Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gena Evans has been fired at DOT

Dick Pettys at Insider Advantage did the first reporting on this that I saw, but it has been officially announced: The Georgia DOT Board voted to fire Commissioner Gena Evans today.

She was about 14 months into her tenure, and hardly a month went by that some problem didn't come to light at the department. She had developed a reputation as a reformer and often clashed with the 13-member board.

She also married the former board chairman who helped put her in charge of the department in the first place. He resigned from the board some time after the two began seeing each other in secret, saying they were in love. They married soon after.

She has been seen as Gov. Sonny Perdue's choice to lead at the department, and his possible choice to lead the new state transportation agency Perdue and other state leaders are trying to form now. That agency, laid out in Senate Bill 200, would essentially replace the Department of Transportation and strip the board of most of its power.

UPDATE: Comment from the governor's office:
“Sadly, today the State Transportation Board proved that a majority of its members are more concerned with personal vendettas and politics than delivering value to citizens in transportation. While I am not privileged to the reasons behind their decision, I believe they have fired a competent Commissioner for no reason other than her commitment to put the needs of Georgia’s citizens ahead of board members’ personal agendas of spending taxpayer dollars on their individual projects. The Lt. Governor, Speaker and I are committed to creating a transportation system that allows the citizens to hold us accountable for moving Georgia where we need to go in transportation.”
Presumably he was all red faced and angry when he said it, then added "and thanks for giving me a massive stick to beat you with as I try to strip you of all your power." I can't confirm that, though.

UPDATE 2: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle certainly didn't pull any punches:
"Every Georgian in this state should be out-raged today. ... Every proposal to reform DOT... they have rejected. Those days are gonna be over. ... This will be their last hurrah."
UPDATE 3: The DOT Board puts a decidedly different spin on the news. The bolded headline of their press release: Georgia DOT Board Appoints First African-American as interim Commissioner.

While we're discussing firsts, Evans was the first female DOT commissioner. She is now the first female commissioner to be fired from a cannon. From the DOT:
On Thursday, February 26, 2009, Gerald Ross was named Interim Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation by the State Transportation Board, to succeed Dr. Gena L. Evans while a national search to fill the position is conducted. Mr. Ross most recently served as Chief Engineer where he was responsible for the Divisions of Planning, Data & Intermodal Development; Pre-construction; Construction and Operations. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Ross is a Registered Professional Engineer in Georgia. He is married and has one daughter.


Keich said...

What a joke. The Legislature needs to do something about the board. Or take control of the Dept. somehow. The DOT is the biggest cesspool in GA.

Nick said...

So are you breaking up with her like you did the Speaker?