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Mark Caserta: Has “The Swamp” come to Huntington, West Virginia?

9 Sep

Does Huntington have its own progressive version of the “Deep State”?


Mark Caserta:  Free State Patriot editor

September 8, 2018


During the past two years, I’ve written often about the so-called “Deep State” within our nation’s capital. This suspected syndicate of clandestine individuals wielding ominous power, possibly even elected by the American people, sanction an ideology antithetical to the peace and prosperity of our nation’s citizens.

These shadowy figures are resolute in their mission to destroy the Trump presidency, at all costs, simply to regain the power to negate his wins for Americans and return us to the “Obama era” and the successes of the progressive movement.

This past Friday, as former Huntington City Councilman, Scott Caserta, and I were filling in for Tom Roten on the “Tom Roten Morning Show” on 800 News Radio WVHU, one of our distinguished guests, Steven Davis had some thought-provoking input. Steven is the founder of the League of Principled Citizens and League of Principled Men and has his finger on the pulse of Huntington.

steve davis

(Steven Davis:  Founder of League of Principled Citizens and League of Principled Men)

During our interview, Steven referenced the Deep State within our city.  Admittedly, the notion took me by surprise.  But the evidence supporting the possibility is mounting.  We discussed several key indicators that this may be a reality with which we must deal.

Has Huntington, WV. allowed the fostering of a Deep State within our own city?  Have we allowed the spawn of progressive power and influence to prostitute our city for political expediency?  Is there a network of individuals, each possessing applicable resources to include your tax dollars, local media and a “stump” from which to orate, determined to cripple our city for political gain?

As I’ve observed through the years, allegations of misappropriation of funds, inability to effectively manage a budget and inappropriate declarations of social injustice have materialized within our city’s leadership hierarchy. Now, in fairness, these are issues hundreds of cities across our nation face with comparable degrees of severity.

But very few cities in our country rise in comparison to Huntington, WV. when it comes to failure in effectively dealing with the opioid crisis and the subsequent collapse of infrastructure and sustainability.  And sadly, it’s placed our once great city on the nation’s radar.

A March 7, 2017 Washington Post column by Christopher Ingraham revealed how the drug overdose related deaths in West Virginia helped overwhelm a “state program providing burial assistance for needy families for at least the fifth year in a row.” The column went on to share the program nearly ran out of money four months before the end of the fiscal year, per the WV Department of Health and Human Resources.

In 2015, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia’s drug overdose rate stood at 41.5 cases per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in the country and nearly three times the national average.

And as 2020 Mayoral candidate, Scott Caserta observed on our radio show, “Those are just the ones reported!”

scott caserta

(Scott Caserta:  2020 Huntington Mayoral Candidate)

An October 2017, PBS News Hour show with Hari Sreenivasan, entitled, “America Addicted”, shared that opioids are now the biggest drug epidemic in American history.

The PBS team traveled to the Mountain State city of Huntington, WV for a first-hand glimpse of the problem. They discussed the fact that tragically embedded in what was deemed to be the biggest drug epidemic in American history, West Virginia had the highest death rate from drug overdoses in the country and Huntington was at the apex of city’s hardest hit by the epidemic.

A June, 2017 CNN column by Andrew Iden, entitled “An EMTs view from the front lines of America’s heroin crisis,” offered unique perspective from Gordon Merry, director of Cabell-Huntington Emergency Medical Services, which is on the front line of the battle against opioid addition.

“One overdose is too many. It is unacceptable. The people, I don’t know why they do it,” he said. “It’s destroying a whole generation. We’re losin’ em.”

The column shares Merry, while spending over 60 years in Huntington, is at a loss as to why people turn to the drug that is now, by local health estimates, “affecting a quarter of Cabell County’s population.   A well-documented statistic revealed, at one point, the city endured 27 heroin overdoses in the “span of four hours,” per the column.

Now, I realize “common-sense” isn’t so common anymore, however, given the magnitude of Huntington’s drug problem and the escalation of associated crime, wouldn’t any intellectually honest person expect city leadership to heighten and empower levels of law enforcement within the city?

Yet, in January 2017, per WSAZ News in Huntington, WV., Huntington Mayor Steve Williams authorized the dismissal of 24 city employees from the Police and Fire Departments, along with announcing a hiring and nonessential spending freeze until further notice.

Mayor Williams explained:

“The fact is when we came down through the end of the fiscal year and knew that some things were tight, we asked for budgets as we were preparing for the coming year,” Mayor Steve Williams said on an edition of “First Look at Four.” “… the next thing, we look at where we are right now, and that’s when the overages in each department became extremely clear. This should’ve been seen sooner. This is nobody’s fault but mine.”

So, how has city leadership decided to address Huntington’s growing drug epidemic?

They haven’t.  In fact, they’ve gone as far as enabling them in their addiction.

Cabell-Huntington’s health department, to maintain blood-borne diseases associated with intravenous drug use, began a needle exchange program, which provides drug users syringes free of charge when they return a used needle.

Two problems here:  The first is the notion of someone avoiding a blood-borne disease when they’re dead seems like liberal reasoning to me.

Second, reported tracking of the needle exchange program reveals it is far from balanced.  Only a percentage of needles are returned, completely negating the program’s purpose and providing a method of injection, at no cost, to an individual who probably doesn’t have the money to purchase it, otherwise.

Reportedly, 3,800 individuals visited the needle exchange from September 2015 through 2017,
“accounting for about 21,000 visits, an average of about six visits per person.”

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department recently discontinued it “syringe exchange program” under pressure from local police.  Charleston Police Chief Steve Cooper implemented a new set of regulations which included using “only retractable needles, serving only Kanawha County residents, requiring patients to present a government-issued ID to receive needles, and confining the program to a one-for-one needle exchange.

I suppose these common-sense requirements were simply too restrictive in nature.  Yet, Cabell-Huntington Health Department continues its program fecklessly.

Another tool employed by local emergency medical entities involves the use of “Narcan”, a drug designed to block the effects of opioids in the brain and bring the overdosed individual back to consciousness.

Again, the problem is that while every life is precious and none of us would intentionally withhold the deployment of this drug if we could save a life, it simply does not address the issue.  It enables it.

The underlying question from many individuals informed in the matter is, “Why do city leaders continue to execute steps proven to be ineffective in reducing opioid abuse in our city?”

Some believe it’s about money.  I’ve heard the charge that “there is money in addiction”. Narcan, needles, counseling, and other associated services tending to the crisis, all put money, your money, into someone’s coffer.

Admittedly, 5 years ago, I would never have subscribed to such an allegation.  After all, Huntington, my home town of nearly 60 years, is better than that!  Our leaders are better than that!  Our citizens would never allow that to happen!

But in 2018, the population of Huntington, WV. is on the decline.  Good people are leaving.  Our base of Christian conservatives is shrinking in comparison to the spawn of progressive, liberal-minded knuckleheads.

Are we losing the battle?  Is there a Deep State of progressives spreading like a debilitating virus throughout the Tri-State? Does Huntington, WV. have their own local version of “the Swamp” filled with liberal vermin.

If so, what can the citizens of Huntington, WV. do to combat it?

I propose we escalate the fight.  We must become informed and engaged -NOW!

My friend, Steven Davis, also made another profound declaration during our interview last Friday.

“You don’t drain a swamp, you fill it in!”

My jaw dropped when he eloquently spoke these words!  Draining the swamp leaves a marshy, muddy mess which will only be inhabited by a different sort of critter.  We must fill the swamp with rich, viable, business-friendly earth that will provide an environment for the return of business and quality residents to our area.

There was a time, Huntington was recognized as a city where one would desire to raise a family and nurture children.  We were a town built on principle, ethics and with the peace and prosperity of its citizens in mind.

We can return. We can “Make Huntington Great Again”. But as we’ve seen on a national level, it means removing the ineffectual leadership and replacing it with someone who will put “Huntington first” rather than a liberal ideology.

I believe in you Huntington. There are no better people on earth.  Those of us indigenous to the area know we are hard-working, intelligent, principled, God-fearing people.

Let’s take our city back.  Let’s remove the cancer that’s growing and crippling the function of all other body parts.

Let’s do it by being informed, engaged, vocal, and avid voters.

May God bless and protect our city and our great people.



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