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January 7, 2015     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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, --4 "~ :~ ~ ~ 1 SPIRIT ol JE] F ERSON i i , and t 'AtL,ILR S ADVOCAI E PAGE A7 Wednesday, January 7, 2015 i lu i1,,11 ELLIOT SIMON Boone County in West Virginia is a long way from Jefferson County. Its county seat, Madison, is further from Charles Town than is Stamford, Conn. It also serves as a stark contrast to our county -- more than twice its size but less than half the population. The median value of a home there is a little more than a third of what it is here and the percentage of its citizens living below the poverty line is nearly double. According to Boone County's website, it was formed in 1847 in what was then Virginia from parts of Kanawha, Logan and Cabell counties. It is named for American folk hero, frontiersman and pioneer Daniel Boone. In front of the courthouse (which is on the National Register of Historic Places) in Madison, is a statue of a coal miner. Boone County, in West Virginia's 23rd district, is represented by Delegate Joshua Nelson. A graduate of Liberty University with a degree in aeronautics, he is also a youth pastor, a second lieutenant in the Marines serving in the West Virginia Air National Guard and a husband and father. His service in the Guard led him to Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas. An article posted on its website in October credited him with the prevention of a potential violent crime at a nearby Walmart. It described his life as being "almost Hollywoodesque," saying, "He's gone from working in coal mines, to the Marine Corps, back to the mines, and today, when he's not refining his flying skills, he serves in the West Virginia Legislature as a delegate." Joshua Nelson is representative of the transformation that is happening in our state. Upon winning his election in 2012, he became the first Republican in the history of West Virginia to xepresent Boone County in the House of Delegates. That was more . han two years ago. Today, at 27 he is still one of the youngest members of the House, although that title is now held by 18-year- old Delegate-elect Saira Blair, also a Republican. In 2012, the MetroNews headline read: "Surprise Upset In 23rd 'Delegate District." Surprise might have been an understatement. Joshua Nelson not only won, he garnered 63 percent of the vote, "and was re-elected in November. However, that re-election bid "was not without adversity - which raised an important issue. Nelson missed this year's legislative session due to his service ommitments to the Air National Guard. True to form, The Charleston Gazette published an article that put this in a negative 'light. Here's a quote from the article: "I'll tell you who was hurt by this: the people of Boone County," said Delegate Mike ........................... ~I7 ..... ~ -~:: A worker can join the union if they wish, but it is not mandatory. Currently, unions are allowed to negotiate "closed shop" agreements with large corporations that require a worker to not only join a union, but also require workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment. This runs counter to our constitutional right of association - no one should be forced to pay dues to financially support that which they oppose. This is fundamentally unfair. Caputo, D-Marion. "They haven't had a voice for a session and campaigns nationally aren't big corporations - they are unions. a half. Not a vote, not a voice." For the record, legislation was In West Virginia, unions also top the contributor lists and the vast introduced in the last session to allow legislators who serve in majority of their support goes Democrats - and that includes the the military to vote remotely using technology. The bill never UMWA. Therefore, if you are a member of a union, and you are a made it out of committee. Because they are the majority party, Republican, with rare exceptions, you are forced to contribute to all committees are controlled by Democrats. In 2015 that will those you philosophically oppose. This is fundamentally unfair. change. Although they are portrayed as such by union supporters, Right Ironically, although there was no mention of this in the Gazette to Work laws aren't really anti-union. By making participation article, Caputo is also a vice president of the United Mine Workers voluntary, unions can be held accountable to their members and of America, District 31. The UMWA allocated the vast majority would actually have to convince a worker that it would be to his or of its financial resources to Democrats in West Virginia in 2014, her advantage to join. And then follow through. endorsing and financially supporting Nelson's opponent. Whetherright-to-workstatesperformbetter than forced unionized I recently spoke with Nelson and he acknowledged that in 2012 states is a hotly debated topic. The recent recession has further he and his father talked about his father's contributions to his muddied the waters. However, most of the debate centers on wage opponent's campaign because he was a member of the UMWA. growth. Some claim that wages are lower in right-to-work states; This is why Right to Work legislation is necessary. Right to others claim that cost of living is lower in those states. However, Work simply means that a worker is not required to pay union the general consensus is that job growth is higher in right-to-work dues as a condition of employment. A worker can join the union if states, leading to lower unemployment. they wish, but it is not mandatory. Currently, unions are allowed Delegate Joshua Nelson is a coal miner and a son of a coal miner. to negotiate "closed shop" agreements with large corporations From what I've seen, for him it's not about the money, it's about that require a worker to not only join a union, but also require the principle. The United Mine Workers of America bet big against workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment. This him and lost. My grandfather was a coal miner. While I live in runs counter to our constitutional right of association - no one Jefferson County, a piece of my heart goes out to Boone County should be forced to pay dues to financially support that which and Delegate Nelson. We're all West Virginias, and he's already they oppose, a part of West Virginia's history - and now it appears that he's a The fact is that unions are politically partisan - contributing part of its future also. overwhelmingly to Democrats. To the surprise of many, according -- Elliot Simon writes from to OpenSecrets.org, l0 out of the top 15 contributors to political Harpers Ferry .I ()M MHAJ!:R 'S .S career in S West Virginia's senior member of the U.S. Congress, Rep. Nick J. Rahall was ~u'st elected to the United States House ~f Representatives in 1976 in a most ,unusual election. He has since served 19 consecutive two-year terms in the House of Representatives. But two months ago his political career ended when Huntington Republican .challenger Evan Jenkins won Rahall's House seat by garnering 76,726 votes or 55.29 percent, compared to Rahall's .vote total of 62,044 votes, or 44.71 percent. Just like many other Democrats across .the country, Rahall's re-election hopes fin 2014 were lost in public disapproval ~of President Barack Obama and his :controversial policies, including new, more stringent carbon emission regulations that .have had a ripple effect on West Virginia's coalfields. Rahall supported Obama in 2008 and again in 2012 and lost the West 'Virginia Coal Association's endorsement last year. Marybeth Belier, director of the Department of Political Science at '1 .... r HH][P "The Congressman made very little attempt to educate the public to the real reasons for the decline in employment in coal, instead going on the defensive to suggest he didn't support the EPA proposals, which is true. However, he allowed the argument to become one in which he took a defensive posture, Marshall University, said this fall that rather than educating Rahall s defensive stance against claims that he had "betrayed" West Vkgufia's coal industry probably did not help his hopes of m-election. "The Congressman made very little attempt to educate the public to the real "reasons for the decline in employment in coal, instead going on the defensive to suggest he didn't support the EPA proposals, which is true," Belier said. "However, he allowed the argument to become one in which he took a defensive posture, rather than educating the public and discussing ways to work to diversify the economy." Rahall's first election to Congress came about after incumbent Fourth District congressman Ken Hechler gave up his seat to run against John D. Rockefeller IV in that year's gubernatorial election. After losing to Rockefeller, Hechler then ran as a write-in candidate against Rahall and Republican challenger Steve Goodman. Rahall beat Hechler 45.6 percent to 36.6 percent and continued to win re-election until the state's four congressional dislricts were mduced to three in 1992 following the state's population decline in the 1990 Census results. RahaU is retiring this weekend as the youngest-elected, longest serving representative in the history of the House of Representatives" Meanwhile, recently elected state Senator Mike Romano, D-Harrison, will not step down as a member of the Harrison County Commission. He is doing this in the face of a 1991 opinion by then-Attorney General Roger Tompkins that stated a "sitting county the public and discussing ways to work to diversify the economy." -- Marybeth Heller commissioner should not serve in the state Legislature at the same time." Romano has told reporters that in spite of the incompatibility of the two offices, as well as Tompkins' 23-year-old opinion, he intends to continue his work as an elected Harrison County commissioner and also serve as a member of the West Virginia Legislature at the same time. West Vtrginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas said Tompkins' opinion was pretty clear that it was improper to keep both seats. "It's disappointing to see another elected Democrat willing to ignore common law to keep his grip on power and tax dollars," Conrad said. "But, this is pretty clear. In 1991, Attorney General Roger Tompkins declared that this attempt to serve these two offices at once is likely improper." The 1991 ruling, filed in the West Virginia State Record with the secretary of state, explains the incompatibility of serving two offices of this nature, concurrently. Furthermore, it suggests the state constitution may also prohibit this behavior in Article IV, Sectionl3. Serving both offices at the same time could instigate a constitutional crisis. l/.g CO OMIC Ce:D Cl'ld " i Between the m d-1 late 1970s about 22 shopping centers were built. By late 1990s there were 43,000. They included thousands of strip malls, euphemistically called "neighborhood or community shopping centers," with one large citizens renamed their municipaliW r James Rouse were not so delighted. Malls eroded the economic base of older downtown department stores suburbs, leaving empty store such as commercialized public a supermarket, drugstore, or low-cost department store and has documented, mall owners were often anxious a line of little stores facing parking. There were hundreds of "regional malls" like the Connecticutt Post Mall in Milford, Connecticutt. Regional malls were sited on at least thirty acres, usually enclosed, with multiple shops and at least one big anchor store including 100,000 square feet of leasable space. And there were the superregional malls, totaling over 1,400,000 square feet of leasable space. At one public access, and one of the ways to make access by public transit minimal, or to organize bus routes to reinforce market segmentation and racial segregation by race and class." -Dolores Hayden, "Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000, 2003 DAV [[) AMML R There are only two places in our democracy where every citizen stands as the equal to every other citizen: the election booth and the courtroom. We expect fairness and transparency when counting election ballots -- we agree that the political party of the person counting ballots should not influence the tally. Surely we can agree that in a courtroom the respective political parties of the judge and the litigants should not play any role in a judge's decision. We rightly expect that judicial decision-making should be based upon the law without regard to party affiliation. Judges must be neutral so that judicial decisions are both fair in fact and in appearance. Political parties exist for the purpose of allowing people of like mind to coalesce and thereby select candidates for office who as officeholders, the party members hope, will continue to vote consistently with the views of the political party that supported their election. If a political party comes to believe that an elected official is not voting consistently with the interests of the political party that chose her, the remedy will surely take place at the next election. But political party loyalty is inconsistent with the duty of judicial neutrality. Why then does political party affiliation matter in the judicial election process? Article VIII of the West Virginia Constitution expressly allows the Legislature to "prescribe by law whether the election of such [justices and judges] is to be on a partisan or non-partisan basis." West Virginia is changing. Isn't it lime to exercise our constitutional right to eliminate political partisanship in the election of our judiciary? --David Hammer is a partner at ttammer, Ferretti & Schiavoni and practices law throughout the Eastern Panhandle. He lives in Shepherdstown with wife and three children I