15 March 2008

Clinton Coming to W.Va.

Hillary Clinton has slated a Wednesday visit to Charleston, her campaign told The Associated Press.

Details have yet to be announced. She headlined a fundraiser and hosted a Town Hall-style meeting in West Virginia last July.

14 March 2008

Newspaper Suing WVU over DaughterGate Records

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that it has given West Virginia University the required 30-day advance notice that it will sue the school "for failing to comply with the state's open records law."

"The newspaper alleges the university committed numerous violations in its response to requests for documents related to the school's decision last fall to retroactively award a master's of business administration degree to Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch, daughter of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin," the article said.

The newspaper reports that its lawsuit alleges "the university has engaged in a constant and consistent practice of delay, evasion and concealment."

No Deal Yet on Teacher Pension Merger

Gov. Joe Manchin tells The Associated Press that while he "may still ask lawmakers to merge state teacher pension funds before they leave town this weekend," he "remained reluctant Thursday to commit state money to the deal."

The governor believes that requiring the state to pay implies fault for the insufficient investment returns suffered within the 401(k)-style Teachers Defined Contribution program," AP reports.

The Charleston Gazette, meanwhile picks up on a focus by some lawmakers of some of the pensions generated by state-run programs. They include the Teachers Retirement System, which enrollees in TDC would be given a chance to join with the proposal under debate within the administration.

Election Shorts

Timmermeyer Leaving DEP

Perhaps starting the exodus of appointees that often accompanies a transition between terms, Secretary Stephanie Timmermeyer plans to leave the Department of Environmental Protection on July 1.

"I've been secretary for five years now, and that's a long time in a position like this," she told The Associated Press.

Timmermeyer garners praise both from environmentalists and industry types in the article.

Others with coverage include The Charleston Gazette and MetroNews.

13 March 2008

Byrd Back on The Hill

U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd has emerged from the hospital and returned to work at the Capitol, his office tells The Associated Press.

MetroNews also has an item.

Graham Beats the Rap in Wyoming Aging Case

A federal appeals court has overturned the criminal conviction of Robert Graham, the amply compensated former director of the Wyoming County Council on Aging.

"In reversing Graham's conviction, the 4th Circuit Appeals Court in Richmond, Va., ruled Thursday that the trial judge and prosecutors reached the wrong conclusion regarding Graham's actions," The Associated Press reports.

Quote of the Day

“The very sad fact, however, is that most people who receive this hoax will believe I said these things and there is virtually nothing I can do about it.”

-- Author Homer Hickam, to The Register-Herald of Beckley, about a story circulating on the Web alleging he said "
some very vicious, cruel things" about the Democratic presidential candidates during a recent Fox News interview.

12 March 2008

Massey Case Returns to Supreme Court - Updated

Shy two of its justices, the West Virginia Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments Wednesday afternoon as it reconsiders the Boone County coal contract dispute pitting Massey Energy Co. against Harman Mining Co. and its president.

As The Associated Press reports, circuit judges will sit in for those justices in a case made infamous by European vacation photos showing Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard in Monaco with Massey's chief executive.

(Inspiring the latest best-selling legal thriller by John Grisham also contributes to its dubious distinction. The Appeal remains #1 on The New York Times' hardcover fiction list.)

Update: AP covered the rehearing, as did MetroNews (with audio).

Update II: The Charleston Gazette also covered the hearing...as did The Wall Street Journal. The latter included this:

Meanwhile, federal investigators have interviewed court employees to learn more about the Monaco vacation, according to two court employees and a lawyer briefed on the case. Representatives of the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of West Virginia and the Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment on whether their offices have opened investigations.
Update III: Public Broadcasting also has a story, as well as audio of its report and of arguments from plaintiffs' and defense counsel. It even offers a transcript.

Climate Change & W.Va. Public Policy

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change offered a briefing Tuesday to lawmakers still in Charleston for the budget session.

As The Associated Press reports, the center's congressional affairs director told his House Chamber audience that ""I don't think there's a state in the country that has more at stake when it comes to getting this right."

The Charleston Gazette and Public Broadcasting also covered the public hearing, while MetroNews interviewed the center's Nikki Roy beforehand (audio here).

Living Large in The Mountain State

With the nation's highest percentage of overweight children, West Virginia earned a visit this week from Acting U.S. Surgeon General Steven Galson.

"Galson chose the state to launch the new national 'Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future' campaign," and because various state groups "have been trying innovative new strategies to fix the problem, which is what he wants the new national initiative to highlight," reports Tom Breen, health care writer for The Associated Press.

11 March 2008

Sifting Through The 2008 Session

The Associated Press' Tom Breen looks at several of the notable failures from the regular session.

The Charleston Gazette offers a similar view, while focusing separately on a successful measure addressing school bus ride times.

MetroNews echoes AP and The Gazette by starting off with the "Almost Heaven...Wild and Wonderful" highway sign measure.

MetroNews also delves into the alleged Day 60 run-in between a Senate committee chairman and a lobbyist. With audio.

AP also focuses on the outcome for Gov. Joe Manchin's 29-item agenda.

Byrd Still Ailing, Hospitalized

U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., remains in the hospital under treatment for a urinary tract infection,

The 90-year-old "was admitted to the undisclosed hospital last Wednesday after having an adverse reaction to his original medication," The Associated Press reports. "Byrd was temporarily hospitalized the previous week at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after falling at his Virginia home."

Others with the update include MetroNews, whose Charleston affiliate has been asking listeners to weigh in on whether Byrd should retire. MetroNews owner John Raese sought to retire Byrd in the 2006 election, and that unsuccessful effort has resulted in a $74,500 fine from the Federal Election Commission, The Charleston Gazette reports.

10 March 2008

Legislature 2008: By The Numbers

The House and Senate passed 245 (updated from 243) bills this session, according to the Legislature's computer tracking system. Just over 46% of those were passed on the final night; 95.5% of the total passed during the final week.

Last year's session yielded 273 bills, with nearly 47 percent passing the final nights and nearly 85 percent passing the final week.

Those with roundups from Saturday's finale include The Associated Press, the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington and The Charleston Gazette.

AP also looks at the week's extended session for the budget, and the special session mentioned by Gov. Joe Manchin.

The Gazette, meanwhile offers tidbits from the final hours here, and from the final days here.

Others take a look at some of the session's individual successes and failures:

COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM: Public Broadcasting, the Herald-Dispatch, MetroNews.

FALSE CHILD ABUSE REPORTING: The Journal of Martinsburg.


PROPERTY TAXES: The Journal, The Register-Herald of Beckley.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE ROAD BUILDING: Public Broadcasting, The Register-Herald, the Herald-Mail of Hagerstown.

SAFE SCHOOLS: The Register-Herald.

TEACHER PENSIONS: The Intelligencer of Wheeling, MetroNews, The Register-Herald.