Metro board to decide David Torrence's pension in October

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 5:43pm

A Metro board will likely decide in October whether former Davidson County Criminal Clerk David Torrence, who retired following revelations of sporadic work habits, should receive a set annual pension of approximately $80,000.

The Metro Employee Benefit Board’s Pension Committee voted 2-2 Tuesday on a motion to extend Torrence his pension in full amount. By procedure, the action means the committee made no recommendation to the full 10-member employee benefit board on whether it should provide the former criminal clerk his due pension.

The board meets next on Oct. 4.

According to Metro Human Resources Department spokeswoman Robin Brown, the issue came before the board at the request of At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard, who emerged as one of Torrence’s leading critics after a WSMV-TV report showed the clerk’s hours on the job added up to three days week.

Amid controversy and a District Attorney’s Office investigation, Torrence resigned in July. The Metro Council appointed former Vice Mayor Howard Gentry as his replacement one month later.

“He readily admitted that he was guilty of not being in the office,” Tygard said of Torrence. “So under that theory, should that count against his pension? That’s the theory behind it.

“That’s up to them [the employee benefit board] to calculate,” Tygard said when asked of an appropriate pension reduction.

Brown said Torrence worked for 39 years as a Metro employee, first hired by the government in Dec. 1972. Later, Torrence would serve four four-year terms as the county’s elected criminal court clerk.

In calculating a former Metro employee’s pension, Brown said annual salary and years of service are considered. Torrence earned $125,000 per year when he resigned. Under the formula, she estimated Torrence’s pension would be $80,000. A Metro employee is currently eligible for a pension after five years of service.

“The initial question is: Does he get the full credit for his 39 years of service or not?” Brown said of the issue before the employee benefit board.

Attorney Jim Todd, hired as Torrence’s legal counsel after his resignation, said his client deserves his full pension.

“David Torrence worked for Metro government for 30-something years,” Todd said. “In my opinion, as a former prosecutor for 13 years and defense attorney, he ran an outstanding criminal court clerk’s office. It always ran smoothly, efficiently, and always made money for the county.

Todd added that the definition of “work,” in Torrence’s case, shouldn’t be based on the number of hours in the office. He alluded to the WSMV-TV story that showed the card-swipe records of Torrence’s entry in his government office.

“My point to the board today was, what’s the definition of work?” he said. “Is it time in the office? Do you want to set that precedent that, especially for elected officials, they need to be in their office all the time? Because in the age of laptop computers, Blackberry’s and cell phones, you can run an office and be pretty mobile.”

He offered an analogy.

“Steve Jobs at Apple probably doesn’t spend a whole of time in his office, but his stock continues to outperform expectations,” Todd said. “David Torrence probably didn’t spend a lot of time in his office, but he had a very well run office.”


12 Comments on this post:

By: titansjoe on 9/20/11 at 8:35

The article is ufair to other Metro employees. The article makes it seem as though employees are going to get a great sum of pension after 5 years of service. The majority of employees make under 35k per year and can not recieve a pension until at least 50 years old. At 50 years old or even 60 years old an employee would only be eligible for around 12 hundred dollars per year. An employee who has spent his or her entire life serving as a Metro employee might have 30 or 35 years vested. That employee would recieve less than 21k per year after spending their entire life working for Metro.

Employees must be at least 60 years old or face anywhere from a 4% to a 60% cut in their pension depending on their age at retirement. When the writer says Metro employees are eligible for a pension after 5 years of service, it is quiet misleading. The average employee could not afford to pay for health insurance alone after taking a five year pension.

By: bfra on 9/21/11 at 2:28

This article states, Torrence "earned" $125,000 per year, Torrence was paid $125,00 for part time work, would be the correct comment. Add up all the money he stole from the taxpayers, while goofing off, before discussing a pension.

By: WayneR on 9/21/11 at 5:40


Mr. Garrison:

> Pension Committee voted 2-2 Tuesday on a motion to extend Torrence his pension in full amount.

Any reason why you failed to inform readers of exactly who it was on the Benefit Board Committee who voted to extend and who voted against?

Do you think the people who elect some (some are appointed) board members have the right to know how they voted? It is not a 'secret' ballot when it is the public's business.


By: WayneR on 9/21/11 at 5:56


BTW, anyone curious to know who are the members (elected and appointed) of the Employee Benefit Board may go here:

Pity the roster fails to offer readers who serves on what committee.


By: WayneR on 9/21/11 at 5:57


The link, that failed to appear, is here:


By: govskeptic on 9/21/11 at 6:14

Clyde Smith has never seen a pension or disability claim he didn't want to grant,
a grievance he didn't agree with, a problem he didn't think this board had authority
over, or a dept. head that he thought had made a fair and just decision when it comes
to disciplining an employee.
Mayor Bredesen thought of this board as one which made many
disgusting decisions and complained about it, but never
took the steps to get the Charter changes to correct many obvious problems!
So this board comes up with a tie vote and it now goes to next steps without
any recommendation one way or the other. I'm surprised they didn't recommend
top retirement with a bonus thrown in!

By: Harleyfxrs01 on 9/21/11 at 7:08

I believe he should get something but I also believe 80,000 dollars is a bit much. Im a strong supporter of pay for performance. I DON'T believe he displayed that from everything I have read. I would hate to read in October that our board did not address the issue properly. With a 2-2 vote I am also assuming no one wants to committ to the issue and that indicates to me that everyone is in bed with one another. A GOOD OLE BOY NETWORK.
I too would like to know all the names of the members that voted, who voted what?

Ken K

By: WayneR on 9/21/11 at 8:04


Harleyfxrs01 asked:

H> I too would like to know all the names of the members that voted, who voted what?

It took five minutes to find and read the agenda for the MBB Sept. 20 meeting:

Pension Committee:

Vice Chair: Rita Roberts-Turner
Members: Ann V. Butterworth
B.R. Hall, Sr.
Alternates: G. Thomas Curtis
Clyde D. Smith

I do not know but permit me to make a guess:

B.R. Hall, former firefighter and union head, and Clyde Smith, water department
employee, both voted to allow the pension.


By: bfra on 9/21/11 at 9:36

Why are Torrence's 2 boys still employed there, when they didn't go thru proper channels to get their jobs? Time someone stepped up and let these elected people know, they are not elected "Gods" and must abide by laws & regulations.

Fire the "boys" for improper precedure in securing their jobs! Put the jobs up for open applications and if they submit the best one, then rehire them. Otherwise, the Torrence clan is still fleecing the public!

By: govskeptic on 9/22/11 at 5:27

Lawyer Todd to make any statements comparing Mr. Torrence to Steve
Jobs and their office attendance should have gotten him laughed out of
the room. I suspect our newly appointed Criminal Court Clerk is just going
to stand at the counter smile and glad hand everyone versus firing or
helping to arrange other employment for the extremely overpaid yet
unqualified sons.
Every voter should let him know how they feel about this soon versus
waiting until it's time for re-election!

By: Harleyfxrs01 on 9/22/11 at 6:41

When these organizations call my home asking for donations? Im going to politely let them know to take it out of Torrence's pension. I paid my taxes, figure it out yourselfs and don't bother me at home.

By: Nitzche on 9/22/11 at 7:35

David is a good Democrat leave him alone...been very faithful to the party for years, you right wing nuts need to pick on somebody else. i am going to bring this up at the jackson dinner oct. 1, we are not going to let these people destroy one of the best public servants this city has ever known...Fate Thomas would be disappointed!