Editorial: Stubborn or just right?
Chancellor James Oblinger appears to have done the noble thing by resigning Monday morning in hopes that Mary Easley would follow. When she made no sign of stepping down from her $170,000-a-year job at N.C. State University, system President Erskine Bowles took the final step for her, terminating the position.
This is far from the end of the story, but it is an important plot development.
Suffice to say that the investigation of former Gov. Mike Easley’s actions in office seems to be gaining steam. Several heads have rolled ó er, resigned ó at N.C. State over his wife’s job, including Oblinger, Provost Dr. Larry Nielsen (though he’s still being paid while he contemplates going back to the classroom) and trustee McQueen Campbell.
Oblinger admitted only that the ongoing controversy was a distraction, and he hoped his resignation would help the university focus on more important matters. “The hiring of Mary Easley and her treatment as a university employee involved no impropriety and no coercion,” Oblinger’s statement said. “I am absolutely confident that when this chapter of N.C. State’s history is written, the only conclusion drawn will be that the university and all of its officials acted both correctly and honorably.”
Mary Easley did not make the graceful exit Oblinger hoped for, probably more out of a sense of principle than a love of the job. Yes, running a speakers series and an academic center could be rewarding ó especially for $170,000. But she had to know the controversy over her husband’s possible role in landing the job was tainting both the university and her. Either she is supremely stubborn or she feels she and her husband are in the right. Only further investigation will tell.
Oblinger was absolutely right about the distraction this issue has become, and Bowles did what he had to do as system president. Mary Easley can stand on principle all she wants, but not on the state payroll. Considering the sensitivity of this matter and the political undertones ó not to mention the budget crisis ó she owes the university that much.
RALEIGH ó State legislators face a pretty big problem as they try to come up with a solution to a... read more