Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Feb. 28 letters to the editor

Reader grateful for the local newspaper

I am very grateful for The Dominion Post.

Most recently, it was Jim Bissett’s piece about our remarkable former mayor Charlene Marshall that caught my attention for its details of her life and accomplishments and its warmth.

I also appreciate the opinion page and its range of opinions. Even — or maybe especially — when I find myself agreeing — or disagreeing — with someone I didn’t expect to. I almost always find the writers taking responsible, well-informed and heartfelt stands on important subjects. I am particularly grateful for the excellent main editorials, which take on the responsibility of educating us on complex issues and are not afraid of ruffling feathers that need ruffling.

Thanks to all the hard-working staff at The Dominion Post for making me proud of my hometown paper when we need it more than ever.

Judith Gold Stitzel

Police Review and Advisory Board needed

At a time when we’ve all seen heinous abuses of power by police officers — including just over the river in Westover — the Morgantown police force should be leading the way to be more transparent and accountable to the community.

Instead, the Morgantown Fraternal Order of Police has refused to participate in the process of creating the proposed civilian police review and advisory board, and even enlisted the West Virginia attorney general to threaten our city with legal action.

There is currently no neutral avenue for civilians to voice complaints or concerns about police misconduct. There is fear of retaliation and intimidation in our community. That is a fact. This proposed board creates a way to build trust and heighten communication between the community and the police officers who have a sworn duty to protect, serve and be accountable to us.

The FOP’s refusal to engage with the process of drafting the proposal and their constant threat of legal action only serve to undermine their authority and further erode our trust. This is a great shame, and it does no good for anyone in our community.

I, for one, support the proposed board and am hopeful that the new chief of police will see the wisdom of embracing it rather than fighting it.

Andrew Rorabaugh

Closed-door Legislature keeps public in the dark

The lights are essentially off, and we all know the repercussions of operating in the dark. It’s easier to stumble and fall, but it’s also easier to pull off nefarious schemes, to avoid prying eyes and questioning minds.

With the COVID-19 situation our Legislature finds itself in, its inability to give citizens in-person access to its sessions and meetings is understandable. However, there seems to be an unwillingness to provide alternate means of citizen oversight that are timely and effective.

So, when the lights come on, where will we find ourselves? Legislation is moving quickly, primarily a product of one-party control in both houses. For those of us concerned with social justice and other issues, this speedy “lights off” session is more than worrisome.

Charter schools may be a boon to the “haves,” but it comes at the expense of the “have-nots.” A lower income tax would put more money in my pocket, but I’m already eating well and paying my bills. I can see people from the windows of my house who can’t check either of those boxes, and the cuts to services and readjustment of sales taxes may well worsen their situation.

Those are just two areas being addressed, but there are hundreds of bills introduced in each session — potential pieces of legislation that can affect our lives on many levels. And now, with our Legislature solidly one-party and operating behind the cloak of COVID, a lack of oversight and transparency could have dire consequences.

The technology to solve this issue is there. We need to demand that it not only be used, but that it be used in a manner that allows us to easily see and hear what we would have seen and heard if sitting in the chambers or in an open hearing.

I appreciate the time and effort legislators devote to the governance of our state. It’s not an easy job. But never forget that it’s politics — an age-old endeavor that requires strong light, close scrutiny and a very attentive electorate.

Rebecca Hunn

Staggered council terms reduce accountability

Morgantown citizens face an important election this April. While only two of seven city council seats are contested, voters will cast ballots on a referendum to change council members’ terms of office.

Presently, all seven city council members are elected every two years. If changed, those two-year concurrent terms will become four-year staggered terms.

Voters’ ability to hold all councilors accountable will be reduced by staggered four-year terms. Taxpayers’ money won’t be saved because elections will still be held every two years. Most critically at risk is civic interest and voter participation. If split and staggered, there’s strong evidence to hypothesize Morgantown’s paltry average voter turnout, which has averaged around 11% in recent years, will become a shadow of its former self.

Given what’s been witnessed locally in government in recent years, ask yourself whether you want more or less accountability.

Council advanced a senseless plan to buy out Haymaker Village and made a sloppy annexation effort rather than pursue a responsible process.

A beautiful riverfront park, once welcoming, now feels more like a forbidden city: Opulent and off limits, its beauty guarded from the public. Along the way, city council allowed goodwill to be trampled by enabling an administration that cast aside a donors’ contribution of cherry trees.

Insult to injury was added when city council allowed administration to build on private land and attempt to take property through eminent domain.

Supporters say the proposed charter change offers stability. Council could have sought changes that would have led to stability while preserving accountability and improving efficiency and participation.

Unfortunately, the hidden costs of what’s been presented outweigh any benefits, and this remedy is worse than the cure. On Tuesday, April 27, vote “no” to Morgantown’s proposed charter change.

Wes Nugent

Colored icicles bring to mind polluted water

I enjoy looking at the submitted photos from The Dominion Post subscribers. On Friday, Feb. 19, the “Photo Friday” displayed colored icicles on a hillside. My first thought was I would not want to drink that melted ice water.

Is this another example of our legacy extraction culture of mining in West Virginia? Having seen many “colored waterfalls” in West Virginia and western Pennsylvania along rail-trails, I’m often concerned about where this polluted water eventually goes and how it might affect our drinking water and recreational activities.

Charles Karnack
Cheat Lake