‘I’m My Own Grandpa’ might fit here

Last updated: November 29. 2013 8:32AM - 2157 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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Yes, dear readers, I know that Glen Rutledge served on the so-called “selection committee” that recently interviewed candidates to replace Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden. Some even say Rutledge was THE entire committee, with the two sitting county commissioners actually being nothing more than “sitting” members themselves.

In any event, it is clearly apparent that Rutledge assisted in recommending the newly-appointed County Commissioner Michael Carter. It also seems clear that Rutledge was — and is — related directly by marriage to the successful candidate.

Those things can happen in a small county. I have often wondered if nepotism rules should apply as seriously in a county with 20,000 people as one with 200,000. Honestly, and I am not being sarcastic here, family and marital relationships are difficult to avoid in hiring practices.

Still, let us all admit that Rutledge’s key position in appointing Carter does not get beyond the “smell test.” If lawyers such as Rutledge, one of the prosecuting attorney’s office lawyers, want to avoid even the “appearance” of a conflict of interest, he didn’t do a very good job in Carter’s appointment.

I have no idea if Rutledge went into the interviews intent upon recommending Carter. If he did, that goes beyond the “appearance” of conflict directly to the conflict itself.

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Now, sources — including lawyer Tim Koontz whose Facebook postings are perhaps the best sources for rumors in Mingo County — say Rutledge is an applicant to replace discredited Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury. Perhaps the state committee that will recommend three names of potential nominees to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin should look at having Carter conduct the judge interviews.

With people like Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper on that board, though, I am certain nobody with a conflict or perceived conflict will be doing THESE interviews. Carper is a stickler for strictly following the rules with regard to ethics. In Kanawha, it is safe to say Rutledge would not have been on any committee picking his relative.

Likely, that wouldn’t have happened in most other counties in the state.

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For whatever reason, all of this reminds me of the old country tune, “I’m My Own Grandpa” from 1947.

In that comical song, made famous by Lonzo and Oscar, the narrator marries a widow with an adult daughter. Then, his father marries the widow’s daughter. Eventually, through a series of illogical (but legal) nuptials, the singer can declare himself “my own grandpa.”

Audiences loved to follow the twists of the song, which the writers said was based on an earlier assertion by Mark Twain that it was possible for someone to legally be “his own grandpa.”

Perhaps there is a way Rutledge can declare himself “my own circuit judge” at the end of the day.

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Maybe the judge selection committee could be run by Carter’s wife. That would assure impartiality.

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The question remains: how can Team Mingo folks continue to make moves such as this and 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 Senator 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 said 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 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.

* * * * * *

Well, it is RUMORED he pleaded guilty, I suppose. Okay, Chafin haters?

* * * * * *

The Lord may be at Ryan’s Steakhouse in Dudley Farms near Charleston.

Apparently, He directed the paths of new Mingo Commissioner Mike Carter and me to tables beside each other last week.

Carter, an affable enough fellow, came over to say hello after he had told me the week before about doing nothing except what the Lord tells him to do.

That quote brought some rather interesting — and even nasty — comments from readers. But I will accept that God put Carter and me together at Ryan’s.

* * * * * *

Times may get tough for one of the southern coalfield’s Republican house of delegates members.

A group of folks — some of whom tell me they were supporters of GOP Delegate Josh-ua 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 County board 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.

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

* * * * * *

Fortunately, sources say, Delegate 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.

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