Scott Mooneyham: McCrory appears oblivious to his actions’ effects

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RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory is clearly smarting over what he perceives as unfair treatment by the media.

A recent column by longtime Charlotte Observer reporter, editor and editorialist Taylor Batten provides some useful insight into McCrory’s views on the matter.

Batten wrote that in a recent interview with the governor and during a breakfast the two attended that McCrory lodged one complaint after another about a media that he sees as out to get him.

He called McCrory “deeply frustrated” by what he sees as attacks on his good name.

The column appeared about the same time that published reports documented how the McCrory administration has begun charging media organizations a “special service charge” for public document requests requiring over 30 minutes to process. Some requests that would have been free in the past have rung up charges totaling hundreds of dollars.

McCrory administration officials say the change is because the requests are taking away valuable time from staffers who have other duties. Journalists see it as a way to make public information more difficult to get.

I suppose readers can decide whether the one thing — McCrory’s frustrations about his treatment by the media — might be connected to other — making life more difficult for the media.

Setting aside that question, Batten’s take on the governor has the advantage of seeing him operate for years as Charlotte’s mayor. McCrory clearly felt comfortable enough to tug on his sleeve and let loose with his complaints.

He portrays McCrory as someone who sees his public standing related to how his actions are being communicated to the larger public, and not the actions themselves.

I see something else in the description.

Those tugs at Batten’s sleeve are really a longing to get back to the more nonpartisan, pragmatic ground where local governments and their elected officials traditionally operate.

State government isn’t like that, though.

Decisions about tax policy, school vouchers and abortion cleave along party lines. Media oversight and criticism is filtered though the lens of assessing partisan agendas.

Like it or not, admit it or not, McCrory has become a key cog in pursuit of an agenda with which many Democrats and some independents have deep disagreements.

That is not to say that McCrory has no legitimate complaints. His young, former campaign aides are hardly the first to land in well-paying government jobs, and he did inherit a few messes from his Democratic predecessor.

But he still appears oblivious to the new partisan world in which he walks, that when he listens to and takes the advice of people who are primarily defined by their party affiliation, he becomes primarily defined by that party affiliation.

And so, those folks in the other political party, they don’t like you any more.

He can either accept that dislike, or try to exert some independence in ways that go beyond rhetoric.

Or, he can keep tugging at sleeves and recalling days gone by.

Comments

FLAG!

Some state employees are paid to respond to citizens' requests for information. It's built into job descriptions and performance reviews. It's a lie to say that this takes them away from their work, when this IS their work. Based on reactions to fees charged, I'd say the problem is that the state may have been charging a nominal processing fee that didn't account for actual labor and materials. The responding agency can charge fees for costs above their normal operating costs. THAT cost could include employee hourly rate, plus materials, mailing, legal review, redaction, certification, etc., and this could seriously drive up cost to the requester. The other problem is that no one knows the cost since we have no published fee schedule. "§132-6.2. Provisions for copies of public records; fees" is a blob that could allow wild swings in charges, even absent political motivation. So, the question becomes, what is a reasonable cost when citizens are already paying state employees' wages to perform the service through taxes? And, are the increased charges targeted against opposition, media, legal opponents? OR are the charges simply a more accurate reflection of actual cost? Where is the fee schedule so that we can see it? As for Mr. McCrory's sensitivity? Respectfully Submitted, Force 12

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