Gerrymandering…or Mole Crickets?

It seems as if there’s always a great deal that I want to learn about and share.  But sometimes different topics wrestle for my attention.  Mole Crickets pulled me one way.  But, secondly, in November, political reforms vied for my time too.

Whoever heard of Mole Crickets?  Who could pass up trying to find out more about a natural phenomenon, especially after seeing a cute mole-like face on an insect?

A story about Mole Crickets came my way on Mole Day, October 23—a day which has nothing to do with little mammals and is an entirely different digression.  The stories about reforming American politics are constant.

Obviously, exploring crickets is appearing in first position in this column, even when conscience whispered that good governance is primary.   After all, without governmental safeguards, crickets and all their kin could be in jeopardy.

But anyway, here is what anyone of us new to one species could find out.

These crickets are hard to catch, and they live in burrows on the edges of ponds and streams.  Mole Crickets have the lowest song of our native crickets and each vocalization is actually 8 pulsed trills. [Song, and more, by West Virginian Wil Hershberger at ]

Tunneling is what they do well.  Their body looks like a collection of spare parts, but is impeccably devised for burrow living.  The wings are shortened, the form is bullet-shaped and they have short, sturdy front legs well suited for digging.

Digging is what citizens are going to have to do to be active in ensuring that our government protects our environment.  We regard the court system as one arena in which our causes have sometimes triumphed.  Recently North Carolina is turning to politicized judicial races and we can remember our state’s experiences concerning disclosure about campaign finances.

Here is what WV Citizens for Clean Elections has to say on the matter:

“In the past, West Virginia has been a leader in supporting a fair-minded judiciary. After a particularly egregious instance of secret money influencing the court, our state legislature enacted a landmark judicial public financing system to ensure our judges rule on the constitution and law, not based on special interest influence. They also passed a groundbreaking bill limiting contributions to independent groups and requiring the groups to disclose the identity of their controlling entities and donors. However, in recent years, new US Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United and the growth in new types of dark money spending mean that these disclosure laws are not keeping up with the times. Our campaign finance disclosure laws must be revised.”

More than one million dollars was spent in undisclosed funds with the West Virginia elections of 2107.

Efforts toward full disclosure are predicted to get little traction in 2018, as it is a state election year.  But that does not mean we shouldn’t keep bringing it to the attention of our lawmakers.

Gerrymandering, in addition to the matter of disclosure, is another area for concern.

We await a US Supreme Court decision regarding the partisan boundary making for voting areas…in this case, in Wisconsin.  Newsweek magazine noted recently that district re-drawing by dominant political parties has come to mean that the House of Representatives is “effectively selected by state legislatures every ten years, rather than elected by the people every two years.”

Lots to learn. Makes a person want to go hide in a cricket burrow sometimes.  But we’ll continue to try to learn and share.


We keep reminding you that we need volunteers.  One person who heeded the call is our relatively new board member, George Hack.  George read that we welcome folks to board meetings, so he came.  And he came again.  And then he offered his services as a board member.  He listens intently and asks good questions.  We appreciate his time with us.

Have you met our other new members on the board?  Randy Kesling comes to us with background from Trout Unlimited.  And Randy Rumer brings knowledge of karst areas and more through his affiliation with the West Virginia Cave Conservancy.  There’s two more helpful new contributors.

Finally, I will miss Dianne Bady.  The founder of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition died last month, succumbing to cancer.  Dianne was sweet, compassionate, and fierce.  She persevered.  Dianne made the world, especially our mountainous corner of it, a better place.