Thursday, April 12, 2007

WOWT Story Leads To Snowplow Driver's Firing

WOWT Plow Graphic, courtesy of WOWT.com[Updated Friday, April 13]

A Nebraska Roads Department snowplow driver who was the subject of a story on WOWT (Cox Channel 8) last month has been fired for speaking with investigative reporter Mike McKnight.

Chuck Odom was featured - but never seen on camera - in a Channel Six News story March 8 after he faced disciplinary action for using state equipment to plow private property. Odom helped an acquaintance, who suffers from heart trouble, get out of his driveway near Bennington on the day of a blizzard.

It took two plows and a loader to get the job done after the first two plows became stuck. Odom was suspended for five weeks with pay over the incident.

Odom, a 30-year employee of the roads department, says he signed an agreement not to talk about the incident while it was being investigated. In a story posted on WOWT's website and broadcast Tuesday night, Odom said he believed the agreement only applied to speaking with other state employees and not to the media.

In a follow-up story on WOWT Thursday night, Odom is seen on camera for the first time. He shows a nine-page termination letter which lists 13 reasons why he lost his job - including one which the story said was for "talking to Channel 6 reporter Mike McKnight."

"Their contention was I couldn't talk to anybody, trying to destroy my first amendment rights," Odom said.

District Engineer Tim Weander did not comment specifically about Odom's case. However, he did tell McKnight that employees should get approval from a supervisor before doing anything questionable.

Odom told McKnight he plans to file a grievance and possibly a lawsuit.

Thursday night's story did not specify whether Odom originally contacted WOWT about the incident that led to his termination or if the station initiated the inquiry that led to the original story about Odom's suspension.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Deserves to be fired. What part of not speaking about the incident did this plow driver not understand? Also, if McKnight knew this, was it ethical to shake a interview out? You folks make the call...

damnyankee said...

** note to self **

If Mike McKnight knocks on the door and wants to chat - it's never a good thing.

If there were a true emergency, I can't imagine even the great state of Nebraska would hose an employee for helping a private citizen.

But, as the story reads, there are at least 4 other state employees who assisted in this "crime".

The violation to me is that state resources were used to assist a private citizen in a non-emergency situation. That means there should be at least five openings with the Nebraska roads department - not just one.

Anonymous said...

You dummy. If they tell you not to talk about it, then you keep your mouth shut.

By the way...What do I have to do in order to get a five-week paid suspension??

Anonymous said...

The above posts just prove how pathetic society has become. Whatever happened to help your neighbors? The man was having legitimate health issues and was fearful that the emergency crews would not be able to reach him because of the snow. C'mon people, have a little decorum and check your hate and anger at the door for once! Geez.

Anonymous said...

Common sense should prevail. The guy helped out someone with a pressing heart issue. I'd do the same in a heart beat and hope you would too. The DOR has wasted a lot more money trying to manage this issue compared to the stuck plows.

Anonymous said...

Sure he bent the rules to help someone out; however, that isn't the issue here. They gave him a chance and they simply asked him not to talk about it. He talked about it. He needed to shut his mouth and it would have gone away.

Anonymous said...

Sean, you and your moronic followers make it sound like wowt deliberatly tried to get this guy fired.

That's idiotic. Whatever happened to being objective? The headline to this blog post is in poor taste.

Anonymous said...

I am sure the driver knew the policy and he knowingly violated it. Then, they tell him not to talk about it, and he goes on TV and talks about it. Duh! He is going to file a grievance! I lost my job because some dude in India will do it for $8. Who can I file my grievance with? Bottom line, the guy broke the rules, TWICE! Also, I have a bad back and had to buy a snow blower and I pay a kid to do the part I can't get to, I think the county should pay me for the snow blower and provide some to shovel too!! Stupid right? Where does it end. Policy is there for a reason. Sorry dude, follow the rules next time!

Anonymous said...

10:43 AM Bitter much?

Anonymous said...

Anyone that saw the report knows that McKnight didn't try to get the worker fired. Yes, he probably should not have spoken with the media about this until after he was fired, if indeed he was fired. However, that said, the guy tried to do a good deed and all of us out here could learn a little something from that. Maybe if we stopped being so negative and tearing every person apart and perhaps if we said or did something positive, as this gentleman did, this world would heal itself. Please people, the guy tried to do a good deed. Quit being so cynical.

Anonymous said...

hey 10:43 AM... why do you need to shovel if you have a snowblower?

Anonymous said...

6:55 PM -- if there are at least five openings with the Nebraska roads department... they should send a head hunter to KXVO...

Anonymous said...

This is 10:43 again - I need a shovel to do the steps and my porch - and yes I am bitter. If people stopped being so cynical, as 2:09 put it - phoohey on that. If people would step up and take accountability for their actions we'd all be better off. He was told not to talk, he did and he got fired and he wants to sue the county? Have the courage to realize you were wrong and deal with it. People today are always blaming someone else and suing at the drop of a hat.

Remember the kid whose brother allegedly put a butter knife in his back pack and it went to school? The parents did not want the kid in trouble or kicked out of school. So the go to a lawyer and have a press conference threatening to sue OPS... so much for keeping it quite. Most people suck... sorry, my soapbox is now closed.

Anonymous said...

Nebraska is gonna have to raise taxes if they keep employing stupid managers who fire people for talking to the media.

There is enough case law in Nebraska and the Federal venues to successfully base a multi-million dollar civil action on and win hands down!

The real question is how much of a promotion does the manager who fired this guy gonna get for eventually costing Nebraska mega-bucks?

Anonymous said...

Hey 12:08, Ben Nelson cost the state 151 million and it got him elected to the Senate!!

Anonymous said...

9:13 P.M. - re:headhunters looking to KXVO

I think we've seen here that there are two issues at play. 1) understanding basic instructions, rules, etc., 2) ability to read and comprehend a simple contractual agreement.

That said, I really don't think any of the ex-K's could pass the basic skills test to work for the state.

and for 1:33 P.M. - There's nothing stopping you from running for Senate if you can do a better job.

Anonymous said...

uh, 7 pm, it's not about me running for senate, it's the 151 million dollar man and the others who use smoke and mirrors to fool the brethern. I'll be volunteering to be the x-KXVO campaign manager to get them elected to the Elrhorn, err Omaha city council.

Anonymous said...

11:39 AM Maybe if you tried doing something good for the world rather than just blasting everything and everyone, your outlook on life would be much better. Start thinking positive.

Anonymous said...

Yo 6:43 - I do a lot of good. I am a vlunteer at the Y, I coach youth soccer, I own a business and support many local events as well. I am very positive. I am tired of people not taking responsibility for their actions, plain and simple. I am sorry the man lost his job, but if your boss tells you not to do something and you do it anyway and get fired, should you be able to sue someone? I teach my kids to play fair, play hard and most importantly play by the rules. If you make a mistake, move on.

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