Friday, July 21, 2006

Moving Money Around

When I take a dollar from my left pocket and put it in my right, I am no richer.

When business moves from one Ohio Valley town to another the Valley has not grown.

When the government ponies up cash for "economic development", it should raise all boats. It should IMPROVE the area, not just move money around.

I am thinking these thoughts as Belmont County looks at a big loss of sales tax dollars and Commissioner Mark Thomas lays the blame at the feet of the Highlands--Ohio County's new retail development surrounding Cabella's, which Thomas says has simply taken dollars away from the areas around the Ohio Valley Mall and Plaza.

When businesses choose to move for their own reasons, that's

But when multi-millions of tax dollars are spent to create a development area---as was done in the case of Cabella's and the Highlands---some sort of greater good should be achieved. Tax revenue should grow, opportunities for good jobs should be expanded, or the possibility of future growth should be enhanced.

Cabella's itself, I think, DID create the possibility of future growth. There will be a big announcement next week about a major new attraction at the Highlands, and it, too will be a big boost.

But many of the stores already in development at the Highlands are just more of the same. And there will be a second big announcement next week that will be a big addition to the Highlands---but will be a huge loss to the City of Wheeling.

And I think there's something wrong with that.

I hate to sound like a Republican, but government should stay out of the economic development arena UNLESS in the end there is growth.

Moving money from one pocket to the other is a waste of our taxpayers dollars and is a fraud on the public when it's called "development".

Death of Democracy?

He's done it before and he's at it again. Massey Energy boss Don Blankenship want to remold the Mountain State in his own image. He wants to make changes in the way we run government, wants government to make changes in the way we run our lives.

Mind you, he doesn't want to put himself up as a candidate so the residents can vote on whether we like him or his ideas....he just wants to spend his own millions to defeat candidates he doesn't like and set the State agenda on some of the social issues he thinks are important.

There is one absolute fact in contemporary elections; MONEY TALKS. No matter how many spaghetti dinners and street fairs a candidate attends. No matter how often he takes to talkradio. The defining factor in our elections today is who can buy the most ad time. It's TV (and to a lesser extent radio) that makes or breaks the campaign.

When a millionaire like Blankenship puts his money into the mix--WITHOUT putting himself up for consideration--the playing field is no longer level. American democracy is based on the premise that "Everyman" has a chance to be elected. But if Blankenship targets "Everyman" , it's tough to fight back. Most candidates can't match him dollar-for-dollar. And if a candidate wants to meet Blankenship's money in a fair fight, "Everyman" has to spend a lot of his time and energy raising money instead of campaigning.

I truly do NOT have the answer. The Supreme Court has ruled that spending money on campaigns is "free speech". Although I can't imagine that the Founders intended for bags full of cash to be as protected by the First Amendment as a "pamphleteer", it nonetheless IS.

But at least we need to see what Blankenship is up to. To understand the arrogance of a man who thinks his money allows him to push us around.

Maybe the Mountain State will remember it's motto "Montani Semper Liberi". And NOT "He who has the gold rules"

She will be missed

When I feel stressed and overworked, I often take a minute to think of Kathy Fortunato. There is no one I know who was able to juggle more balls, manage more matters, and do it all with a smile, than Kathy. Her family always came first, but community, church, and charity were never far behind.

Kathy Fortunato passed away this week. A friend and former colleague, Kathy suffered a sudden stroke over the weekend and died Tuesday morning at the all-too-young age of 46.

Our tremendous sympathy, support, and prayers go to her family--Dr. Mike and the kids--as well as her extended family in the community.

From medical matters--(Health Right, The Medical Society)-and politics (Ohio County GOP Chair, a personal mention from the President)--
to The Chamber of Commerce (executive committee) community events (Chair of the Sternwheeler Festival)
and her church,
Kathy was deeply involved in every aspect of our community.

She will be missed.

Sleep softly, sweet lady. You done good.