Thursday, August 25, 2005

There's Work To Be Done

For over a decade in West Virginia, public school teachers have been getting only minimal pay raises. Following the walkout in 1989 and Governor Caperton's reform plans, teacher pay slowly began to inch out of the basement in state-by-state rankings, but they have now worked their way down near the bottom again. And each year the refrain goes something like: "You deserve more and if we had more money, you'd get it."

Well, now there IS more money and it's time to do what's right.

Many Republicans are urging a repeal of the food tax (if we don't need the money let's give it back to the people). Behind the argument is a basic premise that government should be "starved" of money so it will get leaner.

What that arguments forgets is that GOVERNMENT IS SUPPOSED TO DO THINGS. We expect them to build and maintain roads, train and dispatch law enforcement, collect taxes, and yes, educate our children (the ONLY resposibility of state government actually mandated by our constitution). To do those things requires money. To do them well requires more money. Of course, as in any business, there is some waste and inefficent. There are people who don't pull their weight. But at heart, the state's teachers do an exmplary job.

Classsroom-by-classroom, school-by-school, county-by-county, teachers prepare our children for the future. How dare we tell them the time still isn't right! You don't think teachers work hard--BECOME one. You think they have summers off? Check the seasonal employment list at your local park system or see who's on the roof painting houses.

And if you only see "bad" teachers in your kid's school, ask yourself where did the "good" ones go? Chances are the answer is: somewhere where they can make more money.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Who's the nuisance?

Wheeling Council is way off base when it tries to declare Bud's Club a public nuisance. The club has been in Centre Wheeling for 6 decades and it's been in the same family the entire time. Current owner Joey Gorayeb has been running the place for 15 years.I am willing to accept Wheeling Police Chief Kevin Gessler's claim that the place has been a haven for drugs and possibly prostiution. But whatever problems there are are attributrable to a single owner and in fact a single family for generations.

Gorayeb wants to sell the building and the business to a new owner. The new owner should be given a chance to prove that he can run a "clean club". There already are several nearby business people who think a tavern in that area is a good idea. I agree. It's a neighborhood of antique shops, restaurants, a used book store, art gallery. A pleasant pub makes a pleasing addition. As a member of the City Planning Commission, I can tell you the entire area is properly zoned. In fact, with several store fronts available in that specific block, a new tavern could easily open up within a matter of a few hundred feet.

A piece of property is not possessed by demons. A building on its own is not a nuisance. If there is prostituion in the area, crack down on it. If Mr. Gorayeb or others have committed crimes inside that building, arrest them. And if Mr. Goryeb wanted to continue operating the bar himself, oppose it.

But to to deny a new owner a chance to make a go of a new neighborhood bar in that location is unfair to the new owner, unfair to those who would like to see a pub, and frankly unfair to Mr. Gorayeb in denying him the chance to sell his business and building to a willing buyer.