MOUTH OF THE ELK - Were The Powerful And Hungry Feather Together

(03/23/2002)

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 done.

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 West Virginians.

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 interstates.

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 highways?

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")


Hur Herald ®from Sunny Cal
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