Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Governor Easley starts digging out

Looks like Gov. Mike Easley realized the hole he was in and has started digging out, not deeper. Over the past three days he spoke to the annual N.C. Editorial Writers Conference in Chapel Hill Sunday evening, had a one-on-one interview with the News & Observer in the hotel lobby following his remarks and gave WRAL-TV an interview Monday morning. His Secretary of Health and Human Services Dempsey Benton was quoted at some length in Tuesday morning’s N&O about solutions the administration will propose to the legislature.
Easley’s press office, you may recall, made the decision that the governor shouldn’t talk to the newspaper for its recent series about the fundamental and costly failures of mental health reform over the past six years. The reason, spokesman Seth Effron said, was a concern that the newspaper would deal more in blame and not in solutions to the problem.
I didn’t follow that reasoning then or now; it’s hard to imagine reporters not wanting to ask about and report what the administration intends to do about a problem. Tuesday’s headline in the N&O: “Mental health plan in works,” with a story on the administration’s developing approach to fix mental health problems by the end of the Easley administration.
I don’t know that Easley is answering all the questions thoroughly or satisfactorily, but I think he’s made an attempt to get at them and to be more open about what happened. And, of course, other questions have arisen. The N&O reported Monday that Easley said he had received a handwritten note from former HHS Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom, now a foundation executive in New York. But we’ll never know what it said because, the governor said, he “chunked” it into the waste basket after reading it.
Some days, you just gotta wonder.
Late morning addition: After a news conference to discuss his upcoming proposals to deal with the drought, Easley said the note from Carmen Hooker Odom was not about mental health and didn't even mention the subject. It was entirely personal -- complimenting him, in fact, and thus he concluded the news media wouldn't have been interested in publishing its contents.

9 comments:

Fern said...

Your optimism is commendable, but apparently misplaced.

According to The News & Observer (March 11, 2008) "In the note, Easley said, Hooker Odom explained why she didn't want to give interviews about the mental health system she'd been in charge of until she left last year."

You say "Easley said the note from Carmen Hooker Odom was not about mental health and didn't even mention the subject. It was entirely personal -- complimenting him, in fact, and thus he concluded the news media wouldn't have been interested in publishing its contents."

The fact Governor Easley has trouble with facts does not surprise me. It is a pleasant surprise to see so much coverage of the lies being told to hide the truth about the mental health fiasco.

Please, don't accept any fixes until you know what caused the problems, or you might inadvertently reward malfeasance while continuing to deny those in need adequate services.

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