|OPINION AND COMMENT by Bob Weaver|
INTRODUCTION - We have changed the name of this column from "Polynervousticks," which seemed much too confusing,
to "Mouth of the Elk," a phrase used by Alvin Engelke in his Creston News for many years. Alvin has given us permission to
use his steam.
The fascination is how differently we who live away from Charleston view the discussions and decisions, which often seem
oblivious to common sense and the common good as it relates to citizen taxpayers. It certainly becomes a "When in Rome"
thing for many legislators, who must join the powers that be to move an inch.
For example, there may be a few people who believe Gov. Bob Wise holds power and is in charge of the state.
You will discover how difficult it is to find out how legislators vote on issues, since such results are not readily available. Such
facts can be found by laborious research in one's spare time. There is no movement to change how votes are recorded and
available for public scrunity.
But it is comforting to know, when asked about their votes, they are always forthright and never lie.
BAD POLITICS TO APPROVE PROJECTS - The West Virginia Legislature,
when confronted with several towns wanting money from a $200 million
kitty for economic development, created a nine person board to decide
which initiative would be funded, the Wheeling downtown revitalization
project or a new ball park for Charleston, among others.
Now it seems these communities, or actually any community can apply for
the money, but it is likely the funding decision for the projects will be made
behind closed doors with little public input.
The committee would be excluded from the Freedom of Information Act.
More of the same old, same old, used by the former West Virginia economic
development agency, which operated under secrecy for years, doling out
money for projects and giving their own officials bonus checks for a job well
West Virginia remains at or near the bottom of the barrel in job creation, let
alone per capita or median income. Furthermore, GATT and NAFTA, Ross
Perot's "giant sucking sound (s)" is pulling hundreds and hundreds of jobs
out of West Virginia. The feds and corporate businessmen say we will all
benefit by world trade.
While many of the West Virginia projects may be worthwhile, the legislature
should not stick with bad politics to get there. The whole movement needs
to be revamped, quickly, part of a political promise Gov. Wise made to
eliminate such doings in state government.
ENRON VS. WHITEWATER - The Enron scandal has directly affected many
Some will say thievery is thievery, no matter what the price tag, but it is
worth noting the Clinton administration's Whitewater scandal was based on
the misuse of a $300,000 dollar government loan, with some other odds and
ends dollars tacked to the wrongdoing.
The Republicans spent $70 million with three prosecutors investigating
Clinton, his wife and their buddies, trying to prove inside complicity. They
said they were guilty, but they just couldn't deliver the case.
Now comes the worlds greatest money scandal of all times, certainly
involving significant members of both parties, with a ticket of $61 BILLION,
plus millions and millions of other losses associated with the
bankruptcy.The scandal is mostly connected to powerful monied interests of the Republician bunch, who might secretly want the "War on Terror" to go on indefinately.
Whitewater was barely a penny compared with this mess, which has
violated the pocketbooks of tens of thousands of common citizens, workers
and small business people. What happened to government oversight here?
My dad would say, most folks have become as "dumb as a bank mule."
If we spent a comparable amount to investigate Enron, it should cost the
taxpayers a few billion.
THE BLAME GAME - It seems strange, not being connected to coal
production, why the outrage of coal truck operators is directed toward those
in the West Virginia Legislature who favor the enforcement of weight limits
and protecting the lives of families on curvaceous mountain roads, eleven
being killed in the past year or so.
There is consistent destruction of roadways built to stand 30,000 pounds,
some trucks have been ticketed near 170,000 pounds, and what a price tag
that bears. The law says trucks can run up to 80,000 pounds on
It is a century old emotional triangulation, misdirected toward the wrong
subjects. Workers, politicians and citizens are held hostage to corporate
coal and their illegal endeavors. Politicians have long caved-in to overweight
coal hauling for decades.
My faint recollection of college economics says the enforcement of legal
coal limits would create more jobs, keep some people from getting killed
and help maintain the condition of the highways.
Have the truck operators been forced to buy these giant, expensive monster
trucks, which break the law, create safety problems and destroy
I understand the passion connected to one's job being threatened, but I
would suggest the coal truck operators consider who is to blame when they
circle the Capitol blowing their horns and scream about overweight tickets,
some now being written.
Furthermore, the failure to acknowledge the value of human life continues
into the 21st century. Life and labor still have considerable dispensability in
the coal industry. (SEE story on 3/10/2002 "Return to Buffalo Creek")