If WRAL’s report about raises at the Department of Health and Human Services is true, that should be strike three for Secretary Aldona Wos. According to a report by Laura Leslie, 280 employees of the Department received raises totaling $1.7 million after Governor Pat McCrory issued a directive in March to “freeze pay raises wherever possible to help the state cover its growing Medicaid shortfall.” The story also reports that two campaign staffers who received raises of more than $20,000 have no background or experience in health or human services.
Somebody has to fall on a sword. The raises are in clear violation of the governor’s directive, not to mention that they look awful when the governor has insisted that the state can’t afford raises for teachers or rank and file state workers. McCrory doesn’t have the capital to absorb this blow and protect Wos. His credibility is already too much in doubt.
This isn’t Wos’ first misstep. She initially tried to appoint a certified wing-nut to head up early childhood education programs, even though the proposed appointee questioned the need for early childhood education. The incident brought questions about the vetting process and Wos’ judgment.
Second, she blamed Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin for turning down the Medicaid expansion. That was just not true. The legislature and governor made that decision. In trying to pass the buck, Wos embarrassed the administration and again drew questions about her judgment.
The current debacle should be the end of her short tenure. She put the Governor in the unenviable position of defending the indefensible–something he lacks the political skills to do. Instead of responding to questions about the incident herself, she had bodyguards block reporters and failed to return press calls.
For an administration that came into office promising transparency and an end to Democratic cronyism, this latest scandal reeks of hypocrisy. McCrory can blame the press and outside groups all he wants, but they are not the ones ignoring his directives and they are not the ones giving fat raises to political appointees while we’re told there’s not enough money for teachers and state employees.
Aldona Wos is. She’s embarrassed this hapless administration three times in eight months. Three strikes and you’re out.