Revenge of the Alleged Porndogs

Mininathan Nathan Hayward III, Delaware's secretary of transportation, made a few enemies when his zero-tolerance policy netted at least 19 employees who were accused of viewing pictures of nekkid people and sending sexually charged emails at work.

Enemies who know their way around a computer.

As the firings and forced resignations work their way through the system, a court of public opinion called is currently vilifying the First State official.

It's ugly stuff: Postings of an embarrassing resume that led to a high-paying job. A series of cartoons that show Hayward's office as den of Dilberts. Photographs of Hayward in a hard hat that recall Michael Dukakis in a tank. A freewheeling blog where the disgruntled can relieve themselves.

A hearing is scheduled for this week. According to the News Journal, members of the House Personnel Practices Committee are concerned that Hayward did not show enough tolerance toward the workers, and that state merit rules may have been violated.

"All of these people are mortified because the general public thinks that they are trafficking in child pornography," said committee co-chair Rep. Nancy Wagner, R-Dover North.

Wagner said a lawyer representing some of the fired workers told her the the material was not pornographic -- "nothing here that the average person would consider to be pornography."

Some of the material, she said, included a horoscope and photos taken at a worker's cousin's wedding.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, The State News obtained a letter Hayward wrote in February that spelled out the offenses: "Everyone confronted to date has been found to be exchanging (receive and send) absolutely prohibited pornographic, sexually explicit, or otherwise personally offensive jokes, stories, pictures, cartoons, videos, audios, or similar material," he wrote.

"Some have racial and/or ethnic overtones. All are disgusting. None in any way can be condoned. Nobody can claim they are being disciplined for accidental receipt of unacceptable material."

The webmaster responded to an email from Blinq, saying he or she preferred anonymity, and that the site went online Aug. 17 to provide "a humorous twist to many of the current events at the department, while seeking to provide stress relief to the remaining employees suffering in the current atmosphere."

The following comes from an email the Webmaster sent to Delaware papers:

In February, at least 10 state employees were either forced to resign
or eventually terminated due to what was labeled pornography.  In
actuality, there was no pornography- only mildly inappropriate
material that deserved nothing more than a reprimand.  None of the
employees in question had ever received any discipline in any form,
and some had worked 10 to 15 years with the state.  That these
individuals were forced to resign or terminated without warning for
these innocuous emails undermines even the most rudimentary sense of
fairness. The word pornography was, no doubt, used to end all
questions and research by the press.  Many Senators and
Representatives were contacted but most were understandably not
interested in defending individuals accused of pornography.

In July, at least 9 more DelDOT employees were dismissed with
allegations that they all were also viewing pornography.  The feeling
was, based on the criteria they used to fire the employees in February
and July, that anyone could be next. Today, the department is still in
turmoil as rumors of a third round of firings swirl.  Morale is at an
all-time low.  Little work gets accomplished, as everyone is more
concerned with where they can get a job if they draw the unlucky
straw.  And the press only seems to parrot the claims of the Secretary
of Transportation, who has made this issue his legacy, while silently
bankrupting DelDOT.

Posted 08/26/2005 09:35:00 AM

Without exchanging porn at work, how would the day fly by?

Posted 08/26/2005 09:49:59 AM

That guy is one of those old types that believe "you go to work to work". Who does that anymore? The new philosophy, well, at least in my field, is "you go to work to get your work done." As long as the s@#@#!'s done well and on time, that's all that counts :)

Posted 08/26/2005 10:23:30 AM

Alright, I'll post my predictable response... They didn't spread porn, they just came across a link that wasn't marked "not safe for work" and got caught :p Sponsored by The Partnership for SHIT (Safe Hyperlinking Internet Today) * crickets * alright, time to get back to work...

Posted 08/26/2005 02:41:35 PM

Daniel, that newspaper in the First State is the "News Journal". Just a minor blip in what is truly a great catch. Jason makes a good point above: an accidental visit to a NSFW link, especially one unmarked, should be a mulligan. Five or six clicks beyond that ought to be the threshold for beginning progressive discipline. "No tolerance" policies ignore some pretty fundamental human tendencies.

Daniel Rubin
Posted 08/26/2005 03:01:35 PM

Thanks, JLo - we talking about two papers, of course, the News Journal of Wilmington and the State News of Dover.

Posted 08/26/2005 03:07:16 PM

My bad, Daniel. I saw the link to "" and assumed...incorrectly. That said, might I commend you on your grasp of Delaware government--such as it is. Should you wish to talk with someone on the inside, contact me off-line and I can make an introduction.

Daniel Rubin
Posted 08/26/2005 03:26:41 PM

You may, and I appreciate it, but it was eagle-eyed Joe DiStefano, himself a First Stater, who found this one.

Posted 08/26/2005 03:33:04 PM

See, it's all about "appropriate sites" in the sense of what you should or should not be looking at when you are at work. A level 1 link from (e.g. Blinq) is somewhat appropriate, but level 2 (links on Blinq to other sites) are not guaranteed appropriate. Personal sites (e.g. blogs) can most of the time be trusted, but are they appropriate? If you click a link on a non-appropriate site that leads you to porn or sexual material, that's 2 strikes if you're caught. 1) not working 2) porn in work. But, this guy is still wrong, he shouldn't fire people without first warning them in this case. On the software end, it's the easiest thing to tell what sites your employees visit, and even snag images and any other files that they are viewing. It's called a proxy. You might have one in your office.

Posted 08/26/2005 05:59:01 PM

Jason, that level 1/level 2 thing sounds more complicated than the tax code...but I get where you're coming from. I don't know who defines "appropriate", but I do know some corporate folks who might not welcome Blinq as a level 1. To your much more trenchant point, though, a transgression needs to be pretty egregious for a first-offense dismissal. I'm pretty sure those without jobs right now could mount a reasonable case against Hayward and at least get their jobs reinstated. It would be interesting to hear what the First State's quite reasonable governor would say on this one.

Posted 08/26/2005 07:43:32 PM

level 1 = links from the first website ( level 2 = links from the level 1 websites it's not even real terminology, I just used it in this context to help show a point. :) Yes, I agree. George on Seinfeld got fired for having sex with the cleaning lady the first time. If you're late or forget to call out one day, most employers would warn once :) I would appreciate a warning, as would everyone for most cases. Bosses are still people with life experiences, and those experiences tend to be much like our own, and they tend to know that people aren't perfect. Not like robots like this guy.

Posted 08/27/2005 12:26:40 PM

Ah, and George's priceless response: "was that wrong?" I'd prefer a three-strikes policy where sex with the cleaning lady is concerned (assuming that the sex is consensual and that you're made clearly aware of which strike you're on). By the way, policy and monitoring vary drastically from agency to agency in the Delaware government. There are some whose jobs appear to consist of mindless surfing on the clock. Also by the way, I notice Herr Nathan is president of the beautiful Longwood Gardens. I wonder whether the same policies apply there.

ping: DelDOT Scandal Turning: The One I Wish I Never Touched -->
Posted 08/31/2005 01:27:21 AM

Regrets, I've had a few... I wrote a post called Life After P0rn: Still Stiffens that started with this line:I didn't plan to blog more on the DelDOT P0rn scandal because it's not a Smyrna issue.I should have trusted my

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments