04 May 2007

Jessica Lynch

Last week's Capitol appearance by the Wirt County native and rescued Iraq POW prompted a New York Times op-ed reply from retired Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong.

The former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command accuses West Virginia politicians of pressuring the military to award Lynch the Medal of Honor after her 2003 capture.

"They called repeatedly, through their Congressional liaison, and pressured us to recommend her for the medal, even before all the evidence had been analyzed," DeLong wrote. "I would not relent and we had many heated discussions."

(DeLong also apparently echoes these allegations in a 2004 book, Inside CentCom, which was republished in paperback as A General Speaks Out in March.)

DeLong told The Associated Press on Monday he was referring to staffers for one of the state's U.S. senators and one of its "congressmembers."

DeLong also told me he was not referring to then-Gov. Bob Wise or other state-level officials.

However, the offices of Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller told AP that neither pressed the military for medals; Byrd's office also released a letter to a constituent stressing that the military makes the call regarding medals.

The office of U.S. Rep Shelley Moore Capito, whose district includes Wirt County, said that it, too, did not lobby the military for a medal. At best, staffers asked asked others on Capitol Hill (perhaps the House Armed Services Committee) about the procedure for awarding medals.

DeLong told me he wrote the op-ed because he believed U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., had taken "a cheap shot" at the military with his committee's inquiry into the military's handling of the Lynch and Pat Tillman cases. His intent was not to attack the state's politicians, he said.

"I've got to assume that their heart was pure," DeLong told me. "The congressmembers, at the end of the day, were trying to do the right thing."

The Charleston Daily Mail also spoke to the retired general and the state's delegation for a story.

Update: Public Broadcasting interviewed Lynch for this week's Outlook program, which airs again Sunday. The web page links to YouTube video of the interview, and a related news segment from public radio is here (audio link).

02 May 2007

W.Va. Board of Ed Facing Lawsuit Threat

Citing their region's pricey housing market and booming student enrollment, Eastern Panhandle educators plan to sue state school officials over their cost-of-living allotments, The Journal of Martinsburg reports.

The state Board of Education was given 30 days' advance notice of the proposed class action lawsuit, the newspaper reports.

"The lawsuit is the latest development following long-simmering complaints from teachers and school service personnel in Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson counties who have seen the purchasing power of their salaries erode as the Eastern Panhandle’s cost of living and student populations continue to climb."

01 May 2007

W.Va. Finds Crowded Market For Tobacco Bonds

After several failed attempts, the 2007 Legislature gave the state the green light to scoring some quick cash by selling bonds backed by future tobacco settlement payments.

But as West Virginia prepares to issue about $800 million in bonds, other states have already sold investors on $9.4 billion in such securities since January, The Charleston Gazette reports.

The Associated Press also has a story.

30 April 2007

Manchin: All-broadband W.Va. by 2010

The Associated Press' Tom Breen reports on Gov. Joe Manchin's his goal of extending high-speed Internet access throughout the Mountain State, with the help of Cisco Systems CEO (and W.Va. native) John Chambers.

Manchin says the prospects from this developing public-private partnership helped prompt him to veto legislation in this area following the recent regular session.