Charlotte-O editorial: McCrory’s defensive posture over DHHS helps no one

The Charlotte Observer offers up a scathing editorial in today’s paper to Governor Pat McCrory’s response that the state Department of Health and Human Services mailed nearly 49,000 Medicaid cards to the wrong recipients. Editor Peter St. Onge writes:

mccrory1106‘Instead of emphasizing how sorry he was about an inadvertent disclosure of personal information,  McCrory blamed the error on “10 years of operational neglect” at the department under previous governors Bev Perdue and Mike Easley, both Democrats. “You can’t fix that in one year,” McCrory said defiantly.

It’s no great revelation that public officials tend to see issues as potential political wins and losses – and mistakes as therefore something to be minimized, not acknowledged. That’s true from the president on down, and it’s acutely true with McCrory. He’s long been seen in Charlotte circles as oversensitive about criticism, and in a revealing interview last month with Editorial Page Editor Taylor Batten, he repeatedly turned discussion of state issues into grievances (often incorrect) about how the media was treating him. That’s what you do when you’re obsessed with the scoreboard.

So instead of a simple, unqualified “sorry” Monday, we got a rather audacious attempt at blame-shifting. And not a very good one, either. The supposed “10 years of operational neglect” at DHHS under Democratic administrations had nothing to do with the human error that the agency cited this week. (McCrory laughably tried to suggest that Obamacare was somehow to blame, too.) As for those “10 years” – they yielded a fraction of the scandal and mismanagement that we’ve seen in one year at DHHS with Secretary Aldona Wos in charge.

Two additional problems with McCrory’s defensive posture: First, it creates a culture of deception in his administration. It’s troubling enough that DHHS hid the Medicaid card mistake from the public until a newspaper found out, but when it was revealed, DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz wrongly said the mistake was something the agency had just learned about. It’s a troubling pattern with McCrory and his administration.

Also, the governor’s defiance can be enabling. When the reflex is to explain away mistakes and deflect criticism, you invite an erosion of accountability. That’s become abundantly clear at DHHS.’

To read the full editorial click here.

2 Comments

  1. ML

    January 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    And suddenly Diaz leaves for greener pastures. Another one bites the dust…

  2. Alan

    January 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    If he’s biting the dust, at least he’s leaving the pillow alone…