It’s Time to Say Goodbye, Dear Reader

The campaign to change the expungement statute in West Virginia continues at full speed.

As you may know, it gives second chances to first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes convicted of misdemeanors and low-level felonies.

The General Election on November 8 saw the re-election of Mike Pushkin, D-37, who vows to keep pushing for the reform that adds jobs, helps poor children and their families, improves local economies, and keeps West Virginia safer by reducing recidivism.

Glenn Jeffries, D-08, tops the list of new allies. Jeffries, victorious in the General Election, says he is going to do everything he can to ensure the law is changed.

We know during the most recent legislative session that the bill had the support of citizens, sheriffs, prosecutors, and West Virginia Army National Guard generals.

We also know that House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-40, following his win in the General Election, is likely to be reconfirmed as House Speaker.

Armstead is the primary opponent to second chance legislation. For that he is best left to his karma – or in God’s hands – for not acting in the best interest of the citizens of West Virginia.

Continued efforts to change the law are going to be internal among legislators and within the Legislature instead of actions that can be reported on.

For that reason, it’s time to say goodbye, dear reader.

Again, that does not mean the campaign itself is ending. It simply means that there is no longer anything relevant to share with readers in this forum. Facebook will remain as a resource, however.

Please feel free to share any comments or concerns you might have in the comment form below.

Thank you for reading.

“What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life, to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories?” George Eliot






 

 

 

Remember in November or in Early Voting; Why Your Vote Counts

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The well-being of West Virginia depends, in part, on your commitment to vote in the general election on November 8 or in Early Voting.

From complaints about the Mountain State always being at or near the bottom of the standings, to constant laments about why, please why, can’t our way of life improve, there is a steady outpouring of dissatisfaction with the status quo.

There are plenty of folks who are mad as hell and want to do something to make a change.

The simple solution:  Get out and vote and make your voice heard.

First, make sure you’re registered to vote. Just go to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s Web site to confirm that. You can access the link by clicking here.

If you’re not registered to vote, the deadline to do so has passed.

However, you can click here to update your information.

Now that you have step number one out of the way, you’re ready to help make a big change.

You Could Be An Early Voter

Beat the crowds, get it done, and let others how awesome you are by participating in Early Voting, which begins on October 26 and ends on November 5.

More details from SOS Natalie Tennant: Early Voting is open during regular business hours at each county courthouse or courthouse annex. Early Voting is also available each Saturday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Contact your County Clerk to confirm Early Voting hours and locations.

You can access a link to Early Voting hours and locations by clicking here.

If you prefer to wait until November 8, that’s OK. On General Election Day, polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Click here to find your polling place.

Voter turnout in the West Virginia primary election was reported at 40 percent.

Let’s shoot for matching or exceeding that figure.

Show Your Love

Voting in the general election on November 8 or in Early Voting will not lower your cholesterol, improve your marriage, or increase your gardening skills.

And don’t worry. I’m not going to send any of my Italian relatives from New Jersey to your home to ensure you do the right thing.

But by voting, you will have that warm feeling in your heart that you have done your part.

West Virginia is our home.

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home,” said Mother Teresa.

Next time on November 17 on Second Chances For West Virginians: Key Election Results

About the Author

Robert Grossman has written for radio and TV news reporting as well as newspapers and magazines, including Bicycling and Professional Pilot.

Questions or comments? The comment form is shown below for your use.





 

Glenn Jeffries Pours Mind, Body, and Spirit Into Flood Relief

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Glenn Jeffries is being praised for his heroic efforts in helping others affected by the June 23 flooding that continues to take its toll. Upon hearing the news, his vacation came to a screeching halt and was replaced by backbreaking work in 100+ degree temperatures, coordination with other volunteers, and a dogged commitment to get the job done, no matter what.

He has been called a saint for his part in the process of healing and getting families back on their feet.

“Glenn Jeffries is one of the most selfless caring humanitarians I have ever had the pleasure to know,” says Melissa Riggs Huffman, the Democratic candidate in the District 40 House of Delegates race. “From the very first day after the flood when I contacted him in complete despair not knowing what to do or where to turn he took the lead in helping with the flood relief in our devastated community, and he has not stopped to this day. He has gone from bringing truck loads of much needed supplies to teaming up with the Mountain Mission creating Project Hope and rebuilding not only people’s homes, most not even in his campaign district, but helping to rebuild their lives and giving them a sense of normalcy and stability. There are no words to describe the gratitude this community has for Glenn Jeffries. He is in a major Senatorial race and if you talk to him personally his main concern is not his campaign but getting people back into their homes before cold weather hits. He has been such an inspiration and leader in his efforts that hundreds of members of the union trades and crafts have volunteered thousands of man hours to join him in rebuilding the flood devastated communities of Elk River. It is an honor to have worked beside him during the flood relief efforts and even more of an honor to call him my friend.”

In a Mountain Mission press release, Jeffries is credited as pivotal in a partnership of groups to help rebuilding homes along the Elk River.

Here is the link to the press release.

A long-term recovery group has been formed to help flood victims, reports WSAZ NewsChannel 3.

You can access the link to the online piece by clicking here.

Jeffries’ Facebook page documents it all. For example, a video titled “Finishing up drywall at Pauley home” shows just how much of a leader he is.

Click here to see the video.

Facebook member Sherry Thaxton Breeden shared the video.

“Glenn Jeffries not only talks the talk, he and many local union members walk the walk as they continue to help victims of the devastating flood get back in their homes,” she wrote on her Timeline. “I will proudly cast my vote on November 8 for Glenn Jeffries – Senate District 8. In my opinion Glenn already is a true statesman, a representative of the people, and we need his representation at our State Capitol!”

A Man and His Legacy

A blog post about Jeffries is incomplete without mention of one’s legacy. For that, here is what Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, had to say.

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

“It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

Next time on October 17 on Second Chances For West Virginians: Remember in November – Why You Must Vote

About the Author

Robert Grossman has written for radio and TV news reporting as well as newspapers and magazines, including Bicycling and Professional Pilot.

Questions or comments? The comment form is shown below for your use.






Leadership in Action: Melissa Riggs Huffman Pitches in To Help Flood Victims

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Efforts are still in high gear to help victims of the June flooding that took more than 20 lives, left thousands homeless, and resulted in an estimated 36 million dollars in road damage.

Some candidates vying for office have expended a minimum amount of energy. Others have done only enough to put themselves in the public eye, to obtain the coveted photo op. Some candidates are to be praised for their 100 percent commitment to helping victims of the historic flooding.

Melissa Riggs Huffman, the Democratic candidate in the District 40 House of Delegates race, is definitively in the latter group.

Earlier in the year she set aside her campaign and focused solely on being a helper and playing a role at the front of the pack in organizing volunteer work.

“Just to make sure everyone understands, and I know that those who really know me do, my campaign is suspended right now,” she said. “I’m not even telling people who I am when we go door to door. “I’m not doing photo ops. I’m taking care of my hometown because I want to. I’m using my campaign page instead of my personal page because I can reach a wider audience and get more accomplished. I just felt that needed to be said. So now we don’t have to talk about it anymore and can continue to do what needs to be done!”

The Timeline on her Facebook page documents just how important flood relief is to her.  A sampling:

Moreover, because multiple schools were adversely impacted by the flooding, Huffman helps the Bridge Elementary School children she teaches, and is also welcoming and loving children from Clendenin Elementary  School.

“She makes such a difference in the lives of children, teaching them to reach for the stars and helping them accomplish their goals,” says Cathy Estep, a Huffman supporter. “The Kanawha County School system is blessed to have her, and so are the constituents of District 40.”

Melissa Huffman Is Awesome

Leading the charge with daily trips to areas ravaged by the flooding, Huffman helped spearhead the relief effort because she is truly a good person who wants to make the world a better place.

Therefore, residents of District 40 must look into their hearts and make the right choice in voting for Huffman as she battles House Speaker Tim Armstead in the general election on November 8.

Huffman supports second chances for first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes convicted of misdemeanors and low-level felonies. In turn, the second chance movement is behind her all the way.

Thank you, Melissa. Thank you, everyone who helped and continues to toil selflessly.

Thank you, dear reader, for your attention and for staying the course as we move forward to make West Virginia the best it can be.

Next time on September 17 on Second Chances For West Virginians: Glenn Jeffries Pours Mind, Body, and Spirit Into Flood Relief

About the Author

Robert Grossman has written for radio and TV news reporting as well as newspapers and magazines, including Bicycling and Professional Pilot.

Questions or comments? The comment form is shown below for your use.






 

 

 

District 40 House Race: Why Tim Armstead is the Wrong Choice

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The full state of recommended candidates was planned for this month’s blog post. However, it is believed that all will go well with the general election on November 8 as long as House Speaker Tim Armstead is voted out of office.

Armstead is public enemy number one to working families. The West Virginia AFL-CIO has called for his resignation.

He and Senate President Bill Cole are the targets of an online petition in which supporters are asked to tell them, “Shame On You!”

You can access the petition by clicking here.

House Speaker Armstead Kills Second Chance Bill Deemed Matter of National Security. That was the title of the post on March 17.

You can view that post by clicking here.

An op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail echoed the same sentiments.

Here is the link to the published piece.

The Daily Mail showed its support for second chance legislation in an editorial on February 8, 2016.

You can access the editorial by clicking here.

A previous op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail was titled “Second chances good for W.Va. ex-cons and everyone else.”

Here is the link to that op-ed.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, says legislation that gives a second chance to first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes convicted of misdemeanors and low-level felonies is the right thing to do for West Virginia. He agrees that the legislation is an economic development bill.

Sen. Manchin, on the right in the photo shown here, met with the author on December 8, 2015 at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

“Our nation’s legal and moral underpinnings provide that anyone who makes a mistake and learns from it deserves a second chance. Those who have accepted the consequences of their actions and who have paid the price for their past transgressions should have the opportunity to reenter the workplace,” wrote Sen.  Manchin and 26 other senators in a letter to President Obama last year. “Yet, too often, the over 70 million Americans who have criminal histories face unreasonable barriers that prevent them from securing gainful employment. These barriers have prevented millions from becoming productive members of society and serve as one of the leading causes of recidivism.”

Fortunately, there is a positive option in the general election. Her name is Melissa Riggs Huffman, and she is the best choice in the District 40 House race.

You can access the post about her by clicking here.

How You Can Help

Please share this blog with others. There is strength in numbers. We will make this happen.

Next time on August 17 on Second Chances For West Virginians: Melissa Riggs Huffman Pitches In To Help Flood Victims

About the Author

Robert Grossman has written for radio and TV news reporting as well as newspapers and magazines, including Bicycling and Professional Pilot.

 

 

Second Chance Legislation Wins Place On Our Children, Our Future Anti-Poverty Platform

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For the second year in a row, the Second Chance for Employment Act has won a spot on the Our Children, Our Future (OCOF) annual anti-poverty platform. One of 18 policies, this year it’s part of the Putting WV Back to Work strategy.

The platform was created through an 18-month process that included more than 3,800 West Virginians from more than 177 partner organizations, congregations, unions, and chambers of commerce, who debated the issues, vetted them, and then voted on their top priorities, according to the group.  The ideas were submitted by Democrats and Republicans, pastors and doctors, policy experts and others.

The place on the platform adds a glimmer of hope to this year’s campaign, compared to the last legislative session, in which a groundswell of support by citizens, sheriffs, prosecutors, and the military failed to produce the desired result.

“I am so pleased that OCOF supporters have once again chosen to not give up on our fellow West Virginians who deserve a second chance,” says Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha, 37).

Second chance legislation eliminates the 18 to 26- year- old age restriction in the current statute. As noted In Emergence From Civil Death: The Evolution of Expungement in West Virginia, this is the only state that denies those age 27 and older the ability to get criminal records expunged by sealing them.

“The age limitation should be removed because it is arbitrary, with no rational basis for the distinction between offenders based on age,” say co-authors WVU Law Professor Valena Beety and Judge Michael John Aloi, U.S. Magistrate for the Northern District of West Virginia.

The proposed legislation also adds low-level felonies, such as credit card fraud. Please keep in mind that there is no provision for a violent crime of any type, including use of a gun, domestic violence, and offenses against children. You can view a draft of last year’s legislation by clicking here.

Expungement eliminates any reference to the conviction when pursuing employment, housing, and other activities.

The primary argument against expungement is that employers should know about convictions. However, recidivism rates decline over time, meaning that convictions stop being indicative of an individual’s likelihood to commit additional crimes.

Here’s the Whole Platform

Great Education and Jobs

Make West Virginia the Best Place to Start a Small Business (-) (Small Business Regulatory Review, Entrepreneurship Ed in Schools, One Stop Shop for Starting a Business)

Jobs for Coal Families (-) (Tax Cuts for Hiring Miner Families, Re-Training, Infrastructure)

K-12 Education for Real Life (n) (Simulated Work Place, Substance Abuse, Computer Science, Civics, Phys Ed)

Fair Workplace (n) (Repeal Right to Work, Restore Prevailing Wage, Equal Pay, Paid Family Leave)

Make Higher Education Debt-Free (-) (Pay it Forward, Tax Credits for Returning Students)

Early Childhood Education for All (n) (Expanding Pre-K, Child Care Benefits, Home-Visiting Statewide)

Healthy Communities

Knocking WV off the Worst Health Lists (n) (community health workers, open up schools as rec centers, health class, prevention)

Increasing Safeguards to our Water Supply (n)

School Based Mental Health (-) (social workers in schools)

Stop the Opioid Crisis (+) (Pain Pill Tax = Recovery Houses and Prevention)

Cannabis for Medical Use (+)

Turning Around Dilapidated Buildings (-) (Loan Fund for Cities to Re-Purpose Run Down Buildings)

Strengthening Democracy

Infrastructure Now: Roads and Broadband (n) (Massive infrastructure program, funded by Modernization of Fuel Tax, Fed Dollars, DMV Fees)

Encouraging Work & Earned Income Tax Credit (n)(Employers pay for workers on food stamps; tax credit for families who work)

Pay Your Fair Share (+) (Closing Tax Loopholes, Create State Fiscal Office)

Ending Youth Incarceration (+) (Limits on youth parole and incarceration, reinvest savings in treatment and community-based services)

Middle Class Tax Cuts (n) (Fair tax policy that levels effective tax rates for high, middle, and low-income earners)

Putting WV Back to Work (+) (Second Chance for Employment, Benefits Shouldn’t Punish Work and Marriage, PTIF)

“WV is in a fiscal crisis,” the group says. “This Commitment is revenue neutral. Items like the Pain Pill Tax and Closing Tax Loopholes make up for the cost of things like expanding Early Childhood Education. Many issues are designed to be revenue neutral; i.e., infrastructure projects would be paid for by a modernization of the fuel tax and DMV fees. + indicates revenue positive. – indicates a cost. n indicates revenue neutral.”

A Voice for Kids and Families

The Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty is an initiative of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. Thirty percent of West Virginia boys and girls under age six live in poverty, according to the group. Expanding the workforce is a key priority in changing that statistic.

You can learn more at ocofwv.org.

How You Can Help

Your vote in the general election on Tuesday, November 8 helps determine the ultimate success for second chance legislation and in putting West Virginia back on track.

Please share this blog with others. There is strength in numbers. We will make this happen.

Next time on July 17 on Second Chances For West Virginians: Who To Vote For – The Full Slate of Recommended Candidates

About the Author

Robert Grossman has written for radio and TV news reporting as well as newspapers and magazines, including Bicycling and Professional Pilot.

 

District 40 House Race: Why Melissa Riggs Huffman is the Best Choice

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Melissa Riggs Huffman, the Democratic opponent to Republican incumbent Speaker Tim Armstead in the District 40 House of Delegates race, says she’s ready for a tough battle to unseat him.

“It’s not going to be easy,” she says. “But it can be done.”

You can view Huffman’s Facebook page by clicking here. A campaign Web page is in the works.

The “No More Armstead” campaign anxiously awaited the results of the primary election on May 10, in which all hopes rested with labor-backed Ronald Shamblin. Alas, it was not to be, with Armstead storming to the win with 68 percent of the vote over 25 percent for Shamblin.

Now all eyes turn to Huffman to achieve a difficult task, ousting the man first elected to the House chamber in 1998.

Huffman’s background gives her the required depth for the fight. She is currently a third-grade teacher at Bridge Elementary School in Elkview, having started with the Kanawha County School District in 2009. Before that she was a paralegal for 15 years.

And she is no stranger to challenges. She juggled going to college at Midway University in Kentucky with raising then 8-month-old daughter Alexa and Ava, a second daughter who was three years of age. The result: graduating magna cum laude with a B.A. in Elementary Education in 2008.

Huffman, with a strong work ethic, says her campaign for success in the general election will include meeting as many people as possible in District 40 and spreading her message of hope and positive change.

“We’re going to be out all summer knocking on doors,” she says.

Huffman Believes in Second Chances

Huffman believes in legislation that gives a second chance to first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes convicted of misdemeanors and low-level felonies. That is a stark contrast with Armstead, who has angered voters by blocking the Second Chance for Employment Act two years in a row. He is also despised for his participation in the GOP attack on working people.

Because of her desire to help West Virginia attain the maximum extent of its greatness, and because of her support of second chance legislation, Huffman is enthusiastically endorsed by Second Chances For West Virginians.

She is keenly interested in legislation that affects working people in West Virginia. In that regard, Huffman believes Right To Work legislation is wrong.

Other key issues: education reform, addressing mental health matters, and working to resolve the opioid addiction crisis.

The encouraging news about Huffman’s campaign is that she received more votes than Armstead in the primary election on May 10. Votes for Huffman totaled 1,703, 59 more than Armstead’s 1644, according to information released on Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s Web site.

That is a harbinger of good things to come in the general election on November 8. Even so, it has to be pedal to the metal with a 100 percent effort. After all, there is no telling what kind of dirty tricks Republican dark money might have up its sleeve.

Ousting  Armstead can be done. It will be done.

“She’s our only hope now,” says Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha, 37), who is running for re-election.

If you live in District 40 (Big Chimney, Pinch, Elkview, Clendenin, etc.) or have family or friends there, please follow Melissa Riggs Huffman’s campaign and help build the momentum for her victory in the general election. 

You make a difference in helping our Mountain State move from the bottom of the heap to where it truly belongs.

Are you behind Huffman in her campaign? If so, why? If not, why not? Please respond in the contact form below.






Next time on June 17: Second Chance Legislation Wins Place On Our Children, Our Future Anti-Poverty Platform

About the Author

Robert Grossman has written for radio and TV news reporting as well as newspapers and magazines, including Bicycling and Professional Pilot.