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.”

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Bentley to keep another promise

Governor Robert Bentley “said he intends to sign” the Brewery Modernization Act (SB192 – sponsored by our own Bill Holtzclaw R-2), according to Michael Tomberlin of The Birmingham News who wrote “Alabama Governor Bentley plans to sign beer bill into law”:

“When I represented my local community, I voted against Sunday alcohol sales and things of that nature,” Bentley said in an interview. “As governor, it’s a little bit different. I don’t feel I should impose my views on everybody in the state. The Legislature has had a chance to look at it and passed it. I’m sure I will sign it.”

The law will allow breweries to have taprooms and relax restrictions on brewpubs.  Our local brewers say:

“A tap room is already in the works,” said Dan Perry, one of the founders and brewers of Straight to Ale. “We haven’t nailed down the rest of our plans yet.”

Mike Spratley, brewer and owner of Huntsville’s Blue Pants Brewery, said the new law creates an avenue for growth for upstart breweries like Blue Pants.

“We’re putting together a scheme for the next phase of our growth,” he said. “Things like tours and a tap room will likely be in the plans going forward. We see that as a great way to grow the business.”

Free the Hops Vice President and political genius Dan Roberts said:

“That’s what it’s all about — enabling Alabama businesses to grow”

Governor Bentley is keeping a promise made during an interview on WVNN (Flashpoint on the radio):

Dr. Bentley opposed Free the Hops in the legislature (he says he consistently opposes alcohol and gambling); but I asked if as Governor he would sign the Gourmet Beer Bill – with some nuance, he said he would (since it would have passed the legislature). 

Thank you Dr. Love.

Bentley keeps a promise

Governor-elect Dr. Robert Bentley partially fulfilled part of the Gas Tax Pledge by appointing John Cooper as Director of the Alabama Department of Transportation.  The Gas Tax Pledge promised to keep at least 80% of Madison County / Huntsville / Madison gas taxes in this area – plus – appoint an ALDOT Director from North Alabama.  Cooper lives near Guntersville, but worked as CEO of Avocent and CFO of Adtran in Huntsville.

Shelly Haskins of The Huntsville Times wrote “Gov.-elect Robert Bentley names retired Huntsville business executive John R. Cooper transportation director”:

“A first-class transportation system is a critical part of my plan for economic growth and bringing good-paying jobs to our citizens,” Bentley said in a news release. “John Cooper has the managerial experience and leadership qualities to ensure that Alabama has the right transportation infrastructure we need to succeed.”

Thanks Dr. Bentley – I hope this is the first of many posts saying “Bentley keeps a promise”!

MCGOP – 23 October 2010

Saturday awoke to another packed house at the Madison County Republican breakfast. 

The speakers were Mo Brooks, Kay Ivey, and Dr. Robert Bentley.  Congressional candidate Mo Brooks took to the microphone waving a broom and asking people to help him “Sweep ‘em all out”!  That is classic Alabama politics – if a dirty ol’ flatbed truck would’ve fit in the room Brooks would’ve raised a cloud of dust sweeping it up.  Mo was having a lot of fun with the stunt, but his message was serious: “our President doesn’t know the America that all of us know” and Obama’s policies are wrecking this country – now is the time to change direction.

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey spoke about how her opponent (Little Jim Folsom) as President of the Senate wouldn’t recognize Republican Senators during debates – Ivey said “give these State Senators a voice”.

Candidate for Governor Dr. Robert Bentley spread more love during his speech.  Bentley said that he “has a Doctor’s love” for “all the people of Alabama”,  but “don’t confuse love with weakness”.  Bentley said that Republicans have “got to run as a team” and he urged voters “to vote for every Republican on the ticket”.

Here are some quotes from Dr. Love:
“Give us the chance to prove to you that we can govern right”.
“Public servants should be held to a higher standard”.
“Treat taxpayers like customers”.
And my favorite:
“Government should help create jobs, not create Government jobs”.

Dr. Bentley said that Democrat Ron Sparks “is the most liberal man ever to run for Governor”.  Ron Sparks says he won’t tell a woman what to do with her body, Dr. Bentley says that a baby is a separate person.  Ron Sparks doesn’t believe that States have rights (when asked if he supported the enforcement of the 10th Amendment Sparks said “absolutely not”), Dr. Bentley says the Governor must protect State interests against federal overreaching.

Dr. Bentley said that “there are some evil forces in this State” and promised to convene a Special Session of the legislature within (and at the beginning of) the Regular Session “to pass the toughest ethics law that’s ever been passed by any state in this country”.  Bentley recognized Senator Arthur Orr and Representative Mike Ball as champions of ethics legislation.

Dr. Bentley closed by saying that Alabama is “a loving and patriotic State”.

Steve Doyle of The Huntsville Times wrote “Robert Bentley says he’ll push for “toughest ethics law” if elected Alabama governor”:

Bentley said he expects Sparks and other Democratic candidates to sling a few more “arrows” in the form of negative campaign ads in the coming days.

He referenced a TV commercial by state Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, against his Republican opponent, Shadrack McGill. In the ad, a woman who recently sued McGill over a deal to sell her a restaurant calls the Woodville businessman a “thief” and a “crook.”

McGill has countersued the woman, Sheila Johnson.

“Shad, your opponent is afraid of you, or he wouldn’t be running negative ads,” Bentley said to McGill, drawing loud applause.

Bentley spreads love

Givhan Bentley and Thomas

Givhan Bentley and Thomas












Republican candidate for Governor Dr. Robert Bentley spoke to a bi-partisan crowd of more than 100 people at the Huntsville Visitor’s Center on the square yesterday.

Dr. Bentley had a full day in and around Huntsville yesterday, starting at Floyd Hardin’s barber shop then visiting Larry’s, eating with the Elks, speaking at this event downtown, then to the Builders’ Association, then Hartselle, and IIRC ending up in Oneonta.  Bentley commented about Larry’s that “a gun shop is a good place for Republicans”.

Bentley began his speech noting the “tremendous uncertainty” in the country and that jobs are his focus.  Bentley said he believes in “free enterprise” and “helping business create jobs”.

Bentley referred to James 1:  ”when trials come into your life you can become stronger”.  Bentley said he would “find efficiency in government” and “the only time you can make government more efficient is when you don’t have enough money”.

Bentley is “opposed to federalization of health care”.

Bentley said “I believe that we should take care of our friends and neighbors through our churches and individually, not through the federal government”.

Bentley urged the crowd to “send me as Governor some more good GOP legislators”.

Bentley said that opponent Ron Sparks is “a poster child for some Democrats.  He is pro-choice.  I am pro-life”.  Bentley then noted that many Democrats are pro-life.  Bentley said that Sparks “does not want to do anything significant about illegal immigration” and related the story about Sparks going into the 13 foot ladder business if there was a 12 foot border wall.

Bentley reminded people to vote:  “I never leave without asking for everyone’s vote”.  Bentley ended his speech saying “I love the people of Alabama”.


Bi-partisan?  Yes:  Mary Jane Caylor (D – AL BOE 8) and her husband provided refreshments for the event.  I also saw several Democrats including Deborah Paseur and MadCo License Director Mark Craig.  Republicans? Yes: State Reps Mike Ball, Howard Sanderford, and Mac McCutcheon;  DA Rob Broussard; Judges Dennis O’Dell and Ruth Ann Hall; and Sheriff Blake Dorning.  Sorry if I missed recognizing any Democrat or Republican officials who attended…

I asked one of the Democrat officials if they were there out of respect for Bentley (as an official welcoming a gubernatorial candidate) – the answer was no – this person has had several opportunities to see Sparks but didn’t want to… That Democrat was there as a Bentley voter.

Bentley meet and greet on the square

From the Dr. Robert Bentley for Governor campaign:

We are having a Meet and Greet for Dr. Bentley at 216 West Side Square, Huntsville Alabama 35801 (Historic Regions Bank Building) from 1:15 to 2:15 on Wednesday, September 22, 2010.  If you are interested in meeting Dr. Bentley and/or hearing him speak, please come to this event.  Your admission price is to bring a friend.

Also, for those involved in the real estate and/or construction industries, we will have another meet and greet at the Huntsville Madison County Builders Association, located at 2804 Bob Wallace Avenue, later that afternoon from 3:30 to 4:30.

We have a tight schedule for him that day, but we hope that you can be with us during one of these time periods to meet the next governor of our great state!  Please do not be concerned about dress.  Dr. Bentley, being a strong supporter of Alabama’s work force, wants to meet you regardless of whether your collar is white, blue or dirty, so please come out and join us on Wednesday afternoon!


We’ve been writing about Robert Bentley since he announced his candidacy for Governor.   BTW, Dr. Bentley supports local restaurants – he and his campaign ate Stanlieo’s subs that day (this is the type of hard-hitting ‘reporting’ you can expect from me).

Brian and I interviewed Dr. Bentley when we filled in for Dale Jackson on WVNN (we’re the true Kingmakers!):

Dr. Bentley described his plan to create scholarships for Primary Care Physicians who commit to working in underserved areas.  He also talked about Health Savings Accounts and we asked him if the State could implement some sort of ‘Individual Development Account’ for Health Care.  We asked Bentley about his Economic Development ideas – he prefers that the State encourage existing / local industries to grow, as opposed to giving (m/b)illions to foreign companies (id est Thyssen-Kruppe).

Unconditional Surrender









This picture is of a 32 pounder gun in the lower battery at Fort Donelson National Battlefield near Dover Tennessee.  BTW the ’32 pounder’ refers to the weight of the shot, not the cannon (the gun barrel weighs about 4700 pounds).  The capture of Forts Henry (on the Tennessee River) and Donelson (on the Cumberland River) by the Union early during the Civil War forced the Confederates to abandon Kentucky and much of Tennessee.  The Battle of Fort Donelson also launched the careers of U.S. Grant and Nathan Bedford Forrest.  General Grant gained the nickname “Unconditional Surrender” for taking Fort Donelson.

Modern Republicans should learn from our GOP ancestors. 

I’d rather vote for a candidate who vows “to break” our political opponents than one whose first thought is “crossing the aisle” to compromise.  That is why I plan to vote for Bradley Byrne for Governor in the Republican Primary Runoff on July 13. 

I like Dr. Bentley, he’s always been very kind to me, and if he wins I will do everything I can to get him elected.  However, during his campaign speeches Bentley touts crossing the aisle like it’s a good thing – and maybe it is – but right now I want someone who will force the lying, cheating, and stealing Democrats to surrender their corrupt rule in Montgomery…


What do a mover from Florida, a butcher in Tennessee, and me have in common?  We’re all sick and tired of Obama and his socialist regime.  I’ve got to admit that I’m pleasantly surprised when random people start talking about Obama.


I really like John McMillan for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries in the GOP Primary Runoff.  McMillan’s new TV ad describes the Ag Commissioner’s job pretty well in a few seconds.  I like that McMillan considers water quality to be an important issue and that when he was a State Representative he worked on water issues.


Pioneer seed corn is very popular in Western Kentucky – an area which used to be known for tobacco but not so much anymore.  Just to note that politics and history are an inescapable part of life - the Hi-Bred Corn Company (Pioneer) was founded in part by Henry Wallace, the 1948 Progressive Party candidate for President (part of his campaign platform was universal government health insurance – socialized medicine).  Wallace later wrote Where I Was Wrong, explaining how he had been a ‘Useful Idiot’ of the Soviets.

Polls vs polls

Now that the GOP gubernatorial numbers have settled down a little bit, let’s compare the Polls (on June 1st – hat tip to Doc’s) versus the Public Strategy Associates poll (early May).   Bradley Byrne received 28% of the vote vs 24%; Robert Bentley received 25% vs 12%; Tim James received 25% vs 23%; Roy Moore received 19% vs 18%.  PSA observed that 21% of known GOP primary voters were undecided.  In May, PSA said:

“The next couple of weeks will be ‘make or break’ in the governor’s race…” said Brent Buchanan, a partner in Public Strategy Associates. “This is when the heat is on, and a lot can change in the next nineteen days,” he added.

Nice job on the poll.  Looks like the undecideds broke for Dr. Bentley and we’ll see soon enough if he or Tim James is in the runoff (pending the recount – Friday is the deadline). 

The vote difference between Bentley and James is 167 votes – well within the 0.5% error rate mentioned by Susan Fillipelli in comments at Doc’s (which seems to be a pretty good estimate).   My guess is that Bentley made the runoff with Byrne, but James certainly has good reason to request (and pay for) a recount.

Primary runoff turnout generally drops to 66% of the primary turnout, but that’s still roughly 330,000 voters who might show up (the most recent GOP primary runoff in Madison County turned out about 80%! – which could translate into almost 400,000 voters on July 13th).  It’s probably safe to assume that most of Byrne’s 137,000 voters show up and that most of Bentley’s (or James’) 124,000 voters show up: that leaves 69,000 to 139,000 votes ‘undecided’.   None of the candidates’ voters by themselves can take the primary runoff, exempli gratia, Byrne needs to get out all his vote plus add at least another 30,000 votes to win the runoff.

I voted for Byrne and will again, but James and Bentley rounded out my top three choices so I could vote for any of them come November.

Huntsville Governors Forum Report

It’s been awhile since the life-changing Huntsville Governors Forum on March 2 - my notes and memories aren’t getting any better with age.  So finally here it is, the post you’ve all been waiting for, the hottest post in the world, the Huntsville Governors Forum report!

To refresh your memories, the Madison County Young Republicans and Right On Huntsville hosted the Forum at the Davidson Center.  Republican gubernatorial candidates Robert Bentley, Bradley Byrne, Kay Ivey, Tim James, Bill Johnson, and James Potts attended – note that Kay Ivey has since decided to run for Lieutenant Governor.

Retired Lt. Gen. Jim Link of Redstone Arsenal and Teledyne Brown, Gary Palmer of the Alabama Policy Institute, and former Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer were the Forum Panelists.

The event was attended in total by 575 people, but what surprised me was that it was almost like two events: several hundred attended the Reception and several hundred attended the Forum.  Anyway – it was a successful event – the hosts did better than break even (the Davidson Center costs big money – IIRC like $8,000 with catered hors d’ouvres  - but it was worth it).

The Forum began promptly at 6:15, with the Butler High School Air Force ROTC Color Guard presenting the colors.  I was able to spend some time with the cadets and they are great kids – smart and ambitious.  ROTC Instructors Colonel Mike Parsons and Senior Master Sergeant Elijah Porter are creating future leaders – well done!

Retired Colonel John Reitzell led the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Clinton Carter of the Madison County Young Republicans introduced the candidates and panelists.  Kudos to Carter for doing a fantastic job of organizing the Forum.  Joel Jaqubino of Right On Huntsville fired up the audience with red meat – and then – the big show…

Loretta Spencer asked about State support for BRAC in terms of roads and infrastructure:

Bentley – signed the gas tax pledge.
James – signed the gas tax pledge, saying “where do we get the biggest return” and “bang for the buck”.
Byrne – cited Maryland BRAC efforts as a model, Governor is “the point of the spear”, State may have to spend more than 100% on the dollar for roads and schools.
Johnson – helped get BRAC jobs, “understands the needs and will deliver”.
Ivey – “focused”, designate senior staff to liaison with City / County leaders to cut red tape, “count on Kay Ivey”.
Potts – Statewide audit, tax-free bonds for infrastructure, subdivisions pay their way, air / water quality of life.

General Jim Link asked for specific ideas to boost the economy:

James – “keep taxes down”, incentivize existing businesses, regulations – “get Government out of the way”.
Byrne – use Universities as key asstes, cited 2-year college Robotics Center, create “Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship”.
Johnson – get all the BRAC jobs here that are allocated, improve State image, grow exports.
Ivey – economic liberty, entrepreneurship, elevate Office of Economic Development to Cabinet level, workforce development and education.

Unfortunately, I missed Potts’ and Bentley’s answers, as well as Gary Palmer’s question along with the responses to his question from most of the candidates.  We’ll pick back up with Bentley and James’ responses to Palmer’s question:

Bentley – unfunded teachers retirement is huge problem ($5.4 billion plus $1 billion for employee health care), need to refinance over 30-year cycle.  Need Health Savings Accounts. Likes Representative Greg Canfield’s Rolling Budget Plan.
James – elect Republicans to the State House and Senate.

 *** MORE ***

Mayor Loretta Spencer asked about forming a ‘Transportation Commission’ to hire the Alabama Department of Transportation Director:

Johnson – supports “taking the politics” out of road construction.
Ivey – “the last thing you need is another layer of Government”.  Need a firm method of deciding road funding.
Potts – “committees spend money on studies but don’t get anything done”.
Bentley – every time this bill came up he voted for it, he voted against it this time because he’s running for Governor.  The Governor needs a single point of contact, not a commission.
James – no commission.  Removing politics from the process won’t happen.  Need one person in charge.
Byrne – not ready for a commission, maybe in the long term.

General Link said there are 33,000 people who work at Redstone Arsenal.  What role does the State play in protecting Federal jobs such as Constellation?

Ivey – listen and “keep economy healthy, healthy, healthy”.
Potts – keep a close relationship with Senators; work force development; ensure that education produces students who perform grade-level work.
Bentley – BRAC renegotiation in 2015; education; work with Senators and Representatives.
James – believes in limited government, interstate commerce and defense.  Cited lobbying office in Washington for the Air Force tanker program.
Byrne – “intense response to BRAC”.
Johnson – cited the moon landing, “we can’t sit on the sidelines” while China and Russia continue improving their space programs.


Sorry about this, out of time.  Only a few more pages of notes to post.  Maybe starting this post will motivate me to finish it – that’s the plan…

Winter Wonderland Forum

Tuesday, March 2 dawned with snow… fluffy chunks of what Les Phillip calls “Goreflakes”.  

The Republican Women of Huntsville held a gubernatorial forum at the Ledges, which is a beautiful place any day, but it was spectacularly beautiful in the snow.  Tim James on his Facebook said “the snow up in the hills was absolutely breathtaking”.

The forum was moderated by WBHP’s Will Anderson, who did a fine job of asking questions and pressing for answers.  I got to meet Will in person after the event – he recognized my name but couldn’t place it – I mentioned that I’d called his show once before and that we’d talked about Obama’s looming defense and NASA cuts (which have since happened).  I was impressed that Will recalled the conversation.  We also talked about Brian’s social skills (“wounded rat”) and Will’s compliments to Brian’s posts (calling Flashpoint the “Heritage Foundation of Alabama”).

The forum agenda called for each of the five candidates attending (Robert Bentley, Bradley Byrne, Kay Ivey, Tim James, and Bill Johnson) to give a short opening speech, followed by three questions each, and ending with closing remarks.  Here are some snippets:

Kay Ivey – “it’s women who manage money”
Bradley Byrne – “the #1 issue is not bingo, it’s putting our people back to work”
Bill Johnson – asked about education said “not everyone will go to college” and proposed improving technical and trade education
Bradley Byrne – asked about education said “we shouldn’t let the Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party (AEA’s Paul Hubbert) rob our children of their future”
Robert Bentley – asked about health care said “form Health Insurance Exchange” and ‘scholarships for medical students with committments to practice in underserved areas’
Kay Ivey – asked about her greatest single skill said “leadership standing on principle” and mentioned that she’s been vilified for PACT but that “Governors don’t get to choose crises”
Tim James – about PACT said “the problem is we lost balance” and that trust fund money should be more carefully invested
Bill Johnson – “always votes against taxes” because “it’s personal”
Tim James – “I’m a businessman” who’s “created private sector jobs”
Robert Bentley – “the State is in pain and you need a Doctor”

Thanks to the Republican Women of Huntsville for a great event – there were more than 250 people there – what a turnout!  I think the GOP is going to have a good year…