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Pitt seeking return to job with MnDOT

ST. PAUL - Minnesota's former transportation emergency response manager, fired for allegedly misusing tax dollars and government resources, filed paperwork Wednesday seeking to return to work.

Pitt

ST. PAUL - Minnesota's former transportation emergency response manager, fired for allegedly misusing tax dollars and government resources, filed paperwork Wednesday seeking to return to work.

An attorney for Sonia Morphew Pitt of Red Wing, who remained on the East Coast for a week after the Aug. 1 Minneapolis bridge collapse, said Wednesday her termination last month from the Minnesota Department of Transportation was based on false allegations and that investigations into

Pitt's actions ignored key facts. Pitt will appeal her firing and seek to be reinstated.

Pitt was fired after MnDOT officials claimed she committed "serious employee misconduct" by abusing travel and expense policies, not reimbursing the state for personal calls she made on a work-issued mobile phone and claiming work hours when she was on personal leave.

In a separate investigation report issued last week, the Minnesota legislative auditor expanded on the MnDOT analysis and reported that Pitt misused more than $26,000 in resources.

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The investigations "are premised on incorrect findings, derived from misconstrued state policies and wholly ignored exculpatory evidence," according to a summary of the appeal Pitt attorney John Fabian issued to The Associated Press.

MnDOT Commissioner and Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau said her agency's review "was conducted in a deliberate and thorough manner."

Concern about Pitt's activities came to a head soon after the Aug. 1 Interstate 35W bridge collapse. Pitt, who was on the East Coast for a work seminar when the Minneapolis bridge collapsed, extended her trip by traveling to Washington, D.C.

Pitt's appeal announcement says she immediately began coordinating state and federal aid and emergency responses when she learned of the bridge collapse. She then flew to Washington and worked out of the Federal Highway Administration building.

Her attorney's statement says she was responsible for creating emergency response plans, not commanding the response effort.

If an arbitrator decides Pitt was wrongly fired, she could be reinstated to the position or given an equal job within MnDOT.

Wente works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 Pitt seeking return to job with MnDOT By Scott Wente 20071206

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