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

by: countrycat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

by: countrycat

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

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

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

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

by: countrycat

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

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

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

Currently, the signs say "Alabama the Beautiful."

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

What a deal!  

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

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

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

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

 

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

by: countrycat

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

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

So let's just share some screen shots:

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


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

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


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


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


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


Welcome to Alabama, kids.

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

 

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

by: countrycat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

by: countrycat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

by: RonCrumpton2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

Candidate Website 

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Rebuilding The Alabama Democratic Party - Georgia Style

by: countrycat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

by: countrycat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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