Monday, December 2, 2013

Gov. ThinSkin the Job Creator in "The Case of the Disappearing Healthcare Jobs"

Posted By on Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Charlotte Observer editorial pages editor Taylor Batten's Sunday report on his interview with Gov. Pat McCrory was probably enlightening to readers who are unfamiliar with the former Charlotte mayor's, um, thin-skinned conversational style. For those of us who've talked to McCrory as journalists over the years - we lucky, happy few, to sardonically paraphrase William S's Henry V - there was no surprise in Batten's main conclusion: McCrory is obsessed with his image and media criticism. Batten could just as easily have said, "Any media criticism, no matter the content nor the specific media outlet involved."

As mayor - heck, even before then, as a city councilman - McCrory would make the rounds of local media outlets and critique their coverage of his job performance. He first showed up unannounced at Creative Loafing's old offices on South Boulevard in the early 1990s. At the time, we were running a column by a pair of writers who called themselves Biff and Jiff. The column was a journalistic free-for-all, funny as hell but often offensive in its treatment of local pols; Councilman Pat didn't like it at all. He was particularly displeased with a column in which Biff (or was it Jiff? I could never tell) referred to the yuppie lawmaker as "a hemorrhoid on the city's butt." Granted, it was crude, and I had regretted letting the phrase pass after it was published - but considering our paltry circulation at the time, I was amazed that McCrory had even heard about it, much less read it himself (much less, it turned out, read the column regularly). That was the same meeting in which McCrory, who was an at-large council member and thus represented the entire city, kept referring to Myers Park residents as "my constituency." I never forgot that.

Over the years, McCrory complained numerous times - to me, or to a writer, or to our publisher, and even to our photographers - about the criticism leveled at him in CL and "the terrible way y'all do me," as he once put it to photographer Chris Radok, who had been assigned to photograph the mayor giving the key to the city to Mickey Mouse at a Disney On Ice production. So, yeah, Batten nailed McCrory's self-importance and incredibly thin skin (for a politician).

And now for something totally different (thanks, Monty Python): information about yet another crappy result of McCrory's refusal to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. We already know that nearly a half-million North Carolinians will be heading to the emergency room for their medical care because of the governor's spiteful decision. And there have been discussions about up to 25,000 jobs that would have been created by the Medicaid expansion (which, remember, was to be paid fully by the federal government for three years and 90 percent paid afterward). Now, according to a needed and welcome report from Adam Searing's NC Policy Watch, the Medicaid decision has resulted, so far, in more than 550 lost hospital jobs in the state, primarily in rural hospitals. The article gathers reports from across the state and shows that 11 hospitals and health clinics in North Carolina have laid off employees, or have closed outright. All of the hospitals and clinics say the major reason for their layoffs is the GOP's refusal to expand Medicaid. In other words, Gov. ThinSkin came into office promising to create more jobs, then turns around and, for political spite, creates instead a policy that derails plans for thousands of more jobs and causes the loss of an additional 550, with more probably to come.

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