Reported by Jeremy Finley
The mayor of Nashville has a clear message for the city's Criminal Court clerk: Get back to work. The clerk publicly apologized Tuesday after a Channel 4 I-Team investigation reported that David Torrence was out of the office nearly half of last year and admitted to working only three days a week.
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The mayor said his office has received calls about the I-Team's investigation and that he is asked about it when he's out in public.
Torrence issued a press release Tuesday, saying he is embarrassed about what was exposed about his work schedule.
Mayor Karl Dean said he was disappointed when he saw the story: disappointed in Torrence; disappointed in how the I-Team's hidden camera investigations showed Torrence playing hooky during the workweek, golfing and hanging out in his yard; disappointed that the I-Team documented Torrence out of the office about half of last year; and disappointed in Torrence's open admission he only works three days a week.
"On the days when the taxpayers pay you to be doing this job, you openly admit you're golfing, you're working in the yard. You don't have a problem with that?" asked I-Team chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley.
"Like I said, I'm in the office Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays. And those are the days I'm here," Torrence said.
"I think right now what he should do is what every other Metro employee is doing, and that's come to work every day," said Dean.
Through a representative, Torrence said he will now change that work pattern. Below is the full text of Torrence's news release:
I want to apologize to my staff and the taxpayers for the recent controversy surrounding my work schedule. I deeply regret that all this has taken place. The office of the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk has an excellent performance record. We have been innovative and extremely efficient in performing the duties of the office. The performance of the office has never been questioned. The office and the staff have an excellent reputation in this state. I will be fully and completely devoted to my position as Criminal Court Clerk for the remainder of my elected term. I will be dedicated to not causing any future embarrassment to the office and staff of the Criminal Court Clerk.
David C. Torrence Criminal Court Clerk 5/3/11
Dean said he hasn't spoken to Torrence directly.
"If I see him, then I'll say exactly what I'm saying to you: that I think that the message is getting out there, that folks expect people to work a complete week," said Dean.
He said he knows the outrage is growing. The I-Team confirmed that Councilwoman Emily Evans has asked for an internal audit to be conducted of Torrence's office following the I-Team's investigation, and Metro Councilman Charlie Tygard is calling for Torrence to resign or be removed from office.
Torrence's news release did not address the fact that the I-Team reported that he hired his two sons without ever advertising the positions and paid them the salaries of veteran employees.
The mayor also said there's nothing he can do because Torrence is an elected official. Even if Tygard's resolution calling for Torrence's resignation passes, it isn't binding; it's just expressing the council's opinion of his work habits.
The only person who can do anything to Torrence is District Attorney General Torry Johnson. Johnson said that he is researching whether he should or could remove Torrence from office.