Ear to the Ground: CSI Accounting

CSI Accounting

Knox County District Attorney Randy Nichols has brought in a special prosecutor from Shelby County to investigate phony receipts turned up in an audit of county government, but William Bright isn't just a prosecutor.

He now works for the Shelby County DA, but spent most of his career working for the state Comptroller's office. He is a forensic accountant who spent his time investigating wrongdoing in county finances around the state.

It appears Bright will also be available should any other county audit matters be referred to the DA's office for investigation. An audit of Mayor Mike Ragsdale's hospitality fund is upcoming, and County Commissioners think it may be the most damaging of all the information uncovered thus far. Contributions from vendors doing business with Knox County were deposited in a private account controlled by former Finance Director John Werner. The money was used, off the books and without commission knowledge, to hold receptions and pay for other political events to promote Ragsdale's administration.

The fund was eventually moved onto the county's books as dedicated contributions to be used for political events.

Bright's first priority will be to examine copying and printing receipts turned in on behalf of Community Services Director Cynthia Finch. Finch says she did not know the receipts were not genuine.

ZZ Rocks the Cradle

It was two days before ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons was to appear at the Tennessee Theatre and just 12 days after Jamieson Adkins made his first appearance on Earth, but the two met at the Downtown Grill & Brewery Sunday around 8 p.m. and Billy G. signed Jamieson's bottle for beaming new papa Shaggy (Josh on his birth certificate) Adkins at the smoke-free bar downstairs.

Mom Stefanie Adkins was still upstairs dealing cards for the brewery's 50,000 point club free roll Sunday poker game (Shaggy also works for the restaurant and directs poker tournaments) when the bottle came back signed, but she'd been the first to spot the guitarist. "That was the baby's favorite bottle and now I can't use it!" she said, laughing.

Higher Profile

National Resource Recovery's effort to get a new contract to operate the county mulch facility may have gotten a little stickier. The county Law Department had already hired an outside attorney to investigate and then join a citizen lawsuit now in progress.

Now Randy Greaves, who operates a similar facility for the city of Knoxville and lost the bid on the county contract, has secured the services of Don Bosch, a well-known attorney and a regular panelist on Inside Tennessee (WBIR).

Bosch is well connected and often handles high-profile cases. One suspects the NRR contract is about to get even more high-profile.

NRR has operated the facility for five years and did not make any payments to Knox County as per the contract, saying the late solid waste director John Evans told them it was not necessary given a series of problems getting the operation up and running.

Maverick Renovator

Historic preservationist Kristopher Kendrick was developing downtown before downtown development was cool, and that pioneering spirit will be celebrated this Friday. Knox Heritage is hosting a tribute to Kendrick at the Bijou Theatre with a 30-minute documentary, Conceptions, Visions, Dreams: The Kristopher Kendrick Story. As part of the First Friday events downtown, the show is free and open to the public; screenings start at 6:30 p.m. and run continuously until 8:30 p.m.

Cow Party

Eric Muller, aka Mancow the shock jock, came to Knoxville on Saturday to promote his show, syndicated by Talk Radio Network and heard locally on WNFZ weekday mornings.

"Cow" had dinner with the 94.3 staff at the Copper Cellar on Cumberland wearing a hardhat with an orange Power T and an orange T-shirt. He then went to a promotional event at the Valarium nightclub. He picked up some friends and proceeded to Sapphire on Gay Street, then wound up the night at the World Grotto on Market Square. He had three young ladies who partied with him for most of the evening and made his visit to Knoxville, and Market Square in particular, memorable.

Mancow gained fame, in the wake of President Bill Clinton's runway haircut that held up LAX plane traffic, by blocking the Golden Gate Bridge while he gave his associate a haircut. It cost his station over $1 million in lawsuits and earned him a felony conviction.

He is a frequent guest on the Fox and Friends morning show.