Culture of corruption often fueled by weak economy - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Culture of corruption often fueled by weak economy

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Alleged robbery leaves bartender scarred for life

    Alleged robbery leaves bartender scarred for life

    Alleged robbery leaves bartender scarred for life

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 6:18 PM EDT2014-07-29 22:18:38 GMT
    In Summers Countythe Lilly Pad Bar in Hilldale was taken by surprise over the weekend.According to reports, two men allegedly walked into the bar with knives demanding money. Around 1:00AM on Sundaythere were only two people in the entire bar, the bartender and a customer.Two men allegedly came in armed with knives. and tied up the customer and cut his hand.After that, deputies say the robbers took 7-8 thousand dollars from the bar.While this was going on, the bartender says she was cut acros...
    In Summers Countythe Lilly Pad Bar in Hilldale was taken by surprise over the weekend.According to reports, two men allegedly walked into the bar with knives demanding money. Around 1:00AM on Sundaythere were only two people in the entire bar, the bartender and a customer.Two men allegedly came in armed with knives. and tied up the customer and cut his hand.After that, deputies say the robbers took 7-8 thousand dollars from the bar.While this was going on, the bartender says she was cut acros...
  • Will parking be an issue for Saints fans as the State Fair of West Virginia comes to town?

    Will parking be an issue for Saints fans as the State Fair of West Virginia comes to town?

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:29 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:29:53 GMT
    Local New Orleans Saints fans continue to watch and enjoy their beloved team as they continue to practice in our area. But as the State Fair of West Virginia grows closer and closer, some are concerned if parking will soon be an issue.
    Local New Orleans Saints fans continue to watch and enjoy their beloved team as they continue to practice in our area. But as the State Fair of West Virginia grows closer and closer, some are concerned if parking will soon be an issue.
  • Lane closure planned to repair East River Mountain Tunnel

    Lane closure planned to repair East River Mountain Tunnel

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:21 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:21:20 GMT
    Starting on Tuesday, July 29, the northbound lanes of Interstate-77 through the East River Mountain tunnel will be closed.  The lanes are being closed to allow crews to repair the tunnel after a fire that happened over the weekend.
    Starting on Tuesday, July 29, the northbound lanes of Interstate-77 through the East River Mountain tunnel will be closed.  The lanes are being closed to allow crews to repair the tunnel after a fire that happened over the weekend.
  • OPINIONState Journal EditorialsMore>>

  • Wider lens necessary for effective education

    Wider lens necessary for effective education

    Friday, July 25 2014 6:00 AM EDT2014-07-25 10:00:24 GMT
    We say it often, but if West Virginia is going to reach its enormous potential, we will need a dynamic, robust educational system that challenges and prepares our people for the rigors of life in the 21st century.
    We say it often, but if West Virginia is going to reach its enormous potential, we will need a dynamic, robust educational system that challenges and prepares our people for the rigors of life in the 21st century.
  • Can we be realistic on roads?

    Can we be realistic on roads?

    Friday, July 18 2014 7:00 AM EDT2014-07-18 11:00:54 GMT
    Building and maintaining roads should not be a political issue. In fact, it should be pretty straightforward. Potholes need filled, drainage ditches need cleaned, the highways need striped — while it might be painstaking and expensive, the overall concept is pretty simple.
    Building and maintaining roads should not be a political issue. In fact, it should be pretty straightforward. Potholes need filled, drainage ditches need cleaned, the highways need striped — while it might be painstaking and expensive, the overall concept is pretty simple.
  • Looking the other way perpetuates criminal politics

    Looking the other way perpetuates criminal politics

    Friday, July 11 2014 10:46 AM EDT2014-07-11 14:46:55 GMT
    Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for his role in a political scheme that has dominated headlines for nearly a year and shined a bright light on one part of the state’s tangled web of public corruption.
    Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for his role in a political scheme that has dominated headlines for nearly a year and shined a bright light on one part of the state’s tangled web of public corruption.

West Virginia is burdened by a sad tradition of political corruption and graft. Con artists who put themselves and their selfish interests above the common good serve as much more than a simple footnote in our state's history. 

Over the years, as we were reminded by our cover story in the March 28-April 3 edition, "former governors, state senators, delegates, judges, circuit clerks, lottery commissioners, magistrates, county commissioners, sheriffs, police chiefs, an attorney general, a senior center director, even a fire chief and his wife" have been the target of federal investigators. 

Why does this happen? What creates this culture of theft and contempt not only for the voters, but also for the very essence of the electoral system? Is power so corrupting that these scofflaws will do anything to maintain their positions? As with everything in this arena, there is a strong case to be made that it comes down to money. 

It is by no means limited to one area of the state. Take a look at the most high-profile instances of public corruption: Often it happens in rural, poverty-stricken regions where jobs are hard to find. Those in power likely understand their offices are their best chance at good paychecks, so they'll do anything to maintain that power. If that means buying votes, stocking the voter rolls with names found on tombstones, intimidating anyone who threatens the status quo and trampling all over democracy, then so be it. 

For everyone else, raising a voice often means cutting themselves off from those who, directly or indirectly, control the purse strings. 

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin can go in and clean house (and in our article, he identified with the following, very telling line from a popular children's movie: "I just cleaned up this mess — can we just keep it clean for 10 minutes?"), but nothing will change until we begin to create an economic climate that allows for prosperity and we develop a viable two-party political system. 

Politicians will always philander and find ways to work the system, but when financial opportunity extends beyond the courthouse steps, those in power will have less control and will be forced to understand it's the voters who are in charge. Jobs won't change everything, but a thriving, dynamic private sector is a strong weapon in this battle. 

Corruption certainly poisons both sides of the aisle, but nothing drags down the system like total power concentrated in the hands of a select few. A better West Virginia means a state filled with diverging voices — but one where the voice of the people is heard over all else.