It started with an anonymous phone call: A handful of employees in the Knox County Engineering and Public Works Department were stealing equipment.
It ended with one worker indicted for theft, a supervisor retiring and another worker fired "for making it through an entire day doing absolutely nothing business-related for Knox County," officials said. Two others were demoted — one because he mowed his lawn on taxpayer time, the other because he falsified his job application.
Although only one person was ever tied to the stolen-equipment tip, the results shook up the public works department's "dirty lot" crew that is typically tasked with cleaning out abandoned buildings and keeping county property tidy.
Officials say the department is better off with this behind them."Since we dismantled this dysfunctional crew and repopulated it with new supervision and personnel, they've been turning in work orders at record pace," said Dwight Van de Vate, engineering and public works director. "We've got good folks in place and they are getting it right."
Here's what happened.