Whistle Blower

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A state employee was fired after he put software known as "spyware" on his boss's computer and determined the supervisor was spending much of his work time playing solitaire.

A hearing officer with the Alabama Personnel Department heard the appeal Tuesday of former Department of Transportation employee Vernon Blake. The State Personnel Board is expected to rule on whether to reinstate Blake at its Aug. 18 meeting.

Blake told the Montgomery advertiser that last October he put a free software program called WinSpy on the computer of George Dobbs, assistant chief of DOT's Right of Way Bureau. The software recorded what was on Dobbs' computer at random intervals.

More than 70-percent of WinSpy's 414 images show games of solitaire, he said, a fact he brought to the attention of the agency's senior management.

The department reprimanded Dobbs in a Jan. 21 letter. Blake claims his status as the department's network administrator gave him the authority to monitor Dobbs' computer.