POLYNERVOUSTICKS - The Shape Of A Dog's Hind Leg, Will Of The People And State Police Lawsuits Increase Their Budget

(02/11/2002)

Bob Weaver

"Crooked'er than a dog's hind leg," my daddy use to say about some Charleston politicians, no more evident than the "legal" stealing of $400 million from the residents of West Virginia by coal companies from Workman's Compensation. They "out sourced" or contracted the labor, which made them exempt.

Charleston politicians, both Democrat and Republican, turned eyes away from the corporate giants when they hired temporary contractors to dig coal, excluding them from paying Workman's Compensation fees.

Now the state is reveling in their efforts to collect $50 million. The coal politicos from the Underwood administration had let them go, declaring it was a good thing, while filing Workman's Comp suits against beauty salons, restaurants and small business people.

Say it ain't so politicians gave special treatment?

OVERLOADED COAL TRUCKS - A bill to increase the fines and reduce weight limits on coal trucks that often double the legal weight limit (160,000 pounds) may be dead in legislative committee. During the past few years a rash of deaths have occurred in coal truck and auto accidents, mostly in southern West Virginia.

Mingo County Senator Truman Chafin wants to study the problem some more, he said in a Metro radio interview, and he needs more time to listen to the will of the people. Wonder what the "will" would be of those who got crushed, the 11 dead these past 18 months, along with dozens maimed and injured? What would their families say?

Chafin joins the parade shifting controversial issues back to the counties, a trend in Charleston legislation, like Sunday Hunting and ATV laws. Marion County delegate Mike Caputo-D said imposing more restrictions on coal trucks would spell economic disaster to the coal industry.

Highway department Fred VanKirk said it would take $2.8 billion to bring state roads up to standard to actually handle overweight coal trucks.

Say it ain't so, Truman?

STATE POLICE UP FOR RAISE - Plagued with problems which the legislature refuses to address, the austere body is proposing a $804 pay raise for the State Police, while the police are surveying their rank and file about unionization.

The legislature has refused to address problems related to internal review of police misconduct, green-on-green investigations, a system that has raised the ire of hundreds of West Virginians who have been affected.

Col. Howard Hill is asking for $7.5 million to fully fund the agency, claiming lawsuits against the police have taken a heavy toll.

The financial problems and unionization comes at a time when record numbers of misconduct charges, criminal complaints and civil suits have been filed against officers. Additionally, record numbers of lawsuits are pending with troopers suing their own agency.

Say it ain't so, Col. Hill.


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