It is understandable that every chief executive give thought to his or her legacy and contributions to the organization/state/corporation, so we fully appreciate that Governor Bev Perdue, now in the closing weeks of her administration, is focusing on this aspect of her tenure. But we also hope the Governor will give serious consideration to how any actions she takes on exiting the office might be viewed in perspective. Two circumstances have presented themselves that could have some impact on the Perdue legacy.
The first relates to the Dorothea Dix campus, 300 acres of prime real estate within a stone’s throw of downtown Raleigh. For more than a century Dix Hospital proudly served the mentally ill in North Carolina, but a group of legislators and reformers dismantled and closed it.
Families with a mentally ill member can testify to the lack of available and affordable services, providers and facilities, calling into question the wisdom of reducing or eliminating resources for patients in state supported mental hospitals. These patients often end up in adult care facilities not properly equipped to care for them, in jails or on the streets.
North Carolina’s treatment of the mentally ill is horrible and needs serious triage.
Before we have found realistic solutions to dealing with the mentally ill we are being forced to consider the abandonment and sale/lease of the Dix campus. And while we are happy that past generations saw an imperative to create public parks and we respect the civic leadership of the group that has named themselves “Dix Visionaries,” we question their wisdom in this matter.
What’s the rush to make a deal on this wonderful property? If it is merely to put a signature on an outgoing administration we find that insufficient justification for taking action now. We also don’t want to see this become a political football and sense some of the opposition to this transaction is more partisan than practical. We seriously hope there will be no rush to action that will be detrimental to the mentally ill, state government or the people of North Carolina.
Then there’s the issue of the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who mysteriously chose December as a date for retirement from the bench. Typically, a governor has the opportunity to appoint a replacement to fill the unexpired term, but this governor wisely set up an independent commission to review potential candidates before naming someone to the bench. That process takes some time, time Perdue doesn’t have in office. We are told she is strongly considering revoking or ignoring this commission in favor of naming a new justice. This is no doubt tempting and will give Perdue a chance to name a Democrat and probably a female or minority to replace Timmons-Goodson, but she was wise to have set up a better way of nominating judges and would be wise to follow it now, regardless of how it impacts her party. She could easily undo the good she did in showing the state a better process for judicial selection.
We just hope Governor Perdue will choose to exit right…or maybe a better way of saying it would be prudently.