Benevolent Mothman - West Virginia Strong

Benevolent Mothman

Morsels of Truth

Photo Credit: WV Division of Culture & History

“If I would have known that the guy in Clendenin was going to the bathroom in the port-a-potty every day and there really wasn’t anybody there to help him, but if I would have been sitting on the top of the dome 24-7, I wouldn’t have known about the guy in Clendenin.”

-Governor Jim Justice, WV MetroNews

Governor Justice’s dicey syntax is difficult to decipher, but I think he’s claiming he simply wasn’t aware that the RISE flood funding wasn’t getting to victims of the 2016 floods. I surmise the governor is saying there is just no way he could have known about the guy in Clendenin using a port-a-potty. He further asserts that his administration was under the impression that things were moving along with reconstruction and that he was unaware of problems.

He continues, “Nobody, nobody was screaming from the mountaintops that there was a problem anywhere.”

The argument that nobody told the governor there was a problem is weak. It seems to me that a truly concerned leader would ask somebody, “Say, how’s the flood recovery coming? Anybody still living in trailers with no heat or indoor plumbing?”

I’m not saying the governor isn’t concerned. I think he is upset about this issue. What I find interesting is that while he doesn’t know that people are still living in dreadful conditions two years after the flood, he is well aware of the fact that The Greenbrier golf tournament is in a pickle because insurers have only paid $36 million of the $107 million worth of claims from damage the resort suffered during the same floods. (Gazette-Mail, 6/12, 5B) He lamented that, “People can be really cruel…,” in speaking about mean things folks have said about The Greenbrier’s recovery. He went on to mention that the resort “has not received a dime from the insurance companies in…17 months.”

RISE WV was granted $149.8 million to help rebuild West Virginia citizen’s lives after the 2016 floods. That money is obstructed by a bureaucratic verbal melee between different governmental offices and nobody seems to know nuthin about what to do about the logjam. And the governor claims that even if he had been sitting atop the dome like a benevolent Mothman 24/7, he wouldn’t know about people still suffering from loss of their homes.

The governor has been receiving more and more criticism for living in Lewisburg and not Charleston. The irony that he isn’t living in the governor’s mansion is rich. Some people don’t have a house two years after the flood because government funding hasn’t come through. The governor is letting his government provided housing sit empty. He can’t be sitting on the Dome of the capitol watching for trouble because he’s in Lewisburg, where he can’t even see the Dome. If he were living in Charleston he could at least see the Dome from his front yard.

Gov. Justice claims ignorance about flood victims and money problems. What he does know is that only about a third of the money his resort is due from the flood has been paid, and he can name the PGA golfers who have helped him raise money to support the golf tournament. (See Gazette Mail Article: Justice sounds off on Greenbrier rumors, takes shot at PGA")

This is one of the problems with electing billionaires into office. Say what you want about career politicians, but at least all they think about is politics. And lobbyists. And money. At least they realize that people with no plumbing during their administration might not vote for them.

The governor saying that “People can be really cruel,” when they say mean things about The Greenbrier strikes me as insensitive and endemic of the discrepancy between the rich and the poor in our state. I cannot muster one ounce of pity for a person that disparages about only receiving $36 million for golf after learning that a guy in Clendenin has for two years been using a port-a-potty due to reasons that the WV government can’t adequately explain.

I don’t have any idea what that $36 milllion is going toward, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the preparations for the Greenbrier Classic include constructing bathrooms so attendees don’t have to suffer the indignities of using a porta-a-potty while attending. Heaven forbid.

The whole idea of our system of government is to look after the welfare of the citizens. People in power can be really cruel when they neglect to ask questions such as, “Is everybody getting what they need two years after the flood?” because they are concerned that they themselves have only gotten $36 million for their own businesses.

The governor is hyperaware that his financial needs aren’t being met two years after the flood. He hears people saying mean things about The Greenbrier. Why wasn’t he aware of, and hearing things, about the conditions of his citizens? I would think that he might wonder, “Hey, if I’m not getting paid, are other people getting paid?”

Concerns about The Greenbrier make it to the governor’s desk, but citizens’ concerns do not. So the people who work for the governor either aren’t telling him what he needs to know, or he isn’t asking the right questions.

A statue of Abraham Lincoln, walking at midnight and wrestling with the issues of the Civil War, graces the front of the Capital. Why not have Gov. Justice, watching over the state and addressing the issues of his citizens, on the Dome?

Bil Lepp is a nationally renowned storyteller and a PEN Award winning author. To see more of Bil's WV Strong content click here.



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