Easley is Using 65 to Run His Office

It takes a lot of manpower and a lot of money to help Mike Easley run the governor’s office in North Carolina.

Figures released to The Daily Record by the Office of State Personnel show that as of June 4, Gov. Easley had 65 on his staff and a payroll of $3,169,448 in salaries alone.

You can add perhaps another 40 per cent to that figure for vacations, health insurance, sick leave, travel and other benefits.

And that doesn’t include the cost of office space, furnishings, computers, supplies, telephone, automobile expenses and a myriad of other costs.

The budget also provides for nine vacancies still to be filled. If they are filled, the total salary cost for the governor’s office comes to $4,026,680.

The number of Easley’s employees and the salary total take on added significance at a time when the governor is seeking millions more for pet projects and is also advocating a lottery to bring in more.

Gov. Easley’s salary is $119,000 a year, but he has three top aides who draw more pay than he does:

Franklin Freeman, senior assistant for governmental affairs, gets $139,625.

John D. Merritt, senior assistant for policy and legal matters, receives $139,000.

Susan Rabon, senior administrative assistant, gets $119,625.

Add the pay of those three to Gov. Easley’s salary and the total is over half million dollars for the four —$593,680.

Gov. Easley wife, Mary, teaches law at North Carolina Central University in Durham while the state pays Betty J. Miller $48,000 as executive assistant to the First Lady.

The governor and his family are well kept and well fed.

Stephen M. Moravick Jr., food director at the mansion, gets $51,995. Mr. Moravick is a real jewel, a top chef at the plush Ritz Carlton in Merritt Island, Fla., before coming to Raleigh.

Mr. Moravick says he has three other chefs assisting him at the mansion.

He has available as many assistant cooks, servers and dishwashers as needed. He gets them from Central Prison.

The governor also has a bountiful number of personal assistants to get him through the day:

Beverly J. Walker, personal secretary, $50,625.

Charles R. Poole, personal assistant, $52,725.

Janice L. Bryant, scheduler, $66,702.

Carl P. Boyce, communications director, $72,625.

Frederick W. Hartman Jr., press secretary, $70,625.

Julia Hartzoge, assistant press secretary, $32,614.

Margret Johnson, executive assistant, administration, $55,000.

Loretta Pokipala, receptionist, $32,564.

John Buxton, senior education advisor, $77,625.

Ann McArthur, teacher advisor, $60,000.

Heriberto Martinez, Hispanic, Latin liason, $75,625.

Sheila S Rademacher. youth coordinator, $32,850.

Katie Pearce, special projects coordinator, 44,625.

Next to Freeman, Merritt and Rabon, the other highest-paid aides are:

Alan Hirsch, policy director, $99,625; Joel K. Harper, executive director of NCBCE, $95,000; Hampton Dellinger, legal counsel, $93,625; Phillip A. Telfer, policy analyst, $89,465; Kevin D. Howell, special legal assistant, $85,625; Ann Lichtner, deputy director, intergovernmental relations, $83,816; Reuben F. Young, deputy legal counselor, $83,064.

Gov. Easley spends at least a half million or more on legal aides although some are given other titles, like Franklin Freeman, whose title is “senior asst./govt. affairs,” which could mean any sort of duty — like lobbying. The other two highest-paid aides, John D. Merritt and Susan Rabon, fall in the same category, as well as Ann Litchener, whose title is “deputy director, intergovernmental relations.”

The legal line-up: Hampton Dellinger, legal counsel $93,625; Kevin D. Howell, special assistant/legal affairs, $85,625; Reuben F. Young, deputy legal counsel, $83,064; Edith Cox, exec. asst/policy & legal affairs, $40,625; Renay Jeannette, special asst/legal counsel, $28,625; and Ann Lichtner, deputy director, intergovernmental relations, $83,816. All this legal advice comes at a cost $415,380. Add the salary of Franklin Freeman’s $139,625 and you get $554,760 — over a half million.”

Policy analysts also take a good-sized hunk of Gov. Easley’s payroll: Alan Hirsch, policy director, $99,625; Phillip A. Telfer, policy analyst, $89,465; John D. Merritt Sr. asst./policy & legislative affairs, $139,000; Rudd Traux, policy analyst, $47,625; Amanda Wherry, policy analyst, $31,000 and Kristen Skordinsk, policy analyst, $47,526.

Gov. Easley’s three branch offices cost $l86,659 just in salaries: Director James S. McCleskey, Washington, D.C., office, $77,924; Jane K. Whilden, western N.C. office, $50,625 and Annette G. Hargett, director of the Eastern N.C. office, $58,109. Gov. Easley has no fewer than 20 aides listed as “administrative assistants.”

They are: Amy D. Blinson, $35,000; Beth Carpenter, $34,940; Lynn Coats, $37,843; Sherry Collier, $38,000; Edith Cox, $40,625; Henry Easley IV, $33,625; Annette Etheridge, $31,581; Andrea Haro, $32,625; Kevin Howell, $85,625; Renay Jennette, $28,625; Margaret Johnson, $55,000; John McHugh, $28,625; John Merritt, $139,000; Betty Miller, $48,000; Joan Page, $14,000; Sharon Peters, $29,590; Charles Poole, $52,725; Susan Rabon, 119,625; Faydean Robinson, $48,125; LaTonya Rogers, $24,174; Kamyelia Thornton, $28,196; and Oliver Upshaw III, $24,591.

Note: A number of these were listed previously because they had split duties. The total salary figure for the governor’s office is correct as reported by the Office of State Personnel. That figure, again, is $3,169,448.

Ten funded positions still vacant on June 6 were: administrative asst; public information assistant IV, military liaison, adm. asst I, policy asst., receptionist; exec. asst/admin; deputy press secretary, press asst. and admin. asst.

If these vancies are filled, the salary total for Gov. Easley’s office would be $4,026,680.

Not included in these salaries are other expenses such as those of highway patrolmen who protect and chauffeur for him, helicopter and plane expenses, printing, travel to governors’ conferences and other out-of-state meetings and many many other bills the state has to pay for him.

The next time a candidate for governor asks for your vote, ask him how many assistants it will take for him to do the job.