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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lee Commissioners sound off after Fox 4 investigation sparks audit

A Fox 4 investigation sparks an audit into Lee County's Department of Transportation and today county officials are reacting. For the past two weeks we've told you about the controversy surrounding the D-O-T with workers complaining about being harassed and intimidated by supervisors. They claim supervisors are doing favors for friends and wasting lots of taxpayer money.

Karen Hawes - Lee County Manager
Because of Fox 4's investigation, the County Manager, Karen Hawes, announced yesterday that she's requesting an independent audit into the allegations. At the County's commission meeting today she offered more details about that audit, "This will be a review of hiring practices in D.O.T which could expand into other areas, so the Clerk of Courts will do an independent objective audit."
You could say Lee County's Department of Transportation is currently under construction now that an official audit is set to investigate the way that department is doing business. D-O-T worker Bob Maxey reacted to the news, "It's time, it's time to look into the dealings at D.O.T, what's going on there with the management..I think it's time."

Frank Mann
At least two commissioners agree and they too support the audit. Lee County Commissioner Brian Bigelow says, "That's great, she's trying to seek facts and she's trying to advocate for transparency of government." Commissioner Frank Mann says he also supports the move, "I just think it's a good idea for her to bring somebody in from outside to take a look so it doesn't degenerate into a bunch of finger pointing and ‘he said' and ‘she said' and that sort of thing."
But some D-O-T workers remain skeptical. They claim supervisors are still harassing and intimidating employees and doing favors for friends on the taxpayers' dime.
Steve Sherman
Fox 4 Investigator Mike Mason asked D.O.T. worker Steve Sherman if he felt the audit would really create any positive changes. Sherman replied, "Possibly, with the help of the media. That's how it's been so far, without it we wouldn't have had a chance. I don't know we'll see."
Meanwhile, dozens of Lee County D-O-T workers attended the commission meeting to support, and say farewell to, their interim director, Paul Wingard. Wingard's last day is June 29th. He has worked for D-O-T for 18 years and said County officials led him to believe he would be hired as the full time Director. when he didn't get the job he decided to resign because he's says he was not happy with the current situation at work. At today's commission meeting, D.O.T. employee Steve Sherman approached the podium and accused Public Works Director, Doug Meurer, of lying to a large group of D-O-T workers.
Sherman says Meurer told them that Wingard would indeed be named the new Director of D-O-T and reported to commissioners, "In my presence and some 50 to 60 other supervisors and employers Mr. Meurer stated to us all that Mr. Paul Wingard was the panel's second choice."
Paul Wingard

The panel of people in charge of hiring a new Director did offer to job to someone but that person later turned it down. County officials now claim that Wingard was never the runner up and they are currently advertising for the vacant position.
To view the Fox 4 investigation click here:

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