MOUTH OF THE ELK - How'ya Doin' Lloyd, Dave, Bobby, Alice, Billy Wayne, Earl Ray And Jerry

(04/05/2004)

OPINION AND COMMENT By Bob Weaver

It has been a fascinating few weeks, the media revealing the not uncommon practice of politicians and bureaucrats zealously dipping into the taxpayer trough to get a buck.

We're not talking about basic salaries and benefits here.

We are talking about dividing up the seed corn.

From a quietly tucked bill to increase the State School Superintendent's salary at least $60,000 a year, to the nearly half-million dollar salaries of the directors of Wyoming County's Senior Center and the Northwood's Mental Health Center in Wheeling.

Sen. Billy Wayne Bailey, who works for the Wyoming senior center, has slipped a cool $800,000 from the Budget Digest to Robert Graham, the director of the center for whom he works, the half-mil guy.

Fading is concern over the salary of Lincoln County's senior service director Alice Tomblin at $137,000 and her own CPA who makes about $75,000, and whose operation provides few services to few people, according to the Bureau of Senior Services.

Ms. Tomblin's center is appropriately chartered as the Lincoln County Opportunity Company, Inc.

Then there is Delegate Jerry Mezzatesta, with ethics questions about drawing two public paychecks, one from the Hampshire County school system as a grant writer and another from the Legislature, a total of about $100,000.

Delegate Mezzatesta is the shaker and mover over the legislature's education committee.

Mezzatesta and the Hampshire County school board agreed with the West Virginia Ethics Commission in 1999 he would not dip into state funds, but last month he went to School Superintendent President David Stewart for a $70,000 grant for his county, which he received without a written request.

Mezzatesta slipped a cool $1.1 million to Hampshire schools from last year’s Budget Digest.

The Digest is a fascinating exercise to maintain incumbents in Charleston, although incumbents like Del. Bill Stemple who represent small counties get the crumbs and are told the digest is capitated on population.

Mezzatesta's behavior has been similar to an action toy - when upset he would immediately go into combat, slugging and firing weapons.

He surely must have broken his own tantrum record in 2004.

Nearly all these servants are well-connected to gubernatorial candidate Lloyd Jackson, a former state senator, state school board member and "education czar of West Virginia."

Jackson is the architect of consolidation and centralization in West Virginia, closing community-based schools and moving local school board control to Charleston.

Lincoln County, which Jackson claims is home while living in Charleston, has been up in arms with the millionaire oil and gas businessman for several years. So much so, the Democrat county elected a write-in Republican against Jackson, although he returned to the Senate with votes from other counties.

Jackson's policies over school consolidation, a concept mostly forsaken around America, have been like a steamroller over West Virginia's small communities.

Now at stake is the most expensive school ever built in the state, the $30 million Lincoln County school at Hamlin, which has involved closing community schools and causing bus rides which sometimes exceed one hour and forty minutes one way.

Those policies, based on economies of scale, promised to save money and provide better educational opportunities for children. They're doing neither.

While we haven't touched on Earl Ray's history with greyhounds and gambling, the end result is my irrational decision - don't vote for anyone south of Charleston.


Hur Herald ®from Sunny Cal
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