CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tuesday marks Day 50 of the double-secret probation (actually, they're calling it paid "reassignment leave") for Department of Health and Human Resources lawyers Susan Perry and Jennifer Taylor, and communications director John Law.
Also Tuesday, Parkersburg attorney Walt Auvil will be filing a formal, 30-day notice of intent to file suit against DHHR acting secretary Rocco Fucillo on behalf of Perry and Taylor, I'm advised.
(Under a 2002 state law, individuals must provide 30 days' advance notice of intent to sue any state agency or official.)
Unlike many notices of intent to sue, I'm told this notice will go into detail as to how Fucillo's actions have defamed Perry and Taylor.
(In addition to the mysterious circumstances regarding the suspensions, Fucillo has told legislative leaders he will be vindicated when the matter is resolved, and has initiated a review by the DHHR inspector general's office of the awarding of an advertising and marketing contract at the same time the three were placed on leave. The intent to sue, I'm told, will contend those actions were taken to create the false impression the three had acted improperly in the awarding of the advertising contract.)
On a positive side, Fucillo has not billed the state for costs of commuting to Charleston from his home in Fairmont, or for overnight lodging in Charleston since late July, when a prior column made issue of those expenditures.
Some statehouse observers, meanwhile, have been taken aback by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's failure to intervene in the matter.
Besides having more pressing matters to deal with, Tomblin's leadership style is one of consensus building and conflict avoidance, which served him well as Senate president, but can leave something to be desired at a time when swift action is called for.
While the rumor is that West Virginia Public Broadcasting Executive Director Dennis Adkins will step down before the next Educational Broadcasting Authority meeting on Sept. 12, Adkins said that's news to him.
"I have no reason to do that. I'm just waiting to hear what they [the EBA] decide to do," he said.
At its meeting Aug. 22, the authority met in closed session for about an hour to discuss Adkins' employment status. Reportedly, the members were not impressed by Adkins' proposals for cutting WVPB expenses in light of ongoing revenue reductions.