March 4, 2008

Easley pins the tail on Debbie Crane about failure of NC mental health care

Governor Easley once again has passed the buck and has pointed the finger of blame toward someone else in state's latest costly blunder - over 400 million dollars wasted after state laws were changed in 2001 in an attempt to reform mental health care during his administration. Easley says that Carmen Odom Hooker, former director of DHHS, was opposed to the state's changes that allowed private firms to offer mental health care with little oversight or rules on how funds would be spent but there is no evidence that she opposed the changes and she recently left employment as director and moved on to a job in another state.

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
Staff Reports

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...


yendis said...

Is not fair, if "He just lost confidence in her" It should not be her the one paying, but we should also check what she has done to him in order for him to lose confidence in his right hand!

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Carolina Bits said...

Yes, you are right. Easley does not tolerate or allow views that differ from his (he is not a team player) and is quick to fire state employees (actually he always gets others to do it). She has a right to disagree and if her actions were "wrong" should have been disciplined", but not fired. Her actions were correct and proper. She is a state citizen and has the right to express her views even if they are different. And even if Easley did not agree the information she gave was part of public record and we all should have free access to the information and so should the press. The information was part of the public record. Easley was wrong and she should get her job back.