Alabama Political Reporter http://alreporter.com Fri, 28 Nov 2014 09:00:17 -0600 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb We Will Be Back on Monday http://alreporter.com/politics/7021-we-will-be-back-on-monday.html http://alreporter.com/politics/7021-we-will-be-back-on-monday.html

Have a wonderful holiday with family and friends.

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) State Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:54:07 -0600
Defining a Journalist http://alreporter.com/politics/7020-defining-a-journalist.html http://alreporter.com/politics/7020-defining-a-journalist.html

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—According to Reporters Without Boarders, there have been 59 Journalists killed, 12 media assistants killed, 21 "Netizens" and citizen journalists killed and 176 journalists imprisoned so far this year. Reporters Without Boarders notes that, “Journalists killed” includes only cases in which the organizations clearly established that “the victim was killed because of his/her activities as a journalist. It does not include cases in which the motives were not related to the victim’s work or in which a link has not yet been confirmed.”

Here in Alabama, we have had no journalists killed, though we have had one blogger imprisoned and this publication threatened.

Journalism is one job of the very few jobs where  a person can lose their life for just stating facts. Here in Alabama, journalists lives are not threatened only their livelihood.

Presumptive, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh has said that he wants his staff to define who is a journalist. In a report by Tim Lockette for the Anniston Star, Marsh is quoted as saying, "All I've asked for is some sort of criteria, so that if someone is not a journalist, they won't be in the press room.”

In the same article he told the Star that, “He never considered the Britts to be real journalists.”

(See article here.)

So, by this logic, Marsh has predetermined that the Britts should not be in the press room. 

However, speaking with Mary Sells of the Decatur Daily, Marsh said, "I think Bill Britt is taking it personally, like it's against him, it's not."

(See article here.)

Marsh’s statements would seem to contradict each other. He says he wants a criteria “that if someone is not a journalist, they won't be in the press room.” Then he states that he has “never considered the Britts to be real journalists.” Then he tells Mary Sells, it is not about “Bill Britt.”

Marsh appears to use pretzel-logic; bending the facts so as not to be seen targeting a particular group of journalists. Or perhaps, Marsh reveres the truth to such great magnitude that he uses it with the utmost economy. 

Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia by the Legal Information Institute of the Cornell University, says, the Free Press Clause in the First Amendment “protects the right of individuals to express themselves through publication and dissemination of information, ideas and opinions without interference, constraint or prosecution by the government.”

By this definition, it is not the media conglomerate or those who own a printing press, or any media outlet, but the “individual,” who is protected under the Free Press Clause. 

Like Freedom of Speech, the Founding Fathers were thinking about the rights of citizens, not corporations.

In 1972, the Supreme Court reaffirmed this notion in, Branzburg v. Hayes, stating that Freedom of the Press was "a fundamental personal right" that is not confined to newspapers and periodicals.

The Supreme Court has held that the “lone pamphleteer,” is at the very heart of the Free Press Clause.

According to the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, the United States is ranked 46, behind such countries as the Czech Republic, Namibia, Ghana, El Salvador and other places not often seen as bastions of freedom. In fact, the US is just above Haiti on the Freedom Index.

And Alabama is far down the list of states that allow easy access to public records. 

Censorship America offers a historical prospective on freedom to the press. “A celebrated legal case in 1734-1735 involved John Peter Zenger, a New York newspaper printer. He printed a newspaper that publicly bashed the ruler at this time, and he was taken to jail. He was taken to court and charged with seditious libel for assailing the corrupt royal governor of New York. His lawyer Andrew Hamilton defended him well, and was made famous for his speech "truth cannot be libel." This court case paved the way for Freedom of the Press in the United States to be adopted in the Constitution.”

(See "History of Censorship" here.)

According to the Library of Congress, the Alien and Sedition Act was “Signed into law by President John Adams in 1798, the Alien and Sedition Acts consisted of four laws passed by the Federalist-controlled Congress as America prepared for war with France. These acts increased the residency requirement for American citizenship from five to fourteen years, authorized the president to imprison or deport aliens considered "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States" and restricted speech critical of the government. These laws were designed to silence and weaken the Democratic-Republican Party. Negative reaction to the Alien and Sedition Acts helped contribute to the Democratic-Republican victory in the 1800 elections. Congress repealed the Naturalization Act in 1802, while the other acts were allowed to expire.”

As Censor America points out a major aspect of the law was to set out the punishments of imprisonment for writing or publishing "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" about the President or Congress.

It would appear that Marsh who has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, doesn’t agree with the Framers of the Constitution, and much prefers the egregious Alien and Sedition Acts. 

The Anniston Star and the Montgomery Advertiser have taken exception to Marsh's desire to limit press access to the Senate.

The Star published an editorial titled “You might be a journalist”...

(See article here.)

...while the Advertiser said, “Don’t limit definition of journalists.”

(See article here.)

Both editorials are welcome and show the kind of intellectual honesty that challenges the "Marsh Doctrine."

The editorial board of al.com and others are yet to weigh-in on the subject, challenging the notion that they are the big dogs of journalism. But, there is still time for them to assert their considerable editorial power.

As of yet, no one has been greatly harmed and no one is likely to be killed by Marsh’s actions, but, his is the path of every would-be tyrant. It is utterly amazing to think that he will lead the Senate of Alabama for the next four years, when there are actually freedom-loving leaders who are much more suited for the job.

But, just so no one, not even a State Senator can miss the point that a journalist, according to the strict interpretation of the constitution, is an individual who expresses himself through publication and dissemination of information, ideas and opinions.

Of course, there is that pesky part about interference, constraint or prosecution from the government, which Marsh seems ready to supply. 

Still, every year, journalists put their lives in mortal danger to tell the truth about corruption. Not for money or glory, but because it’s the right thing to do.  

Wish the same could be said of the man who would lead our State’s Senate.

 

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) State Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:34:08 -0600
Sessions Sets Priorities For New Defense Secretary http://alreporter.com/politics/7019-sessions-sets-priorities-for-new-defense-secretary.html http://alreporter.com/politics/7019-sessions-sets-priorities-for-new-defense-secretary.html

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, November 25 U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R from Alabama) said that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s departure highlights the floundering status of the U.S.’s ISIS strategy. 

Sen. Sessions, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, outlined what his priorities for a new Defense Secretary will be.  The Armed Services Committee will have a lead role in the confirmation hearings of President Barack Obama’s next appointee as Defense Secretary.

Sen. Sessions said, “I have great respect for Secretary Hagel personally. His combat experiences gave him insight into war that others lack and a special loyalty to those in harm’s way. His abrupt departure highlights the floundering status of our ISIS strategy. Now, the central question the nation, Congress and the American people face is: what is our policy concerning ISIS and terrorism?  A second related question is: who will the President look to in order to help him make that decision?”

Sen. Sessions said, “It seems clear that a small but growing group in the White House, close to the President and his agenda, have had too much influence. They base decisions, unacceptably, on politics. We know this because President Obama’s previous Secretaries of Defense—Sec. Robert Gates and Sec. Leon Panetta—have documented this fact shockingly in their books.  When national security and the lives of our soldiers on the battlefield hang in the balance, politics cannot rule the day.”

Sessions said that President Obama has zero personal experience with military policy and that his colossal errors that have placed the nation at risk. The conservative Alabama Senator said that the complete withdrawal of our forces from Iraq in 2011, against the advice of military leaders and common sense was one of those errors.  

Sen. Sessions said, “The President must nominate a Secretary of Defense with strength, ability, experience, and integrity. One in whom the military, Congress, and the American people can place full trust. Congress must insist on it.  As it stands now, we continue to stumble along with no clear strategy. Much of this is the direct consequence of the President’s indecision. It cannot continue. Too much is at stake.”

Sessions suggested that Obama select from among the large number of highly qualified leaders with great experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and the region and warned that the President has given too much power, control, and influence to his, ‘Circle of insiders in the White House”, who have, “Too often shut out or rejected sound military and defense advice from leaders of wisdom and experience.”

The likely Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman is Senator John McCain (R from Arizona).  Sen. McCain said, “I thank Chuck Hagel for his service, and I know that he was very, very frustrated.” Sen. McCain told KFYI radio in Phoenix, Arizona, “Already White House people are leaking ‘well he wasn’t up to the job,’ well believe me he was up to the job it was the job he was given where he really was never really brought into that real tight circle inside the White House that makes all the decisions which has put us into the incredible debacle that we’re in today throughout the world.”  McCain who opposed Hagel’s confirmation as Defense Secretary said, “We have had our disagreements, but Chuck Hagel is an honorable man.”

Senator Sessions is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Sessions is also a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) State Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:30:18 -0600
Roby Preparing for the Next Congress http://alreporter.com/politics/7018-roby-preparing-for-the-next-congress.html http://alreporter.com/politics/7018-roby-preparing-for-the-next-congress.html

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Congresswoman Martha Roby (R from Montgomery) announces staff changes for the incoming 114th Congress.

Representative Roby said, “Today I announced my Congressional staff for the 114th Congress. Several new staff members have been hired, and others promoted, all to enhance our legislative efforts and constituent services. Learn more about our team and their responsibilities here.”

Rep. Roby said, “I’m proud of what we have accomplished thus far, and I’m optimistic the new Republican majority will present more opportunities for legislative success under regular order. As such, I have been pleased to bring on new staff members, promote current ones and organize our team in a way that can expand our legislative capabilities.”

Rep. Roby continued, “Since first being elected to Congress, I’ve tried to surround myself with top-notch staff members who add value to our legislative efforts and demonstrate a commitment to serving the people of Alabama’s 2nd District. I’m confident these new staff members will contribute greatly to our team's ability to get results on behalf of all of you, and we are eager to hit the ground running in the 114th Congress.”

In addition to her Capitol Hill office, Rep. Roby operates three District offices in Andalusia, Dothan and Montgomery, where staff specialize in constituent services and community outreach.

Stephen E. Boyd continues as Rep. Roby’s chief of staff.  Boyd serves as Rep. Roby’s top adviser and leads the team of 15 staff members and manages all aspects of the Congressional office. Boyd previously worked for six years with U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions.  Boyd is a native of Birmingham and a graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama School of Law.

Joe Williams continues as Rep. Roby’s District Director.  Williams manages Rep. Roby’s district staff, oversees a range of constituent services, and serves as the primary liaison to state and local elected officials and business and community groups. Williams is a native of Headland, Ala., and a graduate of Auburn University, the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  Williams previously worked for former Second District Rep. Terry Everett (R).

Jessica Fuller Hamilton continues as Rep. Roby’s Executive Assistant.  Hamilton previously served under U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R).  Hamilton is a native of Mobile has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a masters degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Todd Stacy continues as Roby’s Communications Director.  Stacy is a Prattville. native and Auburn University graduate.  Stacy manages Rep. Roby’s external communications, acts as her spokesman and is the point of contact for media inquiries. Previously Stacy served as Communications Director for Speaker of the Alabama House Mike Hubbard (R from Alabama) and as Press Secretary for former Alabama Gove

Mike Albares was recently promoted to Legislative Director in the Roby office.  Albares will lead Rep. Roby’s legislative team, oversee her work on the House Committee on Appropriations, and will continue to personally handle agriculture issues.  Albares is a Dothan native and University of Richmond graduate. Over the last four years, Albares has served as Roby’s Legislative Correspondent and Legislative Aide.  Previously, Albares served on the staff of former Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich.

Andrew Ashley was recently hired as Military Legislative Aide for Rep. Roby.  Ashley is a native of Northern Virginia and a West Point graduate.  He also has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina.  Ashley previously worked for Honeywell International in defense procurement and currently serves in the Reserves Congressional Affairs division.  Ashley is also a combat veteran of Southern Afghanistan.  Ashley’s responsibilities will include defense policy, veterans issues, foreign affairs and homeland security. His predecessor, Mac Tolar, left Rep. Roby’s office to work for the Select Committee on Benghazi.

Sophie Trainor was recently hired as Legislative Assistant for Rep. Roby, specializing in health, education, workforce and financial services issues.  Trainor previously worked for Sen. Sessions and Congressman Lee Terry (R from Nebraska).  Trainor graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Human Environmental Sciences.

David Wellen has been promoted to Legislative Correspondent.  Wellen is from New Orleans and is a graduate of Louisiana State University.  Wellen previously worked as Staff Assistant in Rep. Roby’s office.

Margaret Virden was hired over the summer as a Staff Assistant. Virden is a native of Montgomery and is a recent graduate of Mississippi State University.  In the Summer of 2013, she interned in Rep. Roby’s office.  Virden fills the vacancy created by the promotion of former Staff Assistant David Wellen.

Lindsee Gentry was hired over the summer as Press Assistant.  Gentry is a native of Southaven, Miss., and is a recent graduate of the University of Alabama.  Gentry assists the communications director and Rep. Roby with a wide range of press activities, including interaction with media organizations. Gentry fills a vacancy created when Seth Morrow left to become Communications Director for Congressman Bradley Byrne (R from Mobile).

Lori Ward Williams from Clio has transitioned to the role of Field Representative for the Montgomery District Office.  She had previously had served as the Field Representative in the Wiregrass Area.  She filled the vacancy created when Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) appointed Ronda Walker to the Montgomery County Commission. Her regional focus now includes Autauga, Bullock, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Montgomery and Pike Counties. Williams also coordinates the military academy nomination process, as well as submissions to the Congressional Art Competition.  Williams is a graduate of Auburn University Montgomery.  Previously she worked on the staffs of Gov. Bob Riley and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R).

Cindy Pate was recently hired as a Field Representative for the Wiregrass area.  Pate is a native of Birmingham and a graduate of Samford University.  She previously worked for Sen. Sessions and U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus (R from Vestavia). She is the field representative for the Wiregrass counties including: Conecuh, Covington, Geneva, Coffee, Dale, Henry and Barbour.

Charlotte Wood Bent continued as Rep. Roby’s Montgomery Constituent Services Representative.  Previously she served on the staff of former Congressman Everett and worked for the Social Security Administration. Bent is a graduate of Troy University.

Barbara Hulse Light will be the Constituent Services Representative (Dothan).  She is a native of Virginia and has a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University (BA) and a master’s degree from Troy State University.  She first moved to the Wiregrass in 1996 with her husband when he was stationed at Fort Rucker. Previously, she served on the Dale County Board of Registrars.  

Amelia McMahon is the Constituent Services Representative (Andalusia).  McMahon is a native of Covington County.  She has worked in Roby’s office since January 2014. Previously she worked for Congressman Jeff Miller (R from Florida).  She is a graduate from the University of West Florida with a degree in elementary education.

Rep. Roby’s office locations include;

Capitol Hill Office
442 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

202-225-2901 (phone)
202-225-8913 (fax)

Covington County Office
505 East Three Notch Street
Andalusia City Hall, Room 322Andalusia, AL 36420

334-428-1129 (phone)
334-222-3342 (fax)

Dothan Office
217 Graceland Drive
Suite 5
Dothan, AL 36305

334-794-9680 (phone)
334-671-1480 (fax) 

Montgomery Office
401 Adams Avenue
Suite 160
Montgomery, AL 36104

334-277-9113 (phone)
334-277-8534 (fax)

Representative Roby was recently elected to her third term to the United States Congress representing Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) State Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:29:13 -0600
Dr. Gina Coming to Birmingham Sunday http://alreporter.com/politics/7017-dr-gina-coming-to-birmingham-sunday.html http://alreporter.com/politics/7017-dr-gina-coming-to-birmingham-sunday.html

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Outspoken Conservative talk radio host, Dr. Gina Gentry Loudon, is returning to Birmingham to promote her new book: ‘What Women Really Want’.

The book was written with co-authors: Ann Marie Murrell and Morgan Brittany.  This follows closely her previous book: ‘Why the Survival of our Republic Depends on the Revival of Honor’ by Dr. Gina and Dathan Paterno.

Dr. Gina will be at Hoover Tactical Firearms on Sunday for a book signing from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Highway 31.

Dr. Gina Louden is an Anchor of Politichicks.TV (www.Politichicks.TV) and is the host of Smart Life (www.SmartLifeShow.com).  The conservative thinker, personality, radio host, and writer has written for Townhall.com, Breitbart.com, FoxNews.com, and she has a weekly column at WND.com.

Dr. Gina is best known in Alabama for her former run as the popular host of an afternoon news talk radio show in the Greater Birmingham area on 101.1.

Dr. Gina Loudon’s appearance in Hoover is being promoted by the Alabama Constitutional Conservatives.

Dr. Gina is married to former Missouri State Senator (R from Chesterfield, MO).  On Tuesday, Dr. Gina said on Facebook, “Ferguson was in John's former senate district. I know the politics, and the people there. I remember how hard the business owners fought to bring back Ferguson that was thriving before the social welfare policies blighted it. This whole incident is based upon contrived outrage over a sad, sad USE of people by race baiters like Jackson & Sharpton. They ought to have to reimburse the business owners, the insurance companies, and the taxpayers for what they have done. The guilt lies squarely in their greedy laps. There is a great injustice, real racism, and true tragedy here, and it is this: Jackson and Sharpton will move on from Ferguson to their next useful city, leaving protestors and victims alike in their dust. Lies like theirs CAUSED the problem of a blighted Ferguson to begin with, and they burned down the best efforts of those trying to save Ferguson and build a better life for her citizens last night. I don't for the life of me understand how people don't see that.”

Much of Ferguson Missouri has been pillaged and burned by protestors who believe that a Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, did not kill alleged store robber, Michael Brown, in self-defense and want the officer prosecuted.  The Missouri grand jury found that there was not enough evidence to indict Wilson on Monday.

An online description of Dr. Gina’s book, ‘What Women Really Want’ follows:

“In the 1950s women were seen as docile homemakers due to the propaganda of the vocal but few feminazis of the 1960s. The 1970s through the 1990s women experienced the fallout of the so-called liberation of women with a rise of angst and self-consciousness that led to depression, image issues, and guilt. Today the traditional woman, the new lady, is standing up to the lies of the culture and media and proclaiming, enough! Women don't want to be enslaved, patronized, labeled, or invaded. What women really want is to be empowered to be able to make a difference in the world beyond the trivial things. Women really want freedom of religion, a strong family, a man who stands for something, a voice, the freedom to protect herself, prosperity, choices. Women really want to do the right thing. Women really want to be warriors of love. Female powerhouses and original PolitiChicks Murrell, Brittany, and Loudon sound the clarion call for conservative women across America to reclaim the power of the grassroots activist by fundamentally transforming their lives and work in bold ways. Women can be warriors without burning bras. Women can be strong without emasculating their husbands and sons. Women can be mothers without coddling or compromise. Most importantly, women can live out their faith without imposed compromise of her convictions. Women can be truly feminine, and it is in that design, that she is most competent and capable of truly changing the world. What Women Really Want reveals the political conversions these three beautiful and dynamic conservative dynamos. It explains the bad and the ugly of party politics, and the reality of new parties. What Women Really Want sheds light on the victories and pitfalls, the insights and shortcomings of a party in disarray, and will inspire today's women to fight to reclaim the greatness of this country as outlined so powerfully in the Declaration of Independence, so profoundly in the Bill of Rights, and so simply by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address! What Women Really Want is a call to women across this great land to wake up! And take a stand against the cultural forces that are fighting tooth and nail to bring destroy their spirit and their families. Time is short and the call is great. Discover your hidden passion and find out what women really want.”

The online description continues: “Female powerhouses and original PolitiChicks Murrell, Brittany, and Loudon sound the clarion call for conservative women across America to reclaim the power of the grassroots activist by fundamentally transforming their lives and work in bold ways.     Women can be warriors without burning bras. Women can be strong without emasculating their husbands and sons. Women can be mothers without coddling or compromise. Most importantly, women can live out their faith without imposed compromise of her convictions. Women can be truly feminine, and it is in that design, that she is most competent and capable of truly changing the world.   What Women Really Want reveals the political conversions these three beautiful and dynamic conservative dynamos. It explains the bad and the ugly of party politics, and the reality of new parties. What Women Really Want sheds light on the victories and pitfalls, the insights and shortcomings of a party in disarray, and will inspire today's women to fight to reclaim the greatness of this country as outlined so powerfully in the Declaration of Independence, so profoundly in the Bill of Rights, and so simply by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address!   What Women Really Want is a call to women across this great land to wake up! And take a stand against the cultural forces that are fighting tooth and nail to bring destroy their spirit and their families. Time is short and the call is great. Discover your hidden passion and find out what women really want."

To learn more about the book visit:

http://www.amazon.com/What-Women-Really-Morgan-Brittany/dp/1938067142

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) State Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:27:00 -0600
Report Investigates Distribution Of Tax Dollars http://alreporter.com/politics/7016-report-investigates-distribution-of-tax-dollars.html http://alreporter.com/politics/7016-report-investigates-distribution-of-tax-dollars.html

 

By Byron Shehee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY – A report from the National Priorities Project (NPP) was recently released that highlighted the findings from an extensive investigation into how our tax dollars flow from our states into the federal government’s coffers. The report, "State Smart: Federal Funding in 50 States" details how the Federal government distributed our Nation’s tax dollars in each state from 2007 through 2013.

Becky Sweger, NPP's Director of Data and Technology said, "Our business is making the Federal Budget understandable to regular people and one of the most important ways to do that is to put some geography in the mix to show people how money from the Federal Budget is coming to their states."

Concerned taxpayers have to be grateful for their undertaking.

Far too often it seems people simply wonder how our tax dollars are distributed back to the states.  Are funds distributed as a political "thank you" for towing the incumbent party’s line?

Fortunately, that’s not entirely the case.

As ambiguous or complex as it may seem, there are valid reasons as to how (or why) our tax dollars flow from a state, into the Federal coffers and then back to the states. 

The short explanation is the Federal government has obligations that it has to meet. 

Regularly those obligations are: to fund public assistance programs in a state, to make direct benefit payments to residents, to pay Federal employees, and to meet federal contracts in a state.

Of course, the total costs of those initiatives vary state-to-state.

The report further claimed, Federal programs are also “designed to deliver more benefits to those who need them the most. The federal budget is intended to serve the needs of the nation as a whole.”

Those expenditures are primarily based on: population, a state’s reliance on government assistance to alleviate poor socioeconomic conditions, maintaining our nation’s military bases, keeping our national parks and ports to standard, securing our nation’s border and providing economic development during an economic downturn to better stabilize the national economy, among other things.

Specific to stabilizing the national economy, the report’s data, which was compiled from examining Federal spending between 2007 and 2013, showed patterns in government funding were significantly impacted by the Great Recession. State Smart found during our country’s recent economic downturn (2007-2010) most states actually received an uptick in federal funds.

The report went on to say, even though “a properly functioning safety net clearly benefits those unfortunate enough to fall on hard times during an economic downturn, we all benefit from the stabilizing impact such Federal expenditures have on the overall economy.”

Although the author of the report may think that statement is truthful, conservatives and liberals still argue over accepting that belief as fact.

Many think states are to act as individual laboratories, choosing to make decisions based upon internal factors unique to that state. And that may well be the case on some level, but it’s fair to say the labs are already given certain Federal hurdles that affect how each state financially operates.

For example, Alabama receives roughly $58 billion dollars from the federal government a year, between Federal grants, maintaining federal contracts, making direct federal assistance to residents, and meeting Federal employees’ pay. In comparison, Georgia receives about $91 billion dollars, while Mississippi takes in roughly $37 billion dollars.   

Some states do, in fact, fare better than others on recouping their tax dollars, especially states with low populations and poor socioeconomic conditions.

States that often receive the greatest federal assistance tend to be comprised and represented by those who typically don’t approve of the federal government’s involvement in state policy. In reality, however, those are the same states that benefit most often from federal funds.

I encourage everyone to read more on federal spending in each state at: www.nationalpriorities.org.

 

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) State Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:47:26 -0600
Once Again White Spins The Press http://alreporter.com/politics/7015-once-again-white-spins-the-press.html http://alreporter.com/politics/7015-once-again-white-spins-the-press.html

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Opinion

On the day that W. Van Davis set the record straight on the “false allegations” coming from Speaker Mike Hubbard and his legal mouthpiece, J. Mark White — concerning Hubbard’s arrest on 23 counts of Felony ethics violations — White sought to change the subject by asking for communication between the Attorney General’s Office and the media.

In an amended discovery motion, White asked for, “...any written or recorded conversations between any members of the media and any members of the Attorney General’s office.”

In other words, Hubbard wants to know if the AG’s office has any written or recorded conversations between members of the staff and anyone in the media.

After being caught flatfooted by Davis’ statements, White desperately want to change the subject.

Several in the media, especially those in the blatantly partisan world of radio talking heads, did exactly what White wanted and flipped the narrative from the facts that Davis offered to the spin White was spooning out.

Several attorneys who spoke on background said that White was so unprepared for the prosecution's press release that he reached for anything that might change the conversation, even a motion as meaningless as the one filed.

Some in the media went so far as changing the storyline, even further suggesting that there were recordings of members of the prosecution team “trying to influence the media.”

These and other false narratives have become Hubbard and White’s weapon of choice.

What is disturbing is that any person with remedial reading comprehension skills can properly note that White is asking for recordings that are in the possession of the AG and not the other way around. But this is not about facts; it is about controlling the message through the media.

One journalist suggested that White was trying to frighten reporters who have spoken to the prosecution in the past, or worry about communicating with them in the future.

At least two well-known reporters have been regularly summoned to sit with Hubbard and White, to serve as stenographers for the defense. But, if anyone dare write from the perspective of the State White “pitches a hissy fit,” as the reporter noted. In Hubbard and White's world, their side of the story is the only one the media should tell.

But, perhaps the media is to blame for such expectations, because in over a year's worth of coverage, the so-called mainstream reporters have failed to ask Hubbard or White even the most basic of questions.

Over the last month, Hubbard and company have engaged in an all-out media blitz and very few have challenged their story line.

Why won't members of the press ask Hubbard about the specific crimes with which he is charged by the State? When he makes fantastical statements about “Political Prosecution,” why do they not ask for specifics? Why not ask, "who are the rogue prosecutors and exactly what are they doing that is outside the law?”

But, no. These question are not asked by those whom Hubbard allows access, and it is access that these reporters want, more than facts.

White accused Davis of unethical behavior.

That, as my Pappy used to say, is like the pot calling the kettle black.

 

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) State Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:46:16 -0600
Protecting Our American Birthright http://alreporter.com/politics/7014-protecting-our-american-birthright.html http://alreporter.com/politics/7014-protecting-our-american-birthright.html

By Minority Leader Representative Craig Ford

There are many things about this country that make us great: our economy, our military and our people, to name a few. But perhaps our greatest accomplishment has been democracy. Democracy is our most precious and cherished blessing, and it is the foundation of our freedom.

Before America, kings who had absolute power ruled nations. While there are still some nations that suffer under dictators and other oppressive regimes, democracy has taken over most of the world. And in this country, it has allowed our nation to thrive and grow to become the world’s only super power. 

As Americans, we have a fundamental birthright to control our government and determine who serves as our leaders. For more than two centuries, men and women have risked and sacrificed their lives to protect that right.

But in one House district, District 89, more than 200 Alabamians were denied this basic right. Not intentionally or maliciously, but because of the convoluted manner in which our new legislative districts were drawn.

Our districts, which are now being reviewed by the US Supreme Court because of the questionable manner in which they were gerrymandered, have no shortage of faults. But there are two main arguments that have fueled the debate: the “packing” of black voters into certain districts and the division of “communities of interests.”

Since the Civil Rights movement, Alabama has drawn its legislative districts with the goal of ensuring that African Americans held roughly 27 percent of legislative seats. To achieve this goal, the districts were drawn as minority-majority districts, meaning the majority of voters were black.

But under our new district lines, the legislature took this a step further by “packing” the districts represented by African American legislators with as many black voters as possible. Legislators again claimed the purpose of this was to ensure that an African American would be elected to represent that district. But African Americans were already representing these districts at their previous levels. There was no need to add black voters to these districts. 

Clearly, increasing the numbers of black voters in these districts was not meant to preserve the number of seats represented by black legislators, but to dilute the influence of black voters in other districts that are not minority-majority but had a large percentage of black voters.

The second argument, and the one that is most relevant to what happened in District 89, has been that these districts divide “communities of interest.” Communities of interests can include counties, cities and towns. But most importantly, the new districts split voting precincts.

Splitting these communities dilutes their voice in government. For example, the more times a county is divided the less influence it will have with a particular legislator. This also causes problems when trying to get local bills passed, since local bills have to be signed off on by every member of the delegation. The more divided the county, the more legislators who have to approve of the legislation, even if that legislator only has a small portion of that county in his or her district.

In House District 89, poll workers at one of the split precincts unintentionally gave the wrong ballot to more than 200 voters. But even though it was an honest mistake, that mistake now means that those 200 voters will have to spend the next four years with a representative they did not vote for.

Making this situation even worse, the difference between the candidates in this race is less than 100 votes. Meaning, the voters who received the wrong ballot could have completely altered the outcome.

Joel Lee Williams, the Democratic candidate in the race, now has the right to contest the election. Whatever his decision, myself and the members of the House Democratic Caucus, will stand behind him. Either way, this unfortunate situation is a perfect example of why we need to throw out these convoluted legislative districts and let an unbiased court draw new ones.

No one honestly expects legislators not to gerrymander the districts. But the way in which state leaders have done so with these districts has result in at least one instance of Alabamians losing their right to elect their own representative. And the truth is these new districts have created a system that dilutes the voices of thousands of Alabamians.

I am thankful the U.S. Supreme Court felt compelled to intervene. I hope the court will take into their consideration the election in House District 89.  It is a perfect example of why we need to throw out these districts and go back to the drawing board.

 

Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) State Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:39:33 -0600
It's Time for Americans to Embrace the Spirit of Thanksgiving http://alreporter.com/politics/7013-it-s-time-for-americans-to-embrace-the-spirit-of-thanksgiving.html http://alreporter.com/politics/7013-it-s-time-for-americans-to-embrace-the-spirit-of-thanksgiving.html

By Representative Darrio Melton

This week, families across the country will come together to give thanks around the dinner table. Thanksgiving has come to be opening day of the holiday season, marking the start of shopping and decorating. However, Thanksgiving should mean so much more than a quick dinner before the Black Friday sales.

Not only is it a time for all of us to take a step back and appreciate the blessings in our lives, it's also a time to remember how we came to be a nation, a melting pot of cultures and nationalities looking for a home.

We typically associate the first Thanksgiving with the pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe at Plymouth Plantation. The pilgrims were struggling to survive in the New World, so Squanto and Massasoit donated food and helped teach them to farm and hunt to survive the winter.   I can imagine that some in the Wampanoag tribe weren't excited about helping the pilgrims, but they came together and offered a helping hand.

Without their help, the pilgrims would have likely died and America may look very different than how we know it today.

Nearly 400 years later, Americans are divided over this same issue.

Just like Squanto and his tribe had to decide how to handle the new pilgrims, Americans today have to decide how to handle the millions of individuals still seeking out our shores for safety. 

Last week, President Obama announced an executive order that will prevent deportation of undocumented immigrants and challenged Congress to take further action to fix our broken immigration system. 

While Congress seems to forget that policy is more than words on paper--it's families and communities and lives at stake--Americans themselves seem to be equally divided on the issue.

While many have opened their churches, their homes and their hearts to the next generation of Americans, others have been quick to advocate for locking the door and taking down the Statue of Liberty. 

The nation of "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" is now saying "no mas."

But many of those same individuals identify America as a Christian nation and call themselves Christians. 

But the Bible tells us, "Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt." 

It's our story from all nationalities. Whether we are native-born or American by choice, sons of pilgrims or daughters of slaves: the story of America is one of inclusion and diversity, from sea to shining sea.

Because the Wampanoag tribe opened their arms and gave the pilgrims an American welcome, we now owe that same courtesy to the next generation of immigrants.

We show a greater love for humanity by extending our arms and not closing our hearts. That's the spirit we should all embrace this Thanksgiving and throughout the year.

Representative Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010. He currently serves as the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) State Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:38:08 -0600
Hubbard Business Interests Real Winners in Fundraising Efforts? http://alreporter.com/editorials-2/169-bill-britt/6817-hubbard-business-interests-real-winners-in-fundraising-efforts.html http://alreporter.com/editorials-2/169-bill-britt/6817-hubbard-business-interests-real-winners-in-fundraising-efforts.html

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, has been busy raising campaign cash. The latest FCPA reports show that his personal campaign account raised $89,000.00 in September, while his political action committee, Storming the State House PAC, brought in $22,400.00. Storm PAC has shown an anemic ability to raise funds over the last year, due in part to the growing public corruption probe that has cast a shadow over Hubbard’s future.

(See disclosure)

On September 4, Hubbard held a pricy fundraiser to replenish the empty coffers of Storm PAC. Much of the new money raised came from that event.

(See article)

One of the major contributors to Hubbard’s PAC was Software Technology, Inc. (STI) who, in August, announced a partnership with the Alabama Department of Education to provide technology to “enhance school culture by noting and rewarding positive behavior of students…through a program called “Learning Earnings.”

(See article)

Also Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton,  personal injury attorneys, gave Storm PAC a substantial contribution.  A list of usual contributors also includes the Realtors Association, ALFA and Clark Richardson.

The PAC listed $33,941.28 in expenses with most of the money going to the campaigns of Representative Lesley Vance, Tommy Hanes, Nathaniel Ledbetter, and Bob Fincher.

Hubbard’s personal campaign account faired much better than Storm PAC by raising almost $90,000 in cash. Hubbard’s contributors are a whose who of special interests with business before the State Legislature. BCA’s Progress PAC,  Forest PAC and the Builders PAC being the heaviest hitters.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Hubbard's business interests were at the top of expenditures for his campaign fund, with Auburn Network and Craftmaster Printers, Inc., taking $30,741.26 of the 56,996.18 in expenditures.

(See disclosure)

Hubbard faces little opposition in his quest for reelection, however, the ever present specter of the Lee County Grand Jury hangs menacingly over his head.

 

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) Bill Britt Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:45:02 -0500
Hubbard “Obsessed” with $200K Renovation of Committee Room http://alreporter.com/editorials-2/169-bill-britt/6747-hubbard-obsessed-with-200k-renovation-of-committee-room.html http://alreporter.com/editorials-2/169-bill-britt/6747-hubbard-obsessed-with-200k-renovation-of-committee-room.html

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—A cavernous room just off the Washington St. entrance to the State House is receiving a six figure facelift on orders from Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.

“He is obsessed with renovating that room,” said a State House insider who asked to not be publicly identified in this report. The over $200,000 that is being spent to renovate room 200 comes from a 2006 Bond Issue according to the State’s Finance Department.

Under the Republican lead legislature, to date, over $2 million has been spent to refurbish the State House. The building is now replete with granite-topped tables, expensive leather chairs and faux marble flooring.

The stated purpose for the expensive renovation of room 200, is to offer the legislature a new joint conference committee meeting room. The Legislative Building Authority, which is overseeing the project, has justified the expenditure by saying that many conference committee meetings spill out into the halls due to the number of people wanting to witness the proceedings. Most of those attending conference committees are in fact lobbyists and not concerned Alabama citizens.  In a time of financial crisis, this is just the latest in lavish spending for the comfort of lawmakers and lobbyists.

Beyond the new carpet, faux marble and expensive chairs for the State House,  the Senate chamber is receiving a $200,000 facelift with new hickory desks custom built by State inmates at J.F. Ingram State Technical College in Deatsville.

The renovation of room 200 and the Senate facelift combined will cost State taxpayer around $500,000, at a time when budget shortfalls are estimated at well over $100 million for the coming fiscal year.

This is just the latest spending spree by the Republican Supermajority. (See Article: Hubbard Furnishes Luxury Cloakroom for Legislators at Taxpayer Expense)

During the 2013 legislative session, Hubbard authorized tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to paint and furnish a "cloakroom" for legislators to "relax in" on the fourth floor of the State House.

Information gathered from the Legislative Building Authority shows that Hubbard spent over $30,000.00 on furniture, paint and carpeting for room 402. This does not include built-in-bookshelves, a full kitchen or other amenities and construction costs.

This room, which has never been used, was adorned with expensive furnishings, all with an air of absolute refinement; the likes of which was never seen under the GOP's Democratic predecessors.

There was even a grand, eleven-foot conference table that cost the taxpayers $4,464.00. The hardwood table was surrounded by 20 San Simeon Fabric high-back chair with a price tag of $6,380.00.

Beyond the huge conference table, the opulent space was also decorated with 4 couches costing $6,166.00, chairs and a love seat priced at $6,537.00 and tables, et cetera at $3,051.00.

All this occurring while the State was forced to borrow $437 million from the gas and oil trust fund.

After this publication made its report on Hubbard’s cloakroom, the project was abandoned and some of the furniture was sold.

Speaker Hubbard has wildly expanded State spending on the trappings of power adorning his own office with new carpet, new paint and $2000 in silk plants at taxpayer expense. The Speaker’s suite is also outfitted with multiple flat-screen televisions, one completely dedicated to a continuous rotation of pictures featuring Hubbard with political dignitaries. The Speaker routinely travels with an entourage and personal body guard, many times in two black SUV’s with tinted windows. It is the Speaker's privilege to be provided a State employee for protection; however, few have ever accepted such a high level of security. (See Hubbard Wildly Increases Spending in Speaker's Office)

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh does not use a security person or State vehicle, which would be his privilege as well.

Once again, Hubbard is using his power as Speaker to spend more taxpayer money on luxurious vanity projects.

 

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alreporterweb@gmail.com (Super User) Bill Britt Mon, 15 Sep 2014 10:52:31 -0500