Karen Shewbert

Karen Shewbert

Hearing begins on fired Sequim licensing manager

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles certified public account testified Tuesday that Karen Shewbert, whom Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand fired in May from the Sequim Vehicle and Vessel Licensing office contract she held for 13 years, used a computer accounting program method that gave Rosand the information she needed.

“I believe it does,” said Charles McClain, who has been an accountant for 35 years and has Shewbert as a client.

McClain testified before a state dispute review panel under questioning from Shewbert’s attorney, Craig Miller.

He is representing Shewbert in her appeal to be reinstated to the job she lost May 17, when Rosand determined she was not keeping adequate financial records of her Sequim licensing office.

The dispute review board was to continue to hear testimony beginning at 9 a.m. today at the Department of Transportation Maintenance Building conference room at 1707 S. C St.

Rosand and others in her office were expected to testify later Tuesday and today.

The board has 10 days after the end of the hearing to make a decision as to whether Shewbert’s firing was for cause, said Sheila Hadden, state licensing services manager.

McClain said Tuesday morning it appeared that Shewbert’s method of accounting of her business to Rosand was reasonable and acceptable.

The gist of attorney questioning Tuesday drew testimony over the conflict between Shewbert and Rosand that began shortly after Rosand took office in 2007.

Largely at issue was the form of Shewbert’s reporting to Rosand, who asked for monthly check register reports, as well as computerized reports using the Quickbook program.

Shewbert used the Quicken accounting program, which the Auditor’s Office said was not acceptable.

McClain testified that Shewbert’s use of Quicken was adequate for proper accounting to Rosand’s office.

Rosand shut down the office May 18 and said she plans to re-open it elsewhere in Sequim at a later date.

Shewbert is going through the state licensing department’s appeals process.

Members of the dispute review board are Bill Cox, an appointee with the Cascade Licensing Agency, a state licensing sub-agent center; Kittitas County Auditor Jerry Pettit, and Jan Smallwood, state Department of Licensing operations director.

Under questioning during the first day of testimony at the informal hearing, county Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols, who is representing Rosand before the Department of Licensing dispute review board, also cross-examined McClain, who Shewbert was paying $150 an hour for his testimony and professional opinion.

Sequim attorney Larry Freedman, who is a law office partner with Shewbert’s attorney Miller, testified that he originally represented Shewbert.

Freedman said he found Quicken, the program Shewbert used to report to Rosand’s office, “a widely used tool. It does work if you put the information into it.

Freedman said that much of the difficulty and that conflict between Shewbert and Rosand surrounded Shewbert not knowing exactly what Rosand wanted in terms of accounting after a number of correspondence letters were exchanged during 2008.

Cox asked if Freedman had directly asked Rosand what she wanted, and Freedman said, “Yes, we asked what would satisfy her in terms of additional information.”

While Rosand requested monthly check registers as part of Shewbert’s routine accounting of her sub-agency’s licensing business, McClain called that an old form of accounting that today’s computerized business reporting programs have greatly improved upon, removing the chances of human errors.

McClain agreed under Nichols’ questioning that government funding could be lost to Clallam County if Rosand did not follow proper auditing procedures.

He defined auditing as “an expression of confidence in a set of books” that are reconciled and matched with the bank’s accounting records.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2390 or at [email protected]

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