From professionalism to patronage: GOP deconstructs NC government
DENR afflicted with a political plague:
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources and its employees have been a target of Republican complaints for years. McCrory made 167 DENR employees exempt from civil service protections – up from 24, the number the Office of Human Resources reports Perdue having in October.
The new exemptions reach below the division directors and into the regional offices where employees make decisions about some permits and fines. Even the state geologist is now an at-will employee.
This is more than just being able to secure a cushy job for a pal, or even to exert your influence over permit-issuing regulators to keep campaign donors happy. Instead of going through the legitimate yet difficult process of changing environmental laws and regulations, Republicans will now be able to do an end-run around these laws simply by replacing those who have the audacity to enforce them. And it's also about settling some old scores:
In 2003, before the GOP won control of the legislature, Republican Rep. Roger West tried to use legislation to eliminate the jobs of two wetlands enforcement officers and an air quality supervisor. The Cherokee County lawmaker is now chairman of the House Environment Committee that considers new policies and the committee that helps write DENR’s budget.
Former GOP Sen. Don East of Pilot Mountain wanted to run a budget amendment in 2011 to eliminate the jobs of two top DENR deputies under Perdue. And former Rep. Mitch Gillespie, now a top DENR official, had a bulls-eye target on his legislative office window aimed at the agency’s headquarters.
It's not a coincidence that those who exhibited the most antagonistic behavior toward environmental regulators are now in positions of authority over their old enemies. It's the Republican way. Forget about being fair and balanced, angry people get things done. And in this case, the thing that's being done is the wholesale subversion of an entire agency.