Historic Change

Inaugurations present new opportunities and expectations.  As I sat watching Governor Earl Ray Tomblin take the oath of office for the third time I thought about that day 17 years ago when Governor Cecil H. Underwood took that same oath for the second time.

There is a similarly between these two Governors.  They came to office with a deep knowledge of our State and the experience to begin anew.  The one difference is Governor Tomblin cannot run again and Governor Underwood could.

My expectation on that 1997 day was that Governor Underwood had run his last campaign.  That he would use the enthusiasm and political capital from the “last campaign” to change the course of West Virginia.  That did not happen.  Governor Tomblin has the same opportunity.  He set the stage saying he would not have to worry about campaigning.

Here is my prescription for Governor Tomblin to accomplish an historic change of course and create a lasting legacy.  It is quite simple.

He should seek out the best thinkers available in the country not the normal cast of characters with a policy or political agenda.  This group should include historians, economists, political scientists, government specialists, technologists, sociologists and rural policy experts.

This is not a “blue ribbon” group reporting to the Governor but one in which he personally participates.

Prior to these experts meeting Governor Tomblin should commission a “state of affairs” paper prepared by a neutral party to provide an overview of West Virginia.

This is not an overnight process.  Nor will it be completed prior to the State of the State address in February.  It is a process that will take time, require thinking without regard to potential barriers or whose ox is being gored.  The result should be a comprehensive road map for the 5 to 10 years – not in time for the next election.

Once this work is done there will be the time to determine the steps necessary to implement without regard to existing relationships, political contributions or favors of the past and excuses.



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