Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cronyism Alive and Well in N.C. Government

Mark Johnson of the Charlotte Observer wrote in an article today that questions are being raised in local and state governments about who is getting hired and why. It seems that even while many agencies of local and state government are under hiring freezes, family members of influential Democrats keep getting jobs. In this section, even powerful Democrats, like Charlotte City Council member and candidate for mayor Anthony Foxx, Governor Beverly Perdue and former Governor Mike Easley don't escape mention for cronyism.
The issue of family connections in government flared last year when then-first lady Mary Easley got an $80,000 raise from her employers at N.C. State University.

Now questions about the influence of personal and family ties are being raised again in the state and in Mecklenburg County.

Commissioners on Wednesday dismissed suggestions of cronyism in the county's Department of Social Services. That came after the director hired the wife of Charlotte City Council member Anthony Foxx after posting the job for one day during a department hiring freeze.

In Raleigh, Gov. Bev Perdue's son Garrett was hired this year by the law firm of Womble, Carlyle Sandridge & Rice as a lobbyist a month after his mother took office. The firm says he'll lobby in Washington, not Raleigh.

Relationships matter in many lines of work, and private companies do their share of family hires. But when relatives of public officials get a government job or a job dependent on government such as lobbying, it prompts the question: Did qualifications or genes get them hired?