Under the Dome

Dome: ALE head demotes himself to field agent

Staff writersDecember 27, 2012 

Hoping to avoid the chopping block where most department heads find themselves with the arrival of a new administration, John Ledford, director of the state Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement, has voluntarily returned to the ranks of field agent.

Ledford requested the demotion and reassignment to his home district in Asheville, and it was granted effective Jan. 1, a Department of Public Safety spokeswoman said Thursday. Outgoing department Secretary Reuben Young approved it.

Ledford, long a part of the state’s Democratic Party system, saw the writing on the wall this summer, when he told The News & Observer that he hoped to be able to reach retirement age in law enforcement in just a few more years, even if Republican candidate Pat McCrory was elected.

Ledford ran the agency for three years, during which time ALE expanded into enforcement activities not traditionally associated with the agency, including a SWAT-like unit that serves high-risk warrants and chases fugitives, and a team that tracks violent parole or probation violators.

“I’d rather be here three years and accomplish something than stay for 20 and have nothing to show for it,” Ledford said at the time.

Earlier this year, the state auditor’s office issued a highly critical report that said Ledford blocked its investigation into what it said was misuse of his state car. The auditor said he failed to keep adequate records. Ledford objected to both criticisms, and insisted he only used the car on state business, even though it coincided with trips home to the mountains from Raleigh.

Perdue on job until Jan. 5

Gov. Bev Perdue plans to govern until Pat McCrory is sworn in Jan. 5.

The outgoing Democratic governor is planning a number of appearances around the state next week to tout her accomplishments in the arena of digital learning.

The state constitution says the next governor’s term “shall commence on the first day of January next after their election and continue until their successors are elected and qualified.” The governor’s office contends “qualified” means taking the oath of office.

With a number of big decisions remaining on her desk, Perdue could take action after Jan. 1 on pardons, outstanding judicial appointments and other matters.

Foushee not waiting

The newly elected state lawmakers get officially sworn into office Jan. 9 when the legislature convenes for a one-day organizational session.

But not all are waiting that long. Rep.-elect Valerie Foushee, a Democrat, will hold her own swearing in ceremony the day before at the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough. (Gov.-elect Pat McCrory also isn’t waiting for the traditional inauguration, opting for a private ceremony at the Capitol a few days earlier.)

Foushee’s ceremony is perfectly acceptable, said Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, as long as certain requirements are met. For example, only certain officials, such as judges, can administer the oath of office, he said.

Matt Hughes, the chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, said District Court Judge Beverly Scarlett will administer the oath in a 4 p.m. ceremony.

He said the state constitution said lawmakers’ terms officially start Jan. 1. He said Foushee wants to do a ceremony where more friends and supporters can attend. The space for visitors is limited in the House gallery.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis and John Frank

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