McCrory Needs To Respect State Employees
When Governor McCrory became Governor, he said there would be a new era of accountability for state employees. Unfortunately, what he meant by accountability was big salaries for his campaign staff and less job security for dedicated civil servants. The News and Observer has an op-ed that highlights some of the issues with McCrory's new model of "accountability,"
At the state Department of Health and Human Services, the falseness of the governor’s push for productive employees has been writ large. Young campaign aides have been given $80,000 jobs. Senior employees with deep institutional knowledge have left or been pushed out. Vacancies abound. Expensive consultants try to fill the gaps.
But the most damning indictment of the new “accountability” can be found in lawsuits filed against the N.C. Department of Public Safety by former state employee Joseph Vincoli of Clemmons. A prison health care official, Vincoli, 57, had his employment status changed from civil service to exempt after McCrory took office and was fired in December. He has filed two lawsuits. One challenges his dismissal as retaliation against a whistle-blower and another challenges the constitutionality of the law that blocks appeals by employees who have had their job status changed to exempt from civil service protections.
This could be a typical fight between a poor-performing employee and his bosses, but it’s really the complete opposite. Not only was Vincoli rated as “outstanding” in his last review, he also made a change in how the state contracts with hospitals for prisoner medical care that is saving the state $45 million a year. Yes, it’s true. The McCrory administration changed the work status of a civil servant and then fired the “seat-warmer” who was saving taxpayers $45 million a year.
Vincoli’s offense? He never got a stated cause, but his firing apparently arose from his attempt to save the state even more money. As The News & Observer’s Craig Jarvis reported earlier this year, Vincoli previously worked for privately run Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where he identified overpayments by the state. He urged the hospital to adjust its charges but was ignored and eventually dismissed. After becoming a state employee in 2010, he continued to press for a reimbursement. The state auditor found that the state might have overpaid Baptist Hospital by $1.34 million over five years. The hospital denied it, and no money was recovered. But when the state auditor expanded the inquiry to other hospitals, the results showed the state health plan might have overpaid hospitals as much as $49 million over three years.
When Vincoli obtained emails strengthening the case against the Winston-Salem hospital, he sought to have the state investigate. Instead, the general counsel at the state Department of Public Safety told him to cease and desist. When Vincoli did not, he received an email that said: “You are NOT to waste any further government time on this issue. Every time you raise this topic, you force the leadership of DPS to waste time thinking about it and responding to you. Do not do it again.”