House divided will crumble

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 15, 2006

News-Herald Editorial

Is one person really responsible for the problems Northampton County faced with daycare subsidies?

We don’t think so.

While the Northampton County Commissioners used a letter by Chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill (D-2nd) to point the finger of blame at Social Services Director Dr. Al Wentzy, that letter missed several facts.

Did Dr. Wentzy and the DSS board start a waiting list when they should have? Probably not. Did they make efforts to curtail spending the way they should have? Absolutely not.

But while Dr. Wentzy and the DSS board may have failed in some aspects, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Certainly the General Assembly of North Carolina bears the brunt of the blame. To allot a certain amount for daycare and then allow changes in star ratings that cause daycare fees to soar with no resulting increase in the allotment is unfair at best.

The daycare workers themselves also bear some of the brunt of blame. Instead of going to the correct place to seek relief, they went to a political body and then applied political pressure to get what they wanted.

Instead of getting the problem solved, they are partially responsible for the ensuing mess in Northampton County.

Finally, the Northampton County Commissioners themselves are also partially at fault. They caved to political pressure.

The five members of that board knew the matter should have been directed to the DSS board, but that would have taken away their chance to be political heroes in an election year.

Instead of doing the right thing and referring the matter to the DSS board, they took it as their own. To now complain about the matter being cast on them is hypocritical.

It’s easy to take the way out that washes ones hands of all wrongdoing, but it isn’t the right thing to do. In this situation everyone involved could have done more.

Now that the mess is here, they can do something: work together to solve the issue.

The answer is not to dismiss Dr. Wentzy who has been a fine servant of the people of Northampton County. It is not to place the blame on the DSS board or the commissioners.

What should happen now is that everyone should join together to fix the current situation and to put plans in place so that something similar never happens again.

Instead of pointing a finger of blame, the groups should extend a hand of help.