Tuesday, November 29, 2011

County hot line good thing, needs work

I’ll have a story in tomorrow’s paper about the county’s audit hot line, which I affectionately call the tattletale line.

I’ve posted about this thing before. No clicking right smack here cause I’m too lazy to look for the initial posts. Anyhoo, the focus of the story is mostly on some of the silliness and the potential for abuse that can come out of these things.

Now, granted it’s tough to tell what’s frivolous and what’s not. Especially with Knox County’s colorful political history. But, there is potential for abuse.

For instance: Say candidate “A” is running against an incumbent. “A” gets some of his buddies to call the line a few hundred times. Every call generates a report. Say the callers claim that the incumbent has stolen a bunch of crap. Or has some illegal sexual tastes. Or whatever.

Yeah, sure, county officials might not find anything. But once the investigations are done, all that information is public record. There is nothing stopping the candidate from releasing a mailer a week before the election that says: “(Insert name here) has been the subject of more than 300 tips, linking him to (insert whatever BS accusation here).”

And yeah, that will happen. Here.

So, the issue is going to get discussed. Again, I write about this tomorrow.

What I didn’t get to in the story, however, is that there is some good that has come out of these reports. Mark Jones, the county’s director of risk management, has been charged with going through them, referring them here and there and wherever. I’ve seen them. And although a lot of them have nothing to do with fraud or wasteful spending (the real reason the state asked counties to create these things), he has referred the reports to the proper departments. And from all indications the issues were corrected.

In addition, there could very well be some minor troublesome reports that officials substantiate. Initially, Jones was asked to go through the complaints and refer them to the proper official. The audit committee recently expanded his scope and now he’s checking to see what’s happened with some of them. So, we’ll know more soon.

(All too often, folks - myself included - lose track of some of the good that gets done and we forget to mention it. Believe it or not, most county employees do work. But I digress.)

In the meantime, I’m going to call the audit line and make up some stuff.

Cause I’m mature that way.


Brian Hornback said...

If they work then that is what we as taxpayers are paying them for so no need to report it. right?

Mike Donila said...

Heh. Yeah, I suppose you're right.