Exponent View, Saturday, Feb. 27, 1999
We'd be better served by a Legislature that works in timely manner
    It just doesn't make any sense.
    With just over two weeks remaining, the West Virginia Legislature has accomplished little, sending just 23 bills to Governor Cecil Underwood for his approval. And most of those bills have been minor in nature.
    That leaves major issues to be decided under the gun of a March 13, midnight deadline. Issues still to be addressed include:
-Revamping of the workers' compensation law.
-Proposed smokeless tobacco tax.
-Cable industry regulation.
-Eliminating nude dancing.
-Hospital rate legislation.
-Aerospace tax breaks.
    The argument can be made that lawmakers spend the first half of the session studying the issues before voting on the bills. But that doesn't seem to be the case this year. "The real serious stuff is still out there," Delegate Barbara Warner, D-Harrison, said. "Why aren't they moving on some of this stuff? We all know it's coming, but nobody's talking about it."
Of course, this year's Legislature is just carrying on the tradition. Last year, the House and Senate passed 343 bills, many in the final days of the session.
    To pass the same number of bills this year, legislators would be acting on more than 300 bills the next two weeks.
This uneven pace leads to confusion during the final weeks and greatly increases the chance for mistakes. It also gives senior legislators who know the process the ability to railroad controversial bills past their peers and special interests to have an unfair advantage during the key decision-making process.
    We believe the people of West Virginia would be better served by a Legislature that balances it workload better instead of putting off the important issues until the final minutes.

Today's 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.

Sedivy Column, Feb. 27, 1999
Please, may I rant for a while?

    Alas, there's so much to rant ... er, write about, but so little time! So, while I prefer to write columns that stick to one theme, how about a hodgepodge today?
    First on my list, Clarksburg City Councilman and Nutter Fort Elementary School Assistant Principal Frank Marino.
This one's been bugging me since it happened.
    To refresh your memories, Councilman Marino was cited by Bridgeport Police following a Dec. 6 incident at Phar-Mor, during which store personnel stopped him after he set off one of those electronic, anti-shoplifting devices.
According to police reports, Marino was observed by store personnel removing a necklace and a telephone coupler, worth a total of $8.58, from his pocket. Then, on Feb. 3, after his attorney had proclaimed his innocence, Marino pleaded "no contest" to the shoplifting charge in Bridgeport Municipal Court.
    Now, I really hate to open old wounds, but does anyone else think they deserve a better explanation for what happened in this case?
    After all, Mr. Marino has been placed in a position of public trust and responsibility by the voters of Clarksburg and by the Harrison County Board of Education.
    So far, however, Marino's explanations for this incident have been way too vague for my taste. Consider the following:
A) Marino's no-contest plea really doesn't tell us anything. It doesn't tell us whether he thinks he's guilty or innocent. It just tells us that he decided, for whatever reasons, not to fight the charge.
B) In a letter to the editor published in the Sunday Exponent and Telegram on Feb. 7, Marino again proclaimed his innocence, saying he chose not to fight the charge because it was expensive, time-consuming and stressful. But, he didn't really explain what happened when he was busted.
Geez, Councilman.
    Do you think this issue will just go away if you ignore it long enough? Sorry, but we weren't born yesterday. And remember, even Bill Clinton finally had to admit that he had an affair.
    Now, I don't necessarily think that Councilman Marino is guilty of shoplifting. In fact, everybody I talk to says he's a really great guy.
    Perhaps Marino is just guilty of being absent-minded. Maybe he just shoved those items into his pocket because he ran out of hands. (Kids, don't do this! Shoplifting is a big problem in our nation and retailers are rightly serious about stopping it. Don't give them an excuse to accuse you.) Or, maybe the councilman  never had possession of the merchandise he was accused of lifting.
But if either of those scenarios is true, why not tell us?
    People can forgive absent-mindedness. They have a harder time forgiving dishonesty, but they might as long as the guilty party owns up to their error and attempts to make amends.
Okay, okay, enough of that. How about legislative arrogance?
    In case you missed it, on Feb. 16 our state Legislature (at least the delegates) voted by an overwhelming margin to against a law that would have required roll-call votes for all legislation.
    "What!$#*," you're probably screaming. "You mean they don't log individual votes on all important legislation that's voted on?"
    Good question. Apparently though, House rules currently require roll call votes on legislation to spend money or propose constitutional amendments. All other measures, however, are approved or defeated on voice votes.
What's this mean to you and me?
    It means too little accountability. It means our delegates can essentially vote in secret. It means that, unless they want to tell us, our delegates don't have to tell us how they vote on such issues as mountaintop removal, whether strip clubs should be banned or whether motorcycle riders should be required to wear helmets.
Citizens unite!
    Next year, let's get one of our area delegates to sponsor this legislation. Then, let's all work to get it passed. All West Virginians should demand open, accountable government. I can't believe that the House rejected this proposal by  a vote of 83-12.

Next- Tinky Winky the Teletubbie and the Rev. Jerry Falwell's magazine, the National Liberty Journal.
    In an article published earlier this month, the Journal apparently attacked the popular cartoon character for kids as homosexual role model. Apparently, as the magazine pointed out, Tinky is purple, the gay pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle, the gay pride symbol.
A few questions on this issue:
1. Who cares?
2. Don't these folks have anything better to write about?
3. Do you think that Falwell's editors spend too much time watching TV? And,
4. Who cares?
On that note, goodbye for this week.

Executive Editor Bill Sedivy's column appears every Saturday in the Exponent-Telegram.

Saturday, Feb. 27, 1999 Telegram View
Fed chairman's talent, intelligence, competence put him above politicians
    Sometimes talent, intelligence and competence outweigh politics, even in our nation's capital. Alan Greenspan is the consummate example. He is a real American hero who has contributed to obtaining a better lifestyle for the vast majority of his countrymen.
    As chairman of the Federal Reserve, Greenspan has deftly made moves to keep the American economy on its longest peacetime growth cycle in history. He has been a fixture in Washington since he served from 1974-77 as President Gerald Ford's chief economic advisor. President Ronald Reagan made him chairman of the Federal Reserve in 1987 and he has continued to be reappointed to four-year terms by Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton.
    He is described as possibly the second most powerful policy maker in Washington (trailing only the president himself) and his every uttered or written word is examined by government and business leaders for his insights on future economic shifts.
    Greenspan is not a politician. He is a numbers guy. He is a human computer that seems to have a real gasp of what can keep the economy ticking. He has made bold moves with interest rates to fight off inflation and to stoke the fires of the economy.
    He has both a doctorate degree and huge amounts of common sense. And underpinning that is a philosophy of a free market, laissez faire capitalism and minimal government regulation of the economy. Those are elements usually associated with the Republican party. They are also historical elements that are the cornerstones of the economic success of our country.
    It is a credit to President Clinton that he quickly saw the wisdom of staying the course with Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve. His current term expires in June.
    We hope Greenspan wants another four years and we would hope the president is wise enough to grant another term.
Terry Horne
Telegram editorial board member


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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999