published Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Mayor: Remove city references from website


by Cliff Hightower

Mayor Ron Littlefield asked a department head to remove any city references from her online magazine and to stop working on it during city time.

Department of Education, Arts & Culture Administrator Missy Crutchfield conceded last week that she and department spokeswoman Melissa Turner have marketed the for-profit website, Be Magazine, during business hours.

“I have instructed Ms. Crutchfield to remove any reference to the city of Chattanooga from her Be Communications/Be Magazine LLC website and cease working on this endeavor when in the capacity of her position within the city,” Littlefield said in a statement.

He also said any such “private endeavor” needs to have permission from him, as well as city attorney approval.

Crutchfield could not be reached for comment. Richard Beeland, spokesman for the mayor, said Monday she would not have anything additional to say.

A Times Free Press investigation into the matter last week showed Crutchfield and Turner were working on the Be Magazine website during business hours. Crutchfield also cross-promoted her site in city newsletters and city advertising in private magazines. Crutchfield said she started the site as a hobby.

Council members were divided Monday about whether an audit of the department should be conducted, or if they should hear from Crutchfield during an Education, Arts & Culture Committee meeting.

Councilman Andraé McGary, chairman of the committee, said Monday he would ask council members today to discuss the matter next week in a special meeting.

He said he did not think an audit is warranted.

“That smacks of moving rashly,” he said.

Election records show Mr. McGary received $300 last year for his campaign from former state Sen. Ward Crutchfield, D-Chattanooga, who is Missy Crutchfield’s father. McGary said that would not play a role in his decisions and said Ward Crutchfield has “not asked him for anything.”

Council Chairman Manny Rico said an audit is needed.

“We’re going to do what we have to do,” he said.

Councilman Jack Benson agreed, saying an audit seemed the most fair and reasonable way of finding all the facts.

“That audit would have recommendations of what actions we should take,” he said.

Crutchfield and Turner started Be Magazine on Nov. 11, 2009. Crutchfield said the site is a cheap way to market the city. The site includes stories and blogs about people within the city and personal opinions, some about general topics.

Councilwoman Pam Ladd said Monday she wants to ask Crutchfield questions directly and said she agreed with having the administrator in front of the Education, Arts & Culture Committee.

“It gives an appearance of concern for me, but I don’t have all the facts,” she said.

Littlefield said in his statement that Crutchfield working on the magazine during business time was not a “wise step,” but added that he believes she did not do it to “deceive or garner financial gain.”

Continue reading by following this link to a related story:

Article: Private business run on city time

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Allison12 said...

A violation of public trust has occured and the EAC and Be Magazine/Communications LLC business relationship warrants a full audit to document fact, and in the best interest of the public. Anything less is just sweeping this under the rug.

September 28, 2010 at 7:38 a.m.
fairmon said...

This magazine and use of work time to promote it may not be appropriate and an investigation may be warranted to assure the public the facts are known and the issue properly addressed. Ms. Crutchfield deserves the facts to be known to prevent inaccurate conclusions being reached.

If the council seriously desires to assure city worker credibility in use of work time the council may consider a look at how much "face book", personal email, web site visits, paying personal bills, and other non-productive uses of work time occurs. However, they may not since the results may be embarrassing and further damage confidence in city government.

Considering the councils conclusion they had no choice regarding the tax and fee's that were increased. Their no choice regarding the re-issue of a bond at a cost of 15.6 million and various other no choice conclusions it may be time to see if staffing is "right sized" and is work time utilized as intended. It may even be time to see if work is "right sourced".

Could city finances and financial systems withstand the scrutiny of an audit by an independent firm such as Price Waterhouse. Corporations are required to have such an audit but our government is not. Do tax payers deserve assurance their tax money is being accurately accounted for and value per tax dollar received?

September 28, 2010 at 8:53 a.m.
harrystatel said...

Missy Talks to the Wicked Witch; Tin-Man and Lion Used Threats to Manipulate Missy. Mayor Oz Littlefield Claims Ignorance (again)!

http://wp.me/p10KwY-jN

The current situation with EAC and Missy Crutchfield deserves a complete audit and examination. All eyes will be watching the Chattanooga City Council to judge their honesty and ethics — for now and the future. There is no wavering, no middle ground on this one. Just honesty and ethics.

Watch the Chattanooga City Council.What will they do? My guess is, "Move along folks--no ethics to see here."

Harry Statel http://harrystatel.wordpress.com

September 28, 2010 at 8:58 a.m.
elvisd said...

Can we please pull the plug on Missy O'Shea's six figure salary?

September 28, 2010 at 11:28 a.m.
mike68 said...

Listen folks, before you can judge Missy you've got to give Missy and the city council the chance to discuss it before council committee next Tuesday. The truth will come out. I know Missy personally, and she would not be doing anything intentionally if she thought it was wrong. This BE website has been online since November 2009. This website has been no secret! She has not hidden this website. Take notice, there are no adverisements & no sponsorships of any kind on the website. Not before & not now! There's no evidence that she was profiting from the website with any type of advertising. She was simply using this website to enhance the marketing of her department.

Furthermore, what in the heck does her father have to do with this story?? Absolutely nothing!!!

I know for a fact the good that EAC & Missy have brought to our community. I would encourage everyone to go to chattanooga.gov and check some of it out for yourself.

Folks, chill out and let this process take its course!

September 28, 2010 at 9:35 p.m.
Sorceress said...

Mayor Littlefield said she showed poor judgement. Many Rico says her actions show poor judgement. And apparently most of the City Council feels the same way.

So the obvious question is why is someone with such poor judgement in charge of an entire department of city government?

Surely there is someone more competent to do her job, who has a proven track record of sound judgement.

In addition, she thinks a for profit LLC's is a hobby, which just sounds nutty.

She also seems to think she somehow got permission to launch this endeavor from other people in city government who are in no way whatsoever her supervisor. So she is either a liar passing blame, had the permission granting conversation with Beeland and Keil only in her mind, or just out of touch with what the proper chain of command is in city government.

And to top it off she compares the plight of her obscure little web site, which I would venture most of Chattanooga had never even heard of until this incident with a multimillion dollar donation from FaceBook's founder stating: http://chattarati.com/metro/government-politics/2010/9/27/questions-raised-crutchfields-be-magazine/ "As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has come under scrutiny for the motives behind his $100 million gift to Newark, New Jersey schools, Be Magazine has come under scrutiny as we have connected this powerful communications tool to enhance our marketing and communications for our day jobs"

Just poor judgement? Or a wee bit delusional?

Even if there is absolutely no financial wrong doing on her part, the lack of sound judgement she displays seriously brings into doubt if she should be in charge of anything let alone an entire department of city government.

September 29, 2010 at 4:38 a.m.
hcirehttae said...

' McGary said that would not play a role in his decisions and said Ward Crutchfield has “not asked him for anything.” '

And don't write anything on the bag neither...

September 29, 2010 at 10:29 p.m.
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