Weekly Obsession: On the hook

Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 9:05pm

Surely a wry smile upturned the mustache of erstwhile former Juvenile Court Clerk Vic Lineweaver when he saw the story of Criminal Court Clerk David Torrence on the nightly news last week. 

Torrence, confronted with incontrovertible evidence, admitted that he, like Lineweaver before, doesn’t always toe the 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday line like the rest of the working stiffs who weren’t elected to their six-figure-salaried jobs by overwhelming majorities. His “work” “schedule” gives him Wednesdays and Fridays off. Every week. Except the weeks he only works two days. 

When WSMV-Channel 4 found him “spraying his yard for bugs” and getting his mail in the middle of the day, Torrence said he doesn’t always spend his down time at home or out running errands. In an incredible, maybe even historic, piece of bald-faced honesty, Torrence dropped this bomb: “I occasionally play golf.”

Torrence — whose father was also Criminal Court Clerk — also hired his two sons for unadvertised positions. That’s a little family tradition, because Torrence’s dad hired him back in the day, too.

And you foolishly thought we didn’t have hereditary offices in America. 

Torrence finds time to bond with his family and play golf and de-bug his yard and work 18 hours a week in between runs to the liquor store in his county car, not his personal Corvette — the fruit, surely, of five terms in a $125,000-a-year job.

Those little dashes for booze could be Torrence’s downfall. His office isn’t governed by the Metro nepotism policy — obviously — and since he’s elected, he has no supervisor to which he answers. In theory, he could work no days a week, although he’d probably eventually be found in contempt like Lineweaver.

But carrying alcohol in a county car is a no-no, a vestige of the bad old days of blue laws (and, frankly, probably a reaction to the machine days of Nashville politics when the sheriff freely rubbed elbows with bootleggers). 

Is that enough to trigger Tennessee’s ouster law, which allows for a trial, initiated like a criminal prosecution, to remove an elected official who “knowingly or willfully commit[s] misconduct in office, or who shall knowingly or willfully neglect to perform any duty”? The statute also allows for ouster if an official is drunk in public — but not specifically carting booze around. 

The DA’s office is looking into it.

And somewhere, Vic Lineweaver is sitting there in his bathrobe, smiling. 

7 Comments on this post:

By: budlight on 5/9/11 at 7:56

I'm just glad to NOT be an elected official in this city, county, state.

By: BigPapa on 5/9/11 at 8:41

I'd love to see him ousted but that's not how politics work. I'm sure he'll skate by until the next election.

By: JohnGalt on 5/9/11 at 9:14

So are we, bud. So are we.

By: slacker on 5/9/11 at 11:25

Shades of the prior Juvenile Court Clerk. The D.A. was still looking into that fiasco up until the election. If the Council doesn't push it, it will quietly go away.
Its good being an elected official.

By: richgoose on 5/9/11 at 1:13

Does anyone ever run for elected office that has a real career? I think not.

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 5/9/11 at 1:58

Even a brief “look” into Torrence’s conduct will show that he has failed to uphold his oath saying that he will “execute the duties of this office, without prejudice, partiality, or favor, TO THE BEST OF MY SKILL AND ABILITY. . .”

It is not reasonable to assume that the BEST of anyone's skill and ability would involve wilfully failing to even show up to work about half of the time.

If no action is taken, it is a clear message to the people not to expect much, if anything, from the people they elect.

By: Shane Smiley on 5/11/11 at 12:06

The county has a rule against booze in a county owned car.
What is the rule concerning driving out of the county to get that booze?
I may be mistaken but, I believe the liquor store shown on the I-Team report was not in Davidson County.