Editorial: 'Best part-time job in history' should change

Jun. 22, 2014 @ 09:33 AM

Many people suspect there are plenty of government jobs that amount to highly paid featherbedding.

Turns out there seem to be at least three that were created just three years ago, but the only quarrel anyone in the General Assembly seems to have with their existence is who gets to fill those jobs.

There was a dust-up June 4 at a House Finance Committee meeting where legislators were discussing the three-member Board of Review in the Division of Employment Security, part of the Department of Commerce, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. The board was created in 2011 but left vacant until Gov. Pat McCrory took office.

The Board of Review’s job is to determine appeals policies and procedures and to hear appeals from unemployment board decisions. The board members, who are appointed by the governor, each are paid $120,000 a year, but it’s only a part-time job.

If you are a taxpayer reading this, chances are quite good that last sentence just made you mad. Yes, $120,000 a year for a part-time job.

Given that we keep hearing that these are hard times economically, which is why teachers and state employees haven't gotten raises and unemployment benefits have been sharply curtailed, you would think that this self-styled budget-cutting General Assembly would be discussing ways to trim that pay down to something that the average taxpayer would call reasonable.

You would be wrong.

What the legislators want to do is remove the governor’s power to appoint two of those three board members in order to give that power to the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate.

In other words, legislative leaders recognize that these three part-time jobs amount to a great patronage opportunity – jobs that can be used to reward supporters – and they want a piece of the action.

The dust-up was caused by Dale Folwell, a former Republican legislator from Forsyth County and current head of the Division of Employment Security, who complained that he felt Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, was pushing to be appointed to the board. Folwell told the News & Observer that Howard "continues to try to get herself appointed to the best part-time job in North Carolina's history." Howard denied it, but whether she wants the job is hardly the point.

If anyone close to this board feels that membership on it is “the best part-time job in North Carolina’s history,” then there probably is plenty of room to adjust the pay down without entirely erasing the appeal of the job.