Disability advocate takes issue with comments favoring fired employee

COLUMBIA, 9/18/12 (Beat Byte) -- Comments Columbia Star Dinner Train manager David Tenny made defending an employee he terminated over a profane and racist Facebook exchange sparked a war of words between Tenny; the target of the exchange, Eapen Thampy; and well-known disability advocate Troy Balthazor.

The former dinner train employee, Kyle Blaeuer, "is a good person and not a racist," Tenny told the Heart Beat. He also blamed part of the rant on Thampy for "throwing out names and insults."

"Your statement to the Heart Beat is false," Thampy emailed Tenny. "I DID NOT start throwing out names and insults as you explicitly state."

Thampy's rebuke followed Tenny's earlier apology, which Thampy said he could "not accept."
"I read your message and I was shocked and confused," Tenny emailed Thampy. "Kyle is a server on the train and he works about 3 days a month on the train. I feel terrible that he said these things to you. I side you with you 100% that it was inappropriate. He is in no way a representative of this company and what he said is not supported by the Columbia Star Dinner Train."

Balthazor took issue with Tenny's defense for a different reason.

"I’m sorry, but Kyle is the epitome of a racist," Balthazor emailed the dinner train manager. "I am really surprised you are defending him. I don’t think he represents your company with his statements, but I am having a hard time with your organization’s carefully worded defense of someone I would think you would want to distance yourself from completely."

No stranger to dinner train controversy, Balthazor has championed the cause of another local minority group -- disabled persons -- to secure an ADA-accessible car on the train, which is subsidized by City Hall. Reports claim the car has never arrived, though it was promised no later than this July.

"I am very, very, very sorry if you think that I was defending Kyle in any way," Tenny wrote Balthazor. "That was in NO way my intentions. I thought that what he did was shocking and appalling, and I IN NO WAY was trying to stick up for him. I was just trying to offer his side of the story. I thought what he did was horrible and I instantly fired him. I AM SO SORRY if this was being received as me sticking up for him."