04 Dec 2012
- Published Date
By Bill Armistead
As the 2012 political year comes to a close, it is not only important to remember what we accomplished this past year but what lies ahead in 2014. We can take pride in the election successes in Alabama in 2012 but we cannot, for one moment, begin to think that our work is done.
Nearly two years ago, we laid out a vision here at ALGOP called building a Foundation for our Future. The plan was simple: For the first time in history, ALGOP would invest financial resources, time and energy into county elections while growing our majority status at the state level.
The rational was sound: Many counties vote overwhelmingly Republican at the top of the ticket, yet split their vote and continually elect Democrats at the local level. We believed that If ALGOP could provide the resources and draw a distinction between the Republican Party and the Democrat Party, we would be successful. We believed that we could elect a new crop of local Republicans and begin to end the myth of the “conservative Democrat” and “in this county you have to run as a Democrat to get elected”.
The results speak for themselves: When the Foundation for our Future was announced just over a year ago, only 20 Probate Judges were Republicans and just 17 Circuit Clerks were Republicans. Now, at the end of 2012, Republicans hold 32 Probate Judge Offices and 29 Circuit Clerk Offices. That is a 60% increase in Probate Judges and 70% increase in Circuit Clerks.
Republicans also had a net gain of elected officials in 27 individual counties and elected our first ever Republicans to office in several counties. In addition, we defeated over one-half of the Democrat office holders who were on the ballot this year.
When we elect Republicans at the local level we remove one more layer of support from the Democrats and add more organizational support to our majority party status. Also, when the Foundation for our Future was announced it was pointed out that the vast majority of counties that were to be targeted in 2012 were also represented by freshman members of the Legislature who will be up for re-election in 2014.
Therefore every voter we talked to and identified in 2012 as a Republican, that was one less we would have to identify in 2014. And, for every new volunteer, supporter, and donor we activated in 2012, that was one less we would have to activate in 2014.
As proud as we are of our successes in 2012, our attention has already turned to the elections of 2014. Our Foundation for our Future plans will continue to focus on the transition at the local level from Democrat control to new Republican leadership. But, it does not stop there. We will also focus on retaining and growing our majority in the legislature as well as holding every Republican statewide office.
When you look at the 2014 elections, similar patterns emerge as they did in 2012. As an example, all 67 Alabama Sheriffs will be on the ballot in 2014. Republicans currently only occupy 24 Sheriff’s offices and 43 are controlled by Democrats. And, we cannot let that stand. We are already focusing on candidate recruitment for these offices and have identified several great candidates for Sheriff. Also, if there are any conservative Democrat Sheriffs who believe in our conservative Republican philosophy we invite them to join the Republican Party. Otherwise, we will recruit good solid citizens in our targeted counties and provide the support they need to win their election in 2014.
It has taken our Party nearly 50 years to transition Alabama from a Democrat majority state to a Republican majority state. And, I am proud to say that I was a young college student back when this all began and I got involved in Sen. Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign because of his conservative philosophy. It has been a dream come true for me to have seen our party grow from a “telephone booth” party to the majority party in Alabama. And, now is not the time to become complacent.
We know the Democrats are already working on their “comeback” strategy and we will be prepared for them. In two years they will still be the party of Barack Obama and they will not be able to separate their candidates from the most liberal philosophy and president in the American history. And, as I write this today, I cannot imagine where President Obama will have taken our country in the next two years.
We will continue to encourage all of our elected Republicans to stand firm against the overreach of the federal government and not allow our individual freedoms to be taken away from us. As the motto of the State of Alabama reads: We Dare Defend our Rights!
28 Nov 2012
- Published Date
Op-Ed from House Democratic Caucus Chairman Thomas Jackson: "Show. Me. The. Money."
Money and power. How many times have we picked up a newspaper or turned on the evening news to see a story about the downfall of a person who became consumed with money and power. Too often, these stories are about politicians – the very people we put our trust in to handle our tax dollars and lead our government.
Over the past two weeks, there have been several reports in the news about some questionable financial dealings in the Alabama Republican Party during the 2010 election.
It began with the revelation that the Republican leadership solicited $300,000 from the Indian gaming interests to support the campaign of Attorney General Luther Strange (who has been a strong advocate for prosecuting gaming interests in Alabama) and several Republican state senate candidates.
Last week, it was reported that Speaker of the House and former Republican Party Chairman, Rep. Mike Hubbard, while serving as Party Chairman, contracted out some of the Republican Party’s printing needs to a company that, in turn, subcontracted out those services to a company that Speaker Hubbard owned.
This week, there have been reports that companies owned by Speaker Hubbard were paid over a million dollars from political action committees that were also controlled by Speaker Hubbard.
These shady financial dealings were not limited to the former Republican Party Chairman or the 2010 election cycle.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead hired his nephew to be the real estate agent for the Party on a deal for a new Party headquarters in Hoover. But nepotism was not the only shady part of this deal. The Party paid over $100,000 more than the appraised value of the property.
PAC-to-PAC transfers. Kickbacks. Quid pro quos. You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours. Is this the ethical government the Republicans promised in their “Handshake with Alabama”?
In February of 2010, Speaker Hubbard said, “PAC-to-PAC, that's going to end. I'm not someone who wants to limit what people or groups can spend supporting the people who they want in office, but whatever anybody contributes should be known. I think we want transparency. I know the word gets used a lot. But that's really what we're talking about, pulling the curtain back and seeing where the money comes from and where it goes."
But less than two years after the Republicans took control of the state legislature, a Grand Jury in Montgomery ruled that the ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers as passed by the Republican Supermajority was unenforceable because there is no way to determine who is responsible for violations. The Grand Jury also said that in this so-called ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers it was not a crime for a PAC to solicit or receive a contribution from another PAC.
Now we know why the Republican Supermajority in Montgomery has been unwilling to pass actual ethical reform or a ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers that has teeth. The Republicans are making too much money off of these PAC-to-PAC transfers and backroom deals to actually attempt to change things.
Rep. Thomas Jackson is a Democrat from Thomasville, AL. He is the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and has represented House District 68 in the Alabama House of Representatives since 1994. He is also an Associate Pastor for Church of God in Christ.
05 Nov 2012
- Published Date
By Quin Hillyer
Amendment Four on the ballot would take old, racist language out of the state Constitution. It should be a slam dunk to pass this amendment. But the Alabama Education Association opposes it not because of what it does, but because of something unrelated that it fails to do.
Forgive the editorializing, but this makes no sense.
Consider this analogy. If you have a hideous wart on the end of your nose, plus tendinitis in your shoulder, and you go to a dermatologist asking him to fix both…. And the dermatologist says he can take off the wart with a new method where you won’t even feel a thing, but of course he can’t help your shoulder, because he’s not that kind of doctor.
Would you refuse to let him remove the wart you want removed, just because he won’t also fix your shoulder?
Of course not.
But that’s what the AEA is suggesting: Don’t remove the hideous, racist language unless you also remove a mostly unrelated provision in the Constitution.
It makes no sense. Alabamians who want to rid our state of its racist image should vote yes on Amendment Four.
13 Nov 2012
- Published Date
By Representative Allan Farley
In my Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, you read of Shepherds. When you look up Shepherd in Webster's dictionary you will find: a person who protects, guides, or watches over other people. So, as I go from my Bible to the modern day Webster's dictionary, I suggest that an Elected Official has a responsibility far greater than a civic duty. I also believe that the evil and greed we see in today's political arena has always been there. You see, even Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had 12 appointees. (One was motivated by money).
Jeremiah 23:1 Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture! declares the LORD.
I am talking about today's elected officials. (Yes, my hand is up, and my head is prayerfully down). Shepherds, representing thousands of families who live between lines on a map that we call cities, counties, and districts. Different races, religions, political affiliations, and incomes. As a Christian, I bear a heavy burden when I see officials publicly blaming racism as a reason for disparities in lower income communities. Such shepherds are making a living by keeping their flocks inside their pastures. (Zechariah 11:15 Then the LORD said to me, Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd).
Let me be perfectly clear: Our current Republican controlled Alabama Legislature followed, to the letter, the Federal Law in redrawing our state's legislative districts in 2012. The 1965 Voter Rights Act is very specific. It separates by color. (Apparently the prophetic speech of Dr. King, Judging a man by his character rather than the color of his skin, was not completely understood by some?) Now you have some Democrats shouting that Republicans are stacking and packing all the black voters in like districts. (We use their blueprints to design the pasture and they still cry WOLF).
What about the crazy boundaries in the majority Republican districts? (You heard me). The areas left over when the Voter Rights Act has been complied with. Is there a difference between the Mercedes communities and the Honda communities? Look around. We have all colors driving these two brands. So, why do we have a Black Democratic Caucus? Shouldn't we have a Blue-Collar Caucus? Get away from skin color and focus on income. (Stop laughing, I'm serious). My district is stacked and packed full of us blue-collar folks. All are God's people (Can I get a witness?).
We live in the greatest nation in the world. And, like the rest of the world, our economic status divides our neighborhoods. It's about shades of green, not black or white. (Politicians know this, but a scared and angry flock will stay close to the shepherd). Our opportunities for improved living standards have increased for everyone in the United States over the past 50 years. But, there are still lines that divide communities. (My bible tells me there always will be).
In the Bible there is a story about the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel who were given an opportunity by God to explore the promised land of Canaan. The story tells us that only 2 of the 12 leaders, (Joshua and Caleb), believed in the power of God to protect them in this new land. However, the other 10 shepherds chose to dwell on the differences of the people they witnessed in this new land of opportunity. We know the outcome of this story. Those shepherds encouraged their constituents to cry out in fear and anger, and for the next 40 years their communities all stayed together...in the desert. (So much for preaching on differences).
Today the size and shape of our communities are changing due to the income of the residents. Therefore, in some communities you have a much higher tax base. And, that area has more tax funded benefits. They pay more for better schools, better roads, better shops, more police officers, less crime. (Talk about stacking and packing).
Household income is the determining factor. Not race, religion, or political affiliation. (Flocks move from pasture to pasture as their income increases and they become financially stronger).
In a recent discussion of my position on the Jefferson County Legislative Fund I told a newspaper reporter that our group of Legislators was too divided to share an office. I said that one of the only times I have seen this group come together has been in their majority consensus to keep the fund. No racial issues came up when these shepherds met to discuss this topic. (There really is a language that breaks down racial bearers).
1 Peter 5:2: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over them not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.
God Bless America!!!
05 Nov 2012
- Published Date
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Second terms are never as good as first terms. Ronald Reagan was probably the best American President in the era since the invention of electricity; but even for Reagan his second term was dominated by the Iran-Contra Scandal, his party lost the Senate in the 1986 election, and his bipartisan compromise on immigration created an amnesty that contributed to the flood of illegal immigration that our nation has still been unable to effectively deal with.
Normally Presidents get elected, enact major policy provisions, build consensus and are reelected by a wider margin than they received in their original election. In 1980, Reagan won every state but Hawaii, Minnesota, Georgia, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. In 1984 he lost only Walter Mondale’s home state of Minnesota. Reagan won 55.8% of the 1984 popular vote to just 38.5% for Walter Mondale (a historically low percentage for the Democratic Party nominee).
Barack H. Obama MIGHT very well be reelected; but absolutely nothing like Reagan’s triumphant 1984 victory is going to happen on Tuesday for this President. Obama will not win even win all of the states he carried in 2008. None of the states that Sen. John McCain won in 2008 are even being contested this time by the President. Barack Obama raised an enormous $1 billion in campaign contributions and isn’t even bothering to spend any of that vast war chest on yard signs in Alabama or the other red states he conceded to the Republicans even before they had chosen their nominee. The President has decisively lost half the American people. Indiana has serious buyer’s remorse from their 2008 decision to elect Obama and is now among the reddest of the red states. It appears that the President has lost North Carolina and Florida may also be out of the President’s reach. The President and Mitt Romney are locked in bitter get out the vote duels in Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada and while Obama might get the 270 electoral votes it appears unlikely that President Obama sweeps that whole gauntlet of the remaining swing states. The President is even having to struggle to hold onto normally solidly blue Minnesota with a massive last week ad buy.
Since his inauguration, Barack Obama has squandered a 68% popularity rating and lost both a commanding majority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate in the 2010 midterm elections. The House Republicans are cruising to easy reelections. The President will lose even more of his small Senate majority, but is likely to hang on by the barest of margins because of Olympia Snowe’s late retirement announcement in Maine and because Republicans in Indiana and Missouri nominated the weakest possible fringe candidates in Mourdock and Akin.
If Barack Obama is reelected he faces an increasingly hostile Congress and at least half of the electorate is convinced that Obama is a failed President at best or an arrogant incompetent at worst. A second Obama term will be forced to deal with the massive deficits he ran up in his first term to deal with a 2008-2009 recession that never really ended for many Americans. The looming sequestration cuts and taxamageddon crises that the President and a lame duck Congress will have to deal with in December are largely creations of the President’s own bitter partisanship and intractable devotion to a textbook liberal ideology that never works in the real world quite like it does on a university classroom chalkboard.
China has just tested its second stealth fighter while teething problems combined with looming drastic sequestration cuts have further delayed the development and deployment of the American F-35. The carefully coordinated attack on our consulate in Benghazi just as our Ambassador was visiting from his normal post in Libya showed that Al Quaeda is still capable of coordinating carefully planned attacks on American targets. Iran has moved much closer to becoming nuclear capable during the last four years. An air war with Iran appears virtually inevitable and the situation in much of the rest of the Middle East appears to be on the verge of exploding. The next President is likely going to have to deal with the fall of the Castro and Chavez regimes in Latin America as well as comprehensive immigration reform….. something that President Obama failed at even when his party controlled both Houses of Congress.
Four years of the Obama presidency has shown conclusively that the job is too big for Barack. If Obama is simply a one term president he will likely be remembered best as the first Black President and the pleasant image of the young President with the lovely family will be a lasting memory in the minds of the American people. If Barack H. Obama is reelected he will likely be remembered as a complete disaster of a President. Please on Tuesday vote to end this partisan gridlock and give Mitt Romney a chance to try to turn this bitterly divided nation around.
06 Nov 2012
- Published Date
By Minority Leader Representative Craig Ford
Last week, I announced that I am sponsoring legislation to give educators (including both teachers and support personnel), state employees, and retirees a 10 percent cost-of-living pay increase. I believe this pay increase is not only good for our educators, retirees, and state employees; it will also benefit the rest of our state.
State senator Phil Williams (R-Etowah) has taken a very different position on this issue.
Sen. Williams has stated on his website that he only supports a 2.5 percent pay increase, and he would only give that to teachers with less than nine years of experience.
I have never heard of someone denying a pay increase to an employee because the employee has too much experience! Sen. Williams’ proposal is a slap in the face to our educators, state employees, and retirees.
So today, I will explain why this pay increase is needed, and why I am asking for 10 percent instead of less.
As you may have read, educators, state employees, and retirees have not had a pay increase since 2008 – just before the recession began. Since then, the cost-of-living for educators, state employees, and retirees has increased by 7.5 percent.
But the increase in the cost of living is not the only thing that has affected their pay. In 2011, the Republicans in the Alabama legislature passed a law that required educators and state employees to contribute more to their retirement benefits. The effect of this change was to reduce educators’ and state employees’ paychecks by 2.5 percent. In fact, they began taking the final 0.25 percent out of their paychecks just last month.
When you add these numbers together, you find that the cost of living for educators and state employees has increased by 10 percent since the last time they received a pay increase.
One question I have been getting is “Can we afford this pay increase?”
To help ease the financial burden of the pay increase, I am proposing that we implement it over a two-year period with a 7 percent increase going into effect in 2014 and the additional 3 percent increase going into effect in 2015. I have also been told that we expect revenues to increase over the next two years, just as they did this past year.
I also spoke with the Legislative Fiscal Office, which estimates how much enacting legislation will cost. They told me that to implement this pay increase, it would cost $374 million for educators and $86 million for state employees. That is a lot of money. But compared to our overall budget for the coming year, the pay increase is only about one-seventh of one percent of the education budget and one-half of one percent of the general fund budget.
Therefore, I believe that the pay increase is both fair and affordable. But I also believe the benefits of this pay increase go beyond just those who will receive it.
One benefit from this pay increase is that it is a tool to help keep and recruit the best and brightest educators to Alabama’s schools. Our state does not currently have any program in place to recruit young people to the teaching profession or to recruit quality educators from other states. And even if we did have such a program, it would be difficult to keep or recruit educators if we do not offer competitive compensation.
People don’t become educators for the money. But they still have bills to pay, and, like anybody else, could be tempted to leave education if a better opportunity came along.
This pay increase will also be a benefit to our economy. Education is key to our ability to recruit good-paying, quality jobs. Prospective employers want a workforce that is educated and ready to take on the jobs they bring. But to have that workforce of tomorrow, we need to provide a quality education today. By offering competitive pay, we can recruit and keep the best educators, and our children will receive a better education because of it.
Furthermore, educators, retirees, and state employees are also customers. By increasing their pay, they will have more money to spend at local businesses. And when those businesses increase their profits, they will be able to expand their businesses and hire more people.
The recession has hit us all. Educators, retirees, and state employees have seen their cost of living go up while their pay was also cut. A pay increase of 10 percent will put these educators, state employees, and retirees back to where they were before the recession began. But this pay increase will also make our schools better, and be a boost for our local economy. This pay increase is fair, affordable, and needed. By investing in our educators, state employees, and retirees, we are also investing in ourselves.
02 Nov 2012
- Published Date
By Henry C. Mabry, Executive Secretary Alabama Education Association
Protect our right to public education, no on Amendment 4
The more things change, the more things stay the same, as the saying goes. It was 20 years ago, and there we were trying to get more money for schools and the need for changes in the tax code, and there was Alfa Insurance being obstinate and the ones in the shadows killing progress. Now, Alfa is behind the effort to pass Amendment 4, and a group out of their corporate headquarters has paid for ads on black radio stations urging a yes vote.
The twelfth of never
Since when did Alfa/the Farmers’ Federation (aka Alabama’s large land owners) start caring about getting rid of racist language from our constitution? Since when did Alfa do anything progressive for this state? I suppose it started on the twelfth…the twelfth of never.
Amendment 4 bad for public schools
The bottom line on Amendment 4 is this: if anyone has any doubt whether Amendment 4 is bad, just look at what group is for it and what group is against it. Like 20 years ago AEA worked for progress in our tax structure while Alfa worked to kill the effort.
Today, Alfa works to pass the devilishly clever Amendment 4 because they know the negative ramifications for public education while AEA works to kill the amendment because we also know the negative ramifications for public education.
Constitution provides for public education
The operative and most important sentence in Alabama’s Constitution regarding public education is this, “The legislature shall establish, organize, and maintain a liberal system of public schools throughout the state for the benefit of the children thereof between the ages of seven and twenty-one years.” Amendment 4 abolishes that sentence and provides another, diametrically opposed phrase saying, “but nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as creating or recognizing any right to education or training at public expense…”
Some groups oppose progress in our schools
There are those interests in Montgomery who have worked for over a century to thwart progress in our schools for fear that state and local taxes might increase to help pay for better community schools. Alfa has opposed educational progress, and it has worked to make it nearly impossible to raise revenue for schools. And now, Alfa supports Amendment 4.
This fact itself should be indication enough. Further, this same group supports former Chief Justice Roy Moore who was thrown off the high court for violating a higher court ruling.
Like Alfa, Moore attempted to hurt public education 10 years ago by trying not to recognize our children’s right to an education.
Amendment supporters tout state’s image
The pro Amendment 4 bandwagon also hosts a bevy of lawmakers who have less than embraced help for our schools.
These legislators say they are concerned that if Alabama does not pass Amendment 4 and take out racist language, then Alabama will get a black eye in light of foreign companies looking at Alabama for possible plant locations.
It is most humorous that the same lawmakers who say we must pass Amendment 4 for the sake of the state’s reputation are the same lawmakers who rammed through the despotic immigration law, House Bill 56, and who refused to address some of the scurrilous provisions of that infamous immigration law that landed one German auto executive and another Japanese automotive engineer in Alabama jails thanks to their backward thinking handy work.
Alabama lawmakers concerned with getting a black eye for not passing Amendment 4 should be more concerned with having to tell industrial recruits why in Alabama school children have no right to a public education at public expense.
Amendment 4 needs quick death
Hopefully Amendment 4 will die a quick death this Tuesday, November 6.
Please vote NO, and please alert family and friends to this dangerous proposal.
Maybe we can get it right next time and address the antiquated racist language that does need to go while concurrently making sure our school children keep their right to a public education intact so the state keeps its limited resources funding our schools.
Doing both would be the right thing instead making things worse under the guise of making things better.
Vote no on Amendment 4
Getting a pig in a poke while being sold a golden calf is not the answer. Our people deserve better than this. Vote NO on Amendment 4.