US City Crime Rankings

The folks at CQ Press compiled a list of City Crime Rate Rankings from the FBI’s 2007 Crime in the US report.

New Orleans is the highest crime rate city in the US, scoring 441.  Camden NJ, Detroit MI, St. Louis MO, and Oakland CA round out the top 5.

Birmingham ranks 8th, with a crime score of 279.  Huntsville ranks 83rd, with a crime score of 94.   Montgomery ranks 90th, with a score of 90.  Tuscaloosa ranks 131st, with a score of 58.  Mobile ranks 156th, with a score of 44.   Thankfully, the rest of the cities in Alabama rank below Ramapo NY (385th).

For people in Huntsville, this is pitiful being ranked as the second most crime-ridden city in Alabama (again). 

What happened? Is it the illegals (er – undocumented workers – crime rates rose with their arrival)? Is it the St. Louis BRAC people (crime rates started rising after their move)? Is it meth? Crack?  Degeneration of society?  Heteronormative oppression?  Racist marginalization?  Proto-revolutionary rebellion?  Is George Bush encouraging crime to justify authoritarian social controls? Sunspots? Satan?

IIRC Mayor Battle doesn’t plan to increase the size of the HPD, but something must be done.  I know that he hoped that the new jail would help reduce crime, so we’ll see about that.  IMO this issue hasn’t gained attention because the City is trying to ‘sell’ itself to BRAC and industry, but it shouldn’t be ignored.

Senator Shelby on the Bailout

I sent an email a while back to Senator Shelby expressing my concerns with the Bailout and thanking him for standing fast against it. He replied with a nice letter and I don’t think he’d mind if I shared it with you. The letter was dated November 3 (any typos are mine):

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which is essentially the financial sector bailout plan devised by U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.

I believe that there are significant flaws with this plan that will prevent it from working effectively and will result in unnecessary risks to the taxpayer.  Therefore, I opposed the legislation and would like to take the opportunity to explain my concerns.

First, the process in which this bill was assembled was not as deliberative or thorough as it should have been.  This situation did not appear in a matter of days, and we are not going to fix it with a piece of legislation quickly cobbled together in back rooms of the United States Capitol.  It took nearly 10 years, five Congresses, and three Presidential Administrations for the far smaller Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s and 1990s to be resolved.  There are no easy fixes and this crisis will not be resolved quickly.  Deliberation on any potential solutions should not have been done in such a haphazard manner.

Second, the Paulson bailout plan focuses on a single problem — illiquid assets in our financial institutions.  I believe, however, that there are a number of interrelated problems such as the troubled assets on the books of financial institutions and the process of declaring home values that also need to be addressed in order of their significance.  Congress should have undertaken the effort to determine the best course for each of the issues causing problems in our troubled markets.  Instead, we chose to rush through a plan without ever considering any of its details.

Third,  the bill contains a precipitous increase in deposit insurance limits from $100,00 to $250,000.  This would markedly increase the exposure of the already depleted federal deposit insurance fund.  This increase was made with little or no debate and would further amplify the risk to the American taxpayer.  There is also a very problematic track record for rapid increases in deposit insurance, which was one of the factors leading to the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s.

Fourth, this law creates the Troubled Asset Relief Program to authorize the Treasury Secretary to purchase up to $700 billion worth of troubled assets from just about any type of institution.  In exercising this authority, the Secretary would be vested with nearly unfettered power.  The oversight, or lack there of, of such power is greatly concerning.  While the bill establishes a Financial Stability Oversight Board to review and make recommendations of the Secretary’s operation of the program, the oversight board is fatally flawed.  The Oversight Board, on which the Secretary himself will serve, along with the Congressional Oversight panel, will not check the Secretary’s authority and will do nothing to address the fundamental flaws within this plan.

Ultimately, my greatest concern is that we have not spent any time determining whether we have chosen the best response to our financial problems.  To the extent that other options exist, I believe that we in Washington have failed the American people in not fully examining these options.  I believe that “choosing something, over nothing,” is a false choice.  This bill does not address the underlying problems with our financial institutions; for that reason I opposed this legislation.

Kevin Wendt Addresses GOP

Kevin Wendt, Editor of The Huntsville Times, spoke Saturday at a GOP breakfast meeting. He noted that the Times has a circulation of about 70,000 and claimed that 76% of Madison Countians read either the print or online editions of the paper.  A typical reader spends 27 minutes with the paper.

Wendt said that the Times will focus on three areas: 1) watchdog journalism, 2) usefulness, and 3) relevance.

I respect Wendt for reaching out to a somewhat hostile (but polite) audience. The Times (like the rest of the press) was openly in the tank for Obama this year, and has a history of reporting like an organ of the Democratic Party (Pravda on the Pinhook).  This is bigger than Wendt, and in his defense, he is new to the job, new to the Times, and new to Huntsville. He seems to want to make The Times appealing to those of us who have all but given up on the paper.

After his address, Wendt took questions from the audience of several hundred people.  There were too many questions for the time available, but here are the ones that were asked.  Note that not only have I paraphrased the Q and A, but I also take bad notes:

Q – Why did the Times endorse all of the incumbents?

A – Too new to the job to answer fully, but the Times has a “history of endorsing incumbents”.

Q – Watchdog paper? What about the lack of reporting on the Jail?

A – Did a traffic ticket story (ed. – I missed the story and don’t get the reference).  Hope to do an investigative story.

Q – Why should conservatives buy a biased paper?

A – We try.

Q – What is the process for endorsements?

A – Invite candidates to meet with editorial board, send reporters to events and forums.

Q – Why is The Times ignoring the Two-Year College Scandal?

A – Don’t know.

Q – John Ehinger is pretty fair, rest are biased. Are there any conservatives on the staff?

A – Recognize that Prather and Person are issues (ed. my words).

Q – Journalism died.

A – Justifiable complaints against national media. Local media best at local news.

Q – Is Obama worst candidate ever?

A – No answer.

Q – Do you think the US elected a Marxist?

A – No.

Q – Why did the Times decline to endorse a Presidential candidate.

A – Other information available from sources with better resources.

Q – Obama’s birth certificate?

A – Role of national media.

Q – Newspaper endorses Dems?

A – 10 Dems, 6 GOP, would have endorsed 3 GOP who had no opposition.

Q – Fairness / Censorship Doctrine?

A – “No need for it”.

Q – What is the Times position on Nepotism?

A – No answer.

Q – Pew found bias for Obama and Democrats?

A – Disturbed by the “national media failure”.

Anthony Williams – Crimefighter

Former Washington DC Mayor Anthony Williams (D) is a great guy.  We used the same dry cleaner in Adams-Morgan, where I met him about a year before he ran for Mayor.  He was always friendly and funny and we chatted a good bit.  When he ran for Mayor, I campaigned for him. 

Williams served two terms and is regarded as the best Mayor DC has had (Home Rule began in the 70s).  I realize that the bar for best Mayor was set very low after Marion Barry.  Under Williams, crime went down, property values went up, and the District gained financial stability (plus the Washington Nationals baseball team).

Last week, Anthony Williams foiled a robbery in DC, apparently by the power of his bow tie:

Williams ran after and caught a thief who had grabbed a package from a UPS truck.

The UPS driver yelled at the thief after seeing the package being swiped.

Williams was nearby and decided to do what any 57-year-old ex-mayor would do: track the guy down on foot.

“I was saying to myself, ‘What am I going to do if I catch him?’,” Williams later joked. “What does a dog do when it catches a car?”

When confronted the thief recognized Williams, saying “Oh, you used to be the mayor!”.

He then handed over the stolen package and disappeared into the crowd.

Great story.

You got chocolate in my… Beer

Boston Beer Company announced that Sam Adams Chocolate Bock beer is back, made with Grand Cru Sauvage Swiss chocolate:

…a highly-regarded and rare dark chocolate made from the uncultivated wild Bolivian cacao beans sourced from the dense rainforests located in the small town of Baures, Bolivia. For centuries, this wild cacao has been considered the best in the world. This wild cocoa displays a rich, dark, exotic flavor with notes of honey, vanilla and dried fruits. Brewing Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock with Cru Sauvage cacao nips creates a dark, decadent beer with a big, malty character, complex full-body taste and velvety finish…

Just in time for holiday sipping and gift-giving, this new brew will be available nationwide in early November in select off premise accounts for a suggested retail price of $14.99. Packaged in an attractive 750 ml amber bottle with a festively embossed pewter label, Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock is unlike any offering on shelves today.

$15 each!   Just think of the sales taxes and alcohol taxes Alabama could make on that beer – if it could be sold here.  The beer is 5.6% Alcohol by Volume (ABV), so by alcohol content it is legal in Alabama.  The problem is that the beer is sold in a bottle the size of a wine bottle.  You can buy a smaller bottle of beer or you can buy a keg of beer, you just can’t buy a wine-bottle sized beer.  However, you can buy a wine-bottle sized bottle of wine with 12% ABV.  AARGH!

Reform Alabama’s Beer Laws – Free the Hops!

Rebuild the Party

A team of young GOP leaders, including Erick Erickson of Redstate and Patrick Ruffini of The Next Right, have created a new initiative, Rebuild the Party:

As Republicans, we face a choice.

Either we can spend the next several months — or years — trying to figure out what just happened, excusing our defeat away as a temporary blip or the result of a poor environment, and waiting for Barack Obama to trip up. Or we can refuse to take this defeat lying down, and start building the future of our party now…

The Internet: Our #1 Priority in the Next Four Years

Recruit 5 million new Republican online activists.

Hold campaigns and local parties accountable.

A more open technology ecosystem.

Changing the Way We Run the Party

Rebuilding Our Grassroots Infrastructure.

Time for a new fundraising model.

A 25,000-strong Nationwide Campaign Force.

Reorganizing the RNC.

Recruiting a New Generation of Candidates

The 435 district strategy.

But don’t stop at Congress.

A “40 Under 40″ initiative.

Read the whole thing.

Parker Campaign Thanks Supporters

Special thanks to all of you volunteers for all your hard work on Wayne’s campaign. It is never a waste of time to work for those who stand for the values in which we believe.  We must continue to fight for them… a generation that fails to stand for their beliefs cannot pass them on to the next generation… When you look  at how many people have placed their wallet (the economy) in front of what our God has said is important, we should not be surprised at the outcome of this election. 
So… pray for our country and the new leaders… Pray that God changes their hearts and turns our country once again towards Him.  Pray also for Wayne and Lisa and their family as they return to normal day to day life.  They stood in the gap and we thank them for this.

God bless each one of you.

Alabama Senate District 7

With Parker Griffith’s election to Congress, his State Senate seat is open.  John Peck of The Huntsville Times wrote about potential candidates, snippets here:

Gov. Bob Riley on Wednesday discussed with aides the pending vacancy for Griffith’s state Senate District 7 seat. Riley spokesman Jeff Emerson said the governor will not set a date for a special election until conferring with Democratic and Republican Party leaders…

One big-name candidate took his name out of contention Wednesday. Huntsville businessman and former District 7 state Sen. Jeff Enfinger said he changed his mind about running for the seat again…

Hinshaw confirmed he’s seriously giving the race thought. “It’s an open seat. We’re looking at it very strongly”…

Hinshaw said he’s had lots of encouragement to run. “I would be inclined to get in that race. We’re trying to gauge support. Everything looks on go,” he said.

Hettinger served two terms in the Alabama House before serving as Huntsville mayor from 1988-1996. Hettinger said although he is considering the state Senate bid, he first wants to weigh how the commitment would detract from his family and a job he loves. Hettinger works in software engineering for SAIC…

Attempts to reach political strategist Raby and Rep. Hall were unsuccessful. Madison County Democratic Chairman Doug Dermody mentioned their names as potential candidates…

John Noel, chairman of the Madison County Republican Party, hadn’t talked to any interested GOP candidates but said he hopes to soon.

As I said earlier, Randy Hinshaw (D) is in a good position. But if Steve Hettinger (D), former Huntsville Mayor and all-around good guy, enters the race the seat is his.  I didn’t even consider that he might be interested in running for office again.

I’m baffled that the GOP leadership didn’t have a couple of names ready to at least throw around. 

Here’s my GOP list:

Cheryl Baswell-Guthrie ran for the office last time but lost to Parker Griffith.  She’s probably interested in the seat, and her name recognition is much higher than last time.

Al Wiggins ran for State Representative last time but lost to Randy Hinshaw; he might be interested in the race. I think that Wiggins was planning to run for Hinshaw’s seat again next time, this just moves up the schedule.

Bob Long just ran for County Commissioner; he might be interested (and vs Hettinger that would be an SAIC vs SAIC race – fun!).

Chris Stuckey ran in the primary against Long. He might be a long shot, but he’s got great ideas and loads of energy.  In some ways, Chris may actually be the best candidate. He’s got ties to A&M and could possibly penetrate areas where the GOP is weak. Full Disclosure: Brian and I both like Chris. Brian even endorsed Chris on air at WVNN in the race against Bob Long.

Dale Jackson of WVNN is conditionally interested, in a jokingly serious way (“Worst. Idea. Ever.”). His platform is very real:

  • Rollback the pay increase
  • Real immigration reform
  • Eliminate taxes on food
  • Property appraisals back to every four years
  • Give citizens the ability to recall legislators
  • Give citizens the power of initiative and referendum
  • End gerrymandering, which has made this seat a safe Democrat seat, push for an independent commission that creates block districts and not crazy districts designed to protect incumbents/parties.

The GOP candidate will have a tough race regardless.  The Dems will have a strong candidate and the District has been polling roughly 60% Dem to 40% GOP (most recent State Senate, State Representative, and County Commission races).

UPDATE:  One issue that I will be sure to raise with any candidate will be their support for Free the Hops.  They don’t have to buy a t-shirt, but I would like for the candidate to commit to Sponsor, or at least support, or at the very least not oppose, the Gourmet Beer Bill.  Both Griffith and Hinshaw supported the Gourmet Beer Bill.

UPDATE:  Here’s the Map of State Senate 7:

UPDATE:  Thanks to Dale Jackson at WVNN for discussing this on air. 

Dale commented that each of the listed candidates has “lost”.  Note that President-Elect Obama lost a race for Congress.  Also note that Congressman-Elect Parker Griffith lost a race for Mayor. Here’s Patrick Ruffini on the issue:

We need to encourage good repeat candidates in Democratic seats. The average second-time candidate who won in 2006 won just 42% in their previous bid. A lot of people figure they won’t run if they’re not absolutely sure they can win. We need to create a culture, like the one that exists in Britain, where it’s expected that you’ll have one or two elections to hone your skills as a candidate before winning. Barack Obama was a failed House candidate in 2000.

Tennessee GOP Takes State Legislature

Dan T commented about good news from our neighbors, reported by Murfreesboro’s DNJ:

Tennessee produced a major election success for Republicans with the GOP taking control of both chambers of the General Assembly.

The returns from Tuesday’s election bucked the trend in other states, where down-ticket Democrats rode the wave of Barack Obama’s presidential victory. Tennessee instead voted to give Republicans control of the legislature for the first time since Reconstruction…

“We had good candidates, we had the right message, we raised the money that was needed in a year that wasn’t exactly good nationwide,” said Ramsey, R-Blountville.

In a race that interested me, State Senator Jim Tracy (R) also won re-election.

State Sen. Jim Tracy captured 59.2 percent of the 16th District vote with all 55 precincts reporting to help the Shelbyville Republican win another four-year term Tuesday against Democratic challenger Jean Anne Rogers…

“I’ve really enjoyed the campaign, but it’s now time to govern,” Tracy said.

The 16th District represents the eastern and central portions of Rutherford County and all of La Vergne. Tracy also represents all of Moore and Bedford counties.

We could learn a good bit about organization, candidate recruitment, and messaging from the Tennessee GOP.

Election Results – Magenta 2008

Magenta – “After the battle, a real bloodshed, the noun “magenta” was adopted to describe a bright purplish red, blood red.”

The 1859 Battle of Magenta was a key event in the Second War of Italian Independence. The evenly matched French / Piedmontese forces were victorious over the Austrians in a close and bloody battle, which led to the liberation of Milan and eventual unification of Italy.

That’s the story of how the word ’Magenta’ came to describe a color.  It is the color of a bloodbath.

I am disappointed by the elections of Barack Obama and Parker Griffith.  At least the masks will come off of the Socialists in the Democratic Party and we’ll know in the next few years if the USA is to become a Socialist country.  We’ll also see if Griffith is as “Conservative” and “Independent” as he claims.

Anyway, the sun rose again today. I’ll probably dig through the election results more thoroughly and post more later, but my quick observation is that incumbents in Madison County did well, regardless of party.

Also, Griffith’s election opens up his State Senate seat.  I think that State Representative Randy Hinshaw (D) has to be considered the strongest candidate for the office. I like Randy, so that’s not too bad, but I would prefer a Republican. If Randy wins, then his seat will be open.  Since I live in Griffith / Hinshaw districts, I may get to campaign for a few more months. Oh joy.

Here is a summary of the Madison County Election Results and the Alabama Election Results (thanks to WHNT for the best local election coverage on TV).

Turnout in Madison County was 72%  (153,274 votes / 212,574 registered voters).  About 60,000 people voted straight tickets:  34,118  Democrats (22% of voters) and 26,040  Republicans (17% of voters).

All of the Amendments seem to have passed, but Madison’s Amendment 3 hasn’t actually been called yet.

President-elect Barack Obama (D) defeated John McCain (R) nationally, but McCain won Alabama 60% to 39%, and McCain won Madison County 57% to 42%.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R) defeated Vivian Figures (D) by 63% to 37%, and Sessions won Madison County 65% to 35%.

Congressman-elect Parker Griffith (D) defeated Wayne Parker (R) by 52% to 48%, and Griffith won Madison County 51% to 49%.

For Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Greg Shaw (R) barely defeated Deborah Paseur (D), but Paseur won Madison County 51% to 49%.

For Court of Civil Appeals Judge, Bill Thompson (R) defeated Kimberly Drake (D) by 56% to 44%, and Thompson won Madison County 55% to 45%.

For Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Place 1, Beth Kellum (R) defeated Clyde Jones (D) by 56% to 44%, and Kellum won Madison County 55% to 45%.

For Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Place 2, Mary Windom (R) defeated Aimee Smith (D) by 54% to 46%, and Windom won Madison County 52% to 48%.

For President of the Public Service Commission, Lucy Baxley (D) is leading Twinkle Cavanaugh (R) but the race hasn’t been called as of this writing, and Baxley won Madison County 51% to 49%.

Billy Bell (D) and Bruce Williams (R) were unopposed and retain their judgeships.

For Madison County District Court Judge Place 1, incumbent Ruth Hall (R) defeated Cynthia Webb (D) by 59% to 41%.

For Madison County District Court Judge Place 4, incumbent Dick Richardson (R) defeated Reta McKannan (D) by 55% to 45%.

For Madison County Commission Chairman, incumbent Mike Gillespie (D) defeated Dick French (R) by 63% to 37%.

For Madison County Commission District 1, incumbent Roger Jones (D) defeated Bob Long (R) by 59% to 41%.

For Madison County Commission District 3, incumbent Jerry Craig (D) defeated Mike Parsons (R) by 60% to 40%.

Madison County Commissioners Faye Dyer (R – District 2), Dale Strong (R – District 4), Mo Brooks (R – District 5), and Bob Harrison (D – District 6) were unopposed and retain their offices.

For Madison County Tax Assessor, incumbent Fran Hamilton (D) defeated Drew McKay (R) by 54% to 46%.

For Madison County Tax Collector, incumbent Lynda Hall (D) defeated Cory Brown (R) by 58% to 42%.

For Madison County License Director, incumbent Mark Craig (D) defeated Susan Newman (R) by 61% to 39%.

For Madison County Board of Education District 3, Mary Louise Stowe (D) defeated Justin Hernandez (R) by 65% to 31%.