By: Robin A. Holstein, Mountaineer News Contributor Posted: March 15, 2020 | 04:44AM EST
Hinterlands of Eastern Kanawha County:
A few days ago there was a story in the paper about the Ethics Commission’s decision that using the official plane to fly the Governor from Lewisburg to wherever was not automatically unethical. As long as the travel did not violate (paraphrased):
Official state business is the reason;
Justice isn’t making up the need for a trip to actually attend private business; and,
Any costs associated with unofficial business are reimbursed.
It may not be unethical, but I don’t think it is right. A Parkersburg News and Sentinel story from last year reported the Justices (yep, him and her) racked up 62 flights and approximately 188,984 over 34 months . That is $5,558 per month in travel related flights alone! Now, that wasn’t added to the tab of one of his companies, that is your tax dollars.
“The cost of a flight from Charleston to Lewisburg varies based on the aircraft, with some flights costing as little as $420 to as much as $978 depending on weather and other factors, averaging to approximately $724.50 per 67-mile leg.”
Why are we paying for this?
The State Constitution says the Board of Public Works shall reside at the seat of government. Our seat of government is Charleston, Kanawha County. Any reasonable person understands the meaning of “reside” is to live, more than half the time, otherwise you are just visiting. Governor Justice disagrees with the Constitution.
I wonder if he disagrees with the requirement for people who reside in West Virginia 30 days or more to get a state issued driver's license? - New residents who want to drive in WV must apply for a WV driver’s license within 30 days. (PDF p 12/88).
Did he read the Secretary of State’s Running for Office PDF guide? (*emphasis and comment mine.)
“*Residence” has been defined by the West Virginia Supreme Court as the place where you actually live. A business location cannot be established as a residence. Property which you rent to someone else is not a residence. A post office box does not establish residence. (* Unless you are Robert Byrd.) Some offices require you to be a resident for a length of time before election, by the time of filing for office, or by the time of taking office.
Perhaps the thing that causes me the most pause is this August 2019 comment by Justice:
“There’s all kinds of reasons from the knees down to my toes, from all kinds of things, that make my life better if I can make it home. I stay when I need to stay, but I don’t miss anything,” Justice told the town hall.
He doesn’t miss anything?
How about the constituents? Do THEY miss anything? Do they have to schedule time to meet with him based on his schedule in Charleston or Lewisburg? How convenient is it for the citizens to meet with him while they are in Charleston during the sessions? Does he make a special flight to Charleston to see a teacher who wants to discuss legislation, or the nurse who took her time to attend a committee meeting in Charleston?
What the heck is wrong, medically, with Justice? Why aren’t the citizens of the state entitled to know why he “needs” to stay in Lewisburg to make his life better? If he is too sick to stay in Charleston, is he too sick to continue serving as Governor?