Justice’s Part-Time Approach Just Not Adequate

It’s great to see Gov. Jim Justice try to become involved in trying to save Ohio Valley Medical Center. The problem with that premise is that the issues leading to the hospital closure, even some problems with the former Wheeling Jesuit University, have been apparent to those of us in the community for several months, if not years.

But this governor only becomes involved at the very last minute. Why is he always late to the game? The answer is actually simple: he is a part-time governor.

Jim Justice is not really on the job, and he’s more worried about his personal companies and investments. Other governors in the past have dedicated their hearts and souls to being governor and nothing else, but not Justice. When he was elected, Justice promised to put his business interests, including The Greenbrier resort, in a blind trust and walk away from the operations.

It’s been more than two years, and he has never completed that move. His lackadaisical approach to governing has gotten so bad one legislator is suing Justice in an attempt to force him to comply with the constitutional requirement of residing in Charleston.

Who is left to pick up the pieces as a result? The citizens of the state, as we have witnessed firsthand in the Ohio Valley this summer.

Our roads are a mess, our health care system is in shambles and now, one of our institutions of higher education is a shadow of its former self and may not survive the long haul.

While Justice may not directly be at fault for the underlying causes of the situations at hand, he can be blamed for his tardiness and lack of focus as governor. He and his administration should have gotten involved in our issues months earlier rather than issuing hollow statements calling for action after the fact. If he did more than just drop into our region to talk about road construction or raise campaign money then disappear, he would truly know what we’re facing here.

West Virginia does not have the option to recall public officials like other states, but we do have elections.

Justice must decide if he wants to be a governor or a businessman, because West Virginia and our Ohio Valley cannot afford four more years of split focus — just read the headlines of the past few weeks.

Chapman is an attorney who resides in Wheeling.


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