We can’t expect Pat White, Noel Devine, Reed Williams and Scooter Berry to do it all alone.  Watching those guys for the rest of the year will be fun.  As to almost everyone else, maybe the best way to watch them is peeking between your fingers.

Metro Government

Why do you think so many businesses merge and combine to form a larger entity?  Because it works.  The larger company has more resources and, if properly managed, stands to make more profits.  The same is true of local government. 

If cities, towns and counties combine then the new entity has larger resources.  This means among other things that the new entity can (a) respond with more manpower in a disaster or an emergency, (b) contemplate and complete larger public projects that none of the combining entities could have “pulled off” alone and (c) coordinate growth, purchasing and have more expertise available to apply to any aspect of local government.  This all happens without raising an extra penny in taxes or fees.

Let’s face it.  Crime problems don’t stop at the city limits.  Stormwater and sewer issues follow neighborhoods not political boundaries.  The point is that anything which a small community can do (fairs, festivals, roads, police, emergency services, trash pick up) easily continues after combining but IN ADDITION THE COMBINED ENTITY CAN TAKE ACTIONS AND ADDRESS PROBLEMS ON A SCALE WHICH THE SMALL COMMUNITY CANNOT.

As Charleston, Kanawha County and other areas approach this problem I hope that citizens will keep an open mind.  Many people will oppose consolidation because it is easier to be against something than it is to be in favor of something.  Certainly, there are problems associated with any large entity be that government or business.  But if you fall ill and need treatment, would you rather be admitted to a large hospital with vast resources and far-reaching expertise or to a small hospital with fourteen beds and two doctors, one of whom is on vacation?

Mountaineers Suffer Only Loss of the Season

On a windy day at Dowdy-Ficklen Field in Greenville, the Mountaineers registered their only loss of the 2008 football season.  On their way to an 11-1 season capped off with a BCS Orange Bowl victory over Georgia and a number 6 national ranking, the Blue and Gold mailed it in before a record crowd and an ESPN television audience.  “Nothing seemed to work,” one of the Mountaineer coaches said after the game, “but what the heck, last year’s national champion had a loss as well.”  Most of the Mountaineer players were devastated by the loss but informed sources saw the game for what it was – stitches in a wound which will heal into stronger than ever scar tissue.  During the ensuing ten win stretch, the Mountaineers pushed the ECU loss further and further into the rear view mirror.  After the 52-10 Orange Bowl victory ESPN analyist Brock Allen had this to say about the ECU loss.  “That early loss looked bad but after that there was a certain fragrance in the air in the Mountain State – the refreshing smell of couches on fire.”


Charleston Regatta

On Sunday we went down to Regatta to hear Blues Traveler and see the fireworks.  The Boulevard was jammed, and it was a wonderful event.  It took me an hour to walk from the stage to the end of the festival area all the way down beside CASCI.  There was a “dividing line” near the old courthouse passed which beer was not allowed.  In that area there where rides and carnival type offerings for the young at heart.  It was a well laid out event.  The people I saw were enjoying themselves.  Haddad Park was packed for the fireworks which were as good as any I have seen.  The weather behaved.  All in all, a great event for the city and for all the folks in attendance.  No sternwheelers but the river was crowded with boats of all types.  Nicely done.

Nice Start

Coach Stew and the 2008 Mountaineers did what they were supposed to do against ‘Nova in a surprising way ….. by passing.  Pat White bounced about four passes off the receivers’ chests so his “on target” ratio passing was phenomenal.  Since the Wildcast were loading up the box to stop the run, it made sense to pass but who knew Pat and his receivers would pass ’em senseless so to speak.  A+ offensive performance.

The D really only allowed 14 points since the last touchdown was with one second to go and the reserves were in.  Considering the new faces on defense this was truly a good job as well.  Mr. Ivy is going to be a big, big player this year.  Take that to the bank.

Finally, Pat the Foot/Toe was punching canon shots all over the place.  From about the 35 he made one but there was a penalty.  Went back five yards and did it again with what looked like an even longer kick.  Forget about Pitt last year; Patrick is going to be a big part of all WVU wins to come.

Once again some of the fans were drunk, rude and classless.  It is a shame that so many people have stopped going to games because the fan behavior is (a) unpleasant and (b) something kids don’t need to see and hear.  I hope the administration and Coach Stew will take every opportunity to lecture the fans on how true champions don’t belittle the opposition …they just beat ’em, smile and invite them back next year! 

Too bad Rich lost his season opener at home.  Four million bucks just doesn’t buy what it used to!

WV Turnpike Stopped Traffic

Admittedly, the recent “horror story” where three accidents combined to create a “perfect storm” of closed and clogged traffic on the turnpike is an extreme situation unlikely to repeat,  it nonetheless raises a bona fide question with regard to how to protect motorists from these situations.  There needs to be some way to alert motorists of traffic delays early enough that they can avoid them.  Without that, a delay “mushrooms” as more and more unsuspecting motorists line up behind the problem.  How do we fix this?

Technology is probably the answer.  One possible answer is to use signs with flashing lights that indicate a certain radio frequency should be used to get information on traffic problems ahead when the light is flashing.  We already have similar signs (without the flashing light) to give travelers information of local interest as they drive along.  Why couldn’t a system of radio/sign alerts be installed at appropriate locations on major roads to “get the word out” that motorists should avoid the problems ahead?

Another answer is the telephone.  Most utilities have a pre-recorded message so that when you phone the company it gives you information about a power outage, cable problems etc before transferring you to the menu.  Could the turnpike have such a system and publize the number to call? Could the Department of Highways or the State Police construct a system to do this? I suspect it can be done at relatively little expense.  With this, posting a few signs giving out the “traffic check” number would shift the “burden” of avoiding the problem to the public.  All officials would need to do is immediately post a clear and concise statement of the problem and update that message appropriately.  Probably not too much to ask and a good way to inform hundreds of people of a problem. 

Naturally, more coordinated responses on the ground need to be addressed but I suspect that smart use of existing technology can produce a very real improvement in our state (and elsewhere for that matter) with regard to not inconveniencing motorists when accidents and other delays occur. 

City Hall

On occasion serving on Charleston City Council can be amusing.  At our August 18 meeting the claims against the city were introduced.  The law requires that anyone believing they have been injured by actions attributable to the city must give written notice of the claim.  The following claim was submitted:

“Several trash bags were placed in [a] wheelbarrow near the prominity of other trash for the ease of collectors.  Apparently, they loaded wheelbarrow and all into truck as well.”

I hope this gentlemen is compensated for the loss of his wheelbarrow. 

This and That

Can Obama win West Virginia?  Maybe provided two things occur.  One he needs a lot of visible support from the Clintons here in the Mountain State and two, he needs to effectively communicate his plans for “universal” health care which is an important issue here. 

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Mountaineer football is gearing up.  Auburn is predicted to top its division in the SEC so our match up with them will be a proverbial “clash of Titans.”  Just like last year I predict that this season will be awash across the country with upsets.  The “skill gap” between teams is just plain getting less and less each year.  My prediction for this year?  I think the Mountaineers will lose one but still be ranked in the Top Five going into the bowl selections.  Sound familiar?  Yep, a lot like last year.  Considering the Fiesta Bowl triumph, a repeat of last year would be fine with me.

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A West Virginian was standing at a T intersection when an out-of-state car drove up and stopped.  The driver looked left then right and was obviously puzzled.  “Does it make any difference which way I turn to go to Beckley?” the driver asked.  “Not to me it doesn’t,” said the West Virginian.