Show Goes On: Film Office not a big loss for West Virginia

Former bureaucrats and their bitter lobbyist hangers-on appear to be trying to raise a fuss to distract from the fact their responsibilities have been absorbed quite handily by another government office. They picked the wrong target.

When the West Virginia Legislature made it clear it was going to cut the entire $341,000 budget for the state Film Office, its director quit, and returned to being a paralegal in Charleston. The role of a clearinghouse and adviser for film and video projects in the state was absorbed by the Division of Tourism, led by the wonderfully capable and innovative Chelsea Ruby.

Lobbyist Bill Hogan, unsettled by lawmakers’ understanding that his particular corner of the state’s bloated bureaucracy was absurdly easy to trim, is ruffled.

“It was the dumbest move that could have been made,” Hogan sputtered, to another newspaper. Among the complaints Hogan came up with was that without all that money being dedicated to a Film Office, there is no “communication through a single funnel. There’s no one who is experienced.”

One wonders whether he understood how ridiculous it sounded to complain, essentially, that the Mountain State is not doing things the way they have always been done.

Ruby is unconcerned. She knows she and her staff will have no problem with the new addition to their responsibilities.

“It’s not necessarily that we’re devoting specific people,” she told another newspaper. “What we’re doing is cross-training and taking other folks in our office and incorporating film into their day-to-day duties …”

“We continue to take the day-to-day calls of the office and administer the tax credit program,” she said.

“West Virginia is a great location for film, and we’re starting to make a name for ourselves as a state that welcomes film,” Ruby said. “We look forward to building on that reputation and welcoming new films to West Virginia.”

Imagine that. Lawmakers found a way to save the state at least $341,000; some bureaucrats and lobbyists are now searching for a new identity, and yet, the show goes on.

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