NC lawmaker calls for changes at state ferry division

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by Nick Ochsner, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on September 5, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 6 at 9:49 AM

NORTH CAROLINA--Rep. Bob Steinburg (R-Edenton) is calling for major changes at the state's ferry division.

Steinburg said he received multiple calls from employees with tips of widespread wrong-doing.

"This ferry division needs to be turned on its head, upside down," Steinburg said. "It needs to be completely gutted."

Steinburg said in the past, when Democrats controlled state government, the ferry system was used to return political favors. That has yet to change under Republican Governor Pat McCrory, according to Steinburg.

"It is one of the last remnant of the good 'ol  boy network," Steinburg said.

Despite the strong criticism, Steinburg has yet to put forth any concrete evidence supporting his claims. He says he will release specifics after he's finished his investigation.

"If I share the information that I have prematurely, then they're going to have an opportunity to cover it up before I can even get to it," Steinburg said.

But longtime Democrats like Stan White, who spent nine years on the NCDOT board, claim Steinburg's allegations are motivated by politics.

"There's really nothing there, in my opinion, that they're gonna find," White said.

White said Steinburg's call for an investigation is an attempt to distract from measures Republicans passed through the legislature in its recent session. He also claims any investigation into the ferry system would be a waste of time and money.

"We're sort of on a witch hunt here, with nothing to look for," White said.

For his part, Steinburg said he's not surprised by the criticism. He said many of his critics, including White, stand to come out on the losing end of his investigation.

"The very people making these comments are the very people that I'm getting reports on," Steinburg said.  

Harold Thomas, Ferry Division Director, told 13News Now, "We are eagerly awaiting the results of that audit and welcome any and all other internal or external audits of our operations, hiring practices, and budgeting. We are confident that any audit will find an organization committed to fiscal responsibility and transparency."

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