Last updated: October 02. 2013 7:01AM - 2517 Views

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Gosh, I must be getting close to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in Mingo County.

I gauge that by how viciously a couple of comments to the Williamson Daily News were last week in criticizing my analysis of events in Mingo.

One obviously-informed reader suggested “this article is simply a lie and desperate attempt to defame people.”

It would be interesting to know who, specifically, I “defamed” who had not already been named in Federal indictments. It is difficult indeed to slander someone who has been charged with a Federal crime, although I will concede it is possible.

This column, as we have noted on several occasions, is not and does not purport to be a “straight news” article. It is an opinion piece and, as such, is put together under different guidelines than a front page news story. For one thing, everything stated herein is simply one man’s opinion. That opinion is based on 40 years in the political consulting and newspaper business, which may or may not make it more valuable than Joe Blow from Kokomo’s opinion about the same thing.

All that was stated last week were the facts based on my experience as to how a Federal prosecutor tightens the noose on suspects he or she is after. I will repeat that I don’t believe there is a chance United States Attorney Booth Goodwin needs the cooperation of former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury or County Commissioner David Baisden to convict either of them. That is not why the U.S. Attorney’s office has chosen to work with those two. Instead, it is their responsibility now to hand the Feds a “bigger fish” to fry. If they fail to do that, all bets will be off as far as their ultimate time and date in prison is concerned.

Another reader, in the same vein, wanted to know if I could not “find any definite info”? It seems to me that there has been plenty of definite information in this space and that is probably what is causing the readers and any crooks out there to sweat. Then the same reader wants to know if I am a “political operative for Truman?” Certainly not; however I am also not a publicist for Team Mingo by any stretch of the imagination. In this space, I have called it as I see it – and hear it.

Finally, that second reader wants me to know that “real reporters” have “solid facts, not Mike Baisden phone calls with lies and rumors for evidence.”

The kind reader may be interested to know that I have NEVER talked with Mike Baisden in my life. So, it would be difficult for phone calls and rumors from him to be influencing what you read here. On the other hand, if he has something meaningful to say, I will listen to him as I would anyone else – including the misguided readers.

* * * * * *

Another reader was terribly put out at the “grammatical errors,” etc. that appear in this space. I would assume that the texter never had a creative writing class in college. One of the first things they taught us in journalism was to discard many of the “rules” we learned in English class. While it is not okay to simply butcher the English language, some leeway can be granted in an opinion piece such as mine. I am, in fact, as much writing for entertainment as facts. Hmmmn, I wonder if I succeed on either level?

I will repeat: if I am writing straight news story, there are many standards I must adhere to as a professional journalist. For one thing, I MUST attempt to get both sides of any story. Not so in this column. I am under absolutely no obligation to seek out responses and comments. Sometimes I do, but it is not because I have to do so.

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So, in the political machine known as the Mingo County Prosecutor’s Office one wonders if anyone ever sought an ethics opinion about the partner of a County Commissioner serving as an Assistant Prosecutor. Some public officials in other locales do not believe such is ethical – but there may well be a different ethical standard in Mingo.

* * * * * *

Whoever has been advising Prosecutor Michael Sparks in his public relations campaign should be summarily fired. Sparks has said and done virtually nothing since allegations arose about his conduct that has been helpful.

First, Sparks said he was in an “intimidating” position, although as I pointed out earlier it is difficult to figure how a county Prosecutor can be intimidated and by whom.

He also initially said he didn’t know much about Thornsbury’s schemes to get the husband of his ex-lover tossed in jail and now he seems to admit that he did.

Most criminal defense attorneys quickly tell their clients to keep their mouths shut and say nothing in public. Although Sparks is the Prosecutor and has some obligation to speak with the public, he surely doesn’t have to keep trying to spin his story to suit the latest facts.

There is always the probability that misstatements and innuendo will get one caught in a “web,” and not only this one.

* * * * * *

As I mentioned a few columns back, it might behoove the Supreme Court to unilaterally take a look at some of its judges around the state. Folks often fail to lodge bar complaints because they are unaware of the procedures, meaning pitiful judges virtually get away with murder without any scrutiny.

The Internet has been filled in recent weeks with allegations about a Southern West Virginia Family Court Judge who, according to the posts, has a number of courtroom and personal problems. Although I put little stock in anonymous comments, it seems that where there is this much smoke, there must be some fire.

* * * * * *

One wonders if it might not be a good idea for the Supremes to routinely drug test judges just to make sure everything is on the up-and-up. If there is no problem, I am sure none of them would object to the random testing. If, as some suggest, there IS a problem, the public has a right to know about it.

* * * * * *

Stories abound from Family Court. One caller wanted me to know that her divorce has been pending in one of our Southern counties for more than a year with a hearing yet to be held. She also maintains the Judge has ordered that her children cannot be around her boyfriend although he has no record and there is no testimony to indicate he is a problem. The woman says the Judge is attempting to harass her on behalf of her ex-husband.

It surely shouldn’t take more than a year to have a hearing in a divorce case.

* * * * * *

With the number of Republicans seeking nomination to Congress from the Second District seemingly multiplying on a daily basis, it is intriguing to see Charleston attorney Nick Casey methodically wrapping up the Democrat nod early.

At a recent meet-the-candidate event in the Eastern Panhandler, one observer said there were “seven or eight” Republican Congressional candidates with only Casey representing the Democrats.

That fact gives him a huge advantage going into the general election next year.

* * * * * *

One of the Republicans has a shiny flier that proclaims his residence in “Martisburg.” Although that is obviously a typographical error, it doesn’t help the candidate that he is already being labeled a “carpetbagger” from out-of-state and apparently doesn’t know how to spell “Martinsburg.”

* * * * * *

I remain convinced that none of the Republican candidates in next year’s election can spend their entire time campaigning against President Barack Obama again. While that seemed like the peachy thing to do in 2010 and 2012, Obama is already a lame duck who has done about all the damage he is going to do to West Virginia coal.

No thinking Democrat, elected or otherwise, is going to defend Obama’s record when it comes to energy. So, I believe it is time for GOPers to tell us what THEY intend to do to make things better rather than harping about how horrible the situation is.

* * * * * *

I realize it works in religious circles to continuously cry that the world is coming to an immediate end, so as to raise funds for whatever purpose may be promoted. Still, I don’t think that works forever in politics. At last, about any candidate has to decide what he or she is for rather than all the things he or she is against.

* * * * * *

Mum’s the word from both the Governor’s Office and the Division of Highways over the sudden departure of long-time “go-to” man Howard Mullins.

Most politicos were accustomed to contacting Mullins with any Highways questions and he liked to point out he had served “seven governors.” Suddenly last week, however, calls for the veteran “fix-it” man went unanswered and unreturned. Inquiries to the Governor’s Office and Highways netted blank responses that staff was “not sure” what Mullins’ status was.

What WAS apparent was that Mullins was no longer taking calls or responding to concerns from constituents and politicians. If he is permanently gone, that is a hard blow to those who came to depend on his honesty and forthrightness in responding to questions and concerns.

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Your rumors, story ideas and comments (even those assigning me to purgatory for my unethical journalism) are always welcome. Use the email address or call my cell at 304-533-5185.

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