Statehouse Beat: Half-time governor is full-time mania | Phil Kabler

Having no idea how video streaming services work and being too cheap to pay for, I am missing out on a lot of the popular new TV series.

When I was home on vacation, however, I had the opportunity to watch the first season of the pop culture phenomenon Binge-Watch. “Ted Lasso. “

Ted Lasso’s popular optimism and skill took America by storm as the perfect antidote to four years of antagonism and cruelty for the sake of cruelty Donald Trump.

As the story goes, Lasso is hired to coach an English Premier League soccer team after winning a national division II championship in American college football.

Despite all the optimism, Lasso is also a realist. He realizes that he knows next to nothing about football and suspects that there could be shameful reasons for his attitude. (There is.) He finds that his optimistic, positive attitude doesn’t always hold out because it couldn’t save his recently failed marriage.

In West Virginia we have some sort of Ted Lasso in Jim justicebut where lasso is popular and optimistic, justice is popular and delusional.

While Lasso realizes he is severely underqualified for English professional football and delves into the intricacies of the sport, Justice is severely underqualified in his office to serve as governor but has never had much interest in learning the nuances To govern and lead the state.

While Lasso knows what he doesn’t, Justice has pretended that he is excellently qualified and very successful as governor.

A good example of this was last week when he announced his $ 10 million vaccination incentive sweepstakes and said during his briefing on Monday, “I don’t know how in the world we could say anything but a great campaign, very, very successful.”

(The judiciary, unable to accept criticism, resented a newspaper article claiming that the $ 10 million effort failed to significantly improve state vaccination rates.)

So great is the delusion of the judiciary that the graphic he used at the briefing to supposedly support his claim disproves it.

It found that before the judiciary announced the sweepstakes in late May, 900,000 West Virginians had received at least one dose of vaccine and an additional 180,000 West Virginians had received at least one vaccine since the announcement.

Since the first vaccinations were given in mid-December, it is fair to say that the 900,000 vaccinations were given over a period of five and a half months, an average of 163,636 per month.

Even if the period of time since the announcement of the “Babydog” competition was shortened to two months, that is an average of only 90,000 vaccinations per month.

In other words, Justice used data showing that his sweepstakes was a failure to back up his claim that it was a huge success. This is delusional.

Delusions is also Justice’s belief that he has the governor’s job so well under control that not only can he continue to monitor his troubled business interests (unlike other governors who have put their assets in blind trust funds), but enough Has free time not to coach anyone. but two high school basketball teams during legislative terms.

That would essentially ban the judiciary from Charleston every weekday afternoon and evening during the legislature.

Here, too, you have to admire Justices Chutzpah. Faced with criticism of being a part-time governor who fails to comply with a constitutional mandate that he resides in Charleston, Justice doubles up on the proposal to spend even less time as governor and even more time in his native Greenbrier.

Not that Justice’s absence is a huge loss, as Justice’s legislative agendas had either been gauzy or utterly failed (including the House of Representatives’ potentially unprecedented 0-100 rejection of its income tax plan).

And, of course, we remember Justice’s weirdly clumsy attempts to resolve budget constraints with the legislature during his first two legislatures, and his botched negotiations during successive years of teacher absenteeism.

More recently, Justice’s detached, detached style of government has been seen when he announced he was joining other GOP governors to cut federal unemployment benefits (and all unemployment benefits for self-employed and gig workers) ahead of schedule. eliminating $ 300 per week for approximately 45,000 West Virginians and cutting $ 150 million of government support from the state economy for 12 weeks.

As with most of his decisions, we can assume that Justice has not thoroughly discussed the options. After hearing claims from unnamed small business owners who said they couldn’t fill vacancies and shop in the tired GOP trope of lazy workers who make a living from unemployment (“Lots, lots, lots of people are cheating on the system,” Justice claimed ), The judiciary abruptly cut performance without giving much thought to the implications.

As the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy’s Sean O’Leary discovered, it did not send lazy workers back to their workplaces. Government employment fell slightly after the announcement. It also had no noticeable impact on government unemployment figures, as unemployment claims declined faster before the announcement than afterwards.

The number of West Virginians who reported having difficulty paying weekly household expenses rose from 24.6% of all adults before the cut-off date to 33.8% afterwards. The state sales tax collection also fell $ 89.78 million in July from $ 175.75 million in June. Since sales taxes are paid to the state one month after they are levied, this means a drop in sales in June. While the lockdown didn’t go into effect until mid-month, Justice announced it in mid-May, which almost certainly had an impact on consumer behavior for those who lost their enhanced benefits.

Ted Lasso would never have taken such a heartless, stubborn step.

Ted Lasso would also not be so illusory to believe that after a season as a football coach he had mastered all the nuances of the game so well that he would have the luxury of expanding into new employment opportunities, perhaps as a bartender at the local pub.

The bottom line is Ted Lasso, the fictional character, a realist and a really good guy who wants his fellow human beings to be successful and happy.

The bottom line is that Jim Justice, the part-time governor, part-time business tycoon, and part-time coach, is a delusional person whose only interest is self-interest and only useful to people to the extent that it is useful to them.


On Friday, Justice spoke about the dire impact of West Virginia’s shrinking population and the need to grow the state’s economy to make up for the loss of nearly 60,000 people over the past 10 years. (For the record, West Virginia saw small population increases (censi?) In both the 2000 and 2010 censuses when the Ds were responsible.)

To that end, I’m not sure that the recent hiring at the State Department of Economic Development will necessarily help the state turn around.

Former Senate President and current Minister for Economic Development Mitch Carmichael tells me he hired the former Senate minority leader and former fitness chain owner Vic Sprouse as a specialist in broadband and business development.


Speaking of the Senate, the dumbing down of the legislature is likely to accelerate with the imminent departure of two of its brightest members, Sens. Bill Ihlenfeld, D-Ohio, and John Unger, D-Berkeley.

Ihlenfeld, a law graduate from West Virginia University, was nominated to resume his position as a U.S. attorney for North West Virginia after a four-year hiatus during Great Unpleasantness, while Unger, one of WVU’s 25 Rhodes Scholarship holders, received the Leaves college to become A magistrate.

Both gentlemen have served their constituents well, and both have resisted the bipartisan legislature under the control of the GOP.

Unger in particular had problems with the Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, play quick and easy with legislative and constitutional rules in the Senate.

Speaking of Unger, one thing I discovered in my years as a reporter is that very smart people often have trouble recognizing sarcasm.

At the beginning of his legislative career, I referred to the young Unger as an advertising dog. So whenever he was looking for coverage of a subject, I told him that since he was a new lawmaker, I could only quote him twice during what I thought he considered to be a gospel term, and carefully analyze when he was quoting wanted to become.

Years later, he introduced a volunteer project he was working on and told me it would make a great story of human interest.

My answer: “I’m sorry, I’m not interested in people.”