POLYNERVOUSTICKS IN THE MOUNTAIN STATE - Secrets On The Public's Dime And Underwood Validates "Sludge Pot Award 2000"

(03/18/2001)

By Bob Weaver

WEST VIRGINIA SLIPS, UNDERWOOD SLUDGE POT WINNER - West Virginia has slipped in the management of state government, according to a national study of management practices. The state earned a C in "Governing" magazine, covering the past two years of Gov. Cecil Underwood's administration. At one time the state got a B.

I wonder if they noticed the bureaucrat who didn't pay the state's multi-million dollar phone bill for months on end. Or did they catch the story about Underwood's son-in-law William Vieweg, who continued to the last day in his Workman's Comp position to excuse $406 million due the State of West Virginia. Both Underwood and Vieweg worked for Island Creek Coal Company, which accounts for $128 million in unpaid charges. Of course, Mary Lou's Hair Boutique paid their share.

Hopefully they considered the several hundred thousands of taxpayer money Underwood gave to his staffers at the last minute as "bonuses," some of which has been returned, or the spending of millions of dollars from the emergency contingency fund to help hundreds of causes in the mountain state.

Underwood received The Herald's most "prestigious" honor in 2000 - "The Sludge Pot Award," Hopefully Underwood can now join Bill Clinton in the Hall of Shame. They can now go forth and appear at Rotary meetings and community functions, smiling and droning.

CLARKSBURG VA HOSPITAL PROBLEMS - A federal investigation is underway regarding misuse of funds at the Clarksburg VA hospital. The audit found unauthorized construction, misuse of funds and discard of official records.

BILL SOUGHT TO KEEP 911 RECORDS CONFIDENTIAL - A bill proposed by 911 directors in southern West Virginia was seeking to hold confidential 911 recordings or records without filing a suit or obtaining a court order. They claimed the public's rights could be violated, although they could not provide a single example of such. They said it was a precautionary measure. The accessing of 911 recordings by the Charleston Gazette in Welch relating to abuse by local state troopers, would have been difficult to obtain. The Senate on Friday declined to process the bill, saying it was contradictory to the Freedom of Information Act, which already has precautions.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DOCUMENTS HELD FROM PUBLIC - Dozens of citizens recently voiced outrage that a 21 page $250,000 report outlining the future of West Virginia's economic development is being withheld from the public. The state economic development people, who frequently give themselves bonus checks and claim confidentiality using taxpayer money, contend such information hurts the agency and their projects. This report was the funded by private and public money. Gov. Wise contends it should be released to the public and apparently will be.

SCHOONOVER BEING RELEASED - Former State Senator Randy Schoonover is being released from incarceration and a half-way house stay after being convicted for taking bribes on the government's time.

CLAY COUNTY STUDENT THREATENS - A Clay County High School student sent a threatening note to the school, apparently directed toward school personnel. Because of his juvenile status, the school system is declining to comment, saying it is not public information.


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