We can lose battles and it only makes us mad

The First Battle of Bull Run was fought 150 years ago today by the Union Army of Northern Virginia under Irvin McDowell and Confederate forces under Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (Army of the Potomac) and Joseph Johnston (Army of the Shenandoah).

The excellent Bull Runnings blog posted a letter written by Colonel John Ellis and published in the San Francisco Bulletin:

Col. John S. Ellis of the 1st Regiment of California State Militia, and Sheriff elect of San Francisco – who is now on a visit to the East – served as a volunteer (attached, for the [ponce?], to the 71st New York Regiment) during the battle of Bull Run…

I was all through the battle of Bull Run as a volunteer, attached to the 71st Regiment, armed with a rifle and sabre-bayonet. All my brothers were there also – five of us. We started at 2 o’clock on Sunday morning; marched none hours without resting three minutes at a time, and having in that period traversed about 15 miles, went right into action without breakfast; fought until 6 o’clock Sunday night; then retreated, marched all night and did not reach our camp till 9 o’clock Monday morning – all without anything for food except a hard, dry cracker, which I could not eat…

I then went back to the fight and rejoined Gus, who was doing fearful execution with his 12 pounder howitzers. The 71st drove back the enemy three times, and completely cut up the Alabama regiment; and Sherman’s battery on our right silenced one of the enemy’s batteries until they got out of ammunition. We did our share; we drove back the enemy whenever he showed his face, and for a long time thought we had gained the victory. But alas! how much were we mistaken! Other regiments were ordered to charge into the woods and were met by masked batteries which poured into their bosoms the most terrific fire…

Through the effects of this battle we have lost much of our prestige, but I think it is a lesson we my profit by. It has wonderfully raised the spirits of the Rebels, and men say they are preparing for an attack on Washington. If they should, and are repulsed, they would find it difficult to recover. We can lose battles and it only makes us mad – they cannot afford reverses.

The “Alabama regiment” mentioned in Colonel Ellis’ letter was the 4th Alabama Regiment led by Colonel Egbert Jones, part of the Third Brigade commanded by Barnard Bee in the Army of the Shenandoah:

After that struggle, if there was one man idolized by the 4th Alabama, it was Egbert Jones. Amid the shock and surge of the conflict, he sat with his leg carelessly thrown across the pommel of his saddle, and gave his orders with perfect composure. The 4th Alabama never forgot that immobile figure.

Jones was an Athens lawyer and State Representative who moved to Huntsville in 1853.  Jones was elected Captain of the Huntsville Guards company which was one of the ten companies that formed the 4th Alabama Regiment; Jones was elected Colonel of the 4th Alabama when it formed. 

Jones died as a result of his wounds received at Bull Run and is buried at Maple Hill Cemetary.

Giant Belgium wins best tasting tomato

The Huntsville Botanical Garden selected a Giant Belgium tomato as the best tasting tomato entered in the annual contest held this weekend.  (this years taste winner also won biggest weight at 1 pound 5 ounces).  Last year’s winner for best taste was a Cherokee Purple; biggest was a 2 pound 5 ounce ‘Delicious’.

In news from my garden, the Cherokee Purples I planted are starting to ripen – I’ve tried a couple and they are fantastic! 

***

In other news, my lawyer friends are interested in Governor Dr. Bentley’s upcoming appointment to replace retired Madison County Circuit Judge Bruce Williams.  Several good counselors have suggested that District Court Judge Ruth Ann Hall will likely be appointed by Governor Dr. Love.  If Judge Hall is raised to the Circuit Court, then the Governor will appoint a new District Court judge:  Robert Rogers, Linda Coates, Bill Starnes, Patty Demos, and Claude Hundley are among those I’ve heard mentioned for the job.

***

In more other news, the Birmingham News wrote a great article on the Jefferson County Sewer Bond mess:

Jefferson County officials are asking Wall Street creditors to wipe out nearly $1.3 billion of the $3.14 billion sewer debt as part of a plan presented in secret last week to resolve the lingering financial problems tied to the county’s sewer system bonds…

“The resolve of this commission is to fix the problem,” Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said. “If the fix is afforded through bankruptcy, so be it. If there is a fix available outside of bankruptcy, that would be much better. But, one way or the other this will be fixed.”

“The resolve of this commission is to fix the problem,” Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said. “If the fix is afforded through bankruptcy, so be it. If there is a fix available outside of bankruptcy, that would be much better. But, one way or the other this will be fixed”…

Why should we care?

Alabama officials say bankruptcy would be a stain on the state and have pledged credit enhancements to help the two sides reach an agreement. Credit enhancements could include letters of credit, lines of credit, or credit support for refinancing the debt in the form of a moral obligation agreement…

State involvement is a must for any settlement, county officials say.

The governor could call a special session for legislation that allows the transfer of the sewer system to a separate public corporation, better known as a GUSC, a Government Utility Services Corporation, which would oversee the issuance of new bonds and repayment of bonds…

However, the county and creditors must decide whether the corporation could file a Chapter 9 petition.

The creditors have insisted that the corporation be prohibited from filing for bankruptcy while county officials have said they don’t control the state Legislature and cannot predict in what form the bill might be adopted.

Looks like the legislature may get called to two special sessions: coastal insurance reform and JeffCo debt.

South Carolina coastal insurance reform

Governor Dr. Robert Bentley recently appointed the Affordable Homeowners Insurance Commission to address “the troubled insurance market” with an eye to passing legislation in a special session.

Dr. Love says: “The lack of affordable insurance is an important issue that many in Alabama face. After the devastating tornadoes of April, insurance reform needs to be examined now more than ever.  I want this new commission to work together to stop the rising cost of insurance for the benefit of all Alabamians.”

In looking for information as to just what this means, I Googled “coastal insurance reform” – the top hit was my article on “Coastal insurance reform”.  That is no help to me (other than to feed my ego), and believe me it’s not much help to you either.  Fortunately, the South Carolina Omnibus Coastal Property Insurance Reform Act of 2007, co-sponsored by now-Governor Nikki Haley (R), was also listed. 

Continue reading

Salty Nut News

Huntsville is the brewing capital of Alabama with Straight to Ale, Yellowhammer, and Blue Pants making great craft beers in the Rocket City.  Salty Nut Brewery is planning to have their “brews in bars by Mid-to-Late October!”  according to this Aleheads interview with founder Brent Cole:

We love craft beer and have a blast brewing beers that we come up with. It’s really exciting! The best part is brewing and then letting other craft beer lovers try our brews.  It’s rewarding to have someone enjoy drinking what we make!

We are a fully functional LLC now, we are in the process of signing a lease for our brewery location, we have ordered fermenters, and will be ordering the brewing equipment this week, and are also in the process of selecting a distributor.  We are trying to take all of the necessary steps to being set up correctly.  We will apply for our manufacturer’s license in October (yearly cycle renewal)…

Our first brew is our flagship brew; we are huge hop heads and love IPAs, so naturally we wanted to brew an IPA.  This one is called HopNaughty IPA.  We felt the name was fitting; it’s full of hops and…well…beer can make you naughty, so that’s that…

Alabama beer laws have come a long way thanks to the Free the Hops organization and the craft beer lovers in the State.  I think the future looks bright, and lest you think that sounds cheesy, let me explain: Hopefully, in the near future we can have larger container sizes which will allow for Alabamans to have more craft brews available to them.  This will open up the window for more styles and more flavors, which is what the beer lovers want.  Brewpubs will slowly but surely start to pop up and we hope to be in this market in the future. We want a one-stop shop for people to taste/try and take home our brews.

Thanks to all the Alabama legislators who voted for the Gourmet Beer Bill and the Brewery Modernization Act (aka the Jobs Bill).  It’s not often that you actually get to create jobs and expand freedoms through legislation – cheers!

“Mean as a snake” Democratic Party Chairman visits Huntsville

Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Justice Mark Kennedy visited Huntsville today for a reception at Amendment XXI downtown.  WVNN’s ‘cyberbullying coping counselor’ Dale Jackson and I attended the event, along with more than 50 local Democrats.

Self-described “mean as a snake” former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Kennedy gave a good speech highlighting the challenges faced by Alabama Democrats and some of his improvements to the State Party organization.  Personally, I thought Kennedy seemed to be a pretty nice guy, but when someone tells you they’re mean as a snake you ought to listen…

Kidding aside, Kennedy said that the State Party would stop charging candidates for voter lists and that the Democrats would focus on “taking back the courthouses” across Alabama.   The Party is sending training teams throughout the State instructing activists on how to hold meetings, including how much lemonade to serve for how many people.

Kennedy complained that the PAC to PAC transfer ban killed Democratic Party fundraising – I say good riddance to money laundering and shady backroom deals.  As a judge, Kennedy ruled in favor of the White Hall casino – saying that the slot machines were actually bingo machines instead of slot machines.  I’ve seen (and um, ‘investigated’) bingo machines, and IMO if he can’t tell the difference between bingo and a slot machine I’m happy he’s on their side…

Non-partisan Huntsville City Schools Board of Education member Laurie McCauley attended, as well as my former State Representative Randy Hinshaw.  I really do enjoy talking with my friend Randy and I got to meet former candidate for State Representative Jenny Askins: I wrote about her non-approach to political issues in a terribly snarky post  “Whatever YOU want” (however I didn’t write that Askins is the “Democrat version of Sarah Palin”). [Reactionary edit - the link appears to be broken, but this refers to an AL.com commenter who wrote the following on 7/12/2009:  "Askins is hot, but her response to the debate invitation that “people elect legislators, debates dont elect legislators” is insipid. She is the Democratic version of Palin."]   I’m pretty sure from her demeanor toward me that she reads the blog…

I also got to speak with countrycat of Left in Alabama, with whom I share an interest in gardening.  BTW my heirloom Cherokee Purple tomatoes are almost ready – this is my first year of growing them and I’m eager to know if they really are the “best tasting tomato” and “almost like candy”.

SHCA Legislative and Superintendent Forum

Me and Ben and about 300 of our closest friends attended the South Huntsville Civic Association Superintendent reception and legislative forum this evening at Grissom High School.  This was HCS Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski’s first public meeting in his new job, and the SHCA invited every member of the South Huntsville legislative delegation to help welcome Casey. 

State Senator Arthur Orr (R), Senator Paul Sanford (R), Senator Clay Scofield (R), Representative Mike Ball (R), and Representative Howard Sanderford (R) were on hand to answer questions during the forum.  BTW it feels really good to be writing (R) after all of those seats.  Huntsville City Councilman John Olshefski was also on the panel.  Read on for Casey’s speech and the Q&A…

Continue reading

Message from McMillan

Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan wrote “Voter Interest at an all-time high” for the ALGOP:

We live in extraordinary times when government is running on empty, both in terms of revenue and ideas. No longer are people content to let the Washington crowd raise taxes and grow government.

As this summer’s drama at the White House plays out, people are watching every move to make sure that the big government crowd doesn’t prevail. It’s two against one in this fight, with President Obama and the Senate Democrats versus the Republicans in the House.

People realize as never before that bigger government means fewer jobs for American families. To those of us elected to serve, our responsibility is to keep government small and off the backs of those who create the jobs.

***

John McMillan is one of my favorite politicians.  I still enjoy hearing about his family taking a milk cow to the beach with them way back when.  Fun fact:

Bottle Creek, the largest Mississippian site (AD 1200 to 1450) on the north-central Gulf coast, has eighteen earthen mounds that served as platforms for houses and temples.

…Bottle Creek is one of the few major Mississippian sites not yet developed for tourism. The heavily forested site, in the midst of the Mobile-Tensaw delta, gives visitors a sense of the rich natural environment that supported Native American societies for thousands of years…

The McMillan family protected the Bottle Creek site for most of this century. In the early 1990s the land was purchased by Scott Paper Company, which in turn donated the site to the State of Alabama.

I’m sure this fellow and his kin help scare away most tourists (the photo is from the excellent mobilepaddler blog).

 

District Court competition

The Republican Primary for Madison County District Court Judge got competitive today with Chris Messervy entering the race.  Assistant District Attorney Don Rizzardi announced his candidacy last month.  Incumbent Judge Lynn Sherrod (D) hasn’t announced her plans to run for re-election or retire yet.

From The Times article about Messervy by Brian Lawson:

The District Court has broad responsibility. The court handles civil cases up to $10,000, misdemeanor criminal cases and preliminary hearings, custody disputes, traffic charges and small claims cases.

“The District Court judge is really on the front lines between the community and the court system,” Messervy said. “You make all the decisions from the bench; there are no juries. And often, what the community thinks about the court system most likely derives from their experience with the District Court.

“I think being respectful from the bench goes a long way.”

Messervy has already picked up endorsements from retired Circuit Judge Loyd “Buddy” Little and Circuit Court Clerk Jane Smith.

From The Times article about Rizzardi by Brian Lawson:

“You will never find a more dedicated public servant than Don Rizzardi,” [Madison County District Attorney Rob] Broussard said. “He does have vast trial experience, and like many in our office, a lot of if it is unheralded work in the courtroom. He has ground through his cases and always done his duty. We’ve always been proud of Don in our office.”

The years in the courtroom and managing a heavy caseload have prepared him for the challenges every judge faces, Rizzardi said.

“I’ve seen a lot of different judges, and I’ve seen what works for some and what doesn’t. I will take the best I’ve seen from all of them,” he said.

***

Full disclosure:  I’ve known Don Rizzardi for many years and I will campaign for him and then vote for him in the GOP Primary (March 13, 2012 – only 8 months away!).  I’ve met Chris Messervy a couple of times and like him and would support him except that he’s running against Rizzardi.

Coastal insurance reform

The average cost to insure a home in Mobile and Baldwin Counties is eleventy billion dollars, if you can find an insurer.  Central and North Alabama are facing the same types of issues in the wake of the recent devastating tornadoes, so this is about more than ‘coastal insurance reform’.  Insurance reform may get addressed in a special session of the legislature, if not, it will certainly be a top issue in the next legislative session.

Governor Dr. Robert Bentley just named the members of the Affordable Homeowners Insurance Commission, led by Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell (R).  Huntsville is represented on the commission by Wayne Parker and State Farm agent Joe Demos.  Some interesting appointments include K. Carl Smith (The conservativeMessenger) and Michelle Kurtz (Homeowners’ Hurricane Insurance Initiative).  State Senator Ben Brooks (R – Mobile), State Representative Mike Hill (R – Columbiana), and State Representative Steve McMillan (R – Gulf Shores) are on the commission – presumably to sponsor legislation incorporating the results of the Commission’s efforts.

I spoke with Representative McMillan last week after his fishing trip and he said that insurance reform was his top legislative priority.  The GOP legislature passed a couple of bills this year to ”create a tax deduction for strengthening homes against hurricanes and tornadoes, set up an Insurance Department trust fund for retrofitting homes, and require that insurers publicly disclose information when they ask regulators for rate changes.”

Continue reading

SHCA Forum with Superintendent Wardynski

From our friends at the South Huntsville Civic Association:

The South Huntsville Civic Association will host a legislative forum with new Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski and other local representatives on Monday, July 11, at 7 PM in the Grissom High School Auditorium.  Our community is most pleased to welcome our new Superintendent.  We anticipate an informative evening, and we look forward to seeing you there!
 
Monday, July 11th
Grissom High School Auditorium
7:00 PM
 
Confirmed forum participants:
 
Huntsville City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Casey Wardynski
City Councilman John Olshefski
State Representative Mike Ball
State Representative Howard Sanderford
State Senator Arthur Orr
State Senator Clay Scofield
State Senator Paul Sanford