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West Virginia editorial roundup

November 20, 2019 GMT

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

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Nov. 20

The Charleston Gazette-Mail on MLB minor league teams:

Nothing is final. In fact, it’s just the beginning of negotiations. There is nothing set in stone that minor league baseball teams in three West Virginia cities, including Charleston, will lose their Major League affiliations after 2020.

So why does it feel like it’s going to be an uphill battle to keep them?

Maybe it’s because West Virginians have become so accustomed to staples of their towns shutting down, leaving or, at the very least, being a shell of what they once were. Anyone needing a tangible metaphor should stroll around the Charleston Town Center mall for a bit.

Maybe it’s because the writing has been on the wall for a while. In the case of the West Virginia Power, being dropped as a farm team for the relatively close Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018, and then scooped up by the Seattle Mariners, was confusing, bordering on ominous.

Alongside the Power, the Bluefield Bluejays and the Princeton Rays also are on a list of 42 minor league teams with which MLB is considering severing ties. (The West Virginia Black Bears, in Morgantown, are the only team in the Mountain State not on the list.) That doesn’t mean the teams would automatically fold. The Power and others could join a new league of unaffiliated teams.

Practically speaking, though, that could be difficult. The MLB covers a lot of expenses for affiliated minor league clubs. Although the MLB has stated it would subsidize a new league of unaffiliated teams, internal communications obtained by The New York Times show that the current proposal would not cover player or manager salaries, nor workers compensation insurance, which are the biggest expenses for minor league teams.

Minor league baseball has a rich history in West Virginia, including more than a century of operations in Charleston. Hopefully, team ownership can make a good case to the MLB for remaining involved in Charleston, along with Princeton and Bluefield. The fans can help by supporting their local clubs when the season starts back up next spring. Not only is minor league ball relatively inexpensive entertainment that gives fans a look at possible future MLB stars, it’s big for local economies. In Charleston, the Power has an economic impact of about $3 million annually and serves as a way of getting people downtown in the spring and summer.

These towns, and West Virginia as a whole, need a victory like this. Otherwise, it’s just another asset that has pulled up stakes, leaving those affected to talk about the things they used to have.

Online: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/

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Nov. 17

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register on charter schools:

Proposed policies to govern charter schools in West Virginia have been made public by the state Board of Education. Fred Albert, leader of the second-largest teachers union in the state, appears not to care what policies are adopted, however.

Any policy permitting charters is unacceptable to Albert, who is president of the American Federation of Teachers — West Virginia. He said last week that his union plans to file a lawsuit with the goal of blocking charters entirely.

“We feel it is unconstitutional,” Albert explained, insisting privately operated charter schools go against the state constitution’s requirement for a “thorough and efficient” education system.

Charters are intended to help make Mountain State education — all of it, including public schools — more thorough and efficient, however. Is there anyone willing to argue honestly that some public schools are not sadly lacking in both thoroughness and efficiency?

A new state law enacted just months ago provides for no more than three charters to open before July 1, 2023. It gives county boards of education life-and-death authority over charters. It is far from an open door for them — more like a tiny crack, in truth.

But Albert does not want to even give charters a chance to show what public schools could do if they were not hampered by reams of state regulations. That makes absolutely no sense.

State board members should proceed to adopt a charter school policy. The courts should say no to Albert. How can we know anything about them in terms of “thorough and efficient” if we do not let them try?

Online: https://www.theintelligencer.net/

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Nov. 16

The Journal on e-cigarettes:

State Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, is right to be worried about e-cigarettes. It was in his district, after all, that two teenagers had to be hospitalized after using e-cigarette cartridges laced with heroin.

This week, Beach wrote to Gov. Jim Justice suggesting that a public health emergency be declared in West Virginia, in order to ban sale of flavored e-cigarette cartridges.

He explained to a reporter that he did not expect Justice to take the suggested action. He just wants to “bring awareness” to concerns about “vaping.”

E-cigarette cartridges come in a dizzying variety of flavors, everything from lime and coconut to “mango tango.” That makes them appealing to teenagers, many of whom take up “vaping” because they believe incorrectly that it is a safe alternative to tobacco.

It is not. Research indicates e-cigarettes have multiple harmful effects.

But they also are used by some adults to break the smoking habit — and it is no surprise that flavoring makes them more attractive for that purpose.

It has been pointed out that restrictions on or outright bans of e-cigarettes could increase smoking. And, as far as flavoring goes, cigars can be obtained in cherry, watermelon, pineapple and multiple other varieties. Vanilla pipe tobacco is popular. Smokeless tobacco comes in apple, grape, peach and other variations. Should flavored tobacco be banned, too?

Justice will not take the action suggested in Beach’s letter, of course. But he should spend a few state dollars to gather and analyze the situation regarding e-cigarettes, to help lawmakers devise a workable action plan.

Online: https://www.journal-news.net/