Mayor: Remove city references from website

Mayor: Remove city references from website

September 28th, 2010 by Cliff Hightower in News

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 AndraƩ 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."

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Article: Private business run on city time