March 29, 2014

Me too, Bob

I have long ago come to terms with the fact that Bob Dylan wrote the soundtrack for my life. Usually, this is not the young idealistic Bob but rather the obscure, ironic and apocalyptic Bob.

The Dylan song that captures this moment in time is "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again," a surrealistic romp from his early electric phase. The line in question is one that I've experienced over and over again in West Virginia, where once you think you've fought and won something you sometimes have to do it all over again.

That's the case with the effort to raise the state's minimum wage. A bill to do so cleared the legislature on March 8, the last night of the session. Things looked pretty good until an corporate attorney from a major law firm began aggressively pushing to get Gov. Tomblin to repeal it.

The line is "An' here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
you have to pay to get out of
going through all these things twice.
Anyhow, we will now the results in the next few days. Appropriately enough, the bill's fate will be sealed on April 1.

Here's my rant about that  and here's some news coverage.

March 25, 2014

Hey WV, action needed now

Many community, labor and religious partners joined together this year to support passage of HB 4283, a bill that would raise the state minimum wage. And we won, by a large majority in both houses of the state legislature.

Now, Brian Peterson, an attorney with the corporate law firm Bowles Rice, citing bogus problems with the bill, is urging Gov. Tomblin to veto it. This would deprive more than 125,000 hardworking West Virginians from a meaningful boost in their standard of living.

Some people really do want it all—but I don't recall anyone electing an elite law firm to ruin the lives of working West Virginians.

If you live in WV, please consider calling Gov. Tomblin NOW at 304-558-2000 and urging him not to veto HB 4283. Instead, he should sign it ASAP. Any technical problems with the bill can be resolved by the legislature in due course. 

Read more here.

March 23, 2014

It's gross

It's been a rough week for the home team in West Virginia. After fighting hard and successfully to restore budget cuts proposed by Gov. Tomblin to early childhood and domestic violence programs in the legislature, we learned this week that he cut them anyway with his line item veto power.

And, yes, this was done at the same time that he celebrated giving $25 million in tax credits to one of his millionaire pals. As my friend Stephen Smith with the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition put it, "Yesterday's press conference felt like Marie Antoinette: 'Let them eat cake...Everyone celebrating a tax cut to a billionaire and a football team on the exact same day that the governor cut $980,000 out of programs for the most vulnerable kids and families in the state--it's gross."

Read more about that here.

THE NEXT BAD THING is that Brian Peterson, an attorney representing WV's ruling class, which can itself be pretty gross, issued a memo that basically calls for the governor to veto the minimum wage increase that recently passed the legislature.

The question is, how many poor people is the governor willing to shaft in the course of a week? My guess, based on recent evidence, is the number approaches infinity.

Yes, some people really do want it all.

THE SHORT(ENING) LIST. Here's an op-ed of mine on the good things the legislature did, although some of the "victories" may vanish before our eyes.