Local News

Commissioners call for more firings over questionable trips

Posted June 30, 2008
Updated July 7, 2008

— Some Wake County commissioners called Monday for more disciplinary action in the wake of a scandal over questionable trips taken by members of the county's Solid Waste Management Division.

Craig P. Wittig was fired June 3 as the division's recycling program manager after county officials found out he had taken at least 46 trips since he was hired in February 2006.

The trips included whale-watching off the coast of Maine, four ventures to Disney World and a trip to a Las Vegas hotel. County records show he sometimes traveled with his family and often with other county employees.

Wittig said the trips were efforts to research environmental programs in other parts of the country so that Wake County could develop a state-of-the-art recycling program. His supervisors approved all of the trips in advance, he said.

Wittig's boss, Solid Waste Management Director James S. Reynolds, was demoted last month to the position of solid waste facilities manager and took a $10,000 cut in his annual salary.

Some commissioners said anyone who went on one of the trips with Wittig also should be fired.

County Manager David Cooke said more disciplinary actions are possible, but nothing was imminent Monday as he continued to review the case.

Cooke said he plans to recommend an independent audit of all charges on county credit cards. The Board of Commissioners would address the matter at its meeting next week.

Last week, he ordered all Wake County departments to review travel expenses for possible questionable spending.

The county has issued charge cards to 535 of its more than 3,800 employees. In the past 11 months, more than $5.7 million was charged to those cards.

Seven employees in the Solid Waste Management Division, including Wittig, charged $165,165 to credit cards issued by Wake County – they are paid for with public money – between April 2006 and this week, according to county records.

County officials also have met with prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges are warranted in the case.


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  • discowhale Jul 1, 2008

    I'm not sure why you people are so mad at Wittig. ALL of his trips were per-approved and then signed off by people above his paygrade. What he did was not right, but he didn't hide it. As for the other people involved, how do you know what they knew and when they knew it? Unless you have intel that is missing from these articles, how do you know some work didn't get done?

    Here's why I raise this. I once worked at a company where this same sort of thing happened. One of our managers convinced his bosses that he was doing business, which he actually was, by taking his family and the families of prospective customers to places like Disney, Six Flags and deep sea fishing. He did do some selling, but the costs were very high. So high he was eventually asked to resign, by the Board of Directors. He refused and was then fired. NONE of his superiors was even reprimanded. He sued and won a settlement.

    The judge said he was only doing what was pre-approved. That sounds familiar.

  • TheAdmiral Jul 1, 2008

    I think it is funny that with all of the reasons that were given - none of them had anything to do with, well, recycling. Unless he was attempting to recycle old bitty's because he felt sympathy.

  • john60 Jul 1, 2008

    Don't forget that there were a dozen Wake County teachers that went on Wittig's little whale-watching trip too; they also need to be "outed" and punished along with Wittig's staff and his supervisor.

    The rot is deep over there in the Waste Management Department, and not just in the landfill!

  • rroadrunner99 Jul 1, 2008

    I think the one who preapproved the trip's should be fired and the whole bunch prosectued. Recover our tax money, if they have to sell their car, house or what ever. They spent the money let them worry about how they pay it back.

  • davidgnews Jun 30, 2008

    nc go blue - good one. There's so much oversight, they never see it.

    Reynolds should definitely go, and whomever tried to cover him by 'demotion' should go as well. This is a network of idiots over there.

  • howdiditgettothis Jun 30, 2008

    James Reynolds ought to be fired and investigated as well.

    There is no amount of waste "research" in the world that would warrant 4 trips to Disney or Las Vegas.

    Every day people are held accountable for fraud.

    Government employees burning up our tax dollars should also be held accountable for fraud!

    Again -- why is the supervisor not being held accountable????

  • nc go blue Jun 30, 2008

    It sounds like Wittig is preparing for a run for governor. He certainly stretched his dollar much, much farther than Easley did on his Italian retirement vacation, err, tourism promotion.

    I continue to be astounded by how little oversight there is within our government.

  • Six String Jun 30, 2008

    Maybe the trips were for research, and maybe he did due diligence on the "research", but I can't figure out putting Disney World and Casino trips and other personal entertainment on a state credit card. If he had time for these things, that's fine but it should have been on his own tab, not the state's. If trips were approved in advance, who checked the expense reports and receipts upon returning? No amount of excuses is going to work on this one -- bad apples, the lot of them.

  • str8-line Jun 30, 2008

    Wait a minute here..........they are spending my money, your money. Somebody better clean house. There is no need for additional money in the budget. If the thieves, liars, cheaters, and scum bags would keep their hands off of it there would be plenty of money for all. Whoever came up with the idea of the credit cards should be audited also. This audit needs to be on the front page of the N&O. Their pictures and the charges should be on the front pages.
    Absolutely no excuse. Too many warnings not enough action. Even the guard over the hen house has feathers in his mouth.

  • ofcourse Jun 30, 2008

    Let's not exclude the employees who went on the trips with Craig Wittig. I don't buy the "they were only doing what their supervisor told them to do" story.