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“Something wicked this way comes.” A toast to Chief Counsel Katherine Robertson’s vision for a free Alabama

Samuel McLure



By Sam McLure
Alabama Political Reporter

On the last Wednesday of March, 2017, one of the best legal minds in the State of Alabama was appointed as Chief Counsel to the Alabama Attorney General. Given that Chief Robertson has been an attorney for less than seven years, lauding her as “one of the best legal minds in the State of Alabama,” may seem like a bit of an overstatement.

Well, buckle your seat belt – that’s a statement I’m about to defend.

First, this toast is not because Chief Robertson graduated from one of the highest ranked law schools in the country. Nor does it flow from the fact that her very first job as an attorney was with the U.S. Department of Justice, then as U.S. Senator Jeff Session’s own legislative counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Nor does this praise spring from being hand picked by A.G. Jeff Sessions to go to Washington and guide him through the process of confirmation.

No, none of these noteworthy accomplishments merit this toast. Chief Robertson stands out as one of the best legal minds in Alabama because of her work on a little known report entitled, Selling our Sovereignty: Alabama’s Federal Dependency, released on October 27, 2016.


Selling our Sovereignty, or S.O.S. for short, is the first scholarly article of its kind to support the hunch that many Constitutional and political watchdogs have had for years – the Federal Government is using the carrot to bribe the States into ceding more and more of their sovereignty; a sovereignty that is necessary for a balanced American government.

Let me break it down a little more. When the 13 original “colonies” revolted from England, they realized that they needed to band together for the common good. These 13 “colonies,” were sovereign States that were more akin to Sweden, Switzerland, or Moldova today. The greatest evil in their mind was the centralization and consolidation of power across the pond – the English monarchy.

So, when they decided to create a “federal” covering, they were very careful to put in place a restraint on the amount of power this federal covering could possess, vis-a- vis the individual sovereign states.

Enter the 10th Amendment. With it, the 13 sovereign states rested a little easier that everything they had fought and sacrificed for – that their friends and family had died for – would not grow into an evil worse than that which they just cast off. With a modicum of continued reverence for the 10th Amendment, the Federal Government still restrains itself from a wide application of using “the stick” to control the states; rather it prefers to use “the carrot.”

The Carrot

In the 1962 novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, author Ray Bradbury tells the story of a carnival, led by Mr. Dark, that comes to a small town. Mr. Dark and his carnival hold the allure of being able to grant the townsfolk their every secret wish. As the story progresses, the townsfolk realize the grave cost of being snared in Mr. Dark’s sinister web.

I have written much and often regarding the great perils of Alabama’s heroin-like addiction to Federal money: The Man Who Wears Underwear on His Head, Two Kinds of Republicans, and What Would it Take For You to Switch Political Parties?. Thus, I will not exert much more effort on the topic here, except to say, if Alabama wishes to exert it’s values in any sphere of society, it must learn the lessons that Bradbury’s 13 year-old protagonists, Jim and Will, learned from the deceitful Mr. Dark.

Conservatives may be lulled into forgetting the great evils of Federal Government overreach during this perceived respite under the Trump administration. However, we must be warned: will something more or less extreme than Obama come after Trump? Most likely, the next President will be a Democrat from the vein of Michelle Obama or Oprah Winfrey … or something worse. They will seek to use the carrot to force the States to comply with a federally- mandated homosexual agenda, a pro-abortion agenda, and a God-hating educational agenda.

How will Alabama respond when the Federal Government says, “We’ll take away your funding if you don’t comply?” If we work now to rid ourselves of this addiction to Federal Government money, we may have the fortitude to tell the Federal Government to take a hike.

Jenga Pin

Jenga is a children’s game where small wooden blocks are stacked to a height of about 1 foot. Each player in-turn pulls out a block. The game ends when the particular block is pulled that causes the whole tower to crumble.

The Federal Government’s use of the carrot to control the states is a Jenga pin of disfunction in society. It affects education, criminal justice, abortion, health care, and privacy. The rabbit-hole is deep and Chief Robertson proves to be a faithful guide.

Chief Robertson recommends that, “Alabama’s leaders should begin … to approach federal aid with a heightened sense of skepticism and to identify opportunities (big or small) for our state to maintain or regain its authority over various programs. At the very least, a deeper understanding of the degree to which we sell our sovereignty and the ramifications of our state’s federal dependency is necessary to advance sound policymaking at the state level.”

Obama’s Transgender School Policy

Robertson tipped her hand before the release of the report, on May 16, 2016, with an article entitled, Alabama’s Shrinking Sovereignty: [ sovereignty/]

“On Friday, the omnipotent U.S. Department of Education threatened to pull federal funding from public school districts that refuse to fall in line over transgender bathrooms. Many school districts will submit, knowing that they cannot afford to jeopardize their federal cash flow. …

“Will we continue to carelessly sell our sovereignty—and, with it, our values—to the federal government? Or will we begin to take seriously Chief Justice John Robert’s admonishment when he said, writing for the majority of the Supreme Court: ‘In the typical case, we look to States to defend their prerogatives by adopting ‘the simple expedient of not yielding’ to federal blandishments when they do not want to embrace the federal policies as their own. The States are separate and independent sovereigns. Sometimes they have to act like it.’”

What could Robertson’s ascension to Chief Counsel mean for the State of Alabama?

Bills which seek to court Federal money may be opposed by the Office of the Attorney General.

It could mean that bills like HB97/SB153, a Data Collection Bill, sponsored by Sen. Singleton, which seeks to establish an Orwellian state by collecting data on Alabama citizens from kindergarten all the way through the life … it may mean that bills like this will no longer have a welcome mat in the Alabama legislature. It was only after 30 minutes of debate in the House Education Committee that light was shed on the fact that the Federal Government has been bribing the States, 47 in all, into collecting data on its citizens.

It could mean that bills like HB277/SB236, sponsored by Sen. Cam Ward, which seeks to limit the religious liberty of churches, in order to have more licensed day care facilities, to access more federal money, will not be tolerated.

According to Deborah Love, Executive Director of Eagle Forum of Alabama and 20-plus other concerned citizens, HB277 is appalling:

“Dollars are flowing from the federal government in support of licensed daycare facilities. The more that are licensed, the more money. With federal dollars come federal control.”

“As the fiscal note for the HB277 shows the financial support for this regulation comes from the Federal government.”

2) It could mean that lobbying groups which are in the business pushing legislation which drive us deeper into dependence on Federal Government money – groups which contribute more to State Legislative campaigns than any other entities – it could mean these types of lobbying groups will be watched like a hawk for ethics violations … and ubiquitously prosecuted for violations. []

3) It could mean the Attorney General spearheads a Federal Funding Accountability Task Force which investigates and evaluates all federal money flowing into the State. A similar protocol was introduced by Governor Mike Pence of Indiana. Chief Robertson’s report explains:

“In the Hoosier State, Governor Mike Pence created the ‘Office of State-Based Initiatives’ in an effort to impose additional oversight and accountability on agencies receiving federal funds. The goal of the office … is to ‘contribute to Indiana’s continued fiscal health’ by ‘working with agencies to push back against onerous regulations that often accompany the return of federal dollars to Indiana.’ The office is charged with reviewing the state’s federal grant opportunities and giving approval for any agency to seek a federal grant. The office also ‘subject[s] each grant to a cost-benefit analysis’ that ‘measure[s] the grant’s fiscal and regulatory impact.’ During the 2015 fiscal year, the office focused its analysis of grants to determine if the state should consolidate programs, seek more federal waivers, or discontinue certain programs altogether. The Pence Administration encourages other states to set up a similar office to help establish ‘the necessary coalition of states to assert state authority and make it easier for governors and state legislatures to run their states.’” (footnotes omitted)

Alabama Is Not Free

Alabama is the third most dependent state on federal money. We are the third most enslaved state. We have 8.4 billion reasons not to break our addiction.

The fact is that Alabama is not free. We live in the shackles of a tyrannical Federal Government. This tyranny extends to almost corner of our lives. If we wish to live as free Alabamians, we must fight for freedom from this addiction to federal money. Federal money is a heroine addiction. Alabama’s path to freedom passes through the pain of detoxing from addiction to Federal Government money. We must stop being dependent on a system that enslaves.

In 1959, just three years before the Supreme Court of the United States decided Engel v. Vitale, would the people of Alabama been able to imagine that the Federal Government would take away their right to pray to the Supreme Creator in Alabama’s public schools? In 1970, just three years before the Supreme Court of the United States decided Roe v. Wade, would the people of Alabama been able to imagine that Federal Government would take away the right to protect the most vulnerable? In 2009, just three years before the Supreme Court of the United States decided National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, would the people of Alabama been able to imagine that the Federal Government would take away their right to control their healthcare? In 2012, just three years before Obergefell v. Hodges, would you have imagined that the Federal Government would order a freely elected Alabama judge to perform homosexual marriage?

Try with me, now, to imagine what atrocity will befall us in the next years … if not in the Trump administration, then in the years that follow? Will the Federal Government tell the citizens of Alabama that their preachers may not speak the plain truth of the Bible’s message on homosexuality? What would stop the Federal Government?

Every freedom-loving citizen of Alabama needs to read Robertson’s report, Selling our Sovereignty: Alabama’s Federal Dependency. Alabama’s freedom has no friend in the man or woman who seeks to strengthen the Federal Government’s shackles on the State of Alabama, through deeper dependence on Federal money.

This toast is for Chief Robertson’s vision of a better Alabama, a freer Alabama, an Alabama that does not sell its own sovereignty.

At the base of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the Castle which Robert the Bruce scaled by night to usurp the English tyrants, is a monument with the inscription, “A True Scotsman Gives Up His Freedom, Only At The Cost Of His Life.” May the same be true of Alabama. May the same be true of Alabama citizens.

May we be able to say together, “A true Alabamian gives up his freedoms, only at the cost of his life.”


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Opinion | Let’s put a wall around petty Donald Trump

Joey Kennedy



How can one quantify how petty our infant-acting president, Donald J. Trump, really is?

Trump is so dim, he actually may be an unwitting tool of Russia. Hard to believe somebody as thin-skinned and brain-challenged as Trump could be working for the Russians intentionally. Yet, he may be doing that, too. Evidence looks strong.

Trump is way past the simple disgrace to the United States that Richard Nixon was. And his idiocy is dangerous.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Trump to postpone his State of the Union address, for good reasons, until after the partial government shutdown is over, petty Trump retaliated by postponing an international trip Pelosi was going to make, refusing to allow military aircraft to transport her. That trip was being kept on the down-low for security reasons, until petty Trump released the details.

As the now 28-day shutdown has no end in sight, the only reason 800,000 federal employees, thousands of them in Alabama, aren’t getting paid is because of petty Trump.
Trump refuses to budge on his demand for $5.6 billion for a near-useless wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico.


The president is stubbornly low-information, ignoring facts that show technology and more border agents will better deter undocumented immigrants entering the country than a physical barrier that can be easily defeated.

People can climb over walls. They can dig under them. And that’s not the only way they can get through.

Perdido Vineyards’ Jim Eddins, 85, a 1957 graduate of the Naval Academy and a retired colonel from the U.S. Marine Corps, has plenty of experience with walls. He was a combat engineer in the Marines, and he established Perdido Vineyards in 1972 and started Alabama’s first farm winery in 1979.

Walls, Eddins says, have “many useful and peaceful purposes.”

“They support roofs, enclose space, help with privacy and secrecy, help with protection and security, define perimeters and boundaries, help with flood control; they work in prisons, make obstacles,” Eddins says.

But will a wall on the southern border do what petty Trump says it will: Keep out immigrants? Stop the drug trade? Keep terrorists out? Keep us free of these terrible “diseases” the president wrongly claims immigrants bring in?

“No,” Eddins says emphatically. “None of the above.” Those dangers cited by petty Trump are wildly exaggerated anyway, Eddins says.

“Disease? Ebola flies in: mosquitos, birds, animals, vehicles. The history of walls is ancient, as failures for the above reasons,” Eddins says. “A determined aggressor is only temporarily impeded. They tunnel under, fly over, go around, destroy, or breach. (Walls) often cause more damage than they prevent.”

The mobility of modern military criminal forces, with aircraft and explosives (and other technologies) – make a wall particularly vulnerable.

“A wall can very quickly cease to be a defense and become a prison or target,” Eddins says. “Hitting a fixed target is easy. Hitting a moving target is not so simple. Ask a deer hunter or bird hunter.”

Yet, petty Trump demands his wall be paid for by U.S. taxpayers – the one he said Mexico would pay for – or else he’ll keep the government shut. Republicans in Congress, and especially in the U.S. Senate and in Alabama, are complicit in the pettiness.

So, 800,000 federal workers are going without their paychecks, for a full month now and counting, the longest shutdown in U.S. history. For a wall that’ll do little to secure the southern border as petty Trump claims.

Tests have already shown that the wall or barrier or fence – whatever somebody wants to call it – is easily breached. Officials discovered a tunnel under an existing section of wall only a short distance from where Trump was visiting when he was at the Texas border last week. Most drugs come to the United States through the air or hidden in ground vehicles that come through existing border entries. A prototype of the wall Trump wants was sawed through by testers.

But Trump wants it his way or the highway. Democrats and a growing number of Republicans are telling Trump that he can’t always get his way.

“The United States has been wracked with the politics of division, religion, and immigration for its entire history,” Eddins says. “And the lessons of this experience are currently being ignored, and the same mistakes are being made for the self-serving purposes of mind control and a dictatorship.”

Walls are not for a democracy, Eddins says. “A wall is a physical object for dictators to impress foolish people,” he says. “Israel has a wall, and the Palestinians shoot missiles over it. Walls did not stop the Crusaders or Muslims.

“Putting a ‘wall’ around propaganda and sick minds is a logical option,” Eddins says, adding we must fight bad ideas with better ideas. And keep in mind, Eddins says, who is pushing “this noise.”

“Someone with corrupted, evil intent,” Eddins points out. “There are better and less expensive alternatives. It will definitely cost more than $5 billion to build and maintain a wall. In short, a political slogan and promise from a pathological liar is no basis for spending billions on this, especially when political ideology is the only purpose.”

Trump is a legend only in his own mind. His pettiness is the real legend, assaulting all of our tired, frustrated minds. His disastrous term is half over. I don’t know if our nation can survive the next 24 months. We don’t need a wall, and we certainly don’t need Donald Trump.

It is, indeed, Mueller time.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

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Opinion | Mayor Woodfin: Tear down that statue

Josh Moon



Dear Mayor Woodfin,

Tear it down.

Get a few blow torches and axes, maybe a jackhammer or two, and tear down that Confederate monument in Linn Park. If you’d like, to appease the phony historians out there, save a portion to be put in a museum in town.

But tear it down.

A Jefferson County Circuit Court judge ruled Monday night that you have the authority to remove it, and why wouldn’t you? It’s your city. It’s your city park. You maintain it. You should have complete authority over what goes or what stays in it.


As Judge Michael Graffeo wrote in his order, “Just as the state could not force any particular citizen to post a pro-Confederacy sign in his or her front lawn, so too can the state not commandeer the city’s property for the state’s preferred message.”

It’s the perfect ruling. Because it’s so obviously accurate.

In fact, numerous people who worked in several cities around the state tried to explain to the legislature that this law was ridiculously encroaching — to the point of being counterproductive.

And a number of attorneys tried to explain to state lawmakers that the overreach was troubling and likely illegal.

But as the Legislature usually does, it ignored those cries of rationality. And instead chose the path of pandering.

Pandering to the most awful among us.

Pandering to the racists. Pandering to those who refuse to believe in an accurate history. Pandering to those who don’t care that statues honoring traitors and murderers offend large numbers of citizens in this state.

How couldn’t they offend black citizens?

Imagine learning stories of the horrific ways that your ancestors were treated — beaten, raped, tortured, bought and sold like cattle, and separated from their children — and then being told there was a statue of the men who did those things in the town square.

If this state’s citizenry had half the decency and morals that we proclaim, we’d be ashamed that we ever had the gall to erect these statues, or to honor the dishonorable men who led the fight to preserve slavery.

But instead, our state’s citizens have been brainwashed by decades of an absurdly whitewashed history, and will, in response to fact-based arguments for why the statues should be removed, talk passionately about the southern general’s great strategic mind or explain that this confederate treated his slaves well or tell you with a straight face that the whole damn thing wasn’t and isn’t about race and slavery.

Quite honestly, Mayor Woodfin, I am tired of the stupidity and the phony arguments and the wink-and-nod racism from closeted racists. They don’t really care if the statue is in the park. It’s not like they’re bringing their families by on Saturday afternoons to have picnics in front of the Confederate monuments and soak in the history.

They only want the statues to remain because those statues are one last poke in the eye to the people who say they have to treat black people as equals.

That’s it.

They get a little demented joy out of knowing that that statue is aggravating the blacks and the libs and the yankees.

That’s why they’ve erected a huge confederate flag beside the Interstate north of Montgomery. It’s why three confederate groups attempted a couple of years ago to put up a large confederate flag across the Interstate from Alabama State University, a historically black college.

And it’s why, most of all, they run around waving a flag that was never an official flag of the Confederacy, but was the battle flag of one confederate army and was later adopted by the KKK and other hate groups.

Because the history doesn’t matter to these people. And those who are interested in it would be just as well served visiting the monuments in a museum.

So, Mayor, I’m suggesting you do the right thing and set an example for other cities around the state to follow.

Tear that statue down.


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Opinion | What will our Congressional districts look like after the 2020 Census

Steve Flowers



Preparations are being made to take the 2020 Census. This process is not just a fun game to spell out demographic changes and interesting tidbits about us as Americans. It is a very important mandate dictated by the Constitution. The number of people counted determines how many seats each state has in Congress. Thus, it is taken every 10-years.

The Country has been changing, demographically, over the last decade, as it always has over the course of history. The states of California, Texas and Florida continue to grow exponentially. All Americans, not just older ones, seek the sun. They like a sunny, warm climate. That is why our neighboring state of Florida is and has been for decades America’s growth state.

Last week I visited with you about our 1940’s Congressional Delegation. At that time we had nine seats. We lost one after the 1960’s census. We lost another after 1980. We are projected to lose another one after this upcoming Census of 2020. We now have seven seats. It is predicted that we will only have six after next year. We most certainly will lose one to California if they are allowed to count illegal immigrants.

The State Legislature is constitutionally designated as the drawer of lines of congressional districts for each respective state. Currently, we have six Republican seats and one Democratic seat. If indeed we drop from seven to six Congressional districts, how will it shake out.

The census will reveal that Huntsville and North Alabama have been our growth spots. Alabama’s population continues to move toward the northern tier of the state. Two out of every three Alabamians live in Birmingham, Hoover, and Tuscaloosa north.


The Black Belt continues to lose population. The census will also reveal quite a disparity of financial prosperity. It will show that the same Black Belt counties are some of the poorest areas of the country and conversely Huntsville will be one of the most prosperous.

So who are the winners and losers under Congressional redistricting? You start with one premise. You have to have one majority minority African American district. The federal courts have mandated this edict. Therefore, Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s district is sacred. It now is very large, geographically. It will become even larger. The district will take in most of the African American population in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery, and the entire Black Belt stretching from south of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa all the way to Mobile. It will be a big geographic district and be numbered district six rather than seven.

This leaves us with five Republican districts and six incumbent Republicans. Therefore, who gets the short end of the stick. A cursory look says the odd person out is Martha Roby in the second district.

However, our current delegates have already come up with a plan to save everybody. Mo Brooks, the Congressman from Huntsville, will choose to move up or out in 2022. He is assuming that Senator Richard Shelby retires at age 88. Therefore, Brooks will see his fast-growing Tennessee Valley district divided and delved out to a plan that grows the districts north, which complies with the growth pattern.

Our senior and most seniority laden Congressman, Robert Aderholt, will opt to stay in Congress rather than risk a run for the Senate. This is a very wise and prudent move for him and the state. He has over 24-years in seniority and is in line to be Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. He will move north and pick up part of the Huntsville area and he will cut Gadsden loose. Mike Rogers will move north and pick up Gadsden and all of northeast Alabama, which is a more natural fit for him with his native Anniston area.

Rogers’ move north will allow him to abandon Auburn-Opelika, which in turn allows Roby’s district to exist primarily like it is with the population centers of East Montgomery, Elmore, Autauga, and the Wiregrass and Dothan and that district will add Auburn-Opelika.

The current 6th District of Jefferson-Shelby represented by Gary Palmer will remain essentially the same. Its upscale suburbs will make it one of the most Republican in the nation.

The last district seat of Mobile-Baldwin will remain intact and will still be District 1. However, the tremendous growth of Baldwin will require that the district only contain Mobile and Baldwin. The cadre of rural counties north of Mobile that are currently in the District will have to be cut loose to probably go to the Black Belt district.

The current 1st District Congressman, Bradley Bryne, is running for the U.S. Senate in 2020. However, his replacement will be a conservative Republican.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at


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Opinion | Why do Alabama governors insist on taking the unpopular path?

Josh Moon



We’re doing it again.

The same thing. We’re doing the same thing again, and hoping for a different outcome. Which I believe is the definition of insanity. And that might as well be our state motto at this point.

Alabama: The Insane State.

The state where the people continue to elect people who promise to do the same things as the last people who we hated, and who will eventually totally renege on those promises and try to do the opposite.

Case in point: Kay Ivey.


At her inauguration on Monday, Ivey was all smiles and upbeat rhetoric. She talked of steadying the ship and putting Alabamians back to work. And she was governor while those things happened, so the rules say she gets credit, even if it’s mighty tough to pinpoint exactly what it is that she did to cause any of those good things.

But Ivey also dropped a few hints about the future.

To no one’s surprise, she discussed a gas tax without ever saying the word “tax,” and she talked about a new prison construction proposal.

Actually, neither of those ideas is “new,” and the proposals Ivey and the Legislature will put forth in the coming months won’t be new either. We’ve been talking about prisons for three years now, if not longer, and the gas tax was kicked around during the last legislative session.

And both will be met with roughly the same amount of disdain by voters this time around.

No matter how badly we might need to renovate our current prisons or build new ones, the average Alabama voter doesn’t want to do that. In fact, those voters have proven to be amazingly willing to let prisoners out of jail, if the alternative is a higher tax bill.

And on the gas tax front, yeah, that’s a big ol’ no.

I’m sorry, but you can’t set up a state income tax system that charges janitors more than CEOs, leaving the state with consistently no money to make necessary repairs to infrastructure, and then ask the working stiffs to pick up the bill for those repairs when things fall completely apart. And make them pay for it by charging them more to get to work every day.  

I don’t care that we just held elections and most lawmakers are safe for another four years. You vote for that sort of a tax on working people, and it’ll hang around your neck for the rest of your political career. What’s left of it.

If you doubt this, ask Robert Bentley.

He tried something similar. Actually, come to think of it, he was a lot like Ivey following his re-election in 2014. Very popular. Had pledged not to raise taxes. Was generally trusted by most people around the state.

And then he hit people with a proposal for a cigarette tax.

His whole world blew up from that point forward.

Because it’s not right. Taxing gas or taxing cigarettes is a coward’s tax.

It’s an admission that you know we don’t have enough revenue but you’re not brave enough to attack the real problem — to raise property taxes or restructure our state income tax.

Or to do what’s popular: Legalize gambling.

Why do Alabama Republicans continue to run from legalized gaming? It makes zero sense, considering the massive edge they hold in statewide voting and the unprecedented popularity of gambling among Republican voters.

Poll after poll shows that conservative voters in Alabama now massively favor legalizing gambling. In one of the more recent polls, more than 60 percent of likely Republican voters were in favor of a vote to legalize full-fledged casinos with sportsbooks.

And yet, Ivey, like the two governors who came before her, will stand on a stage at her inauguration and push for two completely unpopular ideas —— prisons and a gas tax — but never speak of the one subject that’s both popular and could raise enough money to pay for the infrastructure repairs. And the prisons.

So, here we are again. Another governor who thinks she can thumb her nose at the will of the people. Another governor who seems hellbent on ignoring a popular solution. Another fight that will lead to nowhere.

Insanity. That’s what it is.


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“Something wicked this way comes.” A toast to Chief Counsel Katherine Robertson’s vision for a free Alabama

by Samuel McLure Read Time: 10 min