The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

November 9, 2012

Doing the governor a favor, or not

Friday, November 9, 2012 — RALEIGH -- I suppose Republican state legislators thought that they were doing Pat McCrory a favor.

Perhaps it will work out that way. Perhaps not.

Months before the election, state legislators and every other political observer in the state knew that McCrory was the favorite to become the next governor.

So, no one was too surprised when a Republican-controlled legislature passed some measures giving the next governor more hiring flexibility than the current governor.

That hiring flexibility expands the number of what are known as "exempt positions," state jobs that are not subject to normal hiring and firing rules, from about 450 to up to 1,000. It also allows the governor to establish salaries for state agency heads and their chief deputies.

Jobs exempt from normal civil service protections are there because of a recognition that governors need loyal lieutenants running the government bureaucracy. Those at the very top of the state agency ladder, along with those working in the governor's office itself, work with the knowledge that their jobs are dependent upon the political fortunes of their elected bosses.

Back last summer, legislative leaders defended expanding those positions and providing more salary flexibility for some jobs by saying that the changes would allow the next governor to induce highly qualified people to fill top state government jobs.

The legislature, by the way, did not provide any additional money, so any higher salaries will likely have to come from vacant agency positions.

This public rationale for the change may prove itself over time.

A good argument can be made that a governor, particularly when it comes to complex health care-related positions like some jobs at the Department of Health and Human Services, could find more qualified people to fill top jobs with better pay.

Running a state agency more effectively and efficiently could more than make up for any higher pay going to the top bureaucrat at a particular agency. And if more hiring flexibility is required to make that happen, the public isn't likely to complain.

But what if that doesn't occur?

What if, in a state agency where the agency head is paid more and more existing state workers are turned out of their jobs because of a change in the governorship, the problems and the inefficiencies increase?

In that case, what the legislature has actually done is create a trap for the next governor, one in which higher salaries and exempt jobs will be used to bludgeon the state's chief executive each time a specific agency problem receives public mention.

And those added exempt positions will invite plenty of scrutiny regarding whether they are being filled with more qualified managers who can get the job done or just turning state agencies into dumping grounds for political patrons and party hacks.

In politics, sometimes it is better to be more wary of your friends than your enemies.


Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    NEW YORK - Economists love hamburgers. Specifically fast-food burgers. This is partly because all right-thinking human beings love ground meat on a bun, but it's also because the sandwich makes a handy yardstick for international financial comparisons. The ingredients and labor involved in preparing a Big Mac are pretty much the same no matter where you are in the world, so by looking at how many hours of toiling it takes a worker to earn enough to purchase one, you can get a sense of how wages really stack up across countries. The Economist famously created the Big Mac index in 1986 to see which currencies were overvalued. It started as a joke. Now, as the magazine proudly notes, it's a subject of academic study.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    WASHINGTON - What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Doug Creamer All in the Family

    We had a family get-together at my brother’s house on Easter Sunday. It’s hard to get our family together because we are spread out, especially when you consider nieces and nephews. My parents and siblings all made the gathering this year. Some of my nieces and nephews are far away, but they all remember gathering at my brother’s house for the holidays. Easter is known for the Jell-O eggs and the famous Easter egg hunt.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 19, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content