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The most worrisome news today is that Governor-Elect Perdue is conducting a “nationwide search” for a secretary of Health and Human Services.

 

I hope she has better luck than Governor Hunt did.

 

When he was first elected in 1976, Hunt did a nationwide search for an expert to run the state’s troubled and overcrowded prison system. He found his man in California.

 

Sure enough, the expert knew prisons. But he didn’t know North Carolina, and he especially didn’t know North Carolina politics.

 

He made everybody mad – in the system, outside the system, in the legislature and, most of all, Governor Hunt.

 

Same thing with the community colleges. Hunt found an expert in Oregon. He knew community colleges. But not North Carolina.

 

Eventually, Bob Scott and then Martin Lancaster ran the system. They weren’t community college experts, but they were good politicians and good leaders.

 

There’s a place for out-of-state experts. Just not in the Secretary’s chair.

 

Perdue may be feeling the heat because she hasn’t made any appointments yet. This is the midway point between her election and her inauguration. Soon enough – say, next week – the press will start questioning her pace.

 

They’ll point out that President-elect Obama has named his chief of staff, his economic team and his national security team. They’ll ask what’s taking her so long. All she has named is her transition team, and she had to backtrack after she first named only three white males.

 

However long it takes, don’t appoint any national experts.

 

 

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