There were many who cocked a suspicious eyebrow when Gov. Jim Justice finally agreed to live in Charleston as part of a legal settlement.
As has been documented time and again, Justice isn’t the best at adhering to or fulfilling court rulings or binding legal resolutions.
It would appear, according to a Gazette-Mail report by Joe Severino, along with some basic observation, that Justice is not honoring the settlement, despite a statement from his office claiming the contrary.
The agreement over Justice’s residency was reached two months ago. It came nearly three years after former Delegate Isaac Sponaugle filed the complaint, arguing that the governor was violating the state’s constitution by continuing to live at his home in Greenbrier County, a two-hour drive from Charleston.
Justice continually downplayed the lawsuit as politically motivated and frivolous; and rhetorically asked why it mattered to anyone where he slept. That argument might have had some merit on the surface, but the lawsuit wasn’t about some technicality. It was about a dereliction of duty and lack of respect for the office to which Justice had been elected.
More specifically, it was filed after a legislative session that saw public school teachers in all 55 counties go on strike and swarm the Capitol Complex demanding a fix to their benefits. The strike drew national media attention, and Justice was AWOL. When he did finally show up, he announced a solution and claimed the strike was over. He was painfully uninformed and out of the loop. The strike continued until Justice got up to speed.
What Justice fails to understand to this day is that no one would have sued him over his residency if he had shown up and done the job he was elected to do. Any employee in any other field would be let go if they only occasionally did their work, barely understood it and displayed ambivalence toward improvement. The lawsuit was an effort to force a part-time, disinterested governor to accept that the highest office in the state is a full-time commitment. Instead, Justice, always the petulant child when challenged, derided it as political hackery and an obsession over his whereabouts. If only.
Recent news reports have again highlighted how Justice still spends much of his time involved with his businesses, which is ethically irresponsible and further evidence that governing the state isn’t at the top of his list of priorities. His constant tardiness to the only briefings he offers on the COVID-19 pandemic show not only that is he not living in Charleston, but he’s not all that bothered by it, still refusing to grasp the lesson.
When anyone, let alone the governor, is constantly late, missing or lacking understanding about important issues, it wastes the valuable time of others and keeps the job from getting done. It also displays Justice’s lack of respect for others and a lack of respect for — or comprehension of — his own responsibilities.
That’s what gets lost in all of the noise about what county Justice’s head is in when it hits the pillow at night.
It’s not surprising the governor seems to be violating the terms of his court settlement. It’s still disappointing that he simply doesn’t care.