Ohhh, guv'nuh. I can remain silent no longer. This mental health crisis is like a stain, a blot, a blight, a fetid and poisonous puddle. It's like a cancer spreading through your life and ruining all that it touches. You can't chunk it, and all the community support in the world can't help you learn to live with it. It will only start to get better when you admit you have a problem. I think when you start sounding Clintonian, Lewinsky-era Clintonian, you need to face the facts, pal, and get on with the admitting.
I don't need to recap the mental health reform quagmire for anyone who's living it or even exposed to it by the news, especially the N&O's excellent series. I probably don't need to remind anyone how Gov. Easley assured us that it was not on him or his administration, despite the enormity of the historical record contradicting that notion. I don't need to tell you all about how Easley's office then ordered the firing of a DHHS public affairs official and tried to pin it on Secretary Benton, who wasn't having any of it. Then came the e-mail probe headed by Easley's longtime Robin, Franklin Freeman, who – wait for it – doesn't use e-mail. Finally we get to the baloney for today's sandwich, the notes taken at a meeting with Easley's press secretary. Two public information officers clearly wrote that they had been advised to delete e-mail to and from the governor's office everyday.
Here's his response:
'When you get cryptic notes, sometimes you don't get all the information, and that's why it's important to get in there and talk to these people,' Easley said."
As part of the same effort to shore up his crumbling credibility on this matter, his office released a bunch of e-mail messages his press secretary exchanged with the two public information officers who noted the instructions to delete them. The clincher? Some messages obviously came off the server, "indicating that they had been deleted from the computers at the public information officers' desks. The News & Observer had asked the Easley administration to keep e-mail retrieved from the personal computers separate, but it did not."
I don't know what the deal with this guy is, I really don't. Gov. Easley seems fundamentally uninterested in the mentally ill and their suffering. I'm married to a therapist (insert your favorite quip about how convenient that must be here), and I can tell you there are very many people wandering around who simply cannot bear to talk about or even hear about mental and emotional issues. Are they pod people, sent from Planet Concrete Thinking to walk among humans and observe our messy ways? Are they so disengaged from others that they decide to disregard a sad but enduring aspect of the human condition? Or, do they fear mental or emotional loss of control so much that they cannot even begin to think about those who necessarily rely on help for their daily survival? Who can say? It's weird to me, but not at all unusual, to see someone ignore the entire issue of mental distress and/or defect. It's downright bizarre to see someone who must have suffered with a learning difference that so many people don't understand even today, much less when the guv was coming up, put those blinders on. But, whatever, it's time to let the healing begin. Easley needs to stop running away from the mental health mess and stop blaming everyone else for it. There's more than enough blame to go around. He should admit that it happened on his watch and get to work making it right. I mean, really, how much more of this can any of us take?
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