From Peg McEntee’s article on April 18th:
Denice Graham is back at work in the Utah Department of Transportation after being summarily sacked by administrators who accused her of leaking confidential information about a bid for a $1.1 billion contract to rebuild a stretch of Interstate 15…
When the truth came out about a botched bidding process, $13 million in compensation to a construction company and big bucks from the winning bidder to Gov. Gary Herbert’s re-election campaign, only one person — Graham — was blamed.
But in February, the state’s Career Service Review Office issued a scathing ruling that UDOT Executive Director John Njord’s firing of Graham “exceeded the bounds of reasonableness and rationality and amounts to an abuse of discretion…”
…Graham was accused of leaking “confidential” information that wasn’t actually confidential. A bidder on the I-15 project had called to find out whether a competitor had won the bid, and Graham went to a UDOT website and gave the caller the names of the top three contenders.
Flash forward to Robert Geherke’s article today: UDOT wanted to silence politics around fired worker’s case.
The Utah Department of Transportation made an unusual request of a reinstated employee wrongly terminated in the wake of an Interstate 15 contracting scandal: Tell the Democrats to shut up about it…
Graham returned to work at UDOT on April 2 but has been negotiating with UDOT over more than $67,000 in back pay. As part of the negotiation, UDOT asked Graham to tell Democrats to stop using her case for political purposes and state that the judge erred in reinstating her.
The letter (used to make the request) asking the Democrats to stop using (Graham’s) case was drafted by Assistant Attorney General David Pena…”I hope you will respect my wishes and discontinue using my likeness and story in any political mailings, e-mails, etc.,” read the letter that Pena asked Graham to sign.
Still don’t get it? Let Pat Bagley sum it up:
When this story originally broke, I asked the question: Is Governor Herbert Inept or Corrupt? Around the same time, I predicted a scapegoat was not far behind (though I was foolish enough to think that the head of UDOT would take the fall and not some lackey – ah the folly of youth).
It is clear now that UDOT and Herbert’s office showed, at best, extremely poor management skills. In reality, I always say that if it looks, sounds, and acts like a duck, it probably is. The act of demanding that Graham shut up about the situation just adds to the reasons as to why the “just following orders” line doesn’t pass the smell test.
Every true citizen should honestly ask themselves if this is how they want state government to be run – with companies winning bids after giving contributions, loosing bidders being paid off to not complain about the corrupt process, and hard working civil servants taking the fall for it all.
It may not seem obvious, but the ship that is Utah is leaking; and it is happening because of complacent and disenfranchised voters mechanically electing people simply because that is how it has always been done.
We, as voters, need to realize that incumbency does not equate to inherent ability; simply that, at some point, an individual (through dumb luck or determination) found a way to get more votes than the other guy.
It is time we send a message back, and the first step is to get mad as hell at our elected leaders for trying to silence Denice Graham for telling her story.
If you agree, start by signing Alliance for a Better Utah’s petition demanding that Governor Herbert stop punishing Ms. Graham for doing the right thing by serving the public – The petition can be found here.
And for those of you who may complain that this is simply being blown up because it is good political fodder, I retort by saying that you are damn right it is – our governor…OUR GOVERNOR, who represents us, didn’t know about (or tried to cover up) a $13 million (let me say that again – THIRTEEN MILLION DOLLAR) contract. Pointing that out is not dirty campaigning, it is allowing the voters to know how their government is spending their money. Democrats should point this fact out because, in this case, the truth hurts and pretending it will go away should not be an option if you are in favor of good governance.