25 July 2008

Bush Coming to West Virginia

President Bush is expected to address the West Virginia Coal Association during its annual meeting next month at The Greenbrier.

Both The Associated Press, MetroNews and the Charleston Daily Mail have items on the slated appearance.

West Virginia to Host Southern Governors

August will bring the Southern Governors' Association to West Virginia for its annual meeting, and Gov. Joe Manchin expects at least nine of his counterparts to attend, the Charleston Daily Mail reports.

Manchin is the outgoing chairman of the group, which plans to hold its 74th annual gathering at The Greenbrier.

24 July 2008

Election 2008: Daily Shorts

  • Public Broadcasting chronicles the efforts of alternative parties to get their candidates on West Virginia's general election ballot. With audio.
  • The McCain campaign has enlisted several West Virginia military veterans to aid its in-state efforts, the Charleston Daily Mail reports.
  • The Associated Press reports that contributors to the kaput congressional campaign of state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, are still waiting for refunds six months after he quit the race.

Mental Health Care in W.Va.

One of West Virginia's two state-run hospitals for people with mental illness has eased its immediate overcrowding problem, but as The Associated Press' Tom Breen reports, "a long-term solution remains elusive."

"The state Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities said it had made efforts to find places in private hospitals for patients at Mitchell-Bateman, a process known as diversion which the bureau expects will cost about $8 million this year," the article said. "Overcrowding at Mitchell-Bateman and William R. Sharpe Hospital in Weston, which has 150 beds, has been a problem for years."

An ombudsman's report helped highlight the crisis, but Breen reports that a lack of consensus is hampering any step toward a lasting solution.

"Last week, members of the union representing employees at Mitchell-Bateman rallied in front of the hospital to demand higher pay and an end to scheduling practices that occasionally have them working 16-hour shifts," the article said. "West Virginia Advocates, which works on behalf of West Virginians with disabilities, argues that overcrowding comes from a lack of community-based mental health services."

Update: MetroNews and Public Broadcasting also have items.

Graham Sues Feds Over Wyoming Aging Prosecution

Former Wyoming County senior agency chief Bob Graham is suing the federal government in the wake of an appeals court ruling vacating his criminal fraud conviction , The Register-Herald of Beckley reports.

"Under law, the maximum damages he can claim is $50,000 in the federal lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Claims," the article said. "In another legal issue, Graham is still battling to get his Individual Retirement Account fund, worth about $250,000, in a struggle with the state of West Virginia."

They Voted For You: Mortgage Crisis

U.S. Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-1st; Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd; and Nick Rahall, D-3rd, all helped the House pass the "Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008."

Capito was among just 45 Republicans to support the bill in the 272-152 vote, which The Associated Press reports came just hours after
President Bush dropped his opposition to the measure. It is expected to pass the Senate.

"The White House swallowed its distaste for $3.9 billion in grants for devastated neighborhoods," the article said. "In return, the administration got both the power to throw Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a lifeline and the legislation Republicans long have advocated to rein in the government-sponsored mortgage companies."

A separate AP story reports that "Cash-strapped homebuyers and borrowers facing foreclosure will get some relief" from Wednesday's bill, but that it "won't solve the deep-rooted ills of the U.S. housing market. The bill was widely praised by real estate industry groups but doubts remain about how much real-world impact it will have for consumers."

23 July 2008

Election 2008: More Shorts

  • Democrat Barack Obama continues to outraise John McCain among West Virginians, The Associated Press reports, but the presumptive GOP nominee remains favored to win the Mountain State's five electoral votes in November.

22 July 2008

Massey Sues W.Va. Supreme Court (Again)

Massey Energy Co. has sued to obtain e-mails from Justice Larry Starcher and others at the state Supreme Court that refer to the company or its CEO, Don Blankenship, The Charleston Gazette reports.

The Kanawha Circuit Court lawsuit alleges that the court's administration erred by turning down the company's Freedom of Information Act requests.

A lawyer for Massey told The Gazette that "Starcher's e-mails might be relevant to Massey's appeal of the ($240m) Wheeling-Pitt decision to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Still pending is Massey's federal lawsuit targeting the state Supreme Court over its recusal procedure. Though it does not name him as an individual defendant, that case focuses on refusals to disqualify himself from Massey-related cases by Starcher, a frequent and vocal critic of the company and Blankenship.

Also pending is The Associated Press' lawsuit appealing the Supreme Court's denial of its FOIA requests. Those sought e-mails and other records of contacts between Blankenship and Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard.

Update: Both AP and The Gazette report that Starcher has come out in favor of releasing any relevant e-mails under certain conditions. The justice also said he knew nothing of Massey's FOIA request until he read news of its lawsuit in the newspaper.

21 July 2008

Election 2008: Shorts

  • The Associated Press delves into the latest campaign finance reports for U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, and Democratic challenger Anne Barth. Both have attracted leadership PAC funds from within their respective parties. Barth has zeroed in on the sizable roster of Capito donors from the crisis-embroiled banking & finance sector, while Capito cites the hefty contributions to Barth from Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.
  • The Charleston Gazette reports that the November ballot could list as many as six presidential candidates "the most state officials can recall." Besides Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, "state Mountain Party has become a branch of the national Green Party, which chose former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney as its presidential nominee earlier this month," the article said. Meanwhile, "independent candidate Ralph Nader, Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin and Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr all are making moves to get on the state's ballot."

20 July 2008

Quote of the Day

"I believe that issue is going to have an impact on voters, but I'm not sure to what degree."

GOP candidate for governor Russ Weeks, to the (Hagerstown, Md.) Herald-Mail, after telling the newspaper that "nearly everyone he meets wants to talk about the controversy surrounding Gov. Joe Manchin's daughter and the master's degree from West Virginia University that she supposedly didn't earn."

Expanding Cardiac Care in West Virginia

Gov. Joe Manchin got a lot of press over the weekend for his much-anticipated ruling on state heart care regulations.

As The Associated Press explains, the governor concluded that "medium-sized West Virginia hospitals may perform emergency procedures to clear clogged heart arteries without onsite surgical backup. But he also rejected as ambiguous a proposed rule that "says hospitals could not do elective angioplasty if they are 'within one-hour medical transport drive time' from another facility that has a heart surgery unit.

Both the Weirton Daily Times and The Intelligencer of Wheeling localized the AP story to include the decision's impact on area hospitals.

Others applying the governor's statement to local health care options include The Parkersburg News, The Register-Herald of Beckley and The Times-West Virginian of Fairmont.

Those offering more general coverage include The Charleston Gazette, MetroNews, the Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va. Media and Public Broadcasting (with audio).