Those who attended the state party meeting yesterday may have hoped for an efficient election of DNC members and delegates that would allow attendance at the Save Our Schools rally. Alas, those hopes were soon dashed. The minority caucus, led by Dr. Reed, convened in the same room as the main meeting (but behind a curtain so "outsiders" could not see that particular brand of sausage being made). Despite a 9:30 start that should have allowed the SDEC proceedings to begin on time, that meeting ran well past the 11:00 am published start time. That was just the first hint that we were in for a very long day.
Terri Sewell is working hard to make history as the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Alabama, but her constant theme in a packed town hall meeting at Birmingham's West End Library Thursday evening was that this election is about representing the people of Alabama's 7th district above all else.
She stressed the need for job creation and economic development in the district, touted her experience, leadership and good character and pledged to be an honest, effectivevoice on behalf of the 7th congressional district.
"I just want to say I know who I am and whose I am. And if you send me to Congress, I will take those same values of faith, personal responsibility, hard work to Washington and roll up my sleeves and work on behalf of you each and every day. It's about remembering who elected you. It's about remembering why you're there: to represent the people.
If you honor me with your vote, I will serve you with honor. ... You won't be embarrassed by anything I say or do."
Time and again she told the crowd she would always put the interests of the seventh congressional district first and foremost, even ahead of partisan politics or President Obama's priorities should the two ever conflict.
"The issues are about creating jobs, better schools, improving our infrastructure, helping our senior citizens, making sure we have Medicaid and Medicare ... that's what it's about. ... We have to make sure healthcare is accessible for everybody."
Sewell, daughter of Selma's first African-American city councilwoman, noted that she had interviewed Shirley Chisolm for her thesis "Black Women in Politics: Our Time has Come" back in the 1980's. She quoted Chisolm on public service:
"Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth."
... and said, "I'm asking you on July 13th to let me make a small deposit toward that rent. You will not, you will not, be sorry."
This ad responds directly to Smoot's "Let them eat steak" radio ad (also debunked here) and I think the two are running on some of the same radio stations. We've noted elsewhere that Shelia Smoot's ads are short on facts and long on negativity -- I've listened to the ones she's sent out on Facebook and they're entirely negative, no mention at all of Smoot's qualifications, plans to create jobs, reduce poverty or improve infrastructure in Alabama's 7th congressional district, just accusations about her opponent. When you have nothing positive to run on, it's all about tearing down the other side.
In contrast, Terri Sewell's media advertising has been all positive to this point and I hear that her positive ads are still running in the district. But positive campaign or no, when you're attacked, you'd better hit back with the truth or people will believe the lies.
This question of attending Republican meetings (as alleged in the Smoot ad) came up at Sewell's town hall meeting in Birmingham Thursday evening, asked by a woman who said she had several questions she got off the internet. Sewell said:
"I am a strong Democrat and I have been all my life. ... I am a Democrat and I am not going to go to Congress and switch parties, and I know who I am and whose I am."
The lady who asked the question thanked Sewell and said she would email that response around. Video of the interchange is below the fold.
... just as Terri has been able to communicate with and inspire the people she has met on the campaign, she will be able to do the same with members of congress. I could picture her last night meeting with Nancy Pelosi or Alan Grayson and having productive conversations with them, and actually getting things done for our district and for our country.
If Terri does not win this election consider it stolen.
I obviously left too soon last night, and missed this little treat:
So last night as I was leaving Sewell's town hall meeting in West End, a vehicle with speakers attached to the outside was broadcasting "This is a warning," followed by these lies and others, with a booming, authoritative voice, to people in the community.
If Smoot will lie to get into office, what will she do once she is elected? We don't need an embarrassment in Washington, D.C. We need a person who can relate to the big wigs there, but can also relate to the people, all of the people, in her district.
Joe also says, "But Terri will not lose. She will win on Tuesday." Only if all her supporters go to the polls on Tuesday and take their friends and family with them. She's in the fight of her life and the opponent doesn't fight fair, oh not one bit.
Will Shelia Smoot take down her false radio ads now that her claim that Terri Sewell didn't vote in Alabama before 2008 has been shown to be a lie? I doubt it. This is Shelia Smoot's MO: fail to perform due diligence up front and then deny responsibility on the back end. It worked on the JeffCo Commission where Smoot voted for something she didn't understand (or worse) -- the ruinous sewer bond refinancing deals -- then said, "In my opinion, JP Morgan and all the rest of them are at fault. ... They fooled us."
Someone has fooled Smoot again, about Terri Sewell's voting record, and the result is she's airing absolutely false statements.
Second false Smoot ad: "Sewell never even voted in Alabama until 2 years ago. ... She never even bothered to vote and now she wants to represent you in Congress. ... Sewell doesn't even vote, but she attacks Shelia Smoot's record?"
Terri Sewell's mother was the first black woman elected to the Selma City Council. It's totally unbelievable that Terri Sewell never voted in Alabama when her own mother was on the ballot.And in fact, it isn't true. Shela Smoot's crack research staff did the easy thing, asked the Secretary of State for Sewell's voting records at her current address -- and they only got records going back to 2007. That apparently suited their narrative just fine, so they stopped right there and started cutting ads. But they missed 23 years of the story; Terri Sewell registered to vote in Dallas County, Alabama in 1984.
Here's the rest of the story. Alabama changed to a statewide voter database in 2007 so the SoS office doesn't have the older records in Montgomery. Ed Packard, the Secretary of State's Supervisor of Voter Registration issued a written statement on the matter saying that "the current registration record in Jefferson County was the only record that existed when the State of Alabama implemented our new statewide voter registration database system. Therefore, it was the only record imported as counties moved to the new system."
If you want information from before 2007, you have to go to the county registrars. The voter registration card (link above) from Dallas County proves Sewell registered to vote in 1984 when she was a teenager. Per a written statement, Sewell "went on to vote in multiple local, federal, and state races in Alabama's 7th district, often casting absentee ballots while away at college. She spent many long hours campaigning for her mother, who was the first African-American woman elected to the Selma city council, and always made a point to cast a vote in support of her mother."
So, Smoot's ads are simply false. Will she do the honorable thing, take them down and apologize to her opponent?
There's an excellent piece over at DailyKos - The truth about Terri Sewell and the AL-7 race - that everyone should read. BamaDem takes on the Smoot campaign's misinformation, one lie at a time, and applies a dose of the truth. To summarize:
Terri Sewell was somehow involved in the same nationally infamous bond refinancing deal in Jefferson County, Alabama - Verdict: OUTRIGHT LIE
Terri Sewell did not even register to vote for the first time until 2007 - Verdict: FALSE--BAD INFORMATION WITH NO FOLLOW-UP
Terri Sewell skipped out on an ADC event to attend a Republican Women's event (this lie is actually being spread on the air in a Smoot radio ad, paid for by God knows who) - Verdict: FALSE--COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR THE TRUTH
Terri Sewell is a Corporate Dem (or a secret Republican) because she's raised a lot of money - Verdict: GROSS TWISTING OF FACTS
Truth and facts can't stand up and speak for themselves. If we stay silent when the facts are distorted and misrepresented, the decievers will always win. The real question now is whether the lies and distortions will be stronger than the truth in Alabama's 7th CD next Tuesday.
yes Sewell was directly involved as bond counsel in some of these Jefferson County deals.
It seemed incredible to me that out of all the women in AL-07, both candidates in the runoff might have been involved in the Jefferson County sewer bond disaster, so this was a point I particularly wanted to clear up in an interview Terri Sewell last week. I'm glad I asked, because Sewell is adamant that she had no involvement in the Jefferson County sewer bond deals.
"Not only was I not involved in the bond refinancing, the water/sewer bond refinancing, which has led to the $3.9 billion deficit that Jefferson County currently has, I wasn't even in the state of Alabama. I wasn't working at that law firm at the time when these occurred. ... I was not involved in those financings. Am I an attorney that does public financing and bondings, generally? Yes, I am. Was I a participant in the water/sewer crisis of Jefferson County? I was unequivically not a part of that."
Sewell noted that it is a matter of public record that Commissioner Smoot was the third vote (three constitutes a majority) on a number of those deals.
"I find it very interesting that certain people take credit for the good things that happen in Jefferson County but won't take the blame or won't own up to their part and participation in that which did not turn out well.
... I am a resident in Jefferson County and I'm mad that I have to pay three times as much money for my water and sewer and I think that a lot of citizens are. And the only people you can blame for that are the people who are directly responsible for those votes.
... The only Jefferson County bond deal that I was a part of was the Jefferson bond deal that actually built Bessemer Courthouse. ... The only one that's listed for me as an active participant ... was for the Jefferson County bond issue that was issued for the Bessemer Courthouse and the building of the Bessemer Courthouse. Nothing to do with the sewer and the water bond deals. Which were refinancings that cost millions, cost the taxpayers billions of dollars. For what I think was ill-advised swaps and derivatives and refinancing. The fact is my opponent was a part of those votes. I was not."
Toward the end of the interview Sewell said she was peripherally involved in another Jefferson County bond issue -- again, not the sewer and water issue -- related to the one cent sales tax. She said that was one of the first things she worked on after returning to Birmingham and she came on board near the end of that deal.
All bonds are not sewer bonds. Terri Sewell didn't have a role in the Jefferson County financial meltdown -- she didn't work on the bond deals and she didn't have a vote on the County Commission. Shelia Smoot voted for those deals and must bear some responsibility for the financial havoc they have wrought.
It's disappointing to see Smoot's supporters, particularly bloggers who have done good reporting on other issues, stretch the truth to the breaking point in what appears to be a desperate attempt to project Smoot's sewer bond problems onto her opponent -- who was not involved. The truth still matters, and the mirror will be waiting when the runoff is over.
For the second time in as many nights, Shelia Smoot sat next to an empty chair in what was intended to be a debate with her opponent. Terri Sewell first skips a debate sponsored by an organization, The Alabama New South Coalition, that endorses her just a week earlier. Tonight she slights her hometown of Selma in a radio debate on Z105.3. All candidates according to the Dallas County Democratic Executive committee, the event sponsor, were given adequate notice.
Sewell has yet to offer an explanation as to why she will not take her case directly to the voters of the district. The voters are not given the opportunity to ask Sewell about her plans for improving the District.
If a candidate for Congress chooses not to provide an open line of communication to the voters now then they can only imagine the type of service they will receive. A job applicant failing to attend an interview usually will not receive the position. Choosing to avoid a debate and taking your case to the voters should be met with resistance at the polls.
Where is Terri Sewell? Why is she avoiding the voters of the 7th Congressional District? Terri Sewell finds time to attend silly expensive shoe fundraisers , but she cannot find time to talk directly to those that she would serve.
If she only pays attention to her high dollar donors now what can we expect when the least of these need her attention. Terri Sewell left the 7th Congressional District after high school and it seems that she never looked back.
The short answer to why it matters is this, Shelia Smoot has been on the Jefferson County Commission since 2002, that service is a big part of her resume, she participated in a number of the bond-swap votes that turned out so badly for the county, and her history of decision making is entirely relevant to the choice 7th Congressional District voters will make in two weeks. If you're into polite euphemisms you might say the sewer mess casts and "ethical cloud" over Ms. Smoot's aspirations to higher office. To be more blunt, at least 6 former county commissioners (Chris McNair, Gary White, Mary Buckelew, John Katapodis, Jeff Germany, Larry Langford) have been convicted of wrongdoing associated with the sewer mess and there's no certainty that's the end of it. That's six convictions out of five??? commission slots! Yes, more than the entire commission has been convicted over sewer deals because this thing spans a long damned time.
The debacle raised the specter of bankruptcy and the ensuing investigations eventually landed former county commission president and Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford a 15-year prison sentence. Another 20 defendants were also convicted after extensive federal investigations into corruption issues around the sewer bonds.
You see how just being on the JeffCo commission during this fiasco makes one look a bit like Pigpen, with a big old flaming ethical sewage cloud (H/T KC) tagging along? Let's take a tentative tiptoe through the sordid sewer stories of Jefferson County, Alabama, starting in the mid-1990's. First, a glimpse of the hardship the Jefferson County Commission caused their constituents through their mishandling, poor decisions and good old fashioned graft and corruption, because government has consequences and bad government has terrible consequences.
As nighttime temperatures plunged in Birmingham, Alabama, last October, Dora Bonner had a choice: either pay the gas bill so she could heat the home she shares with four grandchildren, or send the Birmingham Water Works a $250 check for her water and sewer bill.
Bonner, who is 73 and lives on Social Security, decided to keep the house from freezing.
"I couldn't afford the water, so they shut it off," she says.
Cost increases in the 400% to 600% range put the squeeze on everybody, especially the poor and elderly. And because we're talking sewer bills here, masses of folks shutting off the water/sewer isn't a healthy option for residents or the community -- hepatitis, cholera, typhoid, anyone?
As I've disclaimed previously, I'm helping my friend Shelia Smoot in her July 13 runoff election for the AL-07 Congressional seat. I've said a lot about Shelia and why I think she is the best person to represent the constituents of this district.
However, I want to try something different and offer you some quotes and testimony that come from others about Shelia. Here I start with an endorsement from a supporter in Eutaw, Alabama that was submitted to the campaign
From Debbie in Eutaw, AL - I believe that Shelia's vision alone, on upgrading technology in the rural area, will bring the black belt into the information age and make this generation competitive.
Below the fold you will find more endorsements and testimony about Shelia
One of the very first things I learned when I began helping out at Democratic Headquarters was that everything we distributed needed to have a union "bug" on it to assure labor unions we appreciated them and weren't taking for granted their support, volunteers, money and, eventually, the votes of their members ... all of which they would certainly withhold if the bug wasn't on literature, shirts and so forth. Exceptions could be made for small quantities, but the words "Produced in house, labor donated" needed to be on even those items. This was all new to me (as I was new to politics) but the way people told it, the sky would fall if you left off the union bug.
For the unfamiliar, union bugs are the little union emblems on printed items, as shown to the right. They testify that the product was printed in a union shop. Because they're usually so small as to be virtually unreadable they look a bit buglike, hence the name. Those bugs in the illustration are all from shirts in our household and, believe it or not, that selection is just from shirts recently laundered and stacked on the washer waiting to be put away. No shortage of union bugs here!
But recent events indicate the union bug is destined to follow the boll weevil into oblivion. Things look grim for the little rascal, at least in Alabama's 7th Congressional District where Shelia Smoot's campaign continues to distribute union-bug free literature, just asthey did before the June 1 primary. The images below are of items being passed out by the Smoot campaign at a Jefferson County Young Democrats event this past Monday evening.
This piece (also shown front and back) does not bear a union bug, although it clearly says "Paid for by Smoot for Congress, P.O. Box ..."
The Smoot campaign was also passing out this piece (also shown front and back) of literature at the same event and it has a union bug right under her elbow, so someone on the campaign knows about bugs:
The real irony here is that Shelia Smoot herself was not at the event where these particular cards were passed out. She had gone to Mobile, to talk to labor leaders about an endorsement. And in fact, the very next day she was able to announce that the Southwest Alabama Labor Council had endorsed her for the runoff in the 7th CD. She had already been endorsed by AEA and the Montgomery and Tuscaloosa Area Labor Councils.
Yes, Shelia Smoot is definitely breaking new ground here, making it clear that Alabama labor organizations are broad-minded and big-hearted enough to no longer give a damn about whether campaigns use union shops for production of campaign materials or not.
Good bye little union bug, we'll miss you, but I reckon Alabama candidates -- even Democrats -- just don't need you any more.
Late last week I found myself at the Jefferson County website looking for budget reports, records of expenditures or anything else that would indicate how money is being spent by the Commissioners. All I could turn up was the minutes to the most recent meeting of the Jefferson County Commission. It's a hard to navigate website so I figured the information was there, just hard to locate and resolved to come back and try again when I had more time.
The Jefferson County Commission has not posted vendor contracts, meeting minutes, updated financial documents and other information on its website as required by a state law passed last year.
... information required by law and not posted as of Friday afternoon included agendas and minutes from County Commission and committee meetings, a quarterly listing of all active contracts, quarterly budget reports and the county's three most recent annual financial audits.
Commissioner Shelia Smoot, who has responsibility for the information technology department that oversees the website, said she has had problems getting documents for the website.
I can perhaps believe that Commissioner Smoot finds some of the other commissioners uncooperative, but it seems to me she could certainly post the information that is available to all the commissioners, like minutes, agendas and audit reports, and set a positive example for others by posting all the information on her own District Two expenditures, budgets and so forth.
A government entity that refuses to make its records public, in violation of a law requiring transparency, can't expect much in the way of public trust.
My role is now disclosed in my signature - Sorry for not doing that sooner. I have not had time to post as much as I like lately. I was not trying to be deceitful, I just assume that everyone knew since I had disclosed in previous diaries that I was volunteering and supporting Shelia.
Today Shelia announced that House Whip James Clyburn and Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson have gotten behind her bid to win the AL-07 runoff.
U.S. Reps. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., had both contributed to the campaign of state Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr., but he finished third.
Smoot, a Jefferson County Commissioner who was campaigning in Washington D.C. recently, said both congressmen have agreed to support her in the runoff against Birmingham lawyer Terri Sewell.
This comes on the heels of Sewell's internal poll announcement. Smoot has also picked up the endorsements of the American Federation of Teachers Local #2143 and the Alabama Education Association. So while Sewell claims to have an advantage over Hilliard voters now, Smoot is lining up previous Hilliard supporters and endorsements publicly. It's always a good thing in my book when potential future colleagues endorse you.
Terri Sewell's positive campaign is paying off in Alabama's 7th Congressional District. An Anzalone-Liszt survey conducted June 13-16 shows Sewell leads Shelia Smoot 53% to 33% two weeks after the two women finished 37% to 29%, respectively, in the June 1 primary. That's a 16 point movement toward Sewell with very little corresponding pick-up for Smoot. Even though third place finisher Earl Hilliard, Jr. has not endorsed either woman, it appears his supporters, and Martha Bozeman's, are breaking toward Sewell. From the memo:
Terri Sewell’s 63% favorable rating is 9 points higher than Shelia Smoot’s (54%), while Smoot’s 25% unfavorable rating is 16 points higher than Sewell’s (9%). Terri Sewell continues to have better expansion potential than Smoot.
Sewell leads 48% to 38% among voters who supported 3rd-place candidate Earl Hilliard in the primary. She leads by 25 points among Artur Davis voters, and by 20 points with Sparks voters. Sewell leads by 14 points among African-American voters and by 36 points among whites.
Shelia Smoot's relationship with unions was mentioned a couple of days ago in the comments of this thread. The Selma Times-Journal also notes that Smoot needs labor on board to squeeze past Terri Sewell in a runoff.
Smoot has an arduous task getting labor to back her. She’s made a couple of fatal mistakes.
Before the primary election Smoot criticized the way the unions decided to interview candidates, something the devout aren’t about to overlook.
But the greatest sin of this self-proclaimed pro-union candidate rests in her campaign literature.
Recently, some pieces of campaign literature appeared in the district without the union bug appearing anywhere on it.
"I'm for labor, but you know it would be nice if the female candidates in this race, got an opportunity to be interviewed by ALFA. We did not. It would be very intriguing if the women in this race would be allowed to be interviewed by all the unions. We were not given that opportunity. So no, some of us don't have those endorsements. But you are talking to Shelia Smoot, UAW proud and UAW strong."
"I don't need an endorsement for a union; I am union."
Now she needs union endorsements. And apparently her campaign distributed a lot of literature lacking a union bug in the final weeks of the campaign. Images below the fold. These pieces came from Jefferson County, but the same literature was reported in other counties in the 7th CD as well.
Earl Hilliard, Jr. intends to make an endorsement. Hilliard didn't do as well as I expected him to in the primary, but with 27% of the votes, you have to think his endorsement would be helpful.
In an email to supporters, second place finisher Shelia Smoot noted that she won four counties last week and believes she has the most grassroots support and loyal voters.
Terri Sewell, who received 37% of the vote in the primary, is planning a series of town hall meetings in the district, with the first in Dallas County. "I'm looking forward to this opportunity to speak directly to voters all across the district about the issues that are important to the region," Sewell said. "These town hall meetings will provide me with an opportunity to hear directly from the people of the 7th Congressional District about their concerns so I can better serve this district in Congress."
Hilliard had virtually all the union endorsements sewed up for the primary, but I wonder if labor will get involved in the Smoot/Sewell runoff. Shelia Smoot was particularly critical of the initial union vetting process which apparently didn't give all the candidates an opportunity to appear, but I notice her latest campaign release is touting her union history.
The Birmingham News had an interesting write up this morning of how the AL-07 primary is shaping up with a month until election day. Of course I'm a Smoot supporter and I indicated that when Shelia entered the race last year.
However, I was a little surprised by a couple of the tidbits that Terri Sewell provided in her general information section.
Date of birth: Says she's in her 40s
Residence: Lives in Birmingham, born in Huntsville
Can you trust someone who can't give their exact date of birth like the other candidates?
Born in Huntsville - I thought I had heard her mention that she was born and raised in Selma. Much of her campaign has been about being from Selma and her being the only candidate that understands the black belt. I might have just wrongfully assumed she was born in Selma since I had not heard any differently.
Since she graduated high school from there then I have no problem with her claiming it as her hometown. But she is not the only candidate with Black Belt roots. Shelia Smoot has aunts, uncles and cousins from Sumter County and she spent the summers there as well.
Two other interesting facts about the other candidates
1. Earl Hilliard Jr had a bit part in the movie "The Truman Show" - good movie
2. Martha Bozeman - managed both Bernard Kincaid and Artur Davis's campaigns.
Maybe now this Congressional Seat will get some of the attention that it deserves. All of the candidates are doing a good job talking about the issues that matter.
Polling confirms that Shelia Smoot has a lead in this race. Here is the release from the Smoot Campaign
Birmingham, AL -) A poll conducted last week by Collingwood Research confirmed early polls that Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot continues to the lead the Race for Alabama Congressional District 7. The numbers are strikingly similar to results released last October by the Feldman group and commissioned by the Hilliard campaign.
The survey of 604 likely voters was conducted March 30th -April 1st. The results showed:
Shelia Smoot 33%
Earl Hilliard Jr. 28%
Terri Sewell 12%
Martha Bozeman 6%
Undecided or Other 20%
Alabama Congressional District 7 is an open seat being vacated by Artur Davis who is running for Governor. The District is heavily democratic, African-American, and overwhelmingly supported President Barack Obama with over 70% in 2008.
Commissioner Smoot said "I am pleased that the hard work my campaign has put in over the past year is continuing to hold our lead. This race isn't about money. It is about issues and record and on both accounts the voters agree with me and my campaign not "Washington insiders" and their checkbooks. My record of service is unmatched in this race and everywhere we go we listen to the people and their concerns. We will continue to work hard to get our message out and show the people of CD 7 that Smoot is on your side."
The poll also showed that in Jefferson County, the largest county and 48% of the total voters in CD7, that Smoot was particularly strong.
Shelia Smoot 39%
Earl Hilliard Jr . 29%
Martha Bozeman 7%
Terri Sewell 6%