A failure to communicate

by | Nov 2, 2013 | DHHS, Editor's Blog | 7 comments

How many Department of Health and Human Services employees does it take to screw in a light bulb? We don’t know but it will take 19 to run their new marketing and public relations shops. I wonder how much they’ll get paid?

You see, they knew something was broken over there. Hell, we all have. I mean, the bad headlines have been coming non-stop since January. Something had to be wrong.

But what was it? Could it have been hiring campaign hacks at inflated salaries? Nah. How about falsely blaming Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin for not expanding Medicaid? Nope. What about refusing to answer to the press and having body guards hold off reporters? Not likely. What about losing the most experienced members of the professional staff? Uh-uh. Maybe the large severance packages for people leaving after a month? That wouldn’t do it. What about the $300,000 consulting contracts to political cronies? Big deal. Or altering documents? I doubt it. How about ending WIC or Work First during the government  shut down? It’s just the poors. Who cares?

Finally, Ricky Diaz, the $85,000 man, figured it out. They haven’t been selling it right. Or, as the warden in Cool Hand Luke put it so succinctly, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

So they are about to start communicating to the tune of about a $1 million a year in taxpayer money. That’s running government like a business. Don’t skimp on your branding. And who do you think is going to run this behemoth of a state government communications operation? Why Ricky Diaz, with all of his 10 months of government managerial experience, of course.

The whole thing reads like a script from a bad sitcom. Intellectually challenged governor hires rich socialite with no experience to run large government agency. Socialite, in turn, hires overpriced, inexperienced campaign hack in need of a job between elections. As the agency, predictably, begins to unravel, campaign hack convinces socialite to give him increasing responsibility, even though he’s obviously failing at his job. Meanwhile, Governor is oblivious to the fiasco that everybody else sees and makes silly comments about how hard the socialite is working.

I just hope they cancel it after the first season.


  1. Geoffrey Zeger, ACSW, LCSW

    Oh boy!!! I wanna join the new team…I can help spin things by saying stuff like “cutting food stamps is a good thing…a little starvation acts as an incentive to find a job” and “Medicaid Managed Care will save money for the state – so many providers will drop out of their Medicaid contracts due to reduced fees and increased regulations that automatically with less providers millions can be saved,” and also if I just use the word ‘proactive’ over and over like Ricky D. I can make a it seem like DHHS is actually doing something….so whatcha think….do I have a shot for this new panel?

    • Christine Chaplik

      Geoffrey, you’re a little late on the Medicaid managed care. NC has had that for about 15 yrs now, it’s called the Carolina Access program. It was implemented to keep Medicaid recipients from using the ER as primary care.

  2. Bella

    Lois – you really should complete the process of digestion before issuing your final product. The last sentence is about the McCrory administration, and the entire article is about it and its failures, ACA is only peripheral to this particular story, ant this is the place where it is appreciated, not condemned – so your comments are worse than stupid.

  3. Lois

    Nicely impartial and oozes with compassion for the many North Carolinians who have been denied health insurance coverage or have been underinsured. I wonder if your archives extend as far back as Medicare Part D implementation.

    • Lois

      Closer inspection makes me think I may have misinterpreted the last sentence as being a hope that PPACA be repealed within a year. At least j hope I misinterpreted it.

  4. F.G.Carter, Jr.

    It won’t be cancelled…instead, with the mindset of NC voters who put them there, it is likely they’ll be renewed for another four years…this takes us to 2020…the magic year in which they will declare the state bankrupt.

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