Paying for a ticket to ride
Passenger rail service for West Virginia commuters has been unresolved since early this year when the Maryland Transit Administration rolled out a new plan that included the discontinuation of the Maryland Area Regional Commuter train service’s final three westbound stops in Jefferson County and Martinsburg.
While MTA has since abandoned that proposal, a meeting this weekend in Charles Town will give commuters the chance to review MARC’s latest plan, one that offers bus service from Brunswick for two of the evening trains.
The plan finds no fan in rail advocate J. Charles Riecks, who volunteers for the National Association of Railroad Passengers, and has been invited by MARC to weigh in on it at the meeting this weekend.
Riecks argues that it’s time for West Virginia to consider a more permanent solution to the problem of MARC ridership. He says it’s time for the state to contribute funding to MARC. Currently, individual riders pay a $2 a day surcharge coming and going that contributes $20,000 to MARC’s budget.
Given the economic benefits the state sees from residents who choose to make West Virginia their homes and who rely on MARC, we agree with Riecks that elected officials should strongly consider finding money in the state budget to help fund the service.
Judd is mud in our eye
Democratic candidate Keith Judd’s strong showing in the West Virginia primary election last week, where he received almost as many votes as presumptive nominee and incumbent Barack Obama, has left pundits with plenty of explaining to do.
The vote has cast the state in a bad light, and many voters have even acknowledged they weren’t aware when they cast their ballot that Judd — who took more than 50 percent of the vote in a number of counties, including Hardy and Tucker — was currently serving time in a Texas correctional facility on extortion charges, that he claims to be able to tell the future, and that for four years he counted himself among a select group of super heroes.
On this page, columnist Tom Miller argues voters didn’t need to know such stuff, that in tossing their one vote away they were sending a signal that they had no confidence in their president and would be voting for Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney come November.
The State Journal likewise argues that racism is too pat an answer for Judd’s showing in the state, but then provides a pat answer of its own, that being the Obama administration’s anti-coal stance as the reason for the president’s poor showing. Although the timing of a recent decision, since abandoned, by the Department of Labor to include farming in child labor protections, surely couldn’t have been helpful, it’s more likely the reason for the president’s poor showing can be found in a gumbo of explanations — the color of his skin and his administration’s environmental agenda being just two among them.
Expect Obama not to work too hard to try to secure West Virginia’s five delegates. But that shouldn’t be cause for state elections officials to not consider working at reforming its election code to keep characters like Judd off our ballot.