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Santorum Rallies with Jefferson County GOP Candidates

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, October 9, former Senator Rick Santorum, (R-Pennsylvania), held a joint press conference with Congressional Candidate Gary Palmer (R) and Jefferson County Republican candidates seeking office in the November General Election.

Republican Sixth District Congressional Candidate Gary Palmer introduced Sen. Santorum.

Palmer said, “I have known Rick for a long time since he began his career in Congress.” “Rick is a native of Pennsylvania. Rick has been in our state several times and people love him here.”

Former Senator Santorum said, “We have a great slate of candidates here in Jefferson County and I would like to urge people to get out and support them.”

Santorum urged voters to support Gary Palmer. Santorum called Palmer a great leader and said that he admired and respected Palmer’s work at the Alabama Policy Institute. Santorum said that he endorsed Palmer in the GOP Primary. “I did not get involved in a lot of congressional races but this is a man that America needs.”

Santorum said that Palmer has conservative principles and is an “Articulate voice for those principles.”

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Santorum said that he had made several appearances in Alabama over the previous two days including an Alabama Republican Party event in Montgomery, a luncheon in Birmingham, and an event with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange in Troy that morning. Sen. Santorum said that even though it was 8:00 am over 100 people in Troy came out that day for the breakfast event.

Sen. Santorum said that it is great that we have an urban are like this (Jefferson County) where Republicans are still competitive in elections for leadership. Santorum said that he had just visited Detroit. “If you want to see what liberal Democratic control of government is like go up to Detroit and spend a day or two. That is what you get when you elect people who do not understand the proper role of government.”

Santorum said that he hoped that everyone gets out and votes in the November election and casts a vote for these folks here behind me (the Jefferson County GOP candidates).

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The Alabama Political Reporter asked the group, “In the last 3 elections, Democrats crushed Republicans in Jefferson County races. Is there a danger in terms of economic development of Jefferson County becoming an isolated Democratic blue island in an increasingly Red state which is dominated by Republicans both in the congressional delegation and in the State house?

Gary Palmer said we have a very good Congressional delegation and we will work with anybody to do what is best for the state regardless of their political party.

Palmer said, “I think Jefferson County has turned the corner. The County Commission is doing an excellent job.”

Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington (R) said, “Jefferson County is back. The one thing that Democrats and Republicans agree about is that Jefferson County needs more jobs.” Carrington said that according to the last census Jefferson County had grown by 3 percent; but it’s population of 25 to 45 year olds had decreased by 19 percent. That is the age where people are getting into their careers and starting families. Carrington said that you can’t be a great county if you can’t attract young working families. Jobs are Jefferson County’s number one focus.

Carrington said to expect a major announcement about new jobs in the next several weeks. Jefferson County has turned the corner. The City of Birmingham has turned the corner. We are working across party lines to do what is best for the people of Jefferson County.

Steven B. Ammons, the GOP candidate for Jefferson County Tax Collector, said that Jefferson County is on the move again and that Jefferson County has to have the revenue to continue that process. Ammons said that there are many properties being assessed improperly in Jefferson County and that needs to change. Some people are being assessed too high and some people are being assessed too low because they are friends with someone. “We have great opportunities in Jefferson County.” Ammons said that stronger leadership will make sure that we assess the properties properly.

Joel Blankenship, the GOP Candidate for Jefferson County Tax Assessor, said that he supports good government and responsible leadership. The government is for the people and we need people in office who can work for the people.

Sen. Santorum received the largest number of votes in Alabama during the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary.

Former Sen. Santorum said that while he is very much pro-business the Republican Party needs to be focusing it’s message on the American worker. Only about 10 percent of the electorate owns a business and half of those have five employees or less and think of themselves as workers. The Republican Party needs to be tailoring its message to the American worker. U.S. Senator Sessions (R from Alabama) gets that and Gary Palmer gets that. Much of the Republican Party in Washington does not, Santorum said.

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Elections

Conservatives urge voters to vote “no” on Amendment One

Brandon Moseley

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On February 4 conservative thought leaders from across the State of Alabama spoke in front of the Alabama Statehouse urging voters to vote No on Amendment One.

Amendment one would strip Alabama voters of their ability to elect the state school board and replace the elected board with a commission appointed by the Governor.

Former state school board member Betty Peters (R) said that Amendment One amends the state constitution requiring schools to adopt nationwide standards.

“There are no nationally recognized standards other than the Common Core Standards,” Peters warned.

Lou Campomenosi with the Campaign for Common Sense said, “Voting No on Amendment one is absolutely essential”

“The Alabama Conservative Coalition has been working on this since August,” Campomenosi added. “We are tired of this and we are not going to take it any more.”

Peters called the wording of Amendment One “Deceptive.”

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“I served on the state school board for 16 years and I had a 100 percent record of opposing Common Core, also known as College and Career Ready Standards,” Peters said.

Peters blamed the implementation of Common Core and Alabama’s subsequent drop to last place nationally in education to: Bob Riley, Kay Ivey, Terri Collins and the Business Council of Alabama.

“We defeated Amendment One (in 2003) with a 70 percent vote and lets do it again,” Peters said.

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Dr. Joe Godfrey with the Alabama Citizens Action Patrol said, “We are opposed to amendment one and we are trying to encourage pastors to oppose it as well.”

“We are taking away that very right to elect people that our forefathers fought for,” Godfrey continued. “Church members need to go to their pastor and ask them to get involved in this.”

State Representative Bob Fincher (R-Woodland) said, “I voted against this amendment twice, in the education policy committee and on the floor.”

“I was not sent to Montgomery as a representative of the Governor’s office, the BCA, or the AEA,” Fincher continued. “It is not in the interests of the people of Alabama. The people of this state do not need to cede their right to Montgomery to elect a state school board.”

“A board appointed by the Governor will respond to whatever the governor tells them to do, not what the people tell them,” Fincher added. “That other party has adopted many proposals that are highly socialistic. This is a socialist program. It takes away from the people their power and their sovereignty and places it in the hands of government officials.”

“I am an old high school history teacher and I taught government,” Fincher said, “I hope that we avoid this with every ounce of energy that we possess.”

“Don’t take the bait,” Fincher warned.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) said, “March 3rd is one of the most important state elections in history.”

“Amendment One will take your right away to vote on state school board members and let Gov Ivey have the right to appoint all the state school board,” Zeigler said. “It puts the requirements of the common core into the state constitution.”

“My wife, Jackie Zeigler, ran against a gov Bentley appointee,” Zeigler added. “The young man had never been involved in public schools. He as an incumbent raised $216,000 in special interest money. Jackie Zeigler would never have been appointed even though she is the most qualified person to ever have served.”

Senate candidate State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) said, “It is about our children and grandchildren. The socialist left is attacking the very values that built this country.”

“This is too much concentration of authority in the executive branch,” Mooney warned. “I am not in favor of national standards.”

“We don’t need to be educating illegal immigrants at a cost $16,000 per person,” Mooney said.

Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) said, “I was one of three Republicans in the Alabama legislature to vote against this. In 1970, we had an appointed board.” We switched to an elected board because they at the time thought would work better not they want to switch to an appointed board again.

Sorrell said that the state had tried to build a toll bridge in Mobile without the support of the people. “Thank you to our State Auditor for putting the kobash on that.”

“I have seen the polling on this issue and we can win and we will win,” Sorrell said.

Voters go to the polls on Tuesday, March 3 to decide whether or not to surrender their powers to elect the school board.

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Education

Leadership in child care scholarships now available year-round

Staff

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A full-tuition scholarship that grants current childcare professionals the opportunity to obtain certifications and degrees to best care for Alabama’s children is now available year-round.

The Leadership in Child Care Scholarship, which covers students’ tuition and a number of fees required to pursue child development credentials is now available in the fall, spring, and summer semesters at the state’s participating community colleges and Athens State University.

Qualified students must be currently employed at a childcare center or family and group home, and must be seeking one of the following certifications or degrees:

  • Child Development Associate (CDA) 
  • Short-term certificate, certificate, or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Child Development/Early Care and Education Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Education – Early Childhood Education Major
  • Bachelor of Science in Education – Technical Education: Early Instructor

“Those who work with young children have a special calling and we’re thrilled that this scholarship program has helped so many students earn the credentials they need to better care for Alabama’s children,” said Virginia Frazer, Program Assistant for the Leadership in Child Care Scholarship. “Expanding this scholarship to the summer semester will allow even more childcare providers the opportunity and flexibility to apply and complete their course of study in early childhood development.”

The scholarships originated in 1999 and are made available through funding from the Department of Human Resources.

For additional information, the list of participating colleges, and the Leadership in Child  Care Scholarship application, visit: www.accs.edu/childcare. Scholarship applications for Summer Semester are due April 1, 2020. 

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Legislature

Bill unlocks the “revolving door” for public employees

Bill Britt

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After a brief introduction lasting approximately three minutes, SB177 passed out of the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee with a favorable report.

If the legislation sponsored by Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, becomes law, it will radically alter the “revolving door” statute permitting any public employee to leave a government job and immediately return as a representative for that entity or another government agency.

Under existing law, former public officials and public employees are prohibited from serving as a lobbyist or otherwise representing clients before the governmental body for which he or she had served or worked for two years after leaving office or employment.

This legislation would open the door for all types of public employees to avoid the current law.

However, Gudger’s bill does away with the two-year prohibition on public employees, allowing them to freely serve as agents of their former boss or another government body.

Under state law, a public employee is defined in part as, “Any person employed at the state, county, or municipal level of government or their instrumentalities.”

“We see a distinction between public employees who move to other public employment and those who leave for jobs in private industry,” said Sonny Brasfield, Executive Director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama. “The bill leaves in place the strong prohibition against shifting from public employment to private employment, but creates an exception that we feel is appropriate for public employees who want to continue to work in the public sector.”

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The proposed legislation was presented to the state’s attorney general’s office for analysis as well as ethics officials.

Gudger, who is vice-chair of the committee, did not explain why the legislation was needed and neither did any of the committee members ask for a reason for the drastic rewrite of the state’s ethics law.

Why it was passed out of the Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development committee rather than ethics or judiciary raises questions as well, as does the fact that there was no discussion.

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Republican lawmakers made ethics reform a centerpiece of their efforts to wrestle power from Democrats in 2010. Having succeeded in gaining control of the State House, Republican lawmakers passed what would be called the toughest ethics laws in the nation.

Legislation currently proposed by Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, would render the existing State Ethics Act useless as an effective tool to regulate the behavior of public officials and employees.

Opinion | Deception, subtlety and the wholesale destruction of current ethics laws mark proposed rewrite

Since the indictment and conviction of Mike Hubbard—the former Speaker of the House who led the charge to swing the Legislature to Republican control, many of his former colleagues have sought to rewrite the ethics laws championed ten years ago. Gudger, a newcomer to the state Senate, was not a part of the class that passed the 2010 ethics laws.

Hubbard was sentenced to state prison nearly four years ago but currently remains free pending a ruling by the State Supreme Court.

The bill passed out of committee unanimously with both Democrats and Republicans supporting the measure.

Committee members are as follows:

  • Chair Steve Livingston
  • Vice-Chair Garlan Gudger
  • Will Barfoot
  • Tom Butler
  • Clyde Chambliss
  • Vivian Davis Figures
  • Arthur Orr
  • Dan Roberts
  • Malika Sanders-Fortier
  • Clay Scofield
  • Cam Ward

Article was updated for clarity.

 

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House

Opinion | Ethics are dying and you don’t care

Josh Moon

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Alabamians don’t care about ethics. 

Just admit it. Or, actually, don’t even bother admitting it, because the evidence is quite clear. 

You don’t really care that much. 

Oh, sure, you say you do. Each election, when the pollsters start making calls asking you to rank what’s most important to you, you list ethics right up at the top. In most cases, it’s the No. 1 issue for voters, according to the polls. 

But that’s BS.  

Your supposed love of ethics is a facade. It’s something you say because you think you’re supposed to say it. But deep down, it’s like bottom five on your list. 

And I know this because I see who you vote for. 

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I see how you fail to punish those who abuse ethics laws, who skirt the rules of campaign finance, who seek to constantly roll back the protections put in place to ensure your government operates fairly and plays favorites as little as possible. 

Not a single person who has attacked Alabama ethics laws or who has been accused of violating campaign finance laws or ethics laws has lost an election in this state in recent years. 

Some have gone to jail and been forced to resign, but conservative voters in Alabama have sent exactly zero bad actors packing. And if we’re honest, I think we all know that Mike Hubbard — the face of political corruption in this state — would likely win his old House seat back if he ran in the next election.

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Because you care more about the R beside the name of a candidate than you do about the quality of the candidate. 

Don’t dispute this. 

In 2018, when Republicans in the state legislature carved out massive loopholes in the ethics laws, despite corruption prosecutors raising red flags, not a single person who voted for that monstrosity paid a political price. In fact, Republicans who were thought to be vulnerable won easily, despite their support of a bill that went against what was allegedly voters’ top priority. 

In that same election cycle, Attorney General Steve Marshall, who clearly seemed to have accepted campaign funds that violated Alabama laws, won easily. In the primary, when GOP voters could have chosen another Republican — one with a history of fighting public corruption — they still chose the establishment Republican, and turned a blind eye to sketchy ethical behavior. 

The sketchy ethical behavior of the state’s top law enforcement officer.

If you don’t care about that, there’s not much left. 

And so, here we are now, with one GOP hack after another whittling away at the ethics laws each and every year. 

A couple of years ago, we made broad exceptions for “economic developers.” Even as the most sensible and independent members of the ALGOP screamed bloody murder over the extra large loopholes. 

Last year, Sen. Greg Albritton tried to essentially remove ethics altogether, with a rewrite bill that was so shockingly brazen that even the party leadership had to turn its back on it. 

And this year, there are two more attempts to weaken the laws. 

One is from Rep. Mike Ball, who is one of Hubbard’s oldest and bestest pals, and a guy who has wanted to rewrite the ethics laws ever since his good buddy was sent to rich-white-guy’s prison in Alabama. Which is to say Hubbard is out on bond on appeal forever. 

Ball’s latest bill might just challenge Albritton’s for the most shamefully obvious attempt to undermine ethics laws. Except, instead of rewriting the laws, he just removes the portions that allow district attorneys and the AG’s office to prosecute them. Unless the charges go through the Ethics Commission first. 

So, the commission that is appointed by the legislature would be the only group that could bring ethics charges against the legislature.

A fox appointed by other foxes to guard the hen house. 

But we don’t stop there. 

In addition to Ball’s bill, there’s also one from Sen. Garlan Gudger that would get the revolving door swinging again. 

As part of the 2010 ethics reform package, lawmakers were prohibited from leaving their elected positions and accepting lobbying work for a period of two years. Gudger’s bill would carve out an extensive exception, allowing for former public employees to return to their old job — or ANY OTHER public position — and immediately start lobbying. 

Because, you know, just the other day, I passed by a group of people talking on the street about the things that really need fixing around this state, and their top issue was how unfair it was that these folks couldn’t work as lobbyists immediately. 

This is pathetic. 

These are people carving out exceptions for themselves and their buddies — working to rig the game so they can keep sucking up public dollars and making sure hefty contracts go to their pals. It’s government handouts for the wealthy and crooked. 

And you’d be outraged about it. If you cared at all.

 

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