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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
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January 10, 2018     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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January 10, 2018
 

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r /, ADVOCA3~E A6 Wednesday, January 10, 2018 f ! t VIEW he commissioners of Jefferson County declined to eat much crow following a post-mortem of an independent audit of the Public Service Dis- trict they commissioned four months ago that last week revealed there was no misappropriation of funds nor mismanagement at the county utility. Instead, two of the three Republicans who authorized the audit -- Commissioners Josh Compton and Peter On- oszko -- doubled down during last week's commission meeting -- insisting that the audit's conclusion might still contain some Gnostic mysteries that will completely undermine its actual and evident findings and also ma- neuvered blithely away from any reconsideration of their decision to authorize the audit, preferring to take issue with a suggestion made by nobody, nowhere ever that ratepayers don't have the right to protest the actions of their water and sewer provider. The audit, which could end up costing the county nearly $20,000, was an absolute waste of taxpayers' money, no matter what argument these commissioners try to mount in defending it. Coming from commission- ers who have still not stopped slapping themselves on the back for trimming $5 off your annual ambulance fee and who continue to repeat their campaign bom- bast extolling their "fiscal conservatism" bona tides, this audit is an impossible expense to justify, given that it will cost every household in Jefferson County about $900 -- all to investigate the operations of a utility that serves less than 10 percent of those households and which is one of the most heavily regulated entities in the state of West Virginia. Indeed, as evidence of how much oversight is given to the PSD, the audit pointed out that the Public Service Commission grants any intervenor the right of party sta- tus in its activities. Ka-ching, go the lawyers." We haven't found any move this commission has made toward the Public Service District to be honorable or honest -- even their plan to hand over the sewer utility to the city of Charles Town has been nothing more than a self-admitted attempt to squash the District's proposed $6.8 million sewer upgrade project. Working with a bevy of ratepayers angry that their sewer bills are so high, they have sought to drag former board members and past and present utility employees through the mud (even making accusations of corruption based upon some employees' last names!) and have gone a long way towards squan- dering the good will of county residents, perhaps forc- ing some to reconsider whether they'd want to even par- ticipate on the various boards and commissions that help make this county's government function. What exactly has been these three commissioners' end- game? To incentivize smart growth policies and employ sensible and efficient land management strategies as part of an effort to minimize the impact of unplanned sprawl and congestion? Or just to chase conspiracy theories up the side of grassy knolls and down deep rabbit warrens? Their dog-whistled rhetoric about combatting the coun- ty's "good o1' boy networks" and taking out "wasteful tax and spend liberals" suggest it's the latter. Last week we sought to try to make the best of this audit. Indeed, it's provided a lot of useful historical in- formation that has helped to contextualize how and why the county's public utility always seemed to be perpetu- ally operating behind the eight ball. We had hoped Com- missioners Compton, Onoszko and Caleb Hudson would have admitted as much even as they might have acknowl- edged that maybe they'd acted rashly -- like the time they tried to dump the PSD board president three months before his term would have ended anyway without first taking the time to fully understand the jurisdictional dis- tinctions between a municipality and a public utility ser- vice area. Such was not to be. Cue the castigations we gracefully declined to heap last week. If this is fiscal con- servatism, we'd hate to see how this bunch does spend- thriftfulness. Disgusted by Onoszko's 'turns me on' remarks About 10 minutes into Thursday's laughed at his own statement. They of blacks who now serve in our gov- Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, ly located on the Jefferson Coun- meeting of the Jefferson County show his tree nature. Equality. ap- ernment, including the U.S. having Harriet Tubman, Mark Twain, Su- ty Courthouse is taunting all of our Commission, Commissioner Pe- parently isn't important to him. elected a black president, san B. Anthony, Billie Jean King citizens who have fought for equal ter Onoszko was talking about his Remember that on Sept. 7, On-His words are a good example of and Mohammed Ali are just a few treatment. non-voting position on the Jefferson oszko, then president of the JCC, white privilege as he is stating all of who changed history. They were He, along with Commissioners County Historic Landmarks Com-read aloud to the people attending that specifically to challenge Linda considered radicals. Some of them Compton and Hudson, threw away mission. He said with a laugh: "It the meeting a statement which he Ballard and the black women who were minorities, the opportunity to institute a solution, kinda turns me on." had written, asked the JCC to take the now-infa- In his lengthy Sept. 7 statement On- presented by Charles Town May- Incredibly, he kept the job, as He made a point of talking about mous Confederate plaque from the oszko added: "This has to stop. This or Scott Rogers, and install a new Commissioner Caleb Hudson with- the 1913 reunion in Gettysburg, Pa entrance of our courthouse, has to absolutely got to stop. We are plaque which would honor all those drew his interest in serving on this the 50th anniversary of the Civil Onoszko continued, "Tragical-all Americans." He continued, quot- that fought during the Civil War here board, but there is so much wrong War. Some 1,000 soldiers from the ly, today there exists small radical ing Abraham Lincoln: "A house di- in Jefferson County. The commis- with Onoszk0's statement. North and South had gathered to- minorities among both black and vided against itself cannot stand." sioners show themselves to be hyp- First of all, one of the sitting com- gether, standing ann in arm, rec- white Americans, who seek to un- He is claiming we all should work ocrites by claiming they are arm in missioners should have called for a ognizing there was an unbreakable dermine over a century and half of together and stand beside one an- arm, and standing with all as equals. motion to censure for good of or- bond among them. "Arm in arm"progress towards the reconciliation other as Americans. His words, I am here to tell the commission- der. Maybe they were shocked to assumes they were equals, and between the regions of Ameri- "This has got to stop," are challeng- ers: We are going to keep reminding hear those words and couldn't re- Commissioner Onoszko contin- ca and the races of Americans, cre- ing those who dare to speak up and you that the plaque needs to come act fast enough. Maybe this type of ued to point out how we had moved ating harmful division and discord try to change things, down. It should be moved to an ap- , language has become the lexicon of forward- no more slavery, and con- between our people and threaten to Voting to keep the plaque on our propriate place. And to all who pre- our commissioners, so much so that tinuing a path towards racial recon- destroy our country." courthouse contradicts everything fer to defend a 30-year-old bronze it simply has been accepted, ciliation, including our armed forc- I believe he was pointing to peo- he stated. If we all should be arm in object versus your living, breath- These words are inappropriate for es being racially integrated, and the pie among us who dare to ques- ann, if we are to help reconciliatiOn ing neighbors, you are on the wrong anyone representing the citizens of end of "Separate but Equal" schools tion the status quo and who want to among races, then Onoszko should side of history. Jefferson County. His words are not thanks to the Supreme Court decision change history, understand beyond any reason- funny, yet it gave him pleasure as he in 1954. He pointed out the elections John Brown, Mary Beth Tinker,able doubt that the plaque current- SUSAN PIPES Charles Town P I* e A call to (plaque) action A peaceful rally to urge the removal of the Confed- erate plaque will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, at the Jefferson County Courthouse at 119 N. George St. in Charles Town. The rally will tie in to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day peace march and rally planned for downtown Charles Town on Sunday. Please join us! CHERIE CASARI Harpers Ferry Aren't Americans severely allergic to fascism? I wish I were more optimistic in this situation we're in now is unprecedented in our nation. new year. I remember being dismayed this country, but unfortunately, not in the I'm thinking, I have a warm house, my when Bush won in 2000, then again in world. We have had bold and principled husband just returned from a run to a cou 2004 - and not simply because he was leaders in the past. Now what? pie different well-stocked grocery stores, Republican. I remember thinking that his West Virginia has people in leadership Medicare coupled with our secondary in- administration's policies seemed to verge positions who don't know the state, who surance has covered the largest part of on fascistic, but I never deeply feared for were placed here by the national Repub- his substantial health care costs, which the future of the nation. I thought that our lican Party to do its bidding. The nation- we certainly could not afford on our own. democratic institutions were strong and al Republican Party has proved itself to What is my fear? What is my beef? It is beloved by the American people, be venal. Don't even bother to recite the this: I'm afraid that by the time I feel the Now I see that many Americans don't sins of Democrats. While some squabble pinch, which may be much more like a understand how democracy works, and about which party is worse, our country gouge, it will be too late for me to pro- do not value it. They do not understand is becoming a place where only the al- test. or value a free press. They don't know ready-rich will prosper, and you'll have Like the western Kentucky lands that the difference between truth and lies. to strangle your soul to get ahead. And John Prine once sang about, Mr. Trump's Even Nixon grieved for what he had what will "get ahead" mean? train will have already hauled away the done to the country, and was sorry for the Fascism is an ugly form of control. I America I once knew. ordeal that he put us through. The EPA thought Americans were severely allergic was begun during his administration. This to it. Tunis out, we've invited it to rule REBECCA KIMMONS Charleston i