Another Pat McCrory cabinet secretary is under scrutiny again. First, it was Kieren Shanahan, the Secretary of Public Safety who thought that the job was a part-time gig. McCrory apparently couldn’t see the potential conflicts of interests or the problem of Shanahan sharing an office with a lobbying operation. Shanahan resigned last summer under mysterious circumstances.

Then, it was (and still is) Secretary of Heath and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos. Wos had little or no managerial experience and has made a mess of her department. Unfortunately for us, she did not resign and the Governor still defends every screw up she makes.

Now, it’s John Skvarla, the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Skvarla has made a big deal about treating businesses as customers and even called them “partners.” He even sees his agency as having an economic development role. And he’s ridiculed concerns of environmental advocates. 

So, now that one of his partners has polluted the Dan River, he’s wondering why everyone questions his agency’s commitment to protecting the environment.

After a year in office, these people still don’t understand that the public is watching and that the press is going to remember what they say. Skvarla’s current predicament was entirely predictable. His condescension toward environmentalists and his unfettered praise of businesses almost assured the situation we have today–a department under fire with its leader’s words coming back to haunt it.

McCrory, Inc., came into office with the enthusiastic support of the business community and the suspicion of environmentalists, social justice groups and advocates for the poor and disabled. A smarter politician than McCrory would have offered an olive branch and tried to earn their trust. Instead, McCrory embraced his “government is broken” mantra and charged ahead like a bull in a china shop, giving his appointees full reign.

He offers no leadership and sets no limits. When folks do well, like Tony Tata or Sharon Decker, great. When folks screw up, like Aldona Wos or John Skvarla, well, that’s great, too. But nobody is held accountable. It’s a hell of a way to run a government.


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