Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Feb. 21 letters to the editor

Public being shut out of W.Va. lawmaking

The 2021 legislative session is underway, and after a few days, I am alarmed. While I support alterations in protocols to maintain public safety related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I fear that the super-majority Republican leadership of the Legislature is taking advantage of this opportunity in order to limit transparency and public participation.

Free public access to the Capitol is a hallmark of the West Virginia legislative session. However, in 2021, legislators may hand-select those who are allowed in by-appointment-only.

We know it is possible to provide live, interactive virtual access to the Capitol as evidenced by Gov. Justice’s State of the State earlier this week. Nevertheless, House committee meetings — where bills are either approved, amended or killed — are being conducted behind closed doors in a closed Capitol.

Despite multiple requests, neither public viewing access nor virtual constituent interaction are being offered. When there has been video “access,” the view has been intentionally unhelpful, as with the Education Committee meeting on Feb. 11, in which the camera was focused on the clock in the House Chambers rather than the actual committee meeting.

Even the simple request to require that agendas be posted in advance to give citizens time to make arrangements and contact legislators has been repeatedly denied.

Additionally, and most worrisome, the rule requiring a public hearing on a bill be held if requested by a citizen was suspended. Hearings are now optional at the discretion of Republican leadership.

Last week, HB 2007 was discussed, which would change licensing requirements in the state for a variety of professions, including physicians, engineers and realtors. Local delegate Evan Hansen requested a hearing to allow input from those who would be impacted by the changes. It was refused.

West Virginians are being literally and figuratively shut out of our government as lawmakers — who have all been offered a vaccine — act without accountability. As citizens, we cannot allow those in power to use COVID-19 as an excuse to diminish our involvement in a process that affects us all.

Rebekah Aranda

Moving forward after riot and acquittal

I am not sure how many Americans watched the entire Senate trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump, as I did. The house managers did a masterful job piecing together the timeline and events leading up to the insurrection. They presented their case with passion and without mean spirit, unlike the counsel for the accused. He sneered at the evidence and House managers and raised four issues that were clearly not relevant or sufficient for acquittal. Nonetheless, the 17 needed Republican votes were not obtained and Trump was acquitted.

Perhaps the most compelling speeches occurred after the vote, when Sens. Schumer and McConnell both condemned the ex-president for inciting the riot.

You might have thought Mitch was for conviction until the end of his speech when he opined that impeachment was for sitting officials, not private citizens. SoI wondered why the other Republicans voted to acquit. If the impeachment documents were delivered prior to Jan. 20, would Trump have been found guilty?

So the widely predictable verdict was reached, and one hopes that Trump or his base do not feel vindicated. We should all want him to quietly fade away and take his lies and racist ways with him.

As to the 74 million who voted for him, I hope that many now see the despicable thing he did to promote the lie about the election results and incite his rabble to attack Congress.

As we move forward, I hope that truth will again come forward and take the place of the alternate universe Trump promoted. I hope the Republican party can rid itself of his influence and try to work with Democrats for the benefit of us all. We can all benefit if the two parties reassert that there are two sides to an argument, but one cannot be a lie.

Larry Harris

Trump didn’t incite the events of Jan. 6

I can’t accept that Democrats truly believe Trump incited the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that those who perpetrated this assault are a tiny segment of the people who voted for Trump.

Those who voted for him did so as a result of perpetual 10% or 11%  approval ratings for Congress, the push of Democrats toward socialism and the perception that status quo Republicans would do nothing about it.

This is a mentality that was in place before Trump was elected. This is the mentality that elected Trump. He did not create it. It is unfortunate that this small segment of his voters acted so poorly, however, Trump did not incite them. They were motivated by politicians of the past.

Patrick Nabors

COVID anywhere is still a threat everywhere

Later this month, I’ll be meeting virtually with Sen. Capito’s, Sen. Manchin’s and Rep. McKinley’s offices to discuss the need for additional investments in global health security.

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that global health security is only as strong as its weakest link. Regardless of whether you live in Morgantown, W.Va., or Mogadishu, Somalia, we’re all in this fight together. As long as this crisis remains unchecked anywhere, COVID remains a serious threat everywhere.

Safe, effective vaccines are key to ending the pandemic and reopening the global economy, but only if the most vulnerable, everywhere, have access to them. That’s why the U.S. must lead the global pandemic response and invest at least $20 billion in fighting COVID-19 globally, including funding for proven health programs like the Global Fund and CEPI.

I am proud to say that Republicans and Democrats in Congress from our great state have supported global health programs like the Global Fund, which have saved millions of lives from preventable diseases. It’s imperative that these lawmakers who have supported global health efforts in the past once again support these critical programs.

As Congress considers the next COVID-19 emergency relief bill, I hope Rep. McKinley, Sen. Manchin and Sen. Capito will support at least $20 billion in global COVID-19 resources that are essential to reopening the global economy and ending this pandemic everywhere.

Jamie Williams

Liberals working toward single voice society

It is increasingly apparent that the left is determined to cancel any and all voices that do not agree with theirs going forward.

The facts are clear: Companies canceling financial support for conservative candidates and causes; tech giants Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Twitter (among others) censoring and banning free speech of conservatives on their social media platforms. Forbes magazine published an op-ed that suggested blacklisting Trump administration officials who dare apply for jobs with companies after they leave office and threatening to expose and ruin any company that hires them. Yes, the “cancel culture” is on full display.

I recall that Joe Biden made a campaign promise to “bring the country together.” When is he going to get started on this promise? Say what you want about Donald Trump, but he did keep most every one of his campaign promises.

So what is going on here you ask? The left is on its way to achieving what they have long sought — a “one voice” society. No one dares to speak, question or utter a contradictory thought or word against the left’s single voice. Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984.

Like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Shumer said, ”Now we take Georgia, then we change America.” Mission accomplished Chuck. Congrats to you and your single voice party. To silence those who engage in free speech and to cancel any and all who challenge the party line will likely do the greatest harm to our country of anything in our history.

Talk about Back to the Future — we are living it at this moment in time.

Dallas Branch