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July 24, 2013     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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"No government ought to be without censors and where the press is free, no one ever will." -- Thomas Jefferson '~plrlt of JEFFERSON and FARMER'S ADVOCAq~E Wednesday, July 24, 2013 t The governor's Blue Ribbon Com- , mission on Highways got a less than warm reception last week when it pre- sented those in attendance with the is- , sue before West Virginia -- a rapidly , dilapidating transportation system and , no funds to fLX it. ,. To be sure, almost haft the respon- dents of a series of unscientific surveys said they opposed any increase in taxes as a way to pay for new roads and up- grades, while almost 70 percent said the first step should be eliminating waste in the Division of Highways budget. Would that it were so easy. West Virginia is staring down the face of an annual deficit of between $600 million to $1.3 billion just to keep pace. Much more is needed if West Virginia is ever going to be able to maintain a road system needed to keep its citizens safe , and to develop the transportation infra- structure West Virginia will need to at- tract business investment. , Nothing the Blue Ribbon Commis- sion reports should come as a surprise. , A 2004 update to a 1984 West Virgin- , ia Tax Study Commission spelled out the challenges peculiar to building and , maintaining roads in the Mountain State -- it's got more state-maintained high- , ways than any state in the U.S. (the fed- eral government is responsible for very little of West Virginia's highways) and they're among the most costly to build given West Virginia's terrain and rural character. On top of that, the state ranked at the bottom in vehicle miles driven per capita and per driver. To make matters worse, the State Road Fund has since the 1980s been the subject of signifi- cant diversions of revenue to help pay for special infrastructure projects, ini- tiatives and to other agencies, such as the Department of Public Safety. Despite hearing loud and clear how unwelcome authorizing new taxes would be, before taking what Berkeley County lawmaker Larry Kump calls a "smorgasbord menu" of potential reve- nue increases off the table entirely, law- makers should consider how far exist- ing revenues are going toward keeping the road fund afloat and how new rev- enues might be raised and existing rev- enue might be reallocated from other funds. Yes, taxing and spending are two dirty words but they're only dirty if you're not getting, anything back from the money you're taxed and the money you've spent. We should consider what we give and what we get each time we head out on the open road. < < OTHER VIEWS A lasting legacy' i Now that the Summit Bechtel Reserve is full of Boy Scouts, these young lead- ers of tomorrow are about to embark i on myriad trips into many communities spread across southem West Virginia to perform thousands of hours of public ser- ' vice work for the betterment of our re- ' gion. : More than 300 projects are on tap in :' counties including Fayette, Raleigh, :' Greenbrier, Wyoming, Summers, Mon- roe, Mercer, McDowell and Nicholas. Thousands of Scouts will be fanned out performing a multitude of sweat eq- uity tasks, a perfect example of the BSA's new focus on sustainability. Please wel- come these youngsters into your commu- nities and say thank you to them if you have the chance. The vast majority of the work being performed would likely have taken years for many places to pull off, if ever. What is about to happen is a positive transformation that will leave, a lasting legacy that every town can be proud of. While it is easy to point to the econom- ic benefits that the Summit, the quadren- nial Jamboree, and the permanent High Adventure base will provide for decades to come, these community service proj- ects -- some big and some small -- are permanent memories and testaments. -- From the July 16 The Register-Herald, Beckley A war on women ,*' So far this .year, Republican-con- * ' trolled state legislatures across America have passed 40 new laws curtailing the i right of women to terminate pregnan- ', ~ cies -- and the total since 2011 is 170 ' ' such restrictive laws. ! ' A PBS NewsHour report said this : GOP drive may "reignite the culture LETTERS TO THE EDITOR wars." It said the snowballing effort has been "building at the state level for years, beginning when Republicans captured larger majorities in legislatures as part of the 2010 tea party wave that returned them to control of the House of Representatives." In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed new laws that are ex- pected to force two of the state's four women's clinics to close. In North Carolina, the state Senate forbade insurers to cover termination of ' pregnancies. In Texas, Democratic state Sen. Wen- - 'dy Davis became a nationwide hero ' ' when she staged a one-woman filibuster - ' against a bill that would have crimped women's right to choose and forced clo- , ) sure of most of the state s women s din- ics. In Ohio, Republican Gov. John Ka- ' sich signed a law expected to cut fund- ing for Planned Parenthood -- as Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry did previously. In several states, Republican legis- lators try to shame girls into canceling abortions by forcing them to view pic- tures from ultrasound probes insei~xt into their vaginas. In both South Dakota and Iowa, GOP proposals would have changed the definition of justifiable ho- micide to allow murder of abortion doc- tors. Obviously, a systematic "war on women" is proceeding on many fronts. Republicans -- especially tea party hard-liners -- attempt to block equal pay laws, obstruct day care help that lets mothers hold jobs, drive Planned Par- enthood out of existence, curtail birth control programs, and similar crack- downs. The Sacramento Bee points out that Republicans took control of 22 state legislative chambers in the 2010 elec- tion, so "no one should be surprised" that these GOP strongholds are trying to revoke "the fundamental right of the woman to choose whether to bear chil- dren." After all, the paper said, "that is part of the Republican platform." No wonder American women have become a major segment in the Demo- cratic Party's base. --From the July 14 Charleston Gazette Combating abuse ) , Domestic violence cases are among " the most difficult for law enforcement and the justice system to handle. By their very nature, they involve the ; most personal of relationships among ". people and are often fraught with ex- ,. treme passions. And, as the name of such cases makes clear, those passions , Often escalate into violence or the threat of violence. All too frequently, the re- ' sult is that someone is injured, perhaps ': killed. In Kanawha County, a new approach - : is being tried to keep cases from reach- ing such a serious level, and those in- : volved say they believe it is doing a bet- , - ter job of keeping victims safer. ,' A pilot program, sparked by two , ' deaths related to domestic violence in ; " the past few years, began last summer - " in the home county of West Virginia's capital city. Previously, the county's domestic vi- , olence cases were handled by 10 mag- , istmtes and five family court judges ... ROBEI T SNS I)ER When the National Rifle Association managed to successfully lobby Flor- ida legislators to adopt a law we now know as stand your ground, it's unlikely the group figured the law might be em- ployed by an unarmed black teenager accxxsted by a guy with a gun out prowl- ing the streets on a rainy winter's night in a pickup truck. Despite the possibility that each as- sumed it was the other acting suspicious- ly, it's little wonder then that Tmyvon Martin's reacting in self-defense is the narrative supporters of George Zimmer- man have so stridently avoided in the days before and after a jury of six wom- en determined the overly zealous neigh- borhood watch volunteer had no guilt in the shooting death of the 17-year-old, who Zimmerman spotted skulking about in the darkness on that February night in 2012. Martin, we are told, was the ag- gressor; Zimmerman the one defending his life. It was the doughy Zimmerman after all, who, after confronting the teen soon found himself at a disadvantage -- Mar- fin, it turned out, was a scrappy kid who apparently knew how to throw a punch. We'll never know what Martin's ratio- nale might have been for going on the offensive. After enduring several min- utes of being targeted and followed by Zimmerman, to see his accuser face to Abortion review is not needed face he could have decided to teach him a lesson, to give him the bloody nose he deserved. Defenders of Z'mamerman haven't just wanted to avoid the idea that Mar- tin might have been acting in self-de- fense -- it's there for the discerning: ac- cording to statements made by Zimmer- man in recreating the incident and in the sometimes unreliable testimony of Mar- fin's friend,Rachel Jeantel; Z'Lrrlmerman reached for the teen then lost his balance as the two grappled with one another be- fore Martin got the upper hand -- have gleefully cast Martin as the aggressor, trotting out as relevant his own brush- es with school authorities and the police while minimizing the block-sized chip on Zimmerman's shoulder. As part of a significant deflection, conservative com- mentator Patrick Buchanan in his most recent column reminds us of the stagger- ing statistic of black crime in the Unit- ed States as if such statistics justify the occasional popping off of a suspicious- looking black kid. Unsurprisingly, Buchanan misses the point (by a mile). There was no black crime in progress in the matter between Tmyvon Martin and George Zimmer- man. It is highly unlikely that Martin in- tended to beat Zimmerman to death, pro- testations by Z'marnennan attomey Don West about the deadly "sidewalk" to the contrary. It was Zimmerman, a neighbor- hood volunteer and mentor for African- American teens, who provoked the con- frontation and introduced the element of lethality into it, tuming what might have been a simple misunderstanding or at worst an assault and battery into a strag- gle for life and death over possession of a rireaml. Zimmerman waived his right to a stand your ground defense but the law was cited a number of times at his trial and there have been at least two subse- quent incidents where the law has been invoked by an assailant with a handgun. A recent Tampa Bay Trows investigation has found almost 200 instances since 2005 where stand your ground has been employed. As the Washington Post pointed out in an editorial this week, letting out the seams in Castle doctrines and expanding the right to use lethal force in the pub- lic realm has resulted in the overturning of centuries of "legal application." The incident with George Zimmennan is ex- actly what we should expect with such laws -- citizens so emboldened by their rights, they fail to recognize that retreat- ing in the face of danger is another kind of self-defense. Have gun, will travel. --Robert Snyder is editor of the Spirit of Jefferson Our attomey general has decided to carry out a review of abortion laws and regulations in West Vtrginia -- a state with one of the lowest abortion rates in the country. Abortion rates in West V-tr- ginia are so low as to be insignificant in comparison to the many other problems confronting West Virginians. If the attomey general really wanted to do something about abortion in West Vhginia, he would expand the availabil- ity of contraception, since over haft of abortions result from non-use of contra- ceptives. Meanwhile, West Vwginia desperate- ly needs Mr. Morrisey to protect con- sumers from the byproducts of fracking and mountaintop removal, improve the state's deplorable workman compensa- tion program, implement Obamacare and expand Medicaid so more people have access to quality health care, im- prove public education, and economic diversification beyond coal and gas for real economic growth. If Mr. Morrisey really wanted to do something for West The end result is that people who pose real threats are more likely to end up in jail and not be free to end up in anoth- Worth "Among the most er altercation with the victim. As one formidable of the judge told the Gazette.Mail, he sleeps ti g obstacles which the Ue oratm t a eh ' vesvic- no n new Co .on rims or potential victims of domestic vi- will have to encoun- olence are safer, ter may readily be distinguished the ob- That's an important result, consid- vious interest of a certain class of men ering the volume of domestic violence in every State to r ist all changes which cases in the state. The West Virginia Co- may hazard a diminution of the power, alition Against Domestic Violence says emolument, and consequence of the of_ 14,880 domestic violence cases were rices they hold under the state establish- filed in West Virginia Family Court in ments; and the perverted ambition of an- 2010 and that about a third of all homi- other class of men, who will either hope cides in the Mountain State are related to aggrandise themselves by the con- to domestic violence, fusions of their country, or will flatter With a toll of that magnitude, it's themselves with fairer prospects of ele- laudable that Kanawha County is trying vation from the subdivision of the em- a new strategy. Other counties as well pire into several partial confederacies as the entire state may not want to wait than from its union tinder one govern- that long to adopt the same approach, ment. It is not, however, my design to dwell -- From the July 16 upon observations of this nature. I am The Herald-Dispatch, Huntingtonwell aware that it would be disingenu- Virginians, he could get lost pensions and health care back for the miners that lost them from Patriot Coal. A review of abortion laws and regula- tions is a veritable waste of state resourc- es desperately needed for priority needs. We do not need propaganda -- we need responsible leadership confronfmg real ' problems. Kristin Loken Falling Waters Story failed to report the faets The Spirit of Jefferson recently ran a story about the Consumer Protection Di- vision of the Attorney General's Office. The story -- reprinted verbatim from the Charleston Gazette -- made many as- sertions that are significantly untrue and utter nonsense. As you know, Patrick Morrisey ran on a platform of reforming the Attorney General's office and restoring integrity to this important part of state govern- ment. One part of our reform efforts in- volved managing the Consumer Protec- tion Division far more effectively than in the past. Indeed, a recent Legislative Au- dit report indicated that, prior to January, the Constnner Protection area had "sig- nificant internal control weaknesses and non-compliance in areas of high risk." West ViNinia deserves a strong con- sumer protection division and a well- managed, ethical Attorney General's Of- rice. We are taking steps to solve the prob- lems that plagued this office in the past and also bulk up the Martinsburg Office so that it can provide high-quality assis- tance to the residents of the Eastern Pan- handle. In recent weeks and months, we have hired several new staffers for the Con- sumer Protection Division, including two seasoned investigators, who will work with consumers and businesses to ensure the state's taws are followed. We also have announced many settlements in recent weeks that will remm money to consumers and state coffers. Please follow our office for updates on the Consumer Protection Division. Beth G. Ryan, State Attorney General office ous to resolve indiscriminately the op- position of any set of men (merely be- cause their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambi- tions views. Candour will oblige us to admit that even such men may be ac- tuated by upright intentions; and it can- not be doubted that much of the opposi- tion which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable - the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jeal- ousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judg- ment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circum- stance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a fur- ther reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by pur- er principles than their antagonists. Am- bition, avarice, pelsonal animosity, par- ty opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there not even these in- ducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, chamcter- ised political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution." Alexander Hamilton, "The Union and Its New Constitution," 1787 ) !