The Charges Against Ward Akers
We’ve hinted before about the allegations against Ward Akers, just earlier this year in fact. The topic has generated a great deal of interest, especially for those who weren’t around at the time. For those who were, a bitterness about the unfairness of the charges is often readily apparent. Nevertheless, this week, we thought we’d dig a little deeper. For setup, you’ll need to understand that there were two major newspapers in Nashville at the time. Both were locally owned and operated, shared the same office building and press, but each had different staffs and outlooks. The Nashville Banner ran in the afternoon, while The Tennessean ran in the morning.
Seen here is the article written by The Banner reporter Larry Brinton that launched the investigation on July 1, 1975. Brinton had been asking questions about salaries, specifically about Akers’s salary as well as the salaries of his wife and mother in law, both of whom also worked at the Council office. Brinton was scooped somewhat that morning when The Tennessean ran Council President C. A. Craig II’s letter in response to the allegations. So, the response was out there before the charges.
Brinton started by alleging several things. First, Akers’ salary was suspiciously high, especially in time of falling revenues and a weakening economy. Second, there was nepotism at the Council office, which compounded the salary issue. Finally, Brinton pointed out what he saw as some smaller, but equally sketchy financial practices of the Council. These were the charges that C. A. “Neil” Craig was responding to in his letter than ran in the morning Tennessean.
We say “started” because The Banner article here was just the first salvo. Brinton continued to pressure Akers and the Council repeatedly over the next several days and the allegations expanded. More on this next week.