Editorial: Removal of lottery commissioner is stand for respect of state workers

Posted August 22

The lottery

CBC Editorial: Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017; Editorial # 8201
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

Former N.C. Education Lottery Chairman Kim Griffin Jr. of Durham says he was forced from his post as a result of partisan politics. “They don’t have anything real, then they make it up. That’s the way the Democrats work,” he told the Associated Press.

Politics has nothing to do with Griffin’s removal. What does -- are accusations of sexually harassing language and racially insensitive remarks he used around fellow commission members, Lottery executives, partners and staff.

Following an Aug. 9 meeting with lawyers on Gov. Roy Cooper’s staff, the governor removed Griffin from the lottery commission for “malfeasance.”

“Your sexually harassing comments directed at Lottery Commission officers, staff and commission members have created a hostile work environment. Female staff members have requested not to meet with you alone,” William C. McKinney, the governor’s general counsel, said in a dismissal letter to Griffin. “Your racially insensitive comments directed at lottery partners do not represent the values of the Governor or the North Carolina lottery.”

This is not partisan, nor is it politics as usual. Griffin, appointed to the commission by former Gov. Pat McCrory, suggested his removal was a partisan plot. He named two fellow members of the commission, Keith Ballentine and Jodi Tyson, as playing a role in his ouster. However, both were named to the commission by Republicans: Ballentine by former House Speaker and now U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis; and Tyson by Senate leader Phil Berger.

An appointment by the governor to a major board or commission, and the Lottery Commission ranks among the top, doesn’t come with a license to abuse or harass. People who work in government agencies are there to serve public officials and citizens. But they are certainly not anyone’s servants and open to abuses of the sort outlined in the two letters from the governor’s office.

No one who works for North Carolina – nor any employee – should be required to tolerate that kind of behavior, particularly to the extent that female staff won’t meet alone with an individual.

It is all too easy, particularly when it involves government employees, to be dismissive about the work they do and the conditions under which they do it. But their work is important. It is work that public officials and the voters who’ve elected them, have determined needs to be done.

They deserve decent working environments.

The governor acted in ways good businesses behave. A boss took action to remedy a bad situation. Beyond that, it sent a signal to others:

  • Behavior like Griffin’s, as outlined in the letters, won’t be tolerated.
  • Employees and their work are respected.
  • Their boss stands with them when their dignity and professionalism are abused.
1 Comment

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  • Jeff Freuler Aug 22, 12:07 p.m.
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    If that's the true story then I know of a cabinet member who needs to be investigated as the governor swept his issues under the rug