Partisan political activities

Last updated: February 25. 2014 8:51AM - 1444 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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It isn’t all that unusual to see a government employee, supposedly working for the taxpayers, carrying on partisan political activities. Although such would technically be illegal, it is safe to say it happens every day. This is particularly true at the legislature, where the majority and minority parties have their own staffs. Disloyalty to the employer would likely result in problems for an employee if he or she showed favoritism to the other side. That is actually understandable.

But when a state employee, allegedly working for us as communications director of the ENTIRE state house of delegates, enters the area of party politics, it at least sends up a red flag of some kind.

Last week, Stacey Ruckle, whose title is communications director for the house of delegates, sent out a press release basically attacking Republican members of the house. While Ruckle listed Mingo County Delegates Harry Keith White and Justin Marcum as contacts for the email, it nonetheless was clearly originated and signed off on by Ruckle.

In the press release,White and Marcum attempted to explain their pro-choice vote on the bill designed to protect the lives of unborn babies after 20 weeks of development. While it is impossible to actually do that, both they and Ruckle deserve a star for trying.

The first paragraph sets the tone of the email, “Although Mingo County Delegates Harry Keith White and Justin Marcum were extremely disappointed that Republican delegates recently chose to use an issue as critical as abortion to stage a superficial political stunt, they are pleased to note that legislation restricting abortions is now moving in the House of Delegates.”

Ah, Republicans are the culprits for finally forcing alleged pro-life Democrats to vote pro-choice. After years of babbling about being Right-to-Lifers, these actually-liberal Democrats were forced to show their true colors when Republicans offered a bill to discharge the protect the unborn baby bill from the health and human resources committee. And incidentally, the bill is currently moving in the house, with no thanks needing to be directed to White or Marcum.

Let’s set the record straight one more time: when a pro-choice, pro-life issue was actually before the house two weeks ago, the coalfield Democrats voted pro-choice, with the exception of Jeff Eldridge of Lincoln County. He cast a pro-life vote. He can truly claim to be pro-life. Nobody else can.

To try to set the matter in perspective, those supposedly pro-life Democrats who voted pro-choice claim their ballots were simply “upholding leadership and the committee process.” Then, let them explain to a 20-week baby feeling pain that, when they were called on to choose between protecting the baby and protecting leadership, they chose to protect leadership, not the unborn baby. It’s absolutely as simple as that.

* * * * * *

Ruckle’s email caused House Minority Leader Tim Armstead of Kanawha to wonder if Ruckle would send out a similar press release if Republican members requested it. “I sort of doubt it,” said Armstead, smiling slightly.

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Let me make something else clear for those who miss it: I have absolutely stated here that I would vote pro-choice in the legislature. So, I am not a right-wing, Tea Party nut. I am not saying the coalfield Democrats should have voted to discharge the bill. But I am saying they should tell voters the truth: they voted pro-choice, except for Eldridge. By the end of the week, only Logan’s Rupie Phillips, among those the coalfield Democrats who voted pro-choice, had not at least attempted to say he is pro-life.

Maybe that’s because he is not. And maybe — just maybe — the original vote should become a campaign issue.

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After my comments about Democrats not being Democratics, I received some lengthy emails from a reader who attempted to set me straight. This particular Democratic went into the history of the party and alleged that the Democratic National Committee “runs” the party. Interesting to know; I thought Democrats always argued that they democratically operated at the local level. Orders are coming from Washington, though, it appears.

My loyal reader, the Democratic, can rant about a “partisan attack” by me in calling the Democrat party the Democrat party. As readers know, I am a loyal supporter, among others, of Democrat Congressman Nick Joe Rahall, State Senator Truman Chafin and many other Democrats … I mean, Democratics. My opinion on the matter will not change due to personal attacks and insulting innuendo.

* * * * * *

For those who missed my story on the subject, it clearly appears that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is a scofflaw when it comes to appointing a circuit judge in Mingo County. West Virginia Code 3-10-3a obviously gives the governor 30 days from the time he receives a recommendation regarding who to appoint. That recommendation came far more than 30 days ago and yet no appointment has been made.

It surely isn’t possible that someone is playing politics with a judge appointment in Mingo, is it?

Nah, not possible. In Mingo County? Come on.

* * * * * *

Since leadership refuses to take roll call votes on the abortion question, it is impossible to know which delegates voted for the protect the unborn baby bill in committee. When judiciary passed the bill to the floor Friday evening, the only clear “no” votes came from female members. So, unless Marcum changed his voice to female, he likely DID vote pro-life this time. Clearly, the final version on the floor will require a recorded vote and the chickens … er roosters … may come home to roost.

* * * * * *

Since a state of emergency still exists because of the chemical leak into the water system, how can it be argued that all West Virginia-American Water is safe to drink? If so, what’s the state of emergency about?

Also, a little-known fact appears to be that WV-A does not have sufficient water in its tanks in order to shut off its water intakes for a period of time. While Cincinnati shut their intakes off for a day while the spill passed on the Ohio River, WV-A claimed it could not close its Elk River intakes in time. But those familiar with the situation say the real reason no turnoff occurred is because Charleston would have lacked fire protection and residences would have gone without water if the Elk intake was shut down for even a few minutes. This was water, of course, that was contaminated and really couldn’t be used anyway.

* * * * * *

Delegate Anthony Barill of Monongalia County was still absent from his house seat last week due to the horrible incident that occurred at his home several weeks ago. Barill’s son apparently committed suicide and a stray bullet from his gun struck his father in the foot. The delegate and former sheriff has been recuperating and hoped to return to work as early as the past Monday.

* * * * * *

Senator Chafin said he was once called on by a constituent to explain a controversial vote. As chair of the committee considering the bill, Chafin said he voted “yes” although there were provisions of the law he did not agree with. By voting in the majority, Chafin could then move to reconsider the measure and hoped to remove the offending provisions.

He said immediately after the “yes” vote, an elderly constituent called, giving him grief for voting for the bill with the offending sections. Chafin said he then launched into a lengthy explanation of the legislative process, assuring the caller he agreed with her and would vote “no” if the language remained. In so doing, he told her how voting “yes” gave him a chance to call for reconsider, which he could not have done if he had voted “no” with the minority.

After offering his insight into the process, Chafin said he paused to hear the caller’s perspective on what he had explained. “That’s what I thought,” said the lady. “You’re just a f—-ing, lying politician!” Chafin said he wondered why he had gone into such detail.

That may also be the intelligent voter’s take on pro-choice votes by White, Marcum, Phillips and their comrades.

* * * * * *

Republican congressional candidate Charlotte Lane plans to open her second district campaign headquarters in Charleston at 12 noon, Saturday, March 8. It will be located at 114 Washington Street, West.

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Cabell County Republican Delegate Kelli Sobonya was visibly upset last week when Judiciary Committee Chair Tim Manchin refused to allow questions and debate to continue on an election bill that favors labor unions. According to observers, Manchin simply walked around the committee room, made sure there were sufficient votes to pass the measure, and then called the question while Sobonya and others screamed “point of order.”

Folks like Manchin and Ruckle may someday get to see Republicans run roughshod over Democrats if the GOP obtains a majority. Nobody will be able to say they didn’t have it coming. Sobonya was right; Manchin was, clearly, wrong.

* * * * * *

As the old week ended, Republicans were claiming West Virginia’s constitution was under attack by those wanting to impose what they call “ethics standards” on the attorney general. What really is going on is that Democrats are unhappy that Republican Patrick Morrisey defeated their long-time darling, Darrell McGraw, two years ago. Morrisey is actually running a fair, unbiased office and that drives Democrats … er, Democratics … crazy. Although the GOP leadership thinks the constituent is under assault, I don’t think it is that dramatic. The bill will never make it through the legislature, in my opinion.

* * * * * *

Keep the rumors, comments and story ideas coming. Even if you’re a Democratic, your views are welcome but will not be debated. Use my email address or call my cell, 304-533-5185.

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