You have to give the Republican legislature credit. They certainly know how to push their agenda and really don’t appear to be concerned about the politics of silliness.I have earlier pointed out how the GOP seems to have a death wish when it comes to right-to-work, removing prevailing wage rates and handing everybody a gun. That’s simple enough to see. But when, as several Democrats ask, are the Republicans going to get around to some attempt to fix a broken state economy? Possibly never. I’m not even sure they know there is one.Let’s forget my passion on those hot-button subjects for a moment. I really have little opinion about tobacco users. I certainly don’t think they should be allowed to pollute public places where my grandchildren and yours are eating. On the other hand, I could support a proposal by a friend of mine that eating establishments simply be required to tell patrons at the door whether they are non-smoking or smoking. Then the customer can make the choice whether to go in or not.But be that as it may, I likely have just as many readers who smoke as those who think their one-year-old should be handed a pistol and taught “gun safety.” I do not write a column to gain popularity. I attempt it to tell the truth.So, why is it that, with the state teetering on bankruptcy, Republican legislators appear to have no interest in solutions? Perhaps because their logic is not shaped by what is good for the state.This week Delegate Mick Bates, a Raleigh County Democrat, issued a press release discussing the improvement of health in the Mountain State. He said, “The … legislature is missing an opportunity to stand up for West Virginia’s expectant mothers and children and against the interests of the tobacco industry.”Bates pointed out that Democrats have suggested a $1 a pack tax increase on tobacco products. The Delegate says Republicans have given little consideration to even Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s suggestion that the tax be raised by 45 cents. Bates said the Democrat proposal would dedicate some of the proceeds to bail out the troubled Public Employees Insurance Agency, decrease cancer and other disease rates around the state and fund substance abuse programs.Well, we surely can’t have something like THAT. Republicans are too busy making discrimination legal again, putting guns in babies’ hands and gutting labor laws.It is about time the Republican leadership moves forward with something to address the state’s finances. Thusfar, the performance has been dismal.* * * * * *As far as right-to-work and prevailing wages, it is easy to credit anyone with being responsible for these two new laws. Let me say this once again: I am not convinced right-to-work is bad but I can assure you a majority of Southern West Virginians do not support it.Thus, it is bothersome that a lot of the blame for right-to-work and removing prevailing wage rates lies right here in the Southern coalfields. As I mentioned earlier, the state Supreme Court — with the noted exception of Justice Robin Davis — sided with an unconstitutional section of Code in ignoring the will of the voters and ordering Tomblin to install a Republican in former Senator Daniel Hall’s Democrat seat.Beyond that, though, Mingo Countians can thank Democrats who are running for office this year for right-to-work becoming the law of the land. Delegates Justin Marcum and Phyllis White, along with County Commissioner John Mark Hubbard supported Republican Mark Maynard against their longtime nemesis, Senator H. Truman Chafin, in the 2014 election. In fact, cheers went up from this crew at their post-election party on Second Avenue when it was announced Chafin had lost.Thus, it can also be argued that Maynard’s vote swung the difference in the right-to-work debate. The bill passed the Senate, 18-16, along strictly party lines with the new Republican Senator, Sue Cline, voting for it along with Maynard. Then the same 18-16 margin overrode Tomblin’s veto of the bill.Had Chafin remained and Maynard been beaten, the worst the vote would have been would have been 17-17. A tie is a defeat in the legislature. Thus, the bill itself would not have been approved. No veto override would have even occurred.Those I have mentioned can cry that they did not support Maynard or that they “miss” Chafin now that he’s gone. Their comments on social media, and those of their supporters, indicate that they are continuing to attack Chafin until this day.I invite you to look at Chafin’s record. He would NOT have voted for right-to-work or to eliminate the prevailing wage rate. So, blame it on the right people … John Mark Hubbard, Justin Marcum and Phyllis White. No matter how they vote personally, they are responsible for these new laws.* * * * * *It remains my judgment that President Barack Obama has every right to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia. Obama was elected to serve a four-year term — not a THREE.Thus, a vacancy at the Supreme Court in 2016 should be filled by Obama. President Ronald Reagan filled a vacancy with 13 months left on his term; Obama has almost 11. It is HIS appointment, according to the American people who elected him.Some naive pundits and public have said Republican Senators would NEVER approve an Obama appointee. I beg to differ.For one thing, I have suggested the old Joe Manchin-Earl Ray Tomblin switcheroo. Let Obama resign as President, allowing Vice President Joe Biden to assume that office. Then Biden can appoint Obama. If anyone thinks the Senate would refuse to confirm their former member and an ex-President, he or she does not understand ANYTHING about politics.Beyond that, Obama COULD nominate any sitting Democrat attorney Senator and the Senate would confirm him or her. They are all in an exclusive fraternity. Republicans kid themselves by thinking this could not happen. They would not reject one of their own, even Vice President Biden.As I said, Obama has a right to this nomination. No matter how he does it, right wing tea partiers will be unhappy. But he CAN do it and I predict he will be successful.* * * * * *I just continue to ask the same question but it is still appropriate. Why do Mingo County officials ignore the plight of a young man who was beaten into a coma on Second Avenue nine months ago? Where are Sheriff James Smith, Prosecutor Teresa Maynard, County Commissioner John Mark Hubbard and the remainder who express no concern for the beaten man?Big Jim Hatfield, the County Clerk, cares enough to inquire. Gilbert Mayor Vivian Livingood does as well. So does Amber Mounts Bishop and Teresa McCune. They care.One cannot even shame the elected officials into asking about Dawson Isom or visiting him in a nearby nursing facility. I’ve tried. It does no good.When any of these who ignore this young man ask for your vote, tell them you will give them the same respect they give Isom. Vote for Big Jim, Mayor Livingood, Amber Bishop and Teresa McCune.* * * * * *Former Delegate Margaret Staggers had some great news last week, when she informed friends that her brother, former Congressman Harley O. “Buckey” Staggers, Jr. is home recovering from his illness.As I told his sister, Buckey Staggers and their father, former Congressman Harley O. Staggers, Sr., were from a different era when elected officials really were “public servants.” Who can forget the white-haired elder Staggers and the dignified manner in which he represented his constituents?Buckey Staggers is also a man who cares deeply for his state, his district and his country. Realignment to a district where his home in Keyser was somewhat misplaced, Staggers was retired from office in 1992. His father was elected from his old district 17 times. Buckey served five terms.Buckey lost re-nomination in a new district represented by another truly great Congressman, Alan Mollohan. Because of the district realignment, though, Democrat Bob Wise is actually listed as Staggers’ successor in some literature. That, of course, is not correct. Some historian is confusing district numbers coming to that conclusion.Be all that as it may, I remain convinced the Staggers family is truly one of the great West Virginia households. Both Congressmen Staggers represented their districts and their constituents well. Both had great hearts and minds. Buckey is certainly a state treasure.It is wonderful that he is home recuperating. Remember him in your thoughts — and the entire Staggers family.* * * * * *Your comments, story ideas, rumors and Republican election strategies are welcome. Use my listed email or call my cell, 304-533-5185.
by Ron Gregory