How can members of Team Mingo stave off criticism?

November 27, 2013

The question remains: how can Team Mingo folks escape criticism. Again, even if there is no impropriety, the appearance is clearly there. When the population is already up in arms and doubting the honesty of their public servants, these shenanigans simply make matters much worse.

It might be a good idea for everyone in the county to settle in, quit trying to influence decisions improperly, and pick the best person for the job, without regard to who he or she is associated with.

…. Those who try to suppress the facts in Mingo always want to accuse me of being a “tool” of state Sen. Truman Chafin. If I am on Chafin’s payroll, as some have suggested, I have been failing to get my checks.

An outraged — or outrageous — reader said last week that this column is nothing but “rumors, rumors, rumors.” That came during a week in which there were no more than two or three rumors published with dozens of facts stated. I cannot make up many of the things we’ve reported here. Guilty pleas have confirmed everything written from the beginning. That is not rumor; that is fact.

Another Team Mingo sympathizer asked, perhaps rhetorically, “Who is Ron Gregory?” Perhaps we have reiterated my history here four or five times during the past six months. I suggest the reader go to the newspaper archives.

Ask me if I think every Team Mingo member is crooked and I will tell you, as I have basically stated here before, an emphatic “no.” Are all getting blamed for the transgressions of some? Absolutely.

Is that fair? Not unless the remaining Team Mingo members continue to insist their convicted brethren are not guilty of any wrongdoing. That is simply an attempt to mislead the public.

But, again, that’s why the appearance of impropriety needs to be avoided by the remaining members.

…. Former Mingo Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks is not working at the movie theater at the South Williamson, Ky., mall, according to ownership. Although getting an answer to the question was a bit difficult last week, ownership insisted Sparks is not working there.

A number of callers had informed me that they had seen “Michael Sparks selling popcorn at the mall theater.” Absolutely not, management says.

One female working in the mall owner’s office said Sparks “may have come to see a movie with his wife and children but he is definitely not working here.”

Sparks is awaiting sentencing in federal court after his guilty plea.

…. New Mingo County Commissioner Carter, an affable enough fellow, came over to say hello to me last week at Ryan’s Steakhouse in Dudley Farms near Charleston after we sat at side-by-side tables.

…. Times may get tough for one of the southern coalfields’ Republican House of Delegates members.

A group of folks — some of whom tell me they were supporters of GOP Delegate Joshua Nelson in 2012, are now backing Democrat Barry Brown for the seat. They say Brown has filed pre-candidacy papers and is poised to give Nelson a run for his seat.

Brown is a former Boone CountyBboard of Education member. The district Nelson represents is overwhelmingly Democrat and elected a Republican for the first time two years ago.

One theme expected from Brown is that he is a “local boy.” That supposedly will negatively impact Nelson, who opponents insist is not a “real Boone Countian.” These people say Nelson grew up in Ohio and went to school in the Buckeye State.

…. Delegates at the legislature’s interim sessions last week in Charleston were told that the governor’s Community Partnership Grant program no longer exists. That came after funding had been allocated in the budget for the program in the Senate.

By and large, the CPGP replaced the old Budget Digest, which was ruled unconstitutional. Basically, it is patronage funds allocated to legislators to keep the folks back home happy and the votes rolling in.

Delegates on both sides of the aisle were told of the death of the CPGP during caucuses held during interims. Yes, Sen. Blair, I was able to infiltrate the “top-secret” meetings to learn what went on.

…. Fortunately, sources say, Del Dana Lynch was in Charleston for interims when he had a heart attack last week. Lynch, who represents Webster Springs and the 44th District, reportedly had six bypasses in order to survive the setback. “If he had been in Webster, he would never have lived to get to the hospital,” said one relieved staffer.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all. Keep the comments, rumors and story ideas coming. Use my email or call my cell, 304-533-5185.