Saunders: McCrory takes care of his own

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJanuary 13, 2013 

NC Governor McCrory

Gov.-elect Pat McCrory smiles prior to being sworn in as North Carolina's 74th governor in the House chamber of the old Capitol building in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. McCrory, a Republican and the former mayor of Charlotte, replaces outgoing Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue to become governor a week before the public inauguration. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Pool)

GERRY BROOME — AP

If you saw our new governor live or on television banging away on a drum set with a band at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre last week, you already know Ringo has nothing to worry about.

For further evidence that the governor is tone deaf, all you had to do was read the newspaper the next day and see that Gov. Pat, henceforth known as Gov. Pay Raise, McCrory bestowed sizable raises on the people closest to him while sprinkling a pittance upon those outside his inner circle – you know, the ones who do the actual work.

Six-figure-earning Cabinet secretaries in his administration received raises ranging from 5 to 11 percent right off the bat. Tony Tata and Kieran Shanahan, directors of transportation and public safety, respectively, got bumped from $121,807 to $135,000.

Nice work if you can get it, and you can get it, apparently, if you’re close enough to reach out and touch the hem of the governor’s garment.

Regular ol’ state workers got raises, too – their first in four years. Surely Gov. McCrory cut them a nice slice of that state cheddar, one commensurate with their worth, right?

Nope. They received raises – if you can call them that – of 1.2 percent. If the average teacher’s salary in North Carolina is $46,605, that means his or her salary went up $559.26.

Hmm. One hundred years ago, that would’ve been enough to keep ’em rolling in fatback, flour and sorghum from the General Store to see them through spring. Now, though, $559.26 might feed a family of four for a month – as long as two of them don’t eat.

Oh ... nevermind

Do you remember that campaign talk from Gov. McCrory about how we’ve all got to learn to tighten our belts and live within our means?

Nevermind. He apparently wasn’t talking about the high-up muckety mucks. “I’m trying to make it at least where they can afford to live while running multi-billion-dollar departments,” he said in an earlier interview with The N&O.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much confidence in the management skills or fiscal acumen of any Cabinet secretary who can’t live off $121,000 a year but who can live off $135,000.

The governor and his supporters will no doubt stress that these selfless public servants – tee hee – could make more money in the private sector. Perhaps some could, although others – judging by recent work histories – would be lucky to find a job wearing a paper hat and nametag and asking “Paper or plastic?”

Sing it, James

Even those who could command a higher private-sector salary need to realize they chose to work in the public sector – either because of patriotism, ideology or a chance to cash in when their guy sat down at the governor’s desk.

Speaking of sitting down, do you want to know how to make me sit down and hush?

Just show me a jukebox with James Taylor’s “Shower the People (You Love With Love)” on it and give me a pocketful of quarters. I promise, you won’t have to worry about me for a looong time. I still get chills every time I hear that song.

State employees, though, will probably get steamed, not chilled, when they hear what I assume would be the governor’s version – “Shower the People (You Love With Cash),” which is precisely what he just did.

Maestro, hit it:

You can take the dough, you can cash that check

Even though it wasn’t meant for you.

You give your buddies a huge, whopping raise

But everybody else got 1.2...

Shower the people you love with cash

Show them the way that you feel

Thank ’em for helping you get elected,

For helping seal the deal.

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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