State Rep. Keith Heard, D-Athens, has been busy. Walter Jones of Morris News Service had this earlier in the week:
The state’s second-newest department is facing personnel problems and a one-man investigation by a veteran legislator at the same time it’s attempting a major shift in how it delivers services to mental patients across Georgia.
Officials at at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities say nothing sinister has occurred. But it hasn’t satisfied Rep. Keith Heard.
So far, he has uncovered the payment of 46 bonuses ranging from $1,034 to $22,000 given to employees for taking jobs as lowly as filing clerk all the way up to commissioner. All were paid outside of the state’s normal procedures….
And he’s raising questions about outside consulting done by the commissioner. What else is there, and how are patients affected?
One thing that comes next is a state employee, one Elizabeth Hurst, seeking formal whistle-blower status. Her request, which can be read in full here, alleges:
[The agency] suspended and demoted her for (1) making protected disclosures regarding a coworker’s unlawful workplace activity and (2) for disclosing to her supervisor various Department violations of, and noncompliance with, Georgia laws and regulations.
In part, Ms. Hurst uncovered the following: improper use of Department funds, excessive billing practices and violations of various state policies, all of which resulted in substantial waste and fraud. These violations were later brought to the attention of persons with authority to take corrective actions. None were taken, though.
Instead, the Department initiated frivolous investigations, suspended Ms. Hurst, and then [demoted] her with a 10 percent pay cut.
The effort to push next year’s transportation sales tax in metro Atlanta has lost its spokeswoman. From Channel 2 Action News:
On the national front, Newt Gingrich is gaining support in New Hampshire, but lags behind front-runner Mitt Romney who holds 41 percent of likely voters in his camp, according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WHDH TV) poll of likely voters in that state’s GOP presidential primary.
Newt Gingrich jumped from 4 percent to 14 percent, and all other candidates were in single digits: Jon Huntsman (9 percent), Herman Cain (8 percent), Rick Santorum (3 percent), Rick Perry (2 percent) and Michele Bachmann (1 percent).
The survey also asked respondents – in an open question — why they thought Romney has had trouble closing the sale with GOP voters. The New Hampshire GOP is considered less dominated by evangelical voters than other early states such as Iowa and South Carolina.
Nonetheless, the top answer was surprising:
– 16 percent: Because of his Mormon religion
– 10 percent: Flip-flops on issues
– 10 percent: His health care plan
– 10 percent: Too many other candidates right now
– 9 percent: Not conservative enough
– 3 percent: He is boring
– 3 percent: People are unsure of him
– 2 percent: Not a real Republican
– 2 percent: Because he is from Massachusetts
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider