|OPINION AND COMMENT By Bob Weaver|
ELECTION REFORM - Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeff Kessler has come up with a good idea.
He believes West Virginia voters are fed up with special interest groups spending money (sometimes millions) on elections.
The most recent example is Don Blankenship's millions to elect a Supreme Court judge, or the election of a new Secretary of State.
Kessler says its time to publicly fund political campaigns.
The idea pops up pretty often around the US the past twenty years.
It is heralded under the banner of election reform.
Kessler is calling for a voluntary system that would free candidates from raising money so they could focus on getting their message out to voters.
Could the key word be "voluntary?"
Kessler said "I find it a bit distasteful and nearly obscene that people are spending $100,000 to get elected to a job that pays $15,000," but that happens all the time with the election of some WV legislators.
Kessler's committee is suggesting a pilot program to help the matter.
He says the plan should have a better chance this session because of publicity surrounding political corruption scandals.
Holding your breath?
Kessler would do well to reform a legal but corrupt system of allowing certain delegates and senators to pork the heck out of their districts, none of which is based on critical needs.
Del. Harold Michael (D-Hardy) has funneled millions from the Budget Digest, the Governor's Contingency Fund and closely-held funds to which he holds the purse strings.
House chair Bob Kiss says he is just doing what a good delegate does (with title and tenure), help his constituents.
Holding your breath?
BUYING BACK OUR WATER? - The City of Charleston is exploring the idea of buying back their water company, currently owned by a foreign conglomerate.
American Water Works (owned by a non-American multi-national corporation), owns most of WVs water companies and water companies around the USA. It is up for sale.
The city of Charleston is looking into buying — or condemning — all or part of their West Virginia-American Water.
The water company RWE wants either to sell American Water in its entirety to a group of investors or spin it off through an initial public offering, hampering Charleston's idea.
Water has followed WVs other precious national resources, being owned by out-of-state, now out-of-nation corporations.