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The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has a new director of “brands and marketing,”  Michael Biesecker with the Associated Press reported this afternoon.

From the AP story:

Aaron Mullins, 38, previously worked on the Capitol Hill staffs of then-GOP Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Don Nickles before joining Fetzer Stephens, a political consulting firm led by former North Carolina Republican Party chairman Tom Fetzer. Mullins was registered as a federal lobbyist as recently as last year, according to records.

Mullins will be making $68,000 a year and will be supervised by N.C. DHHS Communications Director Ricky Diaz, 24. who landed his $85,000-a-year job after working for Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign.
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Pat McCrory 4In some regards, of course, there’s no avoiding the permanent campaign that modern politics has become. Especially when lots of individuals and corporations with fat wallets are willing to underwrite it, there’s not much a body can do about the endless, manipulative TV ads except change the channel.

That said, the notion that Gov. McCrory’s team is already revving up a TV campaign (and, frankly, not a very good one) to spruce up his badly battered image just eight months into his governorship does serve to highlight something very important that is missing from McCrory’s performance thus far: substance.

As we have noted in this space before, the Governor is a seemingly affable guy who can even display refreshing flashes of self-deprecation and humility on occasion. What he has failed to display during his first several months in office, however, is a real ability to immerse himself in complex subjects, master them and then translate that mastery into a consistent and persuasive message that resonates with the public. 

For whatever reason, he just doesn’t seem all there.  Read More

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Carol Locher Ransone, a Charlotte-based management consultant, has been paid $105,000 by the state’s public health agency since her late February hire to help usher in the state’s new Medicaid billing system, according to records provided Friday by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Carol Ransone.  Source: Ransone Group website.

Carol Ransone.
Source: Ransone Group website.

Ransone (click here to see her company website) was hired by DHHS Feb. 27 to lead the organizational changes needed for the July 1 launch of the state’s new Medicaid billing and management system, NC TRACKS. A growing number of medical providers have complained that the new system isn’t issuing payments for Medicaid services, leaving small medical practices in dire financial situations.

Ransone, on her company website, describes herself as an experienced, results-oriented project manager with expertise in managing virtual work environments.

In addition to the $105,000 in pay, DHHS records released Friday show Ransone received an additional $13,000 for her travel expenses.

Read More

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There’s more scrutiny today over high pay that some members of state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos’ executive team are receiving, with this News & wosmugshotObserver article about a lucrative contract a well-connected adviser to Wos landed.

As the N&O’s Lynn Bonner reported, adviser Joe Hauck has received $228,000 for eight months of work, as part of a personal services contract he had to advise Wos. That works out to $28,500 a month.

Hauck is a senior adviser to Wos, and is on a leave of absence from New Breed, Inc., a High Point-based logistics company run by Wos’ husband, Louis DeJoy.

His contract is capped at a total pay of $310,000 and is set to expire at the end of the November.

From Bonner’s story:

Hauck came to DHHS from New Breed Logistics, where Wos’ husband is CEO. Hauck is vice president of marketing and communications, and is on leave from the company. Wos was a campaign fundraiser for Gov. Pat McCrory, and New Breed employees were prime contributors. Hauck gave $6,500 to McCrory’s campaign in 2011 and 2012.

[DHHS communications director] Diaz said in an email that Hauck “is an accomplished leader with 35 years of executive management experience across the entire spectrum of business operations and communications disciplines. He provides solid business insight with the ability to ascertain and analyze organizational requirements, forecast goals, streamline operations, and execute new program concepts.”

Diaz wrote that Hauck came up with a plan to save $5 million “without reductions in services rendered,” but did not specify the plan or the services.

Kim Genardo, McCrory’s spokeswoman, said Hauck “provides a helluva lot of good service.”

In an email, Genardo said no one in McCrory’s office approved the contract. “DHHS followed all policy and procedure as it relates to Joe Hauck’s personal service contract,” she wrote.

“Everyone was well aware” that Hauck worked at New Breed Logistics, Genardo added. She described the relationship as “very transparent.”

You can read the entire News & Observer article here.

Diaz, who was quoted in the N&O article,   is one of the two 24-year-olds hired by Wos to serve in senior-level DHHS positions at salaries of $85,000 and $87,500. Both Diaz and Wos’ chief policy adviser Matt McKillip received $20,000-plus raises in April, after McCrory had issued a directive to state agency leaders to freeze salaries of state employees.

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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