The Bloodhorse report on the West Virginia Commission meeting on April 13 of this year, raises a few questions with me. Deputy Attorney General Kelli Talbot, legal counsel to the WV Commission, stated that the WV “Penalty Scale” was “pretty weak” and should be changed to reflect the “Model Rules”. Question (1) How does one access that document? I was unable to search for it with any success. Question (2) If this, so called, Penalty Schedule is weak, then your overall state of regulation is weak. Suspensions and fines are the only means of keeping order available to administrative agencies. WV and every other racing commission is limited to those very same methods. Question (3) How can an agency defend its’ self for allowing its’ only means of control to lapse into a state of weakness? (Question (4) Who is responsible for keeping tabs on this sort of thing? The stewards, perhaps, or commission counsel? Have the stewards formally asked the commission to remove the restraints?
Chief Steward Danny Wright addressing the commission, “Anything you can do to allow the stewards to send a message is good,” said state steward Danny Wright, who is based at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. “We need to send the right message to people that want to do wrong. Right now that message isn’t there.” He speaks as though the Board Of Stewards is being restrained from taking more aggressive action than they have. Could it be the mysterious Penalty Schedule? I don’t buy any of this! Here is why.
10.8. The stewards may suspend anyone for violations of “this rule” whom they have authority to supervise for an indefinite period or they may fine that person in an amount not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both. The stewards shall report all suspensions and fines to the Racing Commission. The stewards’ jurisdiction to act in any matter occurring during the race meeting extends after the conclusion of the meeting.
The commission would probably argue that indefinite periods of suspension apply only to violators of “this rule”. That makes no sense at all. This rule is so vague it is probably unenforceable in a court of law. The only restraint placed upon the stewards in the WV Rule Book is found in 378 (10.8) referencing a one thousand dollar fine. Failing to find the Penalty Schedule and some authority behind it, my position is that the stewards were only restrained by their liberal attitudes toward those who break the rules. This Board Of Stewards is constantly offering self serving excuses for doing too little or nothing at all. Thus, they are part of the problem and certainly not part of the desperately needed solution. They were approved to work as stewards by the WV commission and in spite of their poor performances, it appears that this commission finds their work worthy of approval.