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Taking Shots

Justice Should Focus on Being Governor

It seems Gov. Jim Justice just can’t help himself.

On Tuesday, after a month of lobbying the Greenbrier County Board of Education to reverse its decision to not hire him as the head boys’ basketball coach at Greenbrier East High School (he already coaches the girls’ team, and also has a job that requires him to run the state of West Virginia), Justice finally did the right thing and withdrew his name from consideration.

But he didn’t go without taking a few final shots at the board members who opposed him.

To recap: Justice was one of five candidates for the open boys’ head basketball coaching position at Greenbrier East. He coached the team previously and believed he was the most qualified candidate for the post even though he said his duties as governor would only allow him to coach games and not practices.

When the matter came before the board in August, members voted, 3-2, to not hire any of the five candidates including Justice. This led to Justice filing a grievance against the board earlier this month.

By withdrawing his name and the grievance, Justice brings to an end yet another strange chapter to his time in public office. But he did not bow out gracefully, instead using the opportunity to again make his case as to why he should have been hired.

“We all know that the principal, assistant principal, and athletic director unanimously recommended me to the board. Also, board president (Jeanie) Wyatt and Superintendent (Jeff) Bryant gave me their recommendation. I understand that even the board lawyer believes I should have been chosen,” he wrote in his letter.

“… Does the hate of these board members (who voted against Justice) hurt? Of course it does. When you love our school and community as I do — it really hurts. Could I have done a great job for the school and every one of our kids? Without any doubt — period.”

There is no doubt that the governor loves coaching high school basketball. He’s informed us of that repeatedly for going on six years. Voters have tolerated him continuing to coach the girls’ team at Greenbrier East but adding another responsibility on top of that to take more of his attention away from running this state would have been irresponsible.

West Virginia has a number of problems that should be receiving the governor’s full-time attention: COVID-19, opioid abuse, a failing public education system, poverty, economic development opportunities, broadband access, crumbling roads … these are but a few of the challenges. The fact Justice has spent any time worrying about being a coach in light of the state’s many problems calls his commitment to the state into question.

Stick to being the governor, governor. West Virginia truly needs your full-time attention.

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