Tuesday, December 3, 2002


How "the shit" ... and we quote ... hit the fan at Shelby County government

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2002 at 4:00 AM

In a blistering report to the county attorney’s office, an independent investigator recounts how a high-ranking county official warned Shelby County Assessor Rita Clark he would “ride your butt all the way to reelection” if she didn’t back off on her criticism of his moonlighting business as head of a temporary employee agency.

Calvin Williams, administrator of the Shelby County Commission Office, was described by Clark as being “irate” with her in a phone conversation on November 25th. Williams had tried to get Clark to hire some temporary employees from him but she refused.

The Memphis Flyer obtained a report from the Shelby County Attorney’s Office that details various encounters between Williams and other county employees. The report was compiled by Lee Bowron of Allen & Associates. Bowron is an attorney and former member of the Wyoming Legislature. He was retained by the county to investigate the Williams matter due to what the report calls “the sensitive political environment” in the county building, which has been rocked by revelations of credit card abuse in recent months.

Bowron recorded all of his key interviews except Williams, who insisted that he only take handwritten notes. The transcripts of the interviews are included in the report.

Williams is head of T & T Temporary Services in addition to his full-time job with the commission. Last summer he offered to provide temporary employees to Trustee Bob Patterson and Clark. Patterson accepted the offer; Clark thought it was a conflict of interest and did not accept. She was also concerned because Williams’ company was not on an approved list of county vendors.

Clark told Bowron that Williams contacted her in July or August and asked her to do him a “favor” by using the service. After talking to two fellow employees, Cheyenne Johnson and Patrick Lafferty, Clark decided not to confront Williams but to meet with the county personnel officer, Jim Martin, instead. She said he advised her “as an elected official, I could hire anybody I wanted.”

Things heated up in November when Williams apparently became concerned that Clark or someone in her office had gone to the media with the story. He accused Johnson of being “the shit starter.” He used profanity in the conversation with Clark, which was overheard by Lafferty on a speaker phone. The report makes quite a fuss about Williams’ use of the word “shit” in several instances and his generally threatening tone.

“It was clear to (Clark) that (Williams) expected her to clear up the 'mess’ or else,” says the report.

The “or else” involved allegations that Williams was prepared to make about conflicts of interest in the assessor’s office, where Clark admits using approximately $1 million worth of temporary help during reappraisals.

Williams also told Clark, “I’m the wrong Negro to be messin’ with.”

Williams told Bowron that his boss is whoever happens to be the current chairman of the county commission and that “each chairman can operate under whatever rules he wants.”

The report concludes with this paragraph:

“Whether or not Mr. Williams’ conduct violates the county employee handbook or suggests other public misconduct, official misconduct, or official oppression under Tennessee law is not for this investigator to determine. However, one could hardly review the evidence gathered and not conclude that Mr. Williams wanted Mrs. Clark and her office to either take some affirmative action or cease taking action; one would also likely conclude that Mr. Williams wanted those hearing his voice to clearly understand that there would be consequences for those persons who chose not to comply with his demands.”



Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2002 at 4:00 AM

Tre Hargett of Bartlett, the newly elected leader of the Republicans in the state House of Representatives, eschewed crowing in favor of humility Monday night as he reflected on his victory over former minority leader Steve McDaniel of Parker’s Crossroads and another challenger, Bobby Wood . of Harrison.

“When you run against a friend, whether you win or lose, it’s never easy,” Hargett said, and he was hesitant about an observation from a fellow Shelby Countian, GOP national committeeman John Ryder, who compared Hargett’s victory to the ascension of Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the U.S. House after the 1994 election.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t like the analogy. I was never a Newt Gingrich kind of Republican. I consider myself more of a centrist, and I’m not about divisiveness,” said the plain-spoken Hargett, who loosened up and gratefully accepted the compliment when assured that Ryder was not commenting on what he perceived as similar political philosophies but on the likelihood that Hargett, like Gingrich, would refuse to accept the long-term inevitability of minority-party status for Republicans.

“It’s an honor that the public granted us its trust by awarding us three more seats,” said the man who succeeds McDaniel as the guide for a body of Republicans enlarged to 45 by last month’s election.

Hargett, who won a second-ballot runoff against McDaniel, acknowledged that shifts brought about the election may have aided his victory, but de-emphasized his differences with the former leader over a state income tax, which McDaniel supported and Hargett rejected.

“I think we’ll have to concentrate in this next session on issues and not personalities,” said Hargett, who named “the continuing fiscal strain” and implementation of a state lottery as two matters the legislature will need to address.

The House GOP caucus also elected H.E. Biddle of Knoxville as assistant leader, Rep. Charles Sargent of Frankling as chairman, and Paul Stanley of Germantown as treasurer.

Monday, December 2, 2002



Posted By on Mon, Dec 2, 2002 at 4:00 AM

GRIZ BLOW ONE LATE Alvin Williams gave the Toronto Raptors the lead, then made sure they never let it go. Williams had a layup, two free throws and a key rebound in the final 38 seconds, lifting the Raptors to a 92-87 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at The Pyramid. Vince Carter scored 27 points for Toronto, which led for less than a minute over the final three quarters but nevertheless improved to 2-0 on their four-game road trip. "It was real big for us to pull it out," Williams said. "We just really dug down in the fourth quarter, even when they were making runs. We did a good job of keeping our composure and making plays at the end." Williams finished with 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. He had a breakaway layup during an 8-0 spurt that pulled the Raptors within a point with 3:40 remaining, then took charge in the last minute. The 6-4 guard went all the way for a layup and an 88-87 lead with 38 seconds to play. "Alvin has always been that Energizer Bunny for us," Raptors center Antonio Davis said. "I really feel that if we kick the ball to him, he'll make something happen. Luckily, this time he got the ball when he was a little bit ahead of the pack. And when it comes to chasing somebody down, I don't think nobody in this league can chase that guy down." Davis blocked a sweeping drive by Pau Gasol, leading to two free throws by Williams with 15 seconds remaining. "(The block) was everything, everything we had fought for to get to that point," Williams said. "If they would've scored, the game would've been over. But he made that big block." The Grizzlies had a chance to tie, but Wesley Person missed a three-pointer from the right corner. The long rebound went to Williams, who lobbed a pass to Carter for a breakaway dunk that sealed the win. "They (Raptors) made all the big plays and that's what you've got to have," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said. "I told them, 'If we don't quit, we'll make good things happen.'" Davis had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors, who have won consecutive games for just the second time this season. They have taken five of the last six meetings with the Grizzlies. Shane Battier scored 14 points for Memphis, which had won two in a row following a season-opening 13-game losing streak. "Today was just one of those days when the energy is there and then it's not," said Memphis coach Hubie Brown, who fell to 2-6 since replacing Sidney Lowe. "From three minutes left in the fourth quarter, we didn't get the job done." A basket and free throw by Stromile Swift gave Memphis its largest lead at 83-74 with 5:42 to play. But Carter returned and made a floater in the lane, starting an 8-0 surge. Michael Bradley had a follow shot and Williams had a layup before Davis sank two free throws to cut it to 83-82 with 3:40 left. Carter answered Battier's follow dunk with two foul shots, and Davis answered Gasol's hook with a tough reverse layup to make it 87-86 at the 2:24 mark. Morris Peterson scored 10 points and Bradley added eight and nine rebounds for Toronto, which shot 44 percent (38-of-86) from the field. "Michael Bradley did a very good job for them off the bench in offensive rebounding," Brown said. Gasol had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Jason Williams scored 10 points for Memphis, which shot 42 percent (36-of-85). Rookie Drew Gooden scored nine points on 9-of-17 shooting. Swift's driving layup opened the second quarter, gave the Grizzlies a 20-19 lead and started a 10-0 surge. Memphis held a 46-37 halftime lead, but Peterson scored six points in a 9-2 run that began the third quarter. "It was a very unorthodox half, both ways - a lot of stoppages in the game and there just wasn't really any continuity," Carter said. A basket by Jermaine Jackson gave the Raptors a 62-61 lead with 2:24 left, but the Grizzlies scored 21 seconds later and took a 67-64 edge into the final period.

Sunday, December 1, 2002



Posted By on Sun, Dec 1, 2002 at 4:00 AM

LAKERS EKE ONE OUT AGAINST GRIZ The Grizzlies thrilled a rare sellout crowd of 19,351 at the Pyramid by sticking with the world champion Lakers -- Shaq, Kobie, and all --through four intensely played quarters and a five-minute overtime. What made the Grizzlies' performance all the more compelling was the fact that both Laker stars had good scoring nights and played most of the game. Even so, the home team had the ball and a chance to score for a win at the end of regulation. Memphis led 76-75 after three quarters and took a 98-97 lead with 14 seconds left in regulation on Jason Williams' 3-pointer from the top of the key. But the Grizzlies could not get their offense going in overtime and had no answers for Bryant and O'Neal. Final score: LA 112, Memphis 106. Matched with Shaq, Pau Gasol had his uncertain moments and fouled out late in overtime but scored 24 points. Rookie Drew Gooden added 19 and 10 rebounds, and Williams scored 16 points for the Griz. Kobe Bryant scored six of his 45 points in overtime to lead the struggling Lakers to their first win away from the Staples Center. Bryant scored all six points as part of a 12-4 run at the start of the extra session, capping the spurt with a 360-degree dunk. Bryant shot 18-of-35 from the field and 7-of-9 from the foul line, including 4-of-4 in overtime. Memphis also could not stop Shaquille O'Neal, who had his best game since coming back from toe surgery a week ago. O'Neal collected 33 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out in overtime. The Lakers got just their second road win of the year but their first outside of their home building. Los Angeles' only other road win this season came against the Los Angeles Clippers, who share the Staples Center with the three-time defending NBA champions.
    • Proposed Tax Cut in Jeopardy as Commissioners Reverse Course

      Meeting in committee on Wednesday, Shelby County legislators cast party-line vote for $4.13 tax rate, edging away from $4.10 rate that dominated discussion in marathon Monday session. Matter to be decided next week.
    • Mark Norris Nominated for Federal Judgeship

      Opportunity presumably makes Senate Majority Leader’s gubernatorial plans moot. President Trump also taps Thomas Parker for state’s Western District

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