NewsNewsChannel 5 Investigates


Occupy Protest Gets Attention of NES President

Posted at 1:07 PM, Mar 11, 2014
and last updated 2015-09-07 14:46:17-04

By Phil Williams

Chief Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Occupy Nashville protestors say Nashville Electric Service shows how greed can cost the people. So, on Friday, they took their protest to the front door of the Metro-owned utility.

They got the attention of the NES president, who paid a surprise visit to Occupy leaders just hours before the march.

Leaving Legislative Plaza behind, some two dozen protestors took to the streets of downtown Nashville, taking their complaints this time to NES.

"That's a misuse of public funds," said protestor Tana McDonald, who was upset by how NES president Decosta Jenkins and other top brass used ratepayer money for big hotel bills, lavish dinners, alcoholic refreshments -- even hotel movies.

She carried a sign that read, "NES breakfast, $66. Mine, $4.72."

"Oh, I think it's definitely arrogance," McDonald said during the march. "They didn't think that they were going to be caught."

View the NES receipts

LIST: How NES salaries compare to other Metro employees

Outside NES headquarters on Church Street, Occupy protestors called out to utility brass inside -- in particular, taunting them about the use of ratepayer money for alcohol -- and drawing agreement from passing motorists.

"Tell him I didn't appreciate him taking my tax dollars and spending it on liquor and beer of his choice," one driver called out to the activists.

Earlier in the day, Jenkins showed up at the Occupy encampment to assure protestors that he was in the process of paying back any questionable expenditures. He seemed to admit that our NewsChannel 5 investigation of NES had exposed problems that need to be fixed.

"He's an investigative reporter, just like an auditor," Jenkins said. "He came in and found some things wrong and we'll try to correct them. In the past we have not required itemized receipts, which is something we can improve upon."

So what did Occupy Nashville protestors read into the fact that Jenkins came to see them?

"That he's scared," one said.

"That he knew he was wrong," another added.

Still, these protestors say they won't rest until other public officials get the message that the people will not keep picking up the check for their greed.

When Jenkins visited with Occupy leaders, he assured them that he's already paid back some of the money -- and that they are reviewing some of the receipts that we dug up to see if he owes more.

WEB EXTRA: Jenkins Visits Occupy Nashville

His statement that they might start requiring their executives to turn in detailed receipts for their expenditures -- something they haven't done -- was the first hint of that kind of policy change.