My thoughts


Last month at the end of the legislative short session, North Carolina State Senator Thom Goolsby resigned his 9th district senate seat.

Some might say, yea!; In his second term, Goolsby was not particularly popular with constituents.

Goolsby won election over former University of North Carolina Wilmington Chancellor James Leutze for that seat in 2010. He was re-elected by voters in 2012.

His popularity as an elected official may have been hampered by his voting record, which didn’t always match up with what he said, like his lip service to transparency in government.

Unhappy Wilmington women picketed his law office for Mondays on end. One has to wonder, was the Grand Old Party embarrassed by the “Goolsby’s Gotta Go!” protests? Or the unflattering news coverage in national publications like the Huffington Post?

That he referred to the Capital lawn Moral Monday crowd as “morons” entrenched the ire further, and both the unflattering news stories and the picketing persisted at his law office located in the 200 block of Walnut Street, sometimes lining the sidewalk all the way to Front and beyond.

His effectiveness up on Jones Street may have been hampered by investigation that led to  the January 2014 N.C.  Secretary of State office’s order to Goolsby and his partner in an investment firm he co-owned with James Upham, Empowered Investor Inc., to cease and desist from engaging in any practice involving securities or financial services business in North Carolina. The two men and the company also had their investment adviser registrations revoked by the Secretary of State’s office. They were prohibited from reapplying for a period of 10 years.

Those issues aside, I don’t know about you, but it bugs me when people quit a job early, particularly when the quitter was elected to the position.

Some might view it as another brilliant GOP move in a succession of these resignations to usher in the next candidate to ensure the likelihood of more votes on election day, but as the opposing party candidate in the Nov. 4 midterm election, Elizabeth Redenbaugh was quick to point out, “It’s clearly a manipulation of the political process.”

Redenbaugh was referring to the Republican Party nomination Tuesday night and expected appointment by the Gov. this week to fill the remainder of Goolsby’s term with Wilmington attorney Michael Lee, the Republican candidate for that senate seat in the November election.

Lee ran for the District 9 seat in 2010, but Goolsby won the Republican primary.

In April, Michael Lee replaced Danny McComas as chair of the N.C. State Ports Authority Board of Directors. McCrory appointed Lee following McComas’ resignation from the board.

Lee had been appointed to the ports board by N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger in 2011 and appointed vice chair in 2013. In April 2013 he was sworn in after being appointed by McCrory to the State Board of Transportation, Division 3.

This powerful board’s members decide the order of road construction and repairs in the state; it could be benificial to have a board member from New Hanover County complete his or her term.

With Lee’s latest appointment to fill the remainder of the District 9 Senate seat, state law dictates his resignation from the DOT board.

While not required to step down from his position on the ports authority board while serving in the state legislature, Lee said he will step down to avoid any conflicts of interest.

The ports authority board is tasked with oversight of the state’s ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, plus inland terminals in Charlotte and Greensboro. The ports’ economic legacy includes a contribution of 65,000 jobs and $500 million per year in state and local tax revenues.

Any employer will tell you, turnover is not good for business. There is always a learning curve and adjustments to be made. Turnover of leadership is especially trying on the work force and work product, not to mention policy. Governing boards are no different.

The Republican legislative delegation from New Hanover County has made good use of a revolving door policy that pretty much disenfranchises voters who have no voice in the matter. GOP leaders are playing the system for their own advancement, which is injurious to a democratic society, to us as voters.

In 2004, then Senator Patrick Ballantine stepped down from the seat and his then law partner Woody White was appointed to replace him. Ballantine resigned to unsuccessfully challenge Gov. Mike Easley in the 2004 election. White went on to lose his bid to hold onto the seat in the general election to attorney Julia Boseman, a Democrat.

On the House side, Rep. Danny McComas, a Republican from New Hanover County, resigned his House District 19 seat before the end of his term in September 2012 to take the position of chairman of the N.C. State Ports Authority. He would serve 16 months before resigning April 2, 2014.

Gov. Bev Perdue appointed attorney and New Hanover County Commissioner Ted Davis Jr. to fill McComas’ House seat. Davis resigned his New Hanover County Commission chair to take over the House seat. Davis then was elected to the House seat in the 2012 general election.

Now Michael Lee, the hand-picked successor to Goolsby is being advanced, for at least the next two months.

Imagine if presidents did this? What if president Barrack Obama said tomorrow, “Okay people, I understand that you don’t like me, so I am going to leave office and make Joe Biden your president?”

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