I have made it my mission since June not to write about Babydog, the English bulldog of Governor Jim Justice. I have long complained that Babydog is often used by the governor to distract from the tough questions about his involvement in his businesses while in charge of the state ship.
Last week I finally wrote about Babydog after finding out that among the many taxes unpaid by the courts over the years, one was the dog registration fees for Babydog and two more. dogs.
The reaction to this story was mostly humorous. Of course, Justice did not pay taxes on Babydog, some noted. Others have wondered why a tax on dogs exists in the first place. A minority of others completely pooped the story.
I’m not claiming the story is Watergate, but Babydog has been thrown into the public spotlight and even acts as a government official handing out checks and vans. The dog deserves close scrutiny, especially as thousands of dollars of taxpayer dollars were spent flying Babydog on the state plane across the state. The state spent COVID-19 relief dollars embroidering backpacks and bags with the dog’s ugly mug. The entire vaccine incentive lottery is marked after the dog.
The least justice can do is pay $ 6 to register Babydog as well as register his other two dogs, which they did after I brought the matter to the attention of the office. of the governor. A source close to the governor told me they were unaware of the tax. However, if you own personal property, the annual assessment asks you how many dogs you own.
So Babydog is no longer a tax con artist. Justice itself still owes nearly $ 100,000 in property taxes for the McDowell County coal mines according to documents I have received. The IRS filed a million-dollar tax lien against the Greenbrier Resort and other Justice-owned businesses in March.
None of this includes the over $ 300 million owed to Carter Bank and Trust for personally guaranteed loans and over $ 800 million owed to Credit Suisse for loans through the now defunct Greensill Capital.
With the dog registration tax debt paid off, Babydog is now a good dog.
Former West Virginia Coal Association president Bill Raney will be sworn in as a new member of the Civil Service Commission. The governor of justice made the appointment last Monday, not addressing the appointment until Friday.
The appointment appears to bother only environmentalists and consumer advocates. Raney himself is a pretty cool guy, appreciated even by those who disagree with him. Those with concerns about Raney fear there won’t be a rate hike he will oppose if that means a coal-fired power plant continues to operate.
On the one hand, the environmental crowd is right. On the other hand, I doubt you will ever see a West Virginia PSC doing anything that harms the coal industry. Even without Raney officially on the commission, the PSC has just approved a plan to potentially keep the Mitchell Power Plant in Marshall County open until 2040 … perhaps (there are still several hubs that could collapse and close it sooner).
Expect the West Virginia Senate not to oppose Raney’s appointment as early as the next special session.
Delegate Jeffrey Pack, a Republican from Raleigh County, will now head the Office of Human Services within the Department of Health and Human Resources.
The Office of Social Services is new, a spinoff of the Office for Children and Families. The new agency will focus on child protection services and foster families.
At first, Pack would seem like a strange person to run the agency, being a former coal miner and pest control guy. He was appointed to the House in 2018. Since 2020, he has chaired the House Health and Human Resources Committee.
Meanwhile, Pack helped craft legislation to reform the Children and Families Office and improve the state’s overwhelming foster care system. I don’t know Pack well, but it was obvious that through this process he developed a real passion for child protection issues. Many of the reforms he helped champion have been praised by the state’s children’s advocates.
Now Pack can help put into practice some of the things that he helped put into practice. Pack will be replaced as president of House Health by Del. Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell. Rohrbach is a physician in Huntington and he also chairs the Special House Committee on Drug Prevention and Treatment. Expect the House health committee to issue more drug use bills.
(Adams is the state government reporter for the Ogden newspapers. He can be contacted at email@example.com)