by Jeff Taylor
In case anyone is paying attention to the latest Speaker Jim Black travesty, this N&O dispatch on the House historian job Black created for a crony:
House Historian Ann Lassiter says she has been so overwhelmed with the work involved in writing a history of the N.C. House of Representatives that she may not finish it. Not to fear, history lovers — just 13 years ago, former Senate leader Henson Barnes published a book on legislative activities in both chambers.
Barnes wrote “Work in Progress: The North Carolina Legislature” while he led the Senate. It evolved out of his research into legislative powers that had accrued over time to the lieutenant governor. Barnes, a Democrat, persuaded his colleagues to take those powers away just as voters elected a Republican lieutenant governor. …
Barnes said he did not charge the public for his work on the book, which the state published.
Lassiter is being paid a $50,627 salary to write a history of the House, which she said she will not finish before the temporary job ends. She said she expects to finish a 20-page report on House speakers dating to 1963.
Lassiter’s job has sparked controversy. In April 2005, Black allowed her to retire as House page coordinator after learning she had sent pages to stay with her son, a felon with a history of drug and alcohol problems. Black then hired her a month later for a new job as House historian, despite her having little experience in such a position and no college degree. …
Black, a Mecklenburg Democrat, has justified the position, saying in a statement that “I was amazed when I learned that the Legislature did not have a detailed history of our chamber. … ”
He should have a copy of Barnes’ account. Black was in the legislature in 1993, when Barnes sent a copy to every member.
Thanks, Jim Black. Thanks a lot. Kinda sums up your career.