- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:


Oct. 26

The Intelligencer on dealing with crisis situations:

The very last thing most municipal and county officials in West Virginia want to hear is a suggestion on a new way to spend money. After taking care of the basics of local government, few have surplus cash waiting for a purpose.

It is being suggested that Mountain State law enforcement agencies lack an important type of training, however. It is in how to handle people involved in mental health crises that could turn violent.

West Virginia is one of just three states (the others are Arkansas and Alabama) with no law enforcement agencies that have completed crisis intervention team training, The Associated Press reported this week.

CIT training focuses on recognizing signs of mental illness, coping with it to avoid violence, and using community resources to deal with it.

The fact so many law enforcement agencies in other states have made use of CIT training suggests it is a good thing. And obviously, being one of just a few states in which police and sheriffs’ departments do not have the training puts West Virginia under some pressure.

Should it?

Here in the Northern Panhandle, we know of several police and sheriffs’ departments that provide some training in crisis intervention. We also know of multiple situations that might have ended badly had officers or deputies not intervened effectively to defuse potentially dangerous confrontations with mentally ill people.

Clearly, many law enforcement personnel do very good, sometimes life-saving work with the mentally ill - and yes, that includes people under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

So suggestions the state is lacking because no law enforcement personnel here have undergone CIT training certainly merit discussion, but not necessarily a rush to spend big money to keep up with the states where it has been provided. Instead of listening to the think tanks and critics, perhaps we ought to just ask the police themselves whether CIT training is more important, than, say, protective gear.




Oct. 25

The Charleston Daily Mail on legislative costs under Republicans:

A popular talking point for state Democrats this election is that the 17-day special session on the budget earlier this year cost state citizens extra money, proof Republicans can’t govern.

It’s a great statement to get voters riled up, but it’s also deceiving considering:

- Legislators were ready to pass a budget during a brief extended session before Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin dropped a bombshell on the anticipated last day, reporting $90 million in lower projected revenues for the fiscal year; and

- the Republican legislative leadership was able to run the Legislature at a significantly lower cost than the two previous Democratically controlled sessions.

Data released by the Legislative Auditor’s office shows West Virginia taxpayers saved 15 percent from Republican governance of the Legislature in 2015 and 2016, compared to the 2013 and 2014 sessions.

MetroNews reporter Brad McElhinny wrote the state Legislature has kept its costs for meetings and travel down compared to recent years.

“The Legislature has spent $4,616,762 so far this year for the regular session, special sessions and interims - plus travel for legislators and staff, according to a spreadsheet compiled by Legislative Services,” McElhinny reported.

“Last year, the Legislature spent a total of $4,655,573.

“In 2014, legislative spending was $5,325,656. And in 2013 it was $5,605,651.

“Those figures take into account the $600,000 cost for the 17-day special session the Legislature had to go through to come up with a budget for this fiscal year,” McElhinny wrote.

Doing the math, two sessions of Republican leadership cost West Virginians 15 percent less than did the previous two sessions under Democratic rule.

“Since taking over leadership last year, we have worked diligently to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money and run the Legislature in a more efficient manner,” said House Speaker Tim Armstead.

“We streamlined our interim committee process, brought our printing in house and cut back on travel spending for staff and lawmakers.”

Tighter control of state government, particularly during lean revenue times like now, is more important than ever. The Republican majority has shown it can run state government more efficiently. That’s a talking point state Democrats don’t like to admit.




Oct. 26

The Inter-Mountain on early voting:

Early voting has started in West Virginia. Before you decide there is no need to take advantage of it, consider this:

During the 2012 primary election, 352,598 people cast ballots for president in the Mountain State. During the primary earlier this year, the total was 446,600.

A lot of people are interested in this year’s election. It is possible that those who wait until Election Day, Nov. 8, to vote will find themselves waiting in line.

We have been fans of the early voting process since it was established. It allows Mountain State residents who don’t want to risk waiting in line on Election Day to get their ballots recorded during the preceding two weeks.

Early voting also is excellent insurance against unexpected scheduling dilemmas on Nov. 8. You may intend to vote that day, but what if something you didn’t expect comes up to prevent you from getting to your polling place?

Early voting stations will be open at all county courthouses during regular business hours weekdays and from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturdays. The last day to cast ballots through the program will be Saturday, Nov. 5.

Voting is more than just your civic duty. It is important to you, your family, your friends and your co-workers. Even so-called “down ballot” races affect our lives.

So make it a point to vote this year - and consider making use of the early voting program.



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