EDITORIAL: Perdue Has Work Cut Out for Her
Beverly Perdue must feel, as Barack Obama soon will, like someone moving into a house whose previous owner made a mess of it.
North Carolina's new governor has her work cut out for her, having inherited a great many nettlesome problems. But, also like America's soon-to-be new president, she doesn't have the luxury of taking her time working them all out. With various crises staring both the state and the nation in the face, both our new chief executives have to hit the ground running and risk early stumbles.
Perdue, for her part, has said some right things and moved in some right directions in her first days in office. As at the national level, it is only fair for North Carolinians to pledge her their support and give her the benefit of the doubt as she gets up to speed.
Still, she made quite a few bold promises during last fall's campaign, and she shouldn't be surprised if her fellow Tar Heels will be keeping a vigilant eye on how well she keeps them.
A List of Priorities
Here are just a few of the things we would like to see our energetic, intelligent and attractive new governor place high on her list of priorities:
-- During her campaign, Gov. Perdue pledged to usher in a new era of open and transparent government in North Carolina. That shouldn't be hard for her to carry out, since she can't fall off the floor. Her reclusive predecessor, Mike Easley, stomped all over the cause of open government. Perdue can go a long way to restoring the public's trust in its leaders by letting the sun shine into the murky operations of the state.
-- In the wake of the tragic murder of University of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson, allegedly by two parolees, The News & Observer of Raleigh uncovered a remarkable lack of oversight of individuals on probation, several hundred of whom committed murders while out of jail. This staggering bureaucratic boondoggle within the top-heavy and sluggish Department of Corrections will fall to the new governor to fix. And quick.
-- In the mental health field, Perdue's predecessor has left another fine muddle to be set right. This department faces everything from fraud to abuse to poor management. Perdue would be well served to fire everyone in sight, erase current funding formulas and start over.
Much Has Been Accomplished
All is not gloom and doom and failure. After her swearing-in, the new governor gave an upbeat and impressive speech in which she rightly pointed out a number of things that North Carolina has done right under several recent governors, ranging from the Research Triangle Park to the development of NASCAR. She also vowed to follow in the steps of her predecessors and "remain true to our commitment to education."
Perdue has earned a reputation for honesty and hard work while fighting her way to the top from state representative to senator to lieutenant governor. Her extensive legislative experience should make her a more effective governor than Easley, who never quite got the hang of the give-and-take involved in the lawmaking process.
It is refreshing to hear Perdue's promises to "act boldly" and keep her expectations high. Her fellow Tar Heels, regardless of party, should allow her a little latitude for error as she gets her feet on the ground. But given the circumstances, it's going to be a short honeymoon.
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