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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
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May 21, 2014     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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May 21, 2014
 

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PAGE A6 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR advocate pirit of JEFFERSON and FARMER'S ADVOCATE I Wednesday, May 21,2014 "No government ought to be without censors and where the press is free, no one ever will." -- Thomas Jefferson Mills an ideal choice for city manager Last week's selection of David Mills as Charles Town's new city manager is an exciting development for our community. City leaders deserve praise for recognizing Mills' unique assets and moving quickly to bring aboard a leader who will hit the ground running and focus on moving the city forward. Because he is a native of Jefferson County, Mills' familiarity with the area's strengths and challenges dates back decades. He's also a mature leader who un- derstands how much more can be accomplished by working with City Council, community members, community leaders and others. Here's someone who has a handle on the solutions that exist and truly desires to put in place every smart idea out there that can make our government and our city work better. We saw him lay the groundwork for a transformation in Ranson that caught attention not only statewide, but nationally. It's extremely likely that the influx of federal money for new streets and other improvements that are part of the "Ranson Renewed" project would not have come our way except for the foun- dation Mills' vision, expertise and hard work put in place. As passionate as he has been in bringing positive change to Ranson, Mills now is excited to put his energy into making Charles Town the best possible place to live and work. We praise city leaders for recognizing this unique op- portunity and look forward to what's ahead for our fine city once this capable new leader is in place. Praise-w0rthy intervention We applaud Attorney General Pat- rick Morrisey's decision to step into the fray in Mingo County where he says two middle school girls' allega- tions of repeated sexual assault by a pair of male classmates with relatives in the school system went all but ig- nored - with only sham investigations and "punishments" such as the deni- al of an ice cream break to one of the young accusers. Mingo County, where shocking headlines about corrupt judges and other politicians have dominated the news for months, now is home to per- haps an even uglier series of mis- deeds. The story, which we first reported in the Spirit last week, now has been covered by CNN and other media out- lets. The case moved behind closed doors late last week as two officials from Mingo County Schools along with four faculty members made their initial appearances in court to an- swer Morrisey's civil complaint that they concealed sexual abuse by two seventh-grade boys at Burch Middle School between November 2012 and May 2013. Many of the attacks Morrisey de- scribes in the filing happened at school, though one allegation involves a field trip to Charleston, where one of the girls said she was raped on the school bus. The girls' parents had been assured the police knew of the allegations but only later learned the authorities had never been notified. The abuse allegations are noth- ing short of horrific, and the idea that the adults in charge in Mingo Coun- ty knew of the girls' suffering but did nothing tostop it is truly stom- ach-churning. We are grateful Mor- risey came to the aid of these young women whose plight heretofore had not been acknowledged - who had, in fact, been required to continue to attend classes alongside their alleged victimizers. His involvement in this case is an example of the good an attorney gen- eral can do for a state - to ensure that the rights of its citizens, particularly those who are young and vulnerable, are protected. Mooney's Last week's primary victory from a newcomer in little Charles Town over an entrenched lawmaker from the big city of Charleston ordinarily would be cause for celebration here, but the Alex X. Mooney story cer- tainly is not typical. Mooney, who resigned as GOP chairman in Maryland only last year, began renting a house in Charles Town in October. He raised nearly ill of his enormous war chest from conservative interests outside West Virginia. He campaigned on "tradi- tional values" and had little to say about going to Washington to solve the problems we face in the Second Congressional District. Nonetheless, Mooney prevailed in the May 13 primary over a plethora of Republicans hoping to move into the seat in Congress held since 2001 by conservative Shelley Moore Cap- ito, who is eyeing the spot in the U.S. Senate that has been in Democratic hands since the 1930s. Mooney beat out even West Virgin- ia native Charlotte Lane, a Charles- ton lawyer with decades of experi- ence in county, state and federal pol- itics who early in the primary cam- paign described Mooney as a carpet- bagger She later created a series of hard-hitting ads in which she point- motivationg. ed out that prior to this month's elec- tion Mooney had never even voted in West Virginia. Mooney will face off with Nick Casey, the former West Virginia Dem- ocratic party chief, in the November general election. Many expect Casey to spend the coming months ham- mering away at the same points Lane brought up against Mooney. It has long been this newspa- per's tradition to avoid political en- dorsements. We did not weigh in on M0oney's candidacy in this space prior to the primary vote. We will say that it's surprising to see so many West Virginia voters apparently will- ing to turn over the reins of power to Mooney, who hasn't bothered to invest in West Virginia - not in time nor in money. He hasn't worked in the trenches in Charles Town or anywhere else in West Virginia as a problem-solv- er (despite all the many, many prob- lems to be solved here). He hasn't even extended himself enough to buy a house in our state. We would en- courage voters to examine Mooney's motivations in seeking this office. Is it about representing West Virgin- ia? Or is the driving ambition behind this run simply Mooney's driving ambition? DREW WILT Adam Parks, who pitched 62 strikes in a game for the Cannons last summer, will be back in Shenandoah Junction when the Cannons kick off the season at Sager Field May 30. There's nothing like top-caliber baseball right in our backyard I had never heard of the Shenando- ah Valley Baseball League until last summer when the Cannons baseball team arrived in Jefferson County. It is one of eight summer collegiate summer baseball leagues around the country. These leagues give top col- lege ballplayers the chance to spend the summer gaining more experi- ence and exposure. When I went to last season's open- ing game, I had no idea of the qual- ity of the baseball I would be seeing. These are cream of the crop college baseball players from schools all over the country. Nine - that's al- most one third - of last year's Can- nons roster played in the College World Series. Two players from last summer's Valley League teams were listed in Baseball America's 2014 Top 100 College Prospects. The motto of the Shenandoah Val- ley Baseball League is "Gateway to the Majors," and for good reason. Since its founding in 1923, over 1,000 Valley League players have gone on to the Major Leagues. The Valley League website lists 27 for mer League players on the rosters of MLB teams last season, includ- ing St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Jon Jay who played in the 2013 World Series. MLB scouts can be spotted reg- ularly at Cannons games. Several Cannons players from last season are likely prospects in next month's MLB draft. We are fortunate that one of our star pitchers from last year, Adam Parks - who pitched a perfect game against Woodstock last June, throwing 62 strikes - will be pitching again for us this year. It is hard to believe that baseball of this caliber is being played right here in Jefferson County. What could be a better way to spend a beautiful summer evening than watching top- notch college baseball played at Jef- ferson High School's Sager Field? So catch Cannons Fever the way I did last summer! Come out to a game! You will have your first op- portunity to meet the players on Thursday, May 29 at the Cannons' Picnic in the Park at Memorial Park in Charles Town from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Maybe you will get. the au- tograph of a future Major League star. Walter Washington Charles Town Morrisey critique a 'cheap shot' I recently read the editorial in the April 9 edition of the Spirit and wanted to poin[ out several inaccu- racies in your piece and ensure that your readers are informed of the ac- tual facts, not unsupported conjec- ture. First, the West Virginia Attorney General's Office periodically con- tracts with an entity that dissemi- nates satellite feeds to television sta- tions across the state, including the Hagerstown (Md.) market, which covers the Eastern Panhandle. One of the single biggest chal- lenges we face as an office is ensur- ing that residents outside of Charles- ton are kept informed about impor- tant developments in the Attorney General's office. We represent the entire state, not just those living in Kanawha or surrounding counties. As you know, the Eastern Panhan- dle often feels disconnected from Charleston. As such, we work very diligently to try to ensure media out- lets in the Panhandle, including the Spirit of Jefferson as well as other regions through the state have the same access to our office as media outlets in the Capitol City. Similarly, we need to always send a strong message to businesses and individuals that we vigorously will enforce the Consumer Protection laws on the books. No business, regardless of its size or location, should believe it is above the law. Over the past 15 months, we have relied on The Media Center to trans- mit satellite feeds to various televi- sion markets serving the state, be they based in Hagerstown, Harrison- burg, Va., Wheeling/Weirton, Beck- ley/Bluefield, Clarksburg/Morgan- town or Parkersburg because we be- Patrick Morrisey lieve the public in those regions de- serve to have access to the same in- formation stations serving the Hun- tington/Charleston market have. This is especially critical when the information impacts their lives and the enforcement of laws in West Vir- ginia. We will not ignore parts of the state outside of Charleston and must serve all counties equally. Your editorial grossly distorts what our office does. Periodically, we pay a fee to The Media Center to record and then transmit via sat- ellite raw, unedited interviews on particular subjects to various televi- sion markets in an effort to narrow the chasm between places such as the Eastern Panhandle and Charles- ton. However, we do not, as your ed- itorial wrongly states, ever hire vid- eo crews to tape businesses as they are being served with lawsuits. That didn't happen in the case in which your editorial references, and it does not ever happen. Your newspaper should correct that error. As stated above, the feeds are de- signed to provide equal access to a medium that is 100 percent depen- dent on images. While newspaper reporters can conduct interviews via email or phone, it is much more dif- ficult for television stations to do that. So we provide raw interviews that the stations can edit and cut if they decide to report on the story. But the information shared is not a video news release, nor are stations obliged to run it. As you know, we have gone much further than any office in the state to save taxpayer dollars. The Office of the Attorney General has returned $16.5 million to the state's Gener- al Fund in the 15 months that Pat- rick Morrisey has been in office. We work every day to eliminate taxpay- er waste. Unfortunately, the steps we have taken are not enough for some who view our reforms with disdain and would like to see the status quo continue in Charleston. The Spirit's editorial suggests that you want our office to stop commu- nicating important consumer pro- tection information to the state and limit how the office can communi- cate most effectively with citizens in the Eastern Panhandle and else- where. Your editorial was a politi- cal cheap shot that speaks more to a very limited and partisan perspec- tive on issues than a question on how taxpayer monies are used. If you are looking for a model on how to save taxpayer dollars and end the self-promotion practices of incum- bents, look no further than the At- torney General's Office. Beth Ryan, spokeswoman Office of the Attorney General Charleston INN V00qDMYER The signals Jefferson County sends in passing a tough ethics policy The Jefferson County Com- mission is scheduled to approve an ethics policy soon. The policy reflects state law, partic- ularly Section 6B-2-5 of state code that outlines ethical stan- dards for elected and appointed officials. The county commission eth- ics policy is more understand- able than the state law. State code requirements are very de- tailed, include sentences that run on for five or six lines and consist of numerous subsec- tions that are very difficult to follow. The county commission ethics policy, proposed by me in early May, is more direct. An applicant to any board or com- mission agrees to "make public disclosure of all pecuniary in- terest regarding any decision to be made on the board/commis- sion" and to "leave any cham- ber in which such a matter is under deliberation." The ethics policy also makes clear there are penalties under s.tate law for violating these re- quirements, including fines and even jail time. When the county commission first discussed my draft propos- al, some expressed concern that such requirements might "scare off" applicants to boards and committees. Citizens are not exactly applying in droves for vacancies. My response? The day that the county commission lowers ethical standards sim- ply to attract more applicants is the day we lose the trust of our constituents. The solution to finding more applicants is to do a better job advertising vacancies and ed- ucating people about what boards and commission do. Simply putting an ad in the le- gal notice section of the news- paper is not enough. Public outreach is needed to assure boards and commissions attract a cross section of the communi- ty. The county commission has approved a contract to update the county website. A website that emphasizes outreach and takes advantages of all types of social media will help get the message out about volunteer opportunities. By signing the ethics poli- cy, applicants agree to exer- cise fair, honest and indepen- dent judgment; to neither seek nor accept gifts or favors and to not misrepresent facts or distort information for the purpose of achieving a desired outcome. I Many bpards and commis- sions already adopt their own code of ethics or conflict of in- terest policy. The IRS now re- quires nonprofit organizations maintain a conflict of inter- est policy and even provides a sample form. At a recent train- ing session I attended for the Telamon Community Action Board, the issue of ethical be- havior was discussed at length. As an elected official, I sub- mit annual financial statements to the West Virginia Ethics Commission. This information is public. The intent is to help assure elected officials are not using their public office for pri- vate gain. By adopting a code of eth- ics, the Jefferson County Com- mission clearly signals a simi- lar standard will apply to any- one seeking appointment to a board or commission. The goal of applicants should be to pro- tect the public interest of the county. Signing a code of eth- ics ensures applicants agree to that goal. Lyn Widmyer, a Democrat, serves on the Jefferson County Commission. She opted not to seek another term