Under the Dome

Dome: DHHS finds a place for trust fund's ex-director

STAFF WRITERSAugust 28, 2011 

The Health and Wellness Trust Fund was eliminated in this year's budget, but its former executive director has quickly landed a new job.

Dr. Laura Gerald joined the state Health and Human Services Department staff Aug. 1.

Gerald, who made $175,000 a year running the trust fund, is making the same money at DHHS as senior adviser for Community Care of North Carolina. The position is temporary, according to the department. Gerald received a month's severance pay before she started the new job.

Some of the trust fund's work was absorbed by DHHS, but according to the department, Gerald will not deal with any of the trust fund contracts in her new position.

Community Care of North Carolina is under pressure to save $90 million this year.

In a statement, Lanier Cansler, the secretary of health and human services, said Gerald would help with that effort.

"The ability of CCNC to achieve its goals related to quality of care and cost effectiveness is critical to meeting the Medicaid budget targets," he said in a statement. "Dr. Gerald's experience with CCNC, working closely with me, will provide the department with the capability to better coordinate departmental and CCNC efforts and achieve care and budgetary goals."

Gerald is filling an existing position with new responsibilities that is paid by existing funds from Cansler's office, according to the department.

Gerald, a pediatrician, worked for about eight years for the N.C. Foundation for Advanced Health Programs on Community Care projects.

Group fined over documents

A nonprofit organization run by Rep. Stephen LaRoque is being held in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents in a defamation suit LaRoque filed, according to a report by Sarah Ovaska at N.C. Policy Watch.

LaRoque, a Kinston Republican, filed a defamation lawsuit against former opponent Van Braxton and the state Democratic Party.

A Superior Court judge issued the civil contempt order late last week, according to the report, because the East Carolina Development Co. had not turned over documents that Braxton and Democratic Party lawyers requested. The nonprofit group LaRoque runs is being fined $250 a day until the documents are supplied.

LaRoque's lawyer, Bert Diener, told Policy Watch that everything was turned over.

LaRoque and two economic development nonprofit groups he runs were the subject of a Policy Watch investigation that found loans to his future wife, Diener, and two Republican legislators.

LaRoque has defended the nonprofits' activities.

Banking lobbyist to retire

Paul Stock, a veteran legislative lobbyist, is hanging it up.

Stock, 61, is retiring at the end of the month from his post as executive vice president and counsel for the N.C. Bankers Association. He has worked for the association, or the N.C. Savings and Loan League with which it merged, for 32 years.

Taking over the lobbying chores for the bankers will be the law firm of Brooks Pierce. One of their attorneys, Ben Davis, will be assigned full-time to working with the bankers. Lobbyist Elizabeth Biser with Brooks Pierce will continue to lobby for the bankers.

Stock said he promised his family to take 60 days off before looking for something to do - probably something part time either in advocacy or in volunteer work. He has been active in such organizations as Action for Children and United Way.

lynn.bonner@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4821

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