published Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Missy Crutchfield must go

  • photo
    Missy Crutchfield, Chattanooga Administrator of Education, Arts and Culture
    Photo by David Banks

Last week, it was revealed that Sandy Coulter, a 32-year Chattanooga City employee who managed the Tivoli Theatre and Memorial Auditorium, resigned after an internal audit uncovered misappropriation of funds.

A memorandum from City Auditor Stan Sewell indicated that "approximately $12,000 in cash" used to pay advances for shows at the two venues sat in an envelope in an unlocked safe -- in an unlocked office -- "accessible to any staff retrieving office supplies." Further, the petty cash account available to the Tivoli Theatre and Memorial Auditorium employees contained a staggering $10,000 balance -- and no one properly balanced the books for the account.

Perhaps worst of all was the auditor's finding that the venue's employees wrote a number of checks to "cash." That practice is especially concerning, since, as Sewell points out, "there is no way to actually track where the money is being spent or who received the money."

Coulter apparently took advantage of the lax financial controls at the venues she managed, which led to her resignation. The resignations should not stop with Coulter.

Astonishingly, the October memorandum, was not the first time city auditors discovered problems with how money was managed and the books were balanced at the city-owned, taxpayer-funded performance halls. It was at least the fourth time since 2005 city auditors came to the Department of Education, Arts & Culture, which manages the venues, with many of the same exact problems, a review of audit documents revealed.

In an interview last week with Times Free Press reporter Cliff Hightower, Missy Crutchfield, the top administrator of the Department of Education, Arts & Culture, claimed that she never addressed the venues' financial issues because the city's internal audit and finance departments repeatedly told her the problems could be addressed later.

Sewell denied Crutchfield's allegation that his office turned a blind eye toward the inadequate financial protections taking place at the Tivoli and Memorial Auditorium. "We've never said they not fix the problem," he said.

In other words Crutchfield is alleging that the person whose job it is to be the most reliable and trustworthy watchdog of tax dollars -- the city auditor -- said there was no need to worry about repeated financial mismanagement within a city agency.

If only there was some way to determine which of the two city employees -- Crutchfield or Sewell -- was telling the truth.

There is.

While inspecting the Municipal Auditoriums petty cash account, auditor Barry Teague wrote an email to Crutchfield in June 2011 pointing out that, once again, venue employees were writing checks to "cash." In the same email, Teague stated that he "cannot think of a reason a business should write a check to 'cash'." He then reminded Crutchfield that city auditors demanded the check-writing practice be stopped as far back as 2005.

Crutchfield emailed a response later the same day promising, "I will address this first thing tomorrow."

That's strange, isn't it? Crutchfield saying "I will address this first thing tomorrow" in response to a reprimand from a city auditor doesn't seem anything like "they said to fix the issue later" line she tried to sell the public last week.

Now that we know that Crutchfield is the liar -- not Sewell and his team of auditors -- the question is: What should be done about the issue?

Crutchfield's $107,000 annual salary is only the beginning of what she has cost taxpayers. The city's mismanagement of the two venues under her watch is estimated to cost city residents $805,000 this fiscal year alone -- and that doesn't even count the unknown amount of money that might have been lost or stolen as a result of Crutchfield's unwillingness to fix the venues' weak financial oversight.

In addition to Crutchfield's blatant failure to act in the best interest of taxpayers, she was also apparently willing to invent a lie in an attempt to cover up her irresponsible actions. Meanwhile, she threw the city's audit department under the bus and made them appear untrustworthy, inept and lacking in integrity.

When in a position of public trust, there can be no excuse for failing to respect taxpayers' money, ignoring repeated calls to fix problems or dishonestly calling the integrity of another agency into question. As a result, Crutchfield should join Coulter in resigning.

If Crutchfield fails to resign for the damage she's done to taxpayers and the reputation of the city's audit department, Mayor Ron Littlefield should make the decision to hand Crutchfield a well-deserved pink slip.

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GeorgiaRebel said...

I doubt anything will be done about her ineptness and dishonesty. She is in bed with the rest of the crooks running the city and they cover for one another.

December 12, 2012 at 2:43 a.m.
joneses said...

Wow! That Crutchfield fruit does not fall far from the tree. So basically Ms. Missy has cost the city close to 1 million dollars by her incompatence?

December 12, 2012 at 7:09 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Another example of the sewage problem with the Littlefield reign.

December 12, 2012 at 8:57 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

From soft core porn star can you say the movie "New York Nights" to turning a blind eye to corruption...your dad must be proud Missy

December 12, 2012 at 9:39 a.m.
Gidget said...

The fact that she has not been ousted from her position and run out of town speaks volumes for the corruption in this city.

December 12, 2012 at 10:50 a.m.
nmfrazier said...

I can tell this is one of the new DREW articles that the paper has started running and I haven't even looked at today's paper. A couple of things I want to point out, this is a new writer for the paper and he is also new Chattanooga. He is obviously just trying to write hate articles about everything trying to make a name. All this guy does is write about all the things he perceives as negative in Chattanooga. I challenge him to write about what he likes about Chattanooga. If he cant come up with anything then I must ask why he chose this great city to call home. As for this topic Missy is a great person who does her job well. There was a mix up in the financials and the person apparently responsible is no longer employed. As a manager of staff myself, what else can be done? It bothers me that people say things via social media and other outlets that they would never comprehend saying in a face to face meeting. This is truly unprofessional of the writer and of the paper to let it happen.

December 12, 2012 at 10:59 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

nmfrazier wrote: "As for this topic Missy is a great person who does her job well."

If corruption is her job then yes, she's doing it well.

December 12, 2012 at 11:03 a.m.
nmfrazier said...

daytonsdarwin - While you have every right to accuse someone of being "corrupt" it does help to provide examples of some corrupt actions. So please explain?

December 12, 2012 at 11:18 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Start by reading this article. Then do a Goggle search. Go back at least 8 years. Get your head out of the sand.

December 12, 2012 at 12:02 p.m.
aae1049 said...

MMfrazier I see you are blogging from the city computer again. Don't you have some checks to write, and embezzling work waiting for you at Memorial Auditorium.

Missy Crutchfield is corrupt. She has been operating a private corporation on city time with her city paid assistance Melissa Turner, advertising their private corporation on city taxpayer ad space, on the city website, and updating Be Magazine content on city time. This was well researched and reported by the TFP. Crutchfield should have been fired for Be Magazine and using tax payer resources to promote and build her private corporation.

Crutchfield also entered into a contract for internet service without bid or council approval, and the city was sued for those actions. Finally she is an incompetent ding bat, who is only employed because of political connections. She had no prior experience or civic venue management expense to warrant being hired for the new created position.

So For the Record, MMFrazier you are an idiot, and Missy Crutchfield is corrupt.

December 12, 2012 at 12:09 p.m.
nmfrazier said...

i dont work for the city sorry. i work for a private company but thanks.

aae1049 = classy

December 12, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Yes, I am very classy, don't you forget it. How does a ding bat with no experience in civic venues or managing large groups leverage a newly created position over 2 major venues. Amazing.

mmfrazier (Missy O'Shea) you are absurd.

December 12, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.
nmfrazier said...

who is missy o'shea? your classiness is shown by the minute.... please keep it up. your making yourself look better and better.

December 12, 2012 at 12:54 p.m.
aae1049 said...

mmfrazier, you seem a little to vested in this blog, during working hours, I am certain you are a gov. employee.

December 12, 2012 at 1:12 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Missy O'Shea...the star of that soft porn classic "New York Nights" for the uniformed...O'Shea is also full glory nude too LOL

December 12, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

I am no fan of mayor Littlefied or his administration, however, I would imagine the issues with the lack of proper financial controls with the theater and auditorium had been occurring for some time now. Placing all the blame on Crutchfield for the issue may be premature at this time.

December 12, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Ordinaryguy, would that work be considered job experience for the Mayor's office.:-)

December 12, 2012 at 4:14 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

I am suprised her "boyfriend" has not come on here defending her

December 12, 2012 at 4:53 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Ordinaryguy He should work by getting NYN off the internet first;

December 12, 2012 at 5:11 p.m.
fairmon said...

There have been adequate irregularities in Ms. Crutchfield's tenure as head of the AEC department to warrant her departure. It appears the mayor and council are either very tolerant or have other reasons for not representing people around this issue. Few people pay attention to city politics and have no idea how much tax money is spent on the discretionary frivolity of the Arts Education and Arts department with non additive activities without considering any amount that may been for personal gain by those in the department. Can you imagine a manager with an attitude I leave fiscal responsibility of the operations up to the auditors. The article is very clear that her response to a specific question regarding the issue was not truthful. It is time for a cost benefit analysis of the AE&C department and a decision made as to whether it is a necessary and valued city residents service...In my opinion it is a complete waste of money, those interested in sculptures, maintaining them etc. need to fund the activity with private donations. The city owning the auditorium, the Tivoli, The Chattanoogan and many other businesses like some socialist country is an issue that should upset people living in the city limits and should be investigated. She may suffer from dingbatism.

December 12, 2012 at 6:02 p.m.
crow1033 said...

It's the EAC that Ms. Crutchfield runs. The AEC is a well run non-profit (not government) that has provided arts programming for over thirty years.

December 12, 2012 at 6:31 p.m.
jjmez said...

You all should be ashamed of yourselves, going on like high schoolers attacking this woman. Ride high on your cruelty while it last. At some point it will come crashing down around you. For as the Bible advise: Fret not thyself because of evildoers...for they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Old Testament: Psalms, xxxvii, 1-2

December 12, 2012 at 7:27 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

The AEC does receive taxpayer money and is run by the daughter of a sitting City Council person, Sally Robinson.

jjmez, ashamed of what? Pointing out the waste and dereliction of a political appointee or should the administration be ashamed she's been doing this for so long yet remains in her protected political position?

December 12, 2012 at 8:16 p.m.
jjmez said...

daytonsdarwin said... jjmez, ashamed of what? Pointing out the waste and dereliction of a political appointee or should the administration be ashamed she's been doing this for so long yet remains in her protected political position?

The personal attacks. As if the attackers themselves are squeaky clean and have led a stellar life with no skeletons in their own closets. Most everyone knows better. Do you or anyone actually believe the pitcforkers and torch bearers are going to peform any better if they get their own cronies in place? They're going to pay themselves first and take care of friends and family just like anyone else would do.

December 12, 2012 at 9:53 p.m.
BillVol said...

Hey, at least spell her name right. It is missy crutchfield. Lower case "m" and "c." Anybody remember those days? She is a joke. Thanks to the TFP for this editorial.

December 12, 2012 at 10:42 p.m.
Facts said...

I didn't grow up in Chattanooga but have heard that Missy Crutchfield is related to former Mayor Jon Kinsey. So how many ways can this town get more incestuous?! There's a Crutchfied/Kinsey connection to corruption all over this area.

December 12, 2012 at 10:58 p.m.
joneses said...

Has there ever been a Crutchfield that has not ever lived off the government? I do not know of one. I remember at a commencement ceremony where the corrupt father of the corrupt Missy Crutchfield gave a speech and it was all about what he had accomplished and nothing inspirational. He was a joke and it was obvious how displeased the graduates were at this self centered commencement address. I wonder what his commencement address would be now? It would probably be how to stay out of jail and get house arrest.

December 13, 2012 at 9:06 a.m.
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