Gov. Roy Cooper hit a home run last week, then promptly struck out with the bases loaded.
The grand slam came Thursday when Cooper named Wilson County District Attorney Robert Evans chairman of the Governor’s Crime Commission. The strikeout followed Friday, when small-town mayor and pardoned insurance fraud convict Zander Guy was tapped to chair the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
Evans will retain his post as DA while heading up the advisory panel, an extracurricular gig, while Guy resigned as mayor of Surf City to take the full-time post of ABC head honcho, for which he’ll be paid $113,456.
First, the good news: Robert Evans is well-regarded in the state’s legal circles and will do a fine job leading the Governor’s Crime Commission. He worked as a lawyer in Rocky Mount and served as a district court judge for nine years before becoming district attorney for Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe counties in 2009.
Nashville Police Chief Thomas Bashore said Evans has been supportive of the town’s Hope Initiative, a groundbreaking program that offers substance abusers a chance to turn their lives around.
Police invite heroin and opioid addicts who are ready to get clean to surrender their stash, and instead of a trip to jail, they receive a bed in a short-term rehab facility, referrals for residential treatment or outpatient care and access to community resources. Modeled after the Angel Program in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the Hope Initiative has helped 112 people in its first year.
The Nashville Police Department is the first and only North Carolina law enforcement agency to offer such a program. We hope with Evans’ advocacy on the crime commission, other agencies will follow Nashville’s lead.
While we cheer Cooper’s Thursday appointment, we question his judgment in elevating a former felon to regulate state liquor sales.
As an insurance agency owner, Guy was convicted of fraudulently billing his clients to the tune of $16,000. He served three months of a three-year prison sentence before Gov. Jim Martin commuted his sentence in 1990 and later pardoned him.
By all appearances, Guy has turned his life around. He became successful in the real estate business and won the mayorship in the coastal town of Surf City, which straddles Pender and Onslow counties.
Gov. Bev Perdue appointed Guy to the ABC Commission in 2009, sparking criticism from both the conservative Civitas Institute of North Carolina and the liberal website BlueNC. The move smacked of cronyism — Civitas noted that Guy was a big-time donor to Democratic candidate committees.
While he may have served capably on the state booze board, anointing Guy for a six-figure leadership post was shortsighted. Reappointing him to a commission seat would have raised fewer eyebrows than handing Guy the gavel.
We believe people can change, but someone convicted of serious crimes who wants the opportunity to serve should have to earn voters’ trust by running for elected office, like Guy successfully did in his hometown.
Pardoned or not, ex-cons don’t belong on the shortlist for appointed executive jobs in state government.
— The Wilson Times