Investigates

Xtend Healthcare in Hendersonville, had no experience with contact tracing when it scored its first state contract for $20 million. (Photo: John Partipilo)

No-bid contract earns company $55 million from state for contact tracing

BY: - November 23, 2021

In the early summer of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed even the nation’s most robust public health programs, Tennessee became one of a handful of states that chose to outsource contact tracing to a private vendor. In June 2020, Hendersonville-based Xtend Healthcare, a for-profit medical billing firm without prior experience in infectious disease, inked […]

(Photo illustration by John Partipilo.)

Lawsuits pile up against former funeral director

BY: and - November 3, 2021

Lawsuits continue to pile up against four funeral homes and an ex-funeral director accused of failing to send the remains of deceased immigrants back to their families overseas for burial. On Monday, the family of Ramon Lara Castillo — a 63-year-old Nashville house painter who succumbed to liver cancer in October 2020 — filed a […]

In grainy still photos cropped from video sent to the Tennessee Lookout by staff at the Tennessee Department of Children's Service, a teen sleeps on the bare floor while another lies on an air mattress with no blanket. (Photo: submitted)

Workers describe “unmanageable” caseloads, high turnover and low morale at Department of Children’s Services

BY: - August 6, 2021

Caseloads are too high, turnover is constant and morale has reached new lows, a March survey of workers responsible for protecting Tennessee children from abuse and neglect revealed. The internal Department of Children’s survey obtained by Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, and Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville — released to reporters Thursday — included scores of comments […]

Saddler Funeral Home in Lebanon, where Reid Van Ness stored bodies for months at a time. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Second lawsuit filed against unlicensed funeral director and two funeral homes

BY: - August 4, 2021

A second lawsuit has been filed against two Middle Tennessee funeral homes and a Tennessee funeral director who lost his licenses for failing to send bodies of deceased immigrants overseas for burial. Filemon Dominguez Diaz died in November, 2019.  After his death, an acquaintance, Domingo Carlin Sanchez, contacted Diaz’s sister, Martha Angelica Dominguez Torres, to […]

In grainy still photos cropped from video sent to the Tennessee Lookout by staff at the Tennessee Department of Children's Service, a teen sleeps on the bare floor while another lies on an air mattress with no blanket. (Photo: submitted)

Dixie calls for Department of Children’s Services investigation

BY: - August 2, 2021

Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville is calling on the chairs of the legislative Government Operations Committee to conduct an investigation into the Department of Children’s Services after the Tennessee Lookout reported kids in state custody are being forced to sleep on the floor of state office buildings. “Recent reports of children in state custody sleeping on […]

In grainy still photos cropped from video sent to the Tennessee Lookout by staff at the Tennessee Department of Children's Service, a teen sleeps on the bare floor while another lies on an air mattress with no blanket. (Photo: submitted)

Kids in state custody forced to sleep on floors in state office building

BY: - August 2, 2021

A teenage girl in a pink hoodie and jeans slept restlessly in a downtown Nashville office, with no pillow, sheet, blanket, mattress or pad separating her from the carpeted floor. Another teen slept directly on the floor, too, huddled under a single blanket. A few feet away, two elementary-school-age kids slept head to toe on […]

A federal agency found the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency fired employee Amanda Woods after she brought compliance issues to agency leaders, a violation of the federal Whistleblower Protection Act. (Photo: John Partipilo)

MDHA retaliated against whistleblower, according to federal investigation

BY: - July 26, 2021

The Metro Development and Housing Agency retaliated against a whistleblower who reported poor supervision of workers participating in a federal jobs program, suspending her without pay and effectively demoting her last year. Two federal investigation reports detailed the findings that MDHA retaliated against Amanda Wood, a veteran of the agency with a track record of […]

COMMENTARY
The State of Tennessee spent $11 million on messaging before firing Dr. Michelle Fiscus for spreading the message approved by Gov. Lee's office. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Fired immunization director never saw letter recommending termination

BY: - July 15, 2021

The Department of Health fired its director of the immunization program for several reasons, including failure to consult superiors on the state’s vaccine program, according to a letter placed in her personnel file. But Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who was terminated Monday, says she didn’t know about the letter written by Dr. Tim Jones on July […]

Long-time racer Ronnie Campbell takes his car for a drive on the Fairgrounds Speedway. Photo: John Partipilo)

Survey from Nashville community group details concerns about Fairgrounds track

BY: - July 14, 2021

A community engagement group figured people living near the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway had something to say about NASCAR racing returning to the track, and they were correct.  On Tuesday, Stand Up Nashville (SUN) representatives presented results from a recent survey to the Board of Fair Commissioners meeting, detailing local resident’s concerns.  In March, Metro Nashville […]

Saddler Funeral Home in Lebanon, where Reid Van Ness stored bodies for months at a time. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Funeral board warns consulates against unlicensed Tennessee funeral director as more bodies go missing

BY: and - May 13, 2021

Tennessee officials this week cautioned the Mexican and Guatemalan consulates in Atlanta against doing business with an ex-funeral director and embalmer who lost his licenses more than a year ago for failing to send bodies of deceased immigrants overseas for burial.

Tyson Foods’ expansion in west Tennessee is pitting longtime farmers against one of the nation’s biggest protein suppliers

BY: - May 3, 2021

BEECH BLUFF, TN — Larry Blankenship and his wife, Monica, lived in a trailer on his father’s farm for more than 30 years while saving for a home of their own. They finally did in 2019, moving into a pretty one-story ranch built where their trailer used to be.  But their joy was short-lived; the […]

Joan and Michael Berry, Johnia Berry's parents, in their Knoxville home. A portrait of Johnnia as a little girl hangs in the background. (Photo: Patrick Murphy-Racey)

‘A massive breakdown in the system’: Tennessee has failed to collect DNA from 76,000 violent offenders

BY: - April 19, 2021

KNOXVILLE — After the brutal murder of their 21-year-old daughter in 2004—and in the years that followed without an arrest—Joan and Mike Berry channelled their grief, and their rage, into a fight for stronger victim protections. Johnia Berry was stabbed more than 20 times by a home intruder six weeks after she moved to west […]