Well, That's Entertainment - Sort Of
Sometimes the entertainment value of government and politics outweighs any public policy implications.
More than a few episodes have splashed their way to surface lately.
It's worth taking a look at a few
- Gov. Bev Perdue recently named Fred Eshelman to the board of trustees at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. No big deal, right? Eshelman, founder and chairman of drug-testing firm PPD, has been a big contributor to the UNC system. The pharmacy school over at UNC-Chapel Hill is named for him.
But Eshelman is also a big financial backer of conservative political causes. His RightChange.com ran one of the more notorious ads of the 2008 election, showing the smoldering World Trade Center twin towers while questioning Barack Obama's commitment to fighting terrorism.
Eshelman is also among the big contributors to something called Real Jobs NC, which though it claims to be nonpartisan seems pretty intent on trying to help Republicans gain majorities in the state House and Senate. The group's Web site includes a graphic entitled "The Problem" next to a picture of the old Capitol Building.
Now, who works in that building?
- One of Real Jobs NC's big targets this fall is House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman. The group recently sent out a mailer accusing the Davidson County Democrat of "WASTING OUR TAX DOLLARS on Pork Projects." The flier looks a lot like an ad or menu for a barbecue restaurant, complete with a cartoon figure of a pig wearing a chef's hat.
Perhaps the political consultant who came up with this idea realized that he or she was sending the mailer out to Lexington, the capital of western-style barbecue. That might seem cute to some. But some folks in and around the town might take offense to having their claim to fame dragged into mud puddle that is politics.
But I'm sure those highly-paid political consultants know more than I ever will about voter sentiment and such.
- As for government waste, some turned up recently at the Employment Security Commission. A state audit found that a systems and operations analyst working at the agency had been spending his days installing unauthorized software and burning DVDs - perhaps in violation of federal law - on his state computer. Asked for an explanation, the worker said that he needed something to do to "pass the time."
Now he has something else to do to pass the time - look for a new job. He was fired. His boss, also found with pirating software on his computer, was only suspended without pay for 10 days.
Given this little episode, won't it be fun next year when an ESC official has to make the case to state legislators that they shouldn't slash computer analyst jobs in the agency? Surely inquiries would never be made about the position code for a certain supervisor.
At least agency workers should be familiar with the process of filing for unemployment.
Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association in Raleigh. Contact him at email@example.com.
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