Guess who thronged the sidewalks to protest on the first Saturday that the Alabama Women's Center was open at its new location? Not the neighbors. Not the local business owners. Imagine a surreal, twisted remake of "Grumpy Old Men" & you'll get it. It was just the regular, "weaned on a pickle" faces of anti-choice Huntsville. Doesn't this guy look happy to be there?
This was a "big shock" to clinic supporters (snark), because the opponents were vocal and confident when they told the Huntsville Zoning Board that the "neighborhood" didn't want the clinic in the new location. They offered two reasons.
Local politico Chris Horn cited neighborhood concerns at the meeting. He spoke on behalf of "hundreds" who hadn't bothered to show up at the meeting. Later, a priest who lives 100 miles away played the race card. Watch a video clip of the hearing.
And yet, the first Saturday after the clinic opened, here's the crew who showed up:
Do they look remotely like the same group that was protesting in October 2013 & who appear on a weekly basis?
Crikey! Some of them are even wearing the same clothes. Kind of like their "oppress women" uniforms.
Towards the end of the protest, their leader, James Henderson, snatched one of FIVE bullhorns used by the group & made a speech. Yes campers, 14 people came armed with FIVE bullhorns. Isn't that special?
While we have video of Henderson's ranting, I'm not posting it. He can get his 50 seconds of fame somewhere else. But he reported that he had been at Saturday's meeting of the Madison County Republican Men's Club & confidently promised his motley group of acolytes that "Governor Bentley's office" would intervene in the clinic zoning dispute.
"Delusional" barely describes the man. No matter how little authority local governments have under the Alabama Constitution, they can regulate zoning. That's not the purview of the Governor's office.
With the controversy swirling around Federal Judge Mark Fuller's domestic violence arrest in Atlanta, Congresswoman Sewell's message has special resonance. We're reprinting her statement in its entirety. Because of space concerns, I'm not blockquoting it, but it is Sewell's statement, not my writing.
In September, we got insight into the depravity of domestic violence as we watched the video of Ray Rice knocking his fiancé unconscious and dragging her motionless body out of that elevator. We cringed at the police report detailing the phone call made by U.S. District Judge Fuller’s wife in which she cried, “He’s beating on me. Please help me.” The police arrived at the hotel room moments later to find her in tears with visible lacerations on her face.
Unfortunately, incidents like these occur in our communities each and every day, and sadly there is rarely video footage or police reports that detail the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that victims of domestic violence and their children endure. We should be no less appalled and disgusted about these incidents that never make the evening news.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it’s important that we realize that the faces of domestic violence victims are all around us—it may be a friend, a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker, or the clerk at your local grocery store. These victims may cover their bruises with long sleeves or their emotional scars with forced smiles because they’re embarrassed or afraid to come forward. They may have no hope for breaking the cycle and escaping their abuser. The responsibility of raising awareness about domestic violence falls on our shoulders. It is only with our encouragement that victims will have the strength to come out of the shadows and seek help. As a community we must be ready and willing to help. The crisis of domestic violence knows no race, social boundaries, class distinction or age. It affects individuals in every community and its stain on victims and their children is so deep that its consequences cross generations.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States each minute. This equates to more than 10 million men and women annually. Combined, these victims lose a total of 8 million days of paid work annually and the violence inflicted on them costs $8.3 billion per year. For three of the past five years, Alabama has ranked among the five states for most women killed by their male partners. Nationally, four women are murdered each day by their abusers. We have failed these victims and their families. We can and must do more. We must come together to address the societal factors that tolerate and perpetuate the continuation of domestic violence and eradicate the system that allows perpetrators to hide behind the silence they depend upon.
On September 10, I joined my constituents in calling for the resignation of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller in light of his recent arrest for battery following a domestic dispute with his wife in an Atlanta hotel room. My call was shortly followed by a chorus of calls from the entire Alabama Congressional delegation, including our two Senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions.
In a recent interview, Judge Fuller and his attorney dismissed our calls as responses to “public pressure and public passions that a federal judge doesn’t have to respond to.” If Judge Fuller believes that public passions fueled by the domestic violence epidemic aren’t worthy of his response, then he never belonged on the federal bench. Domestic violence is a severe crime, worthy of the attention of every public official. In the same interview, his attorney went on to make the following claim: “It got caught up in the Ray Rice and NFL scandals, and it's gotten lumped into a category of domestic violence that I don't think it belongs in." Judge Fuller and his attorney are gravely mistaken. Any act of domestic violence is reprehensible and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Judge Fuller’s high-profile position does not shield his victim from the emotional and physical violence he inflicts upon her and any legal immunity he is granted is a violation of justice. There is no treatment or counseling program that can resurrect what Judge Fuller has compromised as one who sits in the judgment of others.
Congress is the only body that can remove Judge Fuller from the bench should he not resign. My statement released on September 16 expounded upon my initial call for his resignation. In that statement, I affirmed that I would not hesitate to initiate impeachment proceedings if warranted. Today, I maintain that position. I cannot battle violence against women while turning a blind eye to Judge Fuller. Should he not resign prior to Congress’ return to Washington on November 12, I will institute impeachment proceedings. This process will be long, and it will be daunting. Even more daunting, however, is the crisis of domestic violence. Even more embarrassing is our society’s silence about this preventable epidemic. To all the men and women who are victims of domestic violence, I send a message of love, encouragement, and hope. Together we can make a difference and break the silence.
Terrific statement, Rep. Sewell!
But one comment: we don't want him to resign. When a federal judge resigns, he/she retires with a pension & benefits. Why should we pay for Fuller's health care & golf club membership? Impeach him & strip him of his perks!
The common thread here? Each jail had contracted with a large, private health care company to provide health care in the jails. In every case, jail & county officials presented the contract as being a "cost saving" solution for taxpayers. Well, somebody paid - and it was often people arrested, but who hadn't been to trial yet.
Advanced Correctional Healthcare is a physician-owned, for-profit company that provides health care "solutions" to county jail. Yet these doctors seem to have forgotten their Hippocratic Oaths & have instead sworn themselves loyal to profits over health care.
The Alabama story is particularly horrific:
Instead of receiving treatment, the suit states, Woods was placed in a "medical observation cell" on Aug. 6, 2013. He had no access to water after Aug. 12. There is no record of him eating after Aug. 14. No nurses visited him after Aug. 14.
The suit contends that as his rotting foot began to stink, guards dragged him from the cell on Aug. 17, sprayed him down with water and placed him in a new cell.
Actually, there are a trio of other suits (two involving inmate deaths) against the Madison County jail, and hopefully voters will take notice that Sheriff Blake Dorning is running for re-election.
Woods' lawsuit asserts that Dorning, jail administrator Steve Morrison, Dr. Arthur Williams, the director of medical care at the jail, and Dr. Norman Johnson, who is the CEO of Advanced Correctional Healthcare, are "part of an explicit or implicit agreement or plan to delay or deny necessary medical care to avoid having to pay for medical care."
The Woods suit refers to two other similar deaths in the county lockup last year.
Except that many county jail inmates aren't "official" criminals. They have been arrested and are awaiting trial. Often, they're too poor to post bail. They aren't convicted criminals yet, but they are people who deserve basic medical care while in custody.
Oftern, when government gets the bright idea to outsource public services, the public suffers.
County jail prisoners denied life-saving medical care - and even basic medications.
Not all privatization is bad, but when it's done quickly, with no public input, and via crony capitalism, it is always bad - for everyone except those who use it to line their pockets at the expense of the public good.
Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning has a Democratic opponent: Tim Clardy.
As we wrote earlier this month, most of this election's statewide constitutional amendments are nothing but a giant GOP unicorn hunt. But now, the ACLU of Alabama is warning that Amendment One is even worse than we realized.
The proposed “Amendment 1” to Alabama’s state constitution is worded so broadly that, should it pass, Alabama won’t give credit for any act, record or judicial proceeding of another state or foreign law that our state’s public policy doesn’t agree with.
So what does this mean?
Some business contracts, marriages and adoptions may as well not even exist in Alabama.
If you get married in another country, the State of Alabama won’t recognize its legality. That’s correct: It’s as if your marriage never even happened.
Adopting a child from another country? Again, Alabama won’t acknowledge its legitimacy either.
Even your religious liberty, regardless of your chosen faith, could be in jeopardy.
This is clearly an overreach of the state’s power into your personal lives and violates your fundamental equalities. In fact, Oklahoma voted on a similar law in 2010, which was ruled to be unconstitutional by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012.
In an attempt to pass Constitutional muster, Dial (or his ALEC legislative overlords) wrote the bill so broadly that it could affect the very core of personal liberties and beliefs: marriage, children, and divorce.
For instance, in traditional Jewish weddings, the couple has a ketubah - a marriage contract that spells out the terms of the marriage, the obligations of each spouse, and may set conditions for divorce. In Israel, it's a legally binding document, and in Jewish religious courts it is as well.
That last sentence is important, because American courts have been reluctant to treat a ketubah as legal contract. However, if the couple married in Israel, they may be obligated to recognize it (PDF - page 21):
When might a ketubah be enforceable in the United States? When it is executed in a country (such as Israel) where it is recognized as legally enforceable. This is because American conflict of law rules might determine that the rules governing the validity of the ketubah are found in the location of the wedding, where the ketubah was a legally enforceable document.81
The footnote indicates that British courts have ruled this way:
These same conflict of law principles could well enforce an Israeli Ketubah in America. It has been followed in many American cases where the parties were married in another jurisdiction; see Miller v. Miller 128 NYS 787 (Sup. Ct., 1911) and Shilman v. Shilman 174 NYS 385 (Sup. Ct., 1918).
If Alabama law conflicts with federal law... well, we all know what happens and how much it costs the state both in terms of money and reputation.
Did Dial think of this when he introduced his legislation? Did anyone in the legislature who voted for the amendment consider that? Did they consider the affect it might have on foreign adoptions or any other "unintended consequences?"
Probably not. The GOP supermajority's legislative motto is "Vote first, defend in court later."
Reports of a twelve-year-old felony charge has HD-27 GOP candidate Will "Fight Obama" Ainsworth roaring in outrage. He's trying to protray himself as a victim of Democratic opponent Jeff McLaughlin's dirty tricks. Unfortunately for Ainsworth, that isn't the case.
Here are the facts of the great "Tiger Heist:"
In 2001-2002, the Auburn Chamber of Commerce sponsored the Tiger Prowl Art Walk display. Artists decorated fiberglass tigers that were displayed around town. Each tiger was valued at $3,000 each.
Unfortunately, tigers began disappearing. The Chamber shut down the project and removed the tigers before they all got stolen. (See the news story.)
Eventually police traced the thieves - a group of college kids that included Will Ainsworth.
One tiger was decapitated. The defendants hid the tigers for two months.
They were charged with first-degree theft of property & had the vandalized tigers in their possession.
After they agreed to pay restitution and do community service, the DA dropped the felony charges.
This story was broken by a local activist, Sharon McLendon Price, who took the story to WAFF and posted about it on her personal Facebook page.
Ainsworth however, is now running commercials whining that his opponent leaked the story in a desperate smear attempt. Now, let's remember that Ainsworth is the same guy who's yard signs promise he will "fight Obama," so obviously he has trouble remembering just who's a candidate in the HD-27 race - and who is not.
Will! Don't make us remind you again!
You are not running against President Obama. He doesn't live in District 27.
You are not running against Ms. Price. She's not your Democratic opponent.
You are running against Jeff McLaughlin - an honorable guy who doesn't stoop to "dirty tricks."
And by continuing to whine about it, all you do is draw attention to your "boys will be boys" defense. It's one that really doesn't stand up to scrutiny, so watch the half-truths. That sort of behavior doesn't become a candidate who makes his "Christian faith" a centerpiece of his campaign.
Ainsworth is claiming to have "changed his stripes," and learned from the incident. And ordinarily, nobody would get really torn up about a college prank (although they took it to another level when they cut the head off one tiger). Kids do stupid things - but adults admit their mistakes and take responsibility.
Ainsworth has claimed that he felt guilty and turned himself in - yet his remorse didn't kick in until after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Ainsworth has claimed that he voluntarily made restitution - well, it was that or face a felony theft charge. Perhaps "voluntarily" means something different to Ainsworth.
You could ask him about it - except that doing so will get you blocked from his Facebook page: questions and critical comments are scrubbed. He'll fit in great with the GOP supermajority.
Kay Ivey... to know her is to vote for James Fields. At least that's what a new poll from the Fields' campaign shows. Ivey's favorability rating is just 27% - and likely 0% among PACT families. Even better, Fields leads a head-to-head matchup with Ivey, 38% to 33%.
When respondents heard a little about each candidate, Fields' lead increased: 45% to 31%.
But you know what he needs - and what all Alabama Democratic candidates need? Your time, your help, and your money. Thirty-second drive time radio spots can be had for less than $20/spot in many markets. HELP JAMES FIELDS BUY AT LEAST ONE SPOT.
In doing so, you're not just helping Fields. Unlike many candidates we've had previously, he realizes that Democrats need to run as a team. He's helped other candidates raise money, appeared jointly with them, and always includes a plug for local legislative candidates in his stump speeches.
Fields isn't just running for himself: he's running for Alabama Democrats to help us break the stranglehold of the supermajority.
HELP HIM and all our candidates. We're less than 3 weeks out and we can win a lot of these races. But only with your help.
Full Disclosure: A family member is a paid staffer for the Fields campaign - but I still had to read about this darn poll somewhere else! We have no special access, obviously.....
Another Alabama grassroots group is using new media outlets to talk about issues & highlight Democratic candidates. The Center for Progress in Alabama invites everyone to tune in on Sunday afternoon as they interview Rep. Craig Ford.
Join us this Sunday at 4 pm as we talk about the turning tide in our great state. The Republicans took over Montgomery just a few short years ago for the first time in over a century. They ran for office on the platform that " Government doesn't work," and with them in charge it does not.
Our special guest will be Representative Craig Ford (HD-28). Rep. Ford was elected House Minority Leader by his colleagues in 2010. He serves on the Rules Committee, Ways and Means Education Committee, and the Commerce and Small Business Committee.
We will also have progressive news you can use, and the most important thing- You.
This is another example (along with the Brite Blue Dot YouTube ads) of the health and enthusiasm of Alabama progressives. With the state leadership MIA, it's great to see the grassroots jumping in and using creative ways to engage & educate people on the issues.
North Alabama women once again have a convenient location for health screenings, tests, and abortions. The Alabama Women's Center has reopened in its new location. The previous building didn't comply with the state's new TRAP laws, and the clinic's owner fought a long battle with protesters and state & local government agencies to relocate.
This was not an easy process. Opponents fought the clinic at every turn with outrageous arguments and even accusations of racism:
While the clinic has been closed, North Alabama women have had to pay the TRAP tax and travel to Tuscaloosa or go out of state. Not surprisingly, that presented a time and financial challenge for many, but hundreds of donors and volunteers (heroes & heroines, all) stepped up to help pay expenses and ferry patients to more distant locations.
Congratulations to the clinic owners, employees, and dedicated volunteers from the Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates (ARRA). It would have been so easy to give up and walk away, but y'all stood strong in the face of verbal harrassment, legal threats, and delays.
The good guys (and gals) won one for themselves and for the women of North Alabama.
Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor James Fields took the battle to the Republicans in a spirited speech at a private fundraiser in Huntsville last week. He mixed personal, sentimental stories with hard edged criticism of elected Alabama Republicans - both their policies & methods.
Here are some excerpts from his speech. Watch the video on the flip.
We have a governor who won't expand Medicaid & has no concern for people. We have a governor who's a dermatologist. To him, a diagnosis is only skin deep.
When the Republicans talk about being Conservative & identify themselves with one president or another... they always skip over the Bushes. I don't know why.
We're not going to listen to people like Mike Hubbard & Del Marsh anymore. Because they make the decisions: they tell the others how to vote. They will only vote the way these guys tell them and that's not representing you.
Local area legislators should be more concerned about the issues affecting you and your community than what Mike Hubbard says.
Job growth is not up, folks. We went from 7.1" to 6.9% unemployment only because those people who had exhausted their unemployment benefits went out of the system. So our governor isn't receiving a paycheck, but unfortunately, the Lt. Governor is!
All ivy isn't poison, but this one is and she's got to go. She almost broke the PACT program. It was losing money and she just went to sleep at the wheel. I don't know if she went to sleep or just dozed off with a cup.
Unlike many candidates, Fields didn't just criticize the opposition. He offered reasons to vote for him and not just against Kay Ivey:
Support for education
Strengthen small businesses
Reign in corporate welfare giveaways to out of state or foreign corporations
All voters to decide if the state needs a lottery and make sure the lottery is done the right way
Under the GOP supermajority he said, regular people have been cut out of the decision-making process, "you haven't had your voices heard," and Kay Ivey sat in the Lt. Governor's chair and did nothing about it.
We can all be a part of changing history in Alabama for the good.
I'm not just one man standing and crying in the wilderness. There are a lot of us - men and women. And I believe that women have an equal share in this process. We're not in 1901 anymore.
We're in an era where we're moving forward and where people believe in their state.
Alabama doesn't have to always be 49 and 50 in everything, but we have a group of people in Montgomery who want to keep us there. We're much better than that. We're better than what people have read and heard about Alabama. Alabama is beautiful and is a great state to raise our families.
Watch the video and share it! We're barely 3 weeks out from the election. Democratic candidates need your help and support.
Full Disclosure: a family member is a paid staffer for the Fields campaign.
So. Republicans relish blaming President Obama for everything bad that happens in this country & around the world. Shouldn't that mean he also gets the credit for the good things? Yes, we know... dream on!
Somehow, the Fox "News" set manages to hold two sets of completely different assumptions.
While falling gas prices long term might be bad if they encourage people to buy less fuel-efficient cars, in the short-term it's a blessing to families struggling to make ends meet. The world is complex & there are no easy solutions.
Still, it brought a smile to my face yesterday when I filled up the car for $2.95/gallon in Madison County. The sign said $2.97 for regular unleaded, but the actual pump price was $2.95.
What's happening to gas prices in your corner of the state?
Grassroots activism in Alabama is one of the brightest spots in this election year. The Brite Blue Dot group seized the intiative with its "Welcome to the Party" series of videos (watch them here and here). The spots sought to brand the Democratic Party and re-write the GOP's narrative about Democrats. Now, the Brite Blue Dots have teamed up with the Jefferson County Democratic Party to produce a education lottery-themed spot.
The 30-second spot points out how much Alabama money goes to neighboring states with education lotteries and urges the state to consider an Alabama lottery.
There's been a lot of talk about an lottery as a solution to Alabama's budget woes, and it could certainly fill some holes. But (and this is a big but), it has to be done right. This is an area where we can learn from the mistakes of other states and create a workable solution.
But who trusts the GOP supermajority to put together a lottery operation that's transparent, fairly run, distributes the proceeds equitably, and doesn't prey on the most hopeless & vulnerable segments of the population?
If you support a lottery for Alabama, vote on November 4th - and vote for Democrats. Breaking the supermajority is the only way to get the issue to a vote of the people and to have any sort of confidence in lottery operations.
Two candidates are running for the office, but only one is qualified. Jim Zeigler, a fixture in Alabama politics & also-ran in many elections is hoping to score a state paycheck. Maybe it'll help pay his travel expenses to abortion protests.
In contrast, Miranda Joseph is a Certified Internal Auditor and Certified in Risk Management. She's running to serve the state and the public interest, not her personal interest.
Left in Alabama spoke with her in Huntsville about her qualifications and plans for the job.
"This campaign is about all of us wanting the best for our children," Parker Griffith told a crowd in Huntsville on Sunday. The Democratic candidate for governor continued: "It's about the hopes and aspirations of our children and our grandchildren."
Griffith got in a few digs at Governor Bentley and the GOP supermajority as he actively courted women voters during his speech at the Madison County Democratic headquarters. He cited the GOP supermajority's activities during the past four years:
Shut down debate on every issue
Passed the school accountability act
Against womens' rights - interfering in the privacy of a doctor/patient relationship
"They are 100% white. They are 90% male. And the registered voters in Alabama are 56% female."
The only way to move the state forward is to break the supermajority, he said, because:
"They will not debate in the House; they will not debate in the Senate. And we have a governor with a spine made of warm spaghetti. He will not debate either."
Isn't this just the face women need to see before & after they leave the "Reproductive Health Services" clinic in Montgomery? Ladies, meet David. He cares so much about your health that he spends his valuable personal time picketing and trespassing on private property in order to yell "babykiller" and other epithets through the windows of the clinic.
We're not kidding about trespassing. He was so proud of being arrested for trespassing that he filmed it. He explained to police that he had "no choice" because the sprinkler sprayed the sidewalk. And yet, he had a choice whether or not to be on the sidewalk in the first place. Details, details.
This self-righteous street preacher is a fixture at Montgomery's sole women's clinic. That's nothing unusual: most clinics have a regular gang of protesters. We've reported extensively on the faces of anti-choice Huntsville. But there's always a ringleader who can be counted on to be over-the-top in behavior & rhetoric.
In Huntsville, we have the oozing self-importance of Rev. James Henderson, who offers free legal advice to federal judges. Montgomery has David here. Judging from his stance in this photo taken yesterday, he also appears to be an aspiring Victoria's Secret model - as soon as he, ahem, grows a pair. Eat more Twinkies son, you'll get there....
The clinic escorts in Montgomery invite y'all to participate in a photo caption contest for David. Suggestions include:
Secret Shopper at Frederick's of Hollywood
"Do you carry something in a nice DDD?"
"Why don't the ladies dig me?"
Share your suggestions in the comments! The clinics escorts can have posters made. Maybe the winner can receive an autographed copy!
Seriously though, people like this are the reason we have FACE laws (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) and why some states instituted strict buffer zones around clinics. Protesters want courts to believe that they only want to pray, counsel women, and offer them alternatives to abortion. Some undoubtedly are telling the absolute truth. However, they do nothing to reign in the obstreperous, judgmental majority of protesters who do their best to shame and upset women entering the clinics - potentially causing them physical harm.
The court found the interest in protecting patients in and around the clinics was compelling, especially given physicians' testimony that amplified sound can cause anxiety and high blood pressure, hindering patients' recovery.
As a professional educator with 30 years' experience, Terry Jones could have said goodbye to Hazel Green High School and settled into a quiet retirement. Why isn't he? The Alabama Accountability Act and a concern for small businesses in the district, he told a crowd at Madison County Democratic HQ on 9/28.
"Madison County, which has no failing schools, lost $1.2 million because of the accountability act, something's wrong. When I see that Madison County total lost more than $2.6 million, I'm upset."
Too many people think that their votes just don't matter, Jones said. A lot of teachers felt that way in 2010. "But I meet teachers today who say: WOW, it matters!"
Jones urged the crowd to get out and vote and help explain to their friends & neighbors what's at stake in the upcoming election.
"If you have a child in the public schools, you have a dog in this fight. If you're out of work or know people who are, you have a dog in this fight.
Get the message out: Republicans are looking after Big Business. Bless their hearts, they need somebody to look after them. Well, I didn't realize that Big Business was going out of business. But I have friends who are in small business and they need help. If we give them help, they will hire people. It helps us all."