Here’s the latest from Michael Baisden

Last updated: October 07. 2013 2:32PM - 1971 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com



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Here’s the latest from Michael Baisden …


Last week, you may recall, I noted that an investigative reader had uncovered the fact that all I report here concerning Mingo County is rumors I hear from Michael Baisden. At the time, I noted that Baisden must have been doing a pretty strange job of telecommunicating with me since I’d never talked to the man in my life.


The day the column appeared, Baisden called me. So, we have now talked. He said he understood that I was being accused of spreading gossip originated by him and he was calling to introduce himself. We had a nice chat and we discussed a few things Mingo but nothing earth-shattering.


Anyway, just for the record … I have now talked to Michael Baisden.


* * * * * *


While the remainder of the state is mesmerized by the goings-on in Mingo, it is safe to say that candidates with a real idea of what it takes to win an election are already getting their ducks in a row for 2014.


After all, we are already into October. In less than 90 days, candidates will be filing for various offices. Then, the primary campaign is always a bit compact since it only lasts four months.


So, by this time seven months from now, we will be considering the winners and losers of both the Democrat and Republican primaries. The general election will be on by September 1 – and even earlier in several races.


Look for the United States Senate contest, for example, to be a battle that continues from now until November. It is a foregone conclusion that Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito will win the Republican nomination and her opponent will be Democrat Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Since the field is already decided, there is no reason to hold back on the contest. Capito is traveling all over the state outside her district and Tennant is making events from one end of West Virginia to the other.


Capito will remain the odds-on favorite to win the job unless something dramatic happens to change that equation. A national emergency in which Capito made a stupid move could be one opportunity, although Capito is generally calm and cautious under pressure. I don’t look for her to make any major mistakes.


* * * * * *


And yes, I know far-right Tea Partiers are always unhappy with Capito because she does not toe the lunatic fringe far enough. I have pointed out on many previous occasions that there are crazies on both sides of the spectrum, left and right. Capito has voted consistently for the benefit of her constituency but because she will not rail against abortions and so forth, Tea Partiers think she is a RINO (Republican in Name Only).


The Moore-Capito pedigree is deep enough in the Republican party that nobody should ever doubt her allegiance to the GOP, but some do. Her father, Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr., may have been the greatest individual politician ever to cross West Virginia’s political stage and he surely was a Republican.


* * * * * *


One of the latest news tidbits out of Williamson caught my attention. School administrators in Mingo say they are going to start drug testing students. Could I suggest that maybe they are starting with the wrong group of people or perhaps a bit late?


* * * * * *


Speaking of Mingo (have I done that before?), a recent interface with the board of education there was interesting. Recall that the Mingo system is controlled by the State Board of Education. I wanted to talk with Board President Bill Duty. In the past, I had possessed Duty’s home phone number as well as his cell but I have changed phones and lost a few numbers. His was apparently one of them.


So, I called the Board office, identified myself as being with the Williamson Daily News (saying one is with Civitas Newspapers causes a great deal of consternation around Southern West Virginia for some reason) and told them I had misplaced Duty’s numbers.


I then asked if I could be given an office number for him, a place to leave a message, an email address or something. I never asked for his cell number or his home phone.


The receptionist, trying to be very friendly, said she would have to ask someone. When she came back, she said the Board office does not give out any information about Board members. I pointed out that these folks are elected by the public, accountable to the public, and will likely stand for election in the future among the public. She said she understood but there was nothing she could do to help me.


I called a mutual friend who had Duty’s numbers and gladly gave them to me. When I reached Duty, he said he had no idea where the policy of not allowing contact with Board members came from. A state Board spokeswoman assured me she would look into it and get back to me but never did.


Let me repeat: the members of the Mingo Board of Education are elected by the public and accountable to the same. There is no earthly reason for keeping contact from them and the public they are supposed to serve. At the very least, a receptionist should take the caller’s name and pass it along to the Board member. But I would be reluctant to vote for a School Board member who hides his or her home phone number from the public. I don’t think they do have any obligation to provide their cellular number, though.


This type of hiding behind the bushes is what has allowed Mingo to slip into the deep, dark hole it finds itself in. It is an embarrassment to good, local people and the state as a whole. It is time for the Board of Education to come in out of the grime and provide contact information for members of the Board.


Transparency is a wonderful thing.


* * * * * *


Meanwhile, what is all the uproar in Logan County regarding the Board of Education hiring practices there? Part of the hullaballoo involves a new position for Communications Director. Several people apparently applied for the job, including Erica O’Briant, daughter of Circuit Judge Eric O’Briant. Another applicant was Rebecca Grimmett, wife of Assessor Rick Grimmett. According to some familiar with the situation, O’Briant had zero years of experience while Grimmett had 26 years. A third candidate is a former radio announcer who actually had a masters degree in communication.


Some are suggesting that O’Briant at least quietly used his position to secure the job for his daughter. They say His Honor attended the Board meeting where the position was to be filled, one of the few times he has ever done so. Rick Grimmett, on the other hand, was also there for the meeting.


Whatever happened, Erica O’Briant got the job and there are several unhappy campers in Logan County as we speak.


* * * * * *


In Lincoln County, meanwhile, I will take this personal for a moment to tell readers that I have been a member of the Lincoln Public Service District Board since 2008. In 2009, I was duly appointed to a full six-year term on the board after having filled out the unexpired board term of Jerry Linville. Every document related to my appointment showed my term beginning July 1, 2009 and ending June 30, 2015 until 2013.


Forces within the power structure in Lincoln have been trying to get me off this board for nearly two years. They have fabricated auto accidents at West Hamlin and tried to argue last year that my term had expired.


This year, when July 1 rolled around, they simply appointed someone in my place, saying my term ended June 30, 2013. Although I knew this was not true, I made little effort to fight it.


Then, as often happens, a concerned citizen was visiting the Statehouse and wandered into the Secretary of State’s office. Once there, she asked to see the Board terms of Lincoln PSD members. Lo and behold, letters were found from the Lincoln County Commission confirming my term ending on June 30, 2015 from 2009 to 2012. Then, in 2013, the letter suddenly said the term ended June 30, 2013.


Obviously, an attempt has been made to deprive me of my constitutional and civil rights. I do not generally bring personal matters to this column but this is just another example of Southern West Virginia politicians got amuck and figuring they can do ANYTHING and get away with it.


* * * * * *


So, the Federal government is gone. Golly, I miss it.


Seriously, Federal government shutdowns have very little affect on anything meaningful and are solely intended for the attention-grabbing it does.


Let’s face it. Congress and the White House would rather make the other look bad than actually do anything to benefit the country.


Eventually, they will all work it out; hug and live happily ever after.


* * * * * *


Meanwhile, the people suffer.


* * * * * *


The Federal shutdown is so important that Senators Joe Manchin, Jay Rockefeller and Congressman Nick Joe Rahall had to insist on postponing the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner scheduled for this Saturday. The dinner was to be a birthday tribute to Rockefeller for his years of alleged service, so naturally Jay has to be on hand for the affair.


So, it has been moved to November 2, when hopefully the earth will still be spinning and the government will again be in business.


Hope my partner for that evening can still make it.


* * * * * *


Send your comments, rumors and story ideas to me at the email address listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185. The backlog is tremendous, so do not think I have forgotten you.

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