Straight to Worse

TURNING WEST VIRGINIA AROUND

Take a close look at what your elected officials have achieved compared to what they could have or should have achieved. West Virginia is a resource rich state made poor by corporate state exploitation.

Then take a look at the political parties who have aided and abetted in this disaster. In general, what you will find is that the Democrats are bad and the Republicans  are worse, all the while progressive voices and candidates are stifled and ignored – by corporate media, by the schools, and by many other social mechanisms.

The recent election all across the state has seen a shift from bad to worse. Desperate  and deceived people have made desperate and false choices. Bad wasn’t good enough, clearly. Unfortunately, the change has now been made for the worse. Russell Mokhiber’s look at politics in Morgan County WV makes this clear why:

When Decent Family People Push Cruel Anti-Family Policies

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

The one thing you hear about Charles Trump, Daryl Cowles and Saira Blair — Morgan County’s elected representatives to Charleston — is that they are decent family people.

And who could argue?

From all indications, they are just that.

cowlesblairtrump-page-001-e1415798963668

A campaign mailer sent to Morgan County residents last month shows each surrounded by their family members — and promoting “conservative family values.”

But Trump, Cowles and Blair are all advocates of cruel policies that will hurt working West Virginia families.

All oppose raising the minimum wage.

And all favor union busting legislation that will reduce wages and income, increase poverty and infant mortality rates, and lead to higher rates of death on the job.

The union busting legislation — known by it’s corporate propaganda term — right to work laws — will be pushed by the new regime in Charleston early next year.

In the past, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has come out against this legislation, but given the new political dynamics in Charleston, the inside betting is that Tomblin will buckle and go with the flow. (In West Virginia, it’s not about Democrat or Republican. It’s about corporate power. For more on this, see Ken Ward Jr.’s recent piece at his blog Coal Tattoo.)

The union busting legislation that Trump, Cowles and Blair all support creates what is known as a free rider problem.

It would allow West Virginia workers to opt out of paying union dues — while at the same time benefiting from union negotiating power that delivers higher wages and safer workplaces.

The non paying workers in effect get a free ride.

True conservatives are opposed to right to work laws. They argue that the legislation represents government interference with corporations’ ability to freely negotiate contracts with workers.

Even Milton Friedman, the father of the conservative Chicago School of Economics and author of the classic Capitalism and Freedomopposed right to work laws.

Liberals argue that the legislation allows bosses to fire workers without cause.

“‘Right to work’ sounds like a law guaranteeing you a job, or at least protecting your job once you’ve got it,” Michael Kinsley wrote in a piece in Bloomberg News titled The Liberal Case Against Right to Work Laws. “A lot of the propaganda by the Chamber of Commerce and similar business groups is about so-called forced unionism. In fact, it’s almost the opposite. The main effect of right-to-work laws is to outlaw regulations of employment and allow your boss to fire you without cause.”

Kinsley makes the point that under the union busting legislation, “people could enjoy the benefits of union membership, including negotiation of wages, without sharing in the cost.”

“Not only was this unfair to those who did pay their share, but it made organizing a union significantly harder,” Kinsley writes. “Why should I pay union dues if my fellow workers don’t?”

“Right to work” sounds so pleasing — you have a right to work.

But there’s an iron fist in that velvet glove.

Right wing politicians use the laws to weaken worker power.

By weakening unions, these laws — currently in 24 states — lower wages and living standards for all workers in those states.

Workers in these 24 states earn on average $5,680 less year than workers in other states.

So, take another look at that mailer received.

It is punctuated with a quote from Ronald Reagan, who, as an actor, served as president of Hollywood’s most powerful union, the Screen Actors Guild, from 1947 to 1951.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” Reagan is quoted as saying. “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Free from the corporate state, that is — the corporate state which Trump, Cowles and Blair represent.

Nice family people.

Cruel anti-family policies.

Russell Mokhiber edits Morgan County, USA.

So what’s next, West Virginia, now that you’ve gone from bad to worse?

An all too predictable forthcoming shock of reality.

If the Democratic Party wants to have a future in West Virginia, it will have to stop acting bad and worse. It will have to adopt policies that far better impact West Virginians.

So, what is to be done?

For one thing, the state of WV needs to create its own bank, modeled after North Dakota’s; locally, the city (of Morgantown) needs to push for major annexation; and Monongalia County needs to stop handing large gifts to WVU and big business. Same old story. Many other possibilities exist, including doing what other cities and counties do: taking further control of the utilities and communications, thereby creating good local jobs while saving consumers money.

Economist Ellen Brown does great work on public banks. The City of Morgantown should start its own bank too but look for hell to freeze first. The city ought to go ahead and found one though if for no other reason than to push the state to found its own bank in an effort to head off any wave of municipalities from doing so. States and municipalities need money. There is no more reasonable place to get it than through starting their own banks. North Dakota is a tremendous example.

West Virginia’s massive Rainy Day fund is a complete and total waste. It could be used to rebuild the infrastructure of the state and fund many great social needs. If the state established a bank, it would not need any Rainy Day fund at all, because it could rely on the bank in case of any emergency or shortfall. Just like the state of North Dakota does, though only North Dakota, for now.

Nearly two dozen states have introduced bills to establish a state owned bank like North Dakota’s bank. West Virginia should both introduce and pass such a bill to begin genuinely turning the state around. Notice that this is a way to help lift people up by using the people’s own bootstraps (bankstraps). Now how can even a Democrat or a Republican object to that?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Acts Of Violence On Gameday In Morgantown West Virginia

WHEN FOOTBALL REARS ITS UGLY HELMET

Who is responsible for the violence and mayhem on WVU football game days?:

1) West Virginia University: the football game itself is a huge West Virginia University event that is violent and that spawns multiple forms of violence

2) the corporate media: the thug talk in the media – the sports shows and the sports reporters with their violent metaphors lavishly praising WVU players who “punch them [the opponents] in the mouth” dramatically contribute to the culture of violence in and around football games

3) the state of West Virginia – the state forcibly bans mellowing marijuana while allowing the far more dangerous and unhealthy and belligerent-making alcohol, “the 800 pound gorilla in the room,” which facilitates the atmosphere and culture of football game day violence

4) WVU students, fans, others — the post-game arsonists, vandals, and rioters embody the violent strains of football game day culture

5) the City of Morgantown / police — multiple reports of uncontrolled and inappropriate police violence on football game day are a surprise to no one

Notice that without the WVU football game itself, there would be no game day violence. Therefore the primary responsibility for the violence lies with West Virginia University, the institution. WVU holds myriad events that neither perpetuate nor spawn violence. Football games are a different story. To get rid of the violence, WVU could get rid of football. Short of eliminating football game days, the football fan (fanatic) culture needs to be changed, and that won’t be changed without changing in significant degrees football and university, social and media culture. West Virginia University, the state of West Virginia, and the corporate media bear heavy responsibility for the game day violence, a responsibility that they all fail to acknowledge, let alone act on. In fact, WVU, the state, and the dominant media busy themselves pointing the finger elsewhere. And once again, who gets the finger? WVU students mostly. WVU students are easy targets who have been set-up to explode: the students are as a group deeply and wrongfully debt-laden, too often slum-housed, primed by an especially violent and lengthy sports event, and outrageously subject to pot criminalization, all of which contributes to an explosive concoction of frenzied excitement, stress, tension, and lunacy – painfully illuminated everywhere now on social media.

Literally for decades, West Virginia University, the dominant (corporate) media, and the state, which are in large part responsible for the football game day violence, have combined to accept no responsibility for causing and perpetuating this culture of violence that they hypocritically bemoan. Until that absurd reality changes, no meaningful talk about solutions can begin, nor can fundamental solutions be reached – solutions such as the following:

The media: Sports shows and sports reporters should eliminate their cruddy rhetoric glorifying violence. All the war talk, the battle talk, the fight talk, the weapons talk – get rid of that giddy toxic babble. “Why are some WVU students so mindlessly violent?” moan the news talk show hosts, and then they and their media colleagues turn around and mindlessly glamorize WVU “smashmouth football” and the like. Reference to violence in football should be used in honest and responsible reporting, rather than in irresponsible thug-speak. Football is clearly too often a brutal thing. Call it for what it is but don’t laud it. In fact, the violence in football ought to be condemned. Badly needed changes in the sport will then begin to better suggest themselves and be sooner accepted. The media reports are utterly hypocritical and destructive in decrying one form of violence while glorifying another. The media needs to change.

The state: West Virginia state legislators should immediately do what has been done in states such as Colorado and Washington and elsewhere: decriminalize and legalize marijuana use. Better that there be relaxed and mellow crowds than pugnacious and crazy rioters. By now, legalization of marijuana is favored by the majority of people nationwide. Big alcohol and big tobacco – the big-monied killers – have long been the primary opponents of pot legalization. Anyone serious about reducing violence among revelers during party time knows this: better high than drunk. Marijuana use is not an ideal form of recreation but compared to “the 800 pound gorilla in the room,” as WVU Dean of Students Corey Farris calls alcohol, marijuana is safer and less unhealthy – yet harshly criminalized, pushing students toward the more dangerous and violence inducing alcohol. The state needs to change.

West Virginia University:  Where to begin? The university bears the biggest responsibility and the most complex responsibility for game day violence. After all, no game, no game day violence. The university is the entity hosting and hyping the orgy of violence that is a college football game. So make no mistake, the game day fires and violence downtown is the responsibility of West Virginia University, the institution. The WVU administration gets a flaming F for fostering the chaos. The WVU administration can no longer sweep the insanity under the rug by blaming a few bad apples, because the reality of thousands of students with nothing to do and nowhere to go on game day is all too visible on social media. The reality is that WVU game day culture is bankrupt and destructive. Meanwhile, the bankers sit in their blue and gold offices evidently twiddling their thumbs and promising – extremely counterproductively, thanks – to get tough. WVU toughness has caused the problem in the first place. Football is a lost day in an academic environment during which masses of excited students have nowhere to go but the streets. What might be a day of creative carnival becomes instead one of violent confrontation – in keeping with the brutal spectacle that is football.

You know what people say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Or more like a ton. To help minimize the damage of football game days, there should be university subsidized concerts and other events – before and after and during all games, home and away – at the Coliseum, at the Creative Arts Center, in the Mountainlair, in the Student Rec Center, on the streets, and wherever necessary to help students relax, release steam, express their exuberance. It is long since time to do something for the students at large with all that blood money derived from TV sports contracts and game ticket sales. West Virginia University creates the bare and dry woods conditions set to burn and then puffs out its chest and blames the students who fling matches that result in conflagration. Sorry, ultimate fault lies with WVU administration for fostering a dangerous, mindless, and pointless game day culture. WVU administration has proven for decades to be either too ignorant, too heartless, or too incompetent to make the changes that need to be made. What will change that sorry condition? Not the equally inept WVU Board of Governors, surely. The 800 million pound gorilla in the room is the WVU administration which has been failing the WVU students miserably for decades. The WVU administration needs to change. Otherwise, it’s worthy of expulsion. Or maybe, instead of expelling the negligent WVU administrators and the WVU student rioters, those two hapless groups should get together and start doing some badly needed community service, before it is too late again.

Read the rest of this entry »

On Bullshit

“REMEMBER, KAY…” YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBORS HAVE BEEN ROBBED

So many callers phoned WAJR’s morning talk show Tuesday morning that co-host Jim Stallings said he had to stop taking calls. The callers were upset at the horrible conditions of the roads around their homes. Co-host Kay Murray, picking up on the many callers’ outrage at the “unconscionable” road conditions, finally complained and asked WV state Senator Bob Beach in studio, why the new $30 million highway interchange for the taxpayer funded WVU ballpark and adjacent businesses could be built by the WV DOT while the DOT wouldn’t even return the phone calls of people suffering from crumbled roads around their homes, let alone fix those roads. Senator Beach bullshitted instantly something along these lines: “You have to remember, Kay, that interchange is already paid for; it’s funded.” Senator Beach may even believe his own bullshit. It happens.

Kay immediately backtracked, saying that she wasn’t against the interchange. But she should have said – never did – that that was exactly her point. In other words, why has legislation been pushed and passed to fund an incredibly expensive highway interchange (let alone hugely expensive ballpark and much additional infrastructure), that is, why use local tax dollars for the benefit of wealthy entities – WVU and the adjacent businesses, already surrounded by good roads - instead of for the benefit of the endless string of local residents calling in about the “unconscionable” crumbled roads around them. After all, it is those local people’s sales tax dollars that are harvested in that WVU/business TIF district that are then siphoned away from them by the legislation spearheaded by WV state Senator Bob Beach. And it is the patronage of the local people shopping at those businesses that create the property value taxes that are being siphoned away from them by the legislation spearheaded by WV state Senator Bob Beach.

That’s right, folks. Senator Beach pushed hard for that legislation that mandates that for the next 30 years the tax dollars of the surrounding area’s people will be forcibly spent building tens of millions of dollars worth of roads and sanitation infrastructure, in addition to the approximately $30 million highway exchange and the approximately $20 million ballpark, not for the people where they live but for WVU and for the wealthy businesses who play hardball and reap crushing profit. Senator Beach could have pushed to have that money spent on the roads around people’s houses, not through TIF legislation but through other tax legislation. He punted but that is to be expected. After all, WVU and the local owners (developers) are stronger than all the rest of the area people combined, currently. But there’s no excuse to go bullshitting about the issue.

Without Bob Beach’s TIF legislation, those tax dollars would have gone to the state (sales tax) and to the county at large (property tax). Legislation could have been pushed to bring those sales tax dollars back to the residential communities and commuter corridors for fixing up the roads, especially if the County Commission agreed to use the property tax dollars as matching revenue for the roadwork. But the wealthy entities got served instead. Senator Beach pushed for those tax dollars to benefit the roads and other infrastructure around local wealthy entities for the next 30 years instead of pushing for legislation to benefit the far less wealthy residents of the county and city in general. Cut through the crap and that’s the reality.

“Ya gotta remember, Kay, that highway interchange has already been paid for.” Yes, by your TIF legislation, Senator Beach, legislation that for the next 30 years locks those tens of million of dollars away from road repair projects in the communities and areas where the vast majority of people actually live and spend most of their time and have the greatest needs. These are people who go to that TIF area to spend their money, and now for 3 decades have all the new state tax dollars and new county property tax dollars there locked away from their communities and locked into that wealthy sports and business park.

It would be further bullshit on Senator Beach’s part to claim that a lot, or even all, of the new tax dollars at issue would not come into existence if not for the forthcoming highway exchange and ballpark. Commerce and construction in that district has been booming and would grow and increase greatly in value regardless of any TIF projects over the next 30 years, and WVU has to build a baseball park somewhere. That is, it would have needed to build a ballpark somewhere but now the taxpayers are building it for them! thanks to Senator Bob Beach’s legislation. Hey! it’s already paid for! Yes, it will be, by taxes from local taxpayers that in all likelihood would have been generated regardless of the TIF projects and that could and should go to much greater and more pressing needs.

Senator Beach’s TIF legislation robs the people to pay the price extracted by the power of big business and big sports.

Of course, it’s unfair to solely blame Senator Beach for this highway robbery legislation. After all, it might not even have been his idea, and the wealthy entities of big commerce and big sports are the main drivers and beneficiaries of the Ballpark TIF. Beach is merely the front man and legislative string puller doing the bidding of wealthy entities and owners (“developers”) using the tax money of the people and the tax money that should be coming back much closer to them in their communities and around their homes.

So, the people should know. The Senator Beach - WVU - Big Business - and – Large Land Owners highway interchange and ballpark and other road and sanitation infrastructure, it has all been heisted and locked down in advance – by TIF-lifted local taxes that will be going toward those deep pockets and not toward the residents who will be paying away those local taxes, by law, for the next 30 years.

To pretend that the TIF projects pay for themselves is pure bullshit. That’s the spin, that’s the PR, that’s the Newspeak. The Shinola. No one says that Senator Beach, WVU admin, big business, and rich realty don’t have skills. Too bad those skills involve fleecing the public and talking phony to cover it up.

“Remember, Kay…” you and your neighbors have been robbed.

On and on it plays on rich man’s radio, Raese radio, WAJR, another episode in that ongoing advertisers’ bonanza: Robbing The People and Pulling The Purse Strings

Is all the bullshit more commercial bonanza or more national pastime? Would there be good jobs and good products, good bridges and good baseball without all the bull? Probably better baseball and better products, along with better jobs and better bridges, and plenty else much more badly needed than the stinking pileups that are currently shat about.

So, let’s remember this for a change: It’s long since time to cut the crap.

Read the rest of this entry »

BOE In La La Land

EASTWOOD ELEMENTARY: SCHOOLING LITTLE CHILDREN AT A MAJOR HIGHWAYS INTERSECTION

After the recent Dominion Post article about traffic at Eastwood Elementary (DP summary: “School officials say…“), I received the following comment via email, which basically agreed with the opinion of Monongalia County Board of Education member Ron Lytle:

It really irritates me that I pay taxes to provide an efficient public transit system for schools (school buses), yet parents cave to their children’s demands for a separate ride.  The traffic problem is because each child is getting a separate car ride to school, instead of riding the bus.  That traffic problem is one the parents create, and the taxpayers have already provided an efficient, environmentally friendly solution.

My response:

The traffic [delay] problem is the least of the issues with the location of Eastwood Elementary. That’s the Dominion Post’s issue not mine (maybe because many of their workers go through that roundabout to get to work). It’s unhealthy and unsafe – and otherwise callous – to site a big school for small children at a major highway intersection, entirely violating state school siting safety regulations, also state school signage laws, in the process.

The Dominion Post contacted me. I didn’t contact them. I haven’t even read the article other than the online summary available free online, which was ridiculous. I imagine the article was worse.

However, it should be noted that the BOE knows that every single elementary school has many car riders, especially since pre-k classes were mandated to be made available for 3 or 4 year old children by the state. Some of the bus service is bad or otherwise too long and arguably dangerous for 3, 4, and 5 year olds to use. Parents and grandparents understandably are more protective of these young ones than they would be or need to be of middle and high school students. Regardless, the BOE knows that these car riders exist, has done nothing to try to reduce the car ridership, and has screwed up bus routes and bus delivery for years. It’s no perfect world in this regard and still the BOE insisted on this site.

Furthermore, your point is completely irrelevant when considering school events, concerts, meetings, open house, and so on. The school site and approach is complete chaos at those times due to the school’s major intersection location and cramped campus. This also really pisses off commuters to and from work too who have nothing to do with the school.

Finally, note that board member Lytle tacitly admitted the obvious that there is a problem with traffic (and blamed the parents solely, at least in the article summary), while the Superintendent insisted that there is no traffic problem. This is the kind of dissembling and solution-less, responsibility-shucking pronouncements that parents have come to expect from the BOE. No surprise then that the BOE stuck the school in a shitty location, especially for little kids, an unsafe location, and had to violate state student safety rules and laws to do so, all the while operating frequently in a deceitful and covert manner in face of deep and widespread parent and community opposition to the lousy site. I share your concerns about the overuse of cars and its environmental fallout. I can’t be held responsible for any moronic Dominion Post article, unless I suppose it was my mistake to return their call in the first place.

It should further be noted that there are additional very good reasons that parents drive their children to and from school, especially elementary school, rather then put them on the bus:

There are many cases in which driving students to school in cars is more efficient than putting them on buses and about as environmentally sound. For example, many parents drive directly past or nearby their child’s school on the way to and from work and town each day. It makes no efficiency or environmental sense not to drive the student in car. Buses are unreliable – early, late, not showing at all – and bus stops are often not located at or even near students’ houses. Thus why waste fuel and time sheltering the student in a car in rainy or freezing weather waiting for a bus that may or may not arrive on time, when one has to drive near or past the school to get to work anyway? Waiting and hoping for the school bus would be inefficient, and even potentially excessively polluting. Parents who work strict shifts often cannot be held hostage to uncertain bus pickups, and do not want to be faced with the prospect of leaving their young children alone by the side of the road, or alone at home hoping for a bus pickup, while they have to get work, or to an appointment.

Similarly after school. Because school lets out in early afternoon, often no one is home to receive the child off a bus. Parents reasonably make arrangements with grandparents, aunts, and friends’ parents, sometimes on a rotating or irregular basis, to care for their child, which often requires car pickup. Elementary school children are not adults using a city bus line who can simply use a ticket on their own to take them various places. Life is more complicated than that. Young children are more dependent than that.

So is it any wonder that about 20 percent of Eastwood Elementary students are car riders? The wonder is that more students are not car riders. We haven’t even mentioned the problem of bullying on school buses and the utter lack of bus monitors. Is school bus ridership likely to increase much? It could decrease. Should bus ridership increase very much? Given the existing realities, how? In recent years the BOE hasn’t even been able to get enough buses running to cover all the routes all the time, never mind the problems with the system when it is minimally functioning.

Sure, the schools should make efforts to understand how bus ridership might be increased. Despite the school bus related death of a student today in Monongalia County, school bus ridership – especially when well done – is safer than car ridership.

Either way, it remains wholly irresponsible of the BOE to build and operate too big schools in too tight places. BOE member Ron Lytle and the rest of the school board simply shuck their responsibility for the problems while Superintendent Devono pretends the problems don’t exist. And isn’t that why the BOE refuses to video record or even to audio record their public meetings in their tiny room? Too much to keep covered up, too much to bury out of sight of the public. That local taxpayers would vote for this type of representation…. It’s a shame.

Again, the basic issue is that when a big school for small children is sited at a major highways intersection, traffic delays are the least of the problems at and around the high risk and pathetic site. To that, Superintendent Devono and the school board say, La la la la la la la.

See one of many related earlier posts:

Superintendent “Traffic” Says: Trust Me! – DOUBLING DOWN ON DANGEROUS

Read the rest of this entry »

Traffic Chaos At Cheat Lake Elementary

THE JOYS OF PACKING BIG ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS INTO TIGHT PLACES

More than once this year, traffic has been backed up from the Eastwood Elementary campus in Morgantown into the state highways roundabout on the city’s edge. What a shock: when you build schools at the intersection of major highways over the objections of the parents and the community, you are creating built-in problems of your own making, such as unnecessary congestion and pollution and a variety of unsafe conditions, including tractor trailers carrying who-knows-what pulling into the school grounds during rush hour and getting stuck, thinking they are on state highways. Ever worsening the problem, the BOE has approved a six classroom/150 student expansion of Eastwood to bring the total on-campus enrollment to 670 students, at the least. Now ground has been broken on the expansion, further fouling up the parking lot and traffic. “It will still be a small school with 450 students,” the BOE had promised parents scant years before. No one believed them then, but the BOE could not be stopped and so parents continue to wrestle with the mess. It’s a safety hazard any way you look at it.**

Another Monongalia County elementary school campus is currently causing headaches for parents, students, and drivers. At nearby Cheat Lake Elementary, enrollment has boomed, up to 834 students last year as compared to 644 students three years prior. Now enrollment has apparently reached 850 students or more, so guess what? Morning drop-off hours are chaos. Buses can’t get in, parents can’t get in, students can’t get in and get to breakfast on time. The traffic jam is a food issue and a safety issue at the least. The doors open too late and the school continues to fail to make the badly needed accommodations. The parents are moving on the issue and should not only petition the school but jam the Principal and Superintendent’s office with phone calls until they see some some responsible action. Large schools in tights spaces are problems that create additional problems. Mon Schools should think twice before making these mistakes over and over again.

ONLINE PETITION

Cheat Lake Elementary parents are working overtime on this issue - details at their Facebook site - trying to fill the void where the BOE has failed.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Pathetic Comedy Of The WV Department of Transportation “One Voice” Mantra

PITTING LOCAL OFFICIALS AND LOCAL GROUPS AGAINST ONE ANOTHER TO TRY TO EVADE RESPONSIBILITY FOR WV DOT SCREW-UPS

Update: WAJR – aka, rich man’s radio – never ceasing with its disinformation campaigns, claims that the truck issue is “dividing the community.” In fact, it’s far more accurate to say that the issue is uniting the community. The overwhelming amount of support is in favor of truck bans, truck reductions in the Morgantown core and for truck routes around the core.

We hear it time and time again, the West Virginia Division of Highways and the West Virginia Department of Transportation castigating local officials and local groups for not speaking with “one voice” regarding traffic and transportation problems and solutions. And we hear of threats from the WV DOT about withholding funds and fixes until locals speak with “one voice.” There is no “one voice” in local areas, nor should there be. There are many voices that need to be heard, reflecting many needs that should be attended to.

The heavy truck traffic in downtown Morgantown – damaging, polluting, deafening – is obscene and has been for decades. The WV DOT has been fine with it. No need for action. It’s as if Truck Routes are an alien concept to the WV DOT. It’s as if they don’t care a whit about the conditions of life made miserable and unhealthy and frightening and all around obnoxious by the heavy streams of heavy trucks through the Morgantown core.

There are not only too many industrial trucks in downtown Morgantown there are too many cars. Once the heavy truck traffic is removed and lessened, the campus-side parts of Spruce Street and High Street – at the very least – should be converted to parking and turned into pedestrian malls. A little creative roadwork would be required, but it’s quite logistically possible, and badly needed for both the urban core of Morgantown and the grown residential needs of WVU.

The WV DOT needs to be pushed in these directions, as the Morgantown city council is currently pushing politically and appears set to continue pushing through the courts. Even if the city loses in the courts, it wins, because this urgent issue will have received an unprecedented amount of proper and badly needed attention. People and agencies and organizations are moving on this issue finally because the Morgantown City Council is taking a good, and reasonable, and urgent stand on this pressing issue. Would be welcome to see the Council do so more often on other pressing issues, some larger, some smaller.

The DOT gambit of vocally pretending that local agencies and groups need to speak with one voice or else suffer the consequences is both disingenuous and disgusting, an attempt to divert responsibility from itself.

A similar case is the WV DOT screw-up and delay with relieving traffic congestion between Morgantown and I-68 – that is, on and around the Mileground. Speak with one voice or we won’t do anything (with these pathetic and dangerous state roads), scolds the DOH out of one side of its mouth, and then out of the other: But don’t push for anything we’re not willing to get behind or you might as well not speak at all because they are Our state roads after all. Speak the way we want you to speak or shut up. In effect, this is the message from the WV DOT. The Morgantown City Council has apparently heard and understood that message and appears set to take action now in the only way it can.

“No, no! there are better ways to proceed!” cry the county and the WV DOT.

Oh, really? They had their chance to prove it. They waited far too long. They proved something else entirely.

The WV DOT sure screwed up the Route 7 intersection with Greenbag Road in Sabraton – longtime standing – and has shown little or no sign – longtime standing – that it has any more competence or interest in providing for truck routes around Morgantown. It has to be forced into action, one way or another. Pressure has to be piled up. The Morgantown City Council apparently has recognized this. The Courts would be wise and beneficial to back up the Council. The Monongalia County Commission would do well to reassess and play a far more constructive role in this effort also. The state legislature has a role or two to play as well.

Also, why should truck traffic anywhere in the area be allowed to exceed the current truck weight limits set on the interstates? How badly beat up do we want the local roads to be? Where do we think so many of the horrible potholes come from? The legislature should take a hard look at truck weight limits on non-interstate roads.

The public is pushing for a better Morgantown, a better Monongalia County, a better West Virginia. Can the officials and the responsible agencies catch up?

Public agencies that want constructive change need to push for it. Public agencies content to gather crumbs tossed from above will continue to starve. Read the rest of this entry »

Who Won The Auction For The 5 Acre Former Armory Site In Morgantown?

WHAT DEVELOPMENT DO THE AUCTION WINNERS INTEND TO PUT THERE NEXT TO EASTWOOD ELEMENTARY AND THE ROUNDABOUT? – THE PUBLIC NEEDS TO KNOW WELL BEFORE ANY CITY COUNCIL APPROVAL IS GIVEN FOR THE SALE

Strangely, nearly a week after the winning bid on the former Armory site on the Mileground in Morgantown, no media outlet appears to have reported who specifically won the auction or what will be done with this crucial site next to Eastwood Elementary and a major commuter corridor and roundabout intersection. So let it be reported here first (PDF): a FOIA request shows that the highest bid went to a West Virginia trio of two doctors and one housing contractor: Dr. Muhammad Salman and Dr. Abdulmalek Sabbagh of Bridgeport, and Daryoush Hooshyar of Morgantown. Dr. Salman is a psychiatrist, Dr. Sabbagh is a cardiologist, and Daryoush Hooshyar is a housing contractor. What do the doctors and contractor plan to do right beside Eastwood Elementary and the major roundabout intersection? What were the second and third highest bids? What price, what persons, and what intentions, and would they be more beneficial to immediate concerns of the school and traffic than the highest bidders’ intentions, whatever they may be?

The public remains absolutely in the dark and totally vulnerable as to what the 5 acres immediately adjacent to the elementary school and roundabout will become. The city ordinance to be read in a few days would seem to allow these buyers to install most anything they like, a gambling joint, gas station, mega housing complex, whatever, or to simply change their minds and immediately turn around and sell the property to…any unknown enterprise potentially threatening to the school and commuter corridor and intersection. Why shouldn’t these men or their representative appear before council and testify to their intended use of the property? Furthermore, they should be pressed for actual site and management development specifics, especially in light of the adjacent school, also roundabout. Finally, shouldn’t the ordinance be amended as far as possible to specify or mandate the particular use of the property as far into the future as possible, or at least include some specific “good faith” language, as much as possible? Lacking some significant semblance of the above, the approval of the sale should be held up indefinitely. To do otherwise would be to put negligently at risk not only the school but also the commuter corridor and major intersection. The public needs to know what they might be in for before the city council would approve its sale of the former armory site. To best serve the public, the development intentions behind the top three bids should all be considered.
*
The information included below is found in the armory site auction FOIA PDF.

amory site auction 3 winning bidders
A copy of the Ordinance that is on the May 6, 2014 agenda for the City Council meeting:

a copy of Ordinance on the May 6, 2014 agenda for the City Council meeting   The following people registered as bidders at the auction: Read the rest of this entry »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.