Thursday, December 12, 2002

Moonlighting in Memphis

Investigation of the Calvin Williams case expands to Circuit Court clerk's office.

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2002 at 4:00 AM

When a guy says, "We hate each other and it's public. He wouldn't spit on me if I was on fire and I wouldn't ask him to," you might say they have a little history.

On the surface, the history of Calvin Williams (the author of the above quote) and Jimmy Moore (the nonspitter) is simple enough. They both ran for the office of Circuit Court clerk in the 1994 Republican primary. Moore was a member of the Memphis City Council. Williams was a deputy administrator in the circuit clerk's office who had gotten some publicity for being a young black Republican active in local politics.

Moore won the primary and the general election and is still the circuit clerk. Williams finished a distant fourth in the primary, but a few months later his Republican friends got him a consolation prize: assistant administrator in the Shelby County Commission office at a salary of $39,504 a year. When the chief administrator, Joe Cervetti, retired, Williams, a protégée of former Commissioner Buck Wellford, got his job.

Today, Williams makes $101,000 a year, and, lately, he doesn't even have to go to work because he's been suspended with pay pending an investigation of his moonlighting business, T & T Temporary Services.

Only in Shelby County can you get a 150 percent raise in seven years and also moonlight as a supplier of temp workers to other government agencies, including the Shelby County trustee's office and the Memphis City Schools.

But back to Williams and Moore.

Williams is no friend of Moore, but he does have a friend in Moore's office named George Reems who, like Williams used to be, is a deputy administrator. Reems owns or used to own -- he isn't clear on this point -- a little moonlighting business himself, called Best Supply. Best Supply shared an office in the 100 North Main Building, Suite 943, with T & T Temporary Services and a third enterprise called Strategic Solutions, owned by one Tim Willis. (More about Willis later.)

Williams told a private investigator working for the Shelby County attorney on the T & T investigation that he has no interest in either Best Supply or Strategic Solutions. The investigator didn't talk to Reems, but he should have.

Reems told The Memphis Flyer this week that Best Supply is not affiliated with T & T and is no longer in business. The company, he said, "sold all kinds of supplies." When asked whom he sold them to, he said, "I have nothing more to say."

But he had something to say to his boss, Jimmy Moore, this week, and it was enough to make Moore call in the county attorney to investigate. Moore told the Flyer that Reems admitted to him Monday that he had a business license, sent out flyers soliciting business to attorneys, and sold supplies to the city of Memphis. Moore said he would have to tell Shelby County Attorney Donnie Wilson about it. Reems then said he had also sold supplies to Calvin Williams for the county commission.

"He said he had sold them six or eight weeks ago but had not gotten paid," said Moore. "He said it was only a couple thousand dollars."

Moore said he reported that to assistant county attorney Danny Presley who, coincidentally, also ran for the clerk's job unsuccessfully against Moore and Williams in the 1994 Republican primary.

"It was a shock to me because George Reems is a top-notch employee who has been here 34 years," Moore said.

Sharing an office and their political contacts, Williams, Reems, and Willis had quite a little business network going.

T & T Temporary Services placed temps with Shelby County Trustee Bob Patterson and, as WMC-TV first reported last week, did $24,953 worth of business with the Memphis City Schools and Williams' wife, who works in a special-education program where the temporary workers were placed. Williams was rebuffed, however, by Shelby County Assessor Rita Clark, and it was his irate telephone call to Clark last month that sparked the current investigation.

Willis earned his stripes working for former Juvenile Court Clerk and former Shelby County Commissioner Shep Wilbun, getting $33,000 for "political consulting" for five months in 2001. Willis was also hired by the Public Building Authority to do public relations for the new arena. But he had to give up that gig when the PBA learned he had neglected to tell them he recently pleaded guilty to federal credit-card fraud charges in Mississippi and had a four-month prison sentence pending, which he served this year.

Willis was one of two full-time employees of T & T Temporary Services, working as "chief recruiter." Clark confirmed that he also did work for her office in the past.

Last week, assistant county attorney Brian Kuhn reviewed the private investigator's report and recommended that Williams be suspended with pay while the Shelby County Commission decides what to do. The commission's personnel committee will meet Wednesday, with the full commission meeting Monday, December 16th. Kuhn's report was limited to violations of the county charter and personnel policy. Federal and state authorities will determine whether there have been any violations of criminal law.

For the record, Moore said "I don't use hate words" and was distressed when some people apparently thought he was the one who made the "spit on me if I was on fire" comment.

Glad to clear that up.

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