Department of Education, Arts and Culture Administrator Missy Crutchfield said Thursday she would answer any questions a City Council committee might have when it meets next week.
“I haven’t been invited, I don’t know if they want me there, but I’m available to be there,” she said.
The audit committee is made up of local certified public accountants. Those on the board include:
* Charles Millsaps, chairman — Charles Millsaps CPA
* David DiStefano — G.R. Rush & Co.
* Jennifer Goodman — Joseph Decosimo & Co.
* David Queen — Queen Financial Services Corp.
* Henry Hoss — Hoss & Company PC
Source: Audit Committee
The committee will meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday to discuss whether Crutchfield and department spokeswoman Melissa Turner violated any laws or ethics rules by creating the online publication Be Magazine and working on it during their regular city hours.
The council forwarded the matter to the Audit Committee after a Chattanooga Times Free Press investigation showed the pair had used city time to work on the for-profit magazine as well as city resources to promote it.
Crutchfield has maintained she never profited from the venture and only used it to market city events.
She said Thursday she “just wants to move on” from the controversy.
Councilwoman Carol Berz, who acts as the committee’s council liaison, said the panel will probably review the city and state codes for employee conduct, as well as the city’s employee handbook. Based upon what they find, the investigation could be expanded, she said.
Charles Millsaps, a local certified public accountant and chairman of the Audit Committee, said Thursday he did not know what will happen when the body meets next week. He said the committee has no investigative powers but could either request an in-house audit or an outside audit.
“The council wanted us to look at it and see what they wanted us to do,” he said.
The committee has authority over both City Auditor Stan Sewell and City Council Auditor Randy Burns, who would conduct the in-house audit.
Sewell said he thinks there will be two meetings, one next week for preliminary discussion and one the following week to review any findings the committee might uncover.
Burns said he may do some preliminary legwork before next week’s meeting. He said he wanted to look at the situation objectively, but he already sees some problems.
“The most troubling thing was [Be Magazine] was chartered as a nonprofit,” he said.
Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield, said the administration welcomes the scrutiny.
“This is a good direction that it’s going to the audit committee, and it will answer any questions remaining,” he said.
Contact Cliff Hightower at email@example.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CliffHightower.
Cliff has worked for the Times Free Press for five years and covers Chattanooga city government. He previously covered Rhea County, as well as transportation and growth and development in Southeast Tennessee. A native of Maryville, Tenn., Cliff graduated in 2003 from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. Before coming to Chattanooga, he was a crime reporter with Hernando Today, a supplement of The Tampa (Fla.) ...