The state released an audit Thursday that says the Nashville Electric Service paid one manufacturer and its distributor more than $17 million over the last eight years for electric power cable that wasMore >
The state released an audit Thursday that says the Nashville Electric Service paid one manufacturer and its distributor more than $17 million in the last eight years for electric power cable that was not properly bid.More >
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
The two men at the top of Nashville's power grid were called to account before a Metro Council panel Monday after the Nashville Electric Service was the subject of a scathing audit.
NES President Decosta Jenkins and Robert McCabe, chairman of the NES Electric Power Board, answered questions after the state comptroller's office found everything from questionable credit card purchases to a top employee selling surplus NES items on eBay and then not cooperating with investigators from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Councilman Charlie Tygard pressed the top officials over questionable travel expenses such as ratepayer money spent for alcohol, extra nights in hotels and a lack of receipts.
Plus, six NES employees submitted false claims for training they didn't take.
And some NES staff members accepted free tickets from Gaylord Opryland plus hotel stays and golf games instead of charging Gaylord for a transformer used during its Christmas show.
"When the public sees these findings, it's like there's a big party up there for management," Tygard said.
Nearly $17 million worth of underground cable was bought with no competition while an NES insider had ties to that cable company, the audit found
"I guarantee if anyone of us sitting up here did this, there would be signatures on a recall petition tomorrow," Tygard said.
The top NES execs listed procedures that are already being put in place to fix the problems like the lack of bidding on that cable.
"We are opening up the specs so we can have more people bid on cable," McCabe said.
But, as Jenkins pointed out, the state audit found no illegal activity and the district attorney is not pressing charges against anyone.
"Can we get better? Absolutely. Are we going to be better? Absolutely," Jenkins said.
In the end, council members don't have oversight power, as the mayor appoints members of the board.
"Will somebody just tell me they're sorry for this and it's never going to happen again?" Tygard said.
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