This is an open letter to Gov. Tomblin.
As our governor, I want to thank you for coming to Elkins and crowning Queen Silvia the 75th during our Forest Festival on Oct 7. I did miss you at our Grand Feature Parade on Saturday. You probably had important government business to keep you away.
Anyway, it was nice to see you in person instead of in one of the many negative political ads on TV. With all those ads and information gained during the special election, we were all able to learn a bit more about your 36 years in West Virginia government.
For instance, we learned you voted yourself multiple pay raises; used taxpayer money to finance trips to luxury vacation destinations; and used your office to reward yourself and your family with $6 million. I had two greyhounds for pets - rescued from race tracks to save their lives - I never realized they were so profitable. And, I learned you voted for tax increase after tax increase, while allowing West Virginia to sink into poverty and joblessness. With your decades-long record of this "service" to your constituents, I'm awed that West Virginia voters put you back in office.
On the other hand, I do remember your very honorable comment at your victory speech, "My door will be open to all and I know that the best solutions come from frank and honest discussions and I look forward to having those." But later you said, "I will fight for our state's coal industry, the backbone of our economy. We will oppose the efforts of the EPA and others to stop production of the most efficient fuel our country knows." What good is an open door when you have such a closed mind?
Friday, I found it surreal to watch you ask Queen Silvia LXXV Logan Gray Burke to accept the Forest Festival's Oath of Loyalty which included a statement asking her "to protect West Virginia's majestic mountains and pristine streams."
We all know the EPA has cracked down on mountaintop removal which has devastated thousands of acres of hardwood forest and hundreds of miles of streams, and has destroyed the lives and health and caused the displacement of countless coalfield residents. But you have chosen to stand with the coal industry- an industry that won't extract coal by less toxic and destructive means. Sir, how could you ask that young lady to pledge the opposite of your solid positions which are adverse to the health of West Virginia's ecology?
I suppose the Charleston Daily Mail was right when they said, "No one ever accused state Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, D-Logan, of putting principle over politics." (Charleston Daily Mail, Sept. 8, 2001).
OK, maybe I'm being too critical. Perhaps on Oct. 8 you had a change of heart and decided the mountains and streams really are important to West Virginia. Perhaps you really see that mountaintop removal destroys those majestic mountains and our pristine streams are covered with their rubble and toxic material. Maybe you even decided the actual benefits of wind farms on our mountains' ridges are also very questionable and their installation is harmful to the ecosystem, too.
Governor Tomblin, after 36 years of the same old crap, if you really have turned over a new leaf, maybe you will take that Forest Festival Oath of Loyalty yourself.
I'm looking forward to reading about it.