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With a payment of $55,000, the state of North Carolina has settled a lawsuit over why Wayne Hurder was fired last October as deputy commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles.
Top officials at DMV and the state Department of Transportation originally said Hurder had exerted improper influence in several DMV hirings, Bruce Siceloff reports.
DOT released documents suggesting that Hurder had shaped some personnel decisions to favor job candidates backed by a Greene County political patronage boss, Eddie Carroll Thomas.
Hurder contended in his lawsuit that he was fired for refusing to make improper personnel moves favored by his boss, Bill Gore, who was then the DMV commissioner. The Office of State Personnel later found there was no basis for Hurder's allegations against Gore.
Now Hurder has dropped his lawsuit after DMV agreed in late April to pay him $55,000 and to change his personnel files to indicate that he had resigned. He says the state paid him because it feared he would prevail when the case came before a state hearing officer.
More after the jump.
The Department of Transportation, which has laid off temporary workers and is trimming its budget, paid more than $1,000 last weekend to send one of its managers to an executive networking conference at a resort hotel in Pinehurst.
Shelton Russell, director of workforce opportunity and development for the department, attended a conference organized by the N.C. Institute for Minority Economic Development.
The Transportation Department paid a $1,000 registration fee for him to attend. His room at the Manor – "a sportsman's lodge" – in Pinehurst is listed as $127, about double the usual state rate for hotels.
Russell initially filed a registration form indicating he would take advantage of the tennis function on Saturday, though at a beginner level. A subsequent registration form, though, left the tennis section blank.
The conference, which began Thursday, is billed as "bringing together minority business entrepreneurs and corporate decision makers."
The event, however, comes after the Transportation Department has laid off 1,200 temporary workers who typically do pothole filling, drainpipe clearing and grass cutting alongside roadways.
DOT Communications Director Greer Beaty said providing technical assistance and training to companies owned by minorities, women and the disabled will help them survive the recession, something that is central to the mission of Russell's office.
That office was created to help such businesses compete for DOT contracts.
"Making sure that all businesses in North Carolina have the same access to, and are able to take advantage of, the opportunities before them should be part of everyone's mission," Beaty said.
Beaty joined the staff on Tuesday, leaving French West Vaughan public relations. She previously worked in various public relations roles for the Department of Commerce and the Smart Start program. In 2006 she ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic challenger to Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican.
Beaty, 43, is a native of Rocky Mount and an East Carolina University pirate. She will earn $71,000-a-year.
The president of Public Policy Polling is a reliable Democratic donor.
In recent years, Dean Debnam has given thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates for state legislature, governor and U.S. Senate, according to campaign finance records.
His money has gone to local candidates for state office and some Democratic leaders.
He's given $2,000 apiece to state Sen. Janet Cowell and state House candidate Greer Beaty; $1,500 to state Rep. Deborah Ross; $1,250 to state House candidate Ed Ridpath; and $1,000 to Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight and state Rep. Grier Martin, among other donations.
In all, he's given at least $14,400 to state candidates in the past decade. (Figures in city and county races were not readily available.)
Debnam started the Democratic polling firm in 2002 as a side business. His regular job is as the chief executive officer at Workplace Options, a Raleigh consulting firm.
Beverly Perdue lent her voice to the pro-choice cause — literally.
Last year, the lieutenant governor recorded a brief telephone message encouraging pro-choice voters to turn out in five key legislative races.
The robocalls, for NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and Planned Parenthood's political action committees, were made on behalf of Rep. Rick Glazier, Sen. Julia Boseman and House Democratic candidates Ty Harrell, Greer Beaty and Ed Ridpath.
Melissa Reed, NARAL's executive director, said she was looking for close races in which the calls might make a difference as well as the highest-ranking female elected official she could find.
"Especially for our female members, hearing (a) woman's voice really resonates," she said.
After the jump, more details and the script.