For years, the news has been peppered with stories about politicians setting up study panels and commissions to deal with a certain issue. A lot of hearings and press conferences are held. And very little actually gets done.
Can you honestly think of the last special commission, committee or panel that ever accomplished anything substantive? (I’ll give you some time to think on that one.)
These special commissions and committees and the like are merely vehicles for politicians to look like they are doing something serious while giving themselves plenty of distance in case the committee’s work blows up in their faces. Absolutely gutless.
Well, the Republican leadership of the General Assembly and the Republican governor (with his hero Jim Hunt cheering him on) went to court to settle a spat over who gets to appoint members of a commission to oversee the cleanup of Duke Energy’s coal ash mess in the Dan River. A three-judge panel said the legislature went too far in appointing members to the commission. Gov. Pat and his buddy Jim are cheering the judge’s decision leaving the power of appointment within the executive branch.
One important question not being asked or debated: Why in the hell do we have these commissions? In the case of the coal ash, we have a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to regulate and oversee issues like this. An attorney general is in place to prosecute any violations of law. A governor has been elected to oversee the work of DENR. A legislature has been elected to put a check on the work of the governor.
Let’s lay off looking for opportunities to hook up your campaign donors. Let’s lay off the CYA. Let’s start rolling up your sleeves and doing the work and making the tough decisions voters elected you to do.