Archive for February 2008

Manchin dislikes teacher pension plan from House

February 28, 2008

By Scott Finn   

With about a week to go in the session, Governor Joe Manchin says he’s not happy with a House proposal on pensions for school employees.    

The House wants to spend up to $78 million to help school employees switch from the ailing 401-K-style plan to the state-managed pension plan. Manchin wants the 19,000 school employees who change plans to pay more of the burden. 

Manchin says that some school employees received bad advice on their investments. Still, he says it’s not fair for taxpayers to bear so much of the burden.  

But Manchin says he does support a proposed pay raise for lawmakers, from $15,000 to $20,000 a year. He said it’s necessary to attract “new blood” to the body.

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Legislative pay raises, imported trash, gay discrimination bills pass

February 28, 2008

By Anna Sale and Scott Finn 

Lawmakers came up against an important deadline Wednesday night. Bills had to pass out of their house of origin to stay alive this session. That’s led to a flurry of bills being passed in the last couple of days in the Senate and House of Delegates.

Blair Mountain nominated for National Register of Historic Places

February 28, 2008

By Clark Davis  

The site of the 1921 battle of Blair Mountain in Logan County could be added to the National Register of Historic places. But two coal companies that want to mine the area oppose the listing.

Parents of rape, torture victim upset at plea deals; prosecutor says family never voiced concern

February 27, 2008

From staff reports 

The parents of a black woman raped and tortured by white men and women in Logan County last September are criticizing Logan County Prosecutor Brian Abraham. 

Matthew and Carmen Williams held a news conference Wednesday in Charleston to voice their frustration at the plea deals in the crimes against their 20 year-old daughter, Megan Williams. 

Four of the defendants have reached plea deals in the case. Alisha Burton and George Messer pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and one count of assault during the commission of a felony. Then, the prosecutor reached deals with Karen Burton and Frankie Brewster. Brewster owned the trailer where Megan Williams was held hostage, stabbed and sexually assaulted. Karen Burton is the only person charged with a hate crime in the case. 

Carman Williams says it’s these two more recent plea deals that upset her family.

Carmen Williams: We were okay with the first two deals that he made. We understood that, and we were okay with that. But then, he start getting up to plea bargain with Karen Burton and Frankie Brewster. That was unacceptable as far as I’m concerned. I never, I just thought they should have all gotten, to be honest, life for what they done to my child.

Matthew Williams grew emotional as he talked about the plea deals. He said Prosecutor Abraham betrayed his family’s trust.

Matthew Williams: To me, what’s going on here is a slap in Megan’s face. Not mine, but Megan’s face. They promised her one thing and then destroyed it. I thougth me and Mr. Abraham was on the same page, and I’d like to think we’re on the same page, but it’s difficult for me to go along with this man.

Frankie Brewster has pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault in exchange for the charges of kidnapping and assault during the commission of a felony being dropped. She faces 10 to 25 years in prison. Burton pleaded guilty to a hate crime and faces up to 30 years on that and other charges.

The family urged the public to attend the sentencing hearings for Karen Burton and Frankie Brewster on March 3 and March 12 in Logan County.

But Prosecutor Brian Abraham said Wednesday was the first he heard that the Williams family has a problem with the plea bargains. He says he’s kept them informed of his plans throughout the case. 

Abraham: The Williams family has never called me to express any concern, and I have talked with them probably on a weekly basis. During any of our conversations they never challenged what I was doing or questioned me. They’ve never since done that. I hear that there were several individuals from various groups in attendance at this conference. Again, I don’t know what generated the news conference today, whether it was just an attempt at publicity. I don’t know.

Abraham was referring to the Washington, D.C., group Black Lawyers for Justice. He says comments made by representatives of that group have a negative effect on potential jury pools.     

Blacks more likely to be stopped, searched by police

February 27, 2008

By Anna Sale

A new report says black drivers in WV are 1.5 times more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. Once stopped, blacks are twice as likely to be searched. The report is based on six months of data collected by police last year, after a new law requiring police to record the race of people they stopped.

KY man back behind bars after massive manhunt

February 27, 2008

By Keri Brown

In December, Joshua Michael Ridings of Owensboro, KY, was arrested for raping an 11 year-old North Wheeling girl. Ridings escaped from jail in Indiana last weekend, but he’s now back behind bars after a massive manhunt.

House passes controversial captive audience bill

February 26, 2008

By Scott Finn & Tom Miller  

The House of Delegates passed the “Worker Freedom Act” yesterday on a vote of 64 to 33. It allows employees to opt-out of employer-sponsored meetings on politics or unions. Organized labor supports the measure, while some businesses are fiercely opposed.