The fall campaign season is off to a slow start (perhaps because it's looking like there won't be that many tightly contested statewide races), but a glance through any weekly or small-town newspaper provides proof that, yes, this is an election year.
You'd be hard-pressed to pick up an issue of a local paper that doesn't have pictures and articles about local legislators presenting Community Participation Project grants to constituents.
Since January, the governor's office has approved 225 grants totaling $1.27 million.
As noted previously, legislators latched on to the CPP grants after being forced to do away with the legislative Budget Digest in 2006 in the face of multiple legal challenges and public criticism.
For legislators, there are two downsides to CPP grants: The available funds are a fraction of what they used to allocate through the Budget Digest; and the grants have to be approved by the governor's office.
(In the years immediately following the demise of the Budget Digest, legislators complained that then-Gov. Joe Manchin would not turn loose of the CPP purse strings ...)
Some of the larger awards approved recently include: $8,000 for renovations at the Huntington Museum of Art, $15,000 for Grant County Parks and Recreation improvements; $16,000 for the Hardy County Rural Development Authority; $10,000 for the American Red Cross of North Central West Virginia; $7,000 for the A.D. Lewis Community Center in Huntington; $15,000 for Hurricane City Park improvements; $15,000 for welcome signs for the town of Man, Logan County; $10,000 for roof repairs for the Tug River Health Association, McDowell County; $24,000 for the Pumpkin Park Sheep House in Milton; $25,000 for the West Virginia River and Rail Festival in Pleasants County; and $12,000 for renovations to the Weirton Area Museum.
Among funding requests approved from Kanawha County legislators are: $9,800 for a garbage truck for the town of Cedar Grove; $6,300 for a parking lot for the Alum Creek Alliance for Community Developments; $7,000 for the Belle Community Playground; $3,500 for roof replacement on the Glasgow Municipal Building; and $1,000 for a beautification project for the town of East Bank. (As Mama June might say, it's going to take more than $1,000 to make that town beautimous ...)
Last week, I mentioned how the WCHS radio/MetroNews' decision to not only send conservative talk show host Mike Agnello to the Republican National Convention, but to have corporate sponsors for his coverage -- one of which happened to be the state Republican Party -- raised questions about objectivity, particularly since the station/network's owner is the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.
Those issues of bias seemed to be confirmed last week, when WCHS/MetroNews failed to send Agnello, or anyone, to cover the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.