Sustained Outrage

The files on Benjamin Hill’s death

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Late last week I obtained a large file of documents concerning the death of Benjamin Hill, whose mysterious death at the Industrial Home for Youth prompted a West Virginia Supreme Court inquiry into the state Division of Juvenile Services.

In my story today, I write about how the documents suggest that Hill may have died of an overdose of an antidepressant he was prescribed.

Below is a look at the documents mentioned in the story. Click on the notes in the left-hand column to read about the notations. You can scroll to the bottom and click on a much larger (and therefore legible) pdf file of the documents.

Metro government: There’s no one size fits all

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Bruce Katz is something of an expert on metro government. He is vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute, where much study of the nation’s brucekatz.jpgmetropolitan areas is done. During a recent chat, I asked him if he had any advice for a community, such as Kanawha County, where residents are considering whether to form a metro government. Katz (pictured) warns that reorganizing local government is difficult, but more people are finding it worth the trouble.

“Nothing comes easily in this area,” Katz said. “The fact remains that more and more places feel a need to change. They’re realizing that business as usual, with everyone going their own way, leads to paralysis.”Municipalities spend a lot of time competing against each other. “

While it’s true that merging governments does not increase the population or make the workforce any more skilled, a cohesive regional government is frequently associated with a better job market, he said.

“The literature is still divided on whether consolidated government leads to a better economy, but there is tantalizing evidence that it may be so. The intuition is that greater cohesion in government might be a economic value.

“It’s not as immediately sexy as an effort to land a particular manufacturer, but over time, it may be the most important thing.

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Metro government: Interest in Harrison County

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ron_watson.jpgHarrison County Commissioner Ron Watson has been keeping an eye on Kanawha County’s metro government discussion.

He grew up at Lost Creek in Harrison County, but he worked for more than 20 years for the consolidated government of Jacksonville, Fla.

“I have some knowledge of the good, the bad and the ugly of consolidated government,” he said.

Clarksburg has about 16,000 people, but used to be a major city in the state with 30,000 people. Bridgeport is an energetic, up and coming city of about 8,000, he said. But all the municipalities compete and squabble with each other to annex developing bits of the county, which doesn’t seem like much of a growth plan to Watson.

“I love what Kent Carper and Kanawha County Commission did, by going to the Legislature and getting the opportunity to put it on a ballot, they can let the people choose what they want.

“I’m going to follow them very carefully and closely as they go through the process.”

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