This editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer.
Never mind the fact that the state probation system lost contact with 15,000 offenders it was supposed to be monitoring, or that probation officers were overloaded with work, or that probationers were committing hundreds of murders.
Probation officials had a much dirtier problem on their hands in 2006 that required the full attention of two supervisors: Finding out who was responsible for tipping over a potted plant in probation supervisor Joyce James' office in Harnett County.
As reporter Joe Neff disclosed in Thursday's Observer and News & Observer, James was so incensed she demanded and got an immediate investigation that summer as to who committed the dastardly deed of interfering with her potted plant and causing it to keel over on her office floor when she came back to work.
That, of course, would be a major crime in any government office, surely taking precedence over probation violations, drug dealing, allegations of homicide or carrying government pens home.
So concerned about the crime was regional manager James Fullwood that he assigned probation officials from Alamance and Person counties to make several 80-mile trips to investigate the topiary toppling and find the pathological plant plunderer.
Alas, after two days and 21 interviews, a two-page investigatory report concluded, "It is undetermined as to whom or how the plant located in chief probation/parole officer James' office got overturned."
This cannot stand. Think of the consequences if state officials cannot find the troubled toppler. Whose verdant philodendron will next be pushed to the edge and over the precipice? Whose Norfolk pine might be clear-cut to the top of the plastic pot in which it reposes? Whose African violets might next be the object of abject violence?
To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.