Uncategorized

John Skvarla’s Happy Teeth

SkvarlaToothbrushDENR Secretary John Skvarla grimaced his way through a February 19th press briefing on the Dan River coal ash spill. Only as he walked smartly away from a clamoring press corps, which was chagrined at the briefing’s premature cessation, did he crack a smile, followed by a smirking Tom Reeder, his Water Quality Man Friday. They had promised a press conference that would last as long as there were questions to be asked, but Michael Biesecker of the Associated Press had apparently asked one too many.

A disconsolate Skvarla famously urged his besieged staff to “smile, be happy, have fun and enjoy the process – because if we can’t do that we’re all doing the wrong thing”. He even urged them by email to include it as a measurable goal in their Employee Performance Plans. By any public measure Skvarla is failing miserably in this category, though to be fair he and other political appointees may sit around privately laughing at the sorry state of North Carolina’s eroding environmental protections.

Screenshot from News & Observer video of Skvarla leaving Feb 19 press briefing smiling followed by Tom Reeder on far left.

Screenshot from News & Observer video of Skvarla abruptly leaving Feb 19 press briefing followed by Tom Reeder on far left.

Skvarla’s oral fixation manifested itself early as he visited DENR’s disparate divisions and offices to get to know his new underlings. He surprised some managers in conversation with his personal affectation for tooth brushing after lunch, which he claimed put a whole new shine and invigorating outlook on the rest of the working day. It might have been dismissed as personal quirk except that later in the year at a DENR leadership training session, after regaling managers with his life story, personal leadership credo and management mantras, he had staff distribute toothbrushes emblazoned with the DENR logo along with toothpaste for the purpose of invigorating the latter half of every work day.

The inner cynic thinks this was dreamed up, Mad Men style, over mid-day martinis, but it’s entirely plausible that regular preventive maintenance can lead to a better and more productive work environment. Perhaps we could all learn from Skvarla’s happy teeth. Perhaps this could apply equally to the natural environment. How hard could it be? Because, if we can’t have a better natural environment “we’re all doing the wrong thing”.

Check Also

Frackuccino

If they won’t tell us what’s in fracking ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Conference comes a day after new report lauds benefits of same-day registration The new line-up for [...]

North Carolina’s largest public school system may be warning of “enormous disruptions” without speed [...]

Carol Turner hadn’t lived in North Carolina long before last November’s election. A retired nurse, s [...]

Controversy over class-size requirements in early grades has emerged as the biggest issue facing Nor [...]

The wisdom of the plan by Senate leaders to cut taxes by $839 million was called into question this [...]

Several years of tax cuts have not fixed our economic problems, and more of the same won’t either In [...]

Progress on “second chance” agenda marks a rare positive development in state policy wars There are [...]

24 million---the number of people in the United States who would lose health care coverage by 2026 u [...]

Featured | Special Projects

Trump + North Carolina
In dozens of vitally important areas, policy decisions of the Trump administration are dramatically affecting and altering the lives of North Carolinians. This growing collection of stories summarizes and critiques many of the most important decisions and their impacts.
Read more


HB2 - The continuing controversy
Policy Watch’s comprehensive coverage of North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law.
Read more