Thursday, December 14, 2006

Does Mike Duncan regret appealing his firing now?

Kentucky's merit system probationary guidelines are quite clear. Within the first six months of your employment, you can be terminated for any reason -- or no reason at all. The law allows no right of appeal.

But once you hit the six-month mark, you are protected by the merit system and cannot be fired except for cause. And even then, you have the right to appeal to the Personnel Board and then through the state court system if you so desire.

When Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert dismissed Michael Duncan before his probationary period was complete, Nighbert told Duncan's immediate supervisor that the firing was not appealable. But Duncan appealed anyway, and his case became one of the focal points of Attorney General Greg Stumbo's persecution of Ernie Fletcher.

After yesterday's Personnel Board hearing in Duncan's case, he probably wishes he would have listened to what Nighbert said.

During Nighbert's testimony, the former Williamsburg mayor laid out a strong case for why he opted to dismiss Duncan, who had a sensitive position as an investigator with Transportation's Office of Inspector General. Two of the reasons related directly to his work as an investigator at a time when the Fletcher team was trying to clean up the mess in Transportation that had been left by the Patton administration and years of sloppy work by politically-connected Democrats who had been hired in the previous Democratic administrations.

One reason concerned Nighbert's familiarity with Duncan as an investigator into drug problems in Williamsburg when Nighbert was mayor and Duncan worked for then-AG Ben Chandler. Nighbert felt Duncan had not done a thorough job.

And one reason was the fact that Duncan had had an affair with a subordinate. Nighbert said that was in the back of his mind and indicated to him that Duncan was oftentimes not possessive of good judgment.

The affair was not common knowledge prior to Duncan's Personnel Board hearing. But after yesterday, the whole state knows about it. Way to go, Mike Duncan.

Nighbert's testimony should be more than enough to prompt a recommendation from the hearing officer that Duncan's dismissal stand as called on the field. His reasoning would be more than sufficient to let Duncan go if he had obtained status as a protected merit employee. But put that track record together with Duncan's status as a probationary employee, and it's a no-brainer.

So it appears that Duncan has gained nothing and has instead shamed himself in front of the whole state.

And as an added bonus, Nighbert's testimony guts much of what was alleged as criminal behavior by Fletcher in the three indictments returned against him.

So Nighbert is vindicated, Fletcher is too, Duncan is embarassed and the grand jury's credibility takes a hit. Mark Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006 down as a very good day.


At 9:37 AM, December 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old news.

No one really cares about Mike Duncan except Mike Duncan and some bloggers.


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