Just three weeks after the Criminal Court clerk of Davidson County told the Channel 4 I-Team he didn't see anything wrong with only working three days a week and being absent from the office half of last year, Thursday night he told a Metro Council committee he's considering paying taxpayers back for all the time he was absent.
It came after a vote from the Metro Council this week asking for David Torrence's resignation and a small protest Thursday from citizens outside his office.
The protesters chanted and held signs outside the clerk's office in the Birch Building. They were angry about what the I-Team exposed about Torrence's spotty work habits. Torrence, who's paid by the taxpayers, worked only three days a week and regularly drove his city car for personal use, the investigation found.
The group then marched into the building and up to the counter at the clerk's office, armed with a resignation letter for Torrence to sign.
"The taxpayers are asking for his resignation," said protester Carl Boyd Jr. "He's not coming out."
"I understand," a clerk staffer said.
"He's not coming out?" asked Boyd.
"Not right now," said the staffer.
Torrence's chief clerk said Torrence would not come out because he was preparing for his budget hearing before the Metro Budget and Finance committee.
At that meeting, Torrence made his first public apology.
"The interview I gave to Channel 4 -- like I mentioned to someone the other day, I'm my own worst enemy," said Torrence. "I thought my attitude was bad, and I had asked them (the council) to please forgive me. All along, I should have been working five days a week. The fact that I was working three days a week, it wasn't the right thing. But it wouldn't have cause to have me ousted."
But some council members weren't satisfied.
"Would you be willing to make any type of restitution?" asked councilman Phil Claiborne.
"I'd be willing to consider it," Torrence said.
Claiborne then asked about the county-issued vehicle the I-Team caught Torrence using to run personal errands like going to the liquor store. Claiborne wanted to know if Torrence had been abusing that taxpayer-funded vehicle for some time.
"I drove (the vehicle) home and to the Birch Building," Torrence said.
"There was footage of stops," Claiborne said.
"I understand that," Torrence said.
"That's the time I'm talking about," Claiborne said. "Was the (I-Team) report about the vehicle accurate?"
"Yes," Torrence said.
"Does your offer of restitution to the taxpayer include salary, missed time and personal use of the vehicle?" Claiborne said.
"Councilman, I am willing to sit down and consider all those things," Torrence said.
"I would hope that you would make a swift decision -- and let us know what that decision is," Claiborne said.
"OK," Torrence said.
Torrence's consideration of paying taxpayers back stunned even Metro's Finance Director Rich Riebling, who said he had no idea how that would even work, because it's never been done before.