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Conduct public's business out in the light of day – Beckley Register-Herald



Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low 23F. Winds ESE at 10 to 15 mph..
Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low 23F. Winds ESE at 10 to 15 mph.
Updated: January 15, 2022 @ 5:34 pm
Beckley, West Virginia

When we stop talking about the state’s business out loud in the public square, especially, in our case, when those matters affect every single person in West Virginia, and when a politician uses the tools of governance to prop up his or her own standing, then we have a serious problem with a shared concept of democracy.
In short, politicians are public servants and we would ask them to remember as much and behave as such.
That was the case this week when the Legislature passed a handful of bills in short order to shower generous tax incentives upon some unnamed but widely rumored industrial manufacturing heavyweight so that it might come to the Mountain State and put economic development, as Gov. Jim Justice likes to say, on a rocketship ride.
The legislation was carefully choreographed, all without much debate, barely making an appearance in committee chambers, all without anyone sharing the fine print with the public on what our elected officials were signing away. This deal was not microwaved. It had been simmering on a back burner with only those in a tight little circle knowing what ingredients were in the stew. Their attitude was simply annoyance that anyone should want to know the mixings, and humored to think that we had a right to get a taste. We would be served soon enough, but only when the powers that be were ready to make their announcement, in their way, to their political benefit, of course.
There was no time to question and study whether such business incentives work, if they had worked in the past, or whether there could be a reasonable expectation of a payback in the future. Why? Well, it was all about timing and choreography and taking credit. This had nothing to do with effective and responsible governance. And it didn’t have much to do with economic development. This was résumé building. This was the first day of the 60-day legislative session, and the governor would be delivering his state-of-the-state address later that evening. How much better would the production of prime time be if the governor could announce, to the sweet sound of a standing ovation from his Republican caucus, that negotiations were a success, that Nucor, a steel manufacturing company based in North Carolina, would be investing $2.7 billion in a new steel sheet manufacturing plant in Mason County up north?
Success would show itself as a pretty bow to wrap around this gift on the first day of a new legislative session and let a triumphant governor deliver his state-of-the-state address under the warm and adoring glow of his political minions.
Listen, we are as excited as anyone to see a Fortune 500 company put down big dollars to include West Virginia in its ever expanding footprint.
And we have no doubt that the governor leaned on his wealth of business acumen to get this deal done. Kudos, indeed, to him.
Besides, what’s not to like?
The company will have 800 employees on site with average pay of $80,000 a year. Before the week was out, Nucor had presented a $1 million check to the Mason County Board of Education and donated a total of $100,000 to the county’s four food banks.
That is part and parcel with the corporate culture of a Fortune 500 company, being a good member of its community. The more of that in our state, the better off we all will be.
But what we cannot let pass while being blinded by the sunlight of good news is that our state’s business, more often than not, needs to be conducted out in the open – out in the light – as well, and not gamed to make any one person, least of all a governor, look like a savior in hard economic times.
Government service is just that – serving others.
What our elected representatives, up to and including the governor, too often fail to remember is that they are in Charleston at our behest, doing our bidding, conducting our business of state, and that they need to keep us all in the loop.
Without that, we lose faith and trust, qualities in short supply these days because, in part, of this very kind of behavior.
With the new legislative session up and running, it might be a good time to remind one and all in Charleston that they are sworn public servants, beholden to the will of the people.
Do our business, do it out in the open, keep us posted and stop with the shameless self-promotion.
You are all better than this.
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Realm Scans: Navigating the Uncharted Territories of Digital Discovery



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