West Virginia Pissed Away $24 Million In Stimulus Funds Purchasing 1,064 High Power Cisco Routers For Small Libraries, Schools, And Health Centers – Each Designed For 10’s Of Thousands Of Users, Some Serve Just A Single Computer

May 16, 2012

CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA – Nobody told Hurricane librarian Rebecca Elliot that the $22,600 Internet router in the branch library’s storage closet was powerful enough to serve an entire college campus.

Nobody told Elliot how much the router cost or who paid for it. Workers just showed up and installed the device. They left behind no instructions, no user manual.

The high-end router serves four public computer terminals at the small library in Putnam County.

“I don’t know much about those kinds of things,” Elliot said last week, before politely leaving to help an elderly patron select books. “I just work here.”

The state of West Virginia is using $24 million in federal economic stimulus money to put high-powered Internet computer routers in small libraries, elementary schools and health clinics, even though the pricey equipment is designed to serve major research universities, medical centers and large corporations, a Gazette-Mail investigation has found.

The state purchased 1,064 routers two years ago, after receiving a $126 million federal stimulus grant to expand high-speed Internet across West Virginia.

The Cisco 3945 series routers, which cost $22,600 each, are built to serve “tens of thousands” of users or device connections, according to a Cisco sales agent. The routers are designed to serve a minimum of 500 users.

Yet state broadband project officials directed the installation of the stimulus-funded Cisco routers in West Virginia schools with fewer than a dozen computers and libraries that have only a single terminal for patrons.

“The routers have a lot of power,” said Karen Goff, executive secretary of the West Virginia Library Commission. “Because the routers are so big, our tech guys had to build shelves for them. The libraries had no other place to put them.”

Morgantown-based WVNET, the state government Internet services agency, uses six Cisco routers with similar capacity to serve all state agencies and public universities.

West Virginia Homeland Security chief Jimmy Gianato, who’s leading the state broadband project, defended the $24 million router purchase last week, saying the devices “could meet many different needs and be used for multiple applications.”

“Our main concerns were to not have something that would become obsolete in a couple of years,” Gianato said. “Looking at how technology evolves, we wanted something that was scalable, expandable and viable, five to 10 years out. We wanted to make sure every place had the same opportunity across the state.”

‘Grossly oversized’

In July 2010, a West Virginia Office of Technology administrator warned that the Cisco 3945 series routers “may be grossly oversized,” according to an email obtained by the Gazette-Mail.

The administrator asked state officials to postpone plans to spend $24 million on the routers so he would have time to evaluate the proposed purchase.

Five days later, state officials signed the $24 million contract with Verizon Network Integration to buy the Cisco routers.

Verizon delivered an additional 100 routers to the state for free. West Virginia officials never asked for the additional equipment — valued at more than $2.26 million.

Verizon spokesman Keith Irland said the company simply responded to router specifications detailed in the state’s bid posting.

“They specified the equipment they wanted,” Irland said. “That’s what they requested, that’s what we bid on. We had the lowest price, and we won the bid for the equipment and related maintenance.”

The Gazette-Mail contacted two Cisco sales agents last week, asking whether the 3945 series routers were appropriate for schools and libraries.

“The 3945 is our router solution for campus and large enterprises, so this is overkill for your network,” a Cisco representative responded.

The sales agents recommended a smaller router — with a list price of $487.

State Department of Education officials questioned the size of the routers before Gianato and the Office of Technology executed the $24 million purchase order.

It didn’t make sense to buy the same size routers for a 1,800-student high school and a 100-student elementary school, according to administrators in the Department of Education’s technology division. The state is distributing 471 of the high-priced routers to schools.

“The WVDE asked if the size of the routers could vary based on the needs of a school,” said Liza Cordeiro, spokeswoman for the Department of Education. “At that time, it is our understanding that, for consistency and future expansion, the plan was to buy all the same size.”

Gianato said putting the same size router in every school was about “equal opportunity.”

“We wanted to make sure a student in McDowell County had the same opportunities as a student in Kanawha County or anywhere else,” he said. “A student in a school of 200 students should have the same opportunity as a student in a school with 2,000 students.”

John Dunlap, operations director at the state Office of Technology, had similar concerns over the size of the routers.

“The Office of Technology is concerned that this equipment may be grossly oversized for several of the facilities in which it is currently slated to be installed,” Dunlap wrote in a July 12, 2010, email to Gianato. “As a result, the Office of Technology would like to evaluate these and make recommendations to deploy the 3,900 series router where it may be better utilized for this project.”

Last week, the Gazette-Mail asked Dunlap to explain his email. He referred questions to Gianato.

Gianato acknowledged that he didn’t heed Dunlap’s advice or wait for an evaluation.

“The routers already had been bid out,” Gianato said. “I think John was looking at our needs now, not looking at our needs into the future.”

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Obama Loses 40 Percent Of West Virginia Primary Votes To An Inmate Serving Time In Federal Prison – People Will Vote For Anyone Who Isn’t Obama

May 9, 2012

WEST VIRGINIA – Just how unpopular is President Obama in some parts of the country? Enough that a man in prison in Texas received four out of 10 votes in West Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary.

Inmate Keith Judd is serving 17 years for extortion at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Texas. He was sentenced in 1999 for making threats against the University of New Mexico.

With 93 per cent of precincts reporting, Obama was receiving just under 60 per cent of the vote to Judd’s 40 per cent.

For some West Virginia Democrats, simply running against Obama is enough to get Judd, or Inmate Number 11593-051, votes.

‘I voted against Obama,’ said Ronnie Brown, a 43-year-old electrician from Cross Lanes who called himself a conservative Democrat.

‘I don’t like him. He didn’t carry the state before and I’m not going to let him carry it again.’

When asked which presidential candidate he voted for, Brown said: ‘That guy out of Texas.’

Judd was able to get on the state ballot by paying a $2,500 fee and filing a form known as a notarized certification of announcement, said Jake Glance, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.

According to the Charleston Gazette, Judd circulated his political standpoints to local media. These include opposing national health care reform on the grounds that it violates the 10th Amendment.

He also cites the U.S. Constitution, saying that incarcerated felons should not be disqualified from voting.

Attracting at least 15 per cent of the vote would normally qualify a candidate for a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

But state Democratic Party Executive Director Derek Scarbro said no one has filed to be a delegate for Judd.

The state party also believes that Judd has failed to file paperwork required of presidential candidates, but officials continued to research the matter, Mr Scarbro said. There may also be issues because the man is an inmate in federal prison.

Voters in other conservative states showed their displeasure with Obama in Democratic primaries last March.

In Oklahoma, anti-abortion protestor Randall Terry got 18 per cent of the primary vote. A lawyer from Tennessee, John Wolfe, pulled nearly 18,000 votes in the Louisiana primary.

In Alabama, 18 per cent of Democratic voters chose ‘uncommitted’ in the primary rather than vote for Obama.

Obama’s energy policies and the Environmental Protection Agency’s handling of mining-related permits have incurred the wrath of West Virginia’s coal industry.

With the state the nation’s second-biggest producer of this fossil fuel, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senator Joe Manchin – both Democrats have championed the industry – have declined to say whether they will support Obama in November.

Hillary Rodham Clinton beat Obama in the state’s 2008 primary, and he lost the state to Republican John McCain in the general election.

The latest state-by-state Gallup poll, released in January, found Obama with a 32.7 per cent approval rating in West Virginia.

The president had a lower approval rating only in Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

‘Keith Judd’s performance is embarrassing for Obama and our great state,’ outgoing West Virginia GOP Chairman Mike Stuart said.

Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won West Virginia’s GOP primary on Tuesday with more than 69 per cent of the vote, with 93 per cent of precincts reporting. Rick Santorum followed with 12 per cent, while Ron Paul had 11 per cent.

Mr Brown, the Cross Lanes electrician, went to the polls on Tuesday with his 22-year-old daughter, Emily. She planned to vote for Judd too until she found out where Judd has been living.

‘I’m not voting for somebody who’s in prison,’ she said.

However she was certain about one thing: ‘I just want to vote against Barack Obama.’

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9/11 Hysteria: “Exploding Package” Turned Out To Be Lightbulb – “Suspicious Package” In Locker Contained Cookies – As Crazed Overreaction Shuts Down Ranson West Virginia Post Office For 6 Hours

November 4, 2011

RANSON, WEST VIRGINIA – A reported exploding package and spray of white powder that sent emergency units rushing to a small-town post office turned out to be just the pop of a malfunctioning fluorescent light bulb, authorities said Friday.

The white powder that workers at the U.S. Post Office in Ranson saw was most likely smoke from the damaged bulb, said Ronald Fletcher, a firefighter with Citizens Fire Co. and the designated incident spokesman.

X-rays also revealed that a suspicious package in a storage locker contained only cookies, he said.

The scare Friday morning triggered an evacuation of the building and the temporary quarantine of 15 people inside a school bus. Hazardous materials and bomb experts, State Police units, fire crews and more responded to the scene at a strip mall.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department sent a robot into the building to test the air. It found no chemical agents or evidence of an explosion.

Despite the six-hour disruption, postal authorities said the mail would still be delivered Friday.

Postmaster Steve Parrill said about 20 people work in the Ranson branch.

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Elkins West Virginia Police Officer Willard Lewis Arrested, Suspended, Charged With Kidnapping And Assaulting His Wife

April 6, 2011

ELKINS, WEST VIRGINIA — An officer with the Elkins Police Department was arrested Thursday.

Willard Lewis, 29, of Beverly, was charged with kidnapping, domestic battery and domestic assault, according to his criminal complaint.

A call from the Lewis home was made to the Randolph County 911 Center. When the call was hung up, state police were sent to the home.

When troopers arrived, they found the front door open and no one home. They also found damage to the bedroom door, the complaint said.

Neighbors told the troopers that Lewis and his wife had left. State police began searching for the couple and found Mrs. Lewis at her grandmother’s home.

She told troopers that Lewis was belittling her and calling her names. When she went to the bedroom to get away from him, he kicked the door, she said. She then went to the bathroom to get away from him. When he threatened to kick that door down, she came out. He then grabbed her face and pushed her against the wall, elbowing her in the eye, court paperwork detailed.

She told Lewis that she wanted to leave, but he told her she “wasn’t leaving,” the complaint said. He then told her that she should go for a ride with him before the police arrived, the complaint went on to say.

Troopers noted a bruise under the victim’s right eye.

Lewis was taken to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail, where he remains, with bail set at $20,000.

Lewis was immediately suspended from the Elkins Police Department, according to Chief H.R. White.

Administrative action against Lewis will depend on the outcome of Lewis’ legal proceedings and the Elkins Police Department’s own investigation, White said.

“Anytime this department responds to a call of this reported nature, we take the complaint very seriously and handle the incident with the tenacity it deserves, as domestic calls are potentially some of the most dangerous calls an officer will encounter in his or her career,” White said in a prepared statement.

White did not offer further comment.

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Mason County West Virginia Dispatcher Josh Riffle Arrested And Suspended For Obstructing And Officer

March 25, 2011

MASON COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA — A 911 dispatcher in Mason County is on administrative leave after being arrested Friday.

The Mason County Sheriff’s Department says Josh Riffle was arrested on a charge of obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor.

Deputies say the arrest was related to a domestic call in December 2010 in Mason County. According to the deputy who was out on the call, the suspect fled from the scene and the deputy called a BOLO (be on the lookout) into 911. The deputy says Riffle didn’t call in the BOLO and the suspect drove over to Ohio.

The call originated when a medic reported seeing what appeared to be a domestic altercation between a man and a woman. She said it happened on Ohio River Road near the old Panasote Plant entrance.

According to the sheriff’s office, Riffle has been placed on administrative leave.

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West Virginia State Employee Filmed Bridges And Men In A YMCA Bathroom

September 11, 2010

HUNTINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA –A filmmaker for the state Department of Transportation has been charged with attempting to covertly film people in the men’s dressing room at the Huntington YMCA, according to a report in Friday’s Huntington Herald-Dispatch.

David S. Marcum, 45, of Huntington, an employee of the DOT’s communications office, was charged on Thursday with misdemeanor criminal invasion of privacy was.

A warrant affidavit charges that Marcum positioned video cameras “to record male persons while in a men’s dressing room,” according to the Herald-Dispatch. Marcum was arraigned and released on a $10,000 recognizance bond.

A video documentary by Marcum on construction of the new Blennerhassett Island Bridge carrying U.S. 50 across the Ohio River and Blennerhassett Island was selected as the best transportation film of 2009 by the National Transportation Public Affairs Workshop.

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West Virginia Authorities Piss Away Tax Dollars Pursuing Case Against Motorist Who Failed To Signal Turn On Deserted Road – Officer Used Turn As Probable Cause For Unwarranted Traffic Stop

May 6, 2009

ROMNEY, WEST VIRGINIA – Police in West Virginia may no longer issue tickets to motorists for failure to signal without also showing another vehicle may have been affected by the maneuver, according to a ruling issued Monday by the state supreme court. Justices took up the issue in the context of a June 25, 2006 traffic stop in which West Virginia State Trooper C.T. Kessel pulled over Chad R. Clower on US 50 in the city of Romney.

According to Kessel, the road was deserted that night when he saw Clower’s car two full city blocks ahead. After Clower made a right-hand turn without signaling, Kessel pounced. At the time, Clower was neither speeding nor weaving and Kessel had noted nothing unusual about the man’s driving beyond the lack of a signal. In the course of the stop, however, Kessel noticed that Clower’s eyes were “glassy” and he immediately suspected the man had been driving under the influence of alcohol.

Clower, in fact, has a glass eye. But because he blew .18 on a breathalyzer, Clower was charged with DUI and the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended his license. Clower appealed and the high court limited itself to considering only the question of whether Kessel was justified in initiating the traffic stop that night. The DMV argued that the law is the law and no exception is made in the turn signal statute for turns made on deserted roads.

“Any stop or turn signal when required herein shall be given either by means of the hand and arm or by a signal lamp or lamps or mechanical signal device,” the code under which Clower was charged, 17C-8-9, states.

Clower countered that the signal law must be read within the context of another provision covering turns which does allow for exceptions.

“No person shall so turn any vehicle without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided in the event any other traffic may be affected by such movement,” West Virginia Code 17C-8-8(a) states.

The supreme court agreed that this provision must be read in combination with the signal statute.

“It is clear that the legislature sought to require a motorist to warn others of the motorist’s intent to make a turn,” Justice Menis E. Ketchum wrote for the court. “It is equally clear that the legislature understood that in some situations a turn signal would serve no purpose and the legislature specifically defined such a situation as being when ‘no other traffic may be affected by the movement.’ A clear example this latter situation is where a driver is on an isolated country road, with no other cars or pedestrians in sight, and the driver turns at an intersection without using a turn signal. A driver in such an example clearly would not have violated W.Va. Code, 17C-8-9 as there was no other person who could have benefited from a turn signal.”

Since the trooper had been at least a block away by the time that the turn was completed, the court found that there was no way that the trooper could have been affected either by the turn itself or the lack of a signal. For that reason, the court found no crime had been committed and the trooper had no business pulling over Clower.

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