Tin Shop Tartan - Randolph County Alabama's Own Snarky and Surly Scot Gets All Native

Blogging from the suburbs of the Tin Shop community, Captain Plaid brings Progressivism, and a share of Quixotic angst, to the ridges and hollows of Randolph County, Alabama. Hardly a booster yet rooted here enough to fight, Plaidsters can perhaps find like cause in trying to build local solutions to global concerns. Education, environment, economy, entertainment, engagement ... Trust the Tartan!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Relay for Life, Alfa, Youngsters, & Aw Shucks

Just back from Relay. First thing in the gate I ran into Dean Wyser out campaigning and laid into him about Alfa. Dean holds a Director's position with Alfa. I bluntly told him that I was furious about how Alfa had once again helped kill Constitutional reform of Alabama's outdated and racist 1901 Constitution. Mr. Wysner said that he'd tell them my thoughts and I know they'll get a laugh should he. They've been ignoring, and actually scheming to stop, concerned citizens (that actually have some influence!) on this issue for many years. If Alfa gave a damn about the small farmers and regular folks in Alabama they'd stand aside and allow reasonable reform. They are the Biggest Mule in Alabama. Shamelessly selfish!

Good crowd. Good vibe. Enjoyed seeing all the young people. Some were especially vibrant, attractive, talented, energetic ... but I kept thinking how many will leave our community, possibly by choice yet most certainly by necessity. Very few people can remain here and perhaps many that do are making that sacrifice to try to have a decent place to raise kids. If parents are willing to make up the difference for what we lack in culture and the like Randolph County can be a rather nice place to grow up. Yet making a living here can be tough. And being single and a bit of a lefty bookworm to boot can be a challenge.

The second confrontation I had was with Mayor Spec Bonner. I had a couple of folks say, perhaps teasing but I think they meant it, that Mr. Bonner wanted to talk to me about my letter I'd placed in The Leader. So I walked up and asked him. He said he didn't want to see me but I told him I'd like to hear what he thought. He said he didn't understand what I wrote. "Aw shucks" ... just like his President. I said we'll you wrote ...

For the record here's what appeared in The Leader: "He wants everyone to boycott Citgo because of that nasty little despot who is running the government of Venezuela. If we do that, though, we must buy from those nasty Mid-Eastern oil barons who are killing our young men in Iraq or the ones in Iran who are busy making their nuclear bomb."

Mr. Spec then admitted that Miss Lissa wrote the letter. Mr. Bonner then just up and volunteered that if Chávez were killed it would by Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. That assertion freaked me out in how Spec might know this and yet I do think the military/industrial complex, especially in a multi-national world, is alive and well. I then said my only beef was their assertion that "oil barons" were killing our soldiers. More "aw shucks" from the Mayor. I told him as Mayor his allegations surely needed to have some factual basis but once again he tried "aw shucks". Now Bu$h deflects and dodges reporters and critics with his "aw shucks" and the like. But I kept after the Mayor. He then said something like "well it could be that those folks could be behind it". I said there's absolutely no evidence of this that I'm aware of and "Do you have any?". Cornered, game over, no more "aw shucks". I told him I was fed up with folks not knowing what our kids were facing in Iraq and we owed them that much. I left Mayor Bonner with "If you want to talk then you know where to find me."

I don't really care about being right as much as not wanting to be wrong. I want to use facts and reason to support what I advocate. Spec could not support what was written above his name to The Leader and, while I'd like the public to understand Iraq and that strategic portion of the world, especially when we have so much cultural tension now between Islamic nations and the West, I'm hardly optimistic than even a mea culpa would make much difference. Nationally I wish some ReThuglican leaders would challenge the lies and admit the incompetency of Bu$hCo. There's not much I can do on the national level to change the GOP Rubber Stamp Congress.

Locally however I do care that Dean Wysner simply can't be looking out for the little guy if he's supporting the Alfa stand. And he's not on that Board, which I think is a rather well compensated position, without towing the line. And to have Mayor Bonner leading Roanoke, a vital part of this whole area, doesn't give me positive feelings. Truthfully he never has appeared to be the best leader, although we've had some limitations in that area all over the county for some time, to see how he handled this one minor issue has given me a real jolt. We've got critical times in these next few years and we've got to have super solid folks up front that should be 100% dialed in to facts and policy and creativity. These kids I referenced above need serious LEADERSHIP to make our community better for their present. This need is especially true for making the option of remaining here, should that be what these kids want once they are grown, possible .

Peace ... or War!

See You at Wright Field for Relay for Life!

Supporting the wonderful work of The American Cancer Society, the Randolph County Relay for Life begins tonight and runs from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. in the morning at the Handley High School Athletic Complex (Wright Field.) ACS has a video that explains what they do ... just in case you have your doubts. Lots of fun! Most folks leave by 10 ish. Music and fun ... and probably some politics to boot! Peace ... or War!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dixie Outfitters, Dialogue, and Deliverance

I'll return to Dixie Outfitters and neo-confederates as able yet I know that Civil War profiteering continues. Here's to our proud heritage!

I am also getting some local dialogue on my posts at Captain Plaid and related blogs. I'm enjoying yet would certainly think the more the merrier.

Today we must celebrate the release of Jill Carroll. I'm heading out in fact to hoist one for Jill!

Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Letter to Editor in The Leader - Woops and Why!

Perhaps you came here looking for the link in The Leader. Surely I need an editor! If you tried to get to the link placed in the paper it might have returned a "page not found". I've yet to check but when I dropped the link in I expect it put the period behind the html. "My bad!" and "Sorry!" is all I can say. Blogger creates these file extensions from hell when you title the posts creatively. Here is the Hurst/Bonner/Handley post that you might be seeking.

And for the record I did not want to offend or be ugly beyond trying to bring some clarity to the issue. I think the world of Mr. Spec and Miss Lissa and have no problem with Mr. Hurst. I enjoy the debate and banter, feeling that we need more and not less of that sort of thing. Snark is part of blogging.

It should be clear that I simply loathe George W. Bu$h. This is so since I first studied him well before 2000. I can recall e-mailing a neice (in perhaps 1999) and pondering a GOP ticket of W and Liddy Dole. Yet as I scratched further into W I figured he was at best "all hat and no cattle". If I'd have know the future would involve the attacks of Islamist radicals on our soil I'd have been even more distressed. That Dead Eye Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld would be part of his administration would have put me over the edge. And with the exception of how George W. Bush handled things just right after 9-11 I'd argue I've been proven correct.

I also think Conservatism ... as applied by Reagan through Bu$h the Elder (and even Slick Willy who turned Republican Lite thanks to that darned Newt) and certainly this Bu$hCo cabal is poor policy. I can, however, have a reasoned debate with some of my conservative friends and colleagues from that end of things. I know that some of what the old school conservatives argue makes some sense. I am surely a lefty. More of a Progressive than a Liberal yet I personally think "Liberal" is hardly a dirty word. I'd actually think I'm a Moderate or Pragmatist or Populist or ... Can one be a "Propservralist"?

So why blog? Venting is part of it. Perhaps since I've been single and not in a serious relationship for some time now I have a little extra need to get things off my chest. Actually I am just seriously frustrated and frightened with the direction of our world. I enjoy writing, or what passes for it via my keyboard, and the process forces me to refine my thinking. I've learned a good bit I hope in these last few years. I surely wish I could have applied some of what I think I know now to my life some years ago. Blogging locally allows me to take some Lefty Progressive ideas and bring them to an audience deep here in the Red States where at times the Right drowns out that type of discourse. I do deeply care about this community and my world.

I am actually blogging at five locations now. Lots of links to various sources on most of the blogs. There's Captain Plaid where I tackle national/global issues. I post at Captain Bama on state/regional concerns. I use Tin Shop Tartan for local issues. There's Captain Jimi where I tackle the "cultural war" with my hardly fundamentalist ideas (via reasoning, science, compassion, etc.) on spirituality, sexuality, sexism, ... Finally I use Marque Stuart for my efforts at playing gardener, cook, host, etc.

I hope you'll challenge me when I'm deserving. Scold me when I need it. Prompt me when I missed something. CoRec tmy typos (I did that on purpose!) and critique my writing. Send me to articles, sources, gossip, sites, ideas, etc. Comments are welcomed and enjoyed, at least if they are offered in good faith and with a measure of class. I know I'll offer up some stuff that might be 100% wrong but I'd like to get it right. So tell me where I missed the mark. I'd love this blog to be a location where we can engage in change and activism. If you want to start your own blog then Blogger is easy enough and I'd be happy to share what I know. If you want to get me up some money and/or buy stuff via my links then that will keep me in Cutty yet it is hardly a profit-making effort. Why start being a good businessperson now?

Thanks for dropping by. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Philly, East Helena, and Randolph County

David Sirota has a piece in The Philadelphia Daily News entitled "Workers on the Slag Heap of History" that is relevant for our area. He writes,

... But today, in America, the richest country on earth, the gates of many towns welcome visitors with abandoned factories. And the communities these factories flank tell you more about what's really destroying America than any Wall Street analyst or Washington policy wonk ever could. ...

So, while East Helena, its rotting Asarco plant and its mistreated retirees may seem far away or isolated, the town's tale is not as distant as you think.

Unless our government starts outlawing these heists and forcing profitable multinationals to fulfill their promises to workers, East Helena's story may soon be coming to a community near you.

Federal leadership is required to avoid globalism and corporate greed from having drastic consequences. Peace ... or War!

Troup County Takes One for the Team?

Troup County Schools, which I can assure you aren't always hitting on all cylinders, made the AJC today with an opinion piece entitled Education takes a back seat to Kia. Some of the writing is rather shocking in that is reads,
Clearly the Kia plant will be welcome in an area of Georgia hard-hit by textile plant closings. But while Troup County was trading away future school funding for assembly line work, Kia officials were securing a deal that better reflects the value of education: HOPE scholarships will go to 10 children of Kia managers who wouldn't otherwise qualify for a HOPE scholarship because they didn't graduate from a Georgia high school; and an unspecified number of managers and family members will be granted waivers for in-state tuition at Georgia colleges and universities. (Clearly, Kia managers understand that U.S. workers won't be able to compete long-term against lower-cost countries in manufacturing.)

Education again comes out on the short end. Assembly line jobs for those kids that can't escape? By the time the waivers run out the world economy will have changed enough to where these jobs might migrate elsewhere. Peace ... or War!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Alabama's Drug Sale Enhancements Don't Work

I posted at Captain Jimi on reports of how Alabama's enhancements for drug sales within three miles of a school and/or housing authority don't work and are not fair. Given how many locals have been punished under these enhancements, one has to return to how many drug cases occur locally. That these enhancements often are especially hard on persons of color seems relevant. The links above also question the "wisdom" of the "War on Drugs". Peace ... or War!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tartan Turns to The Leader on Chávez & Iraq

I am in the process of mailing my very first "Letter to the Editor". The letter, likely sans links if it gets printed at all, appears below. I am wondering how the Corson's and SIFAT might view Chávez. They'd likely know more than me and yet I've tried to grab a decent set of sources before writing the piece. Here's my letter ...
While Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez might not be an ideal neighbor, he’s at least partially seeking justice for the many poor people in his country. Most of these poor are a blend of indigenous and African peoples. Chávez has pledged “sembrar el petróleo” (meaning “to sow the oil”) yet this country of haves and have nots has split on their support. Chávez is seemingly very popular with the many peasants of his country. Of course the oil will eventually run out, for Venezuela and the entire world, yet Chávez seems consistent in how he uses the vast majority of his nation’s oil revenue.

Chávez was originally elected in 1998 after a previously failed coup. Chávez has since been re-elected or survived recall efforts that have been observed by The Carter Center. Chávez survived an attempted coup in 2002 that he claims was at least partially supported by Washington. CITGO, based in Houston, is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Chávez is a socialist and rather anti-imperialist. His stand against neo-liberalism (free-market capitalism) has frustrated many wealthy people in Latin America and beyond.

Chávez is hardly a threat to the United States. When some U.S. Senators sought help last fall from the major oil companies on heating fuel costs for their lower income residents in northern states only CITGO responded. Ruffling some feathers of President Bush might have been the goal. Truly this populist also knows the value of stoking the significant anti-Americanism in Latin America. Chávez is close to Fidel Castro which has angered many in the Cuban-American community.

The bottom line is that CITGO employs thousands of Americans and supplies fuel to many small independent distributors. Boycotting in a global marketplace will do little for your “cause” Mr. Hurst but hurt local suppliers of a fungible asset traded on a global scale that neither you nor I can likely fathom.

As for Mr. Spec and Miss Lissa, I’m somewhat disappointed in your claim that “nasty Mid-Eastern oil barons” are involved in Iraq or Iran. Iran is a Persian nation with a Shiite theocracy in power. They are hardly close to the “barons”. Iraq was a rather secular society with a majority Shiite population controlled by the Baathist of Saddam Hussein. Sunnis were the minority yet they held a disproportionate amount of power. Kurds to the north had autonomy. Iraqis, and certainly Saddam Hussein, had a negative relationship with “Mid-Eastern oil barons”. The UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Oman were in Bu$h the Elder’s Coalition. Some islamists and insurgents in Iraq perhaps were educated in madrassas funded by “Mid-eastern oil barons”, often Saudi’s advocating “wahhabism”, yet they were hardly there before Bu$h’s ill-conceived war.

I first blogged on this issue at http://tinshoptartan.blogspot.com/2006/03/alan-and-spec-you-are-truly-reaping.html. Please visit for links to sources and further commentary. I’d emailed Mayor Bonner on the above post, and even personally asked him to reply, yet I’ve yet to hear from him.

Surely I could offer more yet The Randolph Leader limits me, appropriately I'd think, to 500 words. And without hyperlinks to drop in the writing gets a lot tougher. Truly blogging can be in many ways superior to traditional print media. Peace ... or War!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Our Health Care Crisis in Randolph and ...

Our local health care concerns will, if at all, really be only solved at the national level. We can and should work here but the complicated problem of assuring quality health care for all Americans can truly only be handled fully in DC.

We must elect representatives that will insist on meeting their constituents’ needs rather than that of Big Pharma and Big Insurance and Big Health Care. If they have not at least somewhat of a "Progressive philosophy" then they will simply follow the disaster that "wing nut Conservatism" has helped bring to our nation. If our politicians seeking or wanting to remain in office really believe "government is the problem" and that raw "market forces need to be allowed to work their magic" then please just say so. Then perhaps you could give me or another Progressive a chance to debate you. You can shill taking points and we'll talk facts and philosophy and vision and economics and ...!

Rural America faces special concerns but solutions for all of America can certainly apply here and the conservative solution will simply not work in our current setting. You really know it doesn't. Medicare and Medicaid are not going away. Nor is the New Deal. Get over it! Let's go for another approach that recognizes unfettered markets and profits for a few are not always the solution. Progressive planning can and will work. Even if it is not perfect then almost any neutral group or person knows, once the facts are examined, that things will be certainly improved radically by better and smarter and more just policies.

Organizations like the Center for American Progress make a strong argument that smart universal health coverage can work. They suggest

America’s health care system needs real reform. With American workers, businesses and health care providers as partners in the solution, we can provide affordable health coverage for all Americans within the current system. With real reform, the nation will be better off. Affordable health coverage provides a minimal level of economic security for all Americans, and allows them to save for retirement, plan for their children’s education, or buy a home. Affordable health coverage strengthens American businesses, improves individual health, and lowers health care costs for everyone.

Real reform must:

  • Provide affordable coverage for all Americans
  • Maintain choice of providers and health plans
  • Control health care costs
  • Make prevention a national priority
A Single Payer Health Care System is supported by groups as diverse as the United Methodist Church and the United Steelworkers Union and National Organization of Women and ... at Health Care Now. Several umbrella organizations are trying to move the debate forward such as Universal Health Care Action Network made up of several faith-based plus legal and medical and … groups. Americans For Health Care is a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that merits a visit.

The Making Health Care Work for All Campaign supports the Institute of Medicine's principles for health care reform:

  • Health care coverage should be universal.
  • Health care coverage should be continuous.
  • Health care coverage should be affordable to individuals and families.
  • The health insurance strategy should be affordable and sustainable to society.
  • Health care coverage should enhance health and well-being by promoting access to high-quality care that is effective, efficient, safe, timely, patient-centered, and equitable.
Our government established the Citizens' Health Care Working Group in 2003 . This group has been charged with presenting recommendations in the very near future. They have been and are presently holding meetings yet the nearest appear to be over in Mississippi. We could however even hold our own meeting locally with some resources provided by this group.

While the Bu$hCo tax cuts and his ReThuglican cabal’s war of choice in Iraq and Katrina and … have stretched the budget rather thin, the fact is that universal health care and an emphasis on prevention and accessible care is really smart money. Plus it is simply the right thing for our nation. And then we can actually solve education with a dash away from the Conservative chaos. And the environment needs Progressivism. And the economy must start working for middle class and poor Americans again. We could begin to pay down our debt and develop a wise energy policy. And then we could ...

Peace ... or War!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Cull Alabama's Racist 1901 Constitution

First of all, a tip of the tam to Between the Links. Indeed Randolph County would benefit from a new constitution. In fact it was partly because the Big Mules feared poor Hill and Wiregrass farmers taking some power that scared the wealthy industrialists and planters into drafting the dreadful 1901 Constitution. There is no doubt that "home rule" would be better than having to go to Goat Hill with our hat in hand to beg the Big Mules for permission to do even the most basic functions of local government. That wingnuts like The Alabama Christian Coalition and especially that vile Roy Moore are against reform ought to make enlightened Alabamians even more inclined to push for it.

For a bit of a history lesson allow me (and more importantly Professor Wayne Flynt!) to assure you this 1901 effort was mainly about reeling in "fusion" efforts of poor whites and blacks (they were all mostly poor) in challenging the power structures of the Big Mules. In Eufaula and all over the state violence was used against these populist efforts. Here is just some of the language that was placed in the document:

Day Two - And what is it that we want to do? Why it is within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution, to establish white supremacy in this State. This is our problem, and we should be permitted to deal with it, unobstructed by outside influences, with a sense of our responsibilities as citizens and our duty to posterity. ... The Southern man knows the negro, and the negro knows him. The only conflict which has, or is ever likely to arise, springs from the effort of ill-advised friends in the North to confer upon him, without previous training or preparation, places of power and responsibility, for which he is wholly unfitted, either by capacity or experience. When it comes, however, to dealing with the negro, in domestic service, or in a business way, the Southerner is infinitely more indulgent to him than his Northern compatriot. ... But if we would have white supremacy, we must establish it by law--not by force or fraud. ... These provisions are justified in law and in morals, because it is said that the negro is not discriminated against on account of his race, but on account of his intellectual and moral condition. There is a difference, it is claimed with great force, between the uneducated white man and the ignorant negro. There is in the white man an inherited capacity for government, which is wholly wanting in the negro. Before the art of reading and writing was known, the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxon had established an orderly system of government, the basis in fact of the one under which we now live. That the negro on the other hand, is descended from a race lowest in intelligence and moral preceptitions of all the races of men. ...
I'm going to save some, and there is plenty, for another day. But isn't this racist language enough! As Alabamians actually learn the history of this instrument's creation and how it has continually held our state back I think they will insist on trashing the whole wretched document. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Please Change Our Community!

I'm hardly surprised that Georgia developers see a gold mine here in Randolph County, despite the ways in which we seem to resist progress, for a place such as Reynold's Plantation over on Lake Oconee. I agree with The Randolph Leader that up front communication over any potentially controversial issue is vital. I have the understanding and some experience that leads me to think that Gerald Dial is rather handicapped in that talent. As for Ms. High and her POW-WOW group not getting cooperation over seemingly legitimate pollution concerns around Pineywood Creek then I am very disappointed, although hardly shocked, that Senator Dial and Representative Laird did not provide assistance. However, a portion of her letter to The Leader struck me as very odd. Ms. High writes,
You will have to decide if you want your towns overrun by outsiders who will change our community as you know it. You need to ask your churches if they think this is the next big play to make the county wet. Resorts need cocktail bars, and liquor stores and more bars won't be far behind.

I beg you to change my community Land Grabbing Developers! Go to the Lake Oconee site or The Ritz or The Atlanta Business Journal or ... and see if perhaps this is not a step in the right direction! This looks hardly like the type of arrangement where a bunch of liquorheads will come over here and act like fools. Senator Dial possibly has screwed this up yet I hope we can find out how to make the progress of Randolph County continue despite our often backwards looking population and the leadership that continues to represent us.

It is a shame that ultra-wealthy folks might be the only ones to be able to live the high life at such a place yet our economy surely could be boosted by Atlanta and Birmingham money entering this area. If the Fat Cats want to pay to play here then bless their hearts! Tax money for schools from investment, real estate taxes, and even Satan's alcohol! I hardly think we need to frighten outsiders away! Many of our locals would also love to have such a top drawer place where we might could drop by to experience the high cotton. Peace ... or War!

Update - The Montgomery Advertiser gives us reporting on the above issue here. I agree with Matt Hooton that this effort "could change the perception and complexion of this part of Alabama" but add that if we'll change the last part then eventually the first will follow.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lee County's "Growing Pains" Makes Me Hurt!

Growth does seem like not such a problem doesn't it? The Opelika-Auburn News points out that "A region with little hope for growth is a region in despair." This is true. Steve Dean of the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce offers up merely prayers in response to the sale of local enterprise Propex to Mohawk Industries but also something that is actually useful when he writes,
"While we are in the tier two and three bands possible location of industry, I believe we will find ourselves a "bedroom community" where people will live, play, and spend their hard earned money. With these new challenges comes great responsibility. As I encouraged last week, lets work together as a team of Randolph County Citizens to present ourselves with pride to those who will be searching for a new home."
"New home" prospects hardly will have downtown Roanoke entice them, as would many, many features of this community. A great number of people would rather pay more to live in Auburn with their solid schools, growth, eclectic communities, good roads, rising housing markets, entertainment, shopping, alcohol sales, educated neighbors, youthful population, an active social scene, moderate churches, Progressive leadership, bookstores, recreation, ... than live here. East Alabama is becoming "Auburn centered", and rightly so. With our abundant land and relatively low living costs we can be "close enough" to attract some families that are seeking a more rural setting but to get more of the top drawer prospects we've got to attempt radical changes for our locale. Simply having more "transitory workers" drop anchor here for the time being is hardly ideal and perhaps contrary to our best interests. Peace ... or War.

Monday, March 20, 2006

"Free Trade" perhaps not so "Free"?

Surely this piece by David Sirota is relevant to Randolph County and our area. Corporate profits are unfortunately often about finding the most "exploited labor". When the going gets tough, as in when wages rise, the tough gets going to a better location. With a global world, low skill jobs will likely move often under this current model. Is this arrangement where we buy cheap junk at Big Box Mart really the ideal? Peace ... or War!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Handley High Renovations - WOW!

I made it to "Open House" and was thrilled with what I saw. Randolph Leader picture accompanying the article on the event is worth the click plus there are details that I need not share. Yes, it took far too long and likely cost way too much but I'm still so happy for Roanoke students and educators.

Schools are an investment for our future. If in fact Roanoke/Randolph County hopes to attract satellite plants for KIA, or any industry/business/talent for that matter, having a wonderful facility such as I saw today has to help. I hope Roanoke will now start tackling downtown. In the county we need an animal shelter fully funded, building codes, Highway 431/22 improvements, taxed and legal alcohol sales, new blood in lots of positions, a new and improved Alabama Constitution allowing more home rule, a high speed wired county, etc.

On a personal note I also enjoying returning to my alma mater. I also taught at HHS in 1987-88. I saw only a few colleagues left from my teaching days and I think only one teacher there when I was a student. Walking those halls and visiting my old classroom helped me think about how much the world, including our little chunk here in East Alabama, has changed. No air conditioning back in the day! No computers! No internet! Think about the world twenty years down the road. Are we really educating kids for the jobs/world of the future?

I also bumped into Mayor Bonner. I told him I'd emailed him and I'd like to have him check his email. I really do want to hear what he has to say about this.

Finally, I also talked with Deputy Chris May and confirmed that he will be running for the Randolph County Circuit Clerk slot vacated by Kim S. Benefield. With no hesitation, I guarantee Chris would make a fine Circuit Clerk. I taught Chris, coached him as best as I could in junior high, and have know he and Autumn for many years. He's smart and polite and honest. I told him he'd be less likely to get hurt clerking than playing Deputy and eventually High Sheriff. He'd have more certain hours and likely less stress. That would mean much a family man that I know he is.

Peace ... or War!

Farming For The Local Market

Today I posted at Captain Bama on Mark Bevis who farms up in Pleasant Valley. He wrote a really nice editorial in today's Anniston Star about his experiences and mission. I put links at Marque Stuart to the Alabama Sustainable Agricultural Network and also Mark's cooperative Farmers' Foods. Truly some options exist as close as we are to Atlanta and other markets. We are within two hours of some tremendous numbers. Some of the wealthier and healthier people in these markets may very well pay for sustainably grown foods. This includes at least partially grass fed beef and free range poultry. I also think there might be markets for city slickers coming down for a farm/rural experience. Dude farms? What does Team Tartan think? Peace ... or War!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Any Localism From Our Local Media?

I posted today at Captain Plaid on the Telecom laws yet to come. Back in the mid 90s, and really even from Reagan's 80s, deregulation became a trend. From a national perspective, a healthy and vigorous free press is certainly necessary in a democracy to inform competent citizens. Here locally the issue of local information is also a concern. While The Randolph Leader and especially The People's Voice provide some activism in tackling issues, the reality is that neither circulates with the power and regularity of broadcast media. Radio and especially television is where many of the average local person gets "informed", using that designation in the most generous manner. And there is much to know as in fact so much information is now available.

Local radio stations (WELR AM & FM and WLAG AM) of Eagle's Nest, Inc. seem to have a right leaning orientation (Jim Vice is presently helping out Mike Rogers for instance.), as do many country geared outlets. Jingoistic and Christian songs (Jesus Take the Wheel" for instance!) and those telling us not "get above our raising" are regularly heard, although I'm not especially troubled by most. Paul Harvey often spings GOP talking points. James Dobson can at times give sage advice yet also shovel Republican "outrage" in their "culture war" strategy. Overall our direct local outlets are tolerable although I might offer some suggestions at a later point.

Here's the deal on regional media. A few groups control most of the content. The Future of Music Coalition conducted a study in the recent past. I'm copying in below a portion of their Executive Summary with my comments added parenthetically.


1. Ten parent companies dominate the radio spectrum, radio listenership and radio revenues. Deregulation has allowed a few large radio companies to swallow many of the small ones. Together these ten parent companies control two-thirds of both listeners and revenue nationwide. Two parent companies in particular, Clear Channel and Viacom, control 42 percent of listeners and 45 percent of industry revenues. (In Alabama CC controls 30 stations with 45 in Georgia. Viacom has split off CBS with CBS Radio having 179 radio stations, the majority of which are in the nation's top 50 markets. From a quick glance I’d think most locals might be more influenced by Clear Channel as they have a big presence in Columbus. Clear Channel is closely tied to the Bu$hCo administration.)

2. Consolidation is particularly extreme in the case of Clear Channel. Since passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Clear Channel has grown from 40 stations to 1,240 stations -- 30 times more than congressional regulation previously allowed. No potential competitor owns even one-quarter the number of Clear Channel stations. With over 100 million listeners, Clear Channel reaches over one-third of the U.S. population.

3. Oligopolies control almost every geographic market. Virtually every geographic market is dominated by four firms controlling 70 percent of market share or greater. In smaller markets, consolidation is more extreme. The largest four firms in most small markets control 90 percent of market share or more. These companies are sometimes regional or national station groups and not locally owned.

4. Virtually every music format is controlled by an oligopoly. In 28 of the 30 major music formats, nationwide, four companies or fewer control over 50 percent of listeners.


5. A small number of companies control the news Americans hear on the radio. Four parent companies control two-thirds of the nation’s News format listeners. Two such firms, Viacom (now CBS) and Disney’s ABC Radio, also control major television networks. Locally WELR I think uses ABC.)

6. Format consolidation leads to fewer gatekeepers. A small number of companies control what music is played on specific formats. Coupled with a broad trend toward shorter playlists, this creates few opportunities for musicians to get on the radio. Further, overwhelming consolidation of these formats deprives citizens the opportunity to hear a wide range of music. (I hear the same few songs over and over! Also, I miss the Dixie Chicks! They in fact could be Exhibit A in the power of consolidated companies to keep music or views off the air!)

7. Increased format variety does not ensure increased programming diversity. …

8. A “twin bottleneck” limits musicians’ access to radio. Radio’s oligopolies interact with a five-company recording industry oligopoly, hurting musicians and citizens. Eighty to 100 percent of radio charts are dominated by songs released by the five (previously six) major label conglomerates. This “twin bottleneck” makes access to the airwaves even more difficult for musicians – and reduces choice for citizens. (I continue to be amazed at talent that I have stumbled across despite the fact that we'd likely never hear them on consolidated, corporate radio. Again, these are our public airways that have been licensed off to investors! Profits probably are placed way before anything even approaching Progressivism.)


9. Radio reaches a large portion of adults on a weekly basis, but time spent listening is at a 27-year low. (I’ve looked at XM or Sirius and will soon pull the trigger, especially if they can deliver it via a portable for me to listen to as I work about the Ponderosa.. I also listen to various online deliveries such as Radio Paradise or AccuRadio or .... I-Pods and MP3s and … new media are maybe saving the music yet free publicly owned airwaves ought to better serve the public as far as news and information and culture and …)

10. Citizens favor preservation of independent and locally owned stations. …

11. Radio listeners want less advertising. Industry wide, the amount of advertising per hour has grown significantly over the last several years. …

12. Radio listeners want to hear a wider range of music that includes local musicians….

13. Radio listeners want longer playlists with more variety. …

14. Citizens support action to stop “indie” promotion. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed support congressional involvement to curb the use of payola-like systems that use third parties to let record companies pay radio stations for airplay.

15. Citizens support efforts to grow low power FM radio. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents said they would welcome low power radio stations into their communities.


The radical deregulation of the radio industry allowed by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has not benefited the public or musicians. Instead, it has led to less competition, fewer viewpoints, and less diversity in programming. Deregulation has damaged radio as a public resource. (I love NPR! Woulda, coulda, shoulda from back in the early 20th century where we could have some approach like the BBC!)

This research makes an overwhelming case that market consolidation intended by the act does not serve the diverse needs of Americans citizens. Substantial ethnic, regional and economic populations are not provided the service to which they are entitled. The public is not satisfied and possible economic efficiencies of industry consolidation are not being passed on to the public in the form of improved local service.

Long post! The bottom line is that national decisions do influence us here. I am in no way suggesting that local media is seeking to do our community harm yet I naturally would like to see more Progressive ideas presented in all forums. That desire is of course why I blog. Peace ... or War!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Alan and Spec, You Are Truly Reaping What You Both Have Helped Sow!

Mayor Bonner (and Ms. Handley perhaps to a lesser extent although I know not her politics) have seemingly reaped what Spec's beloved GOP have sown. Mr. Bonner and Ms. Handley, with the Mayor appropriately acting as a private citizen/businessman, replied to Alan Hurst for his past rantings about gas gouging and Citgo and ... I've scolded Mr. Hurst a bit in the past myself for his arguments on demon alcohol.

Although Miss Lissa likely wrote the letter since she was a top drawer English teacher, they jointly respond to Mr. Hurst with,
He wants everyone to boycott Citgo because of that nasty little despot who is running the government of Venezuela. If we do that, though, we must buy from those nasty Mid-Eastern oil barons who are killing our young men in Iraq or the ones in Iran who are busy making their nuclear bomb.

First of all, NO "nasty Mid-eastern oil barons" are killing our young men (and women and reporters and peace activists and ... I'd add!) in Iraq. Then there are the many wounded soldiers! And stressed families! And the costs in equipment! And to the treasury! Like George Bu$h apparently, Spec and Lissa seem to not know their geo-politics or world history or ...

The Iraqi Kurds had been rather autonomous since Daddy Bu$h spanked Saddam in 1991. The minority Sunnis, especially the Baathists (with which Rumsfeld is now renewing old ties) linked up with Hussein, were hardly close to the "oil barons" to the Southwest. Remember Kuwait? The UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman ... were all our our side! Or at least the Bu$h family's side! Most of the 9-11 terrorist were from Saudi Arabia yet the "barons" are certainly doing business with the U.S., including the President's own younger brother Neil ... and with Daddy still heavily invested. Plus, the U.S. gets less than 15% of our oil from the Middle East!

Of course I'll cut Spec and Lissa some slack where I can't for their President who got so much wrong ... and apparently still does. The Bu$hCo cabal had lots of people at their disposal that did try to tell them they were getting into a mess yet they gamed the intelligence and misled us into Iraq and away from where bin Laden and his organization had at least somewhat been centered. Now al Qaeda is in Iraq yet they were not before Bu$hCo ignored many experts in entering AND certainly occupying this nation. The just released reports on Cobra II shed new light into this disaster of an administration. And then we had some bad luck with understandably misinterpreted intelligence.

Also, Iran is a Persian society for the most part! They are rather hostile to the "Mid-Eastern oil barons" in that Iran is controlled by a theocracy of mullahs. Iranians mostly speak Farsi rather than standard Arabic! The Saudis are telling the Iranians to back off on the nuke issue. Plus the Iranian President claims, perhaps lying as often as George Bu$h does, that they are intending the nuclear program only for producing power. There is a strong reform movement in Iran yet that perhaps not that brilliant Condi Rice wants to drop seventy five million into Iran which will only move reformers into questionable positions with their citizenry.

Additionally, that "nasty little despot" in Venezuela was elected and has the support of most of his people. And with his recent "discount" possibly a fair number of poor people in Philadelphia! I think Bu$h is down to the mid thirties right now!

Returning to Mr. Hurst, he and other misinformed people are required for the simple ideas that make up the ReThuglican Party of today. "Think tanks" that churn out quasi-research are well funded and the GOP Mighty Wurlitzer is truly amazing. They've got tons of money! They manipulate power and influence as no group has ever attempted. Conservatives have had power for essentially the last twenty five years, largely in how they've taken folks like Alan Hurst and put him to work, yet we've seen what the lower and middle class in America have gotten from Reagan's trickle down supply side theories.

As to the gas prices, it is certainly partly related to supplies reduced by the war and the tensions Bu$hCo had caused in the world. Then there is China and India and ... At least Halliburton is doing fine! Spec, Lissa, and Alan should all sit down together and discuss their "ideas" on politics and policy. I bet sooner or later they'd realize they have both had a bit of reaping what they've each been sowing! Peace ... or War!

Teaching or Preaching - I feel your pain Pastor!

Last week I missed Faith Baptist Pastor Carl Partain's weeping and gnashing. His letter to the editor titled "Preaching being replaced by entertainment" started me wondering if perhaps young people might care for hearing about God as much as they do Geography. Or Government! Or History!

Now I hardly think we need more of the Gospel that I imagine is presented via Faith Baptist in Roanoke. I'd personally like to see and experience more of the "Social Gospel" all over our county and beyond. I think we've got more than enough of Faith's fundamentalism around here yet perhaps not. I am OK with whatever anybody wants to believe. "Whatever gets you through the night!" has always been my idea on other people's religion. But Brother Partain is certainly on to a huge concern for all of us with the idea that our society is very "artificial" and of "this world".

Returning to the Pastor, he writes,
We try to do everything in our power to figure our why our kids are not interested in church. It is because our churches have dropped their standards to cater to a dying society. Parents have lost their burden and zeal for the things of God, so why wouldn't their children?

I figure that learning about the Gospel (or Government or Geography or ...!) begins at home and can be also influenced by society. Dropping standards? You can't imagine! We've got a real mess Pastor. You are worried about their souls but I'm worried about their/our survival and ideally their/our success. I expect it is hard to put the fun in fundamentalism especially.

I'd also suggest that most of these children have not grown up with the foundational truths of all major religions. They've however likely been saturated with a culture full of filth and materialism and anti-intellectualism and short term satiation and ... Many of their parents have had to work long hard hours to keep the bills paid in an increasingly tough harsh economy that seems to mostly work for the upper class. I also know this generation has been extraordinarily entertained. Many are spoiled and some have been let down by their parents in the most foundational ways. From drugs to sex abuse to latch-key kids to ... I've seen it Sir! And I feel your pain!

Working on the adults might be the place to start yet we can't forget about the kids of today. I also believe in solid research that suggests what actually occurs via the classroom teacher yields only about 10% of actual learning. Accordingly, it might not be "our fault" that our efforts go unrewarded much of the time. Good luck to you/us Pastor! We are all going to need it!

Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

West Point/Troup/GA Pay So Some Here Can Stay

Captain Bama was a little critical of the incentives that lured Kia to West Point. For folks here in Randolph County, the news is perhaps more positive. I've seen figures that suggest Georgia will spend $160,000.00 for each job created. Ouch! I think Kia had Sonny Perdue up for election with the power structure in Troup desperate for some good news and got the Peach State to give away the farm. As close as we are surely some of our people can get work there. These jobs and others that supply them will pay as much, if not more, than many industrial jobs that are increasingly being outsourced. With our costs of living being moderate compared to many locations some people that want to hang around perhaps might be able to do so. Lots more that we must do if tranforming our quality of life toward a Progressive community is the goal. However, Kia locating nearby can likely do more good than harm. Peace ... or War!

Mad Cows, Cramped Chickens, Sick Birds, Dirty Hogs, Stray Dogs/Cats ..

I posted at Captain Bama on the news that "mad cow" has made it into Alabama. Might really ding the local beef market yet it appears she was an old cow from before the ban on "protein supplementation" (you don't want to ask!) applied. I also tackled factory farming, with our county having a fair share of poultry houses but to my knowledge no hog houses (yet?), that is hardly the agrarian ideal. It might be an increasingly scarce way for folks to stay on the land yet there are perhaps alternatives such as free range chickens and grass fed beef like at Thundering Hooves out West. As close as we are to Atlanta there might be an opportunity here? Bird flu looms and I'm not real confident the Bu$h Administration can handle much of anything these days. And we've of course got our need for an appropriately funded animal shelter that is hardly getting local support. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Poverty in Randoph County and Alabama

Randolph County has, according to 2000 Census data, 22,380 people. Of those, we have 3,695 living below the poverty level. That puts us at 17%. Alabama has 4,447,100 people as of 2000. 698,097 or 16.1% live below the poverty level.

I posted today at Captain Plaid my thoughts on a Washington Post opinion piece confronting the fact that incomes for the lower and middle rungs in our society have remained stagnant compared to the elite in these last twenty five years. Wilcox has over 40% poverty and even Shelby has 6.3% with experts like AU history professor expressing confusion that such an evangelical state can tolerate such conditions. And even more troubling view would be given if the archaic Orshansky Threshold for determing poverty were not applied.

Damned if doing this isn't worth it simply for helping me organize my thoughts and gain exposure to new ideas in that I've just discovered The Alabama Poverty Project. I'll add to Captain Bama post haste!

Peace ... or War!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Circuit Clerk's Office Opens Up as Benefield Exits for Full Time Grandma in Chief Role

The Probate Judge race was the one to watch yet our Circuit Clerk election might be the fun one now. The lovely and capable Kim S. Benefield says she's done her time. Well done Kim S! We'll miss you yet go play Grandma! Your capable crew I hope will remain in place as they are simply superb. Word on the ridge is that Dean Wysner is jumping from the Probate Judge slot to seek the office across the hall. That apparently leaves Vickie Cummings as the Republican nominee to square off against incumbent George Diamond ... unless Jimmy McKinney pulls an upset. Dean may very well get the GOP endorsement, officially or otherwise, and that would solve some awkwardness for their party when Wysner entered late after Cummings was set for their candidate. I am expecting several more to jump in this fracas and I do hope the James Harris' Democrats can field several legitimate candidates. I'll keep Team Tartan posted as I hear more. Peace ... or War!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Randolph County Animal Shelter Pledges Sought

Pledge drive is being launched. I can email a form or drop one on the web if anybody requests the same. I'll pledge at least $100.00 a year. If everybody in Randolph County could give $5.00 a year they'd have the $100,000.00 needed to budget the shelter annually. Our County Commission is apparently not being as cooperative as they could be. I'm shocked, shocked! Peace!

FDR's Legacy for Randolph County and Our World

Lat night I had the pleasure of meeting and then talking with Bob Fincher, Randolph County's GOP Chairman. We were at Vickie Cummings' Probate Judge campaign kickoff at Chris Mitchum's amazing warehouse. From an initial impression, Mr. Fincher comes across as a good and smart man. Bob was railing about irresponsibility and the positives of small government with Roosevelt's New Deal blamed for starting the whole slide into the ruin of our nation.

If I recall Bob's history correctly wasn't he with the USDA or Soil Conservation Service or ... ? Maybe he helped hand out this? Total USDA Subsidies from farms in Randolph County, Alabama totaled $3,061,000 in from 1995-2004. Welfare is bad right Bob? Anyhow, Bob is seemingly a true believer in the old ReThuglican saw about limited government. Is Bob like Grover Norquist wanting to get government "small enough to drown in a bathtub", always ready in helping out his Buddy Black Jack . Or is he, and especially his GOP, following William F. Buckley whom Bob claims as his inspiration?

I can at least understand Mr. Buckley's logic, even if I don't agree with all of it, and most surely wish the intellectuals of Bob's beloved GOP were in charge of the White House and the Capitol. But they aren't and can't be ... if they are honest with what they want to see happen to our society. Most American still believe FDR was correct. Here's why perhaps?

I grew up hearing stories of REA running power to the rural ridge here above Roanoke. An aunt still talks about Hoover Days. I recall visiting Warm Springs as a wee lad and having my father speak of Roosevelt is the most reverent way when I returned and told him what I'd seen. I have read David Kennedy's Freedom From Fear in the process of writing a graduate level piece on FDR that seemed solid to me and most importantly to my Professor down on the Plains. And then I read it again! My paper built off the idea that Roosevelt knocked some of the rough edges off capitalism to save our society. Progressive and pragmatic and willing to surround himself with (and then listen to!) smart people, FDR was hardly perfect yet his ideas still hold much truth. With a hat tip to Greg at FireDogLake for this link, I am providing a portion of what FDR left us with in his last State of the Union.
... It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth- is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness. We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:
*The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
*The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
*The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
*The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
*The right of every family to a decent home;
*The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
*The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
*The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being. America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis-recently emphasized the grave dangers of "rightist reaction" in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called "normalcy" of the 1920's—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.

I ask the Congress to explore the means for implementing this economic bill of rights- for it is definitely the responsibility of the Congress so to do. Many of these problems are already before committees of the Congress in the form of proposed legislation. I shall from time to time communicate with the Congress with respect to these and further proposals. In the event that no adequate program of progress is evolved, I am certain that the Nation will be conscious of the fact.

Our fighting men abroad- and their families at home- expect such a program and have the right to insist upon it. It is to their demands that this Government should pay heed rather than to the whining demands of selfish pressure groups who seek to feather their nests while young Americans are dying. ...

I have often said that there are no two fronts for America in this war. There is only one front. There is one line of unity which extends from the hearts of the people at home to the men of our attacking forces in our farthest outposts. When we speak of our total effort, we speak of the factory and the field, and the mine as well as of the battleground- we speak of the soldier and the civilian, the citizen and his Government.

Each and every one of us has a solemn obligation under God to serve this Nation in its most critical hour—to keep this Nation great— to make this Nation greater in a better world.

Democrats can indeed run on and win on the issues and Progressive solutions as we are right and Republicans are wrong. Thrown off by ReThuglican tactics and their serious party discipline plus The Mighty Wurlitzer and ... average Americans have been sold an illusion. Might want to get ready Bob! Soon the pendulum may swing our way? FDR might be the start of this movement back. Your crew used The Cold War for a long, long time to scare the hell out of America. Then y'all started the false Culture War which still gets some Red State Evangelicals riled up. Now they'll work with The Global War on Terror. However, America still respects the ideals of Roosevelt and the remnants of his vision for our world. On our increasingly small planet we all should embrace the legacy of FDR. Progressives may have to lead the way in reminding Americans yet we'll win on the ideas if we can be given a chance to be heard. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

American Cancer Society Relay for Life

Local efforts on the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life appear in The Randolph Leader. I offer Patty Hendon Gunn DOD 3-19-79 as my reason for Relay. Barbara Anthony, my surrogate mother, comes next. I miss you both! Peace ... or War!

Local Casualties of the Drug War?

Randolph County indictments reported in today's Randolph Leader show a disproportionate number of drug cases. While there was a fair number of sex cases, it seems from an initial glance that most cases involved controlled substances. And one could possibly argue that many of the other cases, and probably plenty that have yet to be resolved, involved drugs. While I'm ranting, for the record, I'll suggest that "Theft by Fraudulent Leasing" cases are a waste of law enforcement resources. "Lock them up and ..." ideas of course relate to today's earlier post on the overcrowding of our county jail. Are these folks without blame? Hardly! Still, there are intelligent and effective options that must be exhausted before we send these people fully into the criminal justice system. The Drug Policy Alliance is a good starting point for any discussion on illegal drug issues. Walter Cronkite recently wrote a solid opinion piece at HuffPo on the failures of the War on Drugs. Peace ... or War!

Politically Popular but Fiscally Irresponsible

The Randolph Leader is correct in suggesting the Randolph County jail is filled beyond capacity. They are incorrect in laying all of the blame on Goat Hill. "Most" would pass yet our locally elected District Judge Pat Whaley often loads up our jail in his zeal to show that he is "tough" on crime, especially alcohol offenses. His "community service" policy is frankly draconian and questionable under the 8th Amendment. With Judge Whaley providing labor to his brother-in-law County Engineer Burrel Jones his practice is especially questionable. I agree the Department of Corrections is fully wrong to continue to house state inmates beyond what the law provides yet there is a local component to our problem. I also believe the whole philosophy of conservative solutions to crime is misplaced. Education, opportunities, economics ... will still do much solve our crime solutions. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Alabama's Tipping Point?

The Anniston Star Opinion Page gives us yet another look at our 1901 Constitution. Poor planning, or more likely no planning, is a given with our local community it seems yet trashing the power of the Big Mules over Goat Hill and thereby the whole state is a good start. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Down on Downtown

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a Main Street program that seems rather promising. This Main Street section gives us the following language:

Your downtown or traditional commercial district is the most visible indicator of community pride, along with its economic and social health. It is either an asset or a liability in the effort to recruit new residents, new businesses and industries, retirees, tourists, and others to your community and to keep those you already have. Quality of life is what separates successful cities and towns from declining communities in the new millennium. Finally, your downtown or neighborhood commercial district is the visual representation for your community's heritage. The architecture of your commercial district is a physical expression of your community's history.

Be sure to check out their quotes page. I’ll be returning often to the complicated and colossal problems relating to downtown renovation which is so relevant for all of Randolph County, especially in Roanoke. Working with the language above, I think we’d all have to say downtown Roanoke would qualify as a major LIABILITY! Peace … or War!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dry - Not Dirty Nor Demonic!

In the March 1, 2006 edition of The Randolph Leader, Alan Hurst of Louina Street claims an effort to “make the county wet” is looming. Upset that an individual from Clay County (presumably Matt Hooton from The Birmingham News article apparently referenced by Mr. Hurst) is behind this “demon” that will “dirty” our county, Mr. Hurst wants our elected officials to state their position, presumably wanting them to think as he does. Mr. Hurst also urges all of Randolph County, especially all Christians, to stand up against this effort. This Scot stands against your position Sir! And here’s why …

As far as dirtying our county, Mr. Hurst needs to drive up 59 and see the fast food wrappers and other litter, including beer cans/bottles and even the occasional liquor bottle, alongside the road. Alternatively, he could drive through downtown Roanoke, and to a lesser extent any of our municipalities, and see how clean and attractive things look. Perhaps he could examine the junkyards and run down properties that dot our landscape? Or he could consider the neglected and mistreated animals that our county can’t seem to deal with. Just recently when I reluctantly darted into Big Box Mart I noted how many obese, cigarette smoking, nastily dressed, gap toothed folks were waddling around. I actually thought of our wet-dry votes and laughed. For the sake of our children … quit eating and try a little exercise! As far as a demon I could give you either John Giles of the Alabama Christian Coalition or Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition. And of course our kids are so sheltered from alcohol ads when they watch TV or simply go out into the world.

In this week’s Leader, Roanoke reported I think four and the County two alcohol cases. I’ve seen the local revenue courts in action and I know the volume of alcohol related cases that crowd our dockets and then load up our jails. District Judge Whaley has done plenty of harm to our reputation and tourist potential with his draconian sentences for even a minor VPL. Community service in the order of days for a beer! What is he thinking? Perhaps the Learned Judge is overcompensating for his family history?

In 2003 Cedar Bluff’s Mayor Bob Smith gave his insights on his city’s pending vote to legalize alcohol sales and from the recent Birmingham News article cited above it would appear that Matt Hooton’s reasoning is in line with what Mayor Smith offered. I’ll be assembling some more information as I’m able yet I’ve already contacted Matt Hooton to offer any assistance I can. It was a close vote last time and I’m rather optimistic. Peace … or War!