Left In Alabama Follow leftinbama on Twitter

James Fields: "We Need To Do What Is Right & What's Humane"

by: countrycat

Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM CDT

For years, animal welfare advocates in Alabama have been urging the legislature to pass a bill that would protect the state's low-cost spay/neutuer clinics - and the doctors who work in them - from the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.  The third attempt to pass the bill last session failed when Senator Paul Bussman threatened a filibuster.  
 
We asked Fields about the issue during a recent interview. 
 
The joke is has been that the Alabama Senate is  "the place where good legislation goes to die" and that's happened multiple times with the bill to protect the low cost spay/neuter clinics in the state.  For animal welfare advocates - those people are committed and it's a voting issue for them.  They're very angry about what's been happening with the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.  What is your position?  Is this a cause you'd champion as Lt. Governor?

When I served in the Legislature in 08, 09, & 10, I was the legislator who stood up for the Humane Society in introducing the cockfighting bill.  I was threatened by people who were gaining financially from that, and I just simply stated that I believe we need to do what's right and what's humane - even if it's an animal they deserve dignity.  So if the legislation came up dealing with that, we'd make sure that the right people were in the right place to discuss those issues & hopefully we could come out with some good piece of legislation.  You can't treat it like its the abortion issue, and that's almost where it's gotten.  I would champion the issue to where everyone will be heard.

The bill has a very interesting bi-partisan group of supporters and opponents and the dynamic has been maddening and fascinating to watch.....

Again, when you go back to the cockfighting issue.  It wasn't that we were stopping people from havig show roosters or anything like that.  The people doing it know that it's against the law.  The fine was $50, now what sheriff's department is going to spend a lot of deputies & a whole lot of time for a $50 fine?  When we came back, all we wanted to do was increase the fine.  We had a public hearing and I defended the bill as best I could.  As a Freshman in the legislature, it seemed like I was defending a lot of bills.

If I was that willing to go into the shadows as a freshman legislator, I'll be willing to go into the shadows against well-experienced senators.
 
 
The full interview clip is on the flip.
 
 
There's More... :: (1 Comments, 5 words in story)

Jackson County Legislative Delegation Buys Old Nail Salon With TVA Money

by: countrycat

Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 09:31:03 AM CDT

This is a novel use for the legislative slush funds that TVA helps fund: real estate.  Shadrack McGill, the lame duck State Senator from SD-8 took time from fighting off hordes of Facebook stalker babes, & practicing medicine without a license to write a bill that gave him & his fellow Jackson County legislators more control over millions in TVA money. They then used their own non-profit organization & bought themselves a stylish new office complex: a former hair & nail salon - for $100,000.  They'll spend another $200,000 to renovate it.

The trio of lawmakers last summer bought the pink brick building, formerly a nail salon, with $100,000 that lawmakers awarded to themselves out of TVA-in-lieu of tax payments. The delegation members in Jackson County also provided themselves $2.3 million last year to hand out to private and public agencies without restriction.

Robinson said he did not know of another Alabama delegation that had bought property. Robinson said the plan had been kicked around for several years, long before McGill took office in 2010. The group first incorporated as a nonprofit in 2006. Robinson said McGill had recently renewed talk of buying an office to save $1,900 in monthly rent. 

The delegation is lucky they didn't buy it from McGill; he has a history of selling property he doesn't actually own.

Democratic candidate for SD-08, Horace Clemmons, protested McGill's bill and even filed suit to stop it & have more controls in place for the distribution of TVA money.

Lawmakers for Jackson County violated the state constitution by setting themselves up as the Jackson County Discretionary Board, a four-man group in charge of millions of TVA dollars in an unrestricted account, according to a legal challenge filed Wednesday.

Clemmons’s suit argues that members of the Alabama Legislature cannot set up a discretionary board to pass out money and name themselves as the members of that board. “The Legislature cannot…execute the laws it enacts,” reads the suit. 

These TVA payments have long been used as a legislative slush fund to help incumbents build good will with donations to volunteer fire departments, ball teams, parks, private schools, etc.  And each time they make one of those donations, there's usually a nice little ceremony & write up in the gorup's newsletters.  Let's call it what it is: free campaign ads with public money.

Stacks of public dollars. A mandate to give it all away. And personal preference as the guide.  

This is how Madison County lawmakers divide up their share of TVA dollars, more than $2.2 million over the last two years propping up the largest legislative slush fund in North Alabama.

There's no voting. There are no agreed-upon rules. At least none that anybody can easily point to.

Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, gave $10,000 to a pro-life group. "I guess it is a pro-life group," said Sanford, when asked about the gift to Choose Life of North Alabama. "Do you want me to send money to a pro-death group?" 

Sanford and Hall both gave thousands of public dollars to Huntsville private schools.

North Alabama legislators are having a lot of fun with the virtually unregulated use of millions and the only candidate for the legislature who's speaking about about this is SD-08 candidate Horace Clemmons.  The only way to insure integrity and instill confidence in state & local government is with transparency & public input.  The Alabama Legislature lacks both.

Let's send a legislator to Montgomery who will work to stop the gravy train instead of hitching a ride on it.

Horace Clemmons campaign Web site
Horace Clemmons campaign FB page

Watch this video of Clemmons discussing his campaign & the issues. 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Alabama Greedy Vets Club To Convene New Kangaroo Court - Targets New Board Member

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Well, this will surely make for some uncomfortable meetings. The Greedy Vets Club (aka Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners) is targeting another Alabama veterinarian who has worked in the low-cost spay/neuter clinics.  Only this vet happens to be one of the Board's newest members:  Dr. Margarent Ferrell of the Alabama Spay & Neuter Clinic in Birmingham.

Mark Montiel & Robert Pitman's work

Governor Bentley did a good thing on Friday: he appointed Dr. Ferrell to serve on the ASBVME Board.  And it gets better!  She's appointed to replace Dr. Robert Pitman, who's whole sorry career has been covered here at LIA.  It's surprising that we didn't hear his howl of outrage here at the cathouse on Friday.  His Athens kill "shelter" isn't that far away.... 

But the appointment doesn't take effect until October, so the ASBVME wasted no time in having their DJ Lawyer Mark Montiel draft one of the most suprious documents every to come out of Alabama state government - and that's saying a lot. 

The "facts" offered in the 33-page complaint are jaw-dropping.  Specifically: 

  • Patients have been kept at the facility overnight without any overnight monitoring by Dr. Ferrell or a licensed veterinarian.  Now, with 7 cats & 3 dogs, we have often had animals held overnight at the vet's office & I know for a fact that nobody was on the premises.  The ASBVME would have to shut down virtually every vet in the state to enforce this. 
  • Dr. Ferrell often operates on a patient without an "established relationship" or any contact at all with the human owner.  Again, when we had our pound puppy spayed this spring, we dropped her off at the vet's office (a new vet we decided to try) and never met the doctor until after the surgery was performed.
  • Dr. Ferrell has "rejected" the surgical training she received at Auburn University and instead sought training in a "new technique" that allows her to do high-volume surgeries.  Don't all Alabama vets study new surgical techniques when they are introduced?  Otherwise, we have some 70 year old vets still using 40+ year old treatment protocols.
  • Some of Dr. Ferrell's patients had complications from surgery.  Yeah.  That happens.  That happened 6 years ago when we took our cat to a specialist - an orthopedic vet - because her foot was broken when we found her and she needed special surgery.  After complications, we had to pay for a second surgery a few months later.  Should I send this vet's name to the ASBVME, I wonder?
The board's complaint alleges that animals known as "Oz" and "Buttercup" experienced complications from surgery.  Ok. That's two out of the thousands of animals that Dr. Ferrell has treated.  Now I want statistics from every veterinary clinic in the state: how many animals have had complications?  Without that information, the ASBVME has no way to deterimine if the two animals it cites are outside the norm.
 
Remember, this happens after the ASBVME kept another spay/neuter clinic vet, Dr. William Weber, on trial in their kangaroo courtfor months this spring.  They convicted him, fined him, and suspended his license for a year.  He still has time to appeal to Circuit Court.  National veterinary medical news services have reported on what a public relations debacle this whole mess is for the Alabama veterinary profession, but the Greedy Vets Club is hell-bent on protecting profits at the expense of the animals and their own professional image.
 
Alabama veterinarians!  How long will you allow this to be done in your name? 
 
Alabama citizens!  Are you tired of having a state board that's supposed to oversee health and safety instead be used as an "old boys network" that protects profits & raises costs for consumers?  Well.... here's who you can contact with your questions.  And hey, call the Governor too! 
Mark Montiel DJ Lawyer for Greedy Vets Club 
If you want to follow the daily ups and downs (mostly downs) of the ASBVME, check out the Eye on the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners FB page.
 
Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Alabama PSC: Coal Is "Part Of God's Plan" For Alabama

by: countrycat

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 16:27:37 PM CDT

Our industry bought & paid for Public Service Commission held a press conference today at the Alabama Coal Association office.  There, they made repeated religious references, invoking the beneficence of a diety who apparently isn't just in favor of pollution, but a promoter.  According to our PSC, dirty air, water, and a changing climate were part of the plan all along.

Let's call it the "Book of Beeker:"

At their news conference today Cavanaugh and PSC commissioner-elect Chip Beeker invoked the name of God in stating their opposition to the EPA proposal. Beeker, a Republican who is running unopposed for a PSC seat, said coal was created in Alabama by God, and the federal government should not enact policy that runs counter to God's plan.

"Who has the right to take what God's given a state?" he said.

Cavanaugh called on the people of the state to ask for God's intervention.

"I hope all the citizens of Alabama will be in prayer that the right thing will be done," she said. 

What a way to shut down political discussion.  If we don't agree with Chip & Twinkle (names that, we note, are also popular for hamsters & small yapping dogs), then we aren't just "mistaken."  No campers, we're committing an outright sin against God by not respecting His creation. 

Um... you know what else God gave us, Chip?  Hemp.  But we made that illegal.  Ask the Great Coal God how He feels about that. 

Coal in Alabama was created by God?  Somehow, I missed that interesting tidbit in my college Geology class.  What about coal in other states?  Did the Great Coal God create that as well?  Maybe another diety has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania and West Virgnia.  I'm sure Beeker can tell us once he and Twinkle adjourn their prayer circle.

Seems like Twinkle & Chip should be concerned that the Great Coal God might not take kindly to us digging up & BURNING what He "created in Alabama." I know I'd be pretty ticked if I spent a lot of time and effort creating something & a bunch of yahoos dug it up and burned it so they could have electricity to watch "Wife Swap" reruns instead of getting their butts to church.

Remember campers, nothing says "effective" like a government body that sends out a prayer call to resolve a major public policy discussion.  And nothing says "conflict of interest" like our state Public Service Commission taking the side of one energy producer against competitors and acting as the protector of Alabama Power profits.

 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

100 Days Out & Candidates Like Cindy Bell Are Putting General Election Plans In Place

by: countrycat

Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 16:16:08 PM CDT

SD-12 Democratic candidate Cindy Bell is running against incumbent GOP Senator Jabo Waggoner (a man who must opposed the low-cost spay/neuter clinics and the anti-cockfighting bill several years ago).  Although it will be difficult to knock off a sitting senator from that district, it's certainly not impossible.  Especially not if you have a plan!
Cindy Bell
 
 
The 100-day plan is divided up into four 25-day phases.  The first 25 days (phase 1) will consist of making calls to potential voters.  Our phone bank program is called "25K in 25 Days," and we will try to make 25,000 calls in 25 days.  We will have two "Days of Action" on August 9 and August 16.   

Throughout the four phases we will have "Organization Building" house parties, registration drives, and canvassing opportunities. 

Our primary priorities right now are (1) Making Calls and (2) Building the Volunteer Base.
 
Voters in the Birmingham area especially are encouraged to contact Cindy Bell's campaign and volunteer.  We'll break the GOP supermajority one seat at a time & we can't think of a better replacement for "ole Jabo" than Cindy Bell!
 
 
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Budget Priorities, Alabama Style

by: countrycat

Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:02:48 AM CDT

The list of things Alabama can't afford is long, but somehow the state DOT did manage to scrape together $136,000 to buy the rights to use the phrase "Sweet Home Alabama" on welcome signs at the state line and at state welcome centers.

The state is paying Universal Records, which owns the trademark for the phrase from the Lynyrd Skynyrd rock anthem, $75,000 for five-year rights. The phrase will be featured on new green and white signs at the state line. Smaller versions of the signs will be placed at welcome centers.

Currently, the signs say "Alabama the Beautiful."

The new signs will be erected during the next few months, State Transportation Director John Cooper announced last week and will cost $61,000. 

What a deal!  

If you recall, John Cooper is the retired Avocent executive with no experience in transportation matters who Bentley tapped to be Director of Transportation.  But there was a problem: the state couldn't pay what Cooper couldn't be lured out of retirement to work for a paltry state salary of $91k for a cabinet position, so the Governor paid him out of Department of Homeland Security money.  Cooper's making almost twice what the previous Director of Transportation made, and the Governor's office explained it this way:

Perry said the high salaries were necessary in order for the governor to recruit top people to work for the state instead of the private sector. He said the positions in Homeland Security offered higher compensation for the three who would work exclusively alongside Governor Bentley.

Just to be clear: Cooper was retired, living in a McMansion on Guntersville lake & playing golf.  He didn't have to be kept out of the "private sector," because he wasn't part of it any longer.  If this deal represents the quality of his work and his judgment, it's no surprise that the private sector didn't want him any longer.

Sweet Home Alabama... where it pays (big!) to be a friend of the Governor.

 

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Child Refugees At Maxwell Air Force Base? Possibility Brings Out The "Best" In Some

by: countrycat

Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 17:39:46 PM CDT

We can't recommend reading the comments on this WSFA story about the possibility that some Central American child refugees might be housed temporarily at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery.  After all, y'all might be trying to eat & it's surely stomach-turning.  

So let's just share some screen shots:

From the guy nostalgic for the days when we put American citizens in internment camps in the "dessert:"


Yeah... who among us doesn't like Asian food?

Then there's the woman who wonders why we can house refugees but not homeless veterans.  Um... ask Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, lady.


...and please put a lid on all that Christian crap about loving your neighbor and taking care of the poor! "That's a personal value, not a societal one, you bleeding heart "libtard!" says a sweet Catholic girl.  And... Benghazi!  because... Obama... and mercenary Jesus....


Holy Hamas, Batman!  These kids are members of Middle Eastern extremist/terrorist groups?  Exactly how did the drug wars in Central America get mixed up with Middle East politics?  It takes some really "amazing" analytical skills to come up with that one.


There's a conspiracy & you liberals are too dumb to see it.... I'm wondering...  What's the "right" way to "imagrate?"


Welcome to Alabama, kids.

For the record, if these refugees are housed in Alabama, we'll let you know & hopefully we can assemble a real welcoming committee to show them the "Southern hospitality" we're all proud of.  No tea will be served.

 

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Gov. Bentley Thinks The USA Needs To Be More Like Alabama

by: countrycat

Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 12:26:33 PM CDT

Alabama's Doctor Governor Bentley needs a doctor himself if his recent public statements are any indication.  There's this nugget from a speech yesterday: "The federal government needs to look at Alabama. I'll tell them how to run the government." 

Ok, so there are some good things that other parts of the country could emulate.  By & large, the people here are friendly and care about their neighbors.  We're willing to help in disasters - so much so that willing volunteers get turned away because there is too much help on hand.  Overall, people have pretty good traffic manners: I'd rather drive here than in many other places.  The cost of housing isn't outrageous & most commutes are quite short by big city standards.  We have a vibrant arts community and a lot of beautiful, unspoiled land.

But Governor Bentley didn't mean that.  He was talking about education and economic development, which leads us to wonder if he's either on medication or needs some.

Why would any other state - let alone the federal government! - want to copy Alabama?  This is hardly a record to aspire to: 

Alabama is one of the states that refused to expand Medicaid, even though 16% of the state's adults are uninsured. And Bentley is fine with that:

Echoing comments Tuesday by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange,the governor said he hopes the high court strikes down the subsidies and that the whole law implodes as a result.

"It's a way we, as states, can fight Obamacare, and that's what we did," he said. 

Doctor Governor Bentley may want to show the USA how to "live the Alabama way," but chances are, the US will say "no thanks." 

 

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Special Session? Gov. Bentley Wants Schoolchildren To Help Pay For Corporate Welfare."

by: countrycat

Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

I had to check this several times to make sure it wasn't satire, but no... Alabama's Doctor Governor is writing a prescription after the election: a special Legislative session to divert money from the state's Education Trust Fund to pay for corporate welfare.

Gov. Robert Bentley said Wednesday that he plans to call a special session of the Legislature after the November election to shift from the state's General Fund to education funding to pay for economic incentives to lure new businesses.

Speaking at a workforce development summit in Washington County, Bentley noted that the state is running short on money to lure manufacturers and other larger employers. That money traditionally has come from the General Fund, which pays for Medicaid, prisons and other non-education functions of government.

But Bentley said the additional tax benefits that new businesses bring to Alabama mostly flow to the Education Trust Fund.

"Who pays for the incentives? It's not education, but they benefit from it totally. ... You ought to eat what you kill," he said. 

"Eat what you kill?"  WTH?  Is he writing his own prescriptions for controlled substances now?  This isn't the first time Bentley has suggested this plan:

"If education is benefiting from it, we need to look and see if some of the incentive money should come from that way. ... Whoever benefits ought to pay." 

But... but.... isn't that the way it works NOW?  Who's supposed to benefit from new jobs?  The people who get those jobs & the communities where they spend their paychecks.  Hello, Governor?  Those people are already paying because the state for years has looted the General Fund to pay for "incentives."  That's money that is not available to pay for essential state services and only the separation of the General Fund from the Education Trust Fund has protected the school funding. 

He's been clear about his priorities for quite a while.  Witness the outlandish bidding war over Boeing at the end of last year:

Bentley isn't saying how big Alabama's offer was. But he said that after landing several big projects - including Boeing's competitor, Airbus, for a $600 million plant in Mobile - the state will need to create new financial incentives because its current ones are about used up.

To recruit Airbus in 2012, Alabama provided a variety of state and local tax breaks and $158 million for bond expenses, site and road improvements, building costs and worker training. That plant is supposed to create about 1,000 jobs. 

Let's look at why the General Fund is "running short of money" to make these welfare payments pay these "incentives."  Between state and local governments, our checkbooks are open and our eyes are closed:  

Can it be that Bentley got this idea from North Alabama?  After all, Decatur asked Limestone County Schools to help fund a huge retail development called "Sweetwater" in 2013.  Why?  This sounds familiar:

Limestone County Commissioner Gary Daly said the school system is likely to see an additional $1 million per year from the development and should "ante up." 

It wasn't enough that Sweetwater was going to be partially funded with $40 million in sales tax rebates.  No: they went after school money too. 

Instead of raiding school funding to get even more $$ to give away, why aren't we asking the obvious question:  do these giveaways/incentives actually pay for themselves and benefit the state?  Nobody in Alabama state government can answer that question, unfortunately.

Are the jobs worth the cost to taxpayers?  We'll never know because Alabama has no evaluation program in place to show what we get in exchange for $277 million in corporate gifts.  A recent Pew Research Center report indicates that most states, like Alabama, don't properly evaluate the effectiveness of tax incentives and other "job creation" giveaways.  Our public officials are blindly throwing money at corporations and thankful to get any crumb of economic development in return ... plus a photo-op at the groundbreaking ceremony.

This is important.  Every dollar spent on tax incentives, infrastructure or other giveaways to attract business and jobs is a dollar local and state governments can't spend on education, health care, transportation for the rest of us and critical government services.  As the recent Medicaid funding crisis illustrated, Alabama doesn't have any dollars to spare.  Incentive programs ought to be monitored to make sure taxpayers are getting a good deal, not just giving free money to corporations. 

Governor Bentley isn't suggesting that. He just wants to take, take, take from the schools & give, give, give to big business.

Read here what Lt. Governor candidate James Fields has to say about that strategy. 

UPDATE:  LOL... the Governor is now explaining that whatever people thought they heard him say, or whatever he said... he didn't mean it that way.  Or something.

 

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Media Alert: Ron Crumpton will be on WDNG 1450 AM to Discuss Politics and the Hijacking of Event

by: RonCrumpton2014

Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 13:53:34 PM CDT


Publication1Tomorrow (7/24/14), Ron will be a guest on WDNG 1450 AM’s “Model City AM” from 9:05 until 9:30 a.m.

In one-half the interview, Ron will be discussing the hijacking of his campaign event by Stephanie Engle, Chair of the Talladega Democratic Party. He intends to be at the event tomorrow evening and will be asking supporters to join him at the Ritz Theatre and demand that he participate in the event.

The other half will focus on the issues facing Alabama Senate District 11 and real world solutions for solving those problems.

I urge you to listen in and then join me in Talladega!

If you are not in the Anniston listening market, live streaming is available here!

Candidate Website 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Rebuilding The Alabama Democratic Party - Georgia Style

by: countrycat

Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 11:30:00 AM CDT

In 2010, the Georgia Democratic Party had a lot in common with the ADP - massive losses in local and legislative offices, a Republican legislative supermajority, and a depleted bank account.  It seemed the end to a death spiral that had started in 2002.  But now, just 4 years later, Georgia Democrats are back, re-energized, and could scoop up some high-profile offices.

Compare that to the state of the Alabama Democratic Party, where the ADP failed to recruit candidates for 44 of the 105 seats in the Alabama House.   Yes, we handed the GOP 42% of House seats without even a fight & now those candidates can spend money helping defeat Democrats in other districts.

The ADP hasn't updated its Web site since Feb. 7. Meanwhile, the Georgia Democratic Party is busily organizing its 2014 state convention where county party delegates (and other Georgia Democrats) will meet, party, and discuss the direction of the party.

How can things be so different in our neighboring states?  The American Prospect has an excellent article this month about the resurgence of the Georgia Democratic Party:

By 2010, when Barnes lost a comeback bid by ten points—and Republicans locked down General Assembly majorities so powerful they could gerrymander to their hearts’ content—it looked like Democrats would be relegated for the rest of the decade to registering nonvoters and watching the demographics continue to swing in their favor. 
[...]
While Georgia Democrats looked long-term, however, national Democrats had noticed the narrowness of President Obama’s defeats in the state—it was the second-closest state he lost in both 2008 and 2012, despite the absence of any Democratic campaign. Meanwhile in Atlanta, young volunteers, most of them African American, were keeping the troubled party’s operations afloat and devising new get-out-the-vote strategies. “Young Democrats did the work when the party was in trouble,” says T.J. Copeland, president of the Young Democrats of Atlanta. Old and (mostly) new groups—Better Georgia, ProGeorgia, Moral Monday, the NAACP, the New Georgia Project—were building the scaffolding for a statewide progressive network. 

Pay close attention to that last part in bold:  Young Democrats uniting with progressive organizations in the state, "building the scaffolding" for a statewide network.  Let's look at some of these organizations: 

  • Georgia NAACP - the grandparent of grassroots organizing and advocacy.  It networked with new progressive groups and worked with them, instead of seeing new groups as a threat to the NAACP's turf. 
  • Better Georgia:Better Georgia is the state's fastest growing progressive advocacy organization. We are here to make sure our elected officials listen to Georgia families and the people who work hard each day. The debate in Georgia has been between the right and the far right for too long. Better Georgia is working to change the debate and change our state. 
  • ProGeorgia: ProGeorgia is building infrastructure by supporting, connecting, and coordinating civic participation efforts of our non-profit member groups. And ProGeorgia is implementing ways to win policy and electoral battles for progressive social change.
  • Moral Monday Georgia: Moral Monday Georgia is a multiracial, multi-issue coalition of citizens working for positive change for the public good. Our coalition stands against all forms of discrimination and amplifies the voices and ideas of folks in marginalized circumstances. 
  • New Georgia Project: Georgia's population is growing and becoming increasingly diverse. Over the past decade, the population of Georgia increased 18%. The Rising American Electorate (RAE) - people of color, those 18 to 29 years of age, and unmarried women - is a significant part of that growth. The RAE makes up 62% of the voting age population in Georgia, but they are only 53% of registered voters.  The New Georgia Project is a nonpartisan effort to register and civically engage these Georgians.
These organizations are working with the Georgia Democratic Party now, but they formed & became active in the political process independent of the party, which was drifting aimlessly after losing power in the state.
 
Sound like a familiar story?  The difference between Alabama & Georgia is that the GDP has embraced this new reality, but Alabama Democratic leadership is fighting change tooth and nail. 
 
Compare the energy and engagement of Georgia Democratic activists to Alabama, where our state Democratic Party committee has repeatedly refused to even allow a vote on proposals to increase the diversity of party leadership.  

 

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 606 words in story)

Alabama AG Luther Strange's Tax Hike Plan Wins Temporary Federal Court Victory

by: countrycat

Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange took to Facebook yesterday and bragged about his role in a federal appeals' court decision in Halbig vs Burwell.  This is the case that attempts to end ACA tax credits for families in states that participate in the federal marketplace - a group that includes Alabama. When families lose those credits, their federal tax bills will rise. Mark your calendar, because this is surely an enormous reversal of the long-time GOP mantra of "no taxes, no where, no how."

Luther Strange Obamacare
As part of his self-stated job goal to "think up ways to sue President Obama," Strange signed the state of Alabama on to this complaint that makes a rather startling claim: people who live in states that refused to set up a state insurance marketplace aren't eligible for federal tax credits that make insurance affordable for most families.  However, consumers in states that did set up their own state-run exchanges will be eligible. 

If this ruling holds, it means that those of use in these unlucky, mostly GOP-led, will receive no benefits from a program supported by our tax dollars. It means insurance will become more unaffordable for many working families and could increase premiums as the pool of insured people shrinks.  Meanwhile, Alabama taxpayers will continue to subsidize generous health care benefits for Luther Strange.

In Alabama right now, this tax hike ruling affects about 85,000 people.  Wait until they hear what their AG has accomplished in their name.

Strange & company like to refer to the families who receive tax credits as "takers, "moochers," & other unflattering names - even though they're receiving far less help from the federal government than say, Chinese manufacturer Golden Dragon received from the State of Alabama this year.

Let's review some important points about the health insurance industry in this country and how most people actually get health insurance coverage.  

For the vast majority, insurance is an employer-provided benefit and - surprise! - a subsidy from the taxpayers.   Big Luther & his buddies want you to think that these tax credits & subsidies are something new, when in fact 160 million people received health insurance subsidies before Obamacare:  

Obamacare insurance subsidies are expected to cost $1 trillion over ten years.  An estimated 160 million people have employer-provided coverage, and tax subsidies for employer-provided coverage cost the federal treasury $200 billion in 2007.  

Multiply that $200 billion by 10 years and the federal treasury takes a $2 trillion hit - twice the cost of ACA premium subsidies. 

[...]

People without employer-paid coverage have been helping pay the freight for the other 160 million for a long time, and frankly, the whining coming from some in that group of beneficiaries is getting really, really tiresome.   

In Alabama, a heck of a lot more people get subsidized employer coverage than received tax credits for ACA coverage.  Will our Attorney General be coming after them next?  Probably not, because it's easier to protray the people purchasing their own coverage as "takers" and people who want a free ride.  

Except that we aren't. Yes campers!  The cathouse family receives a tax credit.  We qualify because we have a small business that turns a profit.  Not a huge one, but one large enough to support the family.  Prior to the ACA, health insurance payments were our largest monthly expense - approaching $1200/month for pretty crappy coverage.  Post-ACA, even if we hadn't qualified for a credit, we would have STILL paid hundreds less for better coverage.  And I bet you that most Mom & Pop businesses, independent contractors, & struggling entrepreneurs can tell the same story.

There are no "takers" or "freeloaders" getting these ACA tax credits.  You have to have income - and income that raises you above the Medicaid level.  You can be part of the working poor - people who struggle to stay above the poverty line and may work multiple low-wage jobs without benefits to do that.  Or you might be a middle class family that made the sacrifice to have one breadwinner & one spouse home with the children.  The key here is that all these people work and work hard.  What's amazing is that the Republican begrudge the little help these families get from the government at the same time they cheerlead for bigger corporate tax breaks & subsidies.

For years, small businesses & the self-employed  - and the uninsured! - have subsidized the people who receive employer-provided coverage.  The ACA finally leveled the playing field.  So what does our state's Attorney General do?  File suit in federal court to raise the tax burden on our family & others like us.

Joe Hubbard: this is your golden campaign moment.  Don't squander it.

 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

SD-11 What Happened To Ron Crumpton's Medicaid Expansion Townhall?

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 11:52:01 AM CDT

This Thursday, 7/24, SD-11 Candidate Ron Crumpton will be hosting a townhall style meeting in Talledega to discuss Medicaid Expansion and Healthcare in Alabama.  Or will he?  According to the candidate, his event was taken over by the Talledega County Democratic Party.  Crumpton was removed from the list of speakers, and the event is now being promoted by the Talledega County Democratic Committee & the Parker Griffith campaign. 


On Crumpton's campaign Web site, he relates his discussions with the county chair:

She wanted to broaden the event from the beginning. I had two problems with that.

As discussed earlier, I did not want it to become a collection of sound bites. The original topic was healthcare and Medicaid expansion

  1. She wanted to add some VA issues to the slate, while I support veterans as a state legislator I would have very little over the VA, which is a federal agency. Basically, I would not have a dog in that fight, so I felt it would be more important to discuss the issues that I would have a direct impact on.

I thought the issue was settled, until I saw the Stephanie’s press release billing it as “Medicaid Expansion, Veterans’ Health Issues, and the Economy.” This decision was made above my original objection to broadening the theme of the event. I was not consulted, and it was circulated to the press without my having ever seen it.

Furthermore, she knew that I had already circulated a press release and her press release had a name other than the name that had been discussed, and billed the event as an event sponsored by the Talladega County Democratic Party.

When I complained to Stephanie, she told me that it would not be changed and asked, “Would you like me to remove your name from the Daily Home notice?”

The ensuing debate has resulted in her removing me from the event, then adding me back, then removing me, then adding me back, and I am currently removed.

She used her status as a county party chair as her reasoning for having the authority to remove me from my own event.

County chairs do not have the right to take over a candidate’s event. 

[...]

The fact that I AM NOT BEING ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE in an event started as my campaign is inconceivable.

It is simple, the chair of the Talladega Democratic Party is damaging the campaign of a Democratic Nominee for State Senate because he stood up for his campaign.

Is this the purpose of the Talladega Democratic Party? 

Now, the Talledega Democratic Committee doesn't have a Web site or even a Facebook page, so maybe this is simply inexperience with dealing with media and communications.  But surely, it's a shabby way to treat a candidate and the original organizer of the event.  Democratic candidate for Governor Parker Griffith is promoting this event's Facebook page through social media, however.

It's sad to have to report on these kinds of shenanigans within the Democratic Party - but even worse to say nothing (in the interest of party "unity" - a reason that always seems to benefit those in power at the expense of those questioning it) and let candidates get pushed around by their county parties.  Surely, some of the other invited candidates will speak up and speak out. 

 

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Celebrating Our 11,000 Post Today!

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM CDT

Wow, this milestone sneaked up on us, but it's amazing: Since April, 2007 LIA contributors have written 11,002 posts on topics ranging from state politics to national issues to the history and culture of Alabama.

It's an amazing amount - especially when you consider that the blog is an all-volunteer effort and we just held our first-ever fundraiser this spring.  That means all those trips to cover events, interview candidates, and do research have mostly been paid for out-of-pocket by the person who wrote the post.  Ditto with the video cameras & editing software.  As well as the substantial cost of attending and covering two political conventions.  Not complaining at all - just marveling at how much LIA contributors have accomplished. 

These 11,000 articles have generated over 77,000 comments.  Some good, some bad, and some out-and-out pie fights.

During the past year, 90% of the comment activity has taken place on the LIA Facebook page instead of here on the blog.  That makes sense because it's a lot easier to comment on FB: you're already logged in and just start typing instead of going to the process to create an account.

So here's the question, readers:

We're considering migrating the blog away from the SoapBlox platform (it's being maintained now, but not updated or upgraded, and it's expensive). We'd use WordPress as our new platform and that would require a change to the commenting system.  There are various options for comments, including displaying Facebook comments on the blog.

Comments, suggestions, concerns about a move to Facebook commenys?  Please share!

Ideally, we could implement a dual system where you could use your FB account to comment but also have a way to display comments from people who don't use FaceBook. 

When we transition, all of the article content will be preserved, but it looks like we'll lose all the comments - all 77,000...  

Your thoughts? 

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Alabama Republican Supermajority Isn't Competent To Manage The State's Budget

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Think back to those thrilling days of yesteryear (2012) .... when the Alabama GOP supermajority balanced the state budget - at gun point. The Legislature passed a budget that spent money they didn't have - and might not get unless voters fell for their publicity campaign - "we'll throw Grandma out of the nursing home & empty the prisons if you don't vote YES on September 18."

donkey kicking elephant

Realizing perhaps that they were dealing with the truly politically unhinged, the minority of state voters who bothered to participate in the $3.4 million special election blinked. We "borrowed" $146 million with a "promise" (but no guarantees) to begin repaying the money in 2015 - conveniently past the 2014 mid-term elections.

Not surprisingly, the four years of GOP Supermajority rule has been disastrous for the state - and it's going to get worse if we keep them in absolute control of state government. 

State Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh is ruling out tax increases to cover expected budget shortfalls in 2015.  Instead, he says, the state could cut its workforce by 9%. But how much more can the state cut?  At this point, we're not worried about hitting bone - we face cutting off entire limbs.  Criminal justice in the state is already at risk because of cuts to state crime labs.

The state workforce has been reduced 11 percent since 2011, and Mac McArthur, the director of the Alabama State Employees Association, said the result has been increased workloads for state employees. McArthur said additional cuts could affect the delivery of services and leave state departments out of compliance with certain federal guidelines.

"I don't know how you sustain 9 percent cuts, or any significant cuts, period," he said. 

There will be a huge temptation for Legislators to kick the can down the road one more time & put off paying back they money they extorted from the Alabama Trust Fund.

The General Fund gets most of its funding from non-growth revenue sources, and has been in a perpetual state of crisis for the past seven years, due to flat growth and mounting costs in the state's Medicaid and Corrections programs. Lawmakers building the budget next year will have to deal with the loss of $145 million borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund, and the potential loss of $50 million in one-time money used in the budget this year that may or may not be available for the FY 2016 budget, which begins on Oct. 1, 2015.

Don't be surprised if they come up with a scheme to borrow even more.  They used a gimmick to balance the previous budgets and made sure the bill didn't come due until after the 2014 elections.

Will we put these clowns back in power in November?  I hope not.

 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
Next >>
PREMIUM AD

blog advertising is good for you

Quick Hits
Why has ADP not approved replacement candidate for SD22? (mpmarus)
Stephen Carr is Democratic Challenger for HD104 Seat (mpmarus)
ADM answers allegations (mpmarus)
Sharing Notes on Parliamentary Procedure? (mpmarus)
"There is no side." (mpmarus)
Jan Brewer pleads for Medicaid Expansion (mpmarus)
202 AL Schools on GOP "Failing" list (julie)
North Dakota Senate Passes Personhood Bill (julie)
Email Directs Teachers To Delete Bad Grades at Tennessee Virtual Academy (julie)
Wisconsin 2013: Tranvaginal Ultrasounds + Guns (julie)
(view all recent)

NEW DIARIES

LATEST COMMENTS

SEARCH




Advanced Search



A community blog for progressive politics, ideas and current events in Alabama. Register now to join the conversation.


Friend and Follow Left In Alabama:

Join LIA's Facebook Page Go To LIA's Twitter Page Go To LIA's Flickr Photo Album Go To LIA's YouTube channel

MENU
- Mobile

Make a New Account

Username:

Password:



Forget your username or password?


LiA Contributors
- Admin
- Admin
- Economics & Aeronautics
- National Political Issues
- Political Strategy & Messaging
- Health Care
- Education in the Black Belt
- ADP Watch
- Climate & Alternative Energy
- Labor
- Alabama Legal Issues
- From the Center
- Equal Rights & GLBT Issues
- Roving Reporter

Please take our Blog Reader Project survey.

Support Left in Alabama with a Donation!

Your Amazon purchases can help fund this blog:
Support Left in Alabama
Buy Phones & More at Amazon Wireless


STANDARD ADS

T.H.E. Social Work Agency
Adoption home studies & care management services in the North Alabama area.
Licensed, certified, caring social workers.

Democracy Interactive
blog advertising is good for you


Arise Daily News
ALABAMA BLOGS
Bessemer Opinions
Decaturish
Birmingham Blues
Birmingham Science Examiner
freeThinkBham
Greg Varner's Blog
The Haze Filter
Hard Boiled Dreams of the World
King Cockfight
Legal Schnauzer
Loretta Nall
OsborneInk
Peace Takes Courage
Pippa Abston's Blog
TJ Beitel
Thoughts & Rants of an Independent
Time is Spherical, Not Linear
WriteChic Press

ALABAMA RESOURCES
ACLU of Alabama
Alabama Arise
Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform
Alabama Conservationist
Alabama Democratic Conference
Alabama Democratic Party
Alabama Legislature
Alabama Poverty Project
Alabama Secretary of State's Office
Encyclopedia of Alabama
Equality Alabama
Greater Birmingham Ministries
League of Women Voters of Alabama
Madison County Democrats
Marshall County Democrats
Over the Mountain Democrats
Alabama Political Reporter

SOUTHERN BLOGS
Blog for Democracy
Blue Oklahoma
Burnt Orange Report
Daily Kingfish
Facing South
KnoxViews
The Old Black Church
plezWorld
West Virginia Blue
Juanita Jean - Texas

BLOGROLL
African American Political Pundit
AmericaBlog
An Examination of Free Will
Bartcop
Blog for Rural America
Balloon Juice
Blue Gal
Booman Tribune
Borowitz Report
Science Blogs
Corrente
Crooks and Liars
Daily Kos
Docudharma
Eschaton
Firedoglake
First Draft
FiveThirtyEight
Hullabaloo
Jack and Jill
Juan Cole
La Vida Locavore
The Left Coaster
MyDD
My Left Wing
NASA Watch
Notion's Capital
Oliver Willis
Paul Krugman
Political Cortex
Scoobie Davis
Senate Guru
Spocko's Brain
Elections@DailyKOS
Suburban Guerilla
Talk To Action
Talking Points Memo
The Field Negro
The Oil Drum
Think Progress
US Politics News

RESOURCES
Racetracker
Anzalone Liszt Research
Center for American Progress
FEC Electronic Report Retrieval
Follow the Money
In Their Boots
New Organizing Institute
Opensecrets
Pew Research Center
Pollster
Progressive States Network
Stateline
The Contributor

Subscribe

 Subscribe in a reader

Subscribe in NewsGator Online

Subscribe in Bloglines

Add to My AOL

Add Left In Alabama - Front Page to Newsburst from CNET News.com

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Powered by FeedBurner

Add to Technorati Favorites


Powered by: SoapBlox