The North Carolina Industrial Commission’s role is clear. An appointive body, it looks after workers’ compensation cases, tort claims, benefits for firemen and Civil Air Patrol members, and the eugenics compensation program. Its members need a righteous commitment to protect North Carolina workers, period.
A seat on the board is a political appointment, pure and simple. Gov. Pat McCrory was within his powers to appoint Yolanda Stith to a seat on the commission, at $127,000 a year and with a special bill allowing her to serve a full term of six years in addition to the remainder (more than two years) of the term of the person she’s replacing.
Stith is a former insurance underwriter who is now the executive director of the N.C. Association of Long Term Care Facilities. She’s not a lawyer — and though the commission is a quasi-judicial group, many members over the years have not been attorneys. But the reason McCrory knew her was that her husband, Thomas Stith, has served as the governor’s chief of staff for the last four years.
Yolanda Stith’s qualifications for the job seem thin, but that’s a judgment call. What isn’t in doubt is that McCrory signed legislation limiting the powers of his successor while Republicans passed special legislation that will ensure the wife of his chief of staff over $1 million in salary over the next eight and a half years. It’s an abuse of his office and the commission.