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Anti-Choice Demonstrators Cite Their Own Actions As Reason To Keep Huntsville Clinic Closed

by: countrycat

Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:50:09 AM CDT

The "faces of anti-choice Huntsville" swarmed the city zoning board hearing last night in a last ditch attempt to keep North Alabama's lone women's clinic from reopening in a new location.  In a breathtaking display of chutzpah, speaker after speaker - some of whom live more than 50 miles from the proposed location - went concern trolling.  They cited concerns about "the neighborhood" and "disruptions" caused by protests at the previous clinic location.

Why yes.... block the sidewalks, bus in scores of children, bellow at passersby through a bullhorn, and assault clinic escorts.... and then complain about the "tension & violence" associated with the clinic.

The Huntsville clinic has been closed since the end of June, forcing many women to go out of state.  The clinic owner found a new location that complies with the TRAP laws - the same laws that the demonstrators lobbied so hard to pass.  But it's still not good enough.  While some speakers  tried to pretend it was just "concern" about the neighborhood, others were pretty candid. They don't like abortion & don't want a clinic to open anywhere.

One speaker, GOP legislative candidate Chris Horn, even obliquely referred to the events in Ferguson, MO as an example of what can happen when neighborhood residents don't have a voice.  Except that residents do have a voice - and a forum where they could have exercised their rights last night.  However, of all the opposition speakers, only Horn actually lives in the neighborhood.  The next closest speaker is more than a mile from the new clinic location, and the main speaker, Rev. James Henderson, lives in Morgan County.

In spite of repeated requests to stick to the topic at hand - zoning - and avoid wading into the abortion debate or causing a disruption, many speakers just couldn't help themselves.  A favorite moment was when a monk from Cullman stressed that neighborhood residents don't want this clinic!  The next speaker?  A woman who lives .8 miles from the clinic & who spoke in favor of the location.  oops....

Another favorite moment: Rev. Henderson railing about "Wiccan witch smoke" being used against his group. 

Watch the video clip for a sample of the evening's activities.  In spite of all the Sturm und Drang, the zoning board voted against the appeal.  Reverend Henderson, unwilling to give up his time in the limelight, promises a court challenge.

Stay tuned....

Note: I'll also have video up with the remarks of clinic supporters, but have to tend to other matters today.  Coming soon! 

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Judge Mark Fuller Hearing Scheduled In Atlanta September 5

by: countrycat

Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 11:54:16 AM CDT

Friday's hearing for disgraced federal judge Mark Fuller has been rescheduled for September 5, 2014, at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 1-A in the Fulton County Courthouse. The case has been assigned to Ms. Georgee Corley, an Assistant Fulton County Solicitor who specializes in domestic abuse cases. Ms. Corley handles all domestic violence cases. 

The maximum sentence for the criminal charge against defendant Fuller is twelve months in jail. If convicted, Fuller may not receive the maximum sentence because (a) he is a first-time offender and (b) he is reported to be in a rehabilitation treatment facility.

No testimony is expected to be taken in the September 5th hearing. It is one that is typically scheduled so defendants can enter pleas. If Fuller successfully completes his rehabilitation treatment, courthouse observers expect him to either plead guilty or "no contest" to the criminal charge and get sentenced to such treatment, which he would have already completed. Despite the completion of a rehabilitation treatment program, Fuller could receive substantial jail time if the Solicitor is able to establish a pattern and practice of conduct by Fuller in physically abusing his wives and other women. The severity of the beating Fuller administered to his wife Kelli Fuller will also be a factor in his sentencing.

Members of the public who have specific information about Fuller's physical abuse of women in the past should contact Ms. Corley and provide this information as quickly as possible. Her office number is 404-612-4823. 

Meanwhile, anti-domestic violence groups in Alabama and Georgia are continuing to prepare for a mass protest movement in support of Kelli Fuller and against Mark Fuller's violent conduct. These groups are actively monitoring the Fulton County Court's handling of this case to determine whether Fuller will be extended any professional courtesy or special treatment in the Fulton County Court system because he is a sitting federal judge in Montgomery. 

Veteran human rights activist Joseph Cole is coordinating this protest movement with various advocacy groups for battered and abused women. Cole expects thousands of women to attend Mark Fuller's September 5th hearing. Cole's is also closely watching the handling of this case within the Fulton County criminal justice system. Cole expects Alabama's oligarchy to use every ounce of influence it has to save defendant Mark Fuller from serving any time in jail.

The battle lines have been drawn. Fuller drew them in Kelli's blood with his own hand. The anti-domestic violence advocacy groups and I are standing with Kelli Fuller, the alleged crime victim. Alabama's mighty oligarchy is standing with Fuller, its tried and tested puppet on the federal bench. This is a classic case of the "might" versus "right", and it will be played out in a neutral venue - the City of Atlanta. The brighter the spotlight of public attention shines on Fuller's criminal case, the greater the chances are that "right" will prevail
 
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on August 18, 2014 
Used with permission of the author
 

Note:  Judge Mark Fuller is the judge who presided over former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman's trial.  Learn more about his role in the case here at Mooncat's 2007 blog post
 
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SD-07 Bryan Bennett To Challenge Paul Sanford. "We Need to Stop the Groupthink"

by: countrycat

Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

State Senate District 7 in the Huntsville/Madison County area has a new Democratic nominee. SDEC members heard from four candidate hopefuls (including the runner-up in the June primary, Rose Gaskin) before selecting Bryan Bennett as the party's new candidate. Mitchell Howie won the Democratic primary in June, but withdrew from the race several weeks later, citing his wife's pregnancy & family concerns.

Bryan Bennett AL SD-07

Bennett cited his experience working on Joe Sestak's winning campaign in PA-04 over a Republican incumbent.  "It was a textbook case," he told the committee.  "Where you win elections is on the ground. You have to talk to people, tell them what the issues are, ask them what their thoughts are, and then explain how you can help."

He's been a busy man:  

  • Bennett is a retired Air Force colonel & retired high school teacher
  • Past-president of the Kiwanis Club of Huntsville & past president of the division  
  • Past president of the Tennessee Valley Air Force Association.  
  • He helped found Huntsville's free dental clinic.
  • Vice-chair of the Child Protective Services Board of Madison County.
  • He worked in inner-city Philadelphia to set up two school programs to get youth excited about aviation.  

"I believe in our kids.  I believe in our families.  I believe in us working together. 

He described moving to Selma in 1966, calling it a "divisive time in our history.  I lived through that.  I started out in segregated schools in Virginia, where the Governor, Jay Lindsey, said he would shut down the high schools rather than integrate them.  And he did."

An enthusiastic supporter of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, Bennett also supports a higher minimum wage.

"We need to stop the groupthink that is in Montgomery.  When you get a super-majority and groupthink takes over, you've got to break that.  I believe in can beat Paul Sanford.  I would not be in this if I didn't think that.  I'm in this campaign to win."

I can't find a Web site for FB page for the campaign yet, but will post that as soon as we get it.

In the meantime, here's the video of his speech:

 

 

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GA Representative Drafting Bill To Demilitarize Local Police Forces

by: countrycat

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 09:52:04 AM CDT

Cullman has an MRAP, Oxford has a Puma & M-16s, & Montgomery is prepared to resist invasion from, well... somebody.  In June, we wrote about Alabama police departments getting surplus military equipment and the temptation to use that equipment against citizens.

Like this police chief in Morven, GA: none of his 532 residents will get out of line:

Yates said he could “take my guys and the training they have, the equipment we have, and we could shut this town down.” 

No doubt the police in Ferguson, MO thought the same thing when they prepared to respond to protests:

Last night, as the images and stories from Ferguson, Missouri, joined the news churn, many who registered their thoughts via social media noted that what they were seeing—policemen with dogs and AR-15 assault rifles standing in a Stygian, blue-lit cloud of tear gas; crowds of protesters with their hands in the air, screaming “Hands up, don’t shoot”; members of the press being removed from the scene—did not look like America. 

Like police departments in so many other US cities and towns, the Ferguson Police Department eagerly snapped up military-grade equipment - and they're using it:

They have short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles based on the military M4 carbine, with scopes that can accurately hit a target out to 500 meters. On their side they carry pistols. On their front, over their body armor, they carry at least four to six extra magazines, loaded with 30 rounds each.

And they stand in front of a massive uparmored truck called a Bearcat, similar in look to a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or as the troops who rode in them call it, the MRAP. 

Democratic Congressman from Georgia, Hank Johnson, is drafting a bill to cut back on Pentagon transfers of military equipment to local police forces.  He plans to introduce the bill in September, when Congress finally returns from its summer vacation.  

He noted in the last several months those vehicles have been given to cities in Texas, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Illinois and Alabama.

"This trend is not only sweeping America's small cities, it's hitting American college campuses as well. Ohio State University recently acquired an MRAP," he said. "Apparently, college kids are getting too rowdy."

Johnson said his bill would limit the type of equipment that could be transferred and would make sure states track all equipment received.  

There won't be much time to hold hearings and pass the bill, however, because Congress is only in session for 12 days before taking almost the entire month of October off to campaign.  So contact your Senators & Representatives now to ask that they co-sponsor Johnson's bill and help move it through the legislative process. 

 

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CD-06 - Mark Lester Accepts Nomination & Asks For Support

by: countrycat

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:15:10 AM CDT

One bright spot in Saturday's SDEC meeting was the nomination of Birmingham Southern history professor Mark Lester to run in CD-06. The previous candidate, Avery Vise, withdrew from the race due to professional obligations.  

Mark Lester

Lester briefly addressed the crowd & reminded everyone that the election was just "80 days out," so it's all hands on deck to help Lester raise money & get out the vote.  He asked Democrats to stop saying - and believing - that we can't win in the 6th district, citing another candidate who thought he was invulnerable to challenge - from a history professor.  

How'd that work out for you, Eric Cantor?

Lester promised an unapologetic progressive platform, including support for the Affordable Care Act, and an increase in the minimum wage.  

Watch him here:

 

Learn more about his candidacy at his campaign Web site: LesterForCongress.com.  You can donate there as well!

Lester will also appear tomorrow night with AG candidate Joe Hubbard at the Over The Mountain Democrats August meeting

 

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Divided in Thought, United in Laughter

by: leehedgepeth

Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 21:34:28 PM CDT

(Another, more hopeful perspective, on yesterday's SDEC meeting. - promoted by countrycat)

I, as many of you, attended August 16th's meeting of the SDEC. The following was spawned from a conversation in the popular Facebook group Wake Up Alabama, which I encourage you all to join.

I post it here in the the hopes that it sparks discussion on the part of those who voted in the minority during the meeting, of which I very may have been one had I the position.

As I express, I don't know if I'm right, but I hope you'll let me know.

I try (and sometimes don't succeed) to think of it this way: African-Americans in Alabama have been oppressed since before its inception until today, and I don't see racism leaving Dixie anytime soon.

Like Malcolm X and WEB DuBois famously argued, whites have done what they will for centuries blacks, and to some extent -- maybe now its our turn. Not in the sense of white being lynched, etc., but to the extent that if African-Americans in Alabama want a homogenously minority party, then they should get it. White Dixiecrats -- yes, Democrats (and I hate to say it, but the fore bearers of the distinctly white minority of today's SDEC meeting) -- got that political power for centuries, justified or not. Malcolm X said that after slavery, terrorism, and Jim Crow (and now stop and frisk and voter id laws), there is no reason that a so-called American Negro should want to sit next to the white man at the political table -- even Democrats, in reality especially Democrats.

What happened today was undemocratic, yes. But when Democrats actually had power in Alabama, whites were, as privileged as we are, able to still be the majority in the legislature. Now that Dems are the minority, whites in Alabama fled the party (because the GOP became the racists instead of us), and the Joe Reed faction was able to take over, colored by the shadow of Wallace in the schoolhouse door.

Does Reed see any of those who lost votes today as descendants of Wallace? I don't know, and I don't want to speak for him. But I can understand if he did. And I don't blame him, or anyone who voted with him today. They are entitled to their votes, too, and in light of the history, maybe a little more.

And whites aren't losing out on a whole lot, except the Party's debt, and a possibility of learning from people who history will see as heroes, in light of or in spite of what happened today. Joe Reed, Hank Sanders, Johnny Ford. These are not undemocratic people. These are experienced people. We just have to understand that experience, I think, and learn from it.

At one point in the SDEC meeting, a white member facetiously moved that Dr. Reed just go ahead and appoint all the executive board members. A quick witted Johnny Ford, Mayor of Tuskegee, then seconded that motion. Everyone in the room -- white or black, SDEC member or guest, politician or reporter -- laughed. Hard. Maybe we're not so divided after all. Maybe we just need some laughter. And a few more minority appointments (Reed and the Minority Caucus appointed more whites than blacks today, I believe, contrary to some beliefs.)

Edit:  Review some of the debate over seating new committee members & watch video clips here.

 

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Report From The Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee Meeting - Part 1

by: countrycat

Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 12:08:31 PM CDT

Very few people who attended the SDEC meeting in Montgomery yesterday went home happy.  Almost everyone deplored the tone of the meeting, and others left very concerned with the direction of the Alabama Democratic Party. We have some terrific candidates running for office this cycle, but their campaigns were overshadowed the debate over how the committee should fill vacancies.

Alabama Democratic Party

Calling it a "debate" is kind.  In actuality, it was more like a rugby scrum.

For those not familiar with ADP by-laws & procedures, it's probably helpful to provide a little background.  That will help you understand what all the fuss was about. 

  • Filling SDEC vacancies:  The ADP by-laws call for one male & one female member from every House district.  Those positions are elected during the primary in gubernatorial years.  The most recent election was in June, so there were a number of new members. 

    In the event that nobody qualified to run for the slot or a sitting member moves out of the district, resigns, or passes away, the SDEC can fill the spot by a majority vote.

    Prior to yesterday's meeting, the SDEC had 56 vacancies for elected positions.

    The committee also had 55 vacancies for appointed positions called "at-large" seats.  Those are filled by the minority caucus & Dr. Joe Reed announced that the minority caucus had filled those slots during its meeting prior to the entire SDEC meeting.

  • Election to by the SDEC: Prospective members must be nominated by a sitting SDEC member & are required to be present at the meeting at the time of their nomination.  As Chairwoman Worley noted, that requirement isn't in the by-laws, but is a "custom."

  • In previous meetings, election of new committee members was the first order of business after announcements, officer reports, and old business. That allowed the new members to take office at the meeting and participate in discussion and - at this particular meeting - the election of officers.

  • Yesterday, a number of people who were interested in filling those vacant positions attended the meeting, hoping to be nominated.  People drove from all over the state, some making trips of 3 hours or more to reach Montgomery.

  • In previous meetings, the chair went through the list district by district asking for nominations.  Yesterday however, Chairwoman Worley recognized Dr. Joe Reed first and he made a motion to fill just 7 of the 58 open positions (he already had the names available to read aloud) and "hold over" the remaining vacancies.
Repeatedly, Worley made reference to the committee's "long agenda" and taking some shortcuts "in the interest of time," but what many attendees saw was an effort to  restrict committee membership for no good reason.
 
Although members repeatedly asked WHY Dr. Reed made the motion to change the standard meeting procedure, he declined to speak on the matter again.
 
If they were indeed trying to "save time," let's just say that strategy didn't work and caused a huge amount of ill will on the committee for no good reason.  The committee spent nearly an hour fighting over this when the actual elections for all the slots could have been done in half that time. Not only that, it embarrassed the members who had worked to recruit new committee members and wasted the time of those hopefuls who had attended the meeting, but who were somehow left off Dr. Reed's list - the one that only a few knew in advance that he was making.
 
Think about how strange this is: SDEC members are supposed to be leaders in their districts who help recruit candidates, boost the Democratic party, work at their headquarters, and take local concerns and comments to the full SDEC for consideration.  What possible reason would the committee have to keep new members from being elected right on the cusp of one of the most important elections Alabama has had in years?  The SDEC won't meet again before the election, unless a special meeting is called.
 
I still haven't heard a reason that makes sense.  Watch the video series on the flip. 

 

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Meet Joe Hubbard & Mark Lester Tuesday, 8/19 At Over The Mountain Democrats' Meeting

by: countrycat

Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 08:19:49 AM CDT

Attorney General candidate Joe Hubbard & newly-selected congressional candidate for CD-06, Mark Lester, will be the featured speakers at Tuesday night's OTM Democrats' meeting.  The meeting begins at 6:30 pm in the Homewood Main Library auditorium on 1721 Oxmoor Road.

over the mountain democrats

Both candidates will deliver short speeches & then do a short Q&A session.  This is a terrific opportunity to meet two qualified, serious candidates for public office.

Hubbard, a state representative, is well-known to many in the state and he's been campaigning hard for Attorney General for months now.  Mark Lester, a history professor at Birmingham Southern Collegs is less well-known, but no less qualified to represent Alabama in Congress.  If elected, both candidates will be public servants who put the good of the state & country over partisan concerns and personal advancement.  

Change in Alabama starts with us - but only if we turn out to vote on November 4th. 

Mark Lester campaign Web site

Joe Hubbard campaign Web site 

 

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Citizen Journalists: Let's Review What You Can & Can't Video

by: countrycat

Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 17:52:37 PM CDT

Some Ferguson, MO police officers don't seem to realize that citizens have the right to record events happening in public.  A Washington Post reporter & Huffington Post reporter found that out last night as they sipped coffee in a McDonald's restaurant close to the protests.  From the WaPo account:

Bill of Rights 

Moments later, the police reemerged, telling us that we had to leave. I pulled my phone out and began recording video. An officer with a large weapon came up to me and said, “Stop recording.”

I said, “Officer, do I not have the right to record you?”

He backed off but told me to hurry up. So I gathered my notebook and pens with one hand while recording him with the other hand.

As I exited, I saw Ryan to my left, having a similar argument with two officers. I recorded him, too, and that angered the officer. As I made my way toward the door, the officers gave me conflicting information.

One instructed me to exit to my left. As I turned left, another officer emerged, blocking my path. “Go another way,” he said.

As I turned, my backpack, which was slung over one shoulder, began to slip. I said, “Officers, let me just gather my bag.” As I did, one of them said, “Okay, let’s take him.”

Multiple officers grabbed me. I tried to turn my back to them to assist them in arresting me. I dropped the things from my hands.

“My hands are behind my back,” I said. “I’m not resisting. I’m not resisting.” At which point one officer said: “You’re resisting. Stop resisting.” That was when I was most afraid — more afraid than of the tear gas and rubber bullets.

As they took me into custody, the officers slammed me into a soda machine, at one point setting off the Coke dispenser. They put plastic cuffs on me, then they led me out the door.

I could see Ryan still talking to an officer. I said: “Ryan, tweet that they’re arresting me, tweet that they’re arresting me.”

He didn’t have an opportunity, because he was arrested as well. 

After a bogus arrest where officers told the reporters they were "trespassing in a McDonald's," which didn't seem to jibe with the account given by the manager of the restaurant, who said was the event was a terrible thing, they were released with no charges. 

The ACLU has a hand guide for people who want to photograph & film public events:

Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply.

Your rights as a photographer: 

  • When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. 
  • When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. 
  • Police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your digital photographs or video without a warrant. 
  • Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.
  • Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations.
  • Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws.   

The page goes on to describe what to do if you're stopped or detained for taking photographs & outlines special considerations for videotaping, including whether the audio portion of the tape is covered under wiretapping laws.   Also, photography at airports is "recognized as an important check on government power in the airport security context."  There's a whole section on that.

We're interested: have you ever been cautioned against filming or photographing any public events or public officials?  How did you respond & what happened?

 

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SD-35 - Beau Doolittle Urges State To "Do The Right Thing" For Working Alabamians: Expand Medicaid

by: countrycat

Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:00:00 PM CDT

SD-35 candidate Beau Doolittle thinks the state legislature can "do more" for the state than focus on hot-button issues that end up mired in the federal courts and tarnish the state's reputation.  The legislature needs to focus on problems it can fix and pay attention to real issues that affect Alabama citizens, he says.  

Beau Doolittle

In a press release last week, Doolittle urged Governor Bentley & the legislature to do the right thing for the state and its citizens: expand Medicaid.

“We need to make sure that all Alabamians have access to health care. Hard-working people at low wage jobs are some of the hardest hit when it comes to that.  They're caught in the middle of politics because they earn too little for a subsidy to offset the cost of insurance and are not currently eligible for Medicaid."  Doolittle further added that Medicaid expansion would save the state money and provide a key role in job creation.

In addition, the Alabama Senate Candidate came out swinging against opponents of expansion.  

 “With the announcement of these new numbers, Governor Bentley's continued stubbornness when it comes to Medicaid Expansion is just another sign that working families are not a priority under the current governor and state legislature.  This affects many citizens in District 35 - and I am committed to protecting their interest. Studies have shown that Medicaid Expansion would provide almost 300,000 people with health care, create as many as 30,000 jobs and would have a multibillion-dollar economic impact on our state.  All of this at no cost to our state for three years,” stated Doolittle. 

"Governor Bentley claims he is concerned with federal spending, yet doesn't seem to mind taking substantial federal funding for other state projects.”  

Doolittle also points to the fact that many rural hospitals will be forced to close, making access more difficult for people in those areas to have access to health care.  Additionally, he cites another study that says an average of 500 Alabamians per year will die because of the failure to expand Medicaid. 

"Bringing this program to Alabama is a moral imperative. Perhaps Governor Bentley should take the advice of John Kasich, the Republican evangelical conservative governor of Ohio who, to paraphrase, said- When you die and meet St. Peter at the pearly gates, he probably isn't going to ask you what you did to keep government small. But he is going to want to know what you did to help the sick and the poor, and you better have a good answer.  Governor Bentley does not,” said Doolittle.   

 The report that is to be released early next week indicates that 185,000 working citizens of Alabama would benefit from expansion.  An earlier study by health care economists at UAB found that Medicaid expansion would cover approximately 300,000 Alabamians. “That’s a lot of people that will benefit – and, again, it is of no cost to the state. Insuring Alabama is insuring our future. A pound of prevention is worth a great deal of cure.”

Doolittle further stated, “Opponents of Medicaid expansion need to question their motives. Medicare expansion in our state presents a win-win scenario. There would be no losers . . . only winners. I would call on any opponents to the measure to consider the opportunity that will inevitably be lost should the state deny expansion,” stated Doolittle.   

SD-35 is a Mobile-area district.

Learn more about Beau Doolittle's candidacy at his campaign Web site & follow campaign events on his Facebook page.

 

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SD-08 - Horace Clemmons: "It's Time To Start Planning For The Future."

by: countrycat

Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:00:14 AM CDT

SD-08 candidate Horace Clemmons didn't go to college and because of that, he says that he's often felt that the people around him are smarter & have better ideas.  But anyone who attended the Madison County Democratic Women's meeting last week & heard him speak knows that he's wrong.  He's not great delivering a prepared speech, but Clemmons is on fire when he answers questions & talks about Alabama's future in general and his district in particular.

Horace Clemmons

His presentation was a refreshing change from the current incumbent, Shadrack McGill, who peppers every discussion with a profusion of Biblical metaphors &  disappointing dearth of facts.

In this video clip, Clemmons answers a question about home rule for county governments and then discusses the importance state involvement in regional development issues.

For too long, Alabama government has been the poster child for the dangers of short term thinking & planning.  Here, Clemmons take the long view, using agriculture as an example.  You can tell he's been a successful business owner and hopefully, even through the video, you can see the passion & hope he has for the state and the future.

Here's a partial transcript, and the video is on the flip: 

I would be all for rewriting the Constitution so that we have local control of everything. But look: all my live I've been a renegade, a troublemaker.  If this is where we need to go, I'll break whatever glass to get us there.

Yogi Berra once said: "You have to careful if you don't know where you're gonna go, because you might get there." We have to decide where we want to go & once we decide that, we have to put passion into that vision.

I believe that locally the key is economic development: we can grow this whole area.  Huntsville is a significant economic catalyst, but economic development in the United States today is not metropolitan development, it's regional development.  Jackson & DeKalb counties are assets to Huntsville for regional development. Put the three together and you can build an awesome economic development engine.

That's the good thing about me sitting on all three county delegations: we can pull together to create a regional development goal.  We need to engage the business community in this because there's nothing that will drive this effort more than their participation.

My goal is to work with the delegation to recruit the business leaders and we have to think about new ways to do things.

I talk with a lot of farmers and I realize:  they're doing the same things they did a hundred years ago, just using better equipment, fertilizer, & feed.  But look: Scottsboro is the center of the district & think about the millions of people within a three hour drive that you touch with agricultural products. So go to Auburn & Alabama A&M and ask them what sort of agricultural products people will be consuming in twenty years. 

Then, lets take some of those millions in tax money that goes to multinational corporations and give it to local businesses.  Let's not worry about what we grow today; let's find out what we need to grow in the future. Then, we get state government to help build the distribution chain so that we own the distribution chain because that's where the real money is.

We need to look at every economic engine this way and we can grow this entire area. 

Once that growth starts, we'll have more revenue & we can spend more on education. We have to break the problems down & work on them.  To me, education is the more important, but we work on it under economic development. 

 

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Dalai Lama In Birmingham 10/24-10/26. Tickets On Sale Now

by: countrycat

Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 18:00:00 PM CDT

International human rights activist & exiled leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, will make his first visit to Alabama in October.  A series of events begiinning Friday, October 24 culminates in a large gathering at Regions Field on Sunday, 10/26 at 2pm. The Dalai Lama rarely appears at large events, so this outdoor rally is a special event.

Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster. Prices range from $227 to $12.

The city of Birmingham has been working on this event for months:

Bell said the city originally reached out to the Dalai Lama as part of this year's 50th anniversary commemoration of 1963 civil rights activities. While the Dalai Lama could not participate this year, Bell said the conversation continued and the invitation remained. Officials at UAB worked alongside the city, Bell said.

He will appear at two other events during the visit:

Dialogue in Birmingham, Alabama, USA on October 25: His Holiness will participate in a dialogue on Neuroplasticity and Healing organized by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  

Interfaith Event in Birmingham, Alabama, USA on October 25: His Holiness will participate in an interfaith dialogue entitled Beyond Belief at The Alabama Theater. 

Congrats to the people in Birmingham who worked hard to schedule this event.  It should be a terrific experience for those who participate. 

 

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Saturday Will Be A Big Day For The Alabama Democratic Party

by: countrycat

Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 16:03:09 PM CDT

The ADP's State Democratic Executive Committee meets in Montgomery this Saturday, 8/16 with a full agenda.  They'll be electing officers for the next four years - including (rumor has it) a new chair to take over from current chair Nancy Worley.  Newly-elected members who won their races during the June primary will be seated, there are vacant candidate slots the committee needs to fill, and there's the possibility that the "diversity amendment" will reappear in some form or fashion.

The public is invited to attend the meeting & if you've never been to an SDEC meeting, well, I can tell you that it's an "experience."  I don't mean that in a good way, either.  Over the past few years, I've watched as Roberts Rules of Order were twisted beyond recognition, motions ruled out of order simply because the ADP leadership didn't want to discuss them (example 1, example 2), and seen the leadership display a simultaneous slavish devotion to the letter of some of the by-laws - and a distinct disdain for some of the more inconvenient portions.   For instance, the party by-laws say that this meeting has to take place between August 1 & August 15.  Saturday is the 16th.

An SDEC meeting is an experience that sends many attendees directly to the nearest bar as soon as the meeting adjourns. 

The race to watch on Saturday is, of course, the chair's race.  Multiple names have been floated and there's at least one declared candidate: 

  • Josh Seagall, who came heartbreakingly close to knocking off Congressman Mike Rogers in AL-03 in 2008, was mentioned.  Last week though, Seagall took to his Facebook page to announce that the rumors were just that: he isn't running.
  • Redding Pitt, a former ADP chair who left office in 2005, has been mentioned, but hasn't made any public statements.
  • Nancy Worley, the current interim chair, reportedly wants to step down due to health reasons.
  • Dennis Bates, who declared his candidacy in a rather unhinged letter to SDEC members, is the only candidate openly running for the position.
He is, however, unlikely to be acceptable to the majority of SDEC members and would almost certainly cause controversy with base voters.  Mr. Bates, you see, feels that the Democratic Party in Alabama is having problems with voters because "the gays" have too much power and Nancy Worley is too cozy with them.  From his letter to SDEC members:  

 She [Worley] said then, that she had just been in a meeting with a lesbian group in Mobile and she wanted the party to make a place on the Executive Board (the inner circle of the party) for the leader of this lesbian group. That would have given this person tremendous power, equal to  Dr. Joe Reed,  to affect the direction of the party for the foreseeable future. Worley did not seem to care that in the Buckle of the Bible belt, the regular man in the street, the voter who makes up the majority and elects the leaders of the state, would see this as a direct affront to their views. On the contrary, she felt it would broaden the party's appeal. How much more politically tone deaf can one get? 

It got worse from there & there's no reason I can see to publicize it further, other than to say that Bates lists his campaign work for a number of Republicans (including former Illinois Representative Phil Crane's 1980 presidential bid).

 
The meeting details:
 
Meeting begins at 11am
Crump Center
1750 Congressman Dickinson Dr.
Montgomery, Al 36109
 
My advice: pack a lunch.  This meeting could take some time.
  
Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Chair of Alabama Pro-Life Coalition Is Mixed Up In Growing Riley/Hubbard Scandal

by: countrycat

Fri Aug 08, 2014 at 11:09:10 AM CDT

The Alabama Political Reporter's Bill Britt continued his coverage of the growing campaign finance scandal surrounding former Governer Bob Riley & Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard's 2010 campaign activities.  But thos aren't the only names mentioned this time: Alabama Pro-Life Coalition chair Eric Johnston was also a player.  According to his statements, Johnston's part in the scheme was to accept "contributions" from one group & divert the money to business interests owned by Mike Hubbard:

According to Johnston, “Someone from the governor’s [Bob Riley’s] office would call and say you’re getting a check for $200,000 and you’re going to get a bill at the same time from [Mike] Hubbard’s deal and you need to pay that...that is what that money is for.”

“Hubbard’s deal,” according to Johnston, was a Hubbard business interest.

Johnston describes how money raised by Riley, went directly to Hubbard and that he never actually saw most of the money.

Johnston said that the money that his organization received was almost entirely for advertising, “Mike was in that business and I thought it appropriate for him to handle it.”

At the time, Johnston was head of Citizens for a Better Alabama - an anti-gambling group.  He's now the chair of the "Alabama Pro-Life Coalition" & helped write the unconstitutional TRAP bill that's cost the state hundreds of thousands (much of the money going to fake experts) to defend in federal court.

Britt's article is a little too generous to Johnston, IMO:

Johnston has a long history of opposing gambling in Alabama.  It is likely he wanted to help fight gambling expansion; whether or not he knew that he would essentially be handing over his non-profit to Riley and Hubbard is unknown.

Probably, Johnston didn't realize it at the time he agreed to accept money from Riley, but why didn't the instructions to "pay the invoice Hubbard sends" raise a red flag?  Hello... the man is an attorney and has been active in politics for a long time and understands - or should understand - campaign finance law.

Might be interesting to find out just where the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition's money is coming from. 

 

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

"The War on Coal" or Just Common Sense?

by: leehedgepeth

Fri Aug 08, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

( - promoted by countrycat)

According to its CEO, Southern Company – the parent corporation of Alabama Power – will be increasing its use of natural gas and decreasing use of coal, not because of recent EPA regulations, but because it's cheaper.

In a recent conference call, CEO Tom Fanning told shareholders that while in the first half of this year coal provided 43% of the company's needs and gas 36%, those numbers are likely to even out to about 40% each by the end of 2014.

Fanning explained, though, that the 3% decrease in coal-produced power and 4% increase in gas-fired power was not due to regulations by the EPA, but by lowering natural gas prices.

“We're slightly ahead in 2014 on coal related to gas, but I would argue that with gas prices falling recntly into the $4 [perMMBtu] range, we will see gas pick up a little bit,” Fanning said.

Additionally, despite Alabama Power's recent announcement that it is closing coal plants, CFO Art Beattie said that with Southern Company's 330 industrial projects currently underway, 37,000 new jobs are set to be created in the four states it serves.

The Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama has been the subject of intense criticism by the right in Alabama, with Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh at the helm. Cavanaugh gained regional attention when at a press conference held by the Alabama Coal Association she insisted she would pray for the overreaching regulators in Washington, as all Alabamians should.

And though it appears that high coal prices relative to that of natural gas are causing a shift in the fuels used by power companies, politicians like Cavanaugh tell a somewhat different story:

“After traveling all around Alabama it is clear that what mamas and daddies want is the least expensive option to power their homes. And you know small businesses and industry share that same concern. They depend on affordable and reliable power to stay in business and grow jobs.”

Despite Cavanaugh's understanding, Southern Company's top leadership seems to believe natural gas is “the least expensive option to power... homes” – or that it is at least tied with coal 40% to 40%. Nuclear units provide another 16% of Southern's supply, and hydro and other units the remaining 5%.

Commissioner Cavanaugh doubled down on her view in a statement released after Alabama Power's revelation of a shift away from coal:

“It's a sad day when Barack Obama and the federal government get to tell the people of Alabama how to handle our own energy production... These plants help keep our utility bills low when electricity demand is high... Now, Obama and his liberal EPA are bringing uncertainty to the jobs and utility bills of our citizens.”

President Obama, however, did not shift the ratio of coal and natural gas Southern Company uses away from the former and toward the latter in order to “keep our utility rates low,” at least according to the corporation's top executives – they did.
Discuss :: (1 Comments)
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