It’s time for Judges King and Ferguson to retire for real!

By The West Virginia Record | Apr 5, 2013

When you’re a kid and your parents say it’s time to go to bed, they mean it’s time to go to sleep. Going to your room and playing on the computer or IM-ing friends ’til 3 a.m. is not what they have in mind.

If they hear noises coming from your room and yell out, “We told you to go to bed,” the proper response is not, “I am in bed,” because you know what they meant by “go to bed.”

Most parents are accustomed to kids quibbling and do their best to discourage childish equivocation in the hope that they’ll soon grow out of it and learn to play by the rules.

Feigned ignorance or twisted reasoning are harder to tolerate in adults. If we know the kids know better and we hold them to some minimal standard of honesty, why should we let adults get away with the self-serving misrepresentations?

When Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charles King and Cabell County Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson announced in 2008 that they were retiring, nobody thought that it was just for the night. The taxpayers of West Virginia didn’t think they were going to bed. They thought the two men were ending their careers, and those taxpayers were willing to have the retired judges receive the benefits provided for public employees in retirement.

But King and Ferguson retired in October 2008 and were reelected shortly afterwards to the very positions from which they’d just “retired.” Receiving a retirement check and an active service check at the same time ain’t all bad, the reasoning apparently went.

Did the system get gamed? Did both men simulate their retirement for the express purpose of double dipping?

As Bugs Bunny would say, “It’s a possibility!”

A state law passed in 2009 -- making it more difficult for public employees to pull this stunt -- cannot be applied post facto to these two wiseguy, jive judges.

If they ever suffer an attack of integrity or even shame, they should retire for real – or renounce their benefits in the meantime.

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