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Back during Jim Hunt’s first stint as Governor, his patronage man was a wily old fellow from Pilot Mountain named Joe Pell, who became legendary. Joe’s job was to get state jobs for Hunt’s friends and supporters around the state.



One day Joe was having breakfast at Finch’s with a county sheriff who had supported Hunt. The sheriff wanted Joe to find a state job for a young man.



“Is he qualified?” Joe asked.



The sheriff stared at him in amazement. “Qualified? Hell, Joe, if he was qualified we wouldn’t need you down here.”



For years that’s how a lot of people got jobs in state government. Some qualified and some not. It will be that way forever.



For years, too, state employees have been underpaid and underappreciated. They have been downright ridiculed. And used as political pawns.



So we’re surprised that agencies like Probation and Mental Health are disaster areas?



The biggest challenge facing Bev Perdue’s transition team is how to get good people for Cabinet jobs.



Those jobs aren’t plums, if they ever were. They pay far less than the private sector. And they come with countless headaches, pressure and the constant scrutiny of the media and the legislature.



Who in his or her right mind would want the job?



A consensus has finally emerged that, to get good teachers, we ought to pay enough to pay them more – and treat them like professionals.



There is no such consensus on state employees. That is why they are bound and determined to unionize.




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