MOUTH OF THE ELK - Whose Not At The Table, No Place Called Home

(02/20/2004)

Opinion and Comment BOB WEAVER

Who's not present at the table often decides public policy.

There have been more drug company lobbyists in Charleston than "you can shake a stick at" afraid that West Virginia is going to pass legislation that might allow its citizens to purchase medication at a rate less than their current outrageous prices.

I thought about my neighbor who is trying to ante up money for his prescriptions, about a $1000 a month.

He is not at the table, although there are a few folks who are trying to represent him in Charleston.

The governor appointed a commission this week to study the consolidation of counties, which on the surface seems sensible and reasonable.

Folks from small, rural counties (or opponents to consolidation) have not been invited to the table.

The elimination of small, rural, county communities that the Charleston Daily Mail wrote "never amounted to much anyway" has momentum, always suggesting it will save money.

There has been little evidence of that, ever.

The small communities are not at the table.

I recently recalled a major conference on poverty in Appalachia held in Huntington a few years ago put on by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

When I looked around, there were no unemployed, working class or "poor folk" attending. Folks flew in on the jet, rode their nice cars to the Holiday Inn and all ate from the bountiful buffet.

The poverty stricken were not at the table.

This week Linda Martin of Challenge WV spoke to the legislature's education committee in Charleston about a bill before the legislature to shorten bus rides. Angered, the educational bureaucracy is spinning it is going to cost millions of dollars to rebuild the transportation system.

It is not retroactive and nothing is further from the truth.

While most West Virginia's (80%) say they are opposed to building giant multi-million dollar schools and busing kids an hour or more each way, the education folks ignore them.

They build big buildings that are far more costly to operate than smaller, energy efficient community schools.

To their credit, they have now quit saying it will save money.

But the opponents are rarely at the table.

Linda Martin was at the table this week, speaking as an activist for small community schools which she says improves the education of children.

Education chairman Jerry Mezzatesta became so upset with her outspoken nature, he left the meeting getting the legislative "police" to determine if she'd violated "something".

The arrogant behavior of Mr. Mezzatesta was far more outrageous than Ms. Martin's passioned speech.

He certainly did not want her at the table.

In this world of centralization, consolidation and merger, or in government where governing is taken away from the citizens of a community, upward to Charleston and then to Washington and beyond, little is left behind.

Roots and community, once a part of the American Way, is quickly fading.

We are left with no place called home.


Hur Herald ®from Sunny Cal
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