Transparency and the public’s right to know about disciplinary actions of state employees is finally getting a full hearing in the N.C. Senate in the coming week. All indications are it will move forward for consideration to the House of Representatives in spite of massive resistance from the state’s two largest unions.

Republican Senator Norman Sanderson, representing the 2nd senate district of Carteret, Craven and Pamlico counties, co-sponsor of the “Government Transparency Act of 2021,” has withstood withering opposition from the State Employees Association of N.C. (SEANC) and the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) as he has worked over the past two months to bring the bill to the senate floor for a vote. Senators Bill Rabon, (R), New Hanover County and Joyce Kraweic,

( R), Forsyth County are also co-sponsors but Sen. Sanderson has been the primary spokesman for the legislation.

The bill simply provides public scrutiny of disciplinary actions of state employees and does not, as the opponents contend, open up all employee records for public scrutiny.

Both SEANC and NCAE, while not officially recognized as unions since North Carolina is a right to work state, have been joined by the Teamsters and AFLCIO, nationally recognized unions, to fight this legislation. For two months, members of the legislature have weathered calls and constant bombardment of misinformation and intimidation by the unions to stop this legislation.

SEANC and NCAE, along with the other nationally recognized unions, have erroneously argued that SB 355 will open all of the personnel files of state employees to review which would result in gossip and misinformation, thereby harming the employees.

That argument is erroneous on two counts. First, only disciplinary actions related to professional job performance are open for public scrutiny which is the right of the employers, the public, to know. No other personnel files are open for public review under this legislation. Secondly, if there is disciplinary action, others will know it and will make assumptions, which enhances gossip. If the facts are known, then the gossip is obviously less credible and the potential for it diminishes.

Legislators have been provided a variety of examples of how the lack of public access, as well as access within state agencies, have resulted in “bad actors” being transferred from job to job or from region to region to avoid embarrassing situations only to have the “bad actor” finally exposed after doing harm, and in some cases irreparable harm.

A case in point was a special education teacher in the western region of the state who was moved from school to school to avoid embarrassment only to have the teacher finally charged with taking indecent liberties and molestation of several of his students. Another example involves a fired school superintendent who received $250,000 to leave without any explanation to the taxpayers.

Until this week the union tactics had apparently influenced senate Democrats who have expressed resistance to the legislation. But late last week one Democrat legislator informed Sen. Sanderson that he is supporting the bill, which may indicate that others in that senate caucus may see the need for greater transparency.

It is worth noting that Governor Cooper, who sponsored a similar bill “Discipline Disclosure Act” during his tenure as a state senator in 1977, has been silent on SB355. It is well known that he is very sensitive to the political clout of the unions but it is no reason for him or other Democrats to choose secrecy over public interest.

The unions’ efforts to hide professional performance evaluations and actions regarding the hiring, firing, promotion and demotion of public employees has persisted and is ramping up as the final vote approaches.

This week, the state senate will make a major determination as to who, or what group is in charge of our state operations: the unions that want to control access to vital information about the professional performance of state employees or the taxpayers who not only pay for the services but who also have to wonder, are they being properly and professionally served.

It is long past time that state operations are open to those who pay the bill- the taxpayers. It is time for transparency in our government.

(19) comments

Sleepwalker

Lets extend this to federal employees. At the FRCE, theres managers that have made some real bonehead decisions and implemented programs that have cost taxpayers millions and millions of dollars with zero return. Let’s make everything public... like the bosses son that broke half a dozen federal laws cheating taxpayers out of money and got away with it for years....

Crabpot

Let's extend it to everybody on the planet. Dude next doors always take his trash out at midnight. Something funny going on. I (we) need transparency on this matter.

David Collins

Possible consideration , ha , ha , ha . As I have stated before , there are a multitude of ways to get around this transparency thing . Politicians fear true transparency more than death itself .

pops

I agree with transparency. HOWEVER, as a private sector employee who was irreparably harmed by corporate incompetence, greed, and overall stupidity - I would insist that any disclosure include/require a response by the employee. That response may be an admission of guilt, a 'no comment, or a full fledge rebuttal of accusations. But the record must not be published without giving the employee the opportunity to be heard. IN THE SAME DOCUMENT. Quite a lot of manure goes down in the workplace. Employers, through their organized associations, and HR good ole' boy's networks have enormous leverage over the individual employee. Especially in 'right to work states.' (trying desperately to type that phrase with a straight face.)

Unions are/have ben equally guilty of greed. That said, North Carolina is very employee UNfriendly, for a variety of reasons. Thus I sympathize with resistance. Perhaps this bill can be a move towards more reasonable middle ground - from both directions.

mpjeep

Unfortunately, transparency is a principle forgotten by the majority of public officials.

Freedom of information and an open government has never been or never will be.

The best we can do is keep pressure on our officials, but laws will probably not live up to its promise of transparency.

DeadBolt

Probably going to get mangled up in the courts.

David Collins

The courts are no friend of transparency . For the public to actually see what goes on behind those thick doors ? As Pelosi has said many times it would infringe on the dignity of the office . Translation, those officials are beyond reproach and the public would not understand . I say let us see what really goes on and we will be the judge , you might not last long in your August office but when you live by the sword , you can die by a sword .

Of course , the average citizen Is too involved with their lives and has little inclination or time and resources to take an active part in policing these agust elected leaders and that is by design . They go on faith , faith that is often dashed to the ground . The response is often “ you just do not get the big picture or understand how things work “ . So there you have it !

Crabpot

How about we extend this to the editors of right wing newspapers located along coastal North Carolina.

DeadBolt

ARE YOU PAYING THEIR TAX MONEY? (this topic is about a 'government' structure, not 'individual' structures) . Individuals are in fact open to the right amount of money, these other ones are not.

mpjeep

Well said again, deadbolt!!!

mpjeep

Yep, government transparency alright. Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Joe Biden and his approach to Iran in his final address to parliament, revealing that the Biden administration wanted him to keep their foreign policy disagreements “behind closed doors,” but that he would no longer do so.

sick and tired

"Government transparency is finally seeing daylight" hahahahaha you'll find your government transparency located right between the unicorn and the leprechaun. I heard someone spotted government transparency just the other day riding on the back of the lockness monster. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than seeing/getting any government transparency. You are more more likely to get struck by lightning than ever seeing/getting government transparency. You have a better chance of being abducted by aliens than ever seeing/getting government transparency.

dc

The REAL transparency that needs your attention is Tucker Carlson's piece on growing authoritatarianism.

mpjeep

Terry Stoops, the Director of the Center for Effective Education said those running for local school boards for far too long have hidden their true agendas from voters. Besides, he said, the state’s teachers union disproportionately endorses Democratic candidates.

Again, no transparency.

drewski

terry stoops from the far right locke foundation, center for effective education.. endorces too many dem candidates. only canditates who oppose sex ed, who believe the earth is 6000 yrs old, that dinosaurs and man existed at the same time , and that crt is the work of satan, those and only those folks should be on the school board. that way the children will have a truthful &well balanced edumacation.

Amen!

noitall

Hang in there Norm. Unions only want dues. They cannot offer any programs to help the membership. Leaches. Stand tall This is a big one.

mpjeep

According to NC State Statute, local school board elections are supposed to be nonpartisan. What does that mean? Unlike other races, to vote for, “Republican” or “Democrat” are not listed under a school board candidate’s name on the ballot to indicate their political party. Transparency?

JusticeForAll

Tucker Carlson is a mouthpiece spinning his opinions. He is interested in ratings and has no credibility in exposing transparency. When he begins exposing the hypocrisy of Fox news and other biased media, maybe then we can listen,

cautiously.

Our systems for transparency are constantly undermined by so many factors. While we may catch the few, the problem will continue to escalate. Legal remedies are not much of a deterrent and your chances of numerically escaping exposure are far better.

dc

Yes, opinions. We ALL have them don't we?

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