The big news at the statehouse today is the report from the legislative auditor’s office, released Sunday, detailing how West Virginia misspent nearly $15 million in stimulus dollars on Internet routers it could not use. Dave Boucher writes:
The state didn’t investigate specific Internet needs of the facilities when it bought more than 1,100 routers for $24 million from Cisco. And the purchasing was done in a “legally unauthorized” way, the report continues.
The performance evaluation and research division of the state legislative auditor’s office compiled a lengthy report outlining its findings. Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred presented the report to legislators Sunday.
The state could have saved millions of dollars and more effectively located the routers if it had done its homework, Allred contended. But it didn’t help that representatives for Cisco showed “wanton indifference in the interest of the public” by recommending the large routers, the report states.
In other news, my story for today deals with West Virginia’s lack of an anti-discrimination bill for gay and lesbian individuals.
It is currently legal in West Virginia for a landlord to evict a gay or lesbian tenant, based solely on their sexual orientation. Homosexuals also can be fired from their jobs for the same reason.
Fairness West Virginia, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, has spent the last three legislative sessions attempting to change that. Their efforts have been unsuccessful so far (despite support in the State Senate) but Frank Hartman, the group’s lobbyist, says he’s “extremely optimistic” lawmakers will pass the bill this year.
He said Fairness West Virginia…has worked for months on a new version of the bill.
It now includes a religious exemption, which Hartman said would make the bill more appealing to conservative lawmakers. The exemption is based on federal law and would free churches and church-run businesses like hospitals from having to hire gay or lesbian individuals.
He said the bill also has the support of two major West Virginia businesses, American Electric Power and Frontier Communications.
Lawmakers were hesitant to talk to me about the bill’s chances, however. They said it would be premature to talk about it before the legislation is introduced or assigned to a committee.
And here’s something to watch as the afternoon goes on. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced last week he would hold a press event today at 2 p.m. to unveil “a package of comprehensive ethics reforms,” which includes his administration’s policies on state-purchased “trinkets.”
Morrisey has repeatedly slammed his predecessor Darrell McGraw for that administration’s use of trinkets, which Morrisey equates to taxpayer-funded campaign materials.
About a week before January’s inauguration, Morrisey held a press conference where he promised a “made-for-TV event” regarding trinkets, and that was as specific as he would get. Some people have guessed he would hold a bonfire. Here’s my (probably completely incorrect) prediction: he’s going to round up all of McGraw’s old trinkets and ship them to a third-world country.