Editorial: Sending the wrong message

Dec. 31, 2012 @ 04:19 PM

When Pat McCrory takes the oath of office for governor this week, he’ll do so sending a pair of messages. One is flattering, the other contradictory to his campaign. We’re disappointed in the latter.

McCrory will be sworn in Saturday in the old House chamber at the state Capitol. The place is historic for many reasons, has been restored, but is not conducive to the attention a swearing-in ceremony creates in this generation.

It is a very private affair, and accessibility is so limited only one television camera and one reporter will be inside for the event. It’s called pool reporting, with a live feed streamed online.

In that regard, it’s open to all.

“The beauty of the place” is why it was picked, according to reports from McCrory’s team.

The state constitution allows the governor to take office the first day of January following the election. By going in on Jan. 5, McCrory will be in place before the General Assembly gathers next Wednesday, Jan. 9, to set rules and elect leaders. The session doesn’t begin until Jan. 30.

McCrory campaigned on openness and transparency. Granted, there’ll be no major deals brokered during the ceremony, but the state’s highest elected office should be treated special. Public ceremonies are preferred and, whether directly or indirectly, a message is being sent to constituents of “behind closed doors” activity.

That’s not good for McCrory or us.

Sending the message of being ready to get to work as soon as possible is applauded. Ironically, the Council of State meeting Jan. 8 will not take place.

Public inauguration activities take place a week from Saturday on the Capitol lawn, and McCrory will participate and give a formal address. He’ll be a week into the job.

The N.C. Press Association, of which The Dispatch is a member, joined other media organizations asking McCrory to allow full public access to the Jan. 5 ceremony. The NCPA is one of the oldest newspaper advocacy organizations and is a champion for government sunshine.

If we are to believe McCrory is going to be open and transparent, he should give us reason to believe it from Day One.