Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
Nov. 4 - News and Sentinel, Parkersburg, W. Va., on spending fiascoes in state:
Once the cost of waste and outright wrongdoing in West Virginia’s massive program to improve Internet access is added up, it will not be surprising if the total is in eight figures.
State officials admit $7.9 million was wasted in purchasing unnecessarily expensive network routers. Some analysts say the waste actually was twice that. And millions more may have been spent improperly when state bidding procedures were ignored in a communications tower project.
It all was part of a program to spend $126.3 million in federal “stimulus” money given to the state. Misuse of much of that money has received national attention.
Earlier this month, state legislators were told they should stiffen purchasing rules to avoid similar waste in the future. Lawmakers should accept every recommendation along that line from the Legislative Auditor’s Office — and more.
In addition, investigations of misspending should continue. Those who broke state rules should be fired — and/or prosecuted, if crimes occurred.
Too much money was wasted for state officials merely to try to do better in the future.
Nov. 4 - The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W. Va., on one chain’s decision to stop selling a drug used in making meth:
A decision by Rite Aid pharmacies in West Virginia to stop selling cold medications that have only pseudoephedrine as their active ingredient has received mixed reviews.
But in the short term, it’s at least a small step forward in efforts to reduce the illegal production of methamphetamine, which is highly addictive to its users and poses serious hazards to anyone else in the vicinity of meth-making labs.
The decision by Rite Aid applies to a few products that are sought out by people because they contain only pseudoephedrine and thus are easier to use in making potent methamphetamine. Rite Aid stores will continue to sell medications that contain both pseudoephedrine and other active ingredients such as antihistamines and pain relievers, which typically aren’t in such high demand for illegal meth production.
Rite Aid’s decision came after a recent report by The Charleston Gazette showing that some of its stores were among the state’s top sellers of products that contain pseudoephedrine. A Rite Aid spokeswoman said the company was committed to doing its part to combat methamphetamine production.
Jason Grellner, vice president of the National Narcotics Officers Association, told The Gazette that Rite Aid should be commended. …
Last year, West Virginia lawmakers passed a bill that allowed the state’s participation in a tracking system called NPLEx, which required all pharmacies in the state to report sales of pseudoephedrine products. …
If other pharmacy chains make the same move as Rite Aid, perhaps the prevalence of illegal meth labs would drop significantly. But short of such a widespread buy-in by the those selling pseudoephedrine products, mandating prescription-only sales may be the only way to crimp methamphetamine production. The two other states that require prescriptions have seen sharp declines in meth-lab seizures. That’s the kind of results that West Virginia must pursue.