Congratulations, WV Progressives!!

Congratulations, WV Progressives!!

Congratulations, Fellow West Virginia Activists! Getting all those great Progressive issues in the WV Democratic Platform is truly exciting.

Unfortunately, the problem this election cycle is that the current crop of WV Dem candidates represent the old platform. FOR EXAMPLE, just how much of this wonderful new platform does the top of the Dem ticket represent?

Not long ago, GRIST reported the following:

Justice’s coal companies, some inherited after his father’s death in 1993, have racked up millions in fines for labor, safety, and environmental violations. In November, NPR reported that Justice owed nearly $2 million in overdue fines.

Stephanie Langley, Chair of Statewide Organization for Community Empowerment’s Energy, Ecology, and Environmental Justice Committee, observed

 “While Jim Justice and his associates disregard the most basic of permitting procedures, folks who live near these mine sites and discharge points are being subjected to an unknown amount of toxic materials being dumped into their streams and rivers.  There is no question as to if pollutants are being discharged, it is only a question of how much and when. While it is a shame that citizens have to file lawsuits to protect the health of our communities while regulatory agencies sit idly by, our hope is that this effort will bring some transparency to Jim Justice’s operations in Tennessee.”

dead horse

Does anyone believe that WV Dempublican Candidate Jim Justice will drop out of the race just because of the new platform? .

Beloved fellow activist Judy Bonds used to say that there are no jobs without clean water. Droves of people for far too long have been leaving the state for want of jobs and clean water. It’s why 25,000 people left Dem Governor Tomblin’s home county of Logan while he served as Senate President. And current Senate President/ Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole’s own Mercer county has been circling the drain for as long as anyone can recall.

Count on WV Libertarians to once again run someone on its unsustainable Platform of deregulation and elimination of all corporate taxes.

So while it is truly wonderful that with this new WV  Dem Platform the State appears to moving in the right direction, it is unfortunately too late to make a difference this election cycle.

The Mountain Party’s platform has been rock-solid Progressive for as long as we’ve been in existence (sixteen years). Though we haven’t yet chosen who to run for governor this cycle, I can personally guarantee that whomever that is will be as Progressive as our Platform and those who are already running downticket on it.

Before making your decision to settle on the lesser of two evils by NOT voting for governor this cycle, just wait until our Convention on July 16, when the Mountain Party is scheduled to formally announce its gubernatorial candidate.  We also plan to once again announce which candidates (if any) we will endorse regardless of Party affiliation, as true representatives of Progressive values.

Tom Rhule
Communication Director
304 989 1629
ps: Thanks, April, for sharing this great news with me (see below).


I just got back from the Democratic convention, and what a GAS! It was long, hard work and not a little frustration, but in the end, totally AWESOME!
We adopted several resolutions to include the following on the Party platform:
  • legalization of MJ, MMJ, and industrial hemp (all three!)
  • non-discrimination in housing and employment
  • affirmative consent (these two came from the Young Democrats!)
  • improved Medicare
  • examination of the severance tax structure
  • a BAN on fracking (Thanks to the Frackistan delegates for bringing this to the floor!!!)
  • a BAN on MTR (there were some eloquent speakers for this!)
  • protection of our water (Thank you, Maury Johnson, for authoring the amended language to this!)
  • automatic voter registration
  • removal of the ratification deadline on the ERA
  • public funding of campaigns and a repeal of Citizens United !!!
This is incredible to me! I feel it is quite progressive, and quite a departure from Business as Usual. It was very ubiquitous (it seemed most everyone was voting the same way), and sudden. I think it was Bernie’s influence.
It isn’t over for Bernie. They are recounting in CA.
I got to see a lot of friends and make some new ones. 
I count myself lucky. I count us ALL lucky.
The party still has big hurdles and still isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot closer than it was! A LOT of people there were genuinely concerned about our WATER.

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Jefferson Forum II Asks: Why Fix What Ain’t Broke?

Jefferson Forum II Asks: Why Fix What Ain’t Broke?

On Saturday, March 21,  during an informal discussion of SB 347, titled Firearms Act of 2015 in Jefferson County, the sponsor of that bill may have inadvertently let the proverbial cat out of the bag as to why he felt it necessary to override a law that opponents believe was working quite well.

Famed 16th century strategist Niccolò Machiavelli advised the elite leaders of his day to “Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.” Dan Lutz’s Jefferson Forum helped reveal that SB 347 was won due to misleading and deceptive statements by the sponsors of that bill.

The topic of the Jefferson Forum was about the reintroduction from a bill killed last regular session which had been drafted to repeal the requirement for regular citizens to obtain a permit before legally carrying a concealed firearm in public. Despite Tomblin’s veto, the issue is still very hot, because there may be a special session called to override it. If that’s the case it will likely become State law, having already passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 71 to 29 in the WV House of Delegates and 30 to 4 in the Senate, which is more than enough votes to override Tomblin’s veto.

The only reason a special legislative session won’t be called is because this bill is obviously a wedge issue, contrived far more for political purposes rather than out of necessity. “Constitutional Carry” was flogged well in advance of its passage through extensive robocalls throughout the State to give one faction a political advantage over another. Anyone who thinks for one second that calling it a “wedge issue” is wrong should ask themselves why Sen. Joe Manchin would openly state his opposition to this so-called “Constitutional Carry” bill if he wasn’t seriously thinking about running for governor yet again. Simply stated, Manchin needs to soften his image if he’s ever to attract the state’s Progressive votes, Publicly indicating that he would veto this bill if it comes up while he’s governor was a calculated ploy. Manchin could have clammed up, but he didn’t. Why? Because it’s a cinch that John Raese, Manchin’s perennial opponent and fellow coal broker pal is standing in the wings set play the part of an avid Ted Nugent-class gun loon GOP nominee once again.


Considering the lack of any specific need to override a law now in place which has been working quite well,  the introduction of this bill was very likely a political trap, authored and introduced primarily for the purpose of raising money against lawmakers who dared oppose it. And considering the talking points about “gun grabbing libruls” and the invocation of “2nd Amendment rights” from  many of the bill’s proponents, including the sponsor of the bill, an identical version of the Firearms Act of 2015 will be surely re-introduced next session.

In WV, it has long been legal for law abiding citizens to carry a gun on a belt holster in public places . But to hide a firearm in a purse or jacket pocket, residents must apply for a concealed-carry permit, which costs $100. Citizens are also currently required to pass a background check, vouch that they have no mental health problems, and take a gun safety training course. Had governor Tomblin signed SB 347 into law, each of those requirements would have been waived.

Law enforcement organizations across the State were united in their opposition to the passage of SB 347, citing public safety as their primary concern.

WV lawmakers would grant Otis, the local drunk, a real advantage over Barney.  Cutting permit fees were used by local sheriffs to fund bullet proof vests and perhaps purchase Barney more than one bullet ata a time.
WV lawmakers let drunks get the drop on WV deputies.   SB 347 cut permits and the associated fee, which local sheriffs need to purchase bulletproof vests and to hopefully issue more than one bullet at a time.

Leaders of law enforcement agencies and the WV Association of Counties have stated publicly that the old bill has been working quite well.  While West Virginia has a far higher per capita gun ownership rate than the rest of the nation, it also has been recently ranked as one of the top ten states with regards to gun related mortality.

Del. Michael Folk of (R) -Berkeley, District 63, who was the bill’s primary sponsor, vigorously defended his Firearms Act of 2015 at the Jefferson Forum.  Afterwards he expressed to local TV news reporter Rachel Charlip that there were “many misconceptions about Senate Bill 347,” stating his own belief that the bill’s opposition “takes a strong stance against guns,” although there was little to no evidence of that either during the Forum, or from those who testified at the Statehouse during the official Public Hearing.

Lutz, who moderates the Jefferson Forum, said that it was his impression that opponents to the bill all generally support the 2nd amendment, but that they oppose the de-regulation ofWest Virginia’s already permissive concealed carry laws. Lutz  recalled that citizens used to be required to persuade an accredited judge’s permission before the State would authorized a concealed carry permit.

During the Forum discussion, Del. Folk noticeably  kept switching the conversation away  from the bill to other subjects.  For example, his challenge to Lutz regarding the moderator understanding of the history of passage the 2nd amendment of the Constitution veered wildly from the topic. Yet immediately after the discussion, when he was interviewed by TV news reporter Charlip, Folk complained that “Everything that was discussed here was mostly unrelated to the bill, as far as the people that were against the bill.” Folk also falsely claimed that “Most of those people that are against the bill are just against owning guns in genera.” It was notably but one of many false statements proponents have used to justify SB 347.

It should be noted that although Folk and others introduced the amendment in previous sessions, it failed. Little has changed since the previous session, other than majority control of the Statehouse flipping from “D” to “R”. And considering the recent passage of SB 347, along with the reversal of public safety protections under the previous session’s Aboveground Storage Tank bill, Dem leaders seem to have completely forgotten that their Republican counterparts only won because so few people turned out to vote last election. In other words, Dems have folded despite the paper-thin “mandate” of the electorate. They seem to be unaware that people never bother to vote whenever they believe that both Parties have sold them out.

Meanwhile, the Mountain Party strives to regularly air public safety and health issues in public forums like Lutz’s.


The WV Mountain Party, and its District 66 Executive Committee Representative Lutz  wholeheartedly supports the ENTIRE Constitution, including the 2nd Amendment.  Although the WV Mountain Party has not taken an official stance regarding Folk’s SB 347,  we flatly reject dishonest discourse from state lawmakers of any political stripe on any issue.


At the end the 2015 legislative session’s Public Hearing just prior to SB 347’s passage, Keith Morgan of the Citizens Defense League testified that after Arizona rolled back permit requirements for the concealed carry of firearms, weapons registrations actually tripled, indicating that greatly increased weapons sales is why the weapons manufacturers and their NRA lobbyists have been so avidly pushing the passage of this “Constitutional Carry” amendment.

In 2011, the nationwide gun death rate was 10.38 per 100,000. WV ranked 10th in the nation in state firearm deaths. At the Jefferson Forum, one member of the WV Citizens Defense League stated that he carries a handgun in public because cops “can’t be everywhere all the time,” and apparently believes that hiding handguns while in public rather than openly carrying them will  somehow result in a decrease violent crimes. Yet following that logic, the next step would be to fire all cops and simply deputize everyone, including the 90 year old grandma on a walker to the 18 year old WVU fraternity pledge.

Speaking of statistics, Del. Folk’s Forum comments may have proved the old axiom that statistics don’t lie, statisticians do. Claiming that he, himself once taught statistics, while referring to statistics to make a point, the fast-talking politician failed to accurately quote any set of statistics proving that lax handgun laws actually result in less gun violence. HOWEVER, according to a Violence Policy Center analysis of new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control,

“States with weak gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership have the highest overall gun death rates in the nation, .

“Meanwhile, states with the lowest overall gun death rates have lower rates of gun ownership and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation.” source

News reporter’s Rachel Charlip’s excellent WHAG-TV coverage of the Jefferson Forum may be viewed at the following link:

Chip Gallo’s complete podcast of the Jefferson Forum’s ively discussion may be accessed at the following link:

Gallo also took the following photos

  • Featuring an ancient hunting rifle crossed over an assault weapon.

According to the Charleston Gazette, the official Public Hearing on SB 347 on March 5 at the Statehouse revealed additional misstatements by proponents of Folks’ bill. That Public Hearing may be viewed in its entirety at the following youtube site:


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Last Call for the The People’s Climate Change Rally Bus from WV

Last Call for the The People’s Climate Change Rally Bus from WV

This is your chance to change everything. During September, world leaders will be at the UN Climate Crisis Summit in New York City.

The Mountain Party has arranged round trip bus transportation to, and from, the People’s Climate Rally in New York City on September 21, 2014.  National organizers report that it is shaping up to be the world’s largest rally against global climate change ever.

The whole world will be watching as folks from over 850 organizations all across the country join together to show world leaders that we expect them to fix the problem.

This is your opportunity to focus world attention on the extreme extraction industry techniques that are so destructive to the health and economy of everyone who lives in West Virginia.

Rally details:

The bus will leave Charleston on Saturday, September 20th at 8 pm, and will be stopping at Flatwoods, Clarksburg, Morgantown, and at the Halfway, MD outlet mall to pick up passengers. It will leave NY immediately after the march and is scheduled to arrive back in Charleston at 5:00 am on Monday, Sept, 22.

Seats for this round trip will very likely not be available after Labor Day. Reserve yours today for only $59.00 each at the following link:

The FaceBook event page for the trip may be accessed at the following url:

Fellow activists, even if you can’t go yourself, please tell your friends and neighbors that time is running short for affordable public transportation to help change everything!





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