….. I’ve never done this before – turn over this column to the words of another man. …. Today I give you the August 3 words of N&O Executive Editor John Drescher…. I have supported John from the moment of his promotion to replace his disgraced predecessor. …. for John, like Erskine Bowles, is the rare American in 2008 who can rise above his partisan label to publicly speak The Truth. …. Rarer than hens’ teeth are such men.
Editor Drescher’s words transcend the fetid sewer of NC and US politics. I hope each of you regardless of your residence or your politics will take the few minutes necessary to read this. It is about much more than one (more) cowardly dishonest politician.
Yes, we North Carolinians have a dishonest coward for our Governor. Mike Easley is not a coward because he is a Democrat or a Liberal or white or any of the partisan labels we conveniently assign to those in public office. Mike Easley is simply “a dishonest coward”. I can think of no more disgracing label to give him and you know me to have a wide vocabulary. ….. and be very assured that this dishonest coward has had willing accomplices ….. indeed!
Easley is completing his 2nd scandal-ridden term as Governor and, yes, he had the full enthusiastic support of The News & Observer in both of his campaigns. John Drescher was not Editor at those times. John admits that he is a Democrat and of a liberal persuasion. I am not forgiving or forgetting the history of John’s employer in its overt partisanship for the past century. I am simply sharing these latest words of its Executive Editor in August 2008. I prefer to believe we can, on occasion, be a Nation of Men and not of corporate and political entities.
I wish I could say “I told you so” to John Drescher but I have no confidence that a Republican would have performed any better or any less dishonorably ….. and therein, my friends, lies the true dilemma for our country and our world.
McCain, Obama, Clinton, Bush, et al …… To paraphrase Pogo Possum in his epic soliloquy to Albert Alligator “….. and it is us.”
Published: Aug 03, 2008 12:30 AM
Modified: Aug 03, 2008 07:02 AM
Easley’s press officers deter us from digging for you
John Drescher, Executive Editor
When it comes to keeping public information from you, Gov. Mike Easley’s public relations staffers are still doing their best to keep you in the dark.
They didn’t want you to know that the Easley administration wasted $400 million as it put mental health “reform” in place. ….. They didn’t want you to know that 82 patients have died under questionable circumstances in state mental hospitals since 2000. ….. They didn’t want you to know that the new mental hospital in Butner had construction flaws that could endanger patients. ….. And they didn’t want you to know that a top hospital administrator used state money to pay a state employee to paint a portrait of her.
They’ve been at it again.
On June 27, The N&O requested copies of e-mail messages since May 1 from six officials about the opening of the new hospital in Butner. Eleven days later, on July 8, a Health and Human Services public information staffer finally forwarded the request to the six officials and asked them to respond by July 23 — just after the scheduled opening of the hospital. On Thursday, we finally received the bulk of the e-mails.
Tom Lawrence, the agency’s new director of public affairs, said his office wasn’t stalling. He said everyone at DHHS is busy. Be serious, Tom. Eleven days to forward our request?
Lawrence was brought in after his predecessor, Debbie Crane, was fired for getting crossways with Easley. Her firing was a disaster for Easley. As soon as she was fired, Crane drove to The N&O, where she told us how Easley’s press office really works. Her comments upstaged Easley’s March press conference on mental health issues (which itself was a disaster for Easley, who walked out after taking questions for 16 minutes).
Crane told us that Easley’s press office directed public information officers to destroy e-mail to the governor’s press office. That led The N&O and nine other news groups to sue the Easley administration for destroying public records. So you’d think Crane’s successor would have learned what happens when you obstruct and cover up. Apparently not.
This isn’t just a snit between us and Easley’s people. It matters to you. Look, you might not like us. We’re too liberal. Or we’re too conservative. We all went to Carolina. Or we loved State’s Philip Rivers and Chuck Amato. You hate Mallard Fillmore. Or you love Mallard Fillmore. We’re pro-Israel — except to those who insist we’re pro-Palestinian. Fine by me. You read the paper; you’re entitled to your opinion.
But remember this: We dig like nobody else. [!!!] We do the dirty work that no one else can do. It’s expensive. It’s monotonous. It often leads to unpleasant confrontation. Not many journalists enjoy it. But it makes government better. It makes North Carolina better. To dig, we need public information — information that belongs to you and me. For people who care about open government, this is the worst administration in decades. Jim Hunt and Jim Martin were governor for 24 years before Easley. Their staffs had plenty of fights with reporters. But most of the time, their public information officers respected the law and the public’s right to know about their government.
In an April meeting with representatives from news organizations, Easley, a second-term Democrat, said the e-mail fight had overshadowed his proposal to fix the state’s mental-health system. He said his administration was to blame. He was right about that. Easley said he had instructed his staff to cooperate better with reporters. “I do not have time for pettiness,” he said. Lawrence apparently hasn’t received the word.
Neither has first lady Mary Easley. When reports surfaced that she had received new responsibilities and an $80,000-a-year raise at N.C. State, she declined to talk with us. We had just revealed that she was among the state’s delegation on two trips to Europe that cost taxpayers more than $109,000.
She and her husband talked to WRAL-TV instead. With only five months remaining in Easley’s last term, I don’t hold much hope that this governor will change his ways or push his staff to change.
His successor — Democrat Bev Perdue or Republican Pat McCrory — might attempt to duplicate Easley’s obstruct-and-control style of dealing with the press. If he or she does, mark my words, Perdue and McCrory: It will be a long four years.
We will fight you. We will sue you. We will report on your obstruction and law-breaking. And I will pound you in this column. Your fight with us will distract you from getting your message out. It will impair your ability to govern. You will limp into your last year as governor the way Easley is limping out of his.
You choose. [email protected] or (919) 829-4515. Read the Editors’ Blog at newsobserver.com.
Who drew Pogo Possum?
Jay Silverheels was Tonto.
The Preseason #1 Team in College Football, Georgia, has had six players arrested in the past six months. Imagine what a bunch of thugs they might have assembled if their coach, Mark Richt, was not such a public Christian !!! We’ll probably have more to say about this later.
NOTE: If you ever wish to unsubscribe from this website (and there are many reasons for doing so other than disagreeing w/ BobLee !!) be advised it takes as much as a week to clear the Internet data bank.