Local Politics

Easley leaves mixed legacy

Posted January 9, 2009

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— For eight years, Gov. Mike Easley led the state in good times and bad. As governor, he had his own style – something that often brought him criticism and praise.

When Easley took the reins from former Gov. Jim Hunt in 2001, the state was facing a $1 billion budget shortfall. Within a year, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the loss of thousands of textile and traditional manufacturing jobs made his job even harder.

"Here's what I tried to do and wanted others to do: Stay focused on what you want this state to be 20 to 25 years from now, and do the things you have to do to implement that vision," Easley said.

In his case, implementing his vision meant slashing the budget and raising taxes. He pushed for and finally won a state lottery for education and pushed to create a new work force with laid-off workers.

"(It involved) transitioning the economy into the new and better jobs (and) developing talent and skills. We stayed focused on that," he said.

For all of his successes, critics say Easley's focus was sometimes fuzzy. His administration leaves behind management problems in the departments of Health and Human Services, Correction and Transportation.

He brushes off those who he said were sometimes misinformed.

"My relationship with the media in over 30 years of public service has been good. It's not their job to be my friend," he said.

Still, lingering problems in state agencies weren't the hardest part of being governor, Easley said. Calling family members when a North Carolina National Guardsmen was killed at war was much more difficult.

"(When I was) dialing that last number, there were times I'd hang up and dial it again. It was always very tough to make that call," he said.

Easley said he's proudest of having the chance to serve the state, and he said he plans to continue serving by working with nonprofits that focus on education.

"The overarching part of this eight years (was) always remembering we were here to serve the least of our brethren," he said. "I will forever be grateful for the eight years and the confidence voters gave me to serve this state."

On Friday, Easley participated in no public events.

Easley's office announced appointments to boards and commissions, but their number varied little from other weeks.

He did appoint three people to judgeships. Raleigh residents Shannon Joseph and Bill Pittman were named special Superior Court judges, while Greg Bell filled a Superior Court vacancy in Robeson County.

Easley's office also issued a statement praising 54 low-performing high schools that improved on standardized test scores last school year.

16 Comments

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  • scnewton Jan 9, 2009

    THIS GOAT WE CALLED "GOVERNOR" IS FINALLY OUT!!! I HOPE HIS "LEGACY" FOLLOWS HIM TO THE GRAVE.HE HAS BEEN CERTIFIED AS THE ABSOLUTE WORST "HEAD OF STATE" NORTH CAROLINA HAS EVER HAD.IF THE TWOSOME MOVE TO SOUTHPORT,THEY WILL STINK UP THE SEASIDE LIKE WEEK-OLD FISH.

  • whatelseisnew Jan 9, 2009

    This fool was a disaster all the way around. The budget exploded, taxes exploded, he and the legislature spent surpluses instead of applying them to basic needs like roads and public safety (parole officers anyone?) The worst part is he might as well be serving another term. He is back wearing a dress.

  • teacher-mom Jan 9, 2009

    He will probably be remembered for his wife's trips. They really should repay that money.

  • UNCfuturealumi Jan 9, 2009

    one more time, before you go...THANK GOD AND GREYHOUND YOU ARE GONE. We will say it again when she is out.

  • tsquaring Jan 9, 2009

    mixed legacy?

  • ifcdirector Jan 9, 2009

    That headline should read "Easley leaves taxpayers with the bill"

  • yankee1 Jan 9, 2009

    We can only hope that when layoffs hit NC State, the Easleys get a taste of it. The whole administration was a disgrace. Maybe they can both find work overseas!!

  • dws Jan 9, 2009

    Cheeseburger Mike...ahhhhahahahahahahaha

  • JAFOinWF Jan 9, 2009

    Easley has been awful. If he was doing his job, we'd have some roads to show for our taxes. Instead, we just have a bunch of dead people from accidents with illegals that Easley gave licenses to.

  • miketroll3572 Jan 9, 2009

    Where were the good times they talk about. The schools are horrible, the roads are crummy, the state is in a financial turmoil, this guy has done nothing except waste our money.

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