May 2014 Morgantown Newsletter

Annual Meeting: Special Speaker Sean O’Leary

Annual Meeting 2014 promises to be a lively event. At the Aull Center on Wednesday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m. the fun begins. Our highly acclaimed speaker will be Sean O’Leary, of Harpers Ferry, a journalist whose columns appear in the Martinsburg Journal and Spirit of Jefferson.

The League will also elect officers, discuss and accept the proposed Local Program for 2014-2015, and discuss and accept a budget for the coming year. For the first time, we will be giving awards to certain organizations or people who have done important work that furthers the democratic values of the League of Women Voters. Come and be surprised!

The wonderful finger foods and sweets for which the League has long been famous will be provided by you, our faithful League members, with beverages provided by the Hospitality Committee.

Sean O’Leary has offered to speak on a topic of current concern to the League: a serious decline of public discourse in West Virginia. “Words Unhinged from Facts,” he calls it, and offers many examples. He uses issues such as the fracking boom, the state budget deficit, the “war on coal,” healthcare policy, and economic policies to show how leaders in West Virginia regularly make patently false assertions without being challenged or questioned by the media.

O’Leary’s recent book, The State of My State: A Native Son’s Search for West Virginia, was reviewed by Poet Laureate Marc Harshman thus: “The keen political insights contained here are desperately needed. For a long time I have wondered why West Virginians regularly support policies that hurt them economically. O’Leary’s finely reasoned arguments help us understand this disturbing contradiction.”

This is an event that you will want to share with friends. O’Leary’s columns can be found at:

Local Government Committee Report

Throughout this past year, the Local Government Committee focused on county government.  In November it conducted a workshop on county government at the new Sheriff’s Office Building. The workshop featured a guest county commissioner, Lyn Widmyer, from a five commissioner county government system in Jefferson County as well as a speaker, Ora Ash, from the State Auditor’s office.  There were also presentations on county government structures and citizen accessibility to county government information. Following the workshop, the Committee, in consultation with the League Board, prepared a list of recommendations for the Monongalia County Commission and met with the County Commission during a special session in April to discuss the recommendations. The Commission requested that an additional public session be conducted in the future.

Thanks to Student Volunteers

Katheryn Heller and Anna Blankenship are students in the Reed School of Journalism at WVU who have spent hours meeting with the Board, working with the Voter Service Committee, and designing materials and press releases for us. These include a colorful new brochure.

This cooperative work came about through the WVU Center for Service and Learning. This joint effort culminated in a Candidate Forum held on campus on Wednesday, April 16. Katie and Anna are capable and generous with their time and ideas.

The Board has been very pleased with the results of this collaboration. Note: Anna will be interning with Shelly Moore Capito and Katie will be interning at the White House this summer.

A video of the Forum produced by Katie and Anna can be found on the LWV-WV web page at:

Voters Service

The local League had two candidate forums this April, one for the House of Delegates and one for the Board of Education. Both were well attended and both the candidates and the audience were very grateful to the League for holding the forums.

Natural Resources 

This past year the League has been active with the group NoInjectionWell.Org, publicizing the fracking wastewater injection well being considered or Masontown, WV, near the Deckers Creek rail trail. This month the Energy Corporation of America decided they would not pursue the project at this time. The group was pleased that they had continued to get petitions signed and to talk to local government officials. Statewide the State League is part of several environmental coalitions.

Help Needed for
A Study of Library Financing

The League plans to embark on an ambitious season.  The plans this year include a special public meeting with the County Commission, a Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) meeting, and our regularly planned innovative Candidate Forums. We will also host A Study of Library Financing in WV.  In order to meet the October deadline for the Library Study, we must start the study preparations this summer.  There will be a committee appointed to read the State League’s Library Study material and gather any additional information.  This could include interviewing library staffs, and asking how they are funded.  We have already taken a step forward because of our Public Library Funding Issues membership meeting in October, 2013.   The final product of this effort will be a meeting of our League to come to a consensus in August or September.

The League would like to appeal to our membership and interested individuals to step forward to help in whatever capacity you can on the Library Financing Study.  Please contact Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Proposed 2014-2015 Local Program 

1. Local Government:
a. Study of County Government, including:
(1) Laws concerning the number of County Commissioners, their responsibilities and authority.
(2) Taxation, revenues and budget disbursements.
b. Organize a public meeting with the County Commission on County Government issues.
c. Revive Observer Corps

2. Planning: Action to promote orderly development in Monongalia County and monitor the work of the Monongalia County Planning Commission.

3. Transportation:
a. Monitor and take action where needed with regard to improving traffic conditions, including pedestrian and cyclist safety.
b. Monitor the implementation of the Complete Streets legislation so that the design of our transportation system can be inclusive of all forms of transportation.

4. Voters Service: Continue to advocate for open access to registration and voting.

5. Natural Resources:
a. Study water quality in the Monongahela River including Morgantown Utility Board and Department of Natural Resources testing and their relation to Marcellus Shale gas extraction processes and coal mining.
b. Study current state regulation of Marcellus Shale gas extraction. Work with legislators to amend the Marcellus legislation with regard to those issues that still need regulation.
c. Study current municipal and county ordinances related to extractive industries. Work with local officials to ensure that the strongest ordinances possible are promulgated to protect the health and safety of citizens.
d. Study Source Water Protection Program (SWPP).

6. Social Justice: Explore local collaborations.

Consensus Positions

Local GovernmentThe LWVMMC favors the adoption and implementation of comprehensive plans for Morgantown and Monongalia County: meaning a comprehensive plan or any of its parts such as a comprehensive plan of land use, or thoroughfares; of water and sanitation; or recreation and other related matters; and including such ordinances as may be deemed necessary to implement such complete comprehensive plans or parts thereof, with provision for such regulations as deemed necessary. (September, 1969; reworded November 1973)

Land Use (Natural Resources)Support the implementation of planning in Morgantown and Monongalia County.

Mark your Calendars!

May 14, 6:30pm Annual Meeting at the Aull Center!

LWVMM Newsletter May 2014