Archive for the ‘Bill’s Blog’ Category

Oh My!

Monday, April 15th, 2019

There’s more to the “no confidence” resolutions being adopted by Republicans across the state than to send Governor Jim Justice a message.  Nor was it about not following the Republican platform – which I doubt 100 Republicans have even read. What is going on is raw politics.

It appears aggressive political operatives saw an opportunity with Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee having vacant committee members. Before offering such a resolution they had to control the committee.  They gathered up willing bodies and were successful in getting them into the open slots. The end result a “no confidence” resolution. What a better place to use the “voice” of Kanawha Republicans to take shot at their Governor than in the political capital of West Virginia.

Watch out Governor Justice there are many county committees like Kanawha sitting there just for the asking. All it takes is a little effort by aggressive battle tested operatives with an agenda.

With little thought in this case the agenda has to involve Don Blankenship. Could it be Don Blankenship and his long time crew are preparing to challenge Governor Justice in 2020 and take over the Republican Party in the process?

 

Why Not?

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

“Racing is in need of open-heart Surgery” Dean Crutchfield, senior vice president of Sterling Brands said in The Guardian story entitled “American horse racing isn’t dead – but it’s getting awfully close”.

Hall of Fame Jockey Gary Stevens says “we need to come together as a nation of horsemen with a commissioner.”

Bill Oppenheim in a Bloodhorse opinion piece wrote “the organizations with initials need to undertake a real effort to create an effective national office.”

The “Horse Racing Integrity Act” has been languishing in Congress since 2015. The idea here is to have a private, independent horse racing anti-doping authority manage a national medication program.

Respected horse trainer Graham Motion pointed out in a letter published by Thoroughbred Daily News “we constantly hurt ourselves not being represented by “a governing body who can guide us….and bring some kind of national stability to our industry.”

There was hope for an answer when three years ago the Association of Racing Commissioners International held “Town Hall” meetings across the country and convened a “leaders meeting” with the top brass from the “initial organizations.” These resulted in frank discussions.

With the issues being raised at Santa Anita and the Kentucky Derby on the horizon the national news services are paying attention. Thus, Governor’s in state capitals (33) will soon have racing issues on their desk.

Maybe what’s needed is for a Governor to step forward and ask their colleagues to send their Chair of the 33 state regulatory commissions to a national meeting. These are the people with the power to unite the industry, agree on regulations that would be the same in each jurisdiction and urge their Governor to issue an executive order putting them in place.

Why Not?

Disgusted

Monday, March 4th, 2019

I am disgusted. What’s going on in the Republican Party in West Virginia?

Though I no longer reside or vote in West Virginia I spent a lifetime there building the Republican Party and advancing the two party system.

What took place during WV GOP day at the Capitol last week disgusts me. Messaging that included posters and pamphlets that were anti-Muslin, anti-immigrant and anti-refugee.

This puts the icing on the cake that has been baking for while in the Republican Party.

Our State has a Republican Governor (?) and control of both Houses of the Legislature. Thus, they should not turn a blind eye as to what is displaying at special days at the Legislature when the work of various organizations and industries is recognized.

Where is responsible leadership? I can tell you neither Arch Moore nor Cecil Underwood would have put up with what’s been going on in the Republican Party for a minute.

Maybe it’s time for “old timers” like me to step up and take over – until the Party grows up.

If only I was still there!

Post Script

If you have not heard what took place or read the news recently click HERE.  Steve Allen Adams, an accomplished statehouse reporter, provides insight and his opinion.

 

Nothing Is Secret

Friday, July 21st, 2017

(Editor’s note: Served as a Member of the WV Racing Commission from February, 2013 until January 31, 2017 when Governor Justice replaced me after taking office.)

The West Virginia Racing Commission will again make their meetings available via conference call. Chairman Jack Rossi deserves a vote of thanks from the horseman, track officials and this blog.  He stepped up and corrected the elimination meeting conference calls.

This was a convenient means of communication between the commission and its constituents.  The racing industry needed to know what the Commissioners were discussing at their meetings.  Conference calls were a cost effective way to accomplish that objective.

Racing Commissioners are now owed the respect of those participating by conference call. Callers must put their phones on mute as past meetings were disrupted by barking dogs and other unneeded noises.  The Commission is conducting important business which impacts a challenged industry.

The WV Racing Commission was not trying to “hide” anything. They were seeking a quite decision making environment.

(PS – It begins again today at 2PM. To connect 312..757.3111 with access code 638912285.  Remember be quite.)

 

“Be Prepared”

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

Last week the U. S. Supreme Court  said it will hear New Jersey’s appeal to legalize sports betting. West Virginia Governor Justice, Members of the Legislature and the racing industry needs to “Be Prepared.”

Phil Kabler has an encouraging story in today’s Gazette-Mail. Of course, everything at this point is speculation.  However, revenue potential is out there if WV gets ahead of the Border States as it did with the Lottery.

Governor Justice and the Legislature need to do something similar to a Maryland proposal. West Virginia needs to  establish a working group to monitor the recent developments, study how sports’ betting was implemented in other states; and recommend changes needed to facilitate sports betting in West Virginia and offer a beginning point for revenue allocation.

The allocation of potential revenue is where the racing industry comes in.

Horse & greyhound owners, trainers, breeders and Jockeys need to develop a strategy. There should not be a Charles Town, Mountaineer, Mardi Gras or Wheeling Island strategy but an industry wide one.   It needs to address research, planning, and relationship building, messaging, fund raising and political engagement.

It can no longer be business as usual for government leaders. The racing industry needs to come together.  Fresh thinking and an open mind to doing new things will be required.

Act Now

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

The Herald Dispatch in Huntington today ran the editorial below calling attention to online gambling being looked at by various states. Phillipsbillboard.com has called attention to this revenue opportunity that West Virginia should consider.  The Huntington newspaper has well stated the case.

[Editorial: More states are considering online gambling]

West Virginia got into the gambling business 30 years ago, and for much of that time, the Mountain State stayed ahead of the game.

It began in 1986 with instant lottery tickets and a prize of $5,000, and the state netted about $20 million that first year. Those revenues grew steadily of the next two decades, and casinos and race tracks in the panhandles attracted visitors from other states, where gambling was more limited.

But it soon became clear that maintaining that revenue stream meant staying “competitive.”

As neighboring states added lotteries or expanded casino options, West Virginia did, too. Total gaming revenues continued to rise until the Great Recession, topping out at almost $1.6 billion in 2007. But the trend line has been up and down since then, and unfortunately, mostly down.

After bouncing back to almost pre-recession levels in 2012, revenues have declined each of the last four years, largely due to competition. Neighboring states, particularly Ohio and Maryland, have added new casinos and gaming options, and the customers West Virginia once got from those states come less often if at all.

But now Mountain State gaming venues and the state lotteries face a new, less visible but even more powerful competitor — the internet.

Online gambling is changing the face of gaming around the world. In Europe, some estimate that online games now have almost 20 percent of the gambling market. In the United States, online games already have cut into revenues for almost every gaming state, especially among young adults who seem to prefer gambling by computer or smart phone to traveling to casinos and race tracks.

A couple of big gambling states, New Jersey and Nevada, have decided “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” In those states, in-state residents can go to websites run by casinos in the state and gamble, the Stateline News Service reports. Unlike other “off-shore” online gambling, which states cannot tax, this system allows New Jersey and Nevada to get a little piece of that state-sanctioned online action.

The news from New Jersey is encouraging. Officials have found the new revenue from online games has helped offset the losses at casinos.

Not surprisingly, several other states are considering actions to allow similar online gaming in their states. In West Virginia, a House bill to make existing gaming sites eligible for an online gaming license ended the session still in committee.

Could online gaming help West Virginia hold onto its gaming revenue a little longer? Almost certainly. But can it ensure a stable revenue stream for the future? That seems unlikely. The competition will no longer just be casinos in neighboring states, but gambling options around the world.

Over the years, gambling revenues have done a lot of good for West Virginia. Officials estimate they have generated more than $9 billion for programs such school improvements and scholarships, senior services and tourism promotion. But state leaders need to recognize those revenues will likely continue to decline, and the state will need other resources to support those programs.

Links to previous Phillipsbillboard.com blogs on this subject.

http://phillipsbillboard.com/?p=3402

http://phillipsbillboard.com/?p=3406

 

Secret Meeting

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

(Editor’s note: Served as a Member of the WV Racing Commission from February, 2013 until January 31, 2017 when Governor Justice replaced me after taking office.)

A visit to the website of the WV Racing Commission revealed they are ending the ability for interested parties including the press and commission staff to “call in to the meeting”. Those not based in Charleston will need to travel & spend money to know what is taking place.  This is a disturbing development.

Those investing in the racing industries are struggling in the changing industry. They need a cost effective way to know what decision makers are considering and the commission discussion before taking action.

Some of those employed by the commission are remotely located in distance places from the state capitol will need to spend (ever dwindling) commission funds to be present for meetings that may only last an hour. Often this staff needs to provide input on agenda matters as well as being informed.

This appears to be a step to keep the public & press in the dark. Whether it is required by law or regulation state government commission meetings should be made easy for parties to listen and participate.

When I was named as a Commissioner I urged regular standing meetings, more information to be provided on the agenda (outside of personnel matters) and a robust website that was easier for everyone to use. Persons should have an opportunity to listen and learn as well as speak – under public comments – without making an eight hour trip.

What are they trying to hide?

After Thought

Friday, May 12th, 2017

 [Editor’s Note: During the Reagan Administration I was responsible for rural development policy based at the U. S. Department of Agriculture.]

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue went to an urban city (Cincinnati) to tell rural citizens and communities he was upgrading the department’s rural development agency. His spin was the program would report directly to him.  Who is he kidding?

Best guess is Perdue will create a “special assistant” position of which there are hundreds in Washington to oversee the programs of rural business, housing & utilities. Prior to Perdue’s action there was an Undersecretary for Rural Development to promote the cause of non-farm Rural America inside the department and on Capitol Hill.  He eliminated the Undersecretary position yesterday.

Even with an Undersecretary for Rural Development it was hard to get a few minutes of the Secretary’s time. Rural Development has always been the “red headed step child” at USDA.  Now what?

Why is it important to have an Undersecretary for Rural Development? First, it requires Senate confirmation and without it there is far less accountability to Congress.  Also, the position of an Undersecretary has much more clout to make the case for non-farm Rural America inside the department and on Capitol Hill.  Besides the title Undersecretary commands much more media and attention.

By the way. Congress passed the Rural Development Act of 1972.  Basically this legislation gave the responsibility to Department of Agriculture to coordinate rural development throughout the Federal government.  Now what?

Rural community leaders, economic development organizers, national state & local organizations and advocates of rural lifestyle need to get involved. The only hope to turn back this effort is for Congress to say no.

Social media gives us as rural advocates an opportunity to organize. Tweet your concern using the hashtag #saveruraldevelopment .  Post on Facebook your story about how your community has benefited from the rural development programs.  Email or write your Member of Congress to #saveruraldevelopment.

At Trump’s Elbow

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

[Editor’s Note: During the Reagan Administration I was responsible for rural development policy based at the U. S. Department of Agriculture.]

President Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was sitting at the elbow of President Trump in the White House about the time he released a welcoming message to USDA employees. I had an opportunity to read the Secretary’s email and was taken back, since never once did he use the word “rural” or “Rural America.”  I repeat “never.”  Just think – he was at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as The President was establishing an Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity  – which Secretary Perdue will lead.

Rural America sent a message in 2016 that Rural America it counts. That message may have been lost on Secretary Perdue but not President Trump.  About 20 percent of the country lives in rural America, just less than 60 million people.  Exit polling showed rural voters made up 17 percent of the electorate.  Hillary Clinton lost rural America 3 to 1.

Politico had a piece after Trump’s victory entitled “Revenge of the Rural Voter” which I hope Secretary Perdue will read. But once he gets to USDA he will be captured by the agriculture interests who have little or no interested in nonfarm Rural America.  There are more small town residents….than there are farmers.

After soaking in the Politico story I posted on Facebook my hope the Trump administration would pay attention to the voice of the 2016 rural voters and seek out a rural development advocate to lead USDA. There is still hope that Secretary Perdue will be that advocate and follow the example set by President Trump.

Missing Out

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Is West Virginia missing out on new revenue – by not thinking ahead?

Maryland’s Legislature is taking steps to be prepared. Forward thinking members have introduced legislation to assure the State is ready to take advantage of sports betting.  Introduced February 8th and its first hearing was held March 1 reported the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (THA).

Republican Delegates Jason Buckel and Kevin Hornberger said their bill is a “forward-thinking and practical approach for what we think is not a matter of if but when” sports betting is legalized in the U.S.   They said the idea is to have a framework in place so Maryland “could turn it around quickly rather than wait three or four years.”

That is what ought to have been done in West Virginia. As early as February, 2014 this blog suggested the State and more particularly Lottery begin looking at gaming options.  The options may not be popular but revenue can be produced – what is needed now even more so than in 2014 – revenue.

Last month phillipsbillboard.com urged Governor Justice to begin initial study of sports betting.

According to THA Maryland’s legislation does nothing more than establish a task force to monitor action of federal laws; study implementation of sports betting in other states; and make recommendations on changes needed to facilitate sports betting in Maryland. The bill does offer a starting point for the allocation of revenue.  The task force could make its own recommendations.

THA points out that sports betting can only be offered by “repeal or amendment of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in a manner that does not prohibit the state from allowing wagering on sporting events or a determination by a federal court or the United States Department of Justice that (PASPA) does not prohibit the state from allowing wagering on sporting events.”

Is it going to be the same old story – a day late and a dollar short?