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Alabama AARP Director Salinas is driven by his goals

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY— “Helping people help themselves.” This is the goal of the Director of Alabama’s AARP.

This is a big goal, but Jesse Salinas is a man that is accustom to taking a big idea and making it a reality. Salinas took the helm at AARP as State Director in Alabama last January. He is not new to Alabama nor to big challenges.

Prior to coming to AARP, Salinas was the vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Network Development at the Points of Light Institute. The Points of Light Foundation was created in 1990 in response to President Bush’s call to action as an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to encourage and empower the spirit of service.

The goals of the Points of Light Foundation is it “seeks to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action to improve their communities and society at large by using their time, talent, voice and money to create meaningful change,” according to the organization’s website.

This type of unifying effort was a part of Salinas’ earlier career, “I was struck by this woman I met in Atlanta. She was the daughter of Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, who was organizing Hands On Atlanta, from there I was hooked,” says, Salinas.

Michelle Nunn started Hands On Atlanta, a group that “meets critical needs through volunteer service and civic engagement. Since its founding in 1989, Hands On Atlanta has grown to become one of the largest community-based volunteer service organization in the United States and a model studied and replicated across dozens of other communities.”

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“It was an amazing time to be involved and to watch the group grow from a couple of organizations to over 400,” Salinas says.

Not satisfied to just take on the South’s biggest city, Nunn and Salinas took on the nation and the world with Points of Light. Salinas was a big part of that organizations growth. Over the years, Salinas wore many management hats for the group, even developing the first of its kind web-based application to allow local groups manage to volunteerism. This allowed nonprofit organizations to post their need for volunteers and for those individuals wanting to be volunteers to match with a particular group.

Salinas says he loved being a part of the worldwide organization’s success, “When I had the opportunity to work with AARP in Alabama I jumped at the chance.”

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Salinas, who had earned his master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of Alabama, said he loved Alabama and wanted to return to the state.

He says his life and career have been about “helping people be their own change” and that coming to Alabama was the right place and right time for him to continue that work.

“Here in Alabama we have 440 thousand members, and here in Alabama we have a rapidly aging populations,” said Salinas. “So, we are looking for all the ways we can support our members, and the things that are important to them.”

Among those things are issues confronting the state legislature. Last year AARP we instrumental in the passage of the Elder abuse law in Alabama.

“We have a strong staff, we did a good job last year. This year we are going to do more,” Salinas says. “This year we looking at how we can use all our resources to their maximum benefit.”

He says that AARP in Alabama will be, “focused on heath, how you get the healthcare benefits you need as you age.”

Salinas believes that Medicaid reform a big issue for AARP members, as well as the Affordable Care Act, and how it is implemented. He also sees livable communities as a focus for his staff and members. “We will be spending a great deal of time and focused on community organizing around these issues,” he said.

AARP is current working on a project in Fairfield, Alabama, “We are trying to see if a concerted effort in that community can bring about positive change,” said Salinas. “Fairfield is an area that has really struggled, so, we are trying to do some grassroots organizing there, to help people help themselves.”

Salinas says that at AARP, “we are also looking at how to address the needs of the 50 plus population who are always on the go. A lot of people are still living very active lives, but we are faced with the fact that everyday 10,000 people are turning 65 years old.”

He says that part of what AARP does is offer a wealth of information that help those 50-plus live a better life now and also, prepare for a better life in the future.

“We are here to help people think about, even little things that become magnified as they age,” says Salinas. “What happens if a person can no longer drive, how do they get to their doctor or buy groceries? What if you are a caregiver of aging parents, how do you allocate time and so forth.”

These are some of the things that AARP can help people understand and be proactive about says Salinas. “It is important that as people age they have the knowledge and tools to take care of themselves, and to feel safe and happy.”

He even offers a story from his own life. “My mother who is 65 and very healthy and active became concerned about her bath tub and what would happen if she could no longer use the one she had,” Salinas said.

Using information provided by AARP Salinas says, “We found the appropriate shower with a bench, if and when she ever needs it we had it installed. These are some of the small things that AARP makes best practice recommendations on.”

Salinas says he is happy to be back in Alabama and excited about the future. He says that he an his staff want to “help Alabamians be the best they can be.”

I am sure we all will join together to wish them all the best with their efforts.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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Elections

Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels endorses Mike Bloomberg for president

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Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels announced his endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg today, 4 days ahead of Alabama’s primary election on Super Tuesday. Daniels joins State Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton and Black Caucus Chair Representative A.J. McCampbell in support of Mike. In his endorsement, Rep. Daniels cited Mike’s work taking on tough fights on health care, public education, and supporting small businesses.

“We need a president who has a proven record of bringing people together to tackle the tough challenges we face in this country, and I can’t think of anyone better to do that than Mike Bloomberg,” said Rep. Daniels. “Not only is Mike the best positioned to take on Trump, but he has also proven he can deliver on his promises to make this country better for all. Alabamians should know that when I head to the polls this Tuesday, I’ll be proudly casting my vote for Mike Bloomberg.”

Rep. Anthony Daniels represents the 53rd District in the Alabama State House of Representatives, where, since 2017, he has served as minority leader. Rep. Daniels received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Alabama A&M University. A former public school teacher and small business owner, Daniels is known for championing innovative education programs, like the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering, that prepare young people for promising careers, cultivate homegrown talent, and drive economic growth. Under his leadership, the House Democratic Caucus has made significant strides in addressing key issues like support for cradle-to-Pre-K programs, proven workforce development, and job readiness initiatives, and bringing broadband access to rural areas. They have also succeeded in preventing the passage of partisan legislation that hurts working families.

“Alabamians know how important this election is for the future of our country, and that’s why they’re supporting Mike Bloomberg, a doer and not a talker with a record of not shying away from tough fights,” said Bradley Davidson, Mike Bloomberg 2020 Alabama State Advisor. “We’re honored to have the support of Rep. Daniels, a respected leader in Alabama and beyond, and we look forward to working together with him to get Mike elected.”

Mike Bloomberg will return to Alabama on Sunday, March 1 to participate in the 55th annual Selma bridge crossing to commemorate Bloody Sunday. Additionally, Bloomberg visited Montgomery earlier this month for an organizing event and to speak at the 60th annual Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) Convention, the Alabama Democratic Party’s largest Black caucus. He later received the endorsement of the group.

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Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Warren to travel to Selma

Brandon Moseley

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Sunday, Presidential candidates former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesoata, will travel to Alabama where they will participate in the events commemorating the attempted crossing of the Edmund Pettus bridge by voting rights marchers during the Civil Rights movement;

Bloomberg will participate in the 55th annual Selma bridge crossing to commemorate Bloody Sunday. In the morning, Bloomberg will attend Brown Chapel AME Church for morning worship with congregants and deliver remarks before joining Civil Rights and community leaders to participate in the bridge crossing reenactment.

Elizabeth Warren will participate in the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee Pre-March Rally, the Annual Bloody Sunday March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the Presidential Candidate Forum hosted by the Selma-to-Montgomery March Foundation and The Bridge Crossing Jubilee.

Mayor Buttigieg will participate in the bridge crossing reenactment. This is Buttigieg’s second visit to Alabama. He previously participated in a healthcare round table and visited with volunteers in Montgomery.

This is Mike’s third visit to Alabama since announcing his campaign for president. Mike was in Montgomery earlier this month for an organizing event and to speak at the 60th annual Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) Convention, the Alabama Democratic Party’s largest Black caucus. He received the endorsement of the group.

This will be Elizabeth’s second trip to Alabama. By Sunday, she will have traveled to 30 states and Puerto Rico since launching her presidential campaign.

Mike Bloomberg and Joe Biden will attend Worship and Provide Brief Remarks at Brown Chapel AME Church at 10:00 a.m. CST. The Church is at: 410 Martin Luther King St, Selma, AL 36703.

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Elizabeth Warren will attend the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee Pre-March Rally will be at 1:30 p.m. at Brown Chapel AME Church; 410 Martin Luther King St., Selma, AL 36703.

The annual Bloody Sunday March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge will be at 2:30 p.m. CST beginning at Brown Chapel AME Church. Warren, Buttigieg, and Bloomberg are all committed to attend the bridge crossing reenactment.

Warren has committed to attend the Presidential Candidate Forum is hosted by the Selma-to-Montgomery March Foundation and The Bridge Crossing Jubilee. That event will be at 4:00 p.m. (estimated) and will be held at the George Corley Wallace State Community College; 3000 Earl Goodwin Pkwy, Selma, AL 36703.

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Organizers have confirmed that Amy Klobuchar is committed to attend; but were not sure which events she will participate in.

The crossing of the Edmund Pettus bridge and the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March were key events in the Civil Rights Movement that led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Alabama Democratic Presidential primary will be on Tuesday, March 3. Polls open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m.

 

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Courts

Doug Jones praises end of state Democratic Party lawsuit

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Thursday applauded the end of a lawsuit over control of the state Democratic party. 

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Alabama Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy Worley, which means that state Rep. Chris England, who was picked to lead the state Democratic party by a reform group championed by Jones, is the party’s chair. 

“This is a great day for Alabama and her Democratic Party. Throughout much of last year, countless Democrats in our state worked to create a more open and diverse state party, while recognizing and being true to the crucial and historic role held by African-American voters,” Jones said in a statement Thursday.

“The by-laws of the Alabama Democratic Party now reflect the growing diversity in our state — including representation for Hispanic voters, Native American voters, Asian voters, voters with disabilities and voters from the LGBTQ community. And most importantly, the Alabama Democratic Party has dramatically increased leadership opportunities for young voters. Around 70 new caucus members were added to the state party Executive Committee last year—many of them young people from diverse backgrounds throughout the state. I’m proud to continue to work alongside a more unified, diverse and inclusive state party. 

“With the dismissal of this lawsuit, it is time that all who have been involved in this challenge, resolution, and expansion of the Democratic Party come together for a common good. Our state benefits from the ideas and engagement of a competitive two-party system. We have now demonstrated that we have the ability to be inclusive within our own party while working to expand the number and experiences of people who play a role in moving it forward.  

“Chairman Chris England and First Vice Chair Patricia Todd have my complete support and I call on Democrats throughout the state to unite behind them as we move forward in modernizing, re-invigorating, and expanding the Alabama Democratic Party.,” Jones said.

 

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House

ACLU of Alabama condemns bill banning transgender treatment for minors

Jessa Reid Bolling

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama has condemned a recently approved bill to prevent doctors from providing hormone replacement therapy or puberty suppressing drugs to people younger than 19 who identify as transgender.

House Bill 303, the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, would make it a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for doctors to prescribe puberty-blocking medications or opposite gender hormones to minors. The legislation would also ban hysterectomy, mastectomy or castration surgeries from being performed on minors.

The Alabama House Health Committee and the Senate Health Committee approved the bill on Wednesday in separate hearings, both drawing overflow crowds. The committee approval moves the bill in line for consideration by the full House. 

The ACLU of Alabama said in a statement that the bill targets transgender youth and puts their academic success and health in danger. 

“Transgender girls are girls, and transgender boys are boys,” said Dillon Nettles, policy analyst at the ACLU of Alabama. “Alabama lawmakers are considering legislation that runs counter to medical science, prevailing standards for the treatment of transgender youth and basic human dignity.

“The government shouldn’t threaten medical providers with jail for treating transgender kids and schools shouldn’t discriminate against them when it comes to participation in school sports. HB303 and HB35 are dangerous, discriminatory and put kids at risk.”

Multiple women’s sports advocacy organizations, including The National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation and Women Leaders in College Sports, support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports.

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A June 2019 report from the Trevor Project on mental health issues among LGBTQ youth across the United States found that 78 percent of transgender and non-binary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity in the past year. The report also found that 39 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year, with more than half of transgender and non-binary youth having seriously considered. 

The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that focuses on suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBTQ youth. 

This is the second bill in the State House this year dealing with transgender youth. 

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Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, is sponsoring House Bill 35, titled the Gender Is Real Legislative Act, or GIRL Act. It would require student athletes in K-12 schools to participate as the gender listed on their birth certificate, preventing transgender athletes from competing as the gender they identify as.

 

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