Two Memphis public works division deputy directors resign - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Two Memphis public works division deputy directors resign after internal review

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Horne (left), Ashford (right) Horne (left), Ashford (right)
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The City of Memphis Public Works division accepted the resignation of two deputy directors after an internal review.

Public Works Director Dwan Gilliom initiated the review of operations, according to an email.

Chief Administrative Officer George Little sent out the email to the Memphis City Council Friday informing members of the personnel changes.

The division accepted resignation from deputy director Onzie O. Horne. The email states the division accepted his resignation due to a lack of adequate financial controls and accountability in the Neighborhood Improvement Department.

The resignation and retirement of deputy director Andy Ashford in the Solid Waste Division was also accepted. Horne and Ashford will be on administrative leave until their resignation takes effect February 7.

"I have complete confidence in Director Gilliom's assessment of the situation and in his ability to take appropriate corrective actions as he strives for operational excellence in the Public Works division," Little wrote.

The city says both public works appointees were let go for unrelated reasons.

City hall insiders say Horne was blowing through the neighborhood improvement program's $3.5 million budget faster than should be expected.

"We've been looking at the grass cutting program and found there were inadequate financial controls," said Little.

Little says complaints raised concerns.

"We had vendors complaining of not getting paid," he said.

City hall insiders also said Ashford was let go because he was simply behind the times. Little put it more mildly.

"We are looking for new leadership in that area. We are looking to move that division forward," he said.

Councilman Myron Lowery commends the city's actions.

"I think these resignations demonstrate the fact the city is policing its own," he said. "We are doing our due diligence to find out if there are any improprieties and a lack of controls in all of our departments."

When asked about money missing, Little said nothing was gone so far. However, at the end of the audit if money is missing then it will be addressed accordingly.

Little says both situations came to a head at the same time because the pension fund squeeze has the city taking a hard look at all operations.

"I think one of the themes you'll hear a lot of in the coming months is increased accountability with the scarce resources we have," he said.

Ashford worked for the city long enough to collect pension. Horne did not.

The city says they will make the audit available when it is complete.

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