Here is the story from WRAL news:
State worker retires after refusing to honor Jesse HelmsI am glad you are no longer working off my tax dollars, Mr. Eason. You have zero class and no concept of honor.
Raleigh, N.C. — A state worker who worked 29 years for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture decided this week to retire instead of lowering a flag to honor the late former Sen. Jesse Helms.
L.F. Eason III, 51, told his laboratory staff not to fly the U.S. flag or North Carolina flag at half-staff, despite a call from Gov. Mike Easley to do so.
When Eason's supervisor confronted him about the decision, he said he would rather retire, Brian Long, a spokesman with the Department of Agriculture, said.
Eason could still face some type of disciplinary action, Long said, but the nature of the action was never determined because he voluntarily said he was going to retire.
Eason told The News & Observer of Raleigh that he did not think it was appropriate to remember Helms because of his opposition to civil rights legislation and the national Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The N&O has several stories on the subject. I will add a couple of quotes and links.
From this page:
In an interview, Eason said he was given the ultimatum over the phone.
"I was not given a choice," he said. "I was told if I lowered the flags completely or raised them up, I would be fired."
Here is another piece and a couple of quotes:
"Regardless of any executive proclamation, I do not want the flags at the North Carolina Standards Laboratory flown at half staff to honor Jesse Helms any time this week," Eason wrote just after midnight, according to e-mail messages released in response to a public records request.
He told his staff that he did not think it was appropriate to honor Helms because of his "doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice" and his opposition to civil rights bills and the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday...
In a string of e-mail messages with his superiors, Eason was told he could either lower the flags or retire effective immediately.
Though he's only 51, Eason chose to retire, although he pleaded several times to be allowed to stay at the lab. Eason, who had worked for the Agriculture Department since graduating from college, was paid $65,235 a year as the laboratory manager.
Several people, including his wife, argued to Eason that the flags belonged to the state, as did the lab. But Eason said he felt a strong sense of ownership.
The N&O got the actual emails containing Eason's stupidity. Here is what he wrote the Secretary of Agriculture and the Governor. He paints with a broad brush and exaggerates. Good riddance.
"Regardless of any executive proclamation, I do not want the flags at the North Carolina Standards Laboratory flown at half staff to honor Jesse Helms any time this week.
"This is in no way a political decision. I simply do not feel it is appropriate to honor a person whose epitaph of government service was to have voted against or blocked every civil rights issue that came before the US Congress. His doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice cost North Carolina and our Nation much that we may never regain."
Excerpts from an e-mail message that Eason sent later that same day to Gov. Mike Easley and state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler:
"I made a decision to refuse to lower our flags at the NC Standards Laboratory to half mast in honor of Jesse Helms as soon as I heard of his death. I cannot in good conscience honor such a man who fought so hard against Civil and Human Rights throughout his life. Even to his death bed, he refused to apologize for the damage he caused. Now, I stand by this decision. It is a personal decision, but obviously affects my job at the lab. It has been over ruled by Division and Departmental Management and as I look out my window, I'm ashamed to see the flags lowered ...
"I also understand that my decision is not acceptable. You cannot ignore that fact. There is the law, but there is also a higher law I must follow as a matter of conscience."