Voters reject tax vote, Walker County on verge of bankruptcy

August 21, 2017

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Walker County officials, stunned by voters rejection of a massive tax increase, now are not sure what to do.

February 2017, former Governor Robert Bentley (R) set the special election for the US Senate seat formerly held by Jeff Sessions for November 2018.  Three months later, the law finally caught up to Robert “the Luv Guv” Bentley, so he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and resigned from office rather than be impeached.  New Governor Kay Ivey (R) was sworn in and moved the Special Election to December 12, 2017, with major Party primaries on August 15.
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Sessions Says After Brexit Vote: Now its America’s Turn

June 30, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Friday June 24, US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) applauded voters in Great Britain for voting in a Thursday referendum to leave the troubled European Union (EU) and said that the American people will get to vote similarly against globalism when they vote in November.

Senator Sessions is one of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s closest, earliest, highest profile, and most vocal supporters,

Sessions wrote in a lengthy column: “Just as in the UK, our November presidential election presents a stark contrast. The establishment forces, the global powers, are promoting their values and their interests. They want to erode borders, rapidly open America’s markets to foreign produced goods, while having little interest in advancing America’s ability to sell abroad. These forces have zero interest in better job opportunities and higher wages for our citizens.”
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Ainsworth Introduces Recall Legislation

April 11, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, March 5, the entire news world seemed to descend on Montgomery to cover the latest chapter in the Bentley/Mason sex scandal/abuse of power saga. Newscasts about the affair appeared across the country.  The legislature is bogged down, trying to decide what constitutes an impeachable offense in Alabama. Does Gov. Bentley’s bad conduct rise to that level, and if so, how would they go about impeaching him?
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Athens Tax Increase Defeated

August 26, 2015

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, August 25, voters in the City of Athens went to the polls and overwhelmingly voted to reject the proposed 12 mill tax increase which was to be used on an ambitious public works plan.

There was high turnout in this single issue election.  Voters voted 62 percent to 38 percent to reject the tax increase.  Only 2009 people voted “yes” for the tax increase.  3228 people voted “no.”  52.37 percent of registered voters participated in the referendum.
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Athens Votes on Raising Taxes

August 25, 2015

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, August 25, the people of Athens will vote on whether or not to pay more property taxes so that the City Schools system can embark on an ambitious wave of public works projects, they say will improve public education in the City.

Opponents say that the people of Alabama are already taxed enough, and that the school system will be just fine without the new revenues.
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Voters Reject Another Tax Increase

August 19, 2015

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, August 18 Jackson County voters went to the polls and rejected pleas by the County Commission for a one percent sales tax increase. 64 percent of the voters voted down the unpopular tax increase.

Alabama Legislators have historically scheduled these kinds of referendums in single issue races where as few a voters as possible are likely to even know there is an election, much less one that raises their taxes.  That way a handful of connected people are usually able to decide the issue (many of them local government employees) because they are the only ones aware of the vote.
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Judge Dismisses Zeigler Suit

July 20, 2015

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Friday, July 17, 2015 Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin has dismissed the lawsuit by Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) and two taxpayers of Baldwin County.  The trio had sued Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) as well as five Baldwin school officials.  The Judge ruled that the taxpayer plaintiffs lacked standing to sue and did not set out a cause of action against the defendants.
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Greek Voters Reject Referendum

July 7, 2015

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Greek voters went to the polls and soundly rejected austerity measures that were designed to help payback the troubled country’s growing bond debt crisis.

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Ms. Christine Lagarde, issued a statement on Monday, July 6 after the people of Greece voted to reject the proposals: “The IMF has taken note of yesterday’s referendum held in Greece. We are monitoring the situation closely and stand ready to assist Greece if requested to do so.”

On Monday, the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned after the country Votes “No” in the bailout referendum.  Varoufakis said that he resigned after some of Greece’s creditors said they didn’t want him involved in further negotiations.  This is after he accused Greece’s creditors of “terrorism”, the day before a referendum on the international bailout.

Greece defaulted on it’s loan agreement payment last week.

The US State Department said in a statement on before the default: “Greece continues to present a challenging climate for investment, both foreign and domestic. The previous government made substantial progress in carrying out fiscal and structural economic reforms. A number of these reforms aimed to simplify the investment framework, and the government actively sought to attract foreign investment to drive the country’s long-term economic recovery.

A new, leftist government took office in January 2015 parliamentary elections. The new government has sought extensive renegotiation and easing of the terms of the country’s bailout agreement with the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The slow progress of these negotiations, Greece’s increasingly tight public finances and concern over the government’s long-term commitment to market-friendly reforms has contributed to renewed economic uncertainty…Concern over the direction of the new government’s national economic policies has essentially frozen new investment and caused some existing investors to scale down or withdraw entirely from the Greek market.”

According to the state Department at the end of 2014, public debt in Greece reached a high of 177.7 percent of GDP.  The Greek economy posted modest growth of around 0.8 percent in 2014, the first positive growth since 2008. Since 2008, Greek GDP has shrunk by 28 percent. The massive drop in Greek incomes both from the global Great Recession and austerity measures meant to stabilize the economy have led to a tremendous increase in nonperforming loans (NPLs). The banking sector was recapitalized in 2013 and 2014 but the economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2014 leading Greeks to withdraw over 28 billion EUROs.

Greece’s bailout loans are primarily in the form of bilateral loans from other Eurozone member states.  According to the State Department analysis the terms are very favorable, with low interest payments and a long repayment profile.

The Leftist Syriza Party controlled Greek government had urged voters to say “No” to the terms of a bailout package, but opponents warned that this could see Greece ejected from the Eurozone.  Greece’s current bailout program with the European Commission, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) ran out on Tuesday.

The banks have been shut down all week and limits on cash withdrawals have been implemented.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that Greeks made a “brave choice” in voting to reject the terms of an international bailout.  The final result was 61.3 percent voting “No”, to just 38.7 percent voting “Yes”.

No word has come on whether or not Europe is going to eject Greece from the European Union or not.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurozone’s group of finance ministers, called the referendum result “very regrettable” for the future of Greece.

The Prime Minister has appointed Euclid Tsakalotos as the new finance minister.

For decades following World War II the global economy has experienced positive economic growth. Governments knowing that their revenues were increasing every year ran up massive bond debts. Rising revenues would mean that paying the service on those debts would be easier and easier; however growth has been lackluster following the Great Recession and servicing the bond debts has gotten to be more and more difficult for governments.  Puerto Rico announced last week that they would be unable to pay the debt service on their $77 billion in outstanding bond debt.

(Original reporting by Fox News and CNN contributed to this report.)

 

Hearing on Zeigler Lawsuit in Court Thursday

June 29, 2015

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Sunday, June 28, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) announced that a hearing will be held in Montgomery on Zeigler’s suit to stop school boards from spending school funds in political campaigns for tax increases.

The hearing is set for July 2, on a lawsuit to enjoin school boards from using tax dollars in referendum campaigns for tax increases.  Zeigler announced that the case is set for Thursday at 9 a.m. in courtroom 3B of the Montgomery County Courthouse.
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Baldwin County School System Defends Actions

June 11, 2015

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Wednesday, June 10, officials with the Baldwin County Board of Education responded to allegations that they acted inappropriately in the recent school property tax referendum.

Director of Communications with the Baldwin County Schools System Terry Wilhite said, “The state requires that a school district have a minimum tax of 10 mills to participate in the foundation program.  Baldwin only collects two mills above the state minimum.”

Director Wilhite said that, “Info from the state department of education shows our rate is equal to Conecuh and Monroe counties, less than Escambia (17) and far less than Mobile (29.5). Probably the only county we compare to in terms of size and growth is Shelby where the rate is 30 mils.  In fact, had we been successful in getting the increases we asked for, we would still be less than Bullock. Mobile/Pritchard would even be more than Baldwin.”   “When you look at all funding sources for Baldwin schools you see that we rank no. 98 in the state.”

Wilhite wrote, “The Baldwin County Public School System has more students than it has classrooms to put them – this is the simple driver behind a campaign for revenue to build school houses.”  “The school system is simply seeking a revenue stream to build school houses to handle the massive growth.”

Wilhite denied charges by State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) that the Baldwin County School Board misappropriated funds by using school resources to promote its tax referendum.  Regarding the lawsuit filed by Zeigler, Wilhite said, “It is a free country.  If the state auditor wants to spend taxpayer money on frivolous law suits, that’s his prerogative.” 

Wilhite said that Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) gave an opinion on the referendum, “In response to a request by the Baldwin County Board of Education, not at the request of Ziegler.” 

Wilhite denied that the failed referendum or the allegations that school personnel and resources were used to promote a yes vote had anything to do with Robbie Owen’s decision to step down as superintendent of the Baldwin County Public Schools.  Wilhite said that Owen, “Stepped forward from his role of principal of Rockwell Elementary to lead the school system when Dr. Alan Lee resigned. Recently Mr. Owen announced he would like to return to his principalship at Rockwell. He is a very honorable man and he personally has the trust and backing of those for and those against a tax hike. He said his heart was working directly with students, and that is what he has chosen to do.”

Wilhite strongly objected to the reporting on this story by the Alabama Political Reporter on Wednesday.  “We receive regular news coverage from the Mobile Press-Register, AL.com, three TV stations and four community newspapers. None of them have reported on this “scandal” you refer to.  Strange to me that you can uncover something from Montgomery when media who cover this area regularly cannot.”

The Alabama Political Reporter does not claim to have uncovered anything in Baldwin County and is only vaguely aware of what Al.com and Mobile TV are reporting on every issue.  Our resources would be stretched much too thin to adequately cover county governance in all 67 counties of Alabama and the over 172 public school systems in the state in addition to our unmatched laser focus on state governance and reporting on elections as well as the coverage of the Alabama Congressional Delegation. 

But as Jim Zeigler said in an earlier statement, “This is now a statewide issue.  Three other counties have held tax votes since the Baldwin referendum.  Unless we win this suit, taxpayer funds can be used for campaigning.  There may later be a statewide vote on tax increases or gambling, and we need to stop the political use of taxpayer money before those referendums.”

Much of the money was spent on television advertising.  “We did not want taxpayer money, and we are talking about a lot of taxpayers’ money, that is supposed to run the educational system to go instead to a political campaign,” said Zeigler.

WKRG-TV News 5 and Strategy Research conducted a poll showing that 81 percent of voters in Baldwin County oppose using tax dollars for political referendums  92 percent of voters who voted against the tax increase package reported to pollsters that they opposed the use of taxpayer money by the Baldwin County Board of Education in the campaign.

Wilhite said, “Baldwin is a place that young families come by the droves to raise and educate their children and it is also a destination for folks to come and retire; the board has to reach audiences beyond parents and it invested the dollars in communication that reached them. It was a good faith effort to communicate that we need school buildings to accommodate the growth. Plain and simple. The entire county – old and young alike – has a stake in the future of community schools.”

 

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