I would ordinarily fall in with the 65% of West Virginians who clearly don’t care if Governor Jim Justice ever pays a personal bill, tax or fee. In two election cycles, Mountain Staters either ignored stories of Justice’s tons of debt or decided it was unimportant.
As noted, I would usually agree that conclusion.
But when every day brings new revelations of massive Justice debt, it finally becomes alarming.
And it becomes concerning as much for the distraction it creates as anything else. If the Justice financial collapse occupies the time and resources of most of the state’s news media, how much does it have to take Justice away from his gubernatorial duties? There are only so many hours in a day.
I thought Justice made it clear on the campaign trail in 2016 that he did not intend to live in the Governor’s Mansion. In fact, I wrote about it. Except for the fact that living in Lewisburg while governor is unconstitutional, I guess there’s nothing wrong with it.
And why worry about a little thing like the constitution? It doesn’t cause any real concern when it comes to spending billions of pandemic dollars or governing by executive order.
As big government has slowly eroded America’s freedom, Governor Justice could well be the poster child for the total collapse of individual liberty — except his own, of course.
He can do whatever he wants and a legislative supermajority and “conservative” Supreme Court backs him up.
Let’s be clear on that. Jim Justice would not be the all-powerful, all-knowing dictator he has become without at least the passive approval of a supposedly liberty-loving Republican legislature. And when he takes a conservative court months to try to justify its reasoning to okay his improper legislative appointment, that just adds to it.
Frankly, I don’t blame Justice for the current state of affairs nearly as much as 134 legislators who let it happen. While there are clearly a few who have stood up and represented the people, most have not.
That’s one reason I’m interested in seeing the 2022 campaigns of some of these very-patriotic Republican incumbents. When the cards and mailers proclaim their defense of liberty, I hope they’ll provide examples of just how they have defended it.
We’ll definitely be asking for explanations.
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Justice remains a fascinating figure in many ways. He is certainly unique among the governors I’ve observed going back to Cecil Underwood’s first term.
Speaking of which, I know it brings frowns from many readers when I discuss my idea of the best governors in my lifetime. I’ve no doubt about the best the state ever had. That was the late Republican Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. One had to live here during the Moore years to know the difference.
The finest Democrat governor was the late William Wallace (Wally) Barron. Oh yes, I know both he and Moore had legal difficulties. But the state prospered and moved forward at high speed with those two in charge. They were not preoccupied with their personal lives and finances as Justice is.
Look at the progress and accomplishments: Moore and Barron head the list. Others have been adequate and some are great people. I’m clearly a fan of now-Senator Joe Manchin and ex-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
But Moore and Barron set high standards for performance that are impossible to beat.
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Even with three-and-a-half years left, I can tell you now that Justice won’t come close to topping those two.
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Those who worked closely over the years with the newest member of the state Public Service Commission will have no questions about the honesty and integrity of Bill Raney.
In his longtime role as a coal executive and head of the West Virginia Coal Association, I saw Raney for nearly 30 years at the legislature and other locations advocating for West Virginia coal.
There’s no doubt coal now has a real friend on the PSC. But I know Raney well enough to know he will always do what he thinks is right. The citizens of the state gain an outstanding advocate with Raney in a PSC chair.
Far left wing environmentalists are horrified at Raney’s appointment. “A coal baron (Justice) appoints a coal advocate,” they proclaimed when told of the appointment.
It’s too bad they believe only left wing whackos can make honest decisions in the best interests of the public. Given a chance, Raney will show them he is fair.
Of course those who want coal to die will blame Raney for any logical PSC decision that breathes life into our blàck gold. He will be their villain, given no chance to prove his fairness.
“I am very excited that Bill has been appointed to the Public Service Commission,” said PSC Chairwoman Charlotte Lane in a statement. “I have worked with Bill for 40 years and am very much looking forward to working with him on the commission for the benefit of all West Virginians.” Lane is a former state legislator and a straight shooter as well.
Raney served for 28 years as president and chief executive officer of the West Virginia Coal Association. He retired from that role on January 1 and was replaced by Coal Association Vice President Chris Hamilton.
He replaces former Kanawha County state senator and real estate developer Brooks McCabe on the PSC. McCabe’s term expired June 30. He was appointed to the PSC in 2014 by former Governor Tomblin.
The PSC is made up of three members who serve six-year terms. The commissioners are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the West Virginia Senate. The PSC regulates electric, natural gas, telephone, and water/sewer utilities. The PSC also regulates solid waste carriers, taxis, towing, commercial transportation, and rail.
While agreeing that Raney will be “fair and honest,” a former Kanawha County Democrat legislator summarized his thoughts. “It just sends the wrong message,” he said.
I don’t think so if the “message” is honesty and integrity.
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As I mentioned, it is worrisome when every day brings new reports of debts, taxes and fees owed by the Governor and his companies.
The latest was word that they owe nearly $300,000 in real estate taxes in Raleigh County.
Among the contradictions that his deadbeat tax situation creates is the image of the white-haired governor traveling the state with State Police charged with minding the pet BabyDog. And they’re handing out prizes “won” by West Virginians for taking the life-saving Covid vaccine.
Do you figure he spends time on the cell phone he uses to run the state on the line trying to salvage his private companies? Surely not.
As Ogden Newspapers properly pointed out, his forays around the state that require his state plane to be in Lewisburg to transport he and BabyDog around testify that he doesn’t live in Charleston, as he promised.
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But Justice didn’t put his personal businesses in blind trusts when he became Governor as he promised either.
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Word from Lewisburg is that Justice’s sister is visiting for the weekend. Hmmm. She’s not at the Mansion?
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If the Governor somehow has his 2024 eye on the U.S. Senate seat of Democrat Joe Manchin, that would appear to me to be a lost cause.
There’s no doubt Republican Secretary of State Mac Warner wants Manchin’s job and there will be others.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey feels somewhat entitled to the GOP nomination since he carried the party banner in 2018 against Manchin.
Morrisey gave the senior senator quite a run then and is more or less the heir apparent.
But the AG also toys with the idea of being governor, which might open the door to Warner or someone else to take on Manchin.
Republican Treasurer Riley Moore will be governor some day but maybe not in 2024. That leaves a potential opening for Auditor J.B. McCuskey to make a run.
All the Republican board of public works officials support two term limits. Morrisey is already exceeding that and Warner and McCuskey will be wrapping up their second terms in 2024.
Watch for some attorney members of the legislature to run for Attorney General in three years as well.
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Despite the number of potential Republican Senate candidates, Manchin will be tough to beat.
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I’ve said about all there is to say about the Mingo County Commission vacancy. As Putnam County attorney supreme Harvey “Ask the Expert” Peyton reminded me years ago, I’m not a lawyer.
But I can read. And if Audrey Smith is qualified to replace her late husband as a Mingo commissioner, I surely flunked some elementary English comprehension class. She was a registered independent when he passed. She was not a Republican like he was.
Attorney General Morrisey said it best a few weeks ago. “We told them (Mingo officials) to read the law. It’s clear.” Somehow, it may have gotten muddied since but it sure still looks the same to me.
Officials are now waiting for Morrisey to clarify the situation.
As he said days ago, it was already clear before bureaucrats decided to confuse it.
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One intriguing aspect of the handling of the Mingo appointment is that “county commissioner” was substituted for “county clerk” when the Secretary of State’s office advised that a “temporary 30-day member” could be appointed.
They hang most of their hat for asserting that Audrey Smith can serve on that code section that, if read literally, has NOTHING to do with a Commission vacancy.
We’ll see what Morrisey recommends.
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At 5:30 p.m., August 24, the Huntington Cabell Republican Women will host an ice cream social at the 4H Camp in Barboursville.
There will also be a Time, Talent and Treasure Auction with both silent and live items.
Organizers say any support would be greatly appreciated. A sign-up sheet for individual donations is available at hcrwomen.org.
If you have any questions, contact Kit Muth or Anne Dandelet.
Signup for a Time, Talent or Treasure Donation here: https://tinyurl.com/vm2j3z6j
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It must be a desperate feeling to crave relevance and never find it. On the other hand, former Logan State Senator Richard Ojeda was slightly relevant for a while.
He blew it; not his opponents.
Nobody forced Ojeda to outgrow the pants stuck neatly in his boots. He was not forced to resign as a state senator to run a hopeless campaign for President or an equally impossible race for House of Representatives. He did it all on his own — with a little help from outspoken, unrealistic supporters like ultra-liberal attorney Teresa Toriseva of Wheeling.
Now Ojeda is without public office and apparently not doing too well in his fund raising for No Democrat Left Behind. So he, with Toriseva’s expertise, is suing Republican State Senator Rupie Phillips of Logan for using his (Ojeda’s) voice in some commercials last year.
It’s safe to say Phillips and Ojeda dislike each other. It’s also reasonably safe to say this is a lawsuit without much merit but it keeps Ojeda’s name in the news.
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Former Mingo County Democrat Justin Marcum appeared in a strange piece of news recently as well.
Marcum, a Williamson attorney, has sued Old Spice deodorant for causing severe burns and rashes on his skin.
In addition, a Mingo County couple has sued Marcum and others for injuries allegedly sustained at a party at Matcum’s office in 2019.
Michael and Kelly Bucci filed their complaint in Mingo Circuit Court alleging Michael Bucci was injured in a fall when a defective porch rail broke. Marcum has denied the allegations.
Ron Gregory is a regular political columnist and reporter for lootpress.com. Contact him with political rumors or story ideas at 304-533-5185; email@example.com or P.O. Box 20297, Charleston, WV 25362. Your anonymity is assured when requested.