Bureaucrats are wasting lives

During the past year, West Virginians have had plenty of reasons to be upset with state government. We learned of foot-dragging in getting $150 million in help to victims of severe flooding. Then it came to light that for years, no one was minding the fiscal and ethical stores at the state Supreme Court. And there was the revelation that taxpayers shelled out nearly $1 million in rent for offices in Fairmont that were not being used.

At least no one died — to our knowledge — as a result of those examples of bureaucratic ineptness.

But people are dying — more than 1,000 last year — because of the drug abuse crisis in our state. Meanwhile, a state agency told by legislators to prepare a report on how to reduce drug and alcohol abuse has failed to do so.

Last year, lawmakers established the state Office of Drug Control Policy. The law creating it specified it was to prepare and submit a strategic plan by July 1. More than two months after the deadline, that document has not been furnished.

There has been activity at the office, however. As we reported last week, it has had two directors come and go in less than a year. It also has had two interim directors.

Under the 2017 law, the drug control policy office was set up under the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

State Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, is upset about the failure. “Quite simply, the Legislature charged DHHR with addressing the drug crisis in West Virginia, and it appears to be negligent in its responsibilities,” he told our reporter.

It is true that the DHHR has mounted a variety of initiatives aimed at curbing drug abuse and helping victims of it. But giving legislators the comprehensive report on how they should proceed — how they can save lives — was not a priority.

Had it been, the report required by law would have been submitted.

Wasting millions of dollars because the bureaucrats cannot be troubled to do their jobs is bad enough.

How many more lives must be wasted for the same reason?