by Dick Hall-Sizemore
In comments to the post about the resignation of Jillian Balow as Superintendent of Public Instruction and her severance pay, I asserted that her appointment was subject to the pleasure of the Governor. I was wrong.
The heads of almost all agencies, by law, serve at the pleasure of the Governor. (There is one exception, but more on that later.) However, the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction is established in the Virginia Constitution, which provides that the appointment shall be “for a term coincident with that of the Governor making the appointment.” The constitution does authorize the General Assembly to modify the term of office. However, the Virginia Code section mirrors the language in the constitution. Accordingly, as The Washington Post noted, Balow may have had grounds to sue if she had been fired.
The agency head who is not appointed by the Governor and does not serve at his pleasure is the Director of the Department of Wildlife Resources (formerly Game and Inland Fisheries). That person is appointed by the Board of Wildlife Resources. The story on that goes back into the mists of time (early 1970s). Suffice it to say that hunters and fishermen in Virginia were a strong lobby.