Metro Councilman Michael Craddock, a candidate for mayor, said Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk David Torrence should be removed from office following a damning report aired Thursday by WSMV-TV in which Torrence admits to working only three days a week.
“I think any politician that behaves like that should be removed from office in some form or fashion,” Craddock told The City Paper. “I don’t know if there’s a mechanism to do that or not. It is pathetic that people act that way.”
The WSMV report showed footage of Torrence, who earns a $125,000 yearly salary, performing yard work, stopping by the bank and picking up wine at a liquor store — using a public vehicle — during office hours of a recent workweek.
In an interview with a WSMV reporter, Torrence did not dispute the footage. He acknowledged that he works three days a week — Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays — and sometimes takes time off to play golf. In fact, swipe records that record when Torrence enters the garage to his office suggests he often works two times a week, the report revealed.
Craddock is in a unique position to criticize, having lost to Torrence last year in the Criminal Court clerk Democratic primary. Torrence, clerk for the last 17 years, won overwhelmingly, collecting 66 percent of the vote to Craddock’s 34 percent.
Leading up to last spring’s primary, Craddock made several inquiries to see Torrence’s swipe records.
“I’m not surprised,” Craddock said of Torrence’s work record. “I knew he was behaving like that. It had come to me six months before Election Day last year that he was behaving like that.
“It’s very disappointing we have someone that has accepted the public trust to run for political office and then would act that way,” Craddock added. “I think it’s basically theft. That’s what it is.”
Craddock is Mayor Karl Dean’s lone election opponent. This month, Torrence publicly endorsed Dean’s re-election bid. Election Day is Aug. 4.
The City Paper could not immediately reach Torrence for comment.
One mechanism to remove a constitutional officeholder is through the state’s “ouster statute” — T.C.A. 8-47-101— which applies to officials who “knowingly or willfully neglect to perform [certain] duties.”
Either the state’s attorney general or a local district attorney is authorized to initiate the statute in court.
Torrence’s term expires in 2014.