Cari Wade Gervin reports:
On Tuesday Mark Padgett's campaign released the mayoral candidate's latest television ad, entitled "Jobs." The ad (embedded above) states, "Just like Phil Bredesen and Bill Haslam, Knoxville's next mayor should have a proven record of creating private sector jobs and strengthening the local economy. That leader is Mark Padgett. His company has created jobs in Knoxville and he'll work with local business to grow hundreds more."
But how many jobs has Padgett actually created? It's a question the campaign has been unwilling to answer.
On Tuesday afternoon, we strolled down to Padgett's Gay Street office and were lucky enough to catch the man himself. How many jobs have you created? we asked. "Ten people work at my company," Padgett replied, "But it's like Volkswagen--they employed 2,000 people or whatever, but those aren't the jobs they've created." So you're saying your company has created jobs like automotive parts suppliers who have built factories near VW? "Yes." Padgett ran downstairs to his office and came back up with a handful of promotional material. "Like, using local talent to produce this DVD. And every quarter we send out a newsletter, and a graphic designer lays that out. So how do you calculate the number of jobs that creates? I don't know."
But if we were to ask you for a list of your current employees and their names, would you give them to us? "No, because they're not running for office." So how do we know you have 10 employees? "Look, I'm gonna do something I never do," Padgett replied, and yelled downstairs. "Evan, can you come up here?" Evan Lindauer came up the stairs. We shook his hand and got the correct spelling of his name. "You shook his hand, right?," Padgett said. "He's not a hologram?" No, we admitted.
Then we asked, Evan, how many people are working down there with you? "Evan, you don't have to answer that," Padgett said. "You can go back to work now." Evan went back downstairs. "The guys asked me not to talk to the media. They're software developers. They didn't get into running for mayor."
Much back and forth ensued. Padgett did not seem happy about it. "I've paid over a million in payroll and contract services while in the city of Knoxville." But how many jobs have you created? You're running on a platform of having created jobs?
Finally, under pressure from his communications director, Laura Braden, he gave in. "Including interns, and counting contractors that work more than 15 to 20 hours a week, I've had about 25 employees." Since you started the company? "Since the middle of 2007." And you had four interns? "Yeah."
Now you know.