02/14/07 — Time to go: Former House Speaker Jim Black has made right decision

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Time to go: Former House Speaker Jim Black has made right decision

If the news is correct, the ethics saga with former House Speaker Jim Black is almost over.

Published reports say that Black will plead guilty to federal charges this week and resign his post very soon after that.

And although there are a lot of reasons to thank Jim Black for the services he has rendered to North Carolina, the news that he is leaving is welcome and overdue.

Questions about his ethics and continued hearings involving his former associates have cast doubt on Black’s ability to lead, let alone his ability to get the state to concentrate on anything except his legal troubles.

When your service is more of a distraction than a help, it is time to do something else. And although he should have realized it earlier, the fact that Black has finally decided to do the right thing is a sign that he might have actually put North Carolina’s future first.

This will not be the last time a legislator is questioned about dealings with fundraising or perks. The new ethics rules are strict and sometimes a bit confusing.

But the Black ethics saga has become a distraction of maximum proportion at a time when this state has much more important issues to discuss. This is the time to look at education, Medicaid costs and ways to boost economic development and handle growth in the state.

Black’s departure will give our leaders a chance to get back to work.

Black has accomplished much in his tenure, but perhaps his most important contribution is allowing his state the chance to move on.

Published in Editorials on February 14, 2007 12:41 PM