August 19, 2014
By Ron Gregory
If we’d just send Shelley Moore Capito to Washington, the coal trucks would start rolling again.
Oh … wait … we’ve already sent her to Congress and … well, coal is in big trouble.
The lunacy of political campaigns would sometimes cause a sane person to crumble. Capito’s ads and campaign pronouncements make it appear her election to the U.S. Senate seat being given up by Jay Rockefeller would save West Virginia coal. I would suggest that if her work thus far in the House of Representatives is any indication of what she can do for coal, West Virginia should not base its future hopes on her election.
With the November election on the horizon, Mingo County’s Family Court judge position will apparently be on the ballot. County Clerk “Big Jim” Hatfield intends to place it there, although Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s staff still insists it is the governor who will name the judge for the remaining two years of the unexpired term. The Judicial Vacancy Commission has given candidates to be appointed until Tuesday of this week to apply.
Although the procedure to appoint a replacement is being followed, that does not mean an election cannot be held. The Vacancy Commission is simply doing what it is required to do by law. There’s currently a vacancy and they will interview, and then recommend, from two to five people to the governor for possible appointment. And, if Tomblin should happen to follow the law for once, he would make an appointment within 30 days. Still, the people (remember them, governor?) can select a permanent replacement at the Nov. 4 election.
I suspect Tomblin will do the politically correct thing and name “Duke” Jewell to the spot. Since Jewell is the only candidate who would appear on the November ballot anyway, the governor can make the whole thing moot. Sort of. It still would demonstrate an absolute disdain for the people’s right to choose their own Family Court judge.
Incidentally, the names of those who apply for any of these judge positions is supposed to be public record the minute the deadline for applications passes. But the Judicial Advisory Commission typically takes the position that they will let the governor release the names, which may take days or weeks. It gives Tomblin’s chief counsel, Peter Marcum, time to decide who he wants to appoint.
As mentioned earlier, it might be nice if state government decided to follow the law for a change.
Since Larry E. Rogers qualified for an independent run for the House of Delegates in the 24th District, there is at least a race there. The coal baron’s favorite, Democrat Rupie Phillips, will have some competition in holding on to his seat.
Speaking of which, campaign financial reports make it clear that Democrat/Republican Evan Jenkins is the darling of coal operators. More than $2 million is being expended by groups allied with Massey Energy to unseat Third District Democrat Congressman Nick Rahall.
I am not one who thinks coal operators are the villains in the coal picture, but there are many who will question Jenkins’ credentials when they look at his financial supporters.
As will those who look at the books on Phillips.
There were no political fights reported in Mingo County last week. Perhaps the unseasonably cool weather is keeping the pugilists inside.
There also were no more elected officials indicted, revealing target letters or resigning from office in Logan County. Let’s see … there have been no current officials indicted, revealing target letters or resigning at this point.
I am confident, however, that WVOW-FM is still on top of this. They will release names of the four people who got earlier target letters on a “need-to-know” basis.
Boone County’s Democrats got together Sunday at Waterways. Interestingly, that water park is actually located in Lincoln County but is operated by Boone County officials. I once asked Lincoln County Commission President Charles McCann for a copy of paperwork that made that transfer official. He never found any. I still wonder about it, frankly.
I have always found Mark Plants to be a nice person. I also believe his former wife, Allison, is wonderful. It is amazing that a personal dispute has simply disrupted Kanawha County government but it has. Hopefully, the courtroom and personal drama will stop sometime. Meanwhile, the Kanawha County Commission has done its job and will let the courts decide.
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant insists that it is not her office, but legal precedent, that the names of those signing a nominating petition are not public information. That means, apparently, that she would release the names if she could.
As always, your comments, story ideas, gossip and personal disputes are always welcome here. Use my email or call my cell, 304-533-5185.