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Mental health workersMembers of UE local 150, the NC Public Service Workers Union, will be holding a demonstration this morning at 10:00 am at NC DHHS headquarters on the old Dorothea Dix Hospital campus at 101 Blair Drive, Raleigh. Workers are demanding that Sec. Aldona Wos meet with the union, extend Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and also grant workers “Safety, Rights and Raises”, which has become the slogan of their current campaign. Senator Don Davis along with Rev. Curtis Gatewood from the N.C. NAACP and Moral Monday movement plan to speak at the rally. UE 150 is inviting the public and all supporters to attend.

Organizer Dante Strobino explains the genesis of the event and some of the indignities visited upon state mental health workers in the following essay.

State mental health workers launch campaign for Safety, Rights and Raises
By Dante Strobino

Jessica Brandon, a mother of three whose 40-year-old husband has had four heart attacks, is the sole wage earner in her family. For the past 5 ½ years she has worked as a healthcare technician at Central Regional Hospital in Butner, North Carolina, one of three state psychiatric hospitals. After paying essential bills for the family, Brandon said, she typically has less than $40 left for the month. Read More

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 Henderson Daily Dispatch has called for the resignation of North Carolina Health and Human Services Director Aldona Wos. According to the editorial dated yesterday entitled: Wos must immediately resign post:

“Aldona Wos must immediately resign her position as the secretary of our state’s Department of Health and Human Services. If she does not, Gov. Pat McCrory has to make the decision for her.

Wos helped raise money for McCrory’s gubernatorial campaign last fall. Her department’s hires are foul-smelling of campaign worker exchanges. The governor’s campaign against a corrupt culture in Raleigh has long left the station.

Allowing her to continue disables McCrory’s integrity while she digs a deeper hole.

Wos is responsible for a department with nearly 18,000 employees spread in 30 divisions and offices, 14 facilities and a budget of $18.3 billion. She took the job for $1 in annual salary. Everybody, whether qualified or not, with connections to her is raking in the dollars.

State leaders have tightened the grip on money, particularly for the unemployed and the education system. Free spending by Wos’ department cripples any sense of balance in McCrory’s governance.

Our confidence in Wos is irrevocably broken.”

After listing her numerous foul-ups, the editorial concludes this way:

“Until Wos is gone, the cycle will repeat.

And North Carolina can’t endure any more of her egregious and reckless actions.”

Click here to read the rest of the editorial (the site may require you to register, but it’s free).

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Here are some of the important policy matters we’re watching at mid-week:

Wos Watch: Reporters Laura Leslie of WRAL, Joe Neff and Lynn Bonner of the News & Observer have the scoop on the latest wacky hire at the Department of Health and Human Services. Meanwhile, Travis Fain of the Greensboro News & Record has compiled a list of what might be termed Aldona’s Greatest Hits (or Misses).

Greed and inequality watch: There’s another report out panning the so-called “Trans-Pacific Partnership.” According to researcher David Rosnick of the Center for Economic Policy Research, most U.S. workers would actually experience a net negative impact from the proposed trade deal that’s currently under negotiation And, of course, you can learn lots more about this critical but underreported story at next Thursday’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon with global trade expert Lori Wallach of the group Public Citizen. Some seats still remain – click here for more info.

Greed and inequality watch – Part II: National Common Cause chairperson and veteran economic justice advocate Robert Reich appears to be garnering quite a bit of well-deserved attention for his new flick: “Inequality for All.” You can watch the official trailer here and an extended interview with Jon Stewart here.  

Knuckleheaded bigot watch: Read More

Wos under fireAnother day, another wacky development at North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services. This morning’s news, of course, is the story reported by WRAL.com and Raleigh’s News & Observer that the department has hired yet another ideologue of questionable qualifications at a princely sum to perform vaguely defined duties.

It’s hard to imagine that either Secretary Aldona Wos or her boss Gov. McCrory can withstand many more weeks of the kind of dreadful public attention these amazing decisions continue to precipitate, but at this point, that doesn’t seem to be disssuading either one from the courses they’ve charted.

Stay tuned - it should be a fascinating fall political season.