Public’s business conducted out of view in Mingo, Logan

By Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

April 30, 2014

What right does the public have to see public records or public business being conducted? In Mingo and Logan counties, perhaps none.

Cases in point abound, but for now, we’ll just discuss two ongoing situations.

First, the Williamson Daily News asked for a list of county employees and their salaries. How long should it take to produce that public information? And how complicated can it be?

Apparently very complex is the answer. Reporter Rachel Dove initially just asked for the information. Since it is public, that should have been sufficient. But, eventually, she was forced to file a Freedom of Information Act request. After more than a week, that has not been complied with, either. The latest “excuse” on Friday was that the one, single employee who can produce the list “was off sick.”

This, friends and readers, is how Team Mingo operates at the courthouse. Secrecy and a total disregard for the public is displayed on a routine basis. They need to go.

… Meanwhile, in Logan, I’ll take a show of hands for anyone who believes the ridiculous excuses being made for “hiding” the Mark Hatcher case from public view.

Hatcher, the Logan High boys basketball coach, is charged with assaulting a Chapmanville town police officer. He might as well have had the case heard in Soviet Russia for all the efforts to keep the public and press from knowing what is going on.

I’ll be brief here because the stories will already have changed by the time you read this. Suffice it to say Hatcher’s stepfather, Logan Circuit Judge Eric O’Briant, was clearly the “man behind the curtain” in this “Wizard of Oz” fantasy. O’Briant just “happened” to be signing documents in magistrate court at the time of Hatcher’s alleged hearing. During my visit to magistrate court offices, O’Briant apparently just “happened” to orchestrate a deception that Hatcher’s hearing had not started and then that it was “over” before I could be ushered through the locked courtroom door. Quite similar to how the Chapmanville Police Department’s door just “happened” to be closed and locked as I walked toward it the night Hatcher was arrested.

What a farce. And there is little difference that I can see between the tyrannical disgraced Mingo Judge Michael Thornsbury and O’Briant. If he wanted to avoid the “appearance” of impropriety, he would stay as far from the Hatcher case as possible. Instead, he showed up at Chapmanville on the night of the arrest and he sat in magistrate court as a nonexistent “hearing” took place.

This “justice” should be stopped now by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

… Let’s put something to rest now. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin will not run for governor in 2016. I’m not even sure that he knows that, but he won’t. Manchin may be a lot of things, but politically stupid he isn’t. And that move would be the height of idiocy.

As a senator, Manchin is on the national stage. He might even be considered by presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her vice presidential running mate. And, to top it all off, Manchin can still run the state of West Virginia through the governor’s office, just as he has done during the Earl Ray Tomblin years.

Who on Earth does anyone think the power behind this throne is now?

Gayle Manchin may not like Washington, D.C. Joe Manchin may crave the attention of being a “big fish in a small bowl.” But he will not run for governor. Count on it.

… And on another aggravating issue: there will be no special legislative session to deal with the protect-the-unborn-baby bill. It won’t happen by legislators demanding it, that’s for sure.

All the Professor Bob Bastresses and Hoppy Kerchevals of the world can insist that the legislature is chomping at the bit to override Tomblin’s veto of the bill passed during the regular session but they are, as usual, wrong.

They are even more ridiculous in arguing there is no time limit as to when the legislature can override a legislative veto. That being the case, perhaps legislators would like to look at some of Arch Moore’s vetoes and see if they’d now like to override them. How absurd.

Bastress, by the way, once explained to me how my candidate, Mingo County’s Dan Moore, could not possibly lose the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2004. Earth to Bastress: somehow, we did it.

… Until next time, rumors, story ideas and comments will be noted. Use my email or cell, 304-533-5185.