Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
Charleston Gazette email on the photo of a miner with whom Russians have applied for Donald Trump's candidacy in 2016:
Thanks to the Müller report, almost everyone has now learned to what extent Russian troll farms and hackers are obstructing the 2016 elections and sowing discord among the Americans in general.
One of their propaganda pieces was a leaflet in which Trump denounced the miners' support in Pennsylvania, with the image of a miner covered in dust and soot. The picture is from 1976, and the man in this photo, who actually worked in West Virginia, has been dead for decades. His life was taken in 1987 from black lung disease.
The man is Lee Hipshire. He was 57 years old when he died. The photo was taken by Earl Dotter. Of course, the Russians did not ask for the permission of Dotter or Hipshire to use the photo.
Here in West Virginia, this is just another example of the exploitation of miners for political purposes, albeit not with traditional methods.
Understandably, Hipshire's son Ronnie was angry when he learned what had happened. He told the Washington Post that his father "did not like that (the photo) was used by Russian trolls to improve the Republican Party and the Trump agenda."
Dotter told the post office he was "outraged".
"I thought it was a fake message to get support, and two years after Trump's term, I think it's pretty obvious there were no thoughtful ways to make coal miners a whole."
Trump and his company had many thoughtful ideas, although these efforts were for the mine owners and not for the miners themselves. The Trump government has sought massive setbacks in pollution policies to help the slowly dying coal industry. Hipshire's image is a perfect representation of this power gap.
The rates in black lungs rise and reach a 25-year high. Since most coal seams in West Virginia and the rest of Appalachia are depleted, miners have to cut more sandstone to get to coal, and it turns out that quartz dust from sandstone is just as deadly, if not more, than coal dust. The regulation of fumed silica is not just a trump problem. Several administrations dating back to the 1990s had opportunities to solve this problem and failed.
Of course, mining pollution did not do much to trigger another coal boom, though the thought gives a disconcerting glimpse into how this administration operates. Energy companies have long ago enacted plans to decommission coal-fired plants and develop a variety of sources of power generation. Low natural gas costs also contributed significantly to the decline in coal.
Whether it's Russian trolls handing out a pamphlet and distributing a picture online, or Trump putting on a hard hat in Charleston and digging with a shovel, it's all a big flaw. The real answer to the decline of coal is elusive, but the assumption of outdated ideals and the continued exploitation of the workforce can not be the answer. West Virginia owes more to its miners.
The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register at Juvenile Courts:
Ohio commissioners are being asked to consider funding a juvenile court program. It has been proposed that an additional $ 5 in court fees be charged to those appearing in the traditional court system.
A juvenile court is already in operation in Brooke County, the commissioners said. It was confirmed by judges David Sims and Michael Olejasz.
Following the proposal for Ohio County, the special tribunal would handle the cases of 18 and those charged with minor offenses. Only first offenders would be eligible. Young probation officers would recommend that defendants be fined and have their documents canceled after the successful completion of the program.
As an example of the type of offense in which juveniles could be treated by the special tribunal, the persons indicted for possessing tobacco goods in the school were cited.
Yes, that is a crime under state law. But no, handling it requires no involvement of the entire traditional court system.
If such minor allegations are handled by a juvenile court, the existing juvenile justice system might have time to work with the defendants of more serious crimes. That alone makes the idea appealing – on a trial basis. Commissioners should consider providing funds for this.
The Herald Dispatch for the Census 2020:
Early next year, households are expected to file their census forms at around the time people submit their income tax returns.
The forms are used to determine how many people each state sends to the US House of Representatives. It is no secret that West Virginia is likely to lose one of its three seats and thus one of its five electoral votes as soon as the results of the census are compiled. The change will affect the elections to the 2022 Congress and the 2024 presidential election.
Not only is West Virginia experiencing a population decline in recent decades. There are only 435 seats in the house so that a state can still gain residents but lose a seat in the house if its growth is slower than that of others.
West Virginia would lose its seat in the house after the 2017 population estimate, according to a University of Michigan home distribution calculator. This also applies to Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and New York. Texas would win two seats, while Florida, North Carolina and Oregon would each occupy one. Note that two of the most popular Western-Florida states – Florida and North Carolina – are likely to get a seat.
The census will also determine how legislators in each state divide their membership. In West Virginia, the eastern Panhandle and the Potomac Highlands are likely to gain and thereby exert influence and lose the southern coal districts.
However, the census does not just affect politics. As Herald Dispatch reporter Travis Crum noted in the Sunday issue, too few of the state's population could cut back on nearly $ 7 billion in federal funding, which the state now receives each year.
The problem is aggravated by the possibility of under-reporting, as more than 24% of Western young birds live in hard-to-count communities.
These programs include Medicaid, Medicare Part B, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Section 8 "Project-based Housing" and "Head Start / Early Head Start". Too low a count of the census will affect the amount of money the state and counties receive for these programs from 2021 onwards.
"The federal funds that come to West Virginia from the federal government are the programs that matter so much to us," said Laura Lee Haddad, executive director of the West Virginia Nonprofit Association. "There are adoptions, child care and nutrition, our military veterans and all our health and human resources organizations, all of which are critical and, in many cases, determined by our population base."
In Mingo, Logan and Wyoming districts, counting the total is more difficult as 100% of the population is considered to be difficult to classify. This is evident from the map of the US Census Bureau of hard-to-count municipalities. In some districts, such as Cabell and Kanawha, there is a danger that large parts of the cities will be overlooked at the 2020 census. In Huntington, downtown residents and in the neighborhood of Fairfield will most likely require door-to-door inspection visits from a census worker.
It may be that a single household is not dependent on Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, or any program that relies on federal funds. But many households in our three states are doing this. When the Redbud trees are blooming again, it's time to make sure every West Virginia, Ohioan and Kentuckian are counted.