Corruption must be eliminated for economic gains - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Corruption must be eliminated for economic gains

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  • OPINIONState Journal EditorialsMore>>

  • 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.
  • Energy generation economy will require evolution

    Energy generation economy will require evolution

    Friday, June 27 2014 9:38 AM EDT2014-06-27 13:38:18 GMT
    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed down an interesting decision in terms of what the Environmental Protection Agency can and cannot do in terms of reducing emissions at power plants and factories.
    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed down an interesting decision in terms of what the Environmental Protection Agency can and cannot do in terms of reducing emissions at power plants and factories.

Disgraced former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury is slated to spend the next four years behind bars. Thornsbury spent 17 years on the bench, but this week he pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to deprive a man of his constitutional rights in order to protect a political ally.

He acted like a “third world dictator” and what he did was “an ugly insult to the United States Constitution,” U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston said during Thornsbury’s sentencing.

The details of his crimes have been well documented, but Thornsbury’s operation manages to shock even in a state with a long, sad history of political corruption. George White, one of the victims in this mess, put a fine point on it when he said during Thornsbury’s sentencing, “there’s three laws in West Virginia: federal, state and Mingo County law. And Mingo County law I fear a whole lot more than federal or state — because anything is possible under that law.”

Can you imagine feeling that way as a citizen of any county or city in this country, let alone in our state? No wonder Mingo County is in the shape it’s in; so many have lost faith in the most fundamental civic concepts. Just making it is hard enough, but the odds for success are clearly stacked against you. Why would an enterprising person or group even consider investing there when it’s known the first time you cross someone at the courthouse, the goon squad comes calling? This kind of behavior is not limited to Williamson. It happens all over West Virginia.

Thornsbury and other lawbreakers need to be brought to justice, and this kind of corruption must be rooted out at all levels. But nothing is truly going to change until we address the larger issue — for so many places in West Virginia, if not the entire state, the economy is based on the government. Elected officials and bureaucrats hold sway over far too much. Their power extends well beyond rule making or rule interpretation. It’s a fiefdom. We deserver better, but nothing is going to happen until we open this state for investment. Corruption in some form or fashion will always exist, but nothing good happens when the political class not only has absolute power, but it controls who prospers and who does not.

A better West Virginia is a West Virginia where everyone has a real, lasting shot at the American Dream.