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Mountain Messenger
Lewisburg, West Virginia
February 25, 2017     Mountain Messenger
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February 25, 2017

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4- Mountain Messenger - February 25, 2017 - The Weekend Paper For The Greenbder Valley The Back Pew By Stephen Baldwin One-quarter of the legislativesession is over. Here is what is happening this week. FRONTIER PROJECT IN RAINELLE. Last week I met with off~cials from Frontier Communications and re- ceived very good news. In the wake of the flood, they have invested $750,000 in a new phone & internet system for Rainelle! They tell me the new system will provide faster in-, ternet and more reliable phone service. Each customer must be manually transferred to the new system, and that will be- gin the week of Feb 20. When you are transferred to the new system, you will lose service for 15-60 minutes. (If it's out longer than that, call Frontier.) It will take them a few weeks to transfer everyone. I thank Frontier for their investment in our community, and I thank Scott Yates and his team who will do the work in the coming months. CAMPAIGN FINANCE BILL. Under the law now, a legislator can hold a political fundraiser during the legisla- tive session not report that until months later. I think that's wrong! So I co-sponsored HB 2193 which passed the House this week. It requires legislators who raise campaign funds during session to publicly report those contributions within five days. It's a good step in the right direction, which I hope will open the door to further, more comprehensive campaign finance reform. WVSOM. The bill to privatize WVSOM is dead. WV- SOM will remain a state institution, and I believe that is a good thing for everyone. WVSOM deserves to be treated like the gem that it is moving forward, so I am working with the Legislature to ensure it has the flexibility and support it needs to thrive. LITTER. If you aretired of seeing litter along the roads and in our neighborhoods, so are we. This week the House passeda bill significantly increasing the fines and commu- nity service required for those convicted of littering. We've got to do a better job taking care of this beautiful planet God gave us. VISITS. If you come to Charleston for a legislative re- ! / Commentary P~o MoLarS, Produc0on Layout Am-nda WeC, m~n, Production Layout Tom Ch~ront, Production Layout Jeamlte All.ugh, Typese(ter Ju~e SweeL M Dwgn M ,Ad DeCgn Naon~ Chdstlan, Ofllce ~t Mk:l~ ,Sho*~, F.d~r & Pul~Cler Sllrah Mamllt~m, Managlng Editor Peggy ~, Edl~o Mark ~, W~er Kathy l, M1ter, ~ Luh D~z, Ao~ Chr~ ~, Tech Sul~o~ The Mmmtain Messenger is a weekly publication. Periodicals postage paid at Lewisbtng, West Virginia. The known office of publication is Box 429, Lewisburg, WV 24901 USPS O31784 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE MOUNTAIN MESSENGER Box 429, Lewisburg,. WV 24901 MBMll~ Subscribe to the Mountain Messenger SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Mailed to Greenbrier and Monroe Counties, $29.95 Mailed, in State (WV) $35.00; Mailed; out of State $39.00 Phone (304) 647-5724 Name Address Phone Number Email Address Total Amount Enclosed WE ACCEPT VISA, MASTERCARD, DISCOVER & AMERICAN EXPRESS Account No. Expiration Date CVV # Signature "l'he Mountain Messenger Box 429, Lewisburg, WV 24901 Vkit us at Letter to the Editor Jhn Justice: Is the fox in ception or association meeting, please reach out to let me know about it. day, multiple groups host lunches and charge of the hen house? evening receptions. I can't attend them all, but I want to at- Dear Editor: tend yours when you come to town! Jim Justice is probably the wealthiest person in West Vir- TOWN HALL. Because of the gravity of the budget ginia. Records suggest his father gave him assets worth $25 choices we face, I will hold town hall meetings next week- million. His wealth is now estimated to be over $1.6 billion. end in Raineile and Ronceverte to lay out those choices and He apparently owns over 50 companies, primarily in coal, ag- listen to your perspective on what choices we should make. riculture and resorts. How did he do it? Going from a million- I will announce dates and times when those details are con- aire to a billionaire requires some special talent, some special firmed, ideas. Could you do the same? Here is one approach. Reliable data suggests Governor Jus- That's the view from the back pew this week. Take care! flee has not paid State taxes in years. Estimates suggest he (Delegate Stephen Baldwin is a localpastor andmember owes over $15 million in back taxes and fines. At least $5.4 of the WV House. You may reach him at 004) 340-3131 or million is owed in unpaid coun taxes. These are careful es- timates, but only estimates, because he refuses to release his ..... tax records. He also refuses to divest himself of his compa- nies so conflict-of.interests with his position as Governor are Your Opinion Is Valuable strong and obvious. Visit us at www.mountainmessenger.eom is a second idea, related to the first. Some wealthy people do what they want, flaunt the law but then spend huge amounts of money hiring lawyers who will agitate in Send letters and comments to: the courts for years. Eventually publicly appointed attorneys Mountain Messenger, P,O, Box 429 leave office or run out of time and patience. Like a few other very wealthy men; Jim Justice often hires contractors to com- Lewisburg, WV 24901 Call (304) 64%5724 or Fax (304)647-5767 plete work and then does not pay them. He has been sued repeatedly. Courts are clogged and lawyers can keep a man or send to: ne mountainmessenger eom from paying what he owes for years and years so taxes and '" ' .... contracts go unpaid. He is even being sued by a lawyer who Letter to the Editor aided him in reducing mining violation fines. And the mines he owns. His mines have been cited with Morrlsey applauds Scott Pruitt's confirmation as EPA West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey ap- plauded Friday's confirmation of Scott Pruitt as the new administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Administrator Pruitt, formerly Oklahoma's attorney gen- eral, was nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate. "I sincerely believe West Virginia will have a friend in Scott Pruitt," Attorney General Morrisey said. "Scott's prin- cipled approach will respect the law and reinforce the EPA's core mission to protect our air and water without unconsti- tutional and job killing overreach, which has brought tre- mendous harm to West Virginia during the past eight years." As Oklahoma's attorney general, Pruitt remained a stead- fast partner with West Virginia in challenges to defeat the Obama EPA's so-called Clean Power Plan, New Source Per- formance Standards, the Waters of the United States rule and regulations targeting oil and gas jobs. The Attorney General looks forward to working with Ad- ministrator Pruitt and the Trump administration in efforts to roll back the Power Plan and other regulations. Letter to the Editor Message to Manchln Dear Editor: Following is the message I emailed to Senator Joe Man- chin's office today. I believe it provides information that Senator Manchin's constituents deserve to know. "Senator Manehin, I am sending this as an email since I have about given up on your phone being answered lately. "I am absolutely livid with you Senator Manchin because you lied to me. I was interested in attending any public fo- rum you might have in our area. I learned over social media that you might be in Peterstown at noon at the Hometown restaurant the next day, which was last Saturday the 17th. I called your DC office Friday, the day before, and asked about this and was told there was nothing on your calendar for that day. "Several of us were interested but could find no infor- mation on your website or anywhere on the intemet. Not ANYWHERE. Then I heard, again over social media, the reason you were going to the Hometown restaurant was to have lunch with a good friend who was very ill. So out of respect I did not go. "Some of my friends did. When they arrived and found you in a back room of the restaurant with some number of people, they asked if it was a public event they could attend. You said yes. You first lied to me by having a public event that was NOT made public. As a constituent I have a right to know this information and you are responsible to make it readily available, I also cannot believe that anyone in your office responsible for communicating with the public would not know your schedule. That was the second time you lied to me. "The least you could do, particularly for someone with the responsibilities that a US Senator carries, is to have at least the same level of respect I showed you when I decided not to attend. What a BIG CALCULATING CHICKEN. Your calculation will backfire. You can count on who I will NEVER VOTE FOR AGAIN. BIG CHICKEN. Represent your constituents"!!! Signed George "Livid" Little Friars Hill Jelll Llls recedL g over 4,000 violations. Five hundred of these are described as hunting estate. He decided to put several concrete dams in Dear Editor: "common in mine disasters." One judge wrote that a Justice a slream, apparently to develop ponds and encourage duck The Congress is on recess this week to give House mere, mine was "the kind of operation that should not be allowed or goose hunting. He did not get required Department of En- bers a chance to come home and have Town Hall Meetings to continue due to its reckless disregard of the law." National vironmental Protection approval, he just did it. Of course, it with their constituents. Not this time. Anxious lawraakers Public Radio in a report before the recent election noted that would disrupt the environment to require his company to take have cancelledhnndreds of Town Hall Meetings all over the the accident rate in his mines was 200% of the national aver- out the dams. They let him go with a fine. country. Not Rep. Evan Jenkins, though; he didn't even have a age. Disregarding all the evidence, Justice has described him- There are good arguments to be made on his behalf. When town hall scheduled for this area, despite repeated requests for self as "a safety fanatic... I'm the last person in the world he purchased The Greenbrier Resort, over 600 workers had one. Instead, Rep. Jenkins and others in Congress have sched- that's wanting.., to put an employee in a situation that would been laid off by the former owners. He brought back all the uled "Phone in Town Hall Meetings," a cunning strategy to be unsafe." IS he really a safety fanatic with that kind of re- jobs and hired more. Furthermore, in early 2015 he allowed dodge meeting face to face with constituents,cord? Should we think that our governor is above reproach flood victims to stay at his Greenbrier Resort. But in the bal- his gambling casino. Gambling will bring him big money, too. In Monroe County where I live, Jim Justice has a large I declined the offer to participate in this phone in meeting, and not dishonest when he speaks? Instead, I reiterated my request for a Town Hall Meeting with Governor Justice also owes $6,000,000 in back state with- Rep. Jenkins in person, which.., is a routine request, holding and coal severance taxes. So, break the law repeated One question I would like to ask Rep. Jenkins is exactly times and put. people's lives in danger because profit must how many coal jobs were saved or added after he voted to come first. Ignore the law if it is inconvenient. abolish the regulation that sought to protect our streams from Apparently, you can become rich by flaunting the laws, and poisonous coal mining debris? Will this action cause more then not pay taxes and fines. Add that to not paying contrac- harm to West Virginians, especially coal mining families? tors who work for you and millions begin to add up. Instead Will federal funding be available for cleanup? use your money to hire lawyers who can get you off paying I would also like to ask him what happens when the Af- pennies on the dollars owed. And it's all legal. Not moral but fordable Care Act is demolished and West Virginians get sick, legal, that's the secret. Morality should not stand in the way how will we afford health care? What's the plan to take care of making money. Add that to the list of how to become rich. of us? But perhaps there is another way also. Develop a project ance, one must question whether this man has the ethical and moral code that most of us expect in our highest state office. What happened in this last election? Perhaps the quote from 1930's actress Mac West explains it, "When presented with two evils, I always pick the one I never tried." Justice has never held public office and his opponent in the election had a long record in the State Senate. I end with two interrelated questions. Is this the kind of morality that we want in our State's high- est office? What are we going to do to correct our bad decision in electing him? I think it is time to move the State in a more moral and I have a lot of other questions for Rep. Jenkins. Hopeful- that will make you richer and then pay lobbyists to convince ,people-centered direction. We need good government and a ly he can find the time to schedule and attend a Town Hall the State that it is in their "best interest" to pay for it. Gover- more equal distribution of the wealth. Care to join me? Meeting in Lewisburg. We are factually, one of the "coolest" nor Justice, before he was elected, obtained a $25,000,000 tax Please write to me at abergrump@aol if you wish to re- towns. I urge others, who would like to ask the Congressman credit for his Greenbrier Resort. I guess he convinced lawmak- spend. some questions in person, to call his DC office at 202-225- ers that when he made money, the whole State of West Virginia Randy Grumpelt 3452 and ask for a Town Hall Meeting in Lewisburg. benefited. He also obtained $1,000,000 in State aid to create Second Creek Remember, we the people pay his salary and I think he has an obligation to meet with us and hear what we have to say. West Virginia can expect higher tax revenues than the other viduals giving their personal testimonials including your fel- Pam Barry Maxwelton states due to our location within a 250-mile radius ofa signifi- low legislators explaining the importance of the issue at the Letter to the Editor cant amount of the eastern population of the United States and industrial, medical, and recreational levels. My wife, Rachel additional increased taxes from associated tourism revenues. Kelly, and I were able to speak on this subject with several of Open letter to WV Legislature What I truly want to leave you with is the human aspect of you in your offices following the Make It Legal Rally. I have Dear Senators and Delegates: this issue. Wendy Holdren and Jenny Hamish of the Beckley attached the Quick Facts on Marijuana and West Virginia that I am writing to let you know that I represent one of the only Register-Herald have completed a five-part series on the hu- I handed out to your colleagues when I spoke to them, I hope groups of West Virginians looking for a tax increase. As an man side of medical marijuana To deny suffering individuals you will find it useful as you consider this subject. advocate of full legalization of marijuana, I and others are the potential relief of medical marijuana is a sad statement on It is time to begin utilizing creative strategies like the legal- asking you to allow us to contribute $194 million towards the our government's treatment of our fellow mountaineers espe- ization of marijuana to reverse the agriculture, financial, and budget crisis. This is only possible if West Virginia is one of cially among the elderly and innocent. To deny government economic collapse of our State. Good luck in this session and the first movers in the mid-Atlantic states to legalize medical services, jobs, and an education to West Virginians due to.a I hope that the legislature and the Justice administration can and recreational marijuana, budgetary crisis and a refusal to legalize recreational mari- find solutions for the benefit of all West Virginians and our Previously, I have sent you facts, studies, and statistics, juana is just as bad and a failure in governance, future generations. Sincerely, and, apparently, that has limited value to most of the Legisla- On Feb. 8 as the legislative session began, marijuana le-Gregg Wingo ture despite the $600 million budget crisis and the Governor galization activists and supporters gathered in front of theLewisburg submitting the largest tax increase in WV history. Of course, Capitol. The rally was addressed by expert speakers and indi-