06 September 2007

W.Va. County To Abandon Electronic Voting

Apparently undaunted by the snafus during Kanawha County's recent table games election, Taylor County wants to give up its voting machines in favor of paper ballots, The Associated Press reports.

With about 8,900 voters, the county wants to return 27 iVotronic machines to the Secretary of State's office. Officials there report miscounted ballots, paper jams, costly repair jobs and other problems.

“Based on all the problems we had with the (2006) primary and general election, it was one of the worst experiences of my life,”
County Clerk Nancy Fowler, a 32-year veteran of that office, told the AP's Tom Breen.

But as the state's chief election officer, the Secretary of State is questioning the move.
“We’re kind of perplexed as to why they’re doing it,” Chief of Staff Ben Beakes said.

Quote of the Day

"What the hell does it take to shape up that agency?"

-- U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., to Richard Stickler during the Mine Safety and Health Administration chief's Wednesday appearance on Capitol Hill. (The Associated Press has a story, while C-Span offers video.)

Crooks On Film

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones has attracted some national attention as he pushes the capital city to install hundreds of surveillance cameras and follow the lead of New York, London and other communities.

The Associated Press' Tom Breen talked to Jones for a detailed look at his proposal. But he also hears from officials in places like Baltimore and Chicago who offer mixed views on the crime-fighting technique.

Paying For The Recount

The gambling counselor-turned-foe who requested the recount of Kanawha County's recent table games election has asked for more time to review the resulting bill, The Charleston Gazette reports.

Mia Moran-Cooper has been charged $5,496.29 after "30 county officials and poll workers spent about three hours recounting ballots in 44 of the county’s 175 precincts," the article said.

"County Commission President Kent Carper told Moran-Cooper the bill would be due at time of receipt," the Gazette reports. "Moran-Cooper said she wants more time to look at the bill and make sure the charges make sense."

The Charleston Daily Mail reported earlier that the bill from the recount was lower than expected.

05 September 2007

West Virginia, Open To Suggestions

West Virginia residents can chime in on a new slogan for highway welcome signs.

According to The Associated Press, Gov. Joe Manchin is willing to retire the "Open for Business" mantra he debuted last year.

"Manchin said it's time for the people of West Virginia to choose a permanent welcome slogan, one they'd want all the world to see," AP reports.

Folks can vote online and by calling a toll-free number, 1-866-SLOGAN-4.

Voting ends Sept. 19.

Manchin also noted that an "Open for Business" sign played a bit part in the latest Die Hard film.

As observed here earlier, the debate over the welcome signs has simmered for much of this year, and was even a (minor) topic during the regular legislative session.

Offering some historical tidbits, Manchin's office said "The often-discussed phrase, “Wild, Wonderful” was only on those large signs from 1975 until 1991. The phrase, “Land for Relaxation” also was used on the signs from 1967 to 1975."

MetroNews also has today's story, as does the Charleston Daily Mail.

Orientation in West Virginia

An agency in West Virginia's second-largest city may follow Charleston's lead and add sexual orientation to an anti-discrimination ordinance.

The Herald-Dispatch reports that "The Huntington Human Relations Commission next week will consider seeking a ban on discrimination in housing and employment."

The Charleston Gazette reported last month that the capital city's council unanimously passed a measure "
that adds sexual orientation to the list of categories by which businesses and landlords are forbidden to discriminate under the city’s human rights ordinance."

The West Virginia Family Foundation has vowed to fight such moves.

Kanawha Relents On Funding Question

The dispute over funding libraries with property tax revenue in nine counties remains unresolved, but West Virginia's largest county has relented in its position on the issue.

As The Charleston Gazette reports, "A slim majority of the Kanawha County school board voted to restore about $2.3 million in funding to the county’s public library system Tuesday, after a room full of library supporters turned out to protest last month’s decision to withhold the money."

The article also said that "Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha, asked board members to consider holding off on their decision to cut funding, saying the Legislature could reach a compromise."

(Update: Other lawmakers question what more they can do to address the issue, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.)

Public Broadcasting earlier weighed the statewide consequences of this funding dispute (with audio).

04 September 2007

And Then There Were Ten

That's how many names were submitted for the West Virginia Republican Party's 2008 presidential convention by Saturday's deadline.

As The Associated Press reports, those joining Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani on the roster include Fred Thompson and John McCain.

There are also two surprises on the list.

MetroNews also has the story.

Justice Thomas Coming To West Virginia

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is scheduled to address the Huntington chapter of AARP 6 p.m. Monday at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center of Marshall University.

The Charleston Daily Mail has details.

03 September 2007

Deadline Passes for W.Va. GOP Convention

The 2008 Republican presidential candidates, or their supporters, had until Saturday to add their names to the roster for the Feb. 5 "Super-Duper Tuesday" convention planned by West Virginia's GOP.

The Associated Press previews the situation, in advance of Tuesday's expected announcement of who has committed.

Front-runners Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani signed up in August. The state GOP hopes to enhance that coup by attracting Fred Thompson, who plans to launch his campaign Thursday via webcast.

Stateline.org has been tracking the 2008 presidential primaries and caucuses.

02 September 2007

Hsu's Money Reached West Virginia

Beneficiaries of Norman Hsu, who apparently became a generous Democratic fundraiser while on the lam from a felony fraud conviction, include U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

Hsu contributed $4,000 to the West Virginia Democrat's 2008 re-election campaign, giving half the amount as recently as June 8, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

As The Associated Press has reported, Hsu has donated $260,000 to Democratic candidates and causes since 2004. "After reports surfaced this week of his fugitive status, politicians at all levels scrambled to distance themselves," the AP article said.

Several candidates and party committees have given their Hsu money to charity, including Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., among the presidential contenders.

Update: Rockefeller's campaign has returned Hsu's money, MetroNews reports.