Just anybody

by | Sep 24, 2013 | Editor's Blog, NC Politics, NCGOP, NCGov | 5 comments

Well, one thing about the Department of Health and Human Services is certain: If it wasn’t really broken before Aldona Wos showed up on the scene, it sure is now. She and her boss, the Governor, like to mention what a mess they inherited. But it’s looking more and more like a mess they made.

McCrory and Wos keep talking about this massive reform effort that is going fix a broken Medicaid system. Well, the woman they hired to oversee that effort, Carol Steckel, just left to take a more lucrative position. She was making over $200,000 a year so that must be one hell of a job.

When Wos hired Steckel, she called it the “the first big victory” in her tenure at DHHS. It also was the only victory. And since Steckel bailed after only eight months, I guess it was really just another mistake.

Since then, Wos has run off virtually every qualified senior manager at the department and hired a slew of political cronies with little or no public health experience. Every week, the department faces a new set of bad headlines. And almost every week, Pat McCrory defends Wos as a hardworking Secretary putting in long hours.

Here’s the problem. She may be working 14 hours a day, seven days a week, but if Wos doesn’t know what she’s doing she’s just spinning her wheels. And reading about Wos makes me pretty sure she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She’s just a rich ideologue who Pat McCrory owed a favor.

The episode, though, is emblematic of the Republicans’ perception of governing. They don’t see government as real jobs and they don’t see the people who receive government services as deserving. Real work and real experience is only gained in the private sector. Career bureaucrats and policy wonks are part of the problem so they can’t possibly be part of the solution. In GOP world, anybody can do government work, so that’s who they hire–anybody.

That’s how we get business consultants with exorbitant price tags and senior policy advisors with no policy experience.  And that’s how we end up with a mess like DHHS.


  1. Paleo Tek

    I think you are getting close to a fundamental truth: most the current bunch administration does not see public sector jobs are “real jobs”. Rather, they are are political and economic assets to be bought, sold, and traded to enrich self and allies. They don’t seem to acknowledge or understand any value to the “public service” thing. Wos seems to miss the whole concept that a large staff needs supervision and encouragement to deliver a massive array of services. Nearly all her top people have been sacked, and that’s not a problem, indeed, it’s all for the good, since it offers more patronage jobs.

    But seeing Steckel running for the exits after eight months should set off warning bells for anyone paying attention. A career bureaucrat doesn’t normally bail, even for more pay, without a compelling reason. The obvious inference is that things are so bad at NC DHHS that it’s better to take the career hit now, before the mud begins to stick. That is, I suggest that Seckel is leaving because it’s better to take limited damage for being “flighty” than to become Damaged Goods for being captain of the Titanic.

    Hang on boys and girls, it’s going to be ugly. McCrony will stick with Wos til the damage is substantial, both for him and for our state.

    • Thomas Mills

      The other possibility is that Steckel left because of an opportunity that could set her up for the rest of her life. She is going to a managed care company that wants to provide services to the soon-to-be privatized Medicaid system in NC. If she can deliver that, they will make her a multi-millionaire. Regardless, you are correct. It’s going to get uglier.

      • Paleo Tek

        Ooh, that’s an interesting piece of information I did not have. Instead of running for the exit, maybe she’s running for payday? It fits with the McCrony theme, but does leave them holding the bag. Unless there’s hard feelings (and why should there be?), Steckel is taking serious rainmaking ability to Florida, and can expect to be compensated accordingly. To bad about that Large State Agency going down the tubes.

  2. Nancy G. Rorie

    DNelson: Be sure to forward this to all your friends and acquaintances in Education, and post it on your FaceBook page. We need to get the word out in every way available that the Republicans in Raleigh now (and their political appointees) don’t care about teachers or those who are less fortunate who need good leadership at DHHS and people who know what they are doing to run the programs..

  3. DNelson

    I am a teacher with more than 30 years experience in teaching science and math. How can I get a $200,000 job with DHHS? Oops — I’m not a Republican. Guess I’m not qualified. $200,000 would pay for 5 teachers. I am more and more disgusted every day with the “leadership” in Raleigh.

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