by Ron Gregory
It is not difficult to believe “political retaliation” would be the chief reason for dismissing a faithful, qualified public servant.
Whether that is what has happened in Boone County (and other places in the coalfields) remains to be determined in the proper venue. However, general observations make some things clear.
It is safe to say nobody is exaggerating when they say Susan Baisden is among — if not the — most knowledgeable Assessor employee in the state. I know this: I have never asked her a question regarding the office that she did not immediately know the answer to. In fact, if a Code site was involved; she’d quickly tell me where to find it.
Her former boss, Assessor Jennings Miller, also a devoted public servant if there ever was one, decided to run for his old job as Sheriff last year. He lost to incumbent Randall White. Interestingly, White’s wife, Pam, serves as assistant to the County Commission. All things considered, the Whites yield a great deal of power in Boone County.
It is safe to say Randall and Pam White were not thrilled that Miller ran against the Sheriff. With Miller running for Sheriff, the Assessor position was thrown open and Baisden filed. Despite a background that included several questionable financial dealings on his part, she was defeated by Scott Cook.
Enter “political retaliation.” Most folks at the courthouse and beyond realize Baisden was in a unique position by being the Chief Deputy. As one other Boone politician put it, “chief deputies are really about the only place where any elected official has an option. All the other employees are usually protected from firing.”
Both Miller and Baisden know county government inside and out. They realized Miller, during the final seven months of his term, could have simply changed Baisden from the chief’s position to another spot in the office. They chose to be honest and forthright. Since she basically “ran” the office and was the most knowledgeable person there, she stayed where she belonged.
None of this shows any disrespect toward Miller. He was the ELECTED Assessor and he did the job well. But being the top dog meant he had to deal with many more things than just tax assessments, exonerations and adhering to every law on the books. Baisden was his “right hand.” She knows how the inter-workings must go.
Cook has done a disservice to himself and Boone County citizens by letting Baisden go. The past Friday, he finally told her it was her last day. This, despite a majority of the County Commission recommending she be kept and assuring Cook there were sufficient funds to pay her salary.
Baisden will land on her feet, regardless. Hopefully, it will be back in the Boone County courthouse. It would be nice, for a change, if Cook saw the light and rehired her.
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Gosh, isn’t it sad that the Bernie Sanders event in Welch has been cancelled? Apparently there was some question about the proper venue for his appearance.
The progressive dinosaur who challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democrat Presidential nomination despite being an Independent still planned to be at a book signing in Charleston.
Sanders, who says he fell “in love” with the people of McDowell County during last year’s primary, is about as in-step with West Virginians as … for once, I’m afraid to say.
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Sanders is the Independent senator who caucuses with Democrats but that didn’t slow WCHS-TV’s news anchor from proclaiming him a “progressive Democrat” when discussing his appearance here. Nobody ever said a news anchor had to understand politics to be an expert on it.
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Interestingly, former Putnam County Delegate Michel Moffatt, who may not understand that he lost his race for re-election, keeps showing up at the capitol. Early word was that the New Yorker or Pennsylvanian or whatever state he claims today had gone with his working wife to Texas after the loss. She, in fact, appears to be the family bread winner while it is difficult to find where Moffatt ever actually held a job.
On social media, however, he still says he lives in Putnam County. Perhaps he plans to launch another political career from that base. If he does, Moffatt will no doubt still be exercising his vast knowledge of the operation of the Lincoln Public Service District, a Kanawha County water utility.
As the PSD’s board chairman, I attempted to preside at meetings where Moffatt would either interrupt discussions to lecture on his superior knowledge or take some audience member outside to give THEM a course in what to say to be disruptive. Moffatt continued, as late as this week, making accusations about me during my tenure at the PSD. Now, instead of he and his posse saying I “stole” $232,000 from the PSD or that $232,000 is missing, he says I “cost” the PSD that amount.
My fellow board member and I have been attempting, since 2015, to learn WHAT $232,000 Moffatt and his friends are referring to. We have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the PSD only to be ignored. My fellow board member filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission, who said they had no jurisdiction over FOIA requests, and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who simply ignored his request.
The Lincoln Journal, my former employer, appeared in 2014 and 2015 to enjoy quoting those who spoke of the “missing” $232,000. Nowhere have I seen any indication that they had or have an earthly idea where there EVER was $232,000 to become “missing.”
Speaking of political retaliation. I’ve seen it many times.
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Count me opposed to the Governor Jim Justice proposal to cut $4.6 million from Public Broadcasting, although I have never been a major supporter of the whole public radio and tv concept.
I am still Republican enough to figure that if the public really WANTED what public TV offers, they’d be glad to pay for it through advertising or some other source. Same goes for this newspaper, by the way.
So, COULD Justice cut all funding to public media out? Surely. Would I be devastated if he did? No.
On the other hand, I would certainly miss “Mountain Stage” and “Prairie Home Companion.”
Pull the money from them, however, and they likely would learn to survive. It’s call capitalism, folks.
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Last week, a five-year-old was shot by a sibling on Prudence Road in Oak Hill. The victim was rushed to the hospital and an early report said Child Protective Services was investigating.
Who CPS SHOULD be investigating is wild-eyed Republican legislators and their fan clubs who vow to put guns into the hands of every living soul in the state. Yes, of course, I’ve heard the tried and true, “guns don’t kill; people do.” But why arm these dumb asses with guns to make the job easier? And guns are made for one purpose: to kill or harm someone or something. On the other hand, the cars that gun lovers will cite as causing deaths do serve useful purposes otherwise. Try walking to your job in Charleston from Madison and try to see the value of a car.
The Second Amendment begins, “a well-regulated militia.” THAT’S what the amendment is about: the well-regulated militia. I accept that as the military and law enforcement. Take the damn guns away from everybody else and gun deaths will fall to record lows. No doubt about it.
I totally disagree with President Trump, who I voted for, on this issue. I would hope that his Supreme Court nominee will, if confirmed, be willing to fall on the side of common sense constitutionality and give guns only to those who the Second Amendment identifies.
CPS workers should stop by the capitol, walk up to Republican legislators, Independents like Rupie Phillips and NRA darling Daniel Hall and say, “how many babies have to die for you to give a damn about it?”
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One of the first moves by new Finance Secretary Dave Hardy, former Kanawha County Commissioner, at the statehouse was to fire long-time legislator and employee John Doyle. The former House member was a common sight around the capitol during all sessions, working hard for his division and constituents. Some have expressed a reason why Hardy would summarily terminate Doyle but I plan to look into it further before commenting.
What? I don’t spread a rumor without foundation? What has come over me in my old age?
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Your comments, story ideas, rumors, and examples of political retaliation (such a rare sight in West Virginia) are always welcome. Use my email listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185. And if you find that $232,000, give me a call.