Last updated: July 18. 2013 2:28PM - 206 Views
Ron Gregory
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Congressman Nick Joe Rahall did nothing but improve his standing with this column last week and it didn’t take a lot of effort on his part to do so. Within minutes of the Web posting of last week’s piece, Rahall was on my phone offering well wishes and federal assistance.


The Congressman has always told me he’s an avid reader of mine and he proved it with the friendly call.


“I see you’re in St. Marys (Medical Center),” he said. “Hope you’re feeling better.”


Thankfully, I was and the call helped my spirits soar. Even if one was skeptical and felt Rahall only called me for personal political gain, the truth is he didn’t have to make the call. But he did.


The Congressman is a busy man but he took the time to be nice to a political columnist who has not always been good to HIM. I was – and am ‑ impressed.


* * * * * *


Rahall’s offer of federal assistance came by way of assuring me he’d have a staff member help me with Social Security disability. Within minutes of our chat, that promise was fulfilled. What a public servant.


* * * * * *


I may never mention Bill Cole again.


* * * * * *


For anyone who, unlike the Congressman, missed last week’s column, I spent a long week in St. Mary’s after falling at my home. Because nobody found me for three days, my body essentially shut down. But, thank goodness, I’m back in one piece, with all organs functioning as they are supposed to.


* * * * * *


I appreciate all the notes and well wishes from readers. Your words were encouraging and deeply appreciated. It is amazing that we seem to have established quite a bond in just a few weeks here at this newspaper. Most of you also noted how much you enjoy the column although several pointed out that they do not agree with my viewpoints. I never expected you to. In fact, I’ve been surprised at how many have said they do.


Regardless of our opinions, however, your kind wishes and good words meant a great deal and will continue to be an inspiration in the months ahead. Now, if the newspaper would just pay me for writing, too ….


* * * * * *


The newspaper does, in fact, pay and I have no complaints at all about that. However, I was thinking of a conversation with some of the nurses at St. Marys who told me how much they enjoy helping people and the fellowship of their co-workers. That led me to suggest perhaps they would consider forgoing being paid for a week or so just to show their dedication. None seemed excited about that possibility.


• * * * * * *


Perhaps I was too quick in my hospital room assessment that Delegate Harry Keith White has the House Speaker’s job sewed up. Since then, Tim Miley has gotten labor’s endorsement and insists there’s still a race for Speaker.


Perhaps so, but I still believe you can count on White getting the job.


Media outlets were insisting by late last week that Miley had 35 votes, more than enough to assure him the win in the Democratic caucus. I think that total is overblown and just hot air coming from those who want labor to continue to dominate the House.


In my opinion, this region of the state would benefit from the election of White but not Miley. White is at least business-oriented and would lead the lower house in the right direction.


With Miley there would be more of the obstructionist union agenda kept in place by current Speaker Rick Thompson, who is resigning to take a plush job in the Tomblin administration.


* * * * * *


While many Republican legislators are far too right-wing and “liberty-oriented” for their – and our – good, the leftward leaning House has simply been a stumbling block to economic expansion in the state for years. It is time to break that hold with the election of White.


* * * * * *


We’ll keep an eye on the supposedly “business-friendly” Democrats who end up supporting Miley. Be assured that if someone votes for him, they are not truly “business-friendly” no matter what they say.


While those who support anyone – including Miley – will be doing so for dozens of reasons, the business-plus mantel cannot be worn by someone who supports him.


* * * * * *


Boone Senator Ron Stollings and Logan’s Art Kirkendoll had kind words for Thompson upon his retirement from the legislature. They noted that they are Thompson’s state senate representatives and said he had been easy to work with as speaker.


* * * * * *


Hard-working and effective might be good adjectives to describe Stollings. A look at the just-ended legislative session shows 25 Stollings-sponsored bills were passed.


The next highest total was a mere 12. That’s impressive for the Madison medical doctor, who obviously has done something to gain influence in Charleston.


* * * * * *


When I mentioned Thompson’s plush job earlier, it is interesting to note how many former legislators are now sucking high salaries from the public trough. It isn’t to say that some of these folks are not qualified for the jobs they receive, but it would be comforting to think being an ex-legislator is not the key qualification to become a highly-paid government staffer.


West Virginia is a small state but there are surely qualified people, other than ex-legislators, who could hold down some top government positions in Charleston.


* * * * * *


It has also always amazed me to watch governors and others appoint folks to government committees. If you look at the appointments of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, you’d think there are only about a dozen people in the entire state qualified to serve on committees of any kind.


If I see another appointment of former State Senator Lloyd Jackson to a state committee, I am going to assume Jackson does nothing other than serve on Tomblin-appointed boards. He couldn’t have time to do anything else.


“Little Lloyd” as he is fondly and not-so-fondly called in Hamlin where his father, “Big Lloyd” Jackson was a legend, is no vote-getter so one wonders what Tomblin sees in him.


It is generally accepted that, after helping force high school consolidation in his native Lincoln County, Jackson would have difficulty running for the proverbial dog-catcher position. The last time he ran for state senator, he was defeated by a Republican write-in candidate in Lincoln and he lost the Democratic primary for governor after leaving office.


One must assume, then, that Tomblin keeps appointing Jackson because he is overwhelmed with his intellectual capacities since there can’t be any vote-getting involved.


But, again, is there nobody other than Jackson that Tomblin can find to appoint?


* * * * * *


On the subject of Rahall, political strategist Bill Phillips, sitting in Elkins, has decided that State Republican Party Chair Conrad Lucas may run for the Third Congressional seat.


While I suppose that IS a possibility, I don’t think there is any way Lucas is going to run if Cole gets in the field, as expected. Cole will bring all the elements it takes to run a successful campaign to the table with personal money and a good campaigning personality.


On the national horizon, the Republican National Committee is going to continue beating on Rahall as an Obamaite who has sold out his support for West Virginia coal by going with the Democrat president.


Frankly, I think that argument is getting a little old and it looks as though the GOP is doing nothing other than piling on Rahall every time he casts a vote. I doubt there is any way the incumbent could cast any vote that would win the praise of the Republicans.


Too much beating on Rahall makes him the victim rather than the villain and puts the Republicans in a bad light. It would behoove them, if seems to me, to come up with positive solutions for America’s problems to offer the public rather than beating the anti-Obama drum.


* * * * * *


Unlikely, too, are appeals that Rahall would vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker as opposed to a Republican. Most residents of the Third District do not give a hang who is Speaker of the House.


* * * * * *


In case anyone wonders, I did not have any readjustment in my thinking about guns caused by my near-death experience. I sat at a Danville restaurant last week and watched what appeared to be an off-duty police officer playing with his hand gun to the delight of a Division of Natural Resources officer just outside the restaurant window.


I kept wondering what joy these folks find in playing with something that can cause such disastrous consequences but there is no sense trying to figure it out. If it makes sense to some that a preacher would pack his gun in the pulpit to protect the collection plate, there is no point in offering logic.


I kept thinking, as I watched the game being played out front, that the officers really needed to find some actual work to do.


* * * * * *


Again, thanks for all the emails, calls and well wishes in the form of texts and other means. The readers make the column and the writer as well. Feel free to contact me any time at the email address listed or on my cell at 304-533-5185.


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