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Teacher pay raise called for; strike was not

March 2, 2019

The burning questions of the day: Is Cabell Republican Del. John Mandt anti-gay, and do I hate teachers. The answer to the latter is a resounding “no.” I believe the response to the former is the same, but I can never get totally inside someone else’s mind.

Why anyone would hate teachers is beyond me. They are the backbone of the future. They help shape America. They are whom we entrust our children to each day.

Are teachers today like those who taught me? In some ways no, but in many ways, more similar than one can at first imagine.

I really see no point in spending much time on teachers and unions. I am not universally opposed to either. Like Bible-thumping fundamentalists, many in the teacher payraise group think no teacher has ever made a mistake. They act as though there are no bad teachers. They behave as though their supporters must support their every whim. Wrong.

Just like criticizing an individual police officer does not make one anti-law enforcement, saying a teacher or a group of teachers are wrong on one subject is not revealing a teacher-hate bias. It is simply reaffirming that teachers are people too. People make mistakes; teachers are part of God’s creation.

To reiterate what I’ve been saying here for weeks: I’m FOR the teacher pay raise. I am not for them striking, especially for no purpose.

Teacher strikes are illegal. Period.

Mandt, as a freshman delegate, voted to support tradition and party leadership by voting not to directly discharge a pro-LGBTQ bill from committee.

I suspect, like several others, Mandt was being supportive of the committee process. Discharging a bill directly to the floor is thought of as an insult to the committee that is handling it.

Mandt, every bit a maverick in his approach to the Legislature, may have not considered the full ramifications of his vote. He may have been focused on showing he COULD support tradition and figured he could vote “right” on the bill itself when it hit the floor.

But in addition to his vote, Mandt was not as outspoken in his disagreement with Del. Eric Porterfield as he could have been. In fact, one freshman for another, he tried to find excuses for Porterfield’s anti-gay comments. There is no adequate excuse.

Porterfield was wrong and out of line. He claims to be a minister — a man of God. I think it’s safe to say Jesus would not say gays are “just like the Ku Klux Klan.” How asinine; how offensive.

Mandt, like state GOP Chair Melody Potter, should simply have condemned Porterfield and moved on. Unless, of course, he genuinely agrees with the Mercer delegate. I’m confident he does not.

Zealots are not rational. That’s the only way to explain some legislators’ insistence on putting guns in the hands of college students.

I still wonder where we veered from becoming a peaceful society, as we were when Marshal Dillon told those in Dodge City to lay down their firearms. Now, law-abiding citizens say everyone needs to carry one. Or two. Or three.

They advocate carrying guns because it’s “a dangerous world out there. The worst it’s ever been.”

Oh really? When the nation was new, a sitting vice president (Aaron Burr) and former treasury secretary (Alexander Hamilton) fought a duel. Burr KILLED Hamilton. And it’s worse today than ever?

College administrators are opposed to the current gun bill that at press time had been put on hold and then reactivated. So are students and the general public. Who is for it? The NRA, and they usually get what they want.

Uh-oh. I probably gave conservative legislators an idea. Legalized duels likely come next.

Sen. Ron Stollings of Boone County has been lobbying hard for his bill to give tax incentives to companies that locate on post-mine property. That might well kick-start the former Hobet project.

Here’s hoping Sen. Steven Baldwin is successful in passing his bill to double fines for illegally passing school buses.

Former Cabell Dels. Kelli Sobonya, Carol Miller and Kevin Craig worked tirelessly on the original legislation triggered by the death of Lincoln County student Haven McCarthy, who was hit by a car in 2007.

Contact Ron Gregory at 304-533-5185 or ronjgregory@gmail.com.

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