Like travel records.
Now, the reality is these rarely yield what you want them to. Heck, just ask Commissioner R. Larry Smith (speaking of political suicide).
Anyhoo, Bobby Waggoner, a retired assistant chief over the detective division who is running for sheriff, asked the finance department for “copies of all travel expense reimbursement summaries,” and blah, blah blah for the following folks:
- Eddie Biggs
- Rodney Bivens
- Butch Bryant
- Clyde Cowan
- Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones
- Mike Ruble
- Lee Tramel
I know this because I’m a smart guy. (And occasionally, I do record requests for copies of records request.)
You’ll note that Waggoner did not ask for his own records.
I’ve since received a copy of all these docs, including ones on Waggoner. They cover a three year period from Sept. 1, 2010, when Jones’ current term began, through Nov. 30, 2013.
Now, this is a ton of stuff, but not a whole lot to show.
So, let’s break it down from stingiest to costliest. Remember, this is for three years.
Chief Deputy Eddie Biggs: $1,859. Well, it looks like he took some trips to Nashville for various functions, and he also went to the U.S. Border Patrol Special Operations Expo in El Paso, Texas in 2011. It appears that he sought reimbursement for meals only once.
Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones: $2,096. Now, you hear all these stories about Jones set-setting and globe trottin’ but that doesn’t mean a whole lot when one of the trips was a personal vacation to Scotland and another – to Taiwan – was paid for by the Taiwanese government. (Someone fancy from Atlanta was invited to a Knox County luncheon and then invited the Sheriff’s Office to go over there.) Here’s some info about it right smack here. That said, it looks like the sheriff made three trips to Nashville, one to Sevierville and another one to El Paso for that Border Patrol thing. Jones did not seek any reimbursement for food or mileage other than the plan ticket to Texas.
Look, I don’t really feel like going through this whole entire thing. So, let’s throw out some numbers then skip ahead. Since I did the lowest two in some detail, I’ll also do the top two.
Lee Tramel: $3,662.41
Butch Bryant: $3,795.24
Mike Ruble: $5,032.34
Clyde Cowan: $6,192.03 (By the way, Cowan, who is over the detective division and SWAT, has some FBI academy stuff he has to go to, so that cost a few coins.)
OK, final two:
Bobby Waggoner: $7,250.01. Waggoner went on about 10 trips to Nashville (these are Tennessee Sheriff’s Association meetings); a couple to Sevierville, one to Tampa (Cold Case Investigations & Interviews) and another to Orlando (International Homicide Training Symposium). He also took trips to Washington, D.C. and to New Orleans to attend the International Homicide Investigators Association Annual conferences (That actually sounds kind of cool). Waggoner accepted per diem for meals for the out-of-state trips, but not in-state.
Rodney Bivens: $14,579. OK, now Bivens runs the jail, which is accredited, which means he’s got mandatory conferences that he needs to attend every year. And, no, they don’t hold these conferences locally and they’re not one or two-day events. Sooooo, that meant a mandatory jaunt over to Potomac, MD to attend the U.S. Dept. of Justice PREA training; the ACA’s 142nd Congress of Correction in Denver; Phoenix for another ACA Conference; another one in San Antonio; one in Kissimmee, Fl; and there was something in Sweetwater, TN. So, when it’s all said and done, that’s a little under $5K a year in trips for Bivens.
It’s a good thing Chief Bivens didn’t go to a women’sconference or he’d have R. Larry after him.
In the meantime, all these trips were budgeted and approved by top county officials, including the sheriff and the mayor.