29 December 2007

Questions Persist About Manchin's Daughter's WVU Degree

The Charleston Gazette is among those reporting that West Virginia University will appoint a panel "to look into a disputed master’s degree for Gov. Joe Manchin’s daughter, Mylan Pharmaceuticals executive Heather Bresch."

After breaking the story, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also examines this latest development. It observes that the three-member investigative committee will include someone from the Higher Education Policy Commission, and that Manchin appoints seven of that body's 10 members.

WBOY-TV asked WVU President Mike Garrison about the controversy during an interview earlier this week. Specific video clips are here and here. (The first clip touches on Bresch about two-thirds of the way though, just as the camera zooms in on Garrison's hands.)

Others reporting on the story include The Associated Press and Public Broadcasting, which also relays a Mylan statement in support of its chief operating officer. "Rather than relying on anonymous and unsubstantiated sources, Mylan has received confirmation from West Virginia University that Ms. Bresch received her MBA in December 1998," the statement said.

The head of the agency that gives final accreditation to the WVU program that awarded the degree, meanwhile, tells the Charleston Daily Mail that the controversy "has no affect" on its accreditation.

Update: The Sunday Gazette-Mail takes a step back to offer context to the story, by examining the role such a degree plays in the business world.

"If, for instance, Bresch lacked the skills implicit in an MBA, she would simply be at a loss to do her job as chief operating officer of a global, multibillion-dollar corporation like Mylan," the article said, citing comments from an authority on the topic.

28 December 2007

Census Estimates Slight Growth in W.Va.

The Charleston Daily Mail mines the latest Census Bureau estimates to report that "West Virginia has gained population for the sixth consecutive year."

But with a growth rate of 0.2%, the 2006-2007 increase (of 3,336 residents) "puts it among the nation's slow-growth states," the newspaper found. " Nevada is the fastest growing, with an estimated population increase of 2.9 percent this year," the article said, while " Michigan and Rhode Island lost population this year."

The article also compares the Mountain State's estimate with its neighbors, and offers a graphic as well.

Legislature 2008: Teachers

After years as the House Education Committee's vice chairman, Delegate Larry Williams outlines a proposal to The Associated Press for recruiting and keeping teachers in West Virginia.

The Preston County Democrat plans to propose a bill next month "that would exempt qualifying teachers from paying state income taxes when they work in areas of critical need," AP education writer Shaya Tayefe Mohajer reports.

"Williams says he prefers the idea to college tuition rebates and loan forgiveness programs," the article continues, "because similar efforts other states, 'had the problem with people leaving. And collecting the tuition money back can be quite difficult once they’re gone.'"

27 December 2007

PETA Likes This Byrd

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has named U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., its 2007 Person of the Year "for his passionate defense of animals throughout six decades of public service."

Noting that the 90-year-old "was a meat cutter in his youth," the group said that Byrd "has evolved into a tireless advocate for improving legal protection for animals, including animals who are slaughtered for food."

PETA notes Byrd's floor speech earlier this year denouncing dogfighting, and his co-authoring of the "American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act" that recently earned him a visit from Bo Derek.

The Associated Press has a story, as does MetroNews.

"PETA does not support or oppose any candidate for public office or any political party," the group noted in its release.

25 December 2007

Margarette Leach, 1926-2007

Former longtime Cabell County legislator Margarette Leach died Sunday at age 81.

The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington has an article as well as photo gallery and her obituary.

Elected to seven terms in the House of Delegates, Leach's health had been failing for some time. She relied on a motorized scooter to get around the Capitol, and fellow delegates to help her to and from her seat on the House floor. Her health sidelined her during the 2006 campaign, and she became the only incumbent Democrat to lose that November.

Gov. Joe Manchin issued a brief statement on Leach's passing.

24 December 2007

The Tancredo Factor in W.Va. (updated)

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., raised about $2,000 from seven West Virginians for his GOP presidential bid, but but had not registered for the upcoming state convention before dropping out of the race last week.

(Earlier post corrected to reflect that Tancredo's not filing as a candidate in the convention explains his lack of delegates.)

Red Flags Raised Over W.Va. E-Voting Machines

Secretary of State Betty Ireland is reviewing electronic voting machines relied upon by 34 of West Virginia's 55 counties, after Colorado officials decertified the devices there.

The Associated Press article, drawn from the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram, said that the Election Systems and Software's iVotronic touch-screens "have been barred from Colorado elections unless upgrades can be made to the software."

AP also has a story out of Colorado that details the decision by election officials there.

Ireland's officials has an online roster of each county's voting system.