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Femcare clinic

(Photo by Jon Elliston, Carolina Public Press)

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out this excellent new story by Carolina Public Press reporter Jon Elliston: “Documents disclose political, PR pressures surrounding Asheville abortion clinic’s suspension.” Elliston, who combed through reams of McCrory administration documents and emails obtained through public records requests, paints a rather dark and fascinating picture of what went on behind the scenes last year as lawmakers passed new abortion clinic restrictions and communicated with HHS officials about past and prospective clinic inspections.

This is from the story:

“While the documents stop short of pinpointing who or what prompted the mid-July inspection of the Asheville-based clinic — Femcare’s first comprehensive review in almost seven years — they do show: Read More

Ricky DiazRaleigh’s News & Observer features an on-the-money essay this morning by Fayetteville Observer editorial page editor Tim White on the departure of state DHHS spokesperson Ricky Diaz (pictured at left in a photo from a DHHS newsletter). The central message: Let’s hope Pat McCrory and his team learned something from Diaz’ short but tumultuous stay. Here’s White:

“McCrory has repeatedly insisted Diaz was worth every penny, that he’s one of the smartest, most capable people the governor has ever come across and that he was completely qualified for the job.

The kindest spin is that the governor is remarkably naive. A young man at 24, no matter how brilliant, still doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Read More

Ricky Diaz, the young former McCrory campaign staffer, is leaving his position as head of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ communications director.

Source: DHHS employee newsletter

Source: DHHS employee newsletter

Diaz received a $22,500 raise when he went to work for the state agency after leaving the governor’s press office and the 24-year-old’s $85,000 salary (which was first reported by N.C .Policy Watch) and questions about his qualifications became a frequent topic of criticism lodged at the McCrory administration.

The agency has been in the media spotlight frequently this year with the botched launches of two public benefits systems, NC TRACKS and NC FAST, which led to major delays in payment for Medicaid services and prevented many from receiving their federally-funded food stamps.

He is leaving to work for a private Washington, D.C.-based political consultanting firm FP1, and a press release from the agency says he will join the small firm as a vice-president in February.

“FP1 has assembled a strong team of some of the most talented and accomplished operatives in politics, and I am excited to join such a distinguished firm,” Diaz is quoted as saying in the FP1 press release.  “I look forward to working with the team to help develop winning ad campaigns for FP1?s clients.”

His resignation comes as DHHS deals with another public relations mishap, after nearly 50,000 Medicaid cards with the private medical information of children were sent to the wrong households.

Gov. Pat McCrory on his election night. Ricky Diaz is to the right of McCrory's shoulder, and Matthew McKillip in on the far right of the photo. Source: N.C. State Archives, Flickr photo stream

Gov. Pat McCrory on his election night. Ricky Diaz is to the right of McCrory’s shoulder, and Matthew McKillip in on the far right of the photo.
Source: N.C. State Archives, Flickr photo stream

The Winston-Salem Journal hits the nail on the head this morning:

“When efficient organizations make a mistake, they fix it.

When dysfunctional organizations like the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services make repeated mistakes, they assign more public- relations people.”

The editorial then goes on to detail some of the troubled agency’s myriad problems under embattled Secretary Aldona Wos — with computer systems, bizarre decisions during the federal shutdown, personnel issues, less-than-candid responses to lawmakers and the state Auditor and its misguided Medicaid privatization efforts.
It concludes this way:

“Rather than fix her controversies-of-the-month, Wos is putting more public relations people in place, Read More

The fallout over revelations that two 24-year-old McCrory campaign staffers landed $85,000 and $87,500 gigs at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is continuing.

The Associated Press’ Michael Biesecker reported today that openings for the jobs now held by Matthew McKillip and Ricky Diaz were never posted despite McCrory’s statements that the two young staffers were selected over older job candidates.

From the AP story:

Gov. Pat McCrory says a pair of 24-year-old campaign staffers landed senior-level jobs in his administration because they were the most qualified applicants, beating out older candidates.

But the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, where Matthew McKillip and Ricky Diaz got big promotions and raises after only a few weeks of government service, has been unable to provide any evidence their positions were ever advertised or that other applicants were considered.

In response to a public records request from The Associated Press, the state agency indicated there were no job postings or written skill requirements for the high-paying positions awarded to the young Republicans. Read More