I have a new rule for Democrats in North Carolina: Think! Think about what it is going to look like when your bff, son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, father, brother or sister calls you up and says, "Hey, there's this great job in the NC/City/County Department of ______________, that I'm tremendously/somewhat/marginally/not at all qualified for and I think I'm going to apply. What do you think?" Please, next time you hear that question be sure to think before you give your answer.
The fact is, looks are important in this situation. It doesn't matter how qualified for the job your friend or relative is, unless the hiring process is the most transparent process in the world, this is going to look like your friend or family member got their job because of your elected position. The reality is, there is very little transparency in hiring because personnel matters are private.
While tongues are bound to wag when the relative or friend of an elected official lands a high profile job in the private sector that they may or may not be qualified to hold, there usually is no real damage to the public trust. When these jobs are in the public sector where their salaries are paid with taxpayer dollars, there is a perception of wrong doing that can cause as much damage to the public trust as actual wrong doing.
There is a problem right now in
CharlotteMecklenburg County with the Department of Social(Human) Services. The problem may simply be one of perception, but it most certainly is a problem. Three relatives of elected officials - all Democrats - have been hired by the department. The kicker is, they were hired during a hiring freeze.
There is no evidence that I'm aware of that indicates these women are not qualified for the jobs they were hired to do. It's a shame to see them facing scrutiny when they may very well be some of the best employees the city has working in their respective department. However, this could all have been avoided if someone somewhere along the process had stopped to think about how this looks to those paying their salaries.
The nitty gritty details come from WCNC:
The I-Team found that even though the county Department of Human Services was under a hiring freeze, Director Mary E. Wilson hired a friend and former co-worker who is the wife of an at-large city councilman.
DSS hired the daughter of CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe in January and the daughter of Superior Court Judge Yvonne Mims-Evans in February.
Wilson hired Samara Foxx, wife of councilman and mayoral candidate Anthony Foxx, last July after posting the position for only one day, according to a DSS spokeswoman.
I don't know Chief Monroe or Judge Mims-Evans, but I do know Anthony Foxx and have met Samara a few times. Anthony is young and enthusiastic and comes from an influential and highly respected political family. Anthony and Samara are just about the last elected officials I know in Charlotte (besides my own mother) who I think would take advantage of elected status to land a family member a job in the public sector. I'm actually baffled that Anthony didn't think of how this would look back in July when Samara applied for the job. That fact has me scratching my head.
The damage is done. It doesn't matter how qualified these women are or how justified the hiring decisions are, public trust has been damaged.
Unfortunately, for Charlotte Democrats, I'm not sure that's all that has been damaged. Our chances of taking over the Mayor's office may also now be at risk. Everyone I know has been excited about the prospects of having Anthony Foxx serve as mayor. From the number of emails I've received, there are some disappointed Democrats in the area. I'm one of them. I'm not disappointed that Anthony and Samara made this employment decision, I'm disappointed they didn't see this reaction coming. I'm disappointed they didn't initially see the need for more transparency. I thought Anthony was smarter than that.