This release just came across the desk, from James (Jim) Berrier, Democratic opponent against Ed Shouse for the Knox County trustee:
Knox County Trustee candidate Jim Berrier today expressed concern over the role opponent Ed Shouse has played in recent Knox County Audit Committee actions.
“When you consider that the Audit Committee has failed to prevent past instances of abuse in the Trustee’s Office, I am very concerned that the Vice Chair of that committee now wants to be Trustee,” Jim Berrier said. “We aren’t going to clean up the office by giving it to the same people that messed up in the first place.”
These comments come after fresh criticism of the Audit Committee by Richard Chambers, President of the Institute of Internal Auditors. Chambers took issue with the Audit Committee’s removal of Institute approved standards from the Committee’s charter. These changes followed the controversial firing of Internal Auditor Richard Walls and resignation of Audit Committee member Mary Kiser in 2013. Kiser is an IIAcertified auditor that resigned in protest of Walls’ termination.
Jim Berrier agreed with Chambers’ assessment.
“We need these standards in place to ensure that our tax dollars are being protected. I don’t understand why Shouse would seek to reduce government accountability at a time when public trust in the Trustee’s Office is so low,” Berrier said. “As Trustee, I would implement the Institute of Internal Auditors’ standards and seek to hire Institute certified auditors to safeguard our tax dollars and build back the public’s trust.”
See the full release here: Berrier press release
The matter at question – Walls departure – is something that was proposed by the audit committee to improve the operations of the office. Also, the audit committee answers to Knox County Commission, who hires and fires the internal auditor. So far, no member of commission seems to have issues with the work of the new internal auditor. In the past week, a few pointed critiques of the audit committee’s actions came from actions that were nearly a year ago.
Berrier’s release appears to imply that if the autid committee was handled in a way that drew fire from some, then individuals from that committee would be unfit for an office – Trustee – that’s been the subject of some misdeeds in the recent past.
As for the Trustee office, there’s been a long-recorded set of problems out of the position, former Trustee Mike Lowe faces charges, and the next trustee, John Duncan III, pleaded guilty for some other offenses.
Some analysis: Anyone running for Trustee this year has said they would clean up the job of county tax collector. Which, frankly, wouldn’t be that tough to pull off – given some of the recent past. This release appears to be a move from Berrier to separate himself as a person who has not held elected office in the county, among other things that you can sort out for yourself. Shouse, on the other hand, is a recognizable name around here as a former city councilman and current commissioner. Shouse decided to run for Trustee instead of go after what would be a very likely win at re-election for his At-Large seat on Commission.