Members of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee have finally gotten a firsthand look at the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals costly renovations and furnishings. It was an eye-opening experience for the delegates to actually see and feel a couch that cost taxpayers $32,000, a wooden inlaid floor in the shape of the state that cost $7,500 and luxury rugs that cost $28,000, and an $8,000 office chair.
The tour has given the lawmakers some context as they consider whether to bring articles of impeachment against any or all of the remaining four members of the court. As I have said before, the impeachment of Justice Loughry, who is already under suspension, is a given. However, the pivotal question is whether Justices Margaret Workman, Robin Davis and Beth Walker should be impeached for the wasteful spending.
These legislators are the people’s representatives and therefore the public’s reaction to the Court’s excessive spending on personal and professional comfort is relevant. The photographs and video from the tour are now available through all media in the state, so the taxpayers can have their own tour of the offices and see where their money went.
So, have a look for yourself, and while taking the tour, think about a few things:
–According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income for West Virginia is $43,385. Eighteen percent of West Virginians live below the poverty level.
–Business Insider reports that West Virginia’s 280,000 retirees on Social Security receive, on average, $1,384 per month or less than $17,000 a year.
–The state is currently advertising for social service workers. The starting salary is about $26,000. A public school service worker’s starting salary is around $25,000.
–Auto Alliance reports that the average vehicle in West Virginia is over 12 years old.
–According to the real estate website Zillow, the median price for a home in West Virginia is $159,000. Justice Robin Davis’s office renovation cost $500,278, Justice Beth Walker’s cost $130,654 and Justice Margaret Workman’s cost $111,035.
Our elected officials are not royalty. They are not entitled to, nor do they deserve, the trappings normally associated with nobility. They are public servants who work for the people and are responsible to the people.
We don’t expect them to toil away in dilapidated offices. The taxpayers have a responsibility for reasonable upkeep of the beautiful and historic State Capitol building and its offices. However, the unchecked spending on these luxuriant furnishings is beyond the pale.
Too many West Virginians struggle from paycheck to paycheck just to keep up with the essentials of life for this kind of arrogant spending to pass without consequence.