Dear Fellow Alabamians,
The current most trusted, best leaders, exceptional managers, problems solvers; and prudent decisionmakers within our country, I have witnessed, are Gov. Kay Ivey, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond, former President and Commander of Air University Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, and 42nd ABW Commander Col. Patrick Carley.
I was just thinking about some of our past and current, toughest challenges such as landing the F-35 aircraft in Montgomery, giving military families assigned at Maxwell-Gunter more education options; and the current Department of Defense issues, with privatized contractor Housing Offices.
The same names keep appearing on the list, who are out- thinking everyone else.
Here are some great examples. First, let’s talk about the little girl from Camden, Alabama; who grew up to be our Best Governor. Along, with the some of the reasons that our state’s Chief Executive, and our Air Force and our Space leaders are the best in the world.
Here are some key factors why they continue to be so highly effective. All of these leaders have earned and gained the trust of the world. Their core values such as honesty, integrity, trust, accountability and responsibility, are unwavering. Their North Stars and guidance systems are on course. Throughout their travels, they are seeking opportunities which are in the best interests of our world, country, state, counties and cities. None of these leaders are concerned about what they gain personally, or what’s in it for themselves. Because Governor Ivey, and our Air Force, and our Space Force leaders live these core values daily, no one else can do what they do.
Let me give you another great example of outstanding leadership and exceptional management from our Governor. She has travelled throughout the world to attract, retain and expand economic opportunities, jobs and business for our state. I have worked with her for years in an unofficial capacity.
Governor Ivey, has conducted almost doctoral-level dissertation research, with significant factors and important figures; concerning the economic impact of our only state port in Mobile. She has one of the best; International Trade, Global Economy and Ocean Shipping Port Contract initiatives, and blueprints on the planet.
However, just a few months ago many of the elected officials who are in the Gulf Coast region and surrounding areas, and some who like to grand stand, were boasting about they had stopped an initiative for the Mobile Bay toll bridge fees.
The Mobile Bay toll bridge fees and Mobile port are very important issues. However, the much larger issues are International Trade, Global Economy and Ocean Shipping Port Contracts. We can’t expect our governor to travel and do all of the work to attract business and industry.
Just to have more efficient and effective, other Southeastern states, and their city ports; pick off the business and industry that our state is generating. In other words, we must ensure other state’s and their ports are not benefitting from our state’s hard work, through imports and exports.
I highly recommend that the officials in the Mobile region set up a respectful meeting with our Governor with the proper decorum, to first listen. Prior to decision-making, ask yourselves, What’s best for our country, state, counties and cities. Think of our jobs, dollars, farmers, rail workers, truckers, storage facilities employees, suppliers, automotive industry workers, defense industries, aircraft makers, cruise lines, space entities, producers, who are importing and exporting coal, agriculture, grain, lumber and other products. Our only Mobile port has a huge economic impact on our Great State.
Again, Gov. Ivey is right and on target with her plans and initiatives, in which our state port in Mobile will be able to handle more Intercoastal waterway ship traffic within the bay; by off-loading and on-loading deep water vessels; faster than any other ports. Guess what will happen? Alabama will be able to pick off vessel traffic from other Southeastern ports. Further, our state’s chief executive has intracoastal waterways in her awesome plans, for barges.
Here’s an unbelievable, but true story about Our awesome Air Force and Outstanding Space Force.
On December 3, 2019 our Secretary of the Air Force and our Chief of Staff Air Force appeared before the United States House Armed Services Committee concerning Privatized Contractor Housing Offices.
Almost immediately, our top Air Force and Space Force leaders issued their directives and orders. The following are great examples of the effectiveness of seamless communications, awesome leadership and superior management. Everyone received their concise and clear orders, and they are moving out to successfully accomplish the mission.
Less than one week later on December 9, 2019 an updated very professional, informative, color flyer was distributed by the 42nd ABW command leadership, concerning Maxwell-Gunter AFB Family Housing Resident Representatives, and the Maxwell-Gunter AFB Community Advisory Board.
Additionally, I read an outstanding and very professional Memorandum, for Maxwell-Gunter Housing Residents, dated December 10, written by the 42nd ABW Commander Col. Patrick Carley. He addressed Leadership’s commitment to Quality On- Base Housing.
On January 14, 2020, the Honorable John W. Henderson, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for installations, Environment and Energy visited Maxwell-Gunter and was photographed speaking to resident representative Mary Lesinki. Mr. Henderson made very powerful statements by letting everyone know that all of our top Air Force Leadership have made Privatized Housing a top priority. He also toured some homes.
Further, Mr. Henderson stated that our Air Force has launched an improvement program for privatized housing, by working 51 initiatives across five lines of effort including Empower Residents, Improve Oversight, Integrate Leadership, Improve Communication, and Standardize Policy.
I’m being told, that Air Force and Space Force, solutions and remedies to these privatized housing issues; and blue prints are almost completed. Basic mop- up operations are beginning. Remember, it was only last month when Madam Secretary Barrett and Gen. Goldfein appeared before the House Armed Services Committee.
These are living text book examples of outstanding leadership and exceptional management. We should emulate and follow Gov. Ivey, Secretary Barrett, Asst Secretary Henderson, Gen. Goldfein, Gen Raymond, Lt. Gen. Cotton and Col. Carley.
Governor Ivey is one of us. She is one of our wingmen.
Our Air Force and our Space Force are, ON Mission, ON Target, On Time and ON Always.
Glenn Henry is retired from the U.S. Air Force. He has been a high school teacher and university adjunct professor. He has earned numerous IT certifications. He is a Certified Professional Ethical Hacker. He lives in Montgomery with his wife Teresa.
Opinion | On the Nov. 3 ballot, vote “no” on proposed Amendment 1
On Nov. 3, 2020, all Alabama voters should vote “no” on proposed Amendment 1. Vote no on Amendment 1 because it could allow state law changes to disenfranchise citizens whom the Legislature does not want to vote. Because Amendment 1 has no practical purpose and because it opens the door to mischief, all voters are urged to vote no.
Currently, the Alabama Constitution provides that “Every citizen of the United States…” has the right to vote in the county where the voter resides. Amendment 1 would delete the word “every” before citizen and replace it with “only a” citizen.
In Alabama, the only United States citizens who cannot vote today are most citizens who have been convicted of a felony of moral turpitude. These felonies are specifically identified in Ala. Code 17-3-30.1.
Without Amendment 1, the Alabama Constitution now says who can vote: every citizen. If voters approve Amendment 1, the Alabama Constitution would only identify a group who cannot vote. With Amendment 1, we, the citizens of the United States in Alabama, thus would lose the state constitutional protection of our voting rights.
In Alabama, no individual who is not a United States citizens can vote in a governmental election. So, Amendment 1 has no impact on non-citizens in Alabama.
Perhaps the purpose of Amendment 1 could be to drive voter turnout of those who mistakenly fear non-citizens can vote. The only other purpose for Amendment 1 would be allowing future Alabama state legislation to disenfranchise groups of Alabama citizens whom a majority of the legislature does not want to vote.
In 2020, the ballots in Florida and Colorado have similar amendments on the ballots. As in Alabama, Citizens Voters, Inc., claims it is responsible for putting these amendments on the ballots in those states. While Citizens Voters’ name sounds like it is a good nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), it has secret political donors. One cannot know who funds Citizen Voters and thus who is behind pushing these amendments with more than $8 million in dark money.
According to Citizen Voter’s website, the stated reason for Amendment 1 is that some cities in several other states allow non-citizens to vote. My understanding is that such measures are rare and only apply to voting for local school boards.
And why would a local government’s deciding that non-citizens can vote for local school boards be a state constitutional problem? Isn’t the good government practice to allow local control of local issues? And again, this issue does not even exist in Alabama.
The bigger question, which makes Amendment 1’s danger plain to see, is why eliminate the language protecting “every” citizen’s right to vote? For example, Amendment 1 could have proposed “Every citizen and only a citizen” instead of deleting “every” when adding “only a” citizen. Why not leave the “every” citizen language in the Alabama Constitution?
Amendment 1 could allow Alabama new state legislation to disenfranchise some Alabama citizens. Such a change would probably violate federal law. But Alabama has often had voting laws that violated federal law until a lawsuit forced the state of Alabama not to enforce the illegal state voting law.
The most recent similar law in Alabama might be 2011’s HB56, the anti-immigrant law. Both HB56 and Amendment 1 are Alabama state laws that out-of-state interests pushed on us. And HB56 has been largely blocked by federal courts after expensive lawsuits.
Alabama’s Nov. 3, 2020, ballot will have six constitutional amendments. On almost all ballots, Amendment 1 will be at the bottom right on the first page (front) of the ballot or will be at the top left on the second page (back) of the ballot.
Let’s keep in our state constitution our protection of every voters’ right to vote.
Based on Amendment 1’s having no practical benefit and its opening many opportunities for mischief, all Alabama voters are strongly urged to vote “no” on Amendment 1.
Opinion | Amendment 4 is an opportunity to clean up the Alabama Constitution
The 1901 but current Alabama Constitution has been amended about 950 times, making it by far the world’s longest constitution. The amendments have riddled the Constitution with redundancies while maintaining language and provisions — for example, poll taxes — that reflect the racist intent of those who originally wrote it.
A recompilation will bring order to the amendments and remove obsolete language. While much of this language is no longer valid, the language is still in the document and has been noted and used by other states when competing with Alabama for economic growth opportunities.
The need for recompilation and cleaning of Alabama’s Constitution has been long recognized.
In 2019, the Legislature unanimously adopted legislation, Amendment 4, to provide for its recompilation. Amendment 4 on the Nov. 3 general election ballot will allow the non-partisan Legislative Reference Service to draft a recompiled and cleaned version of the Constitution for submission to the Legislature.
While Amendment 4 prohibits any substantive changes in the Constitution, the LRS will remove duplication, delete no longer legal provisions and racist language, thereby making our Constitution far more easily understood by all Alabama citizens.
Upon approval by the Legislature, the recompiled Constitution will be presented to Alabama voters in November 2022 for ratification.
Amendment 4 authorizes a non-partisan, broadly supported, non-controversial recompilation and much-needed, overdue cleaning up of our Constitution.
On Nov. 3, 2020, vote “Yes” on Amendment 4 so the work can begin.
Opinion | Auburn Student Center named for Harold Melton, first Auburn SGA president of color
The year 1987 was a quiet one for elections across America but not at Auburn. That was the year Harold Melton, a student in international studies and Spanish, launched and won a campaign to become the first African American president of the Auburn Student Government Association, winning with more than 65 percent of the vote.
This was just the first of many important roles Harold Melton would play at Auburn and in an extraordinarily successful legal career in his home state of Georgia, where his colleagues on the Georgia Supreme Court elected him as chief justice.
Last week, the Auburn Board of Trustees unanimously named the Auburn student center for Justice Melton, the first building on campus that honors a person of color. The decision was reached as part of a larger effort to demonstrate Auburn’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
In June, Auburn named two task forces to study diversity and inclusion issues. We co-chair the task force for the Auburn Board with our work taking place concurrently with that of a campus-based task force organized by President Jay Gogue. Other members of the Board task force are retired Army general Lloyd Austin, bank president Bob Dumas, former principal and educator Sarah B. Newton and Alabama Power executive Quentin P. Riggins.
These groups are embarking on a process that offers all Auburn stakeholders a voice, seeking input from students, faculty, staff, alumni, elected officials and more. It will include a fact-based review of Auburn’s past and present, and we will provide specific recommendations for the future.
We are committed to making real progress based on solid facts. Unlike other universities in the state, Auburn has a presence in all 67 counties through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Our review has included not only our campuses in Auburn and Montgomery but all properties across our state. To date, we have found no monuments or statues recognizing the history that has divided our country. We will continue our fact-finding mission with input from the academic and research community.
Our university and leadership are committed to doing the right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time. We believe now is the right time, and we are already seeing results.
In addition to naming the student center for the Honorable Harold Melton, we have taken steps to highlight the significant role played by Harold Franklin, the student who integrated Auburn. We are working to enhance the historical marker that pays tribute to Mr. Franklin, and we are raising its visibility in campus tours as we pay homage to his contributions as our first African American student. Last month, we awarded Mr. Franklin, now 86 and with a Ph.D., a long-overdue master’s degree for the studies he completed at Auburn so many years ago.
We likewise endorsed a student-led initiative creating the National Pan-Hellenic Council Legacy Plaza, which will recognize the contributions of Black Greek organizations and African American culture on our campus.
In the coming months, Auburn men and women will work together to promote inclusion to further enhance our student experience and build on our strength through diversity. The results of this work will be seen and felt throughout the institution in how we recruit our students, provide scholarships and other financial support and ensure a culture of inclusion in all walks of university life.
Our goal is to identify and implement substantive steps that will make a real difference at Auburn, impact our communities and stand the test of time.
Naming the student center for Justice Melton is but one example. In response to this decision, he said, “Auburn University has already given me everything I ever could have hoped for in a university and more. This honor is beyond my furthest imagination.”
Our job as leaders at Auburn is more than honoring the Harold Meltons and Harold Franklins who played a significant role in the history of our university. It is also to create an inclusive environment that serves our student body and to establish a lasting legacy where all members of the Auburn Family reach their fullest potential in their careers and in life.
Opinion | Alabama lags behind the nation in Census participation with deadline nearing
The United States Census is starting to wind down around the country with a Sept. 30 deadline for the national population to be completed. However, a United States District Court has recently ruled that the date may be extended another 30 days to allow more time for the census to take place.
Regardless of the deadline, Alabama has work to do when it comes to the census.
To date, the national average for participation around the country has been almost 65 percent for the census.
Unfortunately, Alabama residents are providing data to the census at a lower percentage, around some 61 percent of the state population.
There is already concern among state leaders that if that number does not reach above 70 percent, then the state will lose a seat in Congress, a vote in the electoral college and millions of federal dollars that come to the state every year.
The percentage of participation has varied widely around the state, from a high of 76 percent in Shelby County to a low of 36 percent in neighboring Coosa County.
State leaders are making a final push to request Alabama residents fill out the census in the last month before it is closed.
We will find out later this fall if Alabama passes the national average of participation in the census compared to other states to retain both its future representation and share of federal dollars.
In the meantime, Alabamians need to fill out their census forms.
The state is depending on it.