Gazette-Mail editorial: Shooting in Huntington troubling (Potpourri)

The shooting that occurred in a Huntington hookah bar last week was disturbing for several reasons, not the least of which was the wounding of seven people, two of whom are in critical but stable condition, according to reports from The Herald-Dispatch.

As the H-D and other media outlets detailed, the club, known as Kulture, obtained a zoning variance from the city to open. The bar’s owner, Charon Chere Harris Reese, pitched the establishment as a low-key environment for adults over 25. Oddly enough, Reese — who has a federal felony conviction on drug conspiracy charges — specifically told the zoning authorities the establishment would be free of “twerking” and “rap music.”

It was no small irony, then, that Wednesday’s shooting occurred around 1:30 a.m. during what Kulture had advertised as a party featuring a hip-hop DJ and a twerking contest.

In the aftermath of the shooting, city officials learned the establishment had not been paying its business fees and taxes and was serving liquor without a license, among other things, all of which would have been red flags and possibly shut the business down before the shooting ever happened.

Now Mayor Steve Williams has announced he will seek a moratorium on any new bars opening in Huntington — something that probably could be challenged in court, should it come to that.

It’s a severe reminder city governments need to be vigilant concerning the operations of businesses under their purview.

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A recent story from Gazette-Mail reporter Ryan Quinn focusing on the details of West Virginia’s new laws regarding charter schools shows county school boards may not have as much authority as they thought — or at least will have to be hyper-aware to exercise that authority — as it pertains to charter operations.

There are multiple steps that must be taken by the county boards — including comment periods and public hearings — if a new charter school wants to open in a given county. County boards do not have the broad approve or deny powers they might have expected.

Any misstep is an invitation for a would-be charter school to sue, which could void the local board’s authority. On top of that, if all of the meticulous steps aren’t followed within 90 days, it’s possible the charter school could be granted operational status without any say from the county school board.

The charter school proposal was a massively controversial part of two omnibus education bills brought by the GOP-led West Virginia Senate — one of which died in the regular session, with the other gaining approval in special session.

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It’s encouraging that West Virginia Divisions of Corrections staff will undergo education on the Holocaust after 37 employees were fired after a photo emerged of a class of trainees giving a Nazi salute to their instructor, who encouraged the gesture and apparently regarded it as a form of flattery. Instructor Karrie Byrd, one of those fired, also apparently forced several in the photo to give the salute, after they said they were uncomfortable with the notion.

Just about everything that could be said about this situation has been said. It’s vile to adopt Nazi affectations, even in jest, and doing so exhibits a stunning lack of knowledge as to why such gestures are offensive to just about everyone. Education and employee discipline are the keys to making sure this doesn’t happen again.

Funerals for Monday, January 27, 2020

Davis, Valerie - 11 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Hamrick, Leonard - 1 p.m., Waters Funeral Chapel, Summersville.

Hughes Jr., Denver - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Keen, Cora - 2 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Lazear, Elizabeth - 7 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Masters, Delores - 1 p.m., Glen Ferris Apostolic Church, Glen Ferris.

Milroy, Miller - 11 a.m., Simons-Coleman Funeral Home, Richwood.

Petro, Edith - 11 a.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Phelps, Herbert - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Stanley, Gary - 1 p.m., Pryor Funeral Home, East Bank.

Stewart, Donna - 1 p.m., First United Methodist Church, South Charleston.

Walker, Iva - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Wilkinson, Catharine - Noon, Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor Chapel.

Williams, Joseph - 3 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.