By John Peters
September 22, 2013
Another recent questionable hire by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services drew the ire of some because of the person’s politics — mainly because she was an open and ardent anti-abortionist — and because of the circumstances of her hiring.
Margaret “Mardy” Peal began working last month as a senior policy adviser for the department at an annual salary of $95,000.
A hue and cry went up from some quarters because Peal recently served on the board of the anti-abortion Carolina Pregnancy Center, a group that emphasizes Christian scripture and encourages abstinence.
Quite frankly, for those who oppose her hiring on that basis, we say tough.
There should never be a political litmus test for someone being hired into a professional position, or into a policy making or advisory post. A person should be hired based on qualifications, without regard to her political leanings. The media as a whole would never stand for a pro-abortion activist’s hiring to be questioned based on that fact alone, why should someone from another point on the political spectrum be treated differently?
What we do find objectionable is the manner in which she was hired, and the salary she will be earning. The $95,000 is far above the $74,719 maximum listed by the state for the highest level of DHHS planner, according to information garnered by the Associated Press from the DHHS hiring and pay standards.
Her position, which was created recently — we would guess specifically for her — was not publicly advertised and, like similar positions recently created for McCrory supporters, was exempted from state personnel and hiring rules. Given the fact that she was an organizer for the conservative Eastern North Carolina Tea Party and a financial supporter of the 2012 campaign of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, it is fair to assume this was a political favor.
That practice is not unprecedented. The truth is, political supporters of a victorious party are often appointed to advisory or ceremonial posts by the party in power, not just in North Carolina, but all across the nation. And it’s not just the Republican Party which engages in this practice — the Democrats do it too.
What is maddening, and takes this to a whole different level, is the fact that quite a few folks who have supported or worked for McCrory now find themselves with cushy jobs in state government, posts that by-and-large have gone unadvertised, clearly created for the people who now have them as political favor.
Even worse, in this time when budgets are tight, when education and other important funding is being cut at the state level, it seems every week or two someone else is getting one of these high-paying jobs, most of which pay well in excess of what state guidelines allow for similar positions.
Given the number of these jobs, combined with raises that McCrory gave to his cabinet members, the question begs to be asked: Is the governor’s administration about bringing needed change in North Carolina, or about filling the bank accounts of his friends and supporters.
With money taken from taxpayer’s wallets and pocketbooks.