We fear we may have hurt the widdle, biddie feelwings of our friends at the Williamson Daily News.
After pointing out that the “little local paper,” as Editor Kyle Lovern likes to call it (far be it from any of us to want to be a BIG local paper), defended obvious illegal activity on the part of some elected officials, the paper responded by letting one and all know that a little law-breaking for a good cause is okay.
Actually, we had refrained from calling the remodel of the Mingo circuit courtroom what it really is — a political and legal debacle. Because we felt — as we still do — that new Circuit Judge Miki Thompson and likely some other elected officials did not give sufficient thought to their plans, we were satisfied just to point out some of the problems created.
But since the Daily News has criticized us and anyone else who expects public things to be done in accordance with law, we will make one more attempt to point out the biggest obvious problem with the remodeling project.
One, the county commission is charged by state law with maintaining the courtroom. It i not the circuit judge, the county commissioner’s wife, members of the local bar or any other private citizen whose job it is to turn the courtroom into the “garden spot of the community.”
Thus, when Judge Thompson solicited donations from local attorneys to make the courtroom the dazzling center for parties and political programs, she was out of line. To her credit, the judge quickly realized that and returned all contributions and withdrew her solicitation.
Had that been the end of it, most people who believe in honest government would have been satisfied. But in Mingo government, nothing can seemingly end well.
Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith already had his wife, Christine, overseeing the project and bragging about what a great job she was doing to anyone who would listen. Smith is an attorney who regularly practices before Thompson. Does anyone see the APPEARANCE of impropriety here? Not Smith, apparently; not the judge, perhaps; and certainly not the Daily News, who praised disgraced Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury all the way to the penitentiary.
Since Mrs. Smith has appeared before such august bodies as the same county commission to speak glowingly of her accomplishments and close work with Thompson, one might suspect a bit of favoritism the next time her husband appears in Mingo circuit court. Again, perhaps that would never happen with these squeaky-clean public officials, but the appearance is clear.
We continue to wonder why a circuit courtroom needs to be the showcase of the community anyway. The last time we checked, those who violate the law are routinely tramped through there for justice. While we don’t suggest letting the building collapse, what exactly is the purpose of making it into the centerpiece for Hatfield-McCoy tour groups?
It is sad that the Daily News sat by as Mingo County was raped (figuratively at least) by former elected officials. The paper still appears to uphold lawbreakers who teeter on the edge of justice and see no reason the public payroll should not be padded with those who suspicious activities cast a shadow on the entire county.
Likewise, the paper sees no reason to question why the new Prosecutor makes no attempt to prosecute anyone for crimes uncovered and documented in paperwork prepared by federal investigators. Further, the encourage the sheriff to accept “anonymous” contributions to remodel the courtroom, even though such a practice would be patently illegal.
We can debate for days the purpose of a newspaper. But if it is to help dirty politicians cover their activities, we opt out of the equation. We have no bones to pick with any one group, as the Daily News suggests.
According to them, taking illegal contributions is simply a power struggle between two warring political factions. My goodness! Do they really believe that? What do political factions have to do with adhering to the law?
Let the Daily News continue to wander through the Looking Glass with Alice, seeing all sorts of strange but unusual things. We, on the other hand, intend to continue to simply tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.