CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After eight weeks, the mysterious disciplinary action against three Department of Health and Human Resources administrators may be coming to a resolution soon.
Word is that, in light of DHHR attorneys Susan Perry and Jennifer Taylor filing their official 30-day notice of intent to sue acting DHHR Secretary Rocco Fucillo for defamation, invasion of privacy and violations of state whistleblower and ethics laws, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has given Fucillo until the first of this week to either state his case against the two (and communications director John Law) or reinstate all three.
Whatever alleged transgressions the three committed against Fucillo and the DHHR, we can assume the charges are weak, since all three are will-and-pleasure employees. If Fucillo had any sort of a case, he could have fired the trio outright.
As we found out with the state Supreme Court ruling upholding Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith's firing of state archivist Fred Armstrong for "not being a team player" and for questioning his decisions, the law is in the administrator's favor when it comes to at-will employees, barring extremely egregious actions.
As reported here previously, Fucillo works primarily out of a DHHR satellite office in the Middletown Mall in Fairmont, and had been billing the state for his mileage, meals and lodging on trips to Charleston -- until Tomblin put the kibosh on that in late July.
However, on days when Fucillo works out of Fairmont, his administrative assistant, Bea Bailey, still has to commute regularly from Charleston to Fairmont.
According to invoices in the state auditor's office, Bailey has used rental cars through the state Fleet Management contract, and has billed the state for reimbursement for costs of refueling the rental cars.
According to travel expense accounts, Bailey's work hours on days when she commutes to Fairmont are from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., which suggests she is in Fairmont for about four hours, from about 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Speaking of the mysterious reassignment leave for the three DHHR administrators, it turns out when the three were put on leave July 17, Fucillo had their swipe cards deactivated, and changed the locks on their office doors.
It would be interesting to know at what point the three realized they were being disciplined. When the swipe card to enter the state parking building downtown didn't work, I would think one's first thought was that it had been sitting in a hot car for too long. Ditto (possibly) for the swipe card employee entrance to One Davis Square.
However, by the time you find that your office key no longer unlocks the door, you've probably gotten a hint.