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DNR higher-up says bosses knew he went fishing during medical leave

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* Remember Travis Loyd? He’s the former deputy director at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources who was given the heave-ho after news outlets started calling about a months-long sick leave he took last year. Loyd participated in several fishing tournaments while on leave and even posted photos to his Facebook page.

DNR told me Monday that Loyd was on a “physician-approved” family medical leave. And Loyd says his doctor recommended that he go fishing. No joke

Loyd said he took the time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. He insisted DNR officials, including director Marc Miller, knew full well where he was and what he was doing.

“For them to indicate that they didn’t know I was out at fishing tournaments, baloney!” Loyd said. “This was them knee-jerking. I did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Loyd’s doctor, Tricia Warner of Mount Vernon, said in an email to Loyd she did indeed recommend he attend fishing tournaments while on leave in order to reduce stress. She copied the BGA and NBC 5 on that email at Loyd’s request.

“We discussed hobbies and activities that might alleviate stress,” Warner wrote. “You mentioned fishing and being involved in fishing tournaments as very enjoyable and relaxing for you. I encouraged your participation in these activities.”

Loyd insists his superiors were given that information when they approved his leave.



posted by Rich Miller
Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:23 am


  1. “Dr. Warner writes Illinois First Medical Marijuana Prescription for ________ of the Illinois State Police”

    Comment by x ace Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:28 am

  2. DNR needs to pretend this didn’t happen - not keep digging itself in deeper. Good thing the old Felon-In-Chief DNR hater Blagojevich isn’t around to take advantage of this, or there would be even more pain.

    Comment by VanillaMan Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:28 am

  3. Stuff like this is red meat for the public employee bashers.

    Makes them forget about the firemen, cops, teachers, etc. who pack a lunch every day and do the job right.

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:29 am

  4. They should have stuck a shirt on him that promoted fishing in Illinois. That would have provided some benefit to DNR.

    Comment by Norseman Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:30 am

  5. At least it’s not “Signed, ‘Epstein’s Mother’…”

    Comment by Oswego Willy Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:33 am

  6. It’s rather inconvenient when the scapegoat doesn’t recognize his role and then doesn’t play it well.

    Comment by The Captain Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:33 am

  7. FMLA is not the same as sick leave. Once you are on FMLA you are ‘on leave’ from the department. The DNR is not paying salary any more. He can get medical leave payments from the SRS, which amounts to about 50% of his salary! and he has to pay taxes on that.

    I don’t wish to get into a discussion about whether stress is a legitiment reason for FMLA. I will say that stress is alive and well at the State of Illinois, mainly due to the 3000 political appointees, many of which ( but not all ) have fulfilled the Peter Principal.

    Comment by Rufus Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:38 am

  8. This story is beyond the bizarre. So the DNR Director KNOWS his deputy is out of the office for MONTHS not just attending but participating in fishing tourneys for money and the DNR Director is not being held accountable? Did Loyd get mileage, hotels or other expenses paid by the state for his fishing trips while he was out on medical leave? Has that been FOIA’d or otherwise checked out? Wouldn’t that be a BIG no-no if that occurred? Wouldn’t such expense payments–if made–need to be approved by his supervisor? As a deputy director isn’t the DNR Director his immediate supervisor? Later this year, Rauner’s campaign will have a field day with this whole story.

    Comment by Hey There Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:39 am

  9. No defense intended but under FMLA an employee must use all available personnel time, sick time and vacation time before you are allowed to go on unpaid FMLA time.

    Comment by Spliff Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:40 am

  10. He must have been in a Rutan-exempt job (one of very few in Illinois state govt) and hence served at the will of the governor. If he were in a protected position (most state jobs), I doubt they could have fired him with that dr’s note. What they could have done is had him see another doctor for a second opinion, but I guess they didn’t think of that.Dumb. Anyway, they need to eliminate that job.If they could get by without him for all that time, they don’t need to replace him. DNR is a famed patronage farm and needs a thorough job audit. That won’t happen under Quinn, alas.

    Comment by Cassandra Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:40 am

  11. Looks like I am going to be switching Doctors. I am feeling a little stressed out today…

    Comment by John A Logan Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:41 am

  12. Someone really should look into the abuse of “stress” related work leave. I realize this guy is a big fish, but my experience is that there are a remarkable number of people in the rank and file, too, who go on very long leaves from state government based upon “stress.” And they always seem to have a doctor willing to vouch for them. Some even get 2/3 disability pay for it. And we’re talking about secretaries and data analysts, not just prison guards and police officers.

    Comment by Anonymous Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:42 am

  13. maybe we should start a club, or at least a roster, for idiot hires making $90,000 or more who get fired for being unqualified, inept, having a criminal background, perpetrating fraud, sexual harassment, etc. is anyone ever held accountable, other than the scapegoat?

    hey, fishing is relaxing and can reduce stress. agreed. so he was so stressed he had to travel the country competing in tournaments for four months? thats too funny. we are supposed to believe this is what the doctor ordered, and it was known and acceptable to his superiors?

    fmla exists for valid reasons. but for someone to be gone for such a long period of time should have required a written explanation by the doctor, verifying the qualifying condition.

    btw, did he win? what was his highest place?

    Comment by langhorne Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:50 am

  14. An employee does not have to exhaust any of their benefit time to go on FMLA. They can use benefit time if they choose, or they can take dockage. The only requirement is that they have worked 1250 hours in the last 12 months and that a physician certifies they have an FMLA qualifying condition that causes them to miss work. That’s it.

    Comment by Anonymous Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:50 am

  15. I’m just glad the DNR wants Loyd to get the treatment he really needs. Now he can go fishing anytime he likes without ever coming back to a job.

    Comment by In the Middle Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:55 am

  16. Was he off for a family member? I mean FMLA can be used for a sick immediate family member. If so, who cares if he went fishing? If he was claiming he was too ill to work, then yeah, he probably should have been too ill to fish. Also, was this paid time off, or was it leave? Still not kosher, but it isn’t as bad if the state wasn’t paying him to fish.

    Comment by Jimbo Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 10:58 am

  17. Nevermind, it was paid time off and he was claiming he was ill. Sorry for not reading the link before my last comment. That’s some bull.

    Comment by Jimbo Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:00 am

  18. FMLA does not require you to exhaust sick, personal, and vacation time before going to unpaid leave. However, FMLA does permit an employer to require that a person exhaust sick, personal, and vacation time before going on unpaid leave. I believe the State, along with most other employers, has selected this option.

    Comment by SAP Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:01 am

  19. After days of pressing for answers on why, specifically, Loyd was asked to resign, DNR officials finally pointed to a clause in DNR’s policy and procedure manual stating “An employee shall not be granted FMLA designated leave of absence for the purpose of seeking or taking employment elsewhere.”

    Dear DNR PR person who read my mention of that in CapFax a couple of days ago… You are welcome.

    Comment by OneMan Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:09 am

  20. He is nothing if not creative. I bet the dog ate his homework when he was in school.

    Comment by Rick Biby/Red Card Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:09 am

  21. Oh for heaven’s sake. This guy is a disaster. Loyd’s “angler profile” states that he is “the owner/operator of 30 franchise areas of Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.” He had a professional sponsorship.

    Did he mention all of these “outside interests” in his annual statement of potential conflicts?

    Marc Miller is a good, honest man, and there is no way he knew about this.

    Comment by Soccermom Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:12 am

  22. It’s a good thing he went fishing before his spine started leaking from stress.

    Comment by OurMagician Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:19 am

  23. Government employees are held to a higher standard, because their paid by the taxpayers.
    A prescription for fishing sounds fishy to me.

    I wish my doctor would have thought it up.

    Comment by Mokenavince Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:21 am

  24. Oh I get high with a little help from my friends!
    Oh I get by with a little help from my friends!

    Would be a great song.

    Comment by Union Man Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:25 am

  25. Did it work? Is he better now? Ugh.

    Comment by A guy... Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:35 am

  26. ===”McConnaughhay, site superintendent for Starved Rock State Park, was checking out the park’s latest land acquisition, the former White Oak Campground south of Utica.

    “It is a great addition to Starved Rock State Park and we are extremely grateful to the Simonson family for this acquisition,” McConnaughhay said.”===

    Well, at least somebody’s working hard over at the DNR

    Comment by Bobo Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:46 am

  27. What’s most ludicrous about this is the idea that Travis Lloyd was experiencing stress. He was a patronage onus put on the agency by the administration. With in-line professional staff cut in 1/2 within DNR we have this stuff going on at the administrative level. Jeez Louis!

    Comment by retired DNR professional staff Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:46 am

  28. ==Once you are on FMLA you are ‘on leave’ from the department. The DNR is not paying salary any more.==

    The transparency and accountability portal shows he was paid over $92,000, so there was very little, if any, unpaid leave.

    Comment by Anon. Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:18 pm

  29. Sorry to interrupt with some facts.

    The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job.

    The employer may require the employee to submit a certification from a health care provider to support the employee’s need for FMLA leave for the employee’s own serious health condition.

    A psychological condition can qualify. Just because one is unable to perform one’s job does not mean they cannot partake in leisure activities.

    I personally have no knowledge about the medical condition of this individual or if he legitimately qualified or not. But for many, this is a real illness.

    Comment by Bobbysox Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:20 pm

  30. So as Governor, how would Bruce Rauner handle this issue?

    Comment by Makandadawg Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:20 pm

  31. Bobbysox

    All true, it also does appear you can’t engage in other employment at that time and fishing on a pro-tour is employment…

    There are lots of ways to fish without the ‘risk’ of being paid…

    Comment by OneMan Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:24 pm

  32. The original FOX32 article says he took 12 vacation days and then 44 sick days, and that he had worked for DNR for 4 years. Since sick days accrue at 1 per month, and vacation days at 10 per year, he may have had enough available sick and vacation days to get paid for all his FMLA days off.

    Comment by Anon. Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:27 pm

  33. OneMan -

    I do not think anyone in their right mind would consider this “employment,” unless you are suggesting that no state employee may participate in a fishing tournament or any other contest that offers cash prizes on the weekends because it would be a second job?

    Would that include Bingo?

    Comment by Juvenal Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:31 pm

  34. I would be stressed out too if I was pulling that kind of scam.

    Comment by Arthur Andersen Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:32 pm

  35. I’m not sure competing in a tournament would be considered “employment” for the purpose of revoking an fmla leave. That would have to be tested in a hearing or a court, not likely in this case, because the employee has apparently been let go.

    Comment by Cassandra Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:37 pm

  36. “Loyd’s doctor, Tricia Warner of Mount Vernon, said in an email to Loyd she did indeed recommend he attend fishing tournaments while on leave in order to reduce stress.”

    Lot of farm ponds around Mt. Vernon. Rend Lake is just down the road. The Doc could have recommended Loyd to take a fishing break once in a while, after work, on weekends, whatever. Which undoubtedly he already had been doing before the stress reached the tournament level.

    My folks, in their 80s, doctor a lot in Mt. Vernon. From my observations, my hunch is that a great part of the Mt. Vernon economy is derived from the medical profession there churning Medicare patients through their system. Kind of goes with this Loyd picture. But I’m a misanthropic cynic so take this for the cynicism that it is and don’t go calling your Congressman about Medicare fraud or something cause he likely gets donations from those same docs and would call you un’merican or pinko or something.

    Comment by vole Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:55 pm

  37. @ Soccermom

    “Marc Miller is a good, honest man, and there is no way he knew about this.”

    Good, honest does not equal competent.

    Comment by Leave a Light on George Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:57 pm

  38. “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish,and eventually he’ll collect a check to fish as a deputy director at DNR”

    Comment by Columbo Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 12:59 pm

  39. Let me rephrase: Good, honest and competent.

    Comment by Soccermom Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 1:09 pm

  40. Director Miller through his spokesperson said:

    1) He did not know that Loyd was off fishing and when he learned so asked for his resignation.

    2) That he did not know who Loyd reported to.

    Add in that he did not miss his deputy director for 44 days.

    None of that adds up to competent in my book.

    Comment by Leave a Light on George Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 1:23 pm

  41. One man:
    An employee can possibly work a second job while exercising his rights under FMLA. The FMLA has no provision prohibiting an employee from working another job while on leave from your workplace. It depends on whether the employer has a policy forbidding employees from working secondary jobs. When there is no policy in place, an employee on an approved FMLA leave can have secondary employment.

    For example, while the employee may experience stress in one particular work situation or environment, it does not necessarily mean that the employee is unable to perform his regular daily activities at another employer’s workplace.

    So if say a prison guard is on leave for stress reasons related to that job, there is nothing in the law that says he can’t get work giving golf lessons at a nearby course. If a person is on leave from their manual labor steel mill job because of radiation treatments, it doesn’t mean he can’t pick up a job answering the phone somewhere.

    I am NOT saying that this one individual is righteous or not in this case, but we have to be careful to not throw all stress related ailments out the window because of some preconceived notion that all stress related ailments are bogus. They aren’t.

    Comment by Bobbysox Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 1:40 pm

  42. Marc Miller - enough already. Resign and allow the IDNR to once again try to recover from yet another IDNR Director abusing power.
    Brunsvold takes State plane to pheasant hunt in South Dakota and when asked about it says he was on a business trip. Next comes Grandberg and he secures a lucrative pension. Here comes Marc Miller “DNR’s Savior”. So what does he do - he purchases a fishing boat for his college buddy with tax payers dollars.

    Director Marc Miller you might be a nice guy, but your Deputy Director hung a sign on his office door “Gone Fisjing” for 44 days and you didn’t notice. Your office is less than 10 feet from Lyod’s door. Time for Marc Miller to go fishing!!!!!!!

    Comment by Miller Time Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 1:52 pm

  43. Leave a light on George;

    Do you have a link to that spokesperson statement?

    Comment by Original Rambler Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 2:11 pm

  44. FMLA is difficult to enforce due to HIPPA regulations. Management is often unclear of what type of information they can ask/require without violating privacy rights.

    Comment by Objective Dem Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 2:31 pm

  45. I am with Miller time on this matter. If an agency director is so detached from reality and never apparently talks to his underlings then what use is he?

    Comment by flea Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 2:31 pm

  46. The director seems to either be lying or incompetent.

    Comment by Formerly Known As... Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 2:54 pm

  47. I’m thinking if he loves to fish, can make money winning fishing tournaments, and fishing is “stress free” and fun for him, then maybe he should have resigned from DNR last summer and just fish full time.

    being a deputy director at any state agency is not really much fun anyway. and certainly not stress free. now this ONE person has made thousands of decent and hard working state employees look bad and he is under media scrutiny.

    way to go guy. now you’re going to be all stressed again and your doctor will tell you to go fish in tournaments for another 3 months this year. thanks and have fun.

    Comment by PoolGuy Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 3:00 pm

  48. Many many years ago, back when I was just starting my career at IDOT, I had a fellow maintainer ( who was a little shady) go on workman’s comp for carpal tunnel surgery . He was off for something like 8 weeks while he “recovered”. Low and behold, about 4 weeks in a reporter for the local newspaper took a photo of him holding a nice Crappie in one hand , his fishing pole (with his cast prominently in front)in the other. It burned up everyone else at work, but management decided he couldn’t be punished for fishing because he was on approved time off and his restrictions only said he couldn’t lift over 25 pounds with his repaired wrist. Good thing for him he wasn’t holding up a nice Channel Catfish. Btw- this was the only example in 30 years where I saw someone truly abuse workman’s comp. If they would have disciplined him we all would have been happy, but it didn’t happen. Maybe the deputy director is related to that jerk…

    Comment by Roadiepig Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 3:03 pm

  49. Office of the Governor
    Phone: 312-814-2121

    When calling Governor Quinn’s office on this matter, his spokesperson says the Agency is conducting a internal investigation.
    So I asked: the IDNR headed by Director Miller is conducting a internal investigation into Director Miller’s handeling of Deputy Director Lyod’s abuse of time. Yes, was the response - there’s a internal unit within IDNR that is looking into this matter. So I asked, if the investigation in being conducted by a IDNR employee, wouldn’t Director Miller also sign off on that person timesheet.

    Hollywood couldn’t make this stuff up…….. nobody would believe it…..

    Comment by Miller Time Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 3:09 pm

  50. @ Original Rambler

    See the 7th paragraph I believe.

    Comment by Leave a Light on George Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 3:47 pm

  51. Maybe he was working? He was fishing isn’t that in the DNR area? Checking out which fish can be caught?

    Comment by 3rd Generation Chicago Native Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 4:18 pm

  52. If he couldn’t handle the job, why didn’t they appoint someone that could. Qualified people need not apply. Every job is stressful to some extent. Most people just learn how to deal with it, especially those rank and file workers that aren’t politically connected and have to make a living. Let’s get real. How much stress could he have? Cushy job, friend of Marc Miller’s, etc.etc. Sheesh.

    Comment by kathryn Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 4:54 pm

  53. The guys stress could be coming from anywhere. Work, home, family illness, financial troubles etc. Fishing may indeed be a stress reliever for Loyd.

    But saying that competative tournament fishing trying to win prize money is the RX your doctor prescribed is a crock.

    Even more BS that IDNR Director Miller went along with it.

    Comment by Leave a Light on George Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 5:26 pm

  54. Looks like Fishing and Medical leave go hand and hand with this administration. In the State of NEW YORK this is treated as Theft and people go to prison!

    Comment by MENARD Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 5:43 pm

  55. Travis Loyd’s disappearances have been a sore subject at DNR for a LONG time. His noticeable absences were talked about WAY before he took all those sick days to fish competitively. An INDEPENDENT investigation is needed. I wonder how his ENABLER Marc Miller feels about this FRAUD’S turning on him.

    Comment by Fed up Fisherman Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 6:18 pm

  56. And we were all told by Governor Quinn, Blgo’s Adm. was corrupt. How can Quinn get away with moving corrupt staff around and now not firing Marc Miller as DNR Director. Miller clearly covered for Loyd a longtime friend, until a news reporter brings it to the public’s attention. Then Miller says “had no idea” Lyod was gone fishing for 44 days.

    Great post Menard:

    Comment by Miller Time Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 6:32 pm

  57. LALOG;

    Thank you.

    Comment by Original Rambler Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 6:35 pm

  58. whats bruce rauners position on this situation? lol

    Comment by foster brooks Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 9:12 pm

  59. IDNR Director Marc Miller should do the honorable thing. R-E-S-I-G-N! You do not give your friends free reign to rob the state while others are doing several jobs because hiring has not kept pace with retirements. Miller cannot be trusted at the helm. Wasn’t it last year that he asked the legislature to put their trust in this agency and raise numerous fees? He is not worthy of the public’s trust and cannot effectively even try to lead the agency after all this.

    Comment by Adam Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 9:56 pm

  60. Travis: It appears I made a mistake in prescribing fishing as your stress-relieving activity, seeing as you finished in 169th place (out of 178 entries) in your last tour stop in Florida.

    May I offer up some other press contacts for you? Maybe you won’t botch up the next attempt to clear your so badly.

    Your doctor

    Comment by Doctor's Note Thursday, Feb 13, 14 @ 11:30 pm

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