We should learn
lesson from possible layoffs at FBI
The possible loss of 300 temporary jobs at Clarksburgs FBI fingerprinting
facility is disheartening news to an area that has been on the rebound.
We applaud the efforts of city, county and state officials who recognized
the potential problem well in advance and have vowed to work diligently
to solve it.
But, while theres hope government officials can
find a way to place the 300 employees who face layoffs in 2000 in other
government positions, we agree with Ray Farley, executive director of the
Harrison County Development Authority, who said this points out an important
Up and down the corridor we need to be cognizant
that government contracts arent infinite, Farley said. Be it making
airplanes or processing fingerprints. Thats an important lesson that
shouldnt be lost on our leaders, even if they find a way to prevent the
While the Interstate 79 Corridor has been enjoying
great economic development since the early 1990s, look around: Much of
it is driven by government contracts from the West Virginia High Technology
Consortium Foundation in Fairmont, to the FBI facility and aerospace development
at the Benedum Airport complex.
As Farley indicated, theres no guarantee the trend
will continue in Washington, D.C. Its important that we diversify our
economic base and seek out industries that can survive without government
contracts and funding.
The future of North Central West Virginia should
be based more on investment by the private sector, not a political chess
match in Washington.
Todays editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial
board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser,
James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.
Gov. Underwoods tort
reform bill wont go
anywhere, but it should
Once again Governor Cecil Underwood has a good idea
for West Virginia. And once again the Democrat-laden state Legislature
will turn up its collective nose. For the second consecutive year, the
governor has introduced a tort reform bill. A sweeping tort reform bill
crashed and burned last year. A much less encompassing bill has been rolled
out this year, but House Speaker Bob Kiss, D-Raleigh, predicts it will
share the same fate.
The Fair Share of Responsibility Act introduced
by the governor would limit the amount of damages a defendant has to pay
in a civil suit according to the percentage of fault determined by a jury.
In other words, if a jury determined a defendant in a lawsuit is only 25
percent responsible, the defendant only has to pay 25 percent of the damages.
Under current law, a defendant who is partially
responsible could be forced to pay all of the damages. The Republican-backed
bill would cut down on the deep pockets phenomenon, in which the defendant
who can most afford to pay damages is forced to pay a majority of the amount.
More importantly, it would reduce lawsuit lottery, where plaintiff lawyers
sue practically everyone in sight.
Why does all this make sense? How about the fact
that West Virginia has the highest tort costs per person in the nation?
How about the fact that those out-of-line costs affect insurance rates
for both businesses and private citizens. Why, then, would the Legislature
likely not even take this bill to the floor for a vote? How about the fact
that quite a few legislators are lawyers? How about the fact that lawyers
play a big role in many of the county Democratic party organizations in
The bill does not in any way place new limits on
the amounts that can be awarded in a civil suit. That is an area of tort
reform that usually creates the most outcry from lawyers. This bill is
about fairness in civil suits. The bill will go nowhere and, once again,
special interests win out in West Virginia over common sense and the interests
of the average citizen and taxpaying businesses in the state.
Nothing new here. Just a continuing sad story that
is the result of a state Legislature being controlled by one party.
Telegram Editorial Board member