Thursday, February 12, 2009

When governors go on vacation

When Gov. Bev Perdue didn't show up for a speech and sent a video instead earlier this week after being on the job about a month, tongues were wagging and folks were wondering where she was, especially after being so visible during her first few weeks on the job. She had been billed as the luncheon speaker at the opening day of the 2009 Emerging Issues Forum Monday, but a big crowd that showed up had to settle for a short video of Perdue promising more hands-on governing and immediate action to deal with the state's economic problems.

Dome's Web site reported Monday afternoon that Perdue was on a long-planned vacation with her spouse, Bob Eaves, at an undisclosed location. Rob Christensen noted that the speculation was that the vacation was somewhere out of the country. Perdue’s office said it was a “working vacation” and that Perdue took budget books and other materials with her to study.

Politicians for some reason find it hard to tell folks when or where they'll be on vacation -- even when they've promised voters a higher level of transparency in their officials duties. But time off is evidently a personal matter and none of the public's business. This has happened before.

It must have been back in 1978 or so when Gov. Jim Hunt got mad about being caught in tennis togs by a news photographer. He was at a meeting of what then was called the Southern Governors Conference at Hilton Head, S.C., when a photographer nabbed a picture of the governor swinging a racket on the courts at the resort. The News & Observer, among other newspapers, published the photo and Hunt hit the roof about being portrayed as playing when the public expected him to be working.
``You're damn right I think it's bad,`` Hunt said at the time. ``The public doesn't want their officials relaxing.

He wasn't the only governor to come under public scrutiny for appearing to play when there might have been work to be done. Gov. Jim Martin, an avid sailor, had a long-planned family sailing vacation on his schedule in 1987, but the legislature had not finished work on the state budget. Martin went sailing anyway, on the not-unreasonable premise that the legislature was run by Democrats, that they were putting the budget together behind closed doors, and that no one could understand what they were up to, anyway.

``The legislature wasn't doing anything,`` Martin said in 1988 when he was running for re-election, Tim Funk reported. ``They were talking in
code."

29 comments:

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I think our previous president set the new standard for vacation. Maybe someday it will trickle down and us little people can take it whenever we want too.

Did Gov. Perdue seriously think it was a good idea to leave a video? She might as well have spit on the audience.

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