Wednesday, October 7, 2009

State Employee Termination Questioned

A state employee being terminated the day after speaking publicly to the state’s Commission for Streamlining Government is a sign of a larger effort to silence state workers, a commissioner said Tuesday.

Commission member Leonal Hardman, of Baton Rouge, said he believes the state Department of Social Services specifically targeted Melody Teague, a DSS contract grants reviewer, last week because she criticized the direction of DSS and some of the department’s privatization efforts.

“Any suggestion or insinuation that a DSS employee was dismissed as a result of any comments he or she may have made at the recent public streamlining committee meeting is totally false and unfounded,” DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols stated.

The streamlining commission is tasked with finding ways to make the state leaner and more efficient in the face of a projected $1 billion budget shortfall next year.

She was fired on Friday and has since contacted Baton Rouge lawyer Mark Falcon. As a civil service employee, Teague has the right to appeal her termination.

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