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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. 


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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? 

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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.


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HD-93 - Jennifer Marsden Picks Up State & National Endorsements

by: countrycat

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 12:05:00 PM CDT

Dr. Jennifer Marsden, Democratic candidate for Alabama legislative district HD-93 has had a busy summer.  In addition to receiving the Progressive Majority endorsement, Marsden's campaign recently announced four more important endorsements from state and national organizations:

Dr. Jennifer Marsden

Dr. Marsden said, “I am humbled to receive the endorsements of multiple organizations both in state and nation-wide." She recently returned from a WCF fundraising event in New York City and attendees at the Dale County Democratic Headquarters were excited to hear that their candidate for District 93 had garnered so much support.

Larry Keel of the Wiregrass Labor Council said, "We are happy to endorse Dr. Marsden for State House District 93. She is a good Democrat and a strong supporter of Labor." Union leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2003 thanked her for her support during their recent strike. Dr. Marsden was a member of American Federation of Government Employees Local 503 (Montgomery, AL) while working at the Wiregrass VA Clinic in Fort Rucker.

"Jennifer Marsden running against Steve Clouse who voted against spay/neuter clinics. Thank you so very much. We're drumming up support for you; definitely want to see you in the House! We are more than happy with Dr. Marsden and will be notifying all AVRAL members in her district to vote for her.  She definitely has our strongest endorsement." said Dr. Rhonda Parker, AVRAL State Chair.

League of Humane Voters state director Victoria Nichols stated that "we are happy to inform Dr. Marsden that we can endorse her. And we will encourage our members to vote on our recommendation of you." 

“Women’s Campaign Fund is proud to endorse Jennifer Marsden in her race to represent Alabama’s 93rd district in the State House,” said Clare Bresnahan, Political & Programs Director for WCF.  “As a decorated military veteran, doctor, and tireless advocate for affordable healthcare for all Alabamians, Jennifer is precisely the kind of experienced woman leader we need in state legislatures across the country. This is also an opportunity for Alabama to make history by electing the first woman to ever represent this district in the State House.”

HD-93 stretches across the Wiregrass area of the state, including parts of Dale & Houston Counties and a portion of the city of Dothan.

Meet Dr. Marsden in person at these upcoming events:

  • Porktoberque Sept 26-27 in Dothan
  • Ozark's Claybank Jamboree Oct 4

Read previous Left in Alabama coverage of Dr. Marsden, find her on Facebook, and visit her campaign Web site to learn more. 


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"What Me Worry?" Alabama Economy Circling The Drain While Gov. Bentley Drinks Tea

by: countrycat

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM CDT

Legend has it that "Nero fiddled while Rome burned," but Alabama Governor Robert Bentley isn't musically inclined, so he's contented himself with sipping a strong TEA Party beverage called "Denial." As Alabama reports some of the poorest job growth numbers in the nation, Gov. Bentley and his GOP supermajority continue to push their "jobs program:" hire outside lawyers & consultants to defend unconstitutional legislation, think up ways to sue President Obama, and refuse the Medicaid expansion that could bring tens of thousands of news jobs to the state and make the population healthier and more productive.

GOP clowns

Governor Bentley's capacity for denial seems limitless - particularly in light of recent news reports.

Lack of Medicaid Expansion Will Cost Alabama Billions of Dollars & Thousands of Jobs

The study argues that expanding Medicaid would bring a number of financial benefits, as well, both for recipients and governments. It estimates a reduction in the number of Alabamians facing "catastrophic," out-of-pocket health costs of 10,500. The total reduction among all holdout states would be 255,000. Also, 33,400 fewer Alabamians and 810,000 fewer Americans overall would have trouble paying other bills because of medical costs if the other states expanded, the study argues.

For states, the report states, declining federal expansion funds will cost states $88 billion through 2016. Alabama will lose $3.63 billion in federal funds and will miss out on 15,100 additional jobs and $2.65 billion in increased economic activity through 2017, according to the study.

Nationwide, the holdout states could boost employment by 379,000 jobs through 2017 and increase economic activity by $66 billion if they all expanded Medicaid, according to the report.

The UAB study projected the state would gain some $6.8 billion in federal funds through 2017, with an indirect economic impact of 4.7 billion.

A follow-up study by the University of Alabama last year, commissioned by the Alabama Hospital Association, estimated an even greater employment impact – some 30,000 new jobs. 

Instead, our Doctor Governor thinks we're better off creating new jobs via corporate welfare giveaways that replace good middle class jobs with low-wage ones.  (See Lt. Governor James Fields' explanation of that).  Bentley's tea is so strong that he saw nothing wrong with bragging that the state gave a Chinese company $190 million to build a $100 million plant - one that directly competes with an existing Alabama industry. 

In spite of such sweetheart deals and shady math, Alabama's economy is sagging.  Hey, 4 years of a GOP supermajority and Republican Governor will do that to a state - just ask Kansas.  Alabama's unemployment rate is almost 7% & the state lost 3500 jobs between May & June. 

The bulk of those losses came from the public sector. Despite local governments adding 1,300 jobs, state government shed nearly 4,000 positions, for a net loss of 2,600 jobs in Alabama government.

But beyond the state's shrinking government, Alabama's private sector is shrinking, too. Employment in Alabama's private sector shrank by about 1,000 jobs from May to June, according to the report.

The construction, financial activities and education and health services industries each shed jobs from May to June, the report shows. Construction employment remains below 80,000 jobs; at its peak, Alabama's construction industry employed more than 110,000 people. 

Don't worry campers!  The GOP Supermajority has a plan!  Lay off more state workers.  What the heck... we don't need those stinking crime labs, state troopers, or people auditing state inventory, right?

The leader of the Alabama Senate on Monday emphatically rejected the possibility of new taxes to address a looming budget shortfall in 2015, instead saying the answer could be further reductions in the state's work force. 

We certainly need to trim the state payroll in one place: the Legislature.  We have a crew down there now with no interest in good government.  They exist to serve their campaign contributors and line their pockets in the revolving door from legislator to lobbyist.

We the voters can change all this in November.  But we need to get busy NOW.  Contact your local Democratic candidate for the legislature and volunteer.  Statewide candidates need your help too.  James Fields can bring some order to the disorder in the State Senate as Lt. Governor and Miranda Joseph can hopefully control the huge problem wiith "lost & stolen" equipment (including numerous firearms) from state agencies. And AG candidate Joe Hubbard can be a real state attorney general, not a publicity hound.

Let's get to work now to elect competent people to state government.  For sure, the state has had four long years of clowns and that's too darn long.


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SD-13 Help Darrell Turner Defeat Incumbent State Senator Gerald Dial

by: countrycat

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Democrat Darrell Turner is running hard against incumbent Republican State Senator Gerald Dial, and he needs your help getting the Democracy For America (DFA) endorsement.  Visit the DFA page to voice your support for Turner.  Here's a snippet of his message on the DFA site:  

Darrell Turner
I'm running because I'm tired of feeling like I have no one to call in Montgomery to express my concerns. Over the past four years of a supermajority in the legislature, working people have been made second-class to big-business, children's educations have been turned into a profit-making venture for a few wealthy individuals and bills have been passed behind closed doors in the middle of the night. 

I'm not going to stand for that. Our current state senator is running for his tenth term in the legislature, and I believe it's time for new leadership who will stand up for hard work, protect public education and do the work of government with honesty and integrity. 

Read his entire statement at the DFA page or visit Darrell Turner's campaign Web site.  Like him on Facebook too!

Wondering if this race is worth your time, effort, & money?  Oh... we have quite the history of Gerald Dial's activities in the Legislature documented here at LIA.  For example, he's the guy who announced that he was "too busy to meet with citizens during the Legislative session in 2012." Check it out for yourself!

The governor's race is the high-profile race in this state and will get a lot of attention from voters.  But understand this very important fact: Alabama's governor has very little power over legislation.  The state constitution allows the legislature to override the governor's veto with a simple majority vote.  Sure, having a good governor who won't embarrass the state and who can use the bully pulpit to push for good legislation is important.  But the real fight in 2014 is in the Legislature.  If we don't break the power of the GOP supermajority, we're at the mercy of Mike Hubbard (or whomever takes over after he takes a field trip to the Big House) & other GOP big business lackeys.

Real progress in this state will only come about if we get busy in our local legislative races.  Darrell Turner & other Democrats like him need our help.

Now that the primary runoff races are over, here at LIA we'll be focusing on these important races and interviewing as many candidates as possible.  All Democratic campaigns are welcome to create accounts and post about their campaign issues and events.


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Bidding A Sad, But Fond Farewell To An LIA Regular Contributor

by: countrycat

Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 08:54:03 AM CDT

If there's an afterlife, Saint Satin Stain will surely take an honored place in the poet's corner.  Thomas Weatherly departed this life Wednesday, and we'll surely miss him. He was born in Scottsboro, traveled widely, and then came back to live in Huntsville.  He was just 72.

Thomas Weatherly

Weatherly's free verse about race, inequality, history, and other topics were always insightful and humorous. I was amazed how he could pack so much meaning into so few words.

For instance, there was his analysis of national political rhetoric:

there are still a few good ideas 

from the right, except no one on 

the right says them in public. 


A fact some folk on the left state 

them proves them more thoughtful 

than most folks on today's right.

The right will not accept ideas 

spoken on the left, even if the 

original source is on the right.


So lefty should state in public 

that all people should eat less 

than two grams of lead each day  

And during the Trayvon Martin murder trial, he suggested that we get together and form the perfect street gang.  He'd be the scary black guy who would attract all the police & security guard attention while Mooncat and I walked unnoticed into the store & stole whatever we wanted.  For the record, we passed on that opportunity, but that comment shows how adept he was at distilling the essence of a complex situation into a single sentence.

Condolences to Weatherly's friends and family.  We know they'll miss him in their lives and we'll surely miss him at Left in Alabama.

May his memory be a blessing. 


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Consumers & Comedians Were The Biggest Losers In Yesterday's Primary Runoff

by: countrycat

Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:59:01 AM CDT

National comedians and Alabama Democrats won't have Dale Peterson & Shadrack McGill to kick around any more.  In an astonishing display of good judgment on the part of Alabama Republicans, both lost their primary runoff races yesterday.  And it wasn't even close: Peterson got just 35% of the vote for State Auditor and McGill received 37% in his bid for Jackson County Revenue Commissioner.

Shadrack McGill

Here at Left In Alabama, we just have to bid McGill a proper farewell by posting our favorite McGill photo one last time.

It's truly a shock that both lost.  For years, they've provided a freakish, carnival sideshow spectacle to political observers in Alabama - and some of their antics became nationally famous.  Who could forget Dale Peterson and his horse or the McGill family discussing strippers and Facebook hookers on the Today Show?  But yesterday, voters declined to nominate a convicted shoplifter for State Auditor or elect a Revenue Commissioner for Jackson County whose only qualification for the job was bizarre ideas on public employee salaries and an creepy obsession with women's reproductive systems.

How annoying was Shadrack McGill?  Even Dale Peterson couldn't stand him.

Consumers took a hit yesterday too when Terry Dunn lost his spot on the Public Service Commission.  Dunn got into hot water for asking a question you'd think every PSC Commissioner would ask:  "Can we get utility rates down?"  Alabama Power's answer to that was, obviously, "NO" and they backed Dunn's opponent, Chip Beeker - a man who appeared to think he was running against President Obama.  I only hope he's not packing his things for the White House right now....

Dunn asked a simple question and was rebuked by Mike Hubbard for "taking his job too seriously."  Twinkle Cavanaugh became even more unhinged at the prospect of a rate review and raved about liberals, San Francisco lawyers, "enviros," communists, and possibly even organized homosexuals who were conspiring to outlaw coal and plunge us literally into another Dark Age. 

And Alabma voters swallowed that nonsense.

In other good news though, Cullman voters tossed out their incumbent state representative, Mac Buttram, the man who fought hard against the low cost spay/neuter clinics in Alabama and openly wondered whether animal overpopulation wasn't just "some women's issue."

Good riddance, Mr. BUTTram.  Perhaps now, he'll get a lucrative contract from the ASBVME to be a consultant

Did you have any interesting races in your county or legislative district?


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Alabama Teachers - Back from the Dead?

by: bluebearcat

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 22:40:00 PM CDT

Mac Buttram was absolutely whupped tonight. Over 1,000 vote margin for his opponent Corey Harbison. The GOP and anti-teacher establishment poured well over $400,000 into the race for 4,000 votes. Bob Riley and Mike Hubbard were going door-to-door for Buttram in Cullman this weekend. It did not matter. Teachers stood up.

Do I hate that it was in a Republican primary? Sure, but that's where we are right now. Tonight and what happened in Mississippi prove that, even in the South, the traditional pillars of the Democratic base can make a difference. Look at what happened in AL-6. I told my GOP friends immediately after the Cochran win that DeMarco needed to start trying to win crossover votes from Democrats. I said he should show that he actually cared about black votes because there are many in his district who are, at the moment, left with no one to vote for. Of course, I was ignored and now Alabama has traded seniority and pork for a true tea party believer.

In the places where Republicans are willing to stand up and go after Dem votes, I am beginning to see some green shoots in Alabama politics. I am hearing good things about some of the Democratic statewide candidates this fall. We'll see if this continues.



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Alabama Voters for Responsible Animal Legislation Releases Primary Endorsements

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 09:42:11 AM CDT

AVRAL, a non-partisan grassroots group that supports animal welfare legislation in Alabama released its list of endorsements for today's primary.  They actually sent the email yesterday, but I just found it in my spam folder.

Still, better late than never!

With low voter turnout expected tomorrow, AVRAL voters can make a huge difference.  Every single one of us must head to the voting booth.  Not all districts have run offs, but all of us can vote for John Merrill for Secretary of State. And a significant portion of AVRAL members are in House District 6, where Paul DeMarco is in a close race.  We need to elect DeMarco!  

Grab a pen and paper for the run-off races below.

John Merrill:  Secretary of State

Paul DeMarco:  U.S. House District 6

With regard to state House of Representatives elections, we have a critical race in District 12, which is Cullman County. We strongly endorse Corey Harbison, who is running against incumbent Mac Buttram. Buttram has been dismissive of animal welfare issues in the past and actually voted to close the low-cost spay/neuter clinics in the state. VOTE HARBISON. 

In House District 43 (Jefferson and Shelby counties), Arnold Mooney faces off against Amie Beth Shaver. Shaver is a strong advocate for animals; her daughter even hosts a show about animals online. VOTE SHAVER. 

In House District 72 (Hale, Marengo, Perry ang Bibb counties), we endorse incumbent Ralph A. Howard who is running against Thomas P. Moore. Howard has always voted in favor of AVRAL legislation, so VOTE HOWARD

In Senate District 1 (Colbert and Lauderdale counties), we give Tim Melson the edge over Chris Siebert. VOTE MELSON. 

In Senate District 17 (Blount, Jefferson, and St. Clair counties), we give Brett King a thumbs up against Shay Shellnut. VOTE KING. 

In Senate District 22 (Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe and Washington counties), Greg Albritton faces Harry D'Olive. Albritton has been responsive to AVRAL throughout his campaign and is a solid animal welfare supporter. VOTE ALBRITTON. 

In Senate District 30 (Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes, and Pike counties), we strongly endorse Clyde Chambliss rather than his opponent, Harris Garner. VOTE CHAMBLISS. 

Lawrence County has two important run offs for county commissioner. In District 1, Mose Jones faces Jessie Byrd. Jones is a very strong animal advocate, so VOTE JONES. In District 2, Jeff Byars is running against Prentiss Davis. Of the two, Byars is clearly supportive of animal welfare, so VOTE BYARS

Remember that Alabama's animals are counting on you to be their voice on tomorrow. They don't vote, but we do. And with a low turnout expected, your vote is absolutely vital. It's a great chance for us to elect animal-friendly politicians. 

AVRAL members can swing elections in favor of better animal welfare policies and laws in Alabama, but only if you get out and vote! 

Head to the voting booth tomorrow, 

Dr. Rhonda Parker, state chair, AVRAL 


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Remember To Vote today!

by: countrycat

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 08:52:00 AM CDT

There are no statewide Democratic runoff races, but there are Democrats on county ballots.  There's also a constitutional amendment (about cotton) on the ballot, and a number of statewide, federal, and local Republican runoff races.  In many cases, the winner of the GOP runoff is automatically elected since Democratic Party organizations from the state down to the county level left many races uncontested.

Remember that the Alabama Republican Party allows crossover voting - meaning that if you voted in the Democratic primary in June, you're still eligible to vote in the Republican runoff if you want to.  If you didn't vote at all in June - and most people did NOT - you can also vote in the runoff.  Don't want to ask for a Republican ballot?  We don't blame you!  You can also get a ballot that has just the amendment on it.

If you are planning to vote in the GOP runoff or want to share information with friends and family, review some of our previous posts about this election: 

If you have important local or legislative races we've missed, please share the information!


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HD-12 - Another July 15 Runoff Race To Watch: Buttram Vs Harbison

by: countrycat

Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 10:21:22 AM CDT

State Rep. Mac Buttram from Cullman is in a runoff tomorrow against Corey Harbison.  Buttram squeaked through the primary with just 245 more votes than Harbison.  Of the two, Buttram is the only one who has identified animal overpopulation as "a women's problem." 

He's a die-hard opponent of the low-cost spay/neuter clinics in the state and is receiving significant help with his campaign from Bob Riley, Mike Hubbard, & other special interests who want to privatize Alabama's public education system:

StudentsFirst is an organization founded by Michele Rhee, one-time head of Washington, DC schools.  Rhee’s group is largely funded by billionaires who see charter schools and voucher programs as a way to privatize education, while receiving a hefty dividend for their investors. 

StudentsFirst was a big supporter of the 2013 Alabama Accountability Act, giving thousands of dollars to reelect those who would support this so-called education reform. 

Another group that is backing Buttram is the Alabama Federation for Children, which has contributed $13,746 to his reelection. The Federation is backed by a San Francisco billionaire who also seeks to privatize education in Alabama. 

But, by far, it is Riley who has given the most to Buttram, contributing $166,886.23 to reelect a “solid vote” for more of Riley brand of education reform. 

Riley and his associates have already prospered from the Accountability Act by establishing a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO), that has made approximately $5,000,000 in profit since its founding a year ago. 

The watchdog group "Eye on the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners" has reported extensively on Buttram:

Representative Mac Buttram of Cullman has been a staunch opponent of Alabama's low-cost, non-profit spay/neuter clinics for the past three years. On the floor of the House of Representatives in 2012, Buttram asked Representative Patricia Todd if the issue of animal overpopulation in Alabama was "a women's problem". Buttram has on multiple occasions, both in House Committees and on the floor of the House, attempted to amend spay/neuter legislation with language that would have negative effects on the operation of the spay/neuter clinics. 

Buttram and Senator Paul Bussman of Cullman are both members of the Legislative Sunset Committee that is "supposed" to provide oversight of the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Instead, they have run interference for the ASBVME while Bussman has received tens of thousands of dollars in re-election campaign contributions from members of the ASBVME and other misled and mis-informed veterinarians.

The election Tuesday will have a very low turnout. If every voter in Cullman County that supports Dr. Weber and the state's low-cost spay/neuter clinics were to vote for Buttram's opponent, it could very well defeat Buttram and send a message to other legislators who oppose affordable spay/neuter services in Alabama. 

Yes, defeat would send a message to other clinic opponents AND it would poke a nice sharp stick in the eyes of both Riley & Hubbard - a win/win/win

Please share this information with voters in SD-12 (the Cullman County area).  With no Democratic opponent (AGAIN!) in November, the winner tomorrow wins the seat for the next 4 years.



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July 15 Primary Runoff Tips & Constitutional Amendment Reminder!

by: countrycat

Sun Jul 13, 2014 at 10:00:34 AM CDT

There are no statewide Democratic canddiates on the ballot for Tuesday's runoff, but Democrats & Independents in the state still need to pay attention & remember that GOP primary rules allow anyone who voted in the Democratic primary (or didn't vote at all) to participate in the Republican primary runoff.  Voters in Jefferson & Colbert Counties though - y'all have some local runoffs on the Democratic side.

After Mississippi, Alabama Republican leaders are grumbling about this & it may change.  But it's still perfectly legal, so Democrats who decide to make a little mischief shouldn't worry about asking for a ballot.  As long as you remember: if there's a Democratic challenger in November, don't make his/her campaign harder by voting for the "least crazy" Republican.  Let's give voters a clear choice.


With that in mind, let's look first at the runoff for State Auditor, aka the "clash of clowns."  This race pits colorful, long-time pol Jim Ziegler against the even more colorful Dale Peterson (& his horse).

Ziegler maintains his own Web site that's disguised as a Wikipedia page (complete with wiki logo!).  Now Ziegler has no actual Wikipedia page, and when you read the info he has on his ZieglerStory site, it's not hard to understand why.  Even Wikipedia has some standards:

For instance, Ziegler devotes a whole paragraph to election triumphs in other states: Scott Walker's recall win in Wisconsin and Republican control of the Washington State Senate. 

In June 2012, Zeigler was recruited by Jenny Beth Martin's Tea Party Patriots to go to Wisconsin to assist in fighting the recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Democrat and liberal groups had initiated a recall vote. Zeigler stayed a month, working in Eau Claire and Wausau, WI. Walker was behind when Zeigler got there but turned it around to win by a modest margin. [28] After the success there, Tea Party Patriots asked Zeigler to go for a month to Washington State in October, 2012 in a long-shot attempt to switch control of the state senate to Republicans. On election night, Republicans fell two senate seats short of control and everyone assumed they had lost.But in January 2013 when the senate met to organize, two conservative Democrats switched, giving control to the GOP after all. [29]

Oddly, the article source that each claim links to not only fails to credit Ziegler's pivotal role in these two elections - neither even mentions his name.
Apparently, Ziegler's mere presence in those states was enough to swing the elections! 

And then there's Dale Peterson, who blasted his way into political folklore with an over-the-top commercial in his race for Agricultural Commissioner.  Peterson later made headlines when he was hired, then "un-hired" as a "confidential assistant" to Ag Commissioner John MacMillian.  Peterson did not go quietly.  He's also been arrested twice for shoplifting

Now, the bizarreness factor is strong with both candidates, but Peterson can be counted on to provide a better show and could definitely be the weaker candidate in the general election. Really, who wants a convicted shoplifter auditing state inventory?  If you want to elect Miranda Joseph as State Auditor, then hope that Dale Peterson wins the runoff.


The next statewide race, Place 2 on the Public Service Commission, doesn't have the wow factor of the State Auditor's race, but if you're interested in holding down utility rates and curbing the power of Alabama Power & other corporate interests, then hope that Terry Dunn defeats Chip Beeker.  As we noted previously,  Dunn is running on "fair utility rates," while Beeker is running against President Obama.

None of this should imply that Dunn is a great progressive champion.  His Wikipedia page lists organizations he belongs to, including Conservative Christians of Alabama & Alabama Tea Party Express. Former Mobile Register reporter Eddie Curran has written extensively about Dunn. But sometimes our only choice is the lesser of two evils and July 15 is voters' only chance to influence the direction of the PSC.  If we want it to work for the public interest, there needs to be at least one Commissioner willing to buck the political power of the utilities.

Whatever his other faults, Terry Dunn has been willing to do that.   And if Alabama consumers want an answer to "can't we get the rates down?" they better elect someone who's at least willing to ask the question. 

There's no Democratic opposition in November, so Dunn is as good as consumers are going to get.


John Merrill & Reese McKinney square off for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State.  Merrill is a state representative from Tuscaloosa, and he's definitely the GOP establishment candidate, with endorsements from the BCA, Realtors, & Alabama Citizens for Life.  McKinney is Montgomery County Probate Judge, and he's running on a platform of "protecting photo id from liberals, and promoting conservative values.  Either candidate for this important state office is lackluster at best.


There's more action in the Birmingham area with the 6th Congressional District runoff between current state representative Paul DeMarco and Gary Palmer.  The race has gotten pretty nasty of late, as candidates accuse each other of lying and dirty politics.  All in all, it's been pretty entertaining, and we can hope that either candidate will emerge so damaged that it gives Democrat Avery Vise an opening in November.  It's a pretty red district however, and pretty much the only substantial differece between either candidate is the spelling of their names.

But a few tidbits: 

  • Scott Beason endorsed Gary Palmer.  So did Bubba of "Rick & Bubba Radio Show" fame, Rick Santorum, and Ralph Reed.
  • Palmer is the co-founder of the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank.
  • Paul DeMarco's endorsements include ALFA, NRA, Senator Cam Ward, & other legislators.
  • DeMarco would have voted against the Alabama Accountability Act if he'd read it.
  • DeMarco was a stong supoprter of the low-cost spay/neuter clinics. 

And don't forget the Constitutional Amendment about cotton!  Alabama voters get to vote on whether or not cotton farmers get to vote on a check-off system to help fund agricultural research about cotton, pest control, and marketing of Alabama cotton. 

Do you have any important local races in your county?  Make your candidate recommendations in the comments.

Also: keep in mind that Attorney General Luther Strange has made Tuesday "take your gun to the polls day," so go with a smile on your face & don't step on anyone's toes.


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Stopping the Cycle of Destruction

by: Paws4Change

Sun Jul 13, 2014 at 08:27:14 AM CDT

( - promoted by countrycat)

Although most of us don't think about it much, or don't want to think about it, our tax dollars are not always used in ways of which we may approve when it comes to issues related to animal control and welfare. A lot of people don't know what occurs at most municipal animal shelters. Some who do know just don't want to think about it.  The reality is that we are all affected by it in some way even if we don't know where the shelter is located. We are affected because municipal shelters are funded by our tax dollars. Alabama law only requires counties (and cities with populations in excess of 5,000 people) to have something called a "pound." Most people, however, have an expectation that the "shelter" balance both animal control and animal welfare.  The reality is that most shelters destroy anywhere from 50% to 90% of the animals in the facility and the vast majority of those animals are healthy and treatable. In the case of Huntsville, that figure has historically been above 80%.

These numbers reflect a decades-long practice in shelters of animals in, some adopted out, the rest destroyed.  There are a number of excuses used to defend this practice, most of which are slowly eroding over time as the American animal-loving public says "enough."  There are a variety of methods being used to either drastically reduce the number of healthy and treatable animals killed with our tax dollars or to end this archaic way of functioning once and for all. I, and others like me, support a series of programs called the no kill equation which work in concert with each other to reduce the number of animals entering the shelter to get those animals which are in the shelter out fast.

The beauty of the equation is that it is dual-purpose in nature in that it works to keep animals from entering the shelter at all ("keep them out") elements or works to move animals through the system quickly ("get them out.") It can be molded and shaped to fit the resources in, and the needs of, any community.  The reality of the equation is that it is such a revolutionary way of thinking and functioning that its critics are both wide-reaching and quite powerful.  An incredible amount of time and energy is spent by those who dispute the validity of the equation.  So much so, I would argue, that it does beg the question of whether or not these apologists have better ways to spend their time which may actually save lives than to work to thwart reform.

A comprehensive overview of the programs of the no kill equation is provided on the web site for No Kill Huntsville. Each program title links to a separate pdf which explains the programs in detail.  For our purposes here, an overview of the equation appears below:

1.  Feral Cat TNR Program (keep animals out).  Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs for free roaming cats keep cats out of the shelter entirely.  Cats are trapped, sterilized, vaccinated and are either returned to their colony or are adopted into homes if they are socialized to people.  As a sterilized community cat population ages, the number of cats will decrease by natural attrition and will not be replaced by subsequent generations.
2.  High Volume, Low Cost Spay and Neuter Programs (keep animals out).  No and low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter reduces the number of animals entering the shelter system by reducing pet populations in a region. These services have been proven to reduce shelter intake by making spay and neuter incredibly cost effective and accessible to anyone. It makes is easy for people to do the right thing to make their pets healthier and help them live longer.
3.  Pet Retention Programs (keep animals out).  While some surrender of animals to shelters are unavoidable, others can be prevented- but only if shelters work with people to help them solve their problems. Saving animals requires shelters to develop innovative strategies for keeping people and their companion animals together.  And the more a community sees its shelters as a place to turn for advice and assistance, the easier this job will be.
4.  Proactive Redemptions (keep animals out). One of the most overlooked areas for reducing killing in animal control shelters are lost animal reclaims.  Shifting from a passive to a more proactive approach has allowed shelters to return a large percentage of lost animals to their families.  Animal control officers in the field can take a variety of steps to determine where an animal lives in order to avoid transporting the animal to the shelter and pet owners can help ensure their pet can be identified through microchipping and using identification collars and tags.
5.  Rescue Groups (get animals out).  Rescue groups provide a valuable resource to shelters.  An adoption or transfer to a rescue group or another shelter will free up kennel space, reduce expenses, and will improve a community's rate of lifesaving.  Huntsville Animal Services routinely performs "rescue release" for free, meaning that it does not charge an established rescue group to remove an animal from the shelter.  

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AL-07 Terry Sewell's Statement On Hobby Lobby Case

by: countrycat

Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 08:42:13 AM CDT

We missed Congresswoman Sewell's July 1 statement on the SCOTUS ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, but it's well-worth sharing after the fact.  Sewell highlights many of the important elements in the decision & warns about the long-term impact on all employees of "closely held corporations - not just women.

Rep. Terri Sewell & President Obama

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell released the following statement following the Supreme Court’s ruling that the government can’t require “closely held” corporations with religious owners to provide contraception coverage to their employees:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to allow select corporations to withhold health care options to their female employees is a disappointing setback for women’s health in our country. This decision represents a broad and dangerous precedent and is a slippery slope that could allow corporations to cherry pick which laws to abide by now and in the future.

I fully believe that employers, insurers, and politicians have no place in a woman’s health care decisions. Make no mistake – the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement does not force a corporation to provide contraceptives or even encourage their use, but rather to simply provide their employees with health coverage so they can make their own health care decisions. Given that 90 percent of America’s businesses are ‘closely held,’ I am confident that millions of American women and their families will be immediately affected by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement.

The federal government must take action immediately to ensure that all women have affordable access to comprehensive health care without interference from their employers. I will continue to fight on behalf of America’s women to ensure they have full access to the fundamental health care they need and deserve.” 

h/t to Edward Savela, Progressive Democrats of America, Birmingham Chapter.  They host a weekly lunchtime roundtable discussion in Birmingham every Friday. 


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