In addition to the nice puff piece mentioned below, Gerlach also submitted this letterto the editor of the Herald Sun in response to my op-ed. (right-hand column, fifth letter down – password may be required).
Allow me to respond to some of Mr. Gerlach's assertions.
I write to respond to Brian Balfour's ill-informed guest column regarding the Golden LEAF Foundation.
Gerlach comes with the insult right out of the gate. Obviously, the op-ed ruffled his feathers. But answer me this, Gerlach: was my summary of how you got your job as president of Golden LEAF "ill-informed?" So that our readers are properly informed, they can read a longer article I wrote on Golden LEAF here.
"Golden LEAF received hundreds of applications for the position, hired a consulting firm to aide in the process, narrowed the search down to four finalists who were all interviewed by the full board, but yet Easley still managed to convince the Foundation to delay their decision until Gerlach was freed up from his duties negotiating the state budget this summer.
Gerlach, it should be noted, did not submit an application prior to the initial application deadline. Naturally, Gerlach was awarded the position, along with its hefty $189,000 annual salary.
“Easley’s intervention seems like the clumsy move of a lame-duck governor to find an exit strategy for a top aide,” noted (Philanthropy Journal writer Todd) Cohen.
I find it curious that Gerlach finds time to scan the newspapers for any public criticism, but didn't find the time to actually apply for his job within the application deadline. No matter, he got the job anyway. Must be nice being in Easley's inner circle - "membership has its privileges" as they say.
Later in his letter, Gerlach attempts to justify Golden LEAF's (and therefore his cushy job) existence by predictably playing the sympathy card.
"Balfour's plan would cut out prospective investments in our poorest communities, and this should not happen. Rural and economically distressed communities struggle for resources that Balfour and others seem to take for granted."
Wrong. If these "prospective investments" are so worthwhile, they will still be funded. The funds will merely be shifted to the General Fund where they would compete with other budgetary obligations. But Gerlach apparently has a problem with this, expressing concern that the funds would "disappear" into the budget. Much better, in Gerlach's mind, to authorize a group of unelected, unaccountable political appointees and cronies like himself to allocate the money and avoid any debate.
North Carolina elects state leaders to make decisions of how to allocate state funds – but Gerlach wants to shield the Golden LEAF money from any such accountability and assume more power for himself. Never mind the extra $2.2 million in administrative costs (including his $189,000 salary) being diverted from "our poorest communities" to run the Foundation to do a job better left in the hands of elected officials.
Besides, there are already numerous state programs already in place that disburse and loan public fundsto "our poorest communities" – why is so much extra bureaucracy required? It wouldn't be that Gerlach wants to protect his job, would it?
Given the embarrassing nature in which he obtained his job as head of Golden LEAF, one would think Gerlach would want to keep a low profile for a while. But the sense of entitlement and the elitism of folks like Gerlach who think economic growth relies exclusively on the brilliance of his chosen, centrally-planned "investments" overcomes any sense of shame.