Last updated: November 05. 2013 9:24AM - 1576 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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The lingering question last week in Mingo County was whether it was flapjacks or “slapjacks” being served up at a well-known fast food restaurant in South Williamson, Kentucky.

The story making all the rounds (and thus headed to your intrepid political columnist) is that a couple of former Team Mingo allies ended up at the restaurant for breakfast at around the same time. It appears that the pair are no longer birds of a feather since heated words are said to have followed the chance meeting. While one ate pancakes at the diner, it is alleged that a “slap” may have actually occurred. Some reported that Kentucky law enforcement was handling the aftermath. Only the troopers apparently know for sure.

What is pretty certain is that the two, while once apparently the closest of political friends, are no longer seeing eye-to-eye.

Next time either enters the restaurant, he may want to consider what he orders for breakfast.

* * * * * *

My “endorsement” last week of Charles “Butch” West for Prosecuting Attorney in Mingo brought the usual scattering of disagreement. That is, of course, one of the reasons I offer opinions here since everybody is entitled to one. As I told one attorney who called me to tell me what a lowlife West is, I have already made my support known. I am likely not going to change my mind at this point. It’s a bit late for that.

It reminds me of my old belief that the (in)famous chemist Elmer Fike of Nitro always believed that The Charleston Gazette would eventually wake up, figure our he was not polluting the universe, and offer a screaming headline, “We were wrong about Elmer Fike.” That was never going to happen, of course, but Elmer could live in hope.

Thus and so, I am not retracting what I said about West. Anyone with negative opinions is welcome to voice them, either in comments to the Website or to me directly. As I often told Fike, “I understand your viewpoint; I just don’t agree with it.”

The newspaper is a great place to exchange ideas and thoughts.

* * * * * *

Saturday evening’s gathering of the state’s Democrats for their annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner brought the largest crowd in history, according to State Chair Larry Puccio. I can certainly attest to the fact that I have never seen that many Democrats gathered in one place at one time.

It was easy to tell who has an election coming up soon as we watched potential candidates work the floor, visiting with folks from across the state.

The evening was highlighted, of course, by the “retirement” honors for United States Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. The senior senator is stepping down next year after what the announcers called 50 years of public service.

Many in the huge crowd sported old “Jay” blue buttons from past campaigns for the Senator and former West Virginia two-term Governor.

Vice President Joe Biden was on hand to deliver a rousing speech, elevating Rockefeller to near-sainthood to the cheers of the throng. Rockefeller, himself, was seated in front of the podium at a table with other members of his party.

Most of the state’s elected officials were on hand, including fellow Senator and ex-Governor Joe Manchin as well as current Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and his First Lady.

* * * * * *

Some had wondered if Tomblin would participate in the event since Biden, the anti-coal king, was the main speaker. Many commented that the Governor did not attend his party’s national convention last year, expressing concern about Biden and President Barack Obama’s policies toward coal. But, apparently, the lure of celebrating Rockefeller’s alleged achievements overshadowed any worries about Biden and coal.

Meanwhile, outside the Charleston Civic Center where the event was held, hundreds of protesters held signs and chanted anti-Obama slogans. Biden and Manchin were also targets of their rhetoric and signboards.

Since I have become much more cognizant of billboards and signs in recent years, many of those on display were certainly cleverly done.

Only a couple of Charleston drivers considered running over me as I stood in one of the four traffic lanes to briefly take photos. Some of the protesters were overly concerned that I would be run over but it didn’t happen.

* * * * * *

The crowd inside was jovial and seemed to enjoy much of the evening, although there were quiet spots in the crowd when Biden was introduced or mentioned by other speakers. There also appeared to be little agreement from the inside crowd with criticism of Manchin, who remains immensely popular despite his perceived opposition to gun advocates.

* * * * * *

Among those working the crowd was Lincoln County School Board member Gary McCallister. I caught up with McCallister long enough to inquire if he had resigned from the Board yet in anticipation of a run for House of Delegates. Resigning from the Board is required before McCallister can take any official steps toward the House.

McCallister assured me he had not yet given up his Board seat but said he still intends to run for the House. Earlier, supporters of his had claimed he would resign from the Board on November 1 to file pre-candidacy papers. He does not, of course, have to file before January 2014.

* * * * * *

One wonders if the local Southern coalfields have just one Republican House of Delegates member in Joshua Nelson of if there are more.

Saturday evening’s arrival of Biden brought colorful protests, as noted. None was more interesting than the one at Yeager Airport, where the Vice President arrived in town. There, supposedly-Democrat Delegate Rupie Phillips joined others in protesting the Democrat Vice President’s arrival and policies toward coal.

While Phillips and others will claim that they simply disagree with the Obama administration’s coal policies, it is obvious the arguments run deeper than that.

Will Phillips run for re-election as a Republican?

* * * * * *

Meanwhile, as Phillips and his cohorts demonstrated disdain for the Vice President and the Obama administration, a sensible legislator like Delegate Josh Barker of Boone County was busy visiting with his constituents. Barker was the keynote speaker Saturday evening at a gathering of emergency responders in Logan County, where he picked up an award for his dedication to emergency services.

Also on hand was State Senator Art Kirkendoll for the occasion sponsored by the firefighters of Logan County.

Barker has proven, during his brief tenure in the House, to be a real “people person.” He attends a variety of community events and is regularly pressing the flesh somewhere in his district, which includes most of Lincoln and parts of Boone, Logan and Putnam counties.

* * * * * *

Rumors from Mingo insist that various public officials, law enforcement and other civic leaders keep the Corridor hot between Williamson and Charleston as they make appearances before the Federal Grand Jury investigating corruption in the county.

* * * * * *

Another tidbit of mine that brought a tremendous outpouring of comment related to gambling in Mingo County. Many saw the item differently, with some thinking we are talking about gambling on a small scale and others thinking it is a major factor in the Mingo fiasco.

I am confident that many of my readers are sincere in their concerns about gambling and I would guess that most are right on with their ideas about where much of the gambling occurs.

There will definitely be more to write about on this subject in coming weeks.

* * * * * *

And I have always been an opponent of the rituals such as cockfighting that are so prevalent in the region. We also have at least one leading legislator who is the main proponent of the tragic “sport.” Many readers asked about that as well.

* * * * * *

Meanwhile, the state Republican party had reason to celebrate last week. One of their legislative attorneys, Roger Hanshaw, has pre-filed for the House from Clay County. And former Clarksburg Mayor Margaret Bailey and Lumberport businesswoman Diana Bartley filed pre-candidacy papers for the House from the 48th District in Harrison and Taylor counties.

Bailey re-joined the GOP in recent days, after being elected four times in non-partisan Clarksburg city elections.

“Like so many in Harrison County, the national Democratic party has left me and my family’s values,” said Bailey.

Your comments, rumors, story ideas and disagreements are welcome. Use the email indicated or call my cell, 304-533-5185.

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