Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hawkins responds to CTAS questions

Barry Hawkins (Photo by Dan Andrews)
Knox County Trustee candidate Barry Hawkins on Tuesday took exception to County Commissioner Dave Wright’s request to talk about an educational bonus he received while working in the Trustee's Office years ago, calling the discussion “a political witch hunt” and “backroom politics.”

All this of course ties into the $3,000 payments former Knox County Trustee John Duncan III gave himself and six other employees in December 2010. The payments were tied to the University of Tennessee County Technical Assistance Services, or CTAS. To get the money, you must be certified as a “public administrator.” None of the employees were.

Everyone except for Hawkins paid back the money. Actually, you know what? Click right smack here for the original background post.

Back to Tuesday’s commission meeting.

Wright asked the board whether it should do something, like ask Hawkins to pay back the money.

Law Director Richard “Bud” Armstrong said he wasn’t sure the commission could do anything, noting that Hawkins no longer worked in the office when the workers were initially asked to return the payments.

He suggested that it was up to the Trustee’s Office – not the commission – to address the matter.

Hawkins spoke briefly, saying Wright was “trying to intimidate a candidate and abusing the power of the commission to help a candidate and colleague.”

Commissioner Ed Shouse, and interim Trustee Craig Leuthold (both Republicans) and Democrat James Berrier are also vying for the job.

Hawkins, who worked in the office for 17 years, said that after he received the payment he questioned Duncan but was told it was “office policy and procedure.” He said he also asked his other superiors and was told the same thing. He added that his job was eliminated before he could finish the training.

“I have done nothing wrong and don’t appreciate any accusation otherwise,” he said

Wright denied that his discussion was politically motivated. He suggested that if it was then he would have called out Hawkins on some of “his campaign promises.”

“I could say that my feelings are hurt by what he said, but then I’m the seated commissioner and I have no feelings,” he added.

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