Letter to the Editor

Monday, July 25, 2011 at 12:24am

With the recent discovery of David Torrence’s three-day work week and John Arriola’s $40 “gratuity” for fulfilling part of his job’s duties, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Mayor Karl Dean needs to do a significant audit of Metro government departments and offices.

It’s hard to believe that former Criminal Court Clerk Torrence was able to work, on average, less than 20 hours a week for the last three years without anyone noticing. Not only was Torrence working less than a part-time employee, he used his government vehicle to run personal errands and hired his two sons for jobs within the clerk’s office without even posting the positions.

However, it gets even worse. Torrence admitted to buying wine and transporting it in his government vehicle, which is against Metro employee guidelines, and paid his sons the same salaries that the previous employees had made, instead of at the typical new employee salary.

Similarly, John Arriola’s practice of pocketing $40 for performing marriages went unchecked, possibly since he was elected Davidson County clerk in 2007. Like Torrence, Arriola used his position to secure a job at the clerk’s office for his campaign treasurer, Leighton Bush. And, once again, it gets worse. Bush has not kept records of his work hours since he began in 2007, but supposedly works 20 hours per week.

At a time when the struggling economy is forcing Nashville families to tighten their belts and make every penny count, Metro government should be doing the same. By reviewing spending in departments and offices throughout Metro government, Mayor Dean can find ways to use scarce tax dollars more efficiently. For example, with salaries of over $100,000 a year, the Criminal Court clerk and the Davison County clerk can afford to drive their own vehicle to work; they should not receive a government vehicle.

Similarly, preventing money from being spent unwisely is just as important. With increased oversight of Metro government spending, Torrence’s sons would have been paid at a new employee rate, saving Nashville taxpayers $33,000 in one year alone. This does not mean that a “big brother” Committee on Spending needs to be created and breathe down the necks of Metro employees. However, there does need to be increased oversight (or at the very least changes in oversight), and Metro employees need to be held accountable for their actions and spending.  

Torrence and Arriola are not indicative of Metro government employees as a whole. As with anything, there are always going to be some bad apples in a bunch. Mayor Dean and individuals within Metro government have a responsibility to Nashville taxpayers to ensure that every tax dollar is being used responsibly. In other words, tax dollars should be used to provide necessary services to Nashville residents, not line the pockets of a few selfish and greedy individuals. In order to ensure this goal is met, an audit of many departments and offices within Metro must be completed and increased oversight must be established to ensure that situations like this never happen again. 

Justin R. Hickerson

Nashville 37076


24 Comments on this post:

By: dargent7 on 7/25/11 at 4:53

How was this Arriola "clerk" able to perferm legal and binding wedding ceremonies?
I thought only pastors and priests did those vows, reading here and there from the Bible.
All his are on file with the County so it would be easy to find out how many he performed.
In any case, not reporting his "tips" will get him canned.

By: JayBee56 on 7/25/11 at 5:14

You are right on target. Times are not good and the mayor needs to be focused on finding waste, reducing inefficiencies, and exposing fraudulent activities by people who should know better. But he has been too focused on "economic development" to keep watch on the house entrusted to him. As CEO of the city, the buck stops with him. James Keeton for Mayor - www.JamesKeeton.com

By: yogiman on 7/25/11 at 5:54

I fully agree on the issue of the government furnishing vehicles to different officials. Those vehicles should be furnished only for official use. The 'executives' should get to work in their own vehicles.

By: govskeptic on 7/25/11 at 5:57

As to Mr. Torrence's short work weeks, I would suggest it's gone on far longer than
just the 3 years covered in The DA's recent audit. That 3 yrs was selected because
that's as far back as the prosecutors could legally take any actions. I would suggest
the benefit board could look back much further in figuring the correct retirement pay!

It's long past time all these "Popular elected" Officials offices were audited or scrutinized as to expenses, purchasing, and other human resources matters.
While they may feel as if they are an "Island" unto themselves, the fact is they are
not! They have been elevated because of neglect from other officials who don't
want to rock the boat or offend any supporters of any particular office holders. Those
days should be over state wide and not just in Metro!

By: yogiman on 7/25/11 at 6:01


There is several official positions that has the authority to marry citizens other than religious "guides", i.e., preachers and priests. As an old esquire from an old county Quarterly Court I had the authority to marry couples.

Actually, how does a preacher or priest become official?

By: dargent7 on 7/25/11 at 6:17

"yogi": You misspoke.
I belive you had, "the authority to marry corpses".
And marriage is a "religious" connection. Unless you're a Druid.

By: Kosh III on 7/25/11 at 6:33

"As an old esquire from an old county Quarterly Court I had the authority to marry couples"

Right. My father was a JP and often did marriages. Marriage is between individuals, the judge, cleric or whomever is merely presiding/witnessing over an act done by the individuals.

By: Kosh III on 7/25/11 at 6:34

Take away the cars and give them bus passes and if they need more they can use their own vehicle and request mileage reimbursement once they've proven it was for official business.
Going to and fro from work is NOT official business.

By: dargent7 on 7/25/11 at 6:45

They started up again "gay" marriages in NYC.
These all could very well be legally overturned.
Who would want a county clerk to marry you, gay or straight?
Some old "esquire"?
And K-3, the presiding Minister, Pastor, Priest is remembered forever.
Did you forget who your "Best Man" was?
The "Maid of Honor"?
I think not.

By: serr8d on 7/25/11 at 6:52


"How was this Arriola "clerk" able to perferm legal and binding wedding ceremonies?"

With men able to marry other men now in the largest states in the nation, the concept of marriage is forever soiled. Soon, you can marry your brother or sister, or your entire neighborhood if you like.

Marriage is ruined. But, teh gheys are now vindicated! They can now marry, and carry on their biological functions and successfully contribute their genes to the next generations!


By: gdiafante on 7/25/11 at 6:57

Marriage has been ruined for many years. Arranged marriages, men having sanctioned concubines, children marrying their cousins (yep, right here in the good ole South...bless Robert E Lee's little soul)...all under tha very approving eye of the clergy, mind you. Hypocrites.

This argument's a joke.

And if we are going to eliminate rights based on biological functions, I suppose that those who are reproductively barren should be banished to Antarctica...

But thanks for the laugh so early on a Monday morning...it sets a good tone for the rest of the week.

By: serr8d on 7/25/11 at 7:08

gdonut, all's you needed to do was gaze in your mirror. That's contrived laughter, the best medicine (it won't fix your fugly, but hey, it's all you've got, so...next donut's on me~!).

By: serr8d on 7/25/11 at 7:16

If you want to define when marriage was 'ruined', you can go all the way back to when Islamic 'Prophet' and author of the Most Holy Koran, Mohammed, forced that nine-year-old girl named Aisha to marry him. Fun times~!

As an older man of fifty-plus years, Muhammad married a mere child of six years old and co-habited with her when she was 9 years old. As quoted above, the most trusted collections of hadiths establish the authenticity of this oral tradition. But still, Western Muslims are embarrassed by these hadiths. Sometimes they use a Weak hadith defense to excuse Muhammad's child marriage.

At other times, they use an Arabic culture defense by claiming that no one has the right to judge Oriental culture by Occidental norms. Now, this is a strange defense to make, since Muslims frequently criticized Western culture as being morally decadent. If another culture cannot be morally evaluated, then other cultures must not be judged as morally decadent. But, this conclusion is not acceptable to Muslims, since they argue that an Islamic culture is the better culture. So, we must conclude that cultures may be evaluated morally, or that, someone is hypocritically judging others while not permitting themselves to be judged by the same standard.

However, if hypocrisy is not a good alternative, then it is concluded that cultures may be evaluated morally. In fact, it is permissible, and even desirable, to have moral discussions on cultural issues. Moral discussions on cultural issues occur in many different cultures.


By: bfra on 7/25/11 at 7:30

The mayor should be the first one to be audited, then on down, until all the offices are cleaned up or out. Doubt that Dean is going to do that! That's just covering the local level, then go to the State level.

By: dargent7 on 7/25/11 at 8:22

serr8'd: Arabic culture?
Check out Mitt Romney's family tree.
His grandparents fled to Mexico to excape America's anti-polygomy laws.
That's where ole' Mitt's daddy was born.
Let's see "yogi" rationalize Mitt's legitmancy to be President of the USA on that one.
Romney's great-grandpa had 4 wives and 30 children.
Yes, Mormonism is the way to Heaven and the first stop is the White House.

By: Kosh III on 7/25/11 at 8:46

Hmm, I thought marriage was ruined due to the rampant adultery like Pres. Reagan and New Gingrich.
Or was it due to the many divorces: Mickey Rooney, Rush Limbaugh, Rev. Charles Stanley

or maybe it was ruined in the book of Genesis when Abraham married his sister Sarah? Who'd've thought Abraham was from Alabama?

By: brrrrk on 7/25/11 at 10:53

Kosh III said

"Going to and fro from work is NOT official business."

Obviously you've never worked in the IT industry. I'm not taking a position one way or the other on the letter, I'm just sayin'.

By: Kosh III on 7/25/11 at 1:46


Ok, a few exceptions exist but my point remains. Most folks have to pay for their own transportation to and from work. I'm sure the thousands of folks at Nissan do NOT get a free car and gas.

By: yogiman on 7/25/11 at 1:48

Hell, serr8d,

By the laws now, how about that dog down the street? Or maybe that baboon over in the zoo? Of course, our "judges" know what's best for us. After all, they think they know the laws.

By: yogiman on 7/25/11 at 2:02


I thought you was a bar tender. You seem to be a bar boozer. Correct me if I'm wrong: Romney was born in the U.S. to American parents. Does the fact his grand parents moved to Mexico make him a foreigner?

Please through your brilliance at me; how does his birth compare to Barry Soetoro's? After all, both of his parents were American citizens but the best Barry could come up with was a 18 year old teen-age mother as a U.S. citizen.... in 1961.

Your advice, please. Who is whom on legal eligibility?

By: yogiman on 7/25/11 at 2:04

Sorry, looking too far down the sentence. I meant "throw you brilliance".

By: dargent7 on 7/25/11 at 5:36

"yogi": Obama's dad was born in Kenya. Romney's dad was born in Mexico.
Obama himself, was born in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Romney himself, was born in Detriot, Michigan.
Now try to keep up....you birthers are going to challenge Romney's father being born in Mexico as a deal breaker that his son, Mitt, born on US soil, cannot become President?
And cut the crap about "naturalized".
In the US Constitution, Mexico = Kenya. (foreign country) Hawai'i = Michigan (US states).
This is 5th grade stuff, but....Got it?

By: yogiman on 7/25/11 at 8:13

Nope, I ain't got it. Apparently we went to two different schools. You need to go back to mine.

The fact his father was born in Mexico to American citizens did not deny his American citizenship. Therefore, because his mother was also an American citizen and he was born on US soil he is a natural born citizen.

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