Saturday, January 28, 2006

Kiss Retires

It's official: House Speaker Bob Kiss, D-Raleigh/Kanawha, is retiring from the House of Delegates after 18 years of service, including 10 as Speaker. Tomorrow's Beckley Register-Herald has a long story on Kiss's announcement, clearly indicating he planned to retire and conceal his decision until the close of candidate filing.

Retiring after 10 years as House Speaker, Kiss will tie his predecessor--U.S. District Judge Chuck Chambers--as the longest-serving speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates. Given the timing of Kiss's announcement, it's clear he did not want to increase the number of candidates filing for the House of Delegates in the 27th District. With his retirement and the departure of Delegate Sally Susman, D-Raleigh and candidate for the state Senate, the GOP now has the opportunity to sweep all 5 seats in this district, where it now has just one seat--that of Delegate Linda Sumner, R-Raleigh.

WV Election Filing Period Comes to a Close

Tonight is the final night of the candidate filing period for West Virginia's 2006 elections. Candidates must file their certificates of candidacy in person by midnight tonight at the Secretary of State's office if filing to run for a multicounty office or until the close of business at the county clerk's office for a county office or single-county legislative district. Candidates may also file by mail if the envelope has today's postmark. If vacancies remain on the ballot, political party executive committees will be able to choose nominees until the day before the primary election.

Every election year, the final night of filing always produces interesting news. At this hour the question remains, "Will House Speaker Bob Kiss run again?" Kiss, D-Raleigh/Kanawha, has been very tight-lipped on whether he will seek reelection from his Beckley-based district despite his non-legislative job being in Charleston, his family living in Charleston, and--most damaging to his case for being a legal Raleigh County resident--has his children enrolled in a Charleston preschool.

UPDATE: Kiss retires, see above post.

The 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary to select the candidate who Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito will trounce in November appears to be the ultimate political freak show. The candidates in this race are:

  • South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb, who will win the backing of and other ultra-left wing groups for his "progressive" ideology, support for abortion, and ardent pacifism.
  • Former state Democratic Chairman and federal prosecutor Mike Callaghan, who looks exactly like a James Carville clone.
  • Delegate Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, who was the financier of an infamous cloning lab operated at the old Nitro High School about 5 years ago by the Raelians and once sought to have his late son cloned.

Moving down to legislative races, the race for the House of Delegates in the infamous 19th District (Boone/Lincoln/Logan/Putnam) appeared to finally be emerging from the longstanding corruption that has resulted in numerous local elected officials and political operatives pleading guilty to a wide variety of federal election fraud-related charges. That was until tonight, when disgraced former Logan County prosecuting Attorney Mark Hobbs, D-Logan, filed. Hobbs was elected county prosecutor in 1992 and served less than 2 years in office. His early departure from office was the result of his law license being suspended for 5 years for bribing the late, infamous former Logan County Circuit Judge Ned Grubb.

Hobbs received immunity from federal prosecutors for his testimony at Grubb's 1992 federal corruption trial. Grubb, who was well-known for "delivering the best justice money could buy," was convicted and died in prison. Among other crimes committed by Judge Grubb, he once told a political rally, in the presence of TV cameras that caught his speech on tape, "If you vote for my friend Oval Adams for sheriff and you come before my court, you'll get mercy. If you don't vote for my friend Oval Adams for sheriff and you come before my court, you'll get justice." Adams did win the election but, like Grubb, also went to federal prison.

Friday, January 27, 2006

This Is How Torture Is Done

Last night, TV cameras captured former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno singing (story) along to Aretha Franklin's "Respect" at a party in Miami. There's no way John McCain would ever allow the guests at Club Gitmo to be exposed to repeated showings of this video.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

BB&T to Refuse Loans for Economic Development Projects That Abuse Eminent Domain

The AP is reporting this afternoon that North Carolina-based bank BB&T--which is one of the larger banks in West Virginia--has announced that it will not approve loans to support "economic development" projects that use eminent domain to seize property from private property owners.

"The idea that a citizen's property can be taken by the government solely for private use is extremely misguided, in fact it's just plain wrong,'' John Allison, the bank's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

In an interview, BB&T chief credit officer Ken Chalk said the bank expects to lose only a tiny amount of business, but believes it was obligated to take a stance on the issue.

"It's not even a fraction of a percent,'' he said. "The dollar amount is insignificant.''

But he added: "We do business with a large number of consumers and small businesses in our footprint. We are hearing from clients that this is an important philosophical issue.''

Chalk said he knows of no other large U.S. bank with a similar policy.

BB&T, which is headquartered in Winston-Salem, ranks among the nation's top 10 banks by assets. BB&T operates in West Virginia.

Hopefully, other banks will follow suit.

Monday, January 23, 2006

GOP Legislators Lead, Propose Constitutional Amendments to Protect Private Property Rights, Definition of Marriage

this is an audio post - click to play

Republican legislators have taken the lead in introducing a pair of proposed amendments to the state constitution to protect private property from eminent domain abuse and protect the definition of marriage from radical activist judges like those on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court who seek to mandate same-sex marriage by judicial fiat.

Senate Joint Resolution 8, introduced by Senator John Yoder, R-Jefferson, and cosponsored by 21 other senators, would prohibit the taking of private property for private use and require property owners, in cases in which property is taken for a legitimate public use, to be more fully compensated for their loss.

Although 22 senators are sponsoring SJR 8, its passage is by no means guaranteed. The only member of the Senate Democratic leadership to cosponsor this resolution is Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin, D-Mingo. There is quiet opposition--almost entirely from people who would never make their position on this issue public--to this measure from certain members of the "economic development" elite in this state whose belief in centralized state economic planning rather than the free market and capitalism have made West Virginia dead last. Your senators and delegates need to know you support stronger constitutional protections of your property rights.

House Joint Resolution 102, sponsored by Delegate Cindy Frich, R-Monongalia, would amend the state constitution to protect the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and prevent the state from creating any counterfeit marriage equivalents such as Vermont's civil unions. Cosponsoring HJR 102 are Delegates Bill Anderson (R-Wood), Sam Argento (D-Nicholas), Craig Blair (R-Berkeley), Larry Border (R-Wood), Jeff Eldridge (D-Lincoln), Eustace Frederick (D-Mercer), Patrick Lane (R-Kanawha), Mike Porter (R-Mercer), Debbie Stevens (R-Tucker), and Jeff Tansill (R-Taylor); other delegates may be added as cosponsors later today.

According to the Heritage Foundation, 19 states (including Kentucky and Ohio) have adopted similar constitutional provisions, 4 others already have proposed amendments appearing on the 2006 ballot, and at least 5 other states (including Virginia) are likely to follow suit. Every state that has held a referendum on a marriage amendment has approved protecting the definition of marriage by a wide margin, ranging from 58% support in Oregon to 86% in Mississippi.

Any proposal to amend the state constitution must receive a 2/3 vote of both houses of the Legislature (23 senators and 67 delegates) and is then submitted to the voters at the next general election. Most proposed amendments must travel through multiple committees in both houses of the Legislature before receiving a floor vote.

4th District State Senate Race: Craigo Out, Hall In

this is an audio post - click to play

Delegate Mike HallAs we enter the final week of West Virginia's 2006 election filing period, the GOP's most vulnerable state Senate seat becomes much more secure with the announcements that former Senate Finance Committee Chairman Oshel Craigo, D-Putnam, will not run and that Delegate Mike Hall, R-Putnam, will enter the race.

This seat is currently held by Senator Charles Lanham, R-Mason, who was appointed just over a year ago to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former Senator Lisa Smith, R-Putnam, who defeated Craigo in 2002 and was indicted last week on federal tax evasion charges. Lanham had been considered by many to be a Republican in name only and a very weak politician who would have likely not been reelected. Three-time gubernatorial candidate Jim Lees is the only major Democrat to file in this race and will likely be the Democratic nominee.

Delegate Hall's entry in this race shifts the prospects for this Senate seat from tossup to likely Republican retention. Hall, a 6-term delegate representing the portions of Putnam and Mason counties west of the Kanawha River, is well-liked by people across the political spectrum and is well-respected in the Legislature. Prior to his entry in the Senate race, Hall was the ranking Republican on the House Finance Committee and was considering a bid for House Republican leader to succeed retiring Delegate Charles Trump, R-Morgan.

Jim Lees, whose politics have varied from campaign to campaign, is pro-gun control--the most politically suicidal issue one can possibly support in West Virginia; if you doubt this, just ask President Al Gore or President John Kerry. Strike two: Lees is considered hostile to organized labor--the only major Democratic constituency in the 4th Senate District and without whose enthusiastic support a Democratic nominee has little hope of winning in this Republican-leaning senatorial district.