The Randolph Leader: Columns

  • Roanoke, Randolph County, Alabama — April 28, 2016
  • Randolph County’s News Source Since 1892
default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
Not you?||
Logout|My Dashboard

Columns

Wednesday 04/27/2016
Flowers: People want to vote on lottery
Posted: April 27, 2016

As the budget hearings began for the 2016 Legislative Session in January the largest Powerball lottery sweepstakes in American history was playing out. It was one of the biggest news stories of the year, thus far.

Comments (0)
Jackson: Drinking in the Heart of Dixie--Part 2
Posted: April 27, 2016

(This is the second in a series of columns that trace the history of efforts to regulate the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Alabama. What follows is an updated and expanded version of an article by the author that first appeared in The Anniston Star back in 2008.)

Comments (0)
Wednesday 04/20/2016
Flowers: Groundhog Day in the Legislature
Posted: April 20, 2016

Some of you may have seen and remember the movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray. In the comedy, Murray awakens on Groundhog Day and has the identical day that he had the previous year, similar to Yogi Berra's colloquial saying of "déjà vu all over again." Well folks, this year's legislative session began on Groundhog Day and it is déjà vu all over again. It is like it is last year again.

Comments (0)
Jackson: Drinking in the Heart of Dixie
Posted: April 20, 2016

(This is the first in a series of columns that trace the history of efforts to regulate the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Alabama. What follows is an updated and expanded version of an article by the author that first appeared in The Anniston Star back in 2008.)

Comments (0)
Wednesday 04/13/2016
Jackson: How Bentley's scandal stacks up
Posted: April 13, 2016

As the saga of Gov. Robert Bentley played out in the press and in the "social media" (a term I love to hate) I could not help but think about how the Bentley scandal compares to scandals of past politicians who governed in and around Alabama.

Comments (0)
Flowers: Bentley likely to serve out term
Posted: April 13, 2016

There appears to be very little interest in promoting an effort to impeach Governor Robert Bentley.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 04/06/2016
Jackson: A senior prom for seniors
Posted: April 06, 2016

Like most high schools, the one my daughter attends holds a senior prom.

Comments (0)
Flowers: Legislature cannot cast stones
Updated: April 06, 2016 - 8:02 am

In early 2009 Dr. Robert Bentley came to see me about his race for governor of Alabama. Bentley was finishing his second term in the Alabama House of Representatives and closing down his very successful dermatology practice in Tuscaloosa.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 03/30/2016
Jackson: RIP Spring Break PCB?
Posted: March 30, 2016

In the past this was the time of year when, all along the sandy stretch from Mobile Bay to St. Andrews Bay, beach businesses were gearing up for the weeks of profits that would fill coffers depleted during the lean months of winter.

Comments (0)
Flowers: Trump making politics interesting
Posted: March 30, 2016

This has been an exciting election year when it comes to presidential politics. It has been an extraordinarily unusual and unpredictable presidential contest to say the least, especially on the Republican side.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 03/23/2016
Jackson: RIP Spring Break PCB?
Posted: March 23, 2016

In the past this was the time of year when, all along the sandy stretch from Mobile Bay to St. Andrews Bay, beach businesses were gearing up for the weeks of profits that would fill coffers depleted during the lean months of winter.

Comments (0)
Flowers: There's more power in the Legislature
Posted: March 23, 2016

In the literary classic, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," the author draws parallels to a nation that was on top of the world and because of perverse, grandiose and pompous behavior that dynasty self-destructed and destroyed itself. It was from reading this documentary that the Russian premier Khrushchev believed that we, the United States, would destroy ourselves, thus causing him to brashly declare, "We will bury you."

Comments (0)
Wednesday 03/16/2016
Flowers: Where are past politicians now?
Posted: March 16, 2016

A good friend and loyal reader suggested to me that he would like to see a column titled, "Where Are They Now?" Then I ran into former Gov. Albert Brewer at a Birmingham restaurant and it prompted me to do that column. Gov. Brewer has always been admired by Alabamians as one of the finest people to have ever served in state government. I got to know Gov. Brewer when I was a young page in the Alabama House of Representatives and Brewer was a youthful Speaker of the House. In fact, he has the distinction of being the youngest Speaker in state history. He was elected to the House from Morgan County at 28 and became Speaker during only his second term at age 33. In 1966, he was elected lieutenant governor. While serving as lieutenant governor, Lurleen Wallace succumbed to cancer and Brewer became governor in 1968. He ran for a full term in 1970. In the most memorable and momentous governor's race in history, Brewer and George Wallace clashed. He led Wallace in the initial voting but Wallace overtly played the race card and overcame Brewer in the runoff to become governor again. Brewer made another run for governor in 1978 but Fob James came out of nowhere to defeat the three B's, Bill Baxley, Jere Beasley and Albert Brewer. Since leaving politics, Gov. Brewer returned to the practice of law then began teaching at Samford's Cumberland School of Law, where he has counseled and mentored students and young lawyers, including my daughter Ginny, for more than 20 years. Gov. Brewer has remained active in governing in Alabama through the Public Affairs Research Council. At 87, he is in good health and enjoys his life in Birmingham. Another former governor, John Patterson, is 94. He lives on his ancestral land in Goldville in rural Tallapoosa County. Patterson has the distinction of being the only man to beat George Wallace in a governor's race. Wallace was a fiery circuit judge from Barbour County and Patterson was a squeaky-clean law and order segregationist young attorney general. Patterson beat Wallace soundly in that 1954 race and became the youngest governor in state history. He was only 33 years old when he took office as governor in January of 1955. He was dubbed the "boy governor." Patterson was later appointed and then elected to the Alabama Court of Appeals and served with distinction as a jurist for over 20 years. He is enjoying his golden years on his farm and has a pet goat named Rebecca, who came to his house out of the blue and took up with him. Rebecca follows Patterson wherever he goes. She watches him intensely and animatedly seems to engage in conversation. Former Gov. Fob James is enjoying his retirement years at his Butler County farm and at Orange Beach. Fob actually retired about 40 years ago at age 40 when he and his brother, Cal, sold their Opelika industry, Diversified Products. Fob chose to spend his personal money to surprise Baxley, Beasley and Brewer in 1978 to win the governor's race in one of the most notable gubernatorial contests in state political history. Fob was elected governor again in 1994. He is the only person in state history to win the governor's race first as a Democrat then as a Republican. Bill Baxley was elected Attorney General of Alabama in 1970 at age 28. He became not only the youngest person elected attorney general in Alabama history but he was the youngest state attorney general in the nation's history. Baxley served two terms as attorney general from 1970 to 1978, then came back as lieutenant governor from 1982 to 1986. Baxley has a successful law practice in Birmingham and is doing well at age 75. At age 66, Jim Folsom, Jr. is the youngest former governor. He and Marsha live in their native Cullman. They both look great, as always, and are enjoying their life. Perry Hooper Sr., who was one of the founders of the modern Republican Party in Alabama, is 90. He is retired and living in his beloved Montgomery. He became probate judge of Montgomery County with the 1964 Goldwater Republican landslide. He later became the first Republican Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and paved the way for our current day all Republican Supreme Court. See you next week. Steve Flowers'weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

Comments (0)
Jackson: Never meeting Harper Lee
Posted: March 16, 2016

 The news of Nelle Harper Lee's death reminded me of the times I almost met her, but didn't. The first was in 1962. I was a sophomore at Marion Military Institute and the editor of the school literary magazine. The magazine's advisor suggested that we include a couple of interviews with Alabama authors. I suggested Harper Lee. Now let me say that at the time all I knew of Harper Lee was that she had written a book that I had not read, and she had won some prize for it. And that she lived in Monroeville. Well, I knew Monroeville. It was about 30 miles east of my hometown. I visited there frequently, paying court to a young lady who eventually rejected my overtures and went on to live a productive and happy life without me. So, with unrequited love and geography on my side, I told the editorial board that I would go unto Monroeville, look up the author, and get the interview. Thus, without fear or knowledge or letter of introduction, I drove to Monroeville. Ah, the audacity of youth. I arrived, inquired at the local Dairy Bar where I might find the Lee home, and was directed to it. That was when the fear overtook me. I drove by it, turned around, drove by again, and again, but I simply could not bring myself to stop, go up to the front door, knock, and if Miss Lee herself did not answer, ask to speak to her. So I drove away. Over the years, as her fame grew, I rationalized my cowardice by telling myself that the author was probably in New York and vowed that if I ever got the chance again, I would make that visit. I never did. Years later, when a Monroeville friend told me that Harper Lee was signing copies of her book for sale at the Courthouse Museum, I ordered one. A short time later, when she discovered that someone was selling what she signed on eBay at a jacked-up price, she quit the signing. However, when I got my copy, I was bold enough to write and thank her. She replied with the first of the few letters we exchanged. By then her health was deteriorating, her eyesight was failing, and she was on the path that led to the assisted living facility where she spent her last days. It was in this interval that another friend told me that she could arrange a visit and advised me that when that visit took place I should bring fresh fruit, especially berries. But each planning was derailed by something. Meanwhile I followed with interest the controversy that surrounded Marja Mills's book The Mockingbird Next Door, which some folks close to the Lee sisters (Nelle and Alice) said was more fiction than fact. I wanted to believe otherwise, because among the books Miss Lee supposedly recommended for Mills to read if she wanted to understand Alabama was one of mine. I thought I'd ask her about that when we met. Then Go Set a Watchman was published, and up boiled the controversy over an Atticus who was not the racially tolerant paragon of virtue that appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird. If I visited, would that come up? The Atticus in Watchman was like so many men of my father's generation who sincerely believed in the system that we, the enlightened young, came to question. But I never visited, so it never came up. Just as well, for as we say down in south Alabama, some swamps just don't need draining. Now she is gone. And I am left to wonder what we would have talked about if I had dropped by. Probably Alabama history and the things our adjacent counties have in common. We might have gotten a chuckle over why the boundary between the counties does not follow the river, as boundaries usually do, a variation that gave her county the best bottom land but also Packer's Bend, which was once a bootleggers paradise. I could have told her the story of the probate judge in my county who died in the arms of his political rival's wife, and she could have told me . . . I will never know. I did not go to her funeral. I don't do funerals well. My sainted mother once told me she had hoped I would be a preacher, but by the time I reached my teens she had given up on that. For my part, I think the funeral aspect of a preacher's duties would have been what did preaching in for me. They sent her off as she wanted to be sent off--with as little fuss as possible. Some folks say that Harper Lee was Scout, the narrator of her novel. Others say she was Boo. I think I'll go with Boo. Harvey H. ("Hardy") Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at hjackson@cableone.net.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 03/09/2016
Jackson: Remembering life in a mill village
Posted: March 09, 2016

There was the headline.

Comments (0)
Flowers: Political lessons from Albert Brewer
Posted: March 09, 2016

One of the finest men to ever serve in Alabama government is Albert Brewer. He is one of the most quality and highest caliber individuals to ever rise to the governor's office. Brewer hailed from Morgan County in the heart of the Tennessee Valley. He was first elected to the legislature from Decatur in 1958 at the very young age of 28. He was identified early as a rising star. In fact, his star was meteoric. During his second term in 1962, he was elected speaker of the House at age 32. An unheard of feat. Besides being on a political fast track by the time he was in mid-30s, Brewer was also considered one of the best attorneys in Decatur. He is a kind, considerate, and genuinely sincere man with the most pleasant and contagious smile and countenance. Once you meet Albert Brewer you immediately warm up to him and like him. His smile and disposition can melt the most hardened enemy. Gov. Brewer became especially dear to me. When I first met Gov. Brewer, I was a 12-year-old page from Troy and Brewer was speaker of the House. My mentor and sponsor was my representative from Troy, Mr. Gardner Bassett. Mr. Gardner was in his 70s and he loved Brewer. Since Mr. Gardner and I were close, he got me acquainted with the young speaker from Morgan County. Brewer graciously took me under his wing and would let me run special errands for him. Occasionally he even let me sit next to him in the presiding officer's chair. This pleased Mr. Gardner because he had told Brewer of my love of politics and that when Mr. Gardner retired that I would run for and take his House seat. That is eventually what happened. Therefore, it was no secret to Brewer that I aspired to get into politics and eventually run for the legislature. He and Mr. Gardner would share legislative stories and history with me. When Brewer became lieutenant governor in 1966, he took me over to the Senate with him to be head of the pages. This allowed me to work in the legislature during the summer while growing up. One day Brewer said he wanted to tell me a campaign secret. He began his lesson by explaining that when you get ready to run for the legislature you should start your campaign in the country. He then explained why. It was based on the old bandwagon theory. He said people in the rural towns and hamlets have more time on their hands. They like politics better than their neighbors in the city. They talk more, they appreciate your interest more and they want to be asked for their vote. Therefore, if you work the rural community first, they talk about you being there and they will commit to you early. At that time, if a person in a rural area told you they were going to vote for you, you could take that to the bank. Therefore, if you got there first, you could wrap up that area early and forever. Another big plus of working the country first was that whenever any person from that rural box came into the larger town or county seat to shop or get their haircut and the city folks asked about politics out their way, the rural man would say, "I don't know about the other races but that Brewer boy is going to get all the votes up here for that open legislative seat." Then the bandwagon domino theory was on. The city folks assumed that if all the country folks were for someone that candidate was bound to win in a landslide so they better get on board too. That was a good lesson. I took Gov. Brewer's advice in my first race and I got 82% of the vote over two opponents. By the way, Gov. Brewer is doing well today. After years as a successful practicing attorney, he went on to become a professor at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law. My daughter had the opportunity to get to know the governor while she was in law school at Cumberland. She took several classes he taught, worked with him on the Alabama Constitutional Law Project, and still looks to him as a mentor. Gov. Brewer still has that endearing warm smile and personality. He is a prince of a fellow. See you next week. Steve Flowers' weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 03/02/2016
Jackson: How Alabama elections came to be
Posted: March 02, 2016

This week Alabama held its primary elections.

Comments (0)
Flowers: Say goodbye to presidential candidates
Posted: March 02, 2016

You know the outcome of our presidential preference primary held yesterday. I do too, today. However, this column had to go to press a few days prior to the primary. Therefore, I will have to report and analyze your voting in a later column.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 02/17/2016
Jackson: Send me a letter, send it by mail
Posted: February 17, 2016

“Send me a letter, send it by mail”

Comments (0)
Flowers: Trump poised to carry Alabama
Posted: February 17, 2016

The presidential primary parade has been colorful and fun to watch this year. It has been even more amusing because of the pervasive presence of one Donald Trump and the fact that those of us in the Heart of Dixie have a front row seat to the show.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 02/10/2016
Flowers: State races not as competitive
Posted: February 10, 2016

We are only a few weeks away from our March 1st primary. We have an early primary date this year due to the fact that we are in the SEC Presidential Primary. Therefore, we will have some say in who will be the GOP and Democratic nominees.

Comments (0)
Jackson: Purged history is bad history
Posted: February 10, 2016

You may have read about "The Great Renaming Craze of 2015."

Comments (0)
Wednesday 02/03/2016
Jackson: Ethics: We can't have enough
Posted: February 03, 2016

We all want our public officials to be ethical.

Comments (0)
Flowers: How 'Landslide Lyndon' got his name
Posted: February 03, 2016

There are a good many stories about elections of the 1940s and '50s where votes were bought and elections stolen. The most brazen and blatant stealing of an election occurred in the 1948 race for the U.S. Senate in Texas. The players were Coke Stevenson versus Lyndon B. Johnson. Therefore, it can also be classified as one of the most relevant robberies in American history because if Johnson had lost, as he was supposed to, it would have dramatically impacted U.S. history.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 01/27/2016
Jackson: What the kudzu left behind
Posted: January 27, 2016

Among the many things we lost when the Mobile daily newspapers were shut down (don’t get me started on that), we lost the frequent articles by naturalist-gardener-horticulturist-scientist Bill Finch, who carried readers through the seasons with style, grace and a lot of good information about plants and planting.

Comments (0)
Flowers: Look for more education fund raids
Posted: January 27, 2016

As discussed last week, several of the headline Alabama news stories of 2015 may also be the blockbusters of 2016. The Mike Hubbard trial and the decision of the federal courts on Alabama’s legislative district lines will be determined in the first half of this year.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 01/20/2016
Jackson: That was the year that was
Posted: January 20, 2016

2015.

Comments (0)
Flowers: State government stories of 2016
Posted: January 20, 2016

A good many of the news stories that were the most noteworthy events of 2015 will continue into this new year of 2016 and may repeat as the major headlines of this year.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 01/13/2016
Jackson: Tales of cotton picking revisited
Posted: January 13, 2016

I occasionally get letters from readers.

Comments (0)
Flowers: Presidential race about Florida
Posted: January 13, 2016

Last week we discussed the presidential race. The GOP race for the nomination has been one of the most illuminating in history. Never before have political novices been the frontrunners. It is obvious that voters prefer an outsider with no governmental experience. Donald Trump and Ben Carson would both be considered outsiders, both lacking in political experience and skills and Trump lacking tact. No matter what they say or what amateurish blunders they make, they doggedly cling to their lead in the polls.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 01/06/2016
Jackson: Which one of you ate Blitzen?
Posted: January 06, 2016

Those of you who follow this column know that I am a dog lover.

Comments (0)
Flowers: Alabama getting election attention
Posted: January 06, 2016

Folks, we are in the midst of a presidential race. It has been ongoing for well over a year. We will select a new president in November. Barack Obama has served his eight-year limit. Thus, the parade of candidates seeking to occupy the Oval Office has been long, especially on the Republican side.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 12/30/2015
Jackson: Staying awake for the New Year
Posted: December 30, 2015

I am not a late night person.

Comments (0)
Flowers: Remembering those we lost in 2015
Updated: December 30, 2015 - 8:38 am

As we close the final page on the 2015 book, my year-end tradition is to reminisce about the passing away of significant players on the Alabama political stage.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 12/23/2015
Flowers: One momentous week in 2015
Posted: December 23, 2015

As we look back over the past year's political events one week stands out. During one week in the middle of 2015, three momentous events occurred. All three came down bang, bang, bang in the week leading up to the fourth of July.

Comments (0)
Jackson: 'Tis the season of traditions
Posted: December 23, 2015

'Tis the season of traditions.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 12/16/2015
Jackson: Christmas lights in a college town
Posted: December 16, 2015

Wasn't even Thanksgiving, and Christmas lights were up.

Comments (0)
Flowers: Top contenders for governor
Updated: December 16, 2015 - 8:13 am

This week we will conclude our analysis of the potential horses in the 2018 Alabama Gubernatorial Derby.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 12/09/2015
Flowers: More candidates for governor
Posted: December 09, 2015

This week we will continue our analysis of the potential horses in the 2018 Alabama Gubernatorial Derby. So far, we have counted down from 18 to 8. In descending order the list includes, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (18), Supreme Court Justice Jim Main (17), Sen. Greg Reed (16), Sen. Arthur Orr (15), Mayor Vaughn Stewart (14), Mayor Walt Maddox (13), Mayor Sandy Stimpson (12), Congressman Bradley Byrne (11), Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey (10), Sen. Del Marsh (9), and State Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan (8). The next four horses will be revealed today, and we will conclude the series next week when we reveal the top three.

Comments (0)
Jackson: Replicating the Redneck Riviera
Posted: December 09, 2015

They're pulling up sea oats, to plant condominiums

Comments (0)
Wednesday 12/02/2015
Jackson: Plots and conspiracies
Posted: December 02, 2015

Recently I wrote about all the different people at different times predicting that the world is about to end.

Comments (0)
Flowers: More potential candidates for governor
Updated: December 02, 2015 - 9:01 am

This week we will continue counting down and handicapping the prospective horses in the 2018 Alabama Gubernatorial Derby. We handicapped the following horses in descending order last week, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (18), Supreme Court Justice Jim Main (17), Sen. Greg Reed (16), Sen. Arthur Orr (15) and Mayor Vaughn Stewart (14).

Comments (0)
Wednesday 11/18/2015
Jackson: The sound of music, and subversion
Posted: November 18, 2015

Down on the coast I like to ask folks that I meet "where are you from?"

Comments (0)
Flowers: Handicapping the governor's race
Posted: November 18, 2015

We Alabamians love the governor's race. When talk turns to politics in our beloved state, it usually leads to the governor's race. It does not matter if the governor's race is four years away, political gossip starts early as to who will run for governor. As each new race approaches it is talked about more than ever around the coffee clubs from Sand Mountain to the Wiregrass and from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf Coast. It is comparable to college football being the king of all sports in Alabama.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 11/11/2015
Jackson: Another sign that "The End" is nigh?
Posted: November 11, 2015

Recently I wrote about past (and current) efforts to predict the coming of "The End."

Comments (0)
Flowers: Votes by friends and neighbors
Posted: November 11, 2015

As a young boy I would sit for hours contemplating and analyzing the next governor's race. At that time the governor could not succeed himself. He was limited to one four-year term. Therefore, we had developed a tradition whereby the man who had run second in the last governor's race would automatically be considered the frontrunner for the next election. He had run what was called his "get acquainted race." So I always began my conjecture assuming that the second-place finisher was the man to beat. History revealed that was usually an accurate assessment.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 11/04/2015
A better way of doing things
Posted: November 04, 2015

A series of meetings held around a nine-county region a while back promised regional cooperation in order to recruit industry and help improve the economic situation in all of the counties. It must have been a hard sell, or else the funding for the effort dried up, because we have heard nothing about it over the past year or so.

Comments (0)
Jackson: Getting on to pickin' time
Posted: November 04, 2015

I got cotton in the bottom land

Comments (0)
Flowers: Roadblocks to a Republican presidency
Posted: November 04, 2015

The 2016 presidential election has not only begun, it is well under way. It is now a lengthy process that spans the entire four-year presidential term. The race essentially begins the day a president is sworn into office. Aspirants begin jockeying for the brass ring of American politics the next day and the marathon begins. It becomes exponentially more intriguing when there is no incumbent in the fray as will be the case in 2016.

Comments (0)
Wednesday 10/28/2015
Jackson: The end is nigh, or not
Posted: October 28, 2015

I started writing this on October 6.

Comments (0)

Stocks