Back in 1984 when Governor Hunt fessed up to making political trips on the state airplane and reimbursed the state $180,000, Tom Ellis, the attorney running Jesse Helms’ campaign to defeat Hunt told me, You know, give a politician a free airplane and he’ll hang himself every time.
It turns out – for Secretary Lanier Cansler – a state automobile is pretty deadly too.
Secretary Cansler has been moaning about how his department is strapped for cash and telling folks how he hates like the dickens to cut medical care for elderly Medicaid patients and children but what can he do – there’s no money.
Cansler’s department’s so strapped for cash the other day one of his employees called the mother of a child with Muscular Dystrophy (who gets in-home nursing care through a Medicaid program) and asked her to voluntarily agree to cut her daughter’s care 50%. When the mother said it didn’t look to her like that was possible Secretary Cansler’s aide bared her fangs and let fly saying either the mother ‘voluntarily’ accepted the 50% cut or she (Cansler’s aide) was going to ‘officially’ recommend a deeper cut. The mother got that message: She had to either say yes or hire a lawyer and fight the entire Department of Health and Human Services by herself.
So to hear Secretary Cansler tell it DHHS is broke – except for one problem. A story on WRAL-TV the other night that revealed Secretary Cansler has 1,023 automobiles under lease for his department and just paid a whopping million dollars for unused mileage. In other words DHHS leased the cars, didn’t use them and still had to pay for them.
Which leaves Lanier Cansler facing a mess – because now he’s got to explain why he’s cutting nursing care to a child with muscular dystrophy while paying a million dollars for cars sitting in a parking lot doing nothing.