Republican Women of Madison Forum (AL-05)

The ‘Republican Women of Madison’ held a forum for House District 5 GOP candidates. All six primary candidates (George Barry, Cheryl Baswell Guthrie, Mark Huff, Angelo Mancuso, Ray McKee, Wayne Parker) were allowed ten minutes, followed by Q&A.

The good news: the GOP primary vote will be between six great people. The bad news: prepare for a long post. Highlights:

George Barry spoke of his years of involvement in grass roots politics. Illegal immigration: secure border, eliminate “magnet” (jobs), fence high traffic areas. He also mentioned human trafficking and slavery, which IMO doesn’t get enough attention. National debt. Need to spend on energy policy, coal gasification, relax regulations. Tax policies and trade deficit, NAFTA unfair trade practices hurting Alabama businesses. “Share Alabama values with DC”.

Cheryl Baswell Guthrie spoke of her grandfather in Congress, father at RSA, husband LtCdr USCG – her family tradition of service. Immigration: better screening of legal immigrants, build wall, patrol borders. Win War in Iraq and against Terrorism. Ethics: notes Randy Hinshaw’s (D-AL21) recent voting machine shenanigans as legal, but unethical. Cut Government spending. “Stand up for what you believe”.

Mark Huff spoke of “representing North Alabama”. Jobs: expand RSA / NASA, business development for other areas. Roads. Try to get Outpatient VA Center in Madison. Fair Tax. Limited Government: eliminate Dept. of Education, implement nationwide minimum standards (IMO like International Baccalaureate), local involvement in programs and textbooks. “Best thing Government can do is leave you alone”. Tax code used to influence behavior. “Law used as sword instead of shield”, advocate some form of loser pays. Restrict use of Eminent Domain (Kelo). Capitalism, individualism, personal responsibility.

Angelo Mancuso spoke of experience as State Representative and serving on Health and Education Committees. “Voice for the people who weren’t heard”. Alabama Historic Commission. Noted example of “finding common ground” in State Capital Confederate Flag issue: take down CSA battle flag which offended some people and fly Bonnie Blue flag, which historically flew over Capital. Diverse Economy, economic development, tort reform, protect and expand NASA / Redstone Arsenal, Memphis to Atlanta Highway, improve education. “Believe in American Dream: work hard, study hard, prepare, no short cuts”. “Education is key”. Health care: Medicare going bankrupt, notes health care fellowship.

Ray McKee spoke of being the “only one with the backbone to run against a nine-term Congressman”. Fair Tax. Term Limits: take Constitutional Amendment directly to the States. Energy: Government-funded research for alternative fuels, build nuclear and refineries, ‘use Middle East oil first – save ours for later (ANWR)’. Economy: gas prices hurt, Fair Tax helps, weak dollar, need surplus budget to pay off National debt, NAFTA / one-way trade with China suspend until Fair Tax, stop offshoring. Illegal immigration: “make it more painful to be here than where they came from”. War: “win it swiftly and decisively”, “end it quickly”. Foreign aid: “charity begans at home”; stop sending money to tyrants until every man, woman, and child in US is fed, clothed, and housed. End war: “stop killing each other”.

Wayne Parker spoke of being a fourth generation Huntsvillian and running against Bud Cramer in 1994 as a moral responsibility to his children. His ‘Compass to Guide Decision-making’: free enterprise, limited Government, strong National defense. Immigration: secure border, employee verification, bi-partisan SAVE Act. Find “common ground”, “toxic tone”, “Washington is broken”. Need to address Social Security: bi-partisan SAFE Commission, similar to BRAC. Public debt, unfunded liabilities.

Update: The Huntsville Times article about the forum, 6 GOP hopefuls discuss top issues.

Jackson Way Customer Appreciation Day

Jackson Way Styling Salon

Andrew Jackson Way at Stevens

Floyd Hardin, the ‘Mayor of Five Points’, invites his friends to enjoy:

  • Chicken by Mark Craig and Blake Dorning
  • Fish and Famous Hushpuppies by Joe Whisante
  • BBQ by Danny Grider and Jeff Brewer
  • Lemonade and Drinks

Servers will be local politicians. There will be plenty of politickin’.

Congress AL-5 Issues

Brian and I were talking about putting together some questions for the Democratic and Republican candidates for Alabama District 5, US House of Representatives.

IMO people are always concerned about four issues: jobs, crime, education, and roads. However, my key issue this election is Victory in Iraq – regardless of any other issue I will only vote for a candidate who supports winning the war.

Rasmussen has a nice Top Ten Congressional Issues list (the link also shows latest Party advantage):

  1. Economy
  2. Gov’t Ethics & Corruption
  3. Social Security
  4. Nat’l Security/War on Terror
  5. Education
  6. Health Care
  7. Iraq
  8. Taxes
  9. Immigration
  10. Abortion

Update – Candidate websites (if available):

George Barry (R) – Businessman.

Cheryl Baswell Guthrie (R) – Attorney.

Parker Griffith (D) – State Senator.

Mark Huff (R) – Musician.

David Maker (D) – Physicist.

Angelo Mancuso (R) – Dermatologist.

Ray McKee (R) – Attorney.

Wayne Parker (R) – Insurance Executive.

Must see – Doc’s AL-05 Big List.

If you’d like to include questions for consideration, post them in the comments.

Beach Monitoring and Poo

I’ll be headed to the beach this Summer: going to Fort Morgan for fun in the sun, Tacky Jacks 2 (by the Fort), Candlelight Tour of the Fort (with Ghost Stories), and the trails of BON SECOUR National Wildlife Refuge. So this news report got my attention:

The Alabama Department of Public Health issued a swimming advisory today for the waters of Bon Secour Bay at Mary Ann Nelson Park.

Two recent successive tests of water quality at the park were poor. The advisory warned that swimming in this area might lead to an increased risk of illness.

Monitoring will continue and the advisory will be lifted once bacteria values fall below the Environmental Protection Agency’s threshold of 104 enterococcus organisms per 100 milliliters for marine water, according to the statement.

The Health Department retested the site and it is clean. Here’s a link to the ADEM / ADPH Beach Monitoring website, which includes the test results at 25 sites in Baldwin and Mobile Counties (BTW all clean).

The ‘enterococcus’ bacteria (Poo) contamination reporting took the place of the old ‘fecal coliform’ (Poo), because it correlates better to human pathogens found in sewage.

I spoke with a really nice Environmental guy (Byron) from the Baldwin County Health Department (which administers the Beach Monitoring program). He said it was “hard to say” why the Poo levels exceeded the threshold, adding that it was “unusual” for that area. He said it might be that “a pelican dropped a load”, which could give an unexpected test result.

The Fairhope and Gulf Shores areas are on sewer systems, so the poo probably wasn’t human. Other than pelicans, it might be dog poo sewerage runoff or cow poo runoff from ranches. ADEM / ADPH is fixing to develop a system of “source tracking” that would further classify the poo, which could lead to improved remediation.

In order to make the poo threshold explainable to me and children, I asked the guy just what the enterococcus level might be in an unflushed toilet. He didn’t care to estimate, but he did say that a sewer spill (that “you couldn’t even smell”) he had dealt with had levels between 3,000 to 5,000 colonies per mL of water.

Scott Horton at UAH

I attended Scott Horton’s speech at UAH last night, partly to provide content for my first guest post here at Flashpoint, partly to see the new Shelby Center, partly to see “The Don”, and partly for the spectacle.

I parked by a car with a Kucinich sticker then walked into the building with a few older men and women. The Shelby Center was nice, with a courtyard garden, ample seating in the lobby, student meeting rooms, and nice bathrooms.

The lecture hall was almost full, with about 184 people in the room when Horton started his presentation. More than half the crowd was older people, some of whom prided themselves as being “activists” and “agitators”. Saw one ‘Hillary’ button and some ‘Free Don’ buttons. About a dozen AAMU students were there, presumably from the Political Science Department (cosponsor of the event). About a dozen reporters, camera crew, &c covered the event.

Governor Siegelman received a standing ovation when he entered the room. Former Secretary of State Nancy Worley and Madison County Democratic Party Chairman Doug Dermody were the only officials I recognized. “Whistleblower” Dana Jill Simpson was there. Glynn Wilson of ‘Locust Fork’ and the couple from ‘Left in Alabama’ (wearing their blog t-shirts) attended. John Ehinger and Patricia McCarter of the Huntsville Times and Eddie Curran of the Mobile Press Register attended (Curran attended representing himself).

Linda Haynes of North Alabama Media Reform hosted the event. She railed against media companies that were only concerned with “profits and pleasing investors” (which is of course, the point of business). She seems to prefer Government controlled / regulated media.

Scott Horton, who looks like Michael Moore’s younger, cleaner, brother, began his hour-long speech with a story about Thomas Minott Peters, a Reconstruction-era Republican Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Horton spoke about how the local newspapers and Democratic Party “Bourbons” of the time vilified Peters, but how the national press, including Harper’s, got the story right. He then spoke about how during the Civil Rights era, the local press was wrong and the national press was right. Then he set up the comparison to the Siegelman story.

Horton claims that Democrats are prosecuted on a 5.8 to 1 ratio compared to Republicans, alleging “selective direction” of prosecution by the Bush administration. When Horton implied that prosecutors leaked grand jury details to certain reporters, Eddie Curran interrupted saying “that’s not true”. Horton replied that Q&A would follow the speech.

Horton continued along the line that “Alabama has developed a tradition of political persecutions”, then launched into his critique of Alabama newspapers, focusing on the Newhouse / Advance Publications Birmingham News, Mobile Press Register and Huntsville Times, and the Gannett Montgomery Advertiser. He said that coverage of the Siegelman case has been driven by “internet-based publications”.

Horton stated that local reporting was “not particularly reliable” and that reporters are “too willing to accept… statements from the Government”. He said that interested people should “complain about it” in polite ‘Letters to the Editor’. He closed quoting Thomas Jefferson, “duty” of the “energetic” press is to “hold (politicians) to a higher standard”.

I enjoyed and applauded Horton’s speech – I appreciate the history he presented and I totally agree that the press is often incurious and uncritical. However, at times his narrative seemed to consist of dropping names without context – as if just saying the word “Rove” creates context.

I’m only going to provide what I think were highlights of the Q&A, some of the questions weren’t.

Horton asked Don Siegelman to speak first, asking why didn’t your administration respond effectively to negative press reports, especially Curran?
Siegelman thanked Horton for his efforts and noted Simpson as a “true American hero” for her testimony. He said that his PR “could’ve been handled better”.

Horton asked Siegelman if he should have been seeking national media attention instead of local media.
Siegelman agreed that he should’ve been speaking nationally the whole time.

Horton called on Curran for the first question.
Curran asked Horton why he “didn’t call him about his reporting”, at which point he was shouted down. I don’t recall that Horton answered him.

IMO that crippled one of Horton’s main points, in that he complained about lack of fact-checking on the local level, but that he didn’t bother to fact-check his own narrative.

Someone asked a question about Horton testifying to the Judiciary Committee.
Horton said he has testified three times and expects to be called again, but that he thinks that people with first hand knowledge of the case should testify.

Someone asked about Abramoff’s ties to Alabama.
Horton throws around several names, but not much detail. He notes that a Justice Department official was recently indicted for helping Abramoff, and uses that to illustrate corruption.

One of the sponsors, a self-described “screaming Democrat”, asks the audience to be respectful, and proceeds to insult Curran. When he protests, he is shouted down.

A self-described “accredited PR” person speaks about the “brotherhood of attorneys” who don’t go after each other and that media-savvy attorneys drive coverage as they “defend their client in the media”.

There’s a little more, but I think it’s fair to characterize it as Bush, Gonzalez, and Alice Martin bashing.

Good times :)