Easley is now blaming much of the current bad news on Debbie Crane, an state employee for eighteen years serving as the DHHS public affairs director and providing information about DHHS and how mental health care is now handled. In conflict with Easley's suggestion that Hooker was opposed to the state's mental health care changes, in a 2001 letter addressed "to all North Carolinians," Hooker Odom said she had developed the reform plan "in collaboration with the North Carolina Legislature." She said she was presenting the plan to the state's residents "with pride and enthusiasm."
Mrs. Crane's response on Easley not accepting responsibility of failure of the mental health care system is that "It does amaze me that y'all have done this [News & Observer report] series detailing all this waste of money, all the hurt people ... and that the one person who gets fired is me," she said. "It's truly shooting the messenger."
News & Observer
March 4, 2008
DHHS public affairs director fired
RALEIGH - The Easley administration today fired Debbie Crane, the state official who handled News & Observer reporters' requests for information as they worked on a series about mental health.
Crane, 48, who was public affairs director at the state Department of Health and Human Services, said department secretary Dempsey Benton told her yesterday that Gov. Mike Easley "wanted me out. He had lost confidence in me."
Crane was officially fired this morning by another department official, she said, after Benton went to Easley's press conference about mental health issues.
Crane said her dismissal revolved around the Easley administration's attempts to get former DHHS secretary Carmen Hooker Odom to talk to The N&O about her supposed opposition to the 2001 mental health reforms. Read the full report...