UT diversity office tops annual list of alleged wasteful spending in Tennessee


NASHVILLE (WATE) – The University of Tennessee’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been named the “Pork of the Year” by the Beacon Center of Tennessee in its annual analysis of what it calls wasteful government spending.

The Beacon Center says the state and local governments in Tennessee squandered $480 million of taxpayers’ money this year. The Beacon Center allowed members of the public to vote on its “Pork of the Year” award which went to UT’s diversity office. The office came under scrutiny for online posts suggesting the use of gender-neutral pronouns and inclusive holiday parties. The office was eventually defunded by the state. Gov. Bill Haslam allowed a bill to become law, without his signature, that shifts funding from the office to minority scholarships for the year.More online: Read the full report

Other items pointed out in the report include $200,000 to Zoo Knoxville, which the report points out is in addition to the $20 entry fee for visitors; nearly $56 million taxpayer dollars to fund the former ABC and soon-to-be CMT television series “Nashville;” and $1.5 million to fund what the report calls “tacky art” in Nashville.

The report also points out government officials who were arrested for theft from their respective agencies, including former Knox County Schools supervisor Roger Underwood, who was indicted for using a school system credit card for more than $10,000 in online gambling charges; and former Knox County Schools Nutrition Director Jon Dickl who stepped down after being accused of improperly reimbursing himself for trips and expenses, some of which he didn’t even go on, in the amount of over $4,000.

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