By Scott Mooneyham for the SNAP
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 —
RALEIGH — In her final weeks in office, Gov. Beverly Perdue is proving that being a lame duck is a two-way street.
Yes, legislative leaders and others who will continue in positions of power in North Carolina can, in many respects, ignore her.
And she can ignore them.
Perdue seems intent on ignoring the Republican-controlled legislature, in particular, on a couple of matters still on her to-do list.
One involves appointing a replacement to a Supreme Court justice, Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who recently announced that she was retiring from the bench.
The other involves what to do with the prime Raleigh real estate that is being left vacant by the closure of Dorothea Dix hospital and the moving of offices of a state agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, from the property.
Perdue appears intent on turning the property into a major park, leasing it to the city of Raleigh under a long-term lease.
Both plans have produced some squawking from legislative leaders.
Senate leader Phil Berger noted that Perdue seems prepared to ignore or rescind her own executive order in naming Timmons-Goodson’s replacement on the state’s high court.
That order had created a commission to recommend judicial appointments to her. Berger called it “rank hypocrisy soiling her legacy” to make a last-minute appointment without following the process.
“Gov. Perdue has not earned, nor does she have, the state’s trust to make this type of decision,” Berger said.
OK. Sounds good. But the state constitution gives her the power to do exactly what she wants regarding the appointment, and any governor in a similar situation would likely do the same.
The lease of the Dix property is a bit more complicated.
First, Perdue will have to convince a majority of the 10-member Council of State — those statewide, elected office holders who control the executive branch — to go along with the plan.
Right now, it isn’t clear whether some of what may be done regarding the Dix property couldn’t be undone by the incoming governor, Pat McCrory, or even the legislature.
Legislators have a valid point that putting together this land deal now, with state offices still sitting on the property, appears hurried and an attempt by Perdue to secure a long-lasting legacy.
House Speaker Thom Tillis said Perdue looked to be putting the creation of that legacy ahead of the interests of taxpayers.
“If this proves to be a good idea today, then it will be a good idea weeks from now,” Tillis said.
He may be right, but what does Perdue care? Is she worrying about a soured relationship with legislators? How about not being invited to Tillis’ and Berger’s Christmas parties?
No, she is about to ride off into the sunset, hoping to do some quacking along the way.
Maybe legislators should be happy that she doesn’t, as a parting gift, issue an executive order to release an entire flock of limping ducks in the fountains in front of the Legislative Building.