I, Robot

Alabama Robotics Technology Park

Alabama Robotics Technology Park









Governor Bob Riley cut the ribbon at the Alabama Robotics Technology Park today at Calhoun Community College.   The Phase I Robotics Maintenance Training Center opened today, with the Phase II Advanced Technology R&D Center scheduled for a February opening.  The Phase III Integration and Entrepreneurial Center is TBD.   The building is contending for a LEED Gold designation and features high efficiency mechanical and electrical systems; stormwater and rainwater capture systems; and high performance air filtration systems.  The high-bay facility also features an overhead bridge traveling crane.

Gov. Riley gave a good speech and soon-to-be-former Speaker of the House Seth Hammett made a good speech; the others could learn from them…


View from the balcony

View from the balcony










You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a City, County, or State politician.  I asked several of the legislators what were their Top Three priorities – each of them answered Ethics Reform and Jobs.  Some added union reform, charter schools, or more jobs to their lists.  They were all looking forward to a Special Session to get at Ethics Reform.

I, Robot

I, Robot












The facility was equipped with several robots distributed on the main floor and in the classrooms.  More than 25 companies partnered with ARTP to provide equipment and services:  ABB, Fanuc, Kawasaki, Kuka, Mitsubishi, Motoman, OTC, Staubli, Cloos, Wolf, Omron, Rockwell, Cognex, Creform, Fronius, Gorbel Cranes, Lincoln Electric, Miller Welding, MESA, SKS, Innovation, Continental, Cisco, Airgas, Irby, Valley Air Supply, and Daikin.  If you do business with these folks – thank them.

I, Robot

I, Robot












I’m not going to embarrass this young man too much, but the Calhoun PR group pissed me off with a show of silliness.  This guy was only following orders (the door was ‘exit only’ for the event - I walked out and then tried to get back in – but none shall pass, except for those who are more equal than others), but the PR Director who walked me around the halls to show me a different door only for me to end up on the other side of THAT door was the worst type of bureaucrat.  The PR person even got defensive as I was asking questions about the facility.  You see the results of that PR effort here… FAIL! 

Calhoun did do a good job of organizing and promoting the event – they even provided a ‘Legislative Luncheon’ to the worthies who attended.  Ethics reform?   Anyone?   Did the kids from the local school robotics teams get fed, too?

State of the State – 2010

I attended Governor Riley’s State of the State address at the State Capitol. Riley asked the legislature to focus on 5 areas: economic development (tax credits for job creation), education (charter schools), ethics (subpoena power), PACT (Riley said the State made a promise and should keep it – standing ovation), and gambling (bingo machines are illegal slot machines). Riley reminded the legislature of the corruption that former Gov. Patterson fought long ago – and that Patterson said no good ever comes out of gambling.

The biggest problem Riley has getting his agenda passed is that the Democrats control both the State House and the State Senate (with a veto-proof 21 seats).

An issue under discussion that disturbs me is that some legislators are planning to raid the Alabama Trust Fund. The Dems want to raid it for road construction (election year) and a few GOP want to raid it for coastal insurance. Either way – I don’t think they plan to ‘pay it back’. The legislature already drained the reserves, they’ve already spent the stimulus money, and now they’re hoping for ‘Stimulus 2′ to make up budget shortfalls.


The State of the State address was held in the magnificent old Capitol Building. We got a quick tour of some of the preserved spaces, like the Treasurer’s Office (from the 1850s). The chamber in which the speech was delivered was packed: State Senators, Representatives, Justices, State Officers – all of them were there. I watched from the balcony, where I got to meet Kristopher of  TheWorldAroundYou.

I also met Alex Goepfert, Communication Director for Congressman Artur Davis (D – running for Governor).  Alex complimented Brian’s analysis of the Governor’s race (no words from the Sparks’ campaign).  Alex is a friendly young man and I was happy to meet him.

After the speech, I got to hang out with Senator Paul Sanford.  From what I saw, the people in District 7 can be proud of how well he’s establishing himself in the political scene.  Paul is ‘the new face’ of the ALGOP.

We went to the Montgomery Brewpub for dinner, which is just around the corner from the new Wintzell’s.  The old Capitol Hotel with the Karaoke Bar has closed, so the Montgomery Brewpub plans to have Karaoke Nights on Tuesday for Legislators.  Note to Mike Ball – they don’t have equipment for instruments, so bring your own – they’re expecting you :)

Guv appoints Broussard to DA

Governor Bob Riley appointed Rob Broussard to the office of Madison County District Attorney to complete the term of retiring DA Tim Morgan. Broussard takes office June 1 and will run as a Republican for the office in 2010. Rob is highly respected within the DAs office and is a dedicated prosecutor – today is a good day for Madison County. Congratulations Rob and thank you Governor Riley.

Now about that Bill awaiting the Governor’s signature… John Ehinger of The Huntsville Times wrote a brilliantly thoughtful editorial – “Riley should sign beer bill”:

Such a bill has been pushed for several years by a group called “Free the Hops” – beer connoisseurs who say Alabama is behind the times. The beer they want, they say, is not only stronger but of higher quality, and it can carry a much higher price.

BTW, the State Legislature approved the creation of a additional Madison County Circuit Court Judgeship – to be elected in 2010.  The 23rd Judicial Circuit “consists of District Judges and Circuit Judges” presided over by Billy Bell.  The Circuit Judges are: Bruce Williams, Laura Hamilton, Loyd Little (of Why Judge Little infamy), James Smith, Karen Hall.  The District Judges are: Dennis O’Dell, Lynn Sherrod, Dick Richardson, and Ruth Ann Hall.

Assistant DA Bill Starnes made the appointee short list last time for the seat held by Ruth Ann Hall, IMO he should consider running for the new judgeship.