Couple things are for sure.
One, the teachers are not to blame.
Two, the taxpayers are footing a big bill.
So the 47th in education failure responsibilities rests squarely with the West Virginia Board of Education, the Joe Manchin administration, the Earl Ray Tomblin administration and their appointees, and the failed Legislators.
IE: Charleston Losers Club
The only winners are the money pocketing elites.
By poor return on tax dollars invested on 09.24.2016
The problem goes well beyond the union problems. Many teachers in many areas join the union just for the insurance protection - Not health insurance, but insurance against being sued. Of course, the union then controls a lot more than their insurance. The major problem is bureaucratic control of education rather than parent/teacher control. Teachers in small schools that I’ve known all worked together as teams…as schools became larger and larger, and mandatory “reforms” and “strategies” were put into place, what teacher has time to do what teachers do best?? Personal contact with students counts for more than all the theoretical “educationese” ever will. Yes, the unions have restricted some reforms but the curriculum isn’t set by the unions. It is set by state/local/ and federal mandates, none of which have done anything at to improve the quality of education. Good teachers with good intentions and solid curriculum guidelines, rather than “pie in the sky” mandates, make education work. Blaming teachers for the mess education is in is like blaming silverware for obesity!
The author of this column is making the problem too hard, and not addressing the real issue. If teachers truly felt as the article suggests they would dissolve their union(s) and take charge of the curriculum. They haven’t and will not.
The unions, like it or not, are the public voice of the teachers. That i to say the the union(s) speak for the teachers. When the unions start prioritizing student education above teacher pay and benefits we might see some improvement in quality if education, but not until then.
When Dr. Gary Smith came in front of the Gilmer County Board of Education to talk about finding a path to use the old Normantown Elementary for community purposes he left saying he had never experienced a more professional board. State Board member, ex County-Superintendent-long experienced Principal,Beverly Kingery came to talk with Gilmer County Board of Education around the first of the month. She said the Board asked very intelligent questions and made a point that the Board was more than capable of running the system. Dr. Cindy Daniel appeared before the Gilmer County Board of Education speaking on behalf of herself as Assistant State Superintendent and Mr. Martirano State Superintendent of Schools. She made it very clear that the Gilmer Board of Education was well prepared to have their authority returned and it was time to return Gilmer County. She further said that the State Board felt they should return control over our school facilities to the local board. That disposal actions as to real and personal property owned by the Gilmer County Board of Education should most only happen through the elected representatives of the communities. Every word was positive.
Will the OEPA Director Susan O’Brian and the WV State Board of Education do the right thing by Gilmer County? It is time to right this ship, work with the local Board of Education and return full authority back to the citizens.
By Gilmer Needs a Real Superintendent on 09.23.2016
Devano is STILL pushing to turn Glenville elementary into a Middle School.
Many people know that Cindy Daniel says that will not got on the WVBE agenda.
Devano though, still hallucinates that he can make it happen. He is suckering a select few along into believing him.
WVBE stated GC cannot afford another school. Especially with the continuing decline in enrollment. For which there is NO speculation to see any turnaround. Remember WV is actually in a population decline.
Plenty capacity in the HS to take a few kiddies without maintaining another building along with all the administrative costs and added utilities.
Devano lives in a fantasy world, denying reality. Some people will do anything to suck up to local elites.
And about a school levy. That’s a big no! Actually its a loud ‘ell no!!. The WVBE has wasted enough money. But even wasting money is beside the point.
You possibly could have made the case for an excess levy with five schools. Now that FOUR schools have been shuttered, there can be NO justification of the need for a levy to be passed.
On top of that, if the WVBE has THEIR chosen superintendent in place, then there is NO financial control locally of your tax dollars. The WVBE will just see to it that the levy money pays another $10,000.00 speaker as well as find other ways to foolishly spend the kiddies money.
Don’t get suckered into passing an excess school levy ever again. It is NOT needed. But you know government, if they have it they will spend it!
No WVBOE in total give back of our school system to local control to include a replacement superintendent who would report to Gilmer County=defeat of excess levy vote.
Money wasted, going from five schools to two, children lost to Lewis County, no accurate information on how the excess levy money was and would be spent—- what good would more tax money do for our children?
People are tired of their hard earned money going down rat holes.
No more excess levy =a financial crisis & when Devono goes it would be questionable if any highly competent % experienced person with excellent interpersonal skills and other job options would apply for his job.
How many votes did the levy pass by the last time? Forty votes or so? Do the math.
Here are more gems for citizens to ponder. There are secret WVBOE meeting to discuss making the old Glenville elementary school into a middle school.
The true reason is to take care of surplus students at the new crowded GCES where some classes have close to 40 students in them.
If the WVBOE puts in a middle school to cover its tracks for incompetent planning, think of the money it will cost to get the old elementary building up to safe schools standards and costs of having two sets of administrators, lunchroom facilities, extra costs for utilities etc. What is the grand total to add to wasted money?
The million dollar taxation without representation loan the WVBOE took out for citizens to pay off was not followed with any explanations of where that money went.
The same is true for the annual $1,000,000 excess levy money we voted in for our school system. How much excess levy money was collected during intervention for the WVBOE to spend without any local say? Close to $5,000,000?
Anywhere else in the USA someone would have been fired or jailed. What do we have? The WVBOE is still bankrupting us while it escapes accountability of any kind. Oh yes, what happened was for our children as said by the WVBOE. Really?
More WVBOE wasted money. $2,000,000 surplus before intervention, down to us being on a special watch for risk of overspending, $803,000 lost because of WVBOE’s accounting error, WVBOE took out a $1,000,000 loan without County’s approval for our citizens to pay off, at least $1,000,000 wasted on LES, auction barn site and the abandoned Cedar Creek project, and GES being built too small. Totals up to about $5,000,000 give or take a little thanks to Charleston’s WVBOE common core math wizards.
If a County had done something like this the WVBOE would have taken it over pronto with charges of dysfunction of epic proportions. WV is a show piece of double standards with the WVBOE leading the parade.
There is considerable anger in the County about the upcoming excess levy vote for schools.
It will not pass if the WVBOE remains in control of finances and everything else.
The County had a surplus when the WVBOE swooped in. We understand that we are so bad off financially under WVBOE control that Charleston has us on a special financial watch.
That occurred after concern that we will go into deficit spending from over five years of the WVBOE’s absolute say over the County’s finances.
There were numerous reports of wasted money and for a recent example, citizens understand from teachers that the WVBOE spent close to $10,000 on a single appearance of a motivational speaker at the GES.
How can a spending excess like that be justified when there are numerous outstanding free speakers we could have invited? Dr. Peter Barr and Dr. Michael Martirano are just two examples.
If we cannot have any say over how our money is spent and anything else in our school system, let the the WVBOE come up with the money to pay all the bills.
There has been enough dictatorial rule and oppression by the WVBOE to include taxation without representation. Gilmer’s taxpayers are not going to take it anymore!
The WVBOE needs to leave to let us salvage the mess for the benefit of our victimized children.
I just happened to come across this post by accident and I would like to offer my commiserations.
It would seem Butch lead a very full life, but still, 60 is too young to be departing this world. All the best to the remaining Bolton clan from ‘Down Under’.
Hannah Moore Receives Larry D. & Margaret D. Brown Scholarship
Hannah Moore was named recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from the Larry D. & Margaret D. Brown Scholarship Fund. A 2016 graduate of Gilmer County High School, Moore is attending Glenville State College to pursue a degree in Health Promotions.
The Larry D. & Margaret D. Brown Scholarship Fund was created at the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation & Regional Affiliates (PACF) in 2008. Since its inception, it has provided scholarship support to six other area students.
Larry D. & Margaret D. Brown Scholarship Details:
• Awarded to a graduating high school senior who resides in Lewis, Gilmer, Braxton, Upshur, Harrison, Randolph, or Ritchie Counties in WV, with preference to Gilmer or Lewis County residents.
• Student must be planning to attend an accredited institution of higher education or vocational studies full-time.
• Selection is based on financial need; this award not intended for a student already receiving other significant scholarship support.
• Preference may be given to a student who is a dependent of an employee associated with Wes-Jak, Inc.
• Recipients may apply annually for renewal consideration for up to four years.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown worked side-by-side for many years as co-owners of Weston Transfer and Jack’s Septic Service of Weston, West Virginia. Both are known throughout the community for their deep commitment to each other, to their families and their employees – whom they considered as family – and for their support of many local church, community and civic projects.
Married for 50 years, Mrs. Brown passed away in June 2015. In creating this scholarship, Mr. and Mrs. Brown sought to express their appreciation to their employees, as well as to those families served by their companies by providing a way to help the area’s students with higher education costs. They hope to see their scholarship awarded to students who are hard-working and who strive to improve their lives through training or education.
“We commend Larry and Margie for their foresight and generosity in establishing this significant scholarship award and providing opportunities for local young people,” said PACF’s Executive Director, Judy Sjostedt. “As each new scholarship is presented to a student, the Browns are helping students to improve their potential for future success. At the same time, Mrs. Brown will be fondly remembered by many people for her dedication to the betterment of her community, its students and their educational needs through this important annual award.”
To learn more about this important scholarship and other scholarships available through the PACF, please visit www.pacfwv.com or call 304.428.4438.
About Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates:
The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) works with individuals, families, businesses, and civic or nonprofit organizations to make a positive and permanent commitment for the future of our community. PACF is a single 501(c)(3) public charity that manages more than 340 charitable funds with nearly $34 million in assets. PACF works in partnership with its local affiliates to provide leadership and develop philanthropic resources to meet the needs of an 11-county service area. Since 1963, PACF has helped local citizens support charitable needs and touch every aspect of life in the community in a variety of lasting ways. For more information about PACF, visit www.pacfwv.com or call 304.428.4438.
Government Severs Ties with For-Profit Colleges Accreditor
Hundreds of for-profit colleges could close, leaving up to 600,000 students scrambling to find other schools, after the Education Department withdrew recognition of the nation’s largest accreditor of for-profit schools.
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools said it would appeal Thursday’s decision to Education Secretary John B. King Jr.
In a statement, ACICS Interim President Roger Williams said the council would “continue diligent efforts to renew and strengthen its policies and practices” to meet the department’s criteria for accreditors.
The accrediting agency has been accused of lax oversight of its schools, which included those once owned by the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges Inc. and the recently shuttered ITT Technical Institute.
The department’s decision was announced in a blog post on its website.
In a letter to the council released later Thursday, Emma Vadehra, King’s chief of staff, wrote that “ACICS’ track record does not inspire confidence that it can address all of the problems effectively.“
Vadehra said the department found fundamental problems with the council’s work as an accreditor. Her decision followed staff and advisory panel recommendations to sever ties with the council.
If ACICS loses its appeal, hundreds of schools would be forced to find a new accreditor within 18 months or lose their ability to participate in federal financial aid programs, such as student loans and Pell Grants. About 600,000 students attend ACICS-accredited institutions, Williams said.
While the appeal is pending, ACICS retains its federal recognition and remains determined to fully execute its accreditation responsibilities in a professional manner, he said.
Thursday’s decision was met with praise from Democratic lawmakers.
“Accreditors are supposed to be watchdogs, but this negligent agency rubber-stamped shady institutions like ITT and Corinthian for years, right up until the moment they collapsed,“ said Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
But Steve Gunderson, president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, an industry lobbying group that represents for-profits, said the decision will have “horrible ramifications for hundreds of thousands of students, thousands of dedicated faculty and staff, and hundreds of communities and employers that rely on institutions accredited by ACICS.“
Republican Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, echoed those concerns. “Hundreds of colleges will be forced to scramble to find a new accreditor so students don’t lose their aid and everything they’ve been working toward,“ Kline said.
Advocacy groups, lawmakers and others have long complained about the council. It has been accused of continuing to accredit schools under investigation for falsifying job placement rates and claims for federal aid, illegal recruiting practices and misleading marketing claims.
The council allowed Corinthian Colleges, one of the largest chains of for-profit colleges, to continue to receive accreditation even while it was under investigation for fraud. Corinthian sold many of its campuses, closed others and filed for bankruptcy protection last year. Thousands of its former students are asking the Education Department to forgive their federal loans, in a taxpayer bailout that could top $3 billion.
And earlier this month, ITT Technical Institute announced it was shutting down all 130 of its U.S. campuses, leaving more than 35,000 students scrambling across more than 30 states. The chain was banned in late August from enrolling new students who used federal financial aid because Education Department officials said the company had become a risk to students and taxpayers.
For freshmen taking writing composition at the University of Arizona, receiving a C at the end of the semester may no longer warrant a sigh of relief.
Instead, they may have to repeat the class.
Two years ago, Arizona hired Civitas, an education technology company that uses predictive analytics, to track student behavior in an effort to boost student graduation rates. One finding jumped out: students’ performance in commonly required courses was linked to whether they would graduate or drop out.
For instance, students at the university who earned an A or a B in an introductory English composition and rhetoric course had a 67 percent chance of graduating, a figure calculated by predictive models of actual graduation numbers. But if they received a C in the required course, students only had a 48 percent chance to graduate—a difference of nearly 20 percentage points.
The university had considered the course to be low risk. Most students in English composition (81 percent) persist into the next semester. But the data convinced university officials that success in the course was vital in predicting whether students were likely to graduate.
After receiving the findings over the summer, university officials decided changes had to be made. They are currently discussing whether and how curricular policy should be adjusted in light of the data, although those conversations have just begun, according to Angela Baldasare, assistant provost of institutional research at Arizona.
The possible policy changes would be made by individual schools at the university, and those possibilities range from requiring that C students take a writing competency test to providing resources for students who didn’t obtain the top two grades. Another option would be considered more dramatic: students who received a C would be required to repeat the course before taking upper-level classes.
Using data to inform policies and practices at universities is nothing new. Predictive analytics have been commonly used in higher education for the past five to seven years, said Amelia Parnell, vice president for research and policy with NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
Civitas works with scores of universities and colleges, including community colleges that have focused professional programs, and it found similar patterns beyond the University of Arizona. At El Paso Community College, for example, nursing students were much more likely to complete the program if they received an A in a foundational anatomy and physiology course—in fact, students who receive a B or a C had a scant 35 percent likelihood of graduating.
Using data to require students to repeat a class if they get a C is symbolic of a conceptual shift, experts said, switching the priority from students simply passing a course to students who master the material.
“What does it mean to give someone a D or a low C?” said Thomas Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “If the average grade in the past was a C, then it’s different than if it was a B or B-plus. You’re changing the definition of what it means to pass a course.”
One reason for this shift is grade inflation, Bailey said. Indeed, only 8 percent of students who takes the writing composition course at Arizona are graded with a D, F or withdrawal.
Vincent Del Casino, the university’s vice provost for digital learning and student engagement and associate vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, said discussions surrounding the introductory writing course are nothing new.
“Our journalism school requires a C in a basic math course to be admitted,” he said. “Colleges are looking at whether students have certain grades in certain foundational classes. That’s normal.”
What is new, according to Del Casino, is that the data are being used at an institutional level to create various smaller changes unique to each college within the university.
“Nobody has dug into those relationships before on an institutional level,” Del Casino said. “If at an institutional level, we know that graduation rates start at foundational courses—backed with data—that’s exciting to us.”
At Arizona, 61 percent of students graduate in six years. That’s less than two-thirds of students who begin as freshmen, but it’s better than the national rate for four-year institutions. Nationally, 53 percent of students graduate within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.
More Proactive, Less Reactive
“The most critical piece of predictive analytics is to provide intervention,” said Parnell.
That means contacting the student during the semester instead of waiting until end-of-semester grades. And the earlier the better.
For example, Parnell encouraged universities to give the student’s adviser data about how many times she logs into her course management system and grades; to instruct the adviser to reach out to the student with resources; or to create an automated early alert system, which reaches out to students through text messaging or email when they’ve failed to turn in an assignment.
Andrew Koch, executive vice president and chief academic leadership and innovation officer at the John N. Gardner Institute, likened predictive analytics in academia to a game of bowling.
“I’m going to predict who’s going to bowl a 250 or better based on analyzing what happened in the first three frames, I’m going to have a very sound prediction,” Koch said.
But a prediction is just that, and nothing more. To actually encourage students to succeed in the class—or if the goal is to bowl a 250 or better instead of just predicting the score—that’s another story.
“Then I’m going to want to intervene in the first three frames to make sure things are going well, that the technique is right, etc.,” Koch said.
At Arizona, that advice hasn’t fallen on deaf ears.
This semester, the university made it a requirement for all professors to calculate and post midterm grades for students. (Before, that was up to the professors’ discretion.) The hope is that if students stay informed about their grades, they’ll be more likely to take steps to raise them.
“The important thing for us is that we can now use our data to more quickly identify students who aren’t doing well in composition and get them the support they need to improve their writing skills and their grade in the class,” said Baldasare. “We know that improving their grade in composition will serve them well regardless of the requirements in their particular major.”
Helping or Creating Barriers?
The use of predictive modeling isn’t a guaranteed solution. Although experts agree that it’s useful for institutions to have the data, they also brought up concerns about how the information is used.
“One question I have for universities: Is your policy about creating more barriers, or creating resources for students?” said Amber Garrison Duncan, strategy director at the Lumina Foundation
Since Arizona’s policies are currently being molded, it’s difficult to find data that can answer her question. But when it comes to requiring students to repeat a course even if they earned a C, existing data suggests that underrepresented and minority students may be the ones who are most likely to be affected.
“But if your policies are saying that you must get a B before you proceed onward, well, what do we know from analyzing the data?” Koch said. “It’s that first-generation, low-income, historically underrepresented students are the least likely to do well in these gateway courses.”
Indeed, the university’s graduation rates for students from minority groups are lower than the rates for white students.
In the 2008 freshman cohort at Arizona, 62 percent of white students graduated within six years. In contrast, 54 percent of Latino students and 45 percent of black students graduated within the same time frame.
In addition, low-income and minority group students are more likely to be first-generation college students, which means they tend to have fewer resources to help them complete classes with high marks. Requiring these students to repeat a course with a C could inadvertently create one more hurdle for the school’s most vulnerable students.
Who Makes the Decisions?
Another concern: giving administrators greater discretion in curricular policy while simultaneously giving faculty members less.
“When you start mapping out the curriculum, you’re talking about something that gets into academic design. Traditionally you leave it to an academic department to map out curriculum and set standards,” said Phil Hill, a market analyst who studies technology in higher education and co-publisher of the “e-Literate” blog.
In deciding how to use the data, administrators at Arizona are not directly in discussion with faculty. Instead, they’ve invited deans and associate deans from each college to review the data; they are invited to “bring whatever key staff they deem appropriate” to the meetings, Baldasare said.
“It’s a first step in what we expect to become an expanded conversation with colleges about how we can use predictive analytics to support student success,“ she said.
Even so, an expert on writing courses is worried about what a possible curriculum shift might trigger.
A policy requiring a C in a gateway class could “put an inordinate focus on grade performance, which puts a lot of pressure on faculty,” said Doug Hesse, executive director of writing at the University of Denver and president of the National Council of Teachers of English. “It’s often the case in writing faculty that there are adjunct and grad assistants who don’t have protections of tenure. It’s pretty tempting to say, ‘Whatever, I’ll give the A or the B.’”
This debate, one with multiple strands, implications and consequences, is one with which everyone in higher education is familiar. They’ve got the data. How do they use it?
► WVU Olympic medalists to be honored in Morgantown
Three Summer Olympic medalists who attend West Virginia University are being honored at a community event in Morgantown.
The celebration scheduled for Monday evening at the Morgantown Event Center will honor U.S. rifle gold medalist Ginny Thrasher and Canada soccer bronze medalists Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence. They won their medals last month in Rio de Janeiro.
Buchanan and Lawrences are both seniors on the WVU women’s soccer team. Thrasher is a sophomore on the WVU rifle team.
They are the first Mountaineer student-athletes to win an Olympic medal while still competing for WVU since James Jett in track at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
► West Virginia agency sets cyber security conference
West Virginia’s Office of Technology is sponsoring a cyber security conference next month.
The meeting is set for October 25 at the Charleston Civic Center. A panel of experts will provide information on cyber threats and effective ways to safeguard computer information. The presentations will touch on individual responsibility, accountability, risk management and privacy issues.
The event is open to public sector employees as well as the general public. The event is free, but those who want to attend or view a live webcast of the presentations must pre-register online.
► Students and officials learning from each other in midst of drug crisis
Wheeling Park High School student Luke Knollinger believes students need to take the lead in helping other students avoid drug experimentation.
“Anyone who has been going through the news has definitely seen West Virginia has a serious opioid issue,” Knollinger said. “In particular, our area in the Northern Panhandle.”
Knollinger attended Tuesday’s drug forum at Fairmont State University for West Virginia middle and high school students from the Northern District, which allowed Luke . U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld said finding solutions at a core level starts with prevention.
“We knew we wanted to focus on young people,” Ihlenfeld said. “We knew we wanted to focus on a prevention message. We thought about trying to bring together young people to hear what they have to say.”
West Virginia has claimed an infamous reputation for drug abuse, and Knollinger wants that to change.
“It is definitely a real live thing–especially because it’s in our back yard,” he said. “It’s in our state. Truly, makes me want to do something about it.”
Ihlenfeld knows that education through social media is the direction that prevention and awareness campaigns are heading. But, he added, he wanted feedback from students who really understand the nuances of the constantly changing social media landscape.
“It’s easy to unfollow someone or to block them on social media,” Ihlenfeld said. “You don’t want to get to the point where the information is oversaturating them. You have to find balance. That’s something they expressed to us.”
One county south of Fairmont State in neighboring Harrison County, a recent spate of fentanyl-related overdoses put area police on high alert. Ihlenfeld said students aren’t really seeing this filter into their schools yet. Rather, most students at the forum talked about marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol.
“Marijuana is a hot topic,” Ihlenfeld said. “That sort of dominated our morning conversation. They wanted to talk about that because it’s in our high schools.”
Ihlenfeld does, however, want them to be on high alert.
“And, fortunately, nobody said they had seen fentanyl or know of anyone who had seen fentanyl within their schools,” he said. “But we wanted to make them aware of it so that they could kind of grasp the concept.”
One of the things Ihlenfeld’s office stressed during the forum was how widespread the drug problem is, but just how different it can be in different regions of the state.
For Luke Knollinger, that was new information.
“It’s not all across the board the same,” Knollinger said. “You can’t just put a blanket over it and call it a day. Each part of the state has their own different issues.”
► WV Senate leadership is up for grabs after Election Day
Whatever happens in the November election, the West Virginia Senate will select a new leader.
The current Senate president, Republican Bill Cole, is giving up that position because of he’s running for governor. The minority leader, Jeff Kessler, also gave up his Senate seat because of his unsuccessful Democratic run for governor.
Republicans currently have only an 18-16 majority in the Senate, so either party could select the new president, depending on the outcome of the races November 08.
“First of all, you have to see who wins the election,” Kessler said. “You don’t want to be counting your chickens before they’re hatched.
“If the Democrats get it, they’ll be jockeying and maneuvering around. There’s a lot of capable folks. It’s the same on the Republican side. I’ve heard those names, but I’ll tell you I’ve heard just about everybody’s name.”
On the Republican side, current Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael is among the names being discussed, along with Senators Mike Hall and Ed Gaunch.
On the Democratic side, Senators Doug Facemire and Roman Prezioso are names in the mix.
Of course, much can happen between now and Election Day. Both parties are quick to point out uncertainty that they’ll even hold a majority.
A possible progression if Republicans keep the majority would be Carmichael‘s ascension to the president’s chair.
“Oh, sure, certainly, yes — I think the expectation is that would be the role for me moving forward,” said Carmichael, who is among those up for election in November.
“We have an election to go through and we have to ensure the Republicans maintain the majority and we’ll see the internal election process go forward.”
One question if Republicans maintain the majority would be whether they see Carmichael as conservative enough. He notably made an impassioned speech against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act bill that many social conservatives favored.
If conservatives don’t side with Carmichael, they might turn toward someone like Gaunch, a first-term Republican from Kanawha County. Both Carmichael and Gaunch received high scores from the American Conservative Union.
“If the job chases me, I think I’m up to it and I’d be interested,” said Gaunch, who is chairman of the tax reform subcommittee.
“At this point, I’m more interested in making sure we maintain our majority in the Senate. I’ve been approached but at this point I’ve basically just called off the dogs and said let’s get the election over with.”
Nothing is certain yet, said Hall, who is the Senate Finance chairman and a former minority leader. Hall said he would be interested in the Senate president role if he has support.
“I’m interested in it, yes. There are others who are also interested,” Hall said.
“I don’t know who will become Senate president. There are conversations about different ones. We’ve actually talked and everybody has decided who has any interest in it at all, including myself, that no serious campaigning or politicking for it will go on. After the election we’ll sit and meet.”
The last time there was an opening, in 2014, Hall said, everyone quickly got behind Cole, who had only been in the Senate since 2012.
“We knew Bill would be the Senate President. It was the fait accompli last time. This time it is not. But we’re trying to avoid that kind of stridency in our caucus. Human beings as they are, probably there will be some philosophical arguments over who will be more conservative or this or that. At the end of the day, once it’s all over with we’ll make a good decision.”
Hall noted that by virtue of having the legislative majority for eight decades, Democrats are veterans of such decisions.
“They had a history, since they were in power all those years, of dealing with a presidential election. In the absence of a clear candidate, they were pretty aggressive about it.”
Facemire is a Braxton County resident who has served in the Senate since 2008. Prezioso is a Fairmont resident who was first elected to the Senate in 1996.
Both have opponents in their re-election campaigns.
The departing Kessler, who has been both Senate President and Minority Leader, would like to see his party regain control.
“You can get things done. You name people to committees, you pick chairmen, you can have some control of the agenda, make sure there are issues you think are important to people of the state, moving us forward. You have the ability to make it happen,” Kessler said.
“In the minority, all you’re doing is fighting with the other side.”
► DOH makes changes in year after racketeering indictment connection with equipment division
State Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox sent out a memo to all DOH workers earlier this month reminding them of rules and regulations when it comes to political activity, an agency official told state lawmakers this week.
The memo is part of a number of changes within the agency following an 29-count indictment a year ago involving the former head of the state Division of Highways Equipment Division Bob Andrew. State Transportation Deputy Secretary Harry Bergstrom detailed the changes to lawmakers during an interim committee meeting in Charleston Tuesday.
Andrew, 77, of Bridgeport, took his own life in September 2015 just hours after being named in the indictment that charged him, among other things, with racketeering, bid rigging and allegedly tampering with witnesses and documents. He allegedly ordered state workers to conduct political work on state time and ordered the illegal sell of surplus vehicles and equipment. Andrew served as director of the equipment division for 16 years.
Following the indictment, the DOT sent a team to Buckhannon to investigate the operation, Bergstrom said. The changes during the past year have included a new director with both an engineering and maintenance background, an oversight change in the agency’s office along with reminding workers and potential bidders of the provisions of the state Ethics Act and rules for the state Division of Personnel.
The agency has also asked for and received guidance from the Federal Highway Administration concerning proper procedures to acquire and dispose of government surplus property. A new policy will soon be implemented, Bergstrom said.
“We have drastically curtailed the purchase of (federal surplus) property,” Bergstrom told lawmakers. “To my knowledge will have not sold any and will not until this policy is in place.”
Another major change in operations, according to Bergstrom, is any state employee-vendor interaction has to first be approved by Transportation Secretary Mattox.
“They must submit that request in writing. It must have an agenda with the items they wish to discuss and who from the vendor company will be attending that meeting,” Bergstrom said.
Two former DOH workers, Edward Tuttle and Barry Thompson, pleaded guilty to a number of federal charges in connection with the probe.
► 2 killed in Barbour County car wreck
A car wreck on Route 38 in Barbour County on Saturday afternoon claimed two lives.
Emergency officials said one vehicle was involved in the crash Mountaineer Road, near the Barbour County and Tucker County line.
Deputies with the Barbour County Sheriff’s Department were leading the investigation.
► Higher Ed chancellors dispute some of findings of audit earlier this year
If changes are to be made to the state’s higher education system, alterations of state code are required from the state Legislature, according to two of West Virginia’s leaders in the system.
In a Joint Standing Committee on Education interim meeting at the capitol last week, Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor Dr. Paul Hill and West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education Chancellor Dr. Sarah Tucker responded to an audit of the system earlier this year, disputing some of its findings.
Christopher Carney’s recent report said tuition raises are approved without hesitation, something both chancellors said wasn’t true.
“We have approved (raises), but only with extensive demonstration about why and how funds were to be used,” Hill said after admitting that tuition had gone up in recent years.
Tucker said the accusation held no water because nobody running the audit was ever present at one of their meetings.
“They never interviewed a single council member. They never attended a single council meeting. And during the course of this audit we had two council meetings that dealt directly with tuition and fees,” she explained. “They never came to the meeting, so they weren’t able to hear what (was discussed); to hear our lively debates.”
The audit also revealed that institutions aren’t being holding colleges and universities accountable for their compact goals, functioning in an advisory capacity only. It suggested that the commission should use budget appropriations as a motivation for higher performance, which Hill said is impossible because the Legislature appropriates the funding.
“You cannot criticize me for not conducting an activity that I have no way of conducting,” Hill argued. “If the budget doesn’t come to my office, I can not use it as a control method on the institutions. This is just rational thinking.”
Hill further suggested that if stronger oversight was indeed what the Legislature wants out of the higher education system, it should change state code for that to happen.
“The report’s findings do illustrate the need for agencies to exercise more, rather than reduce, authority over the institutions,” he said. “If the Legislature agrees with the auditor’s assessment in that regard, this can only be accomplished through the will of the Legislaure and the necessary changes that would make that possible.”
For her part, Tucker said graduation rates, which have been high in recent years, speak louder than arbitrary compact goals.
“To say that we’re not holding institutions accountable because they don’t meet every single subcategory of every single measure on the compact; I think is unfair. Because what I care about is student success. We’re achieving that goal at a very high level.”
The CCTCE took a four percent cut earlier this year and the Legislature never raised them above the new figure, which Tucker said was why tuition didn’t increase.
“You all made a statement to the council that you wanted us to hold tuition and fees down. And so we did,” she said.
The Joint Committee on Education is co-chaired by Delegate Paul Espinosa (R-Jefferson) and Senator Dave Sypolt (R-Preston).
You Better Sit Down for The Latest in The WV’S Governor’s Race
The West Virginia Governor’s race is getting complicated… and a little nasty.
State Democratic Party Chair Belinda Biafore sent an email to Democrats alleging that “Bill Cole and West Virginia Republicans” are funding the campaign of Mountain Party candidate Charlotte Pritt.
“Bill Cole wants to scam the voters by propping up her campaign because he is so far behind in the polls,” Biafore said. “They are funding her campaign to take away votes from Jim Justice.”
Pritt is formerly a Democrat who is still recognized for her nearly successful run for governor in 1996. The Justice campaign is worried about liberal Democrats embracing Pritt to the point it will hurt Justice’s chances of winning.
“Make no mistake; a vote for Pritt is a vote for Cole,” Biafore said.
Pritt released a statement saying she is shocked and saddened by Biafore’s comments: “The Democratic Party chair should have known that her outlandish reference to me as Cole’s running mate is both impossible and illegal.”
She added, “I am heartsick over the West Virginia Democratic Party’s recent history of abandoning its progressive candidates.”
Biafore also alleged that Pritt is getting help from Bray Cary, the host of the Sunday morning “Decision Makers” interview show. He has contributed $250,000 to the Republican Governor’s Association, which supports Cole, and he recently featured Pritt on his show.
“We’ve always had the Mountain Party candidate on the show. That’s nothing new,” Cary said. “It’s odd that they would try to make something out of that.”
Cole campaign spokesman Kent Gates said the dust-up shows a split within the Democratic Party and that “Justice has a problem with the Democratic base.”
Meanwhile, Cole scheduled a news conference for Wednesday morning where he was expected to announce plans to stand instead of sit during two upcoming debates—the Oct. 4 debate sponsored by the West Virginia Press Association and AARP, and the Oct. 11th debate sponsored by the West Virginia Broadcasters Association and CityNet. (Editor’s note: I am the moderator of the WVBA/CityNet debate.)
The Cole campaign believes the decision to have both candidates sit is deferential to Justice, because Justice has difficulty standing for long periods of time.
“Bill will be standing at both,” Gates said late Tuesday afternoon. “(Debate organizers) have assured me that there would be lapel mics so we are not asking for any additional accommodations.”
WVBA executive director Michele Crist said, however, that the guidelines for their debate have already been established and both candidates will be seated. “(The Cole campaign) signed an agreement to be in this knowing we have complete control of the format.”
Organizers of the WVPA/AARP debate said they also plan to stick with their format, which has both Cole and Justice sitting.
“We’ve instructed the campaigns that the candidates would be seated and we don’t plan any changes, said Tom Hunter, communications director with AARP.
However, the story took another turn Wednesday morning when Gates said the press event “has been canceled.”
Debate This! If Clinton vs. Trump Was A Sporting Event
Almost 46 years to the day after the NFL first staked a claim on Monday night, there’s finally a better matchup on another channel.
Hillary vs. The Donald.
For years, generals and politicians used sports metaphors to explain some of the most consequential issues of our time. So just this once, let’s flip the script. Forget for a moment that the future of America – not to mention civilization – hangs in the balance. Instead, imagine the debate as a sporting event ...
Think Trump as Mike Tyson. Announcer: “He’s still looking to land that one big punch. And he’s had it with the fact-checking low blows and policy-question clinches. Hold on! Did he just bite the top of her ear off?“
Or Clinton as the late, usually mild-mannered Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, firing back at critics who suggested she didn’t take her opponent seriously enough: “He is who we thought he was! That’s why I took the stage! Now if you want to crown him, you can crown him! But he is who we thought he was!“
It’s so tempting that a number of political analysts are using sports-writing tools to break down the matchup: offense vs. defense, strengths and weaknesses, how the coaching staffs and training facilities stack up, even how the practice sessions have been going.
No one has posted a point spread yet, so feel free to add your own Mercifully, we’ve also been spared a “Tale of the Tape.“
We’re excluding pro wrestling comparisons, because that’s too easy. Already, billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner and former Trump-confidant-turned-critic Mark Cuban bragged about snagging a front-row seat for what he called the “Humbling at Hofstra.“ Trump countered by inviting Gennifer Flowers, who claimed a long-running affair with Clinton’s husband.
And I hear from a lot of people that Trump’s camp lobbied to have close pal Don King replace NBC’s Lester Holt as moderator.
The best comparisons to the Clinton-Trump battle from different sports:
Clinton is serious and prepared. She uses her practice time purposefully. She has experience, a multitude of game plans and knows how to manage the clock. If she was a player, she’d be Peyton Manning. If she was a coach – let’s see: wonky, secretive, willing to bend rules, even got caught recently fudging an injury report – she’d be Bill Belichick. Definitely Belichick.
As a player, Trump would be Brett Favre, a gunslinger who was at his best on broken plays and never saw a throw he wouldn’t make. If he was a coach, he’d be Chip Kelly in his Oregon days, breaking the mold with his house-on-fire offensive attack. Or maybe Steve Spurrier at Florida, less worried about what his opponents might do than whether he could sneak out of a film session and squeeze in nine holes before sundown.
Clinton would be a reliable contact hitter with decent power. She can use the whole field, bunt or move the runner over when called for – in short, Ted Williams. “Teddy Ballgame” did all those things – and still managed to alienate the Boston media and even some fans. Plus, his family chose to have his remains frozen, so – he could still have a comeback worthy of Clinton.
Trump would be Barry Bonds, a threat to homer in every at-bat, but also arrogant, willing to break the rules and unapologetic about it. Like the late-career Bonds, he’d also need an XXL-sized hat.
If they were managers, she’d be Buck Showalter and he’d be Bob Brenly.
Brenly succeeded Showalter as skipper of the Arizona Diamondbacks and in his first spring-training meeting with the team, dropped Showalter’s inch-thick organization handbook on the floor and pulled out a cocktail napkin with his rules scrawled across it. They read: “Be on time. Play hard.“
There hasn’t been so much ego confined in a space about the size of an NBA lane since long-retired titans Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain battled.
Russell was the ultimate defender, always in position and so ready to plug holes his Celtic teammates devised the “Hey Bill” defense; anytime an opponent broke free and headed for the hoop, they simply yelled “Hey Bill.“
Chamberlain was brought a skillset unlike any big man before him. He hogged the prime real estate on the court, drew all eyes to him and scored almost at will. And did we mention his lavish tastes?
As a coach, Clinton would be Gregg Popovich, tailoring his schemes to fit the talent on the floor and eager to use immigrants like Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Trump would be Larry Brown, a his-way-or-the-highway leader who quickly loses interest in failing ventures quickly and thinks the team bus should always be running in case he needs to make his latest getaway.
► Baltimore Gunmen Shoot 8 People, Including 3-Year-Old
Three gunmen shot and wounded eight people including a 3-year-old girl on an east Baltimore street Saturday night, police said, adding the suspects fled and the victims were all expected to survive. The shooting erupted outside some rowhouses about 8:30pm after the three armed men converged on the group from different points, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said. Davis, who went to the scene, said the shooting was a premeditated act of retaliatory violence in response to a Labor Day weekend shooting in which a man was fatally shot and two women were wounded, one of them pregnant. He did not immediately explain how investigators believed the shootings were linked. Davis said the victims could have recognized the gunmen but authorities haven’t been able to identify the suspects and were still searching for them hours afterward, reports the AP.
One of the armed men emerged from an alley and two others ran down the street, stopping just short of the victims before they opened fire, Davis said. He added that the 3-year-old girl and her father were standing a slight distance away from the others and that the child was not an intended target. Authorities have said one of the attackers had a shotgun and the other two had handguns. Davis said that in addition to the girl, one of the victims was a woman and the rest were men. The adults ranged in age from 26 to 39. Police cordoned off at least three city blocks late Saturday and were keeping bystanders away as the police commissioner stood with detectives at the scene. Nearby, detectives used flashlights to search overgrown grass in an alley.
► Hundreds at funeral for Ohio boy, 13, fatally shot by police
A 13-year-old Ohio boy fatally shot by a police officer investigating a report of an armed robbery was remembered at his funeral Saturday as someone with a special glow.
“He lit up a room. He demanded your attention,“ said Michael Bell, who coached Tyre King on his youth football team.
Hundreds of mourners filed by a white casket draped with yellow roses at a Columbus church before a hearse carried the boy’s body to a cemetery where he was laid to rest, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Columbus police officer Bryan Mason, a member of the department for almost 10 years, shot Tyre, multiple times on September 14 after the boy ran from investigators and pulled out a BB gun that looked like a real firearm, police have said.
Mason, who is white, was put on administrative leave immediately after the shooting – standard procedure after police shootings.
The boy’s death has inflamed tensions over the safety of blacks in Ohio’s largest city and adds to a list of killings of black males by police that are attracting national attention.
Another funeral was scheduled Saturday night in Oklahoma for 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, who was shot and killed by a Tulsa police officer on September 16. The officer was charged with manslaughter in the shooting of Crutcher, who was unarmed.
In Columbus, attorneys for the Tyre’s family have called for an independent investigation and have questioned Mason’s involvement in other shootings, including another fatality.
The head of the local police union has said Mason did what he was trained to do under the circumstances.
Evidence in the shooting investigation will be presented to a grand jury to determine if the officer’s actions were justified or charges are warranted.
Tyre was in eighth grade, played sports and was in a young scholars program, the family’s attorneys said.
Benita Farve, pastor of the King family’s church, said during the eulogy that the community needed make changes to help a “generation of kids who are totally out of control.“
“How long are we going to let pain and anger control us? How long are we going to be the victims?“ she said. “When are things going to change and we’re going to be victors?“
► Mexico Captures One of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted
After 18 years as a fugitive and four years on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, Fidel Urbina is going to face justice. The former Chicago resident, who is accused of kidnapping, rape, and murder was arrested by Mexican authorities Thursday in a tiny village called El Polvo in a remote part of Chihuahua state, CBS reports. Authorities say the 41-year-old was working in a body shop in October 1998 when he raped and strangled a 22-year-old customer, the Chicago Tribune reports. He then allegedly stuffed her body into the trunk of a stolen car before setting it on fire and fleeing to Mexico. At the time of the murder, Urbina was out on bail after allegedly beating and raping another woman five months earlier.
Five days after the the murder, a warrant was issued for Urbina’s arrest when he didn’t show up for a court date in the earlier case. Urbina “was wanted for his alleged role in two brutal attacks directed against innocent women,“ Michael J. Anderson, special agent in charge of the FBI Chicago Field Office, said in a press release. “Many family members have waited a long time for this day to come and they deserve the opportunity to face the accused in a court of law.“ Urbina is now in a federal prison in Mexico City awaiting extradition proceedings.
► Restaurant Owner Puts Up ‘Muslims Get Out’ Sign
Muslim families won’t be offered any treats at the Treats Family Restaurant in Lonsdale, southern Minnesota: Owner Dan Ruedinger has arranged the sign board outside to read “Muslims Get Out.“ The sign says it is in “suport” of St. Cloud, where a Somali-American man stabbed nine people in a mall last weekend. Despite what his sign says, Ruedinger says he’s not against all Muslims, only extremists. “It’s time that people started standing up, not worrying about the PC crowd and do what is right,” he tells CBS. “And I feel what we’re doing is right.“ Ruedinger, whose Yelp page has been inundated with negative reviews, says putting up the sign is his First Amendment right.
Ruedinger says Islam is a “religion of hatred that preaches violence"—and the Muslims who are “good people” should “hold the others accountable.“ The Lonsdale News-Review reports that Muslim leaders, including Jaylani Hussein of the state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, met Ruedinger for what Hussein describes as a “short conversation.“ A witness says Ruedinger became agitated and started shouting about his son’s service in Iraq. Hussein says thousands of Muslims were “shocked and appalled” by the St. Cloud attack and they will continue to try to reach out to Ruedinger.
► Man Dies 3 Days After Calling Police for Help
A 21-year-old Baltimore County man died in the hospital three days after being repeatedly punched by officers responding to his 911 call, the Guardian reports. According to the Baltimore Sun, Tawon Boyd called 911 early last Sunday. He told officers his girlfriend, Deona Styron, had “got him intoxicated and is secretly recording him.“ Boyd’s grandmother, Linda Burch, says Boyd “was acting…like he was on something.“ Police noted he seemed “confused and paranoid,“ and it was clear he “needed to be taken to the hospital.“ But Boyd started trying to get into police cars and resisted attempts to restrain him, resulting in minor injuries to three officers. Based on the police report, it doesn’t appear Boyd was trying to hurt the officers.
He was holding onto one of the officer’s shirts when the officer punched him twice in the face. At that point, the family’s lawyer, Latoya Francis-Williams, says Boyd was “literally attacked” by officers. She says they got on top of him and “really started wailing.“ “I kept telling them stop before they hurt him,” Burch tells the Sun. “They told me to go across the street before they lock me up.” WBAL reports a medic gave Boyd haloperidol, an antipsychotic drug, to calm him down. An autopsy is now looking into whether the drug played a role in Boyd’s death Wednesday from heart and kidney failure. Boyd’s family is accusing the police of using too much force. “Mr. Boyd was in need of medical attention, and the police responded with violence,” Francis-Williams tells the Sun.
► Tulsa officer late to career, had de-escalation training
The Tulsa police officer accused of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man took a roundabout path toward her dream job of joining law enforcement, with stops as a convenience store clerk, an Air National Guard member and a teaching assistant.
Family members and colleagues say Betty Jo Shelby, 42, was an engaged community member, a churchgoer and cool-headed enough to be tapped as a field-training officer even though she didn’t join the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office until 2007 and the city’s force until 2011.
Despite completing de-escalation training, Shelby “reacted unreasonably” when she fatally shot 40-year-old Terence Crutcher on September 16, according to an affidavit prosecutors filed with the first-degree murder charge. Shelby, who posted bond early Friday, faces four years to life in prison if convicted.
Shelby’s attorney, Scott Wood, said Friday that she had a reputation of having a “cool head on her shoulders.“
“This wasn’t her first week on the job,“ Wood said. “Betty is a field-training officer. The department has picked her to train new officers, and people will tell you this isn’t Betty Shelby to overreact to a situation.“
Shelby, who is white, was headed to a domestic violence call when she encountered Crutcher’s SUV abandoned on a city street, straddling the center line. Shelby did not activate her dashboard camera when she first came across Crutcher and his SUV. But other video footage shows Crutcher walking away from Shelby and toward his SUV with his arms in the air. The footage does not offer a clear view of when Shelby fired the single shot that killed Crutcher.
Wood said Crutcher escalated the situation by not communicating with Shelby, disobeying her commands and walking away from her. “One thing about de-escalation, that’s a two-way street,“ Wood said. “You have to at least have some open communication. There was none with Mr. Crutcher.“
Mark Sawa, a retired major with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office in Austin, Texas, who trains police officers on use of force, said: “If somebody is not contained, if they’re walking away from you, your opportunity to defuse that encounter is greatly diminished if they’re mobile and not stationary.“
He cautioned that he couldn’t fully assess how the situation got out of hand, as no video is available until after Shelby already has her gun drawn and Crutcher is walking away from her with his hands in the air.
Crutcher died of a gunshot wound to the chest, the state medical examiner’s office said Friday, adding that the full autopsy and toxicology reports were not finished. His funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, disputed that he was behaving belligerently toward Shelby.
“At the time he was shot, his hands were up, there was daylight, everyone can clearly see that he had no weapon in his hand whatsoever,“ Tiffany Crutcher told The Associated Press on Friday.
Shelby joined the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office in 2007 and stayed until 2011, resigning with a salary of $39,516. Records show one “use-of-force” report in 2010, drawing but not firing a gun while searching for a suspect.
Her Sheriff’s Office application shows she said she smoked marijuana twice as a teenager and had two protective orders taken out against her — once when she was about 20 after a breakup when she and her ex-boyfriend took a shovel to each other’s cars in anger. The second incident in 2000 followed one of Shelby’s two divorces; she alleges her ex-husband’s new wife sought a protective order “in an attempt to discredit my character.“ In both cases, Shelby said a judge agreed to dismiss the orders.
Shelby joined the Tulsa Police Department in December 2011; her husband David works there, too. Her salary was $53,747 as of May 31, according to a city spokeswoman; she was placed on leave without pay Friday.
The department refused the AP’s repeated requests to release her personnel records, but said the officer has not been subject to any disciplinary proceedings in her nearly five years.
She has garnered accolades due to her work in the community, said Sgt. Patrick Stephens, a spokesman with the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93, of which Shelby is a member. On August 28, she was featured in a Tulsa Police Department Facebook post after she located and returned property stolen from two residents; there’s a photo of her posing with the pair, who brought her a bouquet of flowers.
Shelby’s pastor, Benjamin Williams of the Glenpool Church of Christ in suburban Tulsa, described her as quiet, reserved and someone who “doesn’t fit the stereotype” of an extrovert police officer.
“It was big news to me a couple years ago that she was even in law enforcement,“ said Williams. “She’s not brash or any of those things. I’d imagine her in a church pew anywhere in the country.“
Williams said he and Shelby talked this week, with Shelby asking whether she should stay away from church so as to not draw unwanted attention.
“Just not a self-absorbed person at all,“ he said. “I was really touched by that; she’s thinking about how it would affect the church.“
Betty Shelby’s mother-in-law, Lois Shelby, told the AP that her daughter-in-law is religious and is grieving for the Crutcher family.
“I cry all of the time because I love her so much,“ the 81-year-old retired teacher said through tears, “because I know what a great person she is and how religious of a person she is.“
► Study finds 20 Million would lose health coverage under Trump plan
A new study that examines some major health care proposals from the presidential candidates finds that Donald Trump would cause about 20 million to lose coverage while Hillary Clinton would provide coverage for an additional 9 million people.
The 2016 presidential campaign has brought voters to a crossroads on health care yet again. The U.S. uninsured rate stands at a historically low 8.6 percent, mainly because of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which expanded government and private coverage. Yet it’s uncertain if the nation’s newest social program will survive the election.
Republican candidate Trump would repeal “Obamacare” and replace it with a new tax deduction, insurance market changes, and a Medicaid overhaul. Democrat Clinton would increase financial assistance for people with private insurance and expand government coverage as well.
The two approaches would have starkly different results, according to the Commonwealth Fund study released Friday.
The analysis was carried out by the RAND Corporation, a global research organization that uses computer simulation to test the potential effects of health care proposals. Although the New York-based Commonwealth Fund is nonpartisan, it generally supports the goals of increased coverage and access to health care.
Economist Sara Collins, who heads the Commonwealth Fund’s work on coverage and access, said RAND basically found that Trump’s replacement plan isn’t robust enough to make up for the insurance losses from repealing the Affordable Care Act. “Certainly it doesn’t fully offset the effects of repeal,“ Collins said.
One worrisome finding is that the number of uninsured people in fair or poor health could triple under Trump. It would rise from an estimated 2.1 million people under current laws to between 5.7 million and 7.1 million under Trump’s approach, depending on which of his policy proposals was analyzed.
When uninsured people wind up in the hospital, the cost of their treatment gets shifted to others, including state and federal taxpayers. Trump has said he doesn’t want people “dying on the street.“
The study panned one of Trump’s main ideas: allowing insurers to sell private policies across state lines. Collins said insurers would cherry-pick the healthiest customers and steer them to skimpy plans. Other experts don’t see it as bleakly, believing that interstate policies could attract customers through lower premiums.
A prominent Republican expert who reviewed the study for The Associated Press questioned some of its assumptions, but said the overall conclusion seems to be on target. “You could quibble about some of the modeling, but directionally I think it’s right,“ said economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, a center-right public policy center.
Collins said the analysis examined some major proposals from each candidate, but did not test every idea.
The Trump proposals included repealing the Obama health care law, as well as a host of replacement ideas consisting of a new income tax deduction for health insurance, allowing policies to be sold across state lines, and turning the Medicaid program for low-income people into a block grant, which would mean limiting federal costs.
The study estimated that Trump’s repeal of “Obamacare” would increase the number of uninsured people from 24.9 million to 44.6 million in 2018. But then his replacement proposals would have a push-pull effect. The tax deduction and interstate health insurance sales would help some stay covered, but the Medicaid block grant would make even more people uninsured.
“The people who would actually gain coverage tend to have higher incomes,“ said Collins.
The result would be an estimated 45.1 million uninsured people in 2018 under Trump — an increase of 20.2 million, reversing the coverage gains under Obama.
The Clinton proposals analyzed included a new tax credit for deductibles and copayments not covered by insurance, a richer formula for health law subsidies, a fix for the law’s “family glitch” that can deny subsidies to some dependents, and a new government-sponsored “public option” health plan.
Taken together, the analysis estimated that Clinton’s proposals would reduce the number of uninsured people in 2018 to 15.8 million, which translates to a gain of 9.1 million people with coverage. Not included were Clinton’s idea for allowing middle-aged adults to buy into Medicare and her plan to convince more states to expand Medicaid.
Collins said the researchers will update their estimates for both campaigns as more details become available.
The health care report follows another recent analysis that delved into the candidates’ tax proposals. That study by the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that Trump’s latest tax proposals would increase federal debt by $5.3 trillion over the next decade, compared with $200 billion if Clinton’s ideas were enacted. The Trump campaign disputed those findings.
► Doubts remain after Charlotte police shooting video released
Charlotte police released dramatic video Saturday that shows officers with guns drawn surrounding a black man with his hands at his side before shots are fired and he buckles and falls. It’s unclear if there was anything in the man’s hands in the footage, which has done little to assuage his relatives.
The footage of the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott was released amid days of protests, including an outpouring by hundreds earlier Saturday, which coalesced around demands for the public to see the video. Police said Scott had a gun, though residents have said he was unarmed.
In the dashboard camera video released Saturday night, Scott could be seen slowly backing away from his SUV with his hands down, and it’s not apparent if he’s holding anything. Four shots are heard, and he falls to the ground.
Police also released photos of a handgun from the scene, saying it was loaded and contained Scott’s DNA and fingerprints. They also said Scott had marijuana.
The dashboard camera footage starts with a police car pulling up as two officers point their guns at Scott, who is inside the SUV with the doors closed and windows rolled up. Scott gets out and starts walking backward before shots are fired.
From a different angle, newly released police body camera footage shows an officer approach with his gun drawn and another officer already pointing his gun at Scott. When Scott comes into view, his hands are at his side and he’s standing beside his SUV. The body camera footage doesn’t show the moment shots are fired, and Scott is next seen on the ground.
An attorney for Scott’s family, Justin Bamberg, said the footage leaves questions unanswered more than it provides clarity.
“One of the biggest questions,“ Bamberg said, “is do those actions, do those precious seconds, justify this shooting?“
Ray Dotch, Scott’s brother-in-law, objected to reporters’ questions about Scott’s background, saying he shouldn’t have to “humanize him in order for him to be treated fairly.“
“What we know and what you should know about him is that he was an American citizen who deserved better,“ he added.
Before releasing the footage, Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference that he received assurances from the State Bureau of Investigation that making it public wouldn’t impact the state’s independent probe of the shooting.
Asked whether he expected the footage to calm protesters, Putney responded: “The footage itself will not create in anyone’s mind absolute certainty as to what this case represents and what the outcome should be. The footage only supports all of the other information” such as physical evidence and statements from witnesses and officers.
Putney said that his officers didn’t break the law but noted the state investigation continues.
“Officers are absolutely not being charged by me at this point, but again, there’s another investigation ongoing,“ he said.
Putney said that Scott was “absolutely in possession of a handgun.“
A police narrative released along with the video gives the most complete account yet of what brought Scott to police attention.
Two plainclothes officers in an unmarked vehicle were preparing to serve a warrant on someone else when Scott pulled up and parked next to them, according to the document.
The officers saw Scott rolling a marijuana cigar, or blunt, though they didn’t consider it a priority at first, it said. But then one of the officers saw him hold up a gun, the document states.
“Due to the combination of illegal drugs and the gun Mr. Scott had in his possession, officers decided to take enforcement action for public safety concerns,“ the document said.
The narrative says Scott didn’t respond to repeated commands to drop his weapon.
Those commands aren’t heard in the body camera video, which doesn’t have audible sound until after the shooting.
Amid anxiety and unease over the shooting of Scott, demonstrations in Charlotte have gone from violent to peaceful, although demands to see the police video remained a chief concern of protesters.
Before the release of the video, hundreds massed outside at the Charlotte police department building on Saturday afternoon chanting the name “Keith Scott.“ They also chanted, “No tapes, no peace” and raised signs including one reading “Stop Killing The Black People.“
The city has been on edge ever since Scott’s shooting death. The demonstrations reached a violent crescendo on Wednesday before the National Guard was called in a day later to maintain order. Forty-four people were arrested after Wednesday’s protests, and one protester who was shot died at a hospital Thursday. City officials said police did not shoot 26-year-old Justin Carr, and a suspect was arrested.
The next two nights of protests were free of property damage and violence, with organizers stressing a message of peace at the end of the week.
Charlotte is the latest U.S. city to be shaken by protests and recriminations over the death of a black man at the hands of police, a list that includes Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and Ferguson, Missouri.
► Cops Nab ‘Zombie-Like’ Washington Mall Shooting Suspect
The 20-year-old suspect in the deadly Cascade Mall shooting said nothing and appeared “zombie-like” when he was arrested by authorities nearly 24 hours into an intense manhunt, authorities said. Island County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Hawley said he spotted Arcan Cetin from a patrol car Saturday evening in Oak Harbor, Wash., and immediately recognized him. Hawley said at a news conference they had received information that Cetin, of Oak Harbor, was in the area. Cetin, who immigrated to the US from Turkey, is a legal permanent resident. He had been arrested once before in the county for assault. “I literally hit my brakes, did a quick turn, I jumped out,“ Hawley said. “We both jumped out with our guns, and he just froze.“ Cetin was unarmed and was carrying a satchel with a computer in it. “He was kind of zombie-like,“ Hawley said, per the AP.
The suspect’s arrest capped a frantic search following the slayings of five people the day before. Cetin has not been charged, Mount Vernon police Lt. Chris Cammock said. He will be booked into the Skagit County Jail and is expected to appear in court on Monday. Skagit County court records show three domestic-violence assault charges against Cetin, reports the Seattle Times. The victim was identified as Cetin’s stepfather. Cetin also was arrested for drunken driving. Cetin was told by an Island County District Court judge on December 29 that he was not to possess a firearm. However, the stepfather urged the judge not to impose a no-contact order, saying his stepson was “going through a hard time.“ Says Cammock, per the Times: “I don’t know what his motivations were. But I certainly intend to find out.“
► Melee in Boston’s Theater District Leaves 7 Injured
Authorities say seven people have been injured in an apparent fight in Boston’s Theater District, the AP reports. The Boston Globe reports that Bernard O’Rourke, police superintendent of the bureau of field services, said officers responded to a report of a fight about 2:15am Sunday in the district, where bars and restaurants cater to nightlife crowds and had just closed. Police say people were stabbed with knives or bottles. Four of the victims were transported to receive medical treatment, while the other three walked into hospitals on their own, a police spokesman tells the Globe.
Another police spokesman on Sunday afternoon told the AP the injuries appear to be non-life-threatening; earlier reports had said one person was critically injured. O’Rourke has said a suspect has been IDed—and per RT.com, that suspect was one of the wounded. Police are said to be seeking a second suspect. Emerson College, which has facilities in the area, alerted students to the incident in a Facebook post. The school has asked students to report any suspicious activity.
► 2 Small Planes Collide Mid-Air, Kill All Aboard
Two private planes collided Sunday in Western New York, reports the Buffalo News, killing all three aboard. The two aircraft—a Cessna 120 and a Piper Cherokee—were apparently part of a larger group of six flying out of the airport in Hamburg, NY, en route to get breakfast in St. Mary’s, Pa., and return later Sunday. “We’re all shaking in our boots now,“ says Hamburg Airport’s vice president, Larry Walsh. Both pilots, one a 60-year-old and the other a 69-year-old accompanied by his 69-year-old wife, had at least 15 years’ experience flying. But “there are a number of blind spots,“ when planes fly in groups together, says Walsh. There’s no official cause of the crash as yet, notes the AP, and the FAA and NTSB will investigate. Says a resident of North Collins, where the planes went down: “I just heard planes flying and a really loud smash.“
► Global efforts against ivory traffickers still falling short
Poaching syndicates shipped large amounts of African elephant ivory last year despite global calls to dismantle the trafficking networks that often collude with corrupt officials, conservationists said as an international wildlife conference opened Saturday in South Africa.
The illegal ivory trade “has remained fairly constant at unacceptably high levels” since 2010, and in 2015 there was a “continuing upward trend” in the seizure of larger shipments of more than 220 pounds, according to a document released by organizers. The transfer of big amounts of ivory indicates the key role of organized crime in poaching, the document said.
The plight of elephants dominated the discussion on the first day of the 12-day Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, conference. Rhinos, sharks, pangolins, helmeted hornbills and other threatened species are also on the agenda at the meeting, which regulates trade in wild animals and plants with the aim of ensuring their survival.
Last held in Bangkok in 2013, this year’s CITES conference ends October 5. The U.N. group has 183 member countries and can recommend suspending trade in wildlife with countries that don’t enforce its guidelines.
Wildlife trafficking is estimated to generate billions of dollars a year globally. Interpol is among the delegations at the conference and will discuss crime, corruption and the illegal financial flows of poaching.
Many delegates at the conference in Johannesburg are likely to push to tighten the international ban on the ivory trade, as well as close domestic ivory markets. Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, however, favor the sale of their ivory stockpiles, saying the money can be funneled back into conservation operations.
The world’s main ivory consumer, China, has said it plans to close its domestic ivory market. The United States has announced a near-total ban on the domestic sale of African elephant ivory.
Ivory has been used for centuries to make carvings, jewelry, furniture, piano keys and other items. Many conservationists say criminal syndicates launder illegal supplies through legal markets that permit the sale of antique ivory pieces or ivory exempted from a 1989 international trade ban.
The number of Africa’s savannah elephants dropped by about 30 percent from 2007 to 2014, to 352,000, because of poaching, according to a recent study. Elephant populations in Tanzania and Mozambique were among the hardest hit.
Tom Milliken, a co-author of the document released at the CITES meeting, said there are about 50 ivory seizures of more than half a ton, and sometimes as many as four tons, every year. Such big shipments indicate the involvement of organized criminal groups, said Milliken, an expert with the TRAFFIC conservation organization.
“Nobody is really uncovering their identities and making arrests and prosecuting the people who are really behind this,“ he said, adding that poaching syndicates view occasional ivory seizures as a form of “taxation” on their lucrative activity.
Some governments have the capacity to target ivory syndicates in the same way they prosecute drug kingpins, but are sometimes “more comfortable” going after low-level operatives rather than well-connected ringleaders, said Susan Lieberman of the Wildlife Conservation Society, a New York-based group.
“There’s a lot of corruption,“ Lieberman said.
► Pippa Middleton’s phone hacked, thousands of photos stolen
London police say they are investigating the reported hacking of the iCloud account of Pippa Middleton, younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, and the alleged theft of 3,000 photographs.
The Sun newspaper said Saturday it had been contacted by a purported hacker seeking to sell the images for a minimum of 50,000 pounds ($65,000). It said the seller communicated using the pseudonym “Crafty Cockney” on an encrypted messaging service and sent sample photos showing Middleton being fitted for a wedding dress in advance of her planned 2017 nuptials.
The Sun said the hacker also claimed to possess Middleton’s informal photos of sister Kate with her children, Princess Charlotte and Prince George, and naked images of her fiancé, James Matthews.
The Metropolitan Police says no arrests have been made.
► Couple Forced to Live Apart After 62 Years Reunited
Every other day for months, Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk cried when they were separated and returned to the senior living facilities in which they’d been forced to reside apart. On Thursday, the tears were for another reason. Thanks in part to media coverage and a viral photo, the couple—married 62 years—is once again living together, CBC reports. “The reunion saw tears of joy for all involved,“ the couple’s granddaughter, Ashley Bartyik, posted on Facebook. “They can now be under the same roof for their remaining years.“ Wolfram, 83, was hospitalized in January then moved into a facility in British Columbia. Because she didn’t need as much care as her husband, who has dementia and lymphoma, 81-year-old Anita was moved into a different facility in July.
Fearing that time apart would cause Wolfram’s memories of Anita to fade, a family member drove 40 minutes every other day so they could see each other, CNN reports. Bartyik posted a photo of one of their tearful goodbyes in August, and their story went international. In her Facebook post this week, Bartyik thanks “everyone around the world” for making Thursday’s permanent reunion at Anita’s senior living facility possible. “We thank you for your continued prayers and messages we have received,“ she writes. In a video of the reunion, Anita holds Wolfram’s face and tells him, “Look at me, look at me; I love you.“
► Mideast ‘quartet’ urges steps to resume peace talks
The international diplomatic “quartet” of Mideast peacemakers called once again on Friday for Israel and the Palestinians to take steps to resume stalled peace talks.
At a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, the top diplomats of the European Union, Russia, United Nations and United States urged the parties to create conditions for restarting “meaningful” negotiations toward a two-state solution. For the Israelis, this means a halt to settlement construction on territory claimed by the Palestinians. For the Palestinians, it means an end to incitement of violence.
The diplomats were also joined by the foreign ministers of Egypt and France, whose countries have each proposed ideas to restart talks. The quartet said all participants had agreed on the importance of coordinating peace efforts.
Meeting later at a New York hotel, Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they had agreed to look at ways to promote peace and stability in the region.
“There are things we believe we can achieve in the next months and there are serious concerns we all have about security in the region,“ Kerry said.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he “perceived a new dynamic developing” after meeting with Arab leaders and others involved in the peace effort this week at the United Nations.
Ayrault has been trying to rally support for France’s proposal to organize an international conference before the end of the year to present Israelis and Palestinians with a package of incentives if they reach a peace agreement.
He said diplomats have been receptive to the idea this week. “Our path, our approach, our methods are understood and appreciated,“ Ayrault said at a news conference before the quartet meeting.
He acknowledged there was little encouragement to be found in the speeches that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a day earlier to the U.N. General Assembly. The two leaders presented starkly different visions of the path toward restarting peace talks.
Ayrault sidestepped a question about whether Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been receptive to the idea of an end-of-year meeting, saying “there is a still a lot of work to be done to achieve this conference.“
In his speech, Abbas accused Israel of “continuing to evade” the international conference proposed by France.
Young GOP Voters: Manmade Climate Change Real, Renewables Good
Young conservatives overwhelmingly feel manmade climate change is a real problem, according to a just-released poll. These GOP voters strongly favor renewable energy.
The national survey of a thousand Republicans ages 18 to 35 was commissioned by Young Conservatives for Energy Reform. Four out of five polled think the climate is changing, and two-thirds blame human activity, in part or entirely.
The group’s founder and chair, Michele Combs, said these voters put as much importance on climate change as they did abortion or gay marriage a few years ago.
“The young Republicans embrace this issue,“ she said. “They see this issue as a core value issue, that maybe in the ‘90s would have been the life issue or the marriage issue. They put this issue in that same category.“
The GOP platform argues environmental regulations are slowing growth. But the poll found young conservatives view the EPA and environmental groups slightly more favorably than the coal or nuclear industries.
The poll found young conservative voters favor decentralized, market-based solutions, and the renewable energy industry comes across the best of any in the survey. Combs said her group hosted a clean energy meeting in Washington on Thursday, and the support for their position has grown quickly since the organization was founded.
Combs added, “Eight years ago, if you’d have told me we’d have brought over 500 young Republicans, young conservatives, to a clean-energy summit, I’d have been, like, ‘You’re crazy. Who are you even going to get there, you know?‘ And now, we’re there from all around the country.“
Four senators, four members of Congress and a retired Marine general attended Thursday’s summit. But GOP nominee Donald Trump has charged that climate change is a hoax. Combs said she feels Trump is smart enough to eventually see it as a legitimate threat, and in the meantime, the group is putting its energy toward the future rather than this year’s race.
“I think this is the future of the party,“ she explained. “The presidential campaign is not what we’re focusing on. We’re focusing on the grassroots.“
► Proposed Antero landfill has potential long-term environmental benefits, but residents concerned
A $275 million project in Ritchie and Doddridge counties by Antero Resources to move their natural gas business away from wastewater injection has drawn concern from some members of the extremely rural communities in those areas.
Kevin Ellis, Antero’s VP of Government Relations, said the creation of a water treatment plant and landfill along the Doddridge-Ritchie County line is the beginning of a better long-term environmental outcome in the area because it moves the company away from wastewater injection.
“If you are not able to re-consume that water, then you have to find a home for it,” he said. “It has to go some place. That some place today for the industry is typically disposal wells, injection wells. As we look to the future, we have a long-term play here in the basin. We have to find solutions for this waste stream.”
Wastewater injection has seen past legal challenges in West Virginia, but also has created environmental anxiety among residents who have been impacted. That anxiety aside, Ritchie County resident Lissa Lucas expressed concern that Antero’s proposed solution would create a different set of environmental and health problems.
“I think that what the company is trying to solve are not the things that need to be solved before we can even consider allowing such a project to go forward,” she said.
According to Ellis, the water treatment plant would recycle previously unuseable waste water. He estimated that 98 percent of the water would be fit for another use.
“You’re taking this stream of produced water, which is already here today, already being produced by our wells,” he said. “Current disposal of that water is really limited to just injection wells. That’s really where that water is dealt with.”
Lucas, who attended a public meeting in Harrisville last week that included representatives from the Friends of Hughes River Watershed Association, said the landfill would be of particular concern to residents of Ritchie County. Landfill leakage is not uncommon, and the Hughes River Water Board serves residents in Harrisville, Pennsboro, and Cairo.
“You’re asking us to take the risk,” Lucas said. “It’s a matter of privatizing the profits and socializing the risk. They are concentrating that risk on top of us.”
Kevin Ellis said, in addition to concerns over the future viability of wastewater injection, Antero saw a chance to reduce truck traffic that results from water transportation throughout the state.
“Environmentally, from an impact perspective, this is going to reduce truck traffic because of a central location,” he said. “When you do that, you also attain the other benefits attendant to that, which is less tailpipe emissions and so forth.”
“I’m glad they want a smaller footprint, naturally,” Lucas said. “If you are underneath that foot when it comes down, it doesn’t feel smaller to you.”
Other biproducts from the cleaning process would be dumped out-of-state, according to Ellis.
“We just don’t have the regulatory frame work for this type of waste stream in West Virginia today,” he said.
► 2 charges against former commissioner sent to grand jury
A magistrate judge has sent two charges filed against a former Jefferson County commissioner to a grand jury, but found there wasn’t probable cause on a third charge.
The ruling Thursday came after a preliminary hearing for 37-year-old Eric Keith Bell, who is accused of trading sexual images with a 16-year-old boy.
After hearing testimony from the boy, his mother and a police investigator, Magistrate Mary Rissler found there was probable cause for charges of possession of child pornography and distribution and display of obscene material to a minor. Rissler did not find probable cause for a charge of sexual abuse by a person of trust.
Bell resigned his seat on the county commission after being charged in June. The Republican was elected in 2014.