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Legislature back in session; be afraid … be very afraid

January 8, 2014

The legislature is in town. Hide the women and children.


The best we can hope for from the West Virginia Legislature is that they do absolutely nothing. That, however, is not likely, although they will be cautious in an election year.


Not much in the way of innovative legislation can be expected from a leadership team whose idea of major changes can be achieved by making the pepperoni roll the official state food.


Dare I say it? Nothing of any magnitude has happened in four years, so there is little likelihood it will occur this time around. Oh, I know, leadership and administrators will declare they’ve done everything but part the Red Sea for the multitudes. Still, the state is suffering a downturn in its economy and the prospects are not bright.


As I have suggested before, let’s all pack our belongings, head to Richmond and beg our mother to take us back.


Officially, this legislative session begins Wednesday and runs to March 8. Would it be safe for me to say that while nothing will get done anyway, there will be a rush at the end to pass some “major” legislation that lawmakers have slept on for seven and a half weeks?


This is not to say there are not hard-working members of both houses. There are. They are very much lost in the minority, however.


… Don’t ask me to make any political sense of West Virginia House Speaker Tim Miley and Senate President Jeff Kessler’s release of information allegedly showing financial and other wrongdoing in the Gus Douglass Agriculture Department.


Douglass himself, retired due to old age and is clearly no political threat to anyone. All the parties involved thus far are Democrats, so that is not logical either.


At least when right-wing crazies went wild and sought to “indict” former Democrat First District U.S Rep. Alan Mollohan five years ago, we could all see the political “wisdom” of their move. And it worked. They beat Mollohan with Mike Oliverio in the primary, then Oliverio promptly lost to right-winger David McKinley.


In the Douglass matter, though, it makes no political sense. Could it possibly be that two Democrat legislators saw wrongdoing and actually decided to report it to the U.S.attorney instead of sweeping it under the rug?


No, that’s not even possible.


… Speakers who profess to be educated and press relations people who claim the same thing always amuse me.


I realize children are taught at a young age to say, “I want a cup of milk” instead of “me wants a cup of milk.” What I don’t understand is why that recommendation holds so firmly in the minds of so many that they think using “me” at any time is wrong.


“Jack and I are going to the store,” is, of course, correct. But, “If you need something from the store, call Jack or me,” is also correct.


We were taught in the lower grades in Gilmer County that it is simple to decide which to use. Eliminate the second name and see which is correct. It is not right to say, “If you need something from the store, call Jack or I” because it would not be correct to say, “If you need something from the store, call I.”


Yet learned public officials use the wrong word continuously. They also love to substitute “myself” for “me” when that is inappropriate as well.


“Me” is the objective form of “I.” It is just as much a word as “I” or “myself.” One can say it without having to immediately face a firing squad.”Myself” is a pronoun. It should be used as a pronoun; it is not interchangeable with “I” or “me.”


What got me on the previous rant is a press release from a high-ranking state official. With the release, the press agent has instructed reporters that “if you want to see (the subject material) you may find it on our website.” I emphasized “may.” They did not.


The point is that “may” means one “might” be able to find the material on the politician’s website. It doesn’t mean it is absolutely there for one and all to see. If that was being said, it would be “you can find it on our website.” So, in other words, the press guru is saying you might find the info on their website and you might not.


How silly.


… Many comments have been made regarding how the Mingo County corruption investigation has been handled and who “might” go to jail as a result.


As before, my answer remains that many of those who could go to jail will not. I suspect there aren’t enough cells in West Virginia to hold all the crooked politicians, if they were all charged legitimately with crimes they have committed. The legal system is just not designed to get them all.


Those who ask me about former Judge Michael Thornsbury’s maneuvers with the feds often wonder who the disgraced judge is “singing” about. Again, who knows?


But this I do know: the judge will be pleading to lesser charges than he was originally indicted on. Still, I am reliably told that one theory regarding that is not true. Thornsbury will not, those who know say, be able to keep his judge’s pension regardless of which count he is convicted on.


High-ranking officials tell me receiving a felony for a court-related matter leads one to lose his or her pension, no matter what. So, the most recent charge against Thornsbury is a felony and experts say he could be stripped of his pension as early as February.


… The shooting at a downtown bar in Charleston last week would be comical if not so serious. Amazingly enough, a crystal clear video of the entire episode has shown up on YouTube and the mental hygiene commissioner in Fayette County has been charged with a felony.


The attorney has actually received more publicity for his role in the episode than the shooter. Jamie Conrad is now a household name in places where he had never been heard of before the incident.


Which led me to make the observation that anyone looking at the film and seeing the mental hygiene commissioner’s actions would easily understand why they have never managed to find me mentally incompetent. Despite hearings, officials have been unable to prove I am crazier than the judge.


Disclaimer: I have not actually had a mental hygiene hearing, although perhaps I should have.


… The passing of Mingo County’s James H. “Buck” Harless has been mourned by all who knew him. Harless was always a gentleman and a friend to me, so I join those who offer sympathy to his wife and loved ones.


The Larry Joe Harless Community Center in Gilbert will live forever as testimony to Harless’s public spirit. It is a fabulous facility and a tribute to Harless and his family.


… The possibility that Angel Moore, formerly of Mingo County, might run for Congress from the Second District, reminds me of one of the most decent men to ever seek public office in West Virginia.


As a disclaimer, I must report that I was on the paid staff of Republican Dan Moore when he ran for governor in 2004. Regardless, the man is one class act who was probably better off finishing second to Monty Warner in that primary. In doing so, Moore won about 53 of the state’s 55 counties, but Warner’s victories in Monongalia and Preston cost Moore the nomination.


I told Dan Moore from the time I first met him that he was probably too honest and sincere for West Virginia politics. He likely was. I told him if he was elected governor, he’d either have to change from being the first-class gentleman he was or they would “eat him alive” at the Capitol. West Virginia politics is not for those who always tell the truth.


In months on the campaign trail with him, I never heard Moore so much as utter a mild curse word. He cannot say the same for me, his vulgar-tongued politico. He was a gentleman to a fault and as honest as the day is long.


West Virginia needed Dan Moore in 2004 and the voters weren’t smart enough to see it. If his daughter, who shares his qualities and values, runs, perhaps the voters will make a wiser decision this time around.


… Another possible GOP candidate for Congress or State Senate is Kim Knopf, who built a mattress sales giant known as Mattress Warehouse.


Knopf, too, would be a viable candidate, although I suspect her real opportunity is in the State Senate running against presumptive Democrat nominee Doug Skaff.


If she runs for Congress, Knopf would be campaigning in the Second District as well.


With the financial assistance of her husband, Knopf built her store chain to 90 locations in just 20 years. She is intelligent and personable, and would be difficult for Skaff to handle.


… Please continue reading “Gregory’s Web,” the only political column endorsed by the inmates at the Southwestern Regional Jail and Mount Olive Penitentiary.


I kid you not.


… Again, a reader has written to suggest I take a look at Jay Rockefeller’s draft-dodging and balance it with a column about the draft-dodging of former Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush.


I suppose I should point out, one more time, that in this column nobody is obligated to give two sides to every story. This is my personal opinion, not even the newspaper’s idea. I do not think Cheney or Bush ever dodged the draft as Rockefeller did but that wasn’t the point. The point was that Rockefeller is cheered as a “hero” by veterans and their leaders although he dodged the draft.


You won’t be reading about Cheney and Bush dodging the draft any time soon.


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