published Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Audit cites four possible violations by Crutchfield


by Cliff Hightower

A Chattanooga department administrator may have violated four city policies by running a for-profit, online publication using city time and resources, an informal audit found.

City Auditor Stan Sewell’s audit, released Wednesday, states that “policies were violated” by Department of Education, Arts and Culture Administrator Missy Crutchfield and department spokeswoman Melissa Turner when they were running Be Magazine. Sewell said at least one of the violations could be a firing offense.

He wrote that Be Magazine did not appear to be operated for personal gain and acknowledged that Crutchfield and Turner told him that.

“Regardless of whether the statements of Ms. Crutchfield and Ms. Turner are accurate, there remains an appearance of impropriety,” Sewell wrote.

City Council Auditor Randy Burns said Wednesday he would not conduct his own audit, but would read Sewell’s report and make sure the audit committee’s questions were answered.

WHAT’S NEXT

The audit committee could meet next week after City Council Auditor Randy Burns finishes his report, but no time has been set. The audit committee will hear reports from Burns and City Auditor Stan Sewell, then forward findings to the City Council.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to do double work on this,” he said.

Burns said he would begin preparing his report this week and the audit committee should be able to meet sometime next week.

Crutchfield could not be reached for comment.

She was named administrator for Education, Arts and Culture in 2005 when Mayor Ron Littlefield created the department. Richard Beeland, spokesman for Littlefield, said Tuesday the mayor and administration would reserve comment.

“It would be improper for us to comment on it until it goes to the audit committee and the [City] Council,” Beeland said.

POLICY VIOLATIONS

Sewell stated in his memo that running the magazine out of a city office could violate state law by implying a contract between the city and the magazine.

It may violate the city’s nepotism policies because Crutchfield is Turner’s supervisor, he wrote, and it violates city code by using city resources for personal venture, he said.

Sewell recommended that Turner either resign as vice president of Be Communications LLC or step down as Education, Arts and Culture spokeswoman.

Beeland said Wednesday Turner would not be available for comment.

During his investigation, Sewell said he found that neither Crutchfield nor Turner had filled out forms required when city employees take outside jobs.

Such a violation could result in firing, he wrote.

Sewell said the use of city resources and cross-marketing of the magazine in publications gave the appearance of an implied or unwritten contract, which would violate state law since city employees are not allowed to have contracts with the city.

But he noted that the mayor had asked for all city references to be taken off the magazine’s website.

Sewell wrote that he found no city money used for the magazine, but the use of city time and resources could be seen as a benefit.

Beeland would not comment on whether there could be additional discipline for either woman.

“As far as we’re concerned, there was never any intention to deceive,” he said.

Crutchfield works directly for the mayor. Whatever the final report says, the council may have no authority to impose any discipline or reprimands, according to city code.

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mike68 said...

Cliff Hightower you continue to put your spin on this story. You start out by saying, "for profit website publication". Give me a break! Hightower you need to read some of the other online articles from your brothers & sisters in journalism, and see what they wrote. You especially need to read chattanoogan.com. You could pickup some good tips, to become a much better writer for the Times Free Press.

Hightower, read the audit report! They generated "no" revenue, or profit. Didn't even try! Missy Crutchfield told you why they setup an LLC, and the audit report supports that fact, but you continue to "not" want to report that fact. You continue to muddy this story. Report the facts of why they setup an LLC, and quit trying to paint the wrong picture. It possibly wasn't a wise decision for them to setup the LLC for there intent of the website, however that will come out with the mayor and city council. However, Missy Crutchfield & Melissa Turner had nothing but good intentions when the website was launched.

Hightower you've apparently got it out for Missy Crutchfield, and possibly anyone in Mayor Littlefield's administration. No writer or journalist is trying to spin or paint this story in a negative way in Chattanooga right now, but you!

Hightower, I want to give you some suggestions coming from a loyal Times Free Press subscriber. You need to write a story on all of the good things that Missy Crutchfield and her department does for our city. You need to report how hard she works and how she trys to be creative with her department with very little budget. You need to talk about the great EAC programs and events. That's what the readers of the Times Free Press need to hear!

Brighten our day, and give us some POSITIVE NEWS sometimes! Quit trying to turn the great name of the Times Free Press into the National Enquirer!

October 14, 2010 at 10:08 a.m.
Allison12 said...

@mike68 If the TFP doesn't report these issues who will? Thank goodness these reporters are willing to take the heat to capture the truth. I believe that the taxpayers appreciate knowing that city resources and advertising are being diverted to a private LLC. It is an interesting concept to leverage donated advertsing space under the color of City functions, and advertise an employee' private company. These employees are common theives, and maybe if Missy Crutchfield and Ms. Turner would focus on City business this would be a non issue. Shame on both of these employees for using taxpayer funded resources on their private LLC.

October 14, 2010 at 10:21 a.m.
mike68 said...

Allison 12 I'm all for the truth! Hightower needs to report all of facts though. This website was created to assist in marketing Education, Arts & Culture. They possibly went about establishing the website the wrong way, however it was will all with good intentions. Not to make money on taxpayer dollars. This department has very little marketing dollars. Checkout the city budget to confirm.

I've worked with both of these ladies and they do a lot for our city, with very little credit.

October 14, 2010 at 11:04 a.m.
Allison12 said...

@mike68 I could tell that you were very biased without your disclosure of "working with both" as you stated. I am not buying the notion that it was all well intended. They could have created a Be Mag website for the City without stamping their private ownership with an LLC. Everything they did could have been accomplished under the umbrella of the City of Chattanooga. Only problem is, without the LLC they could not take Be Magazine with them after the Littlefield term expires. A first year auditor would toss the excuse your co workers present. The State comptrollers office needs to intervene on behalf on the taxpayers and conduct the full audit that Mr. Sewell stated that he did not perform in his report to gov. standards.

October 14, 2010 at 11:22 a.m.
mike68 said...

Allison 12, the LLC has nothing to do with taking the website on further after Mayor Littlefield's term. They can do that whether its a LLC or not! The LLC was simply there as legal protections. Read the audit report Allison 12.

Allison 12 I'm certaily bias after seeing & being a citizen supporter of there department. Possibly if you'd seen all the hard work & effort that goes into what there department is all about, you may feel the same way!

October 14, 2010 at 11:54 a.m.
Allison12 said...

@Mike68, City employees are insured and have tort protection, an LLC does not. There was absolutely no benefit to the City for an "marketing" LLC, but there was a huge benefit to Missy Crutchfield and Ms. Turner as owners a product launched by the City of Chattanooga. Further, the EAC dept. is a huge waste of money that was created for political favors and winning the 2005 election. In a City with a 22% poverty rate (source Ochs Center reports), I view forcing tax dollars from citizens trying to feed their familty for art and a political hack as immoral, in a New York Nights sort of way the taxpayers are being......
Citizens should demand that the state comptroller office intervene and conduct a full audit, please call the State Comptroller's Toll-Free Anony,Hotline and ask for a third party audit of Be Magazine activities: 1-800-232-5454

October 14, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.
clinthardwood said...

My taxes pay for Missy O'Shea While she plays on the computer all the day. Her friends hate that we want our govt. clean So they say we're art-hating philistines.

October 14, 2010 at 12:17 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Name one tangible thing that EAC has done? The city went out of the education business years ago, the "culture" is nothing more than "feel good" political correctness, and as for the "arts".

Great to see the political appointee and one time "movie queen", and glorified traffic reporter receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Is it true that EAC, will host a showing of "New York Nights" at Cooledge Park next summer?

October 14, 2010 at 12:21 p.m.
Allison12 said...

@Mike68 Is this video art? I think it is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOCvd_WIPnQ

October 14, 2010 at 1:18 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Hey Allison, doubt Mike will find Ms. O'Shea exploits art..

October 14, 2010 at 2:43 p.m.
joe_six_pack said...

Who is Missy O'Shea and what is "New York Nights"?

October 14, 2010 at 3:27 p.m.
clinthardwood said...

"Missy O'Shea" was Miss Crutchfield's stage name in the 80's. She starred in a sleazy film called New York Nights. Check it out if you want to see her in the buff doing kinky stuff it would be better to not "explore" here. Rent it as a true patron of the arts.

October 14, 2010 at 3:51 p.m.
FM_33 said...

Harry Statel http://harrystatel.com Username: harrystatel | On: October 14, 2010 at 1:10 p.m.


Checked out your web page and it's a tripp.

October 14, 2010 at 4:18 p.m.
princehal said...

Cliff Hightower you continue to put your spin on this story. You start out by saying, "for profit website publication". Give me a break! Hightower you need to read some of the other online articles from your brothers & sisters in journalism, and see what they wrote. You especially need to read chattanoogan.com. You could pickup some good tips, to become a much better writer for the Times Free Press.

Hightower, read the audit report! They generated "no" revenue, or profit. Didn't even try! Missy Crutchfield told you why they setup an LLC, and the audit report supports that fact, but you continue to "not" want to report that fact. You continue to muddy this story. Report the facts of why they setup an LLC, and quit trying to paint the wrong picture. It possibly wasn't a wise decision for them to setup the LLC for there intent of the website, however that will come out with the mayor and city council. However, Missy Crutchfield & Melissa Turner had nothing but good intentions when the website was launched.

Hightower you've apparently got it out for Missy Crutchfield, and possibly anyone in Mayor Littlefield's administration. No writer or journalist is trying to spin or paint this story in a negative way in Chattanooga right now, but you!

Hightower, I want to give you some suggestions coming from a loyal Times Free Press subscriber. You need to write a story on all of the good things that Missy Crutchfield and her department does for our city. You need to report how hard she works and how she trys to be creative with her department with very little budget. You need to talk about the great EAC programs and events. That's what the readers of the Times Free Press need to hear!

Brighten our day, and give us some POSITIVE NEWS sometimes! Quit trying to turn the great name of the Times Free Press into the National Enquirer! Username: mike68 | On: October 14, 2010 at 10:08 a.m. ===================================================== Huh? I'm not picking up a spin on this. Seems like pretty straightforward reporting. I mean, I see little to no analysis and just a regurgitation of facts.

October 14, 2010 at 5:54 p.m.
fairmon said...

I see no spin on the story, only facts that doesn't shed a good light on the issue. I have and most citizens have a zero value for EAC. It is a Littlefield feel good project at a ridiculous cost and should be abolished. How many policeman could be added for the money the EAC is budgeted. What new businesses and jobs has the EAC dept. brought to Chattanooga?

I find fault with the rubber stamp council for approving it.

October 14, 2010 at 6:23 p.m.
FM_33 said...

There was a time when i used to get upset at Littlefield for not doing more to help this city, but then i found out how controled every body is that has any leadership position in this city.

Dealing and changing out the money handlers in this city is where we people who which to make a change need to start. It is the only way to start the process of hope and recovery that people have been praying for a long time to come for this town.

October 14, 2010 at 6:42 p.m.
Allison12 said...

princehal You want the reporters to produce articles that convey the EAC propaganda, and omit the fact that .gov employees were busy launching an LLC with City resources, and advertising their LLC in taxpayer funded publications, newsletters and the City website. You must of skipped over the audit section, that stated a profit does not have to exist when using City resources. If you want plums and fairy government articles, you may wish to dial 1-800-Call-GriscomFast. The TFP has to get their grove back, the public needs them badly.

October 14, 2010 at 8:04 p.m.
Neo said...

Personal gain comes in many forms.

Be magazine was created to assist in marketing Education, Arts & Culture. Ms. Crutchfield already stated to the media she set up the LLC to promote and market her day job with the EAC, that is personal gain.

Clearly, she intended to use BE magazine to toot her own department's horn, and make herself and her department look good from it, that is also personal gain, using her LLC to essentially write her own press and paint herself as a leader, as the head and not the tail, and to try and prove with her own self written press that the EAC is a vital part of city government, when in fact it's quite useless.

The EAC's $2 million dollar plus budget could be put to better use.

If that budget is going to be used in the name of education why not actually educate someone with it?

I wonder how many students could have their entire college tuition paid for each year at UTC for what the EAC wastes on $50,000 lawn gnome sculptures and painting murals.

October 15, 2010 at 9:36 a.m.
Neo said...

"The LLC was simply there as legal protections."

Ms. Crutchfield's statement that she set up the LLC to protect herself from possible copyright infringement lawsuits is utterly ludicrous.

If you wish to protect the name of your business or organization, even a non-profit one, you file a trademark.

If you wish to protect the content of your web site you file a copyright and make certain to use only original content you created and not steal content from the website of others.

A significant amount of the content on Be Magazine's websiteappears to have been scraped from other sites, and would violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Basically she is just recycling content and positive news stories from other sites and trying to pass it off as her own original magazine with a warm-fuzzy, feel-good story vibe.

October 15, 2010 at 9:42 a.m.
fairmon said...

Operating a for profit or not for profit LLC or business appears to require much more business experience and acumen than Ms. Crutchfield has.

Perhaps it is time to let her go out on her own and get that experience and end the tax payer funded feel good EAC department. Very few tax payers value the EAC product and certainly not to the level of $2 million per year.

How many depratment heads receive compensation equal to approximately 7% of their annual budget?

October 17, 2010 at 8:14 a.m.
skinemaxfan said...

If Missy "O'Shea" Crutchfield wasn't crooked Ward's daughter, she would never have had the EAC created in her behalf. That said, any person with powerful enough ties to have an entire $2M/yr department created as a personal favor has enough metal to do what she wants with impunity thereafter. What's sad is that her assistant, who probably works very hard for her modest salary and looks up to Missy as some sort of mentor, will get canned over this and Missy will come out unscathed due to her connections. The EAC, a department conceived out of nepotism and draining resources away from truly important pursuits, is the perfect illustration of what's wrong with our city's government.

October 17, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.
skinemaxfan said...

Here's a fun fact. All of this "bad press" has actually benefited Be Magazine. When this story broke they had about 400 Facebook followers and they now have almost 700. If she continues to increase web traffic to her site at this rate, she'll have some nice advertising revenue coming in before long, and since its registered as a for-profit LLC, she gets to keep it all for her self. For celebrities like Missy, any press is indeed good press.

October 17, 2010 at 12:32 p.m.
skinemaxfan said...

What the auditors need to look at is who paid for the 25,000/issue 24 page glossy color publications that were delivered to Chattanooga students from "Chattanooga Teen Scene" which is claimed to be owned by "BE Communications, LLC" and later morphed into "Be Teen Scene". I have a hard time believing that Missy dropped thousands of dollars of her own money on this publication. My guess is that the city was paying for the printing and distribution of publications from "Be Communications, LLC", which was stated in city publications to be a "partner" to the EAC, but without contract or approval. From the EAC newsletter:

"Chattanooga Teen Scene - A partnering publication with EAC, Chattanooga Teen Scene is a magazine by teens for teens. Driven by an active teen editorial board that meets monthly at the Chattanooga Hamilton County Bicentennial Library, Chattanooga Teen Scene has developed into a monthly online publication with quarterly print editions reaching approximately 25,000 middle and high school students in Hamilton County."

From the Beteenscene.com website:

"Chattanooga Teen Scene is a quarterly publication, (printed in 24-page tabloid size newsprint format), in its third year as the voice of Chattanooga's teens. Driven by a teen editorial board, Chattanooga Teen Scene is a magazine by teens and for teens.

Chattanooga Teen Scene is published by Be Communications LLC and spotlights nationally syndicated material from Be Teen Scene, a web-based affiliate of the online publication Be Magazine."

October 17, 2010 at 7:15 p.m.
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