Thursday, February 13, 2014

Trustee candidate's CTAS payment on commission work session agenda

Well, it looks like those CTAS payments aren’t going away. Knox County Commissioner Dave Wright wants the board to talk about an educational payment given a couple years ago to Barry Hawkins, who at the time was an employee in the Trustee’s Office and is now a candidate for Trustee.

“I think that would be hypocritical, in a way, to say ‘I’m going to be able to run this office,’ when he participated in something that caused some people to lose their job,” Wright said.

Quick rehash: Former Knox County Trustee John Duncan III gave himself and six other employees each a $3,000 education bonus - most of it tied to the University of Tennessee County Technical Assistance Services, or CTAS , program - in December 2010, three months after taking office. To get the money, you must be certified as a “public administrator.” None of the employees were. Almost a year later, in late October, he gave himself and another 11 people the same payments.

Duncan and several staffers eventually pleaded guilty to various crimes connected to the disbursement of the money and resigned from office.

In the meantime, everyone paid back the money, except for Hawkins. He received $3,000 in the first go-around, but left soon after. He was not certified

“All I’m doing is asking the question . . . maybe he’s paid back the money,” Wright said.

Hawkins is one of three Republicans, including Commissioner Ed Shouse and interim Trustee Craig Leuthold, running for the seat. The primary is set for May with a general election in August. James Berrier, a Democrat, also is seeking the gig.

Wright, referring to Shouse and Leuthold, said “they’re both good guys” and that he’s not necessarily supporting either one, but that he’s been asked to introduce Leuthold at an event.

“I think they both could do a good job,” he said.

I put a note out to Hawkins to see if he wants to weigh in on the item. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear back.

For another take on the matter, click right smack here for what the Rogue has to say.

The commission will talk more about the issue during its Feb. 18 work session.

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