Two troopers disciplined over alleged racial comments and a former Division of Motor Vehicles assistant supervisor who blew the whistle on problems within the agency's emissions program appeared before the State Personnel Commission today.
— Trooper Mitch Foard's attorney, Travis Payne, told the commission that it should accept an administrative law judge's finding that the Highway Patrol had not proven that Foard had uttered a racial slur in 2006 that a retired lieutenant said was inadvertently recorded on his cell phone voice mail. Foard was demoted from sergeant over the incident, Dan Kane reports.
Assistant Attorney General Ashby Ray contended that Foard admitted to making the comment in an initial interview, and top patrol officials confirmed that was his voice. Payne, said that Foard specifically denied the comment, and more than a dozen troopers assigned to his district said that was not his voice on the recording.
— Capt. Norman Goering's attorney, Michael McGuinness, said the commission should accept an administrative law judge's finding that Goering should not have been punished for inadvertently, and with no harm intended, misspeaking in telling troopers lining up in July 2007 for a group photo "blacks in back."
Goering has said he intended to say "tall back, back tall." He had immediately apologized to a black lieutenant near him, but the comment brought Goering a five-day suspension. Ray said the punishment was proper because Goering made the comment in a public place and with African Americans present, but Ray also said there is no evidence that Goering harbors any racist attitudes.
— Former DMV assistant supervisor Ken Cassidy's attorney told the commission that it should accept an administrative law judge's finding that Cassidy should be reinstated to his job with back pay and legal fees after being fired in March for violating an order not to talk to the roughly 100 employees in the DMV's emissions program.
Cassidy worked in the Raleigh district office where he would come into contact with roughly a dozen emissions staff. The DMV contends that Cassidy had harassed a few employees, causing DMV Commissioner Bill Gore to fashion the order to prevent further complaints. Cassidy's lawyer, Michael C. Byrne, contends Cassidy the order was designed to set him up to be fired after he blew the whistle on an emissions staff that did not have enough work to do and on an improper hire.
The commission did not announce a decision in any of the cases. Typically, the commission provides a written decision within two months of the hearing.