oakland Cemetery; the Peace Monument in Piedmont Park; and the monument at the intersection of Peachtree Battle and Peachtree Roads commemorating the Battle of Peachtree Creek and North-South reconciliation. Though the city technically owns them now and maintains them, none were originally erected by the city. In the aftermath of the Civil War, organizations sympathetic to the Confederacy paid for them and had them installed. Now the city is working with the Historic Oakland Cemetery Foundation, the Piedmont Park Conservancy and the Atlanta History Center to figure out how to pay for the new signs that will augment them. Representatives from the cemetery, conservancy and history center attended Wednesday’s meeting. Smith said a donor has agreed to pay for the markers, at a cost of $2,000 each. The donor would then donate them to the city. Meeting participants debated whether the cemetery foundation and the park conservancy might pay for signs for their venues instead and assume maintenance of them once installed. Council Member Michael Julian Bond and Doug Young, Atlanta’s assistant director for historic preservation, said the city should take responsibility for both. Bond said that if the donation did not come through, it would be possible to get it allocated through the city’s general fund. “I think the city should completely own this, embrace it,” Bond said. Several city departments, including legal and parks and recreation, also will review the plans before they are brought to a council vote. All agreed that it wasn’t a question of whether the markers should be erected, but how quickly the wheels of city government could move to make it happen. “The conservancy agrees the panels are needed,” said, Mark Banta, chief executive of the conservancy. The proposed language for the markers varies with location, but all refer to the practice of racial segregation laws instituted after the Civil War that disenfranchised generations of African Americans.
  • A Cobb County detective has been reprimanded for violating the department’s code of conduct after posting derogatory remarks on social media about a Cobb Sheriff’s Office inmate who died in custody. Police Chief Mike Register said Det. Jeff Edgecomb had expressed remorse and will attend sensitivity and social media training to “help him make better decisions.” “We all agree, including the detective, that his comment was insensitive,” Register said. Edgecomb’s comments were made in response to the death of Jessie Myles, a 31-year-old man died after suffering an “unexplained medical event” at the county jail, according to the Marietta Police Department, which arrested Myles. “Non news story … a doper has a medical event and died at the hospital, not the jail,” Edgecomb wrote on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Facebook page in response to an article about Myles’ death. “Why are we reading about this??” According to a “critical incident reminder” provided by the police department, Edgecomb was found to have engaged in “unbecoming conduct,” “because his social media posts were insensitive to the death of another person and ultimately were tied to his employment as a Cobb County police officer.” Myles’ manner and cause of death are being investigated by the county medical examiner. The Cobb Sheriff’s Office said it provided Myles with medical assistance as soon as he showed signs of distress, but has declined to comment further, citing the investigation. If the medical examiner finds Myles’ death was caused by something that happened at the jail, Cobb police or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation could be called in to investigate. Chief Register said it would be up to the sheriff, but that if that were to happen, he would suggest GBI take the case. Three inmates, including Myles, have died in Sheriff’s Office custody since December. The manner and cause of those deaths are under investigation.
  • An experienced workforce development leader hired to help solve problems at Atlanta’s troubled jobs agency walked away after three months, the latest in a string of high-level departures. Valerie Carothers, hired as deputy executive director of WorkSource Atlanta, could not be reached for comment. The City of Atlanta has not responded to a request to see documentation related to Carothers’ leaving. A spokesperson sent an email confirming her depature late Thursday. “At the end of her 90-day probationary period, Ms. Carothers decided to take another path,” it says. Carothers has 20 years of experience in the field of management and workforce development. Her loss is the latest for the agency that has seen leaders come and go, including five mayorally appointed CEOs in five years. Some leaders wonder about the effects of the constant flux on the jobs agency’s ability to manage its programs. It oversees and spends millions of dollars in federal grants. “I think it’s hard for any organization to succeed with continual turnover in leadership, especially for organizations who are troubled,” said City Councilman Matt Westmoreland. WorkSource Atlanta is one of 19 federally funded regional jobs agencies across Georgia tasked with getting young people their first jobs, putting the unemployed and laid-off back to work, and filling employers’ rolls with qualified applicants. It has often underperformed in fulfilling those duties. There was a federal investigation after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2014 exposed fraud and waste at WorkSource that ended with the city paying $1.86 million to the federal government and a WorkSource contractor going to prison for the theft of $600,000. A 2012 city auditor’s report and 2014 city study pointed out multiple shortcomings, and the auditor recommended that Atlanta dump the program because of liabilities it was creating. After the federal investigation, then-Mayor Kasim Reed appointed a former prosecutor to get the agency on track. He stayed more than a year before leaving. He was followed by four other mayorally-appointed interim or short-time CEOs. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms dismissed Reed’s final appointee in mid-2018, Audrey Lawrence, who had years of jobs-agency experience. She replaced Lawrence in the $140,000-a-year job with Kimberlyn Daniel, a former business executive with experience in human resources for companies such as First Data Corp.
  • A title and escrow company plans to create more than 1,000 at its expanded national headquarters in Gwinnett County, officials announced Tuesday.  Partnership Gwinnett and the Georgia Department of Economic Development announced said that OS National LLC plans to invest more than $15 million in its headquarters off Satellite Boulevard near Gwinnett Place Mall.  “In selecting Gwinnett county for our national headquarters we believe we can support OS National’s explosive growth and strategic expansion efforts across the U.S.,” said Jamie Wunder, a managing partner with the company. “We recognize the county’s efforts providing businesses excellent options for growth and helping to grow a rich and diverse talent pool for the future.” PREVIOUS GWINNETT COVERAGE: Fleetcor Technologies relocating from Gwinnett County to Buckhead OS National helps provide title insurance and escrow services  on residential and commercial transactions. It recently celebrated its sixth anniversary and currently has about 300 employees in Gwinnett, officials said.  The company’s announced expansion is a bright spot for Gwinnett, which has rrcently seen a few high-profile businesses leave for more transit-friendly locations near Atlanta. The county rejected a referendum on joining MARTA last month. Said Andrew Carnes, senior director of economic development for Partnership Gwinnett: “We are always happy to work with companies to establish a new location in Gwinnett, but when an existing Gwinnett business chooses to re-invest and bring more jobs to the local community, it speaks volumes to our strong business ecosystem and the available resources that a thriving business needs to succeed.”
  • Two years ago, Priya Marzorati was apprehensive about her move from Buckhead to College Park to be closer to Woodward Academy, her daughter’s school. But she quickly came to love the south Fulton County community — so much so that she was quick to defend it recently when College Park, along with East Point and Union City, appeared in February on a website’s list of the 50 worst cities in the United States. “It’s been great for us. It’s like moving back to the 1960s,” she said. “I think the area gets a bad rap.” Marzorati was not alone in her indignation over the list, published by the financial website 24/7 Wall St., which cited home values, poverty rates and violent crime, among other factors, in compiling its rankings. Civic leaders and residents in the south Fulton cities have pushed back hard against the website’s ranking, saying the data was old and the small size of their cities made it unfair to extrapolate crime rates per 100,000 residents. More than anything else, they said, though some perceive their cities to be bad, the cities themselves are not. In College Park, a city of about 15,000, City Manager Terrence Moore said the fact that the list was written up by news organizations like USA TODAY and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution only helped to spread the word. But he contended that the website used poor methodology to come up with rankings that would reverberate through that city and others for years to come. “They do not take under consideration the realities of the community,” he said. “It’s a false perception issue. It compromises our ability to share what we really are.” Moore and College Park Mayor Jack Longino acknowledged that there is crime in their city. They said they have isolated pockets where it is more frequent, but much of the problem is linked to the small city’s proximity to the world’s busiest airport. College Park has more than 5,000 hotel rooms and a number of park-and-ride lots that serve Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, part of which is within the city limits. All of that swells the city’s daytime population to close to 50,000 people — not counting those who are merely there for a layover, Longino said. The city gets dinged for every car break-in, and all the crime committed by people who are just passing through. It all goes to increasing the city’s crime statistics. Police Chief Ferman Williford said College Park’s major crimes, such as rape, robbery and aggravated assault, fell 20 percent in 2017, and an additional 12 percent last year. Like others who were frustrated by the rankings, Corey Brooks, who owns a shop in College Park’s downtown, thinks race helps shape people’s perceptions of the area. College Park is 79 percent black, according to Census data, while East Point is 76 percent black and Union City 87 percent. In Buckhead, a largely white part of Atlanta, residents are complaining about a spike in crime, but no one is calling the neighborhood a bad place to live, said Brooks, who is African-American. They’re asking officials to make it better. “Without a doubt, there’s a racial component,” he said. “No it’s not fair. It’s what happens, unfortunately.” He said “worst” rankings feed into people’s preconceived notions of a place, and don’t show the money that’s being invested in an area, or the work people are doing. So the narrative doesn’t change. Kupcakerie owner Henry Adeleye was almost a victim of perception as well, despite growing up in East Point. Adeleye said he initially planned to open his shop in East Atlanta or Midtown, before settling on a spot in downtown East Point. He decided to open the bakery in his hometown after a visit to his parents’ house. “Slowly but surely, the perception is changing,” he said. “There are a lot of people trying to push this area forward.” One of those people is Deana Ingraham, East Point’s mayor. She said when the worst cities list drew unwanted national attention to her town in February, her team met about whether to respond, but in the end, decided not to. In addition to the three south Fulton communities, Albany and Fort Valley were the other Georgia cities on the list. “If you pay attention to negativity only, you allow that to overtake you, sometimes you’re stopped,” Ingraham said. “We’re going to keep moving.” Ingraham tries to focus on the positive. Last month, Pop Displays USA announced it was bringing 300 jobs to East Point, from New York. A new city hall is scheduled to open later this month with a large mixed-use development in the works across the street. And a task force started in January to reduce car thefts and break-ins has already yielded results for the 35,000 residents in her city. Ingraham said she knows East Point is not a utopia, but civic leaders there and elsewhere try to keep making things better. “What people call blighted properties, I call opportunity,” she said. “The overwhelming majority of residents know the value of East Point.” Erik Lewis, an East Point resident, said he’d like something to be done about the vacant properties, and he thinks the city could be a little friendlier to business. But the part-owner of the Beer Girl bottle shop in Hapeville said he largely likes his community. “I think East Point could get better, but is it the worst?” he asked. “I live here, so I don’t want to think it is, but I don’t live anywhere else.” Najay Dowdell isn’t surprised by the negative views of the south Fulton cities. She said she plans to move back to Sandy Springs when her lease is up, after her boyfriend’s car was stolen in Union City, and someone tried to break into her vehicle. “I would say there’s better out there,” she said. “I’ve seen it and lived it.” Union City’s mayor, Vince Williams, said he is working hard to address crime and other issues. Through March, major crimes were down 17 percent, though vehicle thefts had risen. But Williams said he’s taking steps to improve the city — boosting the city’s reserves, adding businesses and opening a community center. City officials say the uptick in some crime stats is a result of increased reporting, which they think will have a positive impact on quality of life in the city. “We’re working hard to make sure we change the narrative,” Williams said. “I think we’re doing all the things that are necessary.”
  • A bill that would have put the last parts of unincorporated Fulton County into the city of South Fulton failed to get a vote in the state Senate before the end of this year’s legislative session. As a result of the inaction, that city and Atlanta will continue their annexation attempts for another year. Both cities want the area along the Fulton Industrial Boulevard, a 7.5-square-mile stretch that brings in millions of dollars of tax revenue to the county and the Fulton County schools. The legislation would have sent the area to South Fulton, but left county-owned land, including the airport at Charlie Brown Field, unincorporated. The legislature has twice before passed legislation that would have put the area into South Fulton, only to have it vetoed by then-Gov. Nathan Deal. Atlanta lobbied for the legislation to be delayed this year, and it was tabled on Sine Die - the last day of the session. The legislation will still be alive for next year’s session, but since voters — and the state supreme court — said the area, which had been off-limits since the 1970s, could be annexed, the next year is largely expected to be a political free-for-all. “I think it’s going to be a tug of war on both sides,” said Rep. Roger Bruce, D-South Fulton and the legislation’s sponsor. “Basically, Atlanta is trying to snatch that area of Fulton Industrial.” In a statement, a spokesperson for the city of Atlanta, Michael Smith, said the city was “pleased” with the delay, “and looks forward to working with our neighbors to the south toward a reasonable resolution to the matter.” Ashley Minter-Osanyinbi, a South Fulton spokeswoman, said the city was “disappointed” with the end result, and “is engaging in its next steps in regards to annexation.” At a Fulton County delegation meeting last month, a representative for Atlanta said the city had been trying to negotiate a compromise, but South Fulton representatives denied that that was the case. Atlanta also promised it would not expand Atlanta Public Schools’ borders in any annexation, though legislators questioned the legality of that proposal. The two cities have been fighting over the area for more than two years. “No, I don’t think it’s going to be a compromise,” Bruce said. “I think both sides are going to be trying to get what they can.”
  • Hoping to avoid the type of drama that DeKalb’s ethics board has faced, members of the county’s elections board decided to be proactive in changing the way they are appointed. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled last year that DeKalb’s ethics board members appointed by community groups are serving unconstitutionally. Only elected officials can select people to serve on government oversight boards in Georgia, the ruling said. VIDEO: Previous coverage of DeKalb ethics issues The General Assembly recently approved a fix to get DeKalb’s ethics board back on track, but it has sat dormant for months. The county’s elections board has not been challenged, but members said there was no need to test fate. Related: Supreme Court ruling throws metro Atlanta ethics boards a curveball Related: Georgia legislators approve overhaul of DeKalb County’s ethics code Under existing rules, the two political parties receiving the most votes in an election -- usually the Republican and Democratic parties -- appoint two members each to the DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections. Those four individuals then choose who the fifth and final member of the board will be. The General Assembly has approved a new law that adds another step to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. The legislation still allows the top two political parties to nominate two members each, but the chief judge of DeKalb’s Superior Court gets final say. The chief judge will also select the fifth of the elections board. Senate Bill 246 breezed through the legislative process, passing as part of a slate of local legislation in each chamber. It now awaits Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature. The change would go into effect immediately.

News

  • “Boyz n the Hood” director John Singleton suffered a stroke last week and remains hospitalized, according to his family. >> Read more trending news In a statement released Saturday, Singleton’s family announced that the 51-year-old filmmaker was in a hospital intensive care unit and “under great medical care.” “On Wednesday, April 17th our beloved son/father, John Singleton, suffered a stroke while at the hospital,” the statement reads. “We ask that privacy be given to him and our family at this time and appreciate all of the prayers that have been pouring in from his fans, friends and colleagues.” Author Neil deGrasse Tyson and actor Omar Epps have been among those tweeting wishes Saturday for a quick recovery. Singleton became the first black filmmaker to receive an Oscar nomination when he was cited for his debut feature, “Boyz n the Hood,” which was set in his native Los Angeles and released in 1991. His other films include “Poetic Justice,” which starred Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur, and “Rosewood.” Singleton’s recent projects include the TV series “Snowfall,” a crime drama set in 1980s Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A former football coach and fitness instructor in Bellingham, Washington, pleaded guilty last month to the November 2017 murder of his wife in Park City, Utah.  >> Read more trending news According to a story posted in March by KSTU in Salt Lake City, Anthony Darnel McClanahan’s guilty plea was part of a plea bargain in which prosecutors agreed to remove a domestic violence designation and an enhanced penalty for the use of a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors also agreed to drop a child kidnapping case against him 30 days after his sentencing, according to KSTU. McClanahan is expected to be sentenced on April 29.  McClanahan’s wife, Keri Colleen McClanahan, was found dead at the Park Regency Resort in Park City on Nov. 2, 2017.  “Nothing will ever bring her back,” Heather Gauf, Keri McClanahan's sister, told The Bellingham Herald. “That’s the unfortunate part of this. We have to continue without her, and her children have to grow up without her. He murdered her in a brutal and savage way.” Police found Anthony McClanahan covered in blood and crawling on his stomach outside early in the morning on Nov. 2, according to charging documents. He lifted himself up just enough to flag down a police officer, and then dropped back down and began convulsing, his arms making a 'snow angel motion,' the officer at the scene told prosecutors. Click here to read more.  Originally from Bakersfield, California, McClanahan played four years with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in the mid-1990s after a collegiate football career at Washington State University. He was in training camp with the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL in 1994 but never played in a game. McClanahan started 41 sports fitness boot camps in Bellingham in 2009 and hosted youth football camps in Whatcom County from 2012 to 2016, according to The Bellingham Herald.  Keri McClanahan, who went by KC, had been planning to leave her husband but wanted to help him get on his feet first, Gauf said in 2017. The couple had met when he was working as a personal trainer in Bellingham, and he pushed for a fast wedding, Gauf said. 'It worried me a lot,'' she said, but 'he kind of had us fooled.' After the January 2017 wedding, the McClanahans moved to Arizona together and began traveling to volunteer in areas that had been affected by hurricanes. But his jealousy began to emerge and, in September 2017, he got frustrated about a missed donation and punched his wife, Gauf said. He'd sometimes refer to the effects of head injuries he'd suffered during his football career, though Gauf said she doubts they were the root cause of the violence. After the punch, Keri McClanahan returned home to Washington, but her husband continued to contact her even as he left Arizona with his son. Anthony McClanahan ended up in Utah because he has family there and wanted his son to be an extra in a Disney TV production, Gauf said. Keri McClanahan eventually met him in Utah to help with his son, and stayed to help him get back on his feet after his arrest in October 2017, Gauf said. Information from The Associated Press is included in this report. 
  • A Gordon County youth minister who also managed a frozen yogurt shop was sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to solicit sex from a person he presumed was a teenage boy. Zachary Michael Baker, 29, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to criminal attempt to commit aggravated child molestation, sexual exploitation of a child by use of a computer and obscene internet contact with a child, the Rome News-Tribune reported.  According to the newspaper, Baker thought he was chatting with a 14-year-old named Aidan, but was actually speaking with Floyd County police Capt. Ojilvia Lom when he arranged to meet the teen for oral sex. Authorities began the undercover sting after Baker reportedly posted a Craigslist ad seeking other men to experiment with. The sweetFrog yogurt shop manager was arrested in January after showing up at a location to have sex with the teen. Prosecutors said Baker didn’t initially ask for sex, but slowly “groomed” the teen by building a relationship with him. At one point, Baker asked “Aidan” if his mom could bring him by the yogurt shop so they could see each other and Baker could make sure the teen wasn’t a law enforcement officer, according to the news report. Baker’s attorney sought a reduced sentence since his client didn’t have previous arrests and there wasn’t actually a minor involved, the paper reported. He argued that Baker works two jobs, attended 16 weeks of group therapy and is a part of a men’s support group.The 29-year-old was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by 17 years on probation. Once he’s released, Baker must register as a sex offender. In other news: 
  • A family camping in a remote area of an Australian island was sleeping in its trailer when two dingoes entered and tried to take off with a 14-month-old boy early Friday. >> Read more trending news  The boy suffered puncture wounds to his head and neck after one of the wild dogs tried dragging the boy into some bushes on Fraser Island, which is off the Queensland coast. The parents awoke to the child’s cries fading in the distance as he was being taken away. The father ran outside and fought off several dingoes. “He was apparently grabbed around the back of the neck area and dragged away. So, if it wasn’t for the parents and their quick thinking and fighting off the dingoes, he probably would have had more severe injuries,” Frank Bertoli, a pilot for RACQ Life Flight, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. The boy was flown to a hospital, where he is in stable condition, 9News reported. His parents told 9News he is recovering after undergoing two rounds of surgeries.  This is the third dingo attack on Fraser Island this year. A 9-year-old boy was chased and mauled in February and a 6-year-old boy was bitten on the legs in January, 9News reported. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
  • A driver was pulled over on the way to a job interview and, instead of getting a citation, he was given a ride by the officer. >> Read more trending news  Ka’Shawn Baldwin, 22, was pulled over for expired plates. He also had an expired driver’s license, according to a social media post by the mayor’s assistant.  Baldwin told Cahokia police Officer Roger Gemoules that he was on his way to a job interview and did not have another way to get there.  'I thought it was over,' Baldwin told CNN. 'The main thing that was running through my mind (was): I'm fixin' to miss the job interview and get the car towed that wasn't even mine.' Rather than write a ticket, Gemoules, a high school resource officer, followed Baldwin as he parked the car at a safe location, and then gave him a ride to the interview, CNN reported.  'He was very respectful when I pulled him over and you could just tell. I could feel that he really was wanting to get to this job interview,' Gemoules told CNN. Baldwin got the job as a package handler at FedEx. He also works at McDonald’s, KSDK reported.  Baldwin told KSDK he will be taking the bus to and from work until he gets his license back.
  • A zookeeper at the Topeka Zoo was injured when a tiger attacked her Saturday morning, officials said. >> Read more trending news  The keeper, whose name hasn’t been released, suffered lacerations and puncture wounds to the back of her head, neck and one arm, Topeka Zoo Director Brendan Wiley said. The keeper was awake and alert when she was taken to the hospital, and is in stable condition, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The incident happened around 9:15 a.m. in an outside tiger habitat and involved a 7-year-old male Sumatran tiger named Sanjiv, the Capital-Journal reported. When the keeper entered the space, Sanjiv 'tackled her,' Wiley said. The zoo was open to visitors at the time. 'A few people did see the attack,' city of Topeka spokeswoman Molly Hadfield told ABC News. Other zoo employees were able to lure Sanjiv out of the enclosure with food, Wiley said. If the employees hadn’t done so, 'this could have been a very different outcome,” he said. The zoo was closed for about 45 minutes, but has since reopened, except the tiger exhibit. No action will be taken against the tiger. 'While this incident is very unfortunate, he did what a wild tiger does,' Wiley said. Zoo officials are investigating the incident, Wiley said.