::DMV Worker Makes More Allegations
By Elliott West, Raleigh Chronicle News Editor
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
RALEIGH - A North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles worker has made more allegations of misconduct against the former head of the DMV, George Tatum.
Tatum resigned on July 18th after the News & Observer newspaper reported that Tatum had arranged so that a personal friend of Tatum could receive a title which was previously turned down by a DMV employee as being incorrect.
The newspaper reported that after being denied a title the first time, the DMV later gave Robert Kinlaw, who is a Fayetteville supermarket owner and friend of Tatum, a title that allowed him to call his replica truck a true 1937 Ford, adding more value to the vehicle and giving it antique status.
In addition, after a DMV whistleblower and offier alerted North Carolina officials to the misconduct, Tatum's staff tried to ostracize and discredit him by taking away his badge and gun, and also ordered him to undergo mental evaluations.
Despite Tatum's attempt at a cover-up, the whistleblower worker later sued the state and was reinstated to his former position recently.
Allegations About Call Center
Speaking with the Raleigh Chronicle last week, the NC DMV worker alleged that the 96 jobs at a DMV call center that were moved from Raleigh to Bladenboro at the end of 2006 were done for ulterior motives and certainly not for the taxpayers' benefit.
The worker, who works in the main DMV office in Raleigh, said that Tatum sought to move the jobs out of Raleigh and within a short drive of Fayetteville in Bladen County to "reward his friends and to punish his enemies."
Tatum who used to work in Fayetteville as the Cumberland County Register of Deeds, has been accused of cronyism, giving jobs to friends from Fayetteville.
The DMV worker added that the location of the new call center in Bladen County was purposefully chosen to be as far away from Raleigh as possible, yet close to Fayetteville in order to force most of the Raleigh employees to quit.
The 101 mile drive to Bladenboro would force Raleigh DMV workers whose job was being transferred to either quit or relocate entirely. If they quit, it would allow Tatum to fill the positions with his Fayetteville favorites.
If the new DMV call center was located directly in Fayetteville instead, it might have allowed more Raleigh workers to make the commute since it's only about an hour away.
By the same token, the drive from Fayetteville to Bladenboro is only about 35 miles, making it an easy commute for anyone -- including Tatum's friends -- who may be wishing to work for the new DMV center from Fayetteville.
The worker also said that many positions at the new DMV center in Bladen County were given new titles but were really the same positions, keeping some Raleigh workers from being able to make transfers since their jobs were "eliminated" as opposed to being moved.
The DMV worker had other criticisms of Tatum, whose resignation this month was described as "appropriate" by Governor Mike Easley. Easley appointed Tatum in 2003.
The worker said that Tatum ruled in an "environment of fear" and rarely made personal connections with workers. Instead, they said that his personal secretaries were instead seen as effective gatekeepers to stopping anyone from getting access to him directly.
In addition, the worker said that although Tatum has denied fixing the title problem for his friend's replica 1937 truck, "there's no way it could have happened without his saying 'make it happen,''" they said. They said that such vehicle inspections are pretty straightforward, adhering to certain standards and that if one is denied, then it is very hard for it to get approved later on.
The worker also criticized the department's waste of taxpayer dollars under Tatum's leadership. As an example, they cited a recent decision in the Raleigh DMV's main office to replace its taller cubicle walls that seemed to be perfectly fine with four foot tall shorter ones that they said would cost the division over $180,000.
However, it would also mean that employee's conversations could be overheard much more easily. ::