During a state employees rally yesterday workers began singing “Hit the Road Jack” through loudspeakers. The “Jack” who state workers want to see on the road is Jack Walker, executive director of the State Health Plan.
So should Walker hit the road? Probably, although not necessarily right now.
One of Walker’s greatest offenses, in my opinion, is lying about his PhD. He does not have a PhD from an accredited school. In several states listing Columbia Pacific University (where Walker obtained his bogus degree) on your resume is a misdemeanor. And Walker would not be qualified for a state job that required a PhD because North Carolina does not consider his degree legitimate.
Even after this was revealed he continues to lie about it to the General Assembly, state employees, and to the public. Legislators should ask that he stop misrepresenting his credentials or step down.
But Walker does have a difficult job. The State Health Plan is managed by a hybrid legislative committee where there are competing, partisan insterests. At times the committee wants to micromanage and at times it provides no oversight at all. Walker also reports to a board that has limited power. And the State Health Plan is administered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, one of the most powerful special interests in the state.
I don’t envy that job.
Walker has brought some misery on himself. He repeatedly misrepresents his credentials. During his previous tenure as State Health Plan director he had some ethical lapses and accepted golf trips from potential vendors. And he proposed wacky wellness provisions for state employees that involved breathing into a Smokerlyzer machine and taking blood samples.
Walker also attempts to manufacture emergencies to justify charging premiums to state employees. Everyone at the State Health Plan, and many in the General Assembly, want to charge workers a premium. But employees want some reassurance that the SHP won’t take their hard earned premium dollars and dump them into Blue Cross coffers.
Other than the continued misrepresentations about his credentials, I don’t know that Walker has committed fireable offenses. But he also hasn’t shown himself to be a creative thinker or bold leader. He just plods along employing the same strategies that haven’t worked in the past.
So he should sink back into retirement sometime after this legislative session and then the state can conduct a national search for someone with fresh ideas and without Walker’s considerable baggage. Maybe he could start to “Ease on Down the Road“.