Press-Republican

Local News

February 21, 2013

DOT engineer forced out for talking to press

ELIZABETHTOWN — Michael Fayette says his bosses at the State Department of Transportation tried to fire him from his job as Essex County resident engineer for talking to the news media without their permission.

He ended up retiring earlier this month to settle the misconduct charges leveled against him.

“The end result is I got screwed,” Fayette said. “Hugely screwed. At the end of the day the taxpayers of the state lose, too.”

INTERVIEWED FOR STORY

Fayette said his troubles started in August 2012, after he gave an interview to a reporter for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise of Saranac Lake.

As resident engineer, he was in charge of all New York State DOT operations within Essex County.

Fayette said he first told the reporter to call DOT public information in Albany but then relented and gave an interview for a Tropical Storm Irene one-year anniversary story.

“I thought the DOT was going to get another black eye (for refusing to talk). I talked to him. He thanked me.”

LETTER FROM DOT

A month later, Fayette received a certified-mail letter ordering him to go to Albany for a meeting with top DOT brass.

“I got blistered at that meeting, all about (the Enterprise) article. It was a positive article. A month later, I got another certified letter to tell me I’m to be immediately terminated as a result of that article.”

DOT Employee Relations Acting Director Amelia Dilella wrote the letter to Fayette on Sept. 14, 2012, charging him with a disciplinary violation of State Civil Service Law Section 75.

“You disobeyed a written directive … not to speak directly with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise newspaper concerning the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Irene,” she wrote. “Your actions disrupted the commissioner’s intent to conduct the interview herself.”

The DOT commissioner referred to is Joan McDonald.

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