16 April 2010

Election 2010: U.S. House 01 - Democrats

U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-1st, ended April with $280,800 while his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Mike Oliverio, had $138,000 as their May 11 showdown approaches, The Associated Press reports.

Oliverio, D-Monongalia, had raised nearly as much from individual contributors as Mollohan, attracting about half his amount from Morgantown, the article said. But the incumbent, seeking a 15th term, gathered another $150,000 from political action committees, AP reported.

The Rothenberg Political Report, meanwhile, has elevated its rating of the race for Mollohan's seat from "Lean Democratic" to "Toss-Up/Tilt Democratic."

And ABC News is among those reporting that the Tea Party Express PAC has included Mollohan among nine House members it is targeting for defeat this year.

Tax Day Tea Parties in West Virginia

Tea Party activists marked April 15 by gathering in several West Virginia communities to denounce "taxes, the lack of term limits on congressmen and government programs they consider socialism," The Associated Press reports.

AP offers an overview, while also focusing on the event in Morgantown.

The Intelligencer reports that the rally in Wheeling appeared to exceed last year's turnout of 1,200 people. "Among those attending were Republican candidates for West Virginia's 1st District congressional seat, who worked the crowd," that article said. "We The People-Ohio Valley organizers have stressed the organization is non-partisan, containing members of all political parties."

The Journal covered events both in Martinsburg and nearby Jefferson County.

The News and Sentinel reported on rallies in Parkersburg and Marietta, Ohio.

MetroNews has an item from one of the final events of the day, held outside the state Capitol.

AP also reports separately on the rally held in Washington, D.C., as well as on a reaction from President Barack Obama.

14 April 2010

Manchin Orders Mine Inspection Blitz

Gov. Joe Manchin has ordered the immediate inspection of all underground coal mines, with those sporting a history of "combustion risk" issues getting priority within the next two weeks, The Associated Press reports.

Manchin has also ordered a day of mourning for those killed in the Upper Big Branch disaster for Friday. He's asked the state's underground industry and its miners not to produce coal that day, but instead focus on the safety of their workplaces.

Quote of the Day

"Right now, we need to make sure that the rules are being complied with. I can't sit back and assume anymore."

-- Gov. Joe Manchin to The Associated Press as he ponders responses to last week's coal mine disaster that killed 29 West Virginians and injured another two.

(Manchin also told AP, "If there's any comfort at all with this horrific explosion, it was that the rescuers told me that not one miner suffered. It was so instantaneous... If that's the only comfort you can get out of something, that's pretty pathetic.")

13 April 2010

Manchin Picks McAteer to Investigate Mine Explosion

Gov. Joe Manchin tells The Associated Press that he has enlisted J. Davitt McAteer to conduct an independent investigation into last week's explosion that killed 29 men at the Upper Big Branch mine.

McAteer's review would parallel probes by federal and state mine safety officials, and he would also serve as a special adviser to the governor, Manchin told AP.

(Update) McAteer "headed the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration," AP explains. Now an official at Wheeling Jesuit University, he "also conducted similar independent probes of the Sago Mine disaster that left 12 dead as well as the Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine fire that killed two miners," AP reports.

The governor "also called for more scrutiny of mines with a history of safety violations," the article said. "Manchin said he wanted state regulators to target problems involving methane gas and coal dust levels, poor ventilation and electrical issues," and " wanted to review state law to make sure West Virginia officials are able to shut down unsafe mines and order immediate fixes without any delays."

Bill Clinton Coming to West Virginia

Former President Bill Clinton will address one of the commencements that West Virginia University plans to hold May 16, The Associated Press reports.

Clinton will speak to graduates of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, and will also receive an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters, the article said.

"Clinton will be the first sitting or former president to speak at a WVU commencement," AP reports. "WVU is holding 14 this year."

Remembering the Fallen

One week has passed since the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine, but not without a brief ceremony marking the hour of the blast that killed 29 miners and injured two more, The Associated Press and others report.

AP also described the memorial while reporting on the arrival of federal investigators "to begin piecing together what caused the worst U.S. coal mining disaster since 1970." Several hundred people held hands, prayed and offered a moment of silence as they thronged around a statue honoring West Virginia's coal miners outside the state Capitol.

"Four black-ribboned wreaths were placed at the memorial, as more than a dozen family members of those killed looked on," that article said. "A bell rang 29 times for each of the fallen miners. During a moment of silence that followed, sobs could be heard both from the family and the crowd."

Joining the family in mourning were Gov. Joe Manchin; U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis; U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-3rd; and a number of state legislators and Manchin administration officials.

Earlier in the day, Manchin told AP that "West Virginia can respond to last week's deadly mine explosion by targeting other mines that may harbor similar dangers." Manchin singled out violations involving methane, coal dust, ventilation and rock dusting as deserving greater scrutiny.

"But Manchin said he also wants the state to target the most serious violations without hitting delays caused by legal proceedings," that article said. "The governor said his administration is reviewing what additional measures may be needed to ensure that."

AP also reports that New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, "trustee of a retirement fund holding more than 300,000 shares of Massey stock worth $14 million, on Monday called for CEO Don Blankenship to resign immediately." That call was echoed by "William Patterson, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based CtW Investment Group, which works with union pension funds," AP reported. "Blankenship didn't immediately return a call seeking comment."