Republicans came to power in Alabama after decades of Democratic rule, promising to put the politics of the past behind them, to pass strong ethics laws, and to govern the state effectively. It sounded good.
In earlier years, occasionally, a local government body would stretch or exceed the limits of Alabama’s Open Meetings Act (OMA), unsually through their excessive use of “executive sessions” (closed meetings). This happened despite the law’s very clear restrictions on why an open meeting could be closed on rare occasions.
The Alabama Legislature has demonstrated that it is incapable of passing a workable budget, but it is capable of finding new and creative ways to embarrass us. State Sen. Paul Sanford, Republican of Huntsville, has created a gofundme.com online account that asks the general public to contribute to the state’s cash-strapped General Fund.
We could get a little bit of a reprieve later this week from the high-90 temperatures we have been experiencing, but forecasters say they expect higher-than-normal temperatures to return by this weekend. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for earlier this week for parts of northern Alabama and all of central and south Alabama.
It’s been a long time coming, but last week the state announced a settlement in the 2010 BP oil spill. The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 workers and cost all of the Gulf states much in money and environmental damage.
An advertisement on page 4B of this issue by the Alabama Department of Public Health reminds us that vaccines are required for school, which is closer than it seems it should be.
Alabamians of all ages will celebrate this Independence Day weekend with fireworks, parades and parties at home and on the water. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) urges everyone to remember safety is key when traveling Alabama’s roadways and waterways as Fourth of July activities often involve alcohol and may result in traffic or boating crashes, injuries and fatalities.
There is little doubt that Alabama’s general fund budget, which includes virtually everything except education, is broke, without enough funding to operate at previous years’ levels. Unless a solution is found quickly, Alabamians will feel the effects in the coming year.
Hot weather is now here for real, with a predicted high of 97 degrees today and highs somewhere in the 90s each day through Sunday and beyond. Unfortunately, the hot weather brings with it reports of children dying due to overheating in cars. Since 1998 in the United States an average of 37 children each year die this way, making heatstroke the second leading cause of death behind car crashes among those 14 and younger.
The agreement between Tanner Medical Center and the Randolph County Commission, Randolph County Health Care Authority, and Wedowee Health Care Authority to build and operate a hospital in Randolph County, supported in part by tax revenue, has been discussed and argued by many. Relatively few, however, have seen and read the actual agreement.
Each year in July the county's rabies control officer, veterinarian Paul McMurray, travels the county over a two-week period to make it convenient for county residents to have their pets vaccinated. In light of recent reports of rabies in east Alabama, anyone whose dog or cat is not up to date on a rabies vaccination should not wait until July.
We are accustomed to seeing rankings showing Alabama among the worst states in terms of the health of its citizens. We are among the very worst in conditions like strokes and hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Other than Gov. Bentley, no one in state government has put forth a reasonable plan to fund state government.
Now that summer weather is here, it's time to focus again on the dangers of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.
The question of whether Alabama should have a state lottery and legalize gambling has pretty much been answered along political party lines in the past, with Republicans generally opposed and Democrats in favor.
We elect our representatives to the Alabama Legislature to represent our interests and competently manage state government for our benefit. The looming cuts in highway safety, mental health services, courts, prisons and nearly every other necessary function of state government would indicate they have let us down.
Gov. Robert Bentley has created the Alabama Health Care Improvement Task Force to consider ways to improve the delivery of health care in Alabama. The 38-member group led by state Health Officer Dr. Don
Even when consumers use due diligence and read terms and conditions, there is no guarantee that they will get an accurate picture of the real cost of free or discounted services offered by some businesses, according to Better Business Bureau.
Gov. Robert Bentley is traveling the state this week to promote his plan to raise taxes to help shrink a $700-million deficit in the state's General Fund budget, which pays for such things as public safety, health care for the poor and elderly, and highway and bridge construction and repair. He'll have a tough sale, especially with his fellow Republicans who control the legislature. Most ran on a pledge of "no new taxes," just as Bentley himself did when running for his first term as governor.
As the 2015 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature gets started, there are many important issues facing our lawmakers. We don’t envy them. Most of us do not appreciate or understand the challenges they face regarding budgets, prisons, health care, and other essential services we have come to expect from state government.
How to come up with a good local healthcare system is getting deserved attention right now, for quality of life of those who live here and for luring new businesses to improve our economy. As we focus on solving this problem, we should not take for granted what we do have going for us that may be lacking in other areas. That's our good public schools.
An email this week from the publisher of the Clark County Democrat in Grove Hill served as a reminder of the law of unintended consequences.
The 'kicking the can' column below describes some of the shortfalls in the state's General Fund budget that will have to be addressed when the legislature convenes next week. For too long too little has been done about an impending financial crisis, and now the state is out of options.
According to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) 17 of Alabama's 67 counties still don't have a four-lane route to an interstate, some-thing that companies almost always look for when deciding where to locate.
When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant a stay of U.S. District Judge Callie Granade's ruling that Alabama's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, it made Alabama the 37th state where same sex marriage is legal. Many court observers also feel it is a strong indication of how the Supreme Court will rule when it hears a case in June that will have implications for the remaining states.
Many of us had measles as children and survived. Nonetheless, measles is the most deadly of all childhood rash and fever illnesses. And it's one of the most easily spread.
When the Alabama Legislature next goes into session, it will face some tough issues that will require some hard financial choices. The state's $1.8 billion general fund budget, which funds nearly all government functions except education, is short hundreds of millions, and the federal stimulus money that allowed state lawmakers to avoid dealing with the funding crisis is gone. Decision time is here.
Anyone who has had an email account for any length of time probably has received unsolicited offers to reduce your IRS or credit card debt for pennies on the dollar.
Fielding calls from customers wanting to know why it takes so long for us to get their newspapers to them is a regular occurrence. We wish we had answers for them. The papers are mailed on Wednesday mornings, as always.
According to the Alabama Retail Association (ARA), Alabama experienced an increase of almost 2.7 percent in retail sales through October of 2014 and averaged 2.6-percent growth each month in 2014 over the same month a year earlier.
It seems that there once was more emphasis on learning cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), either individually or in the work place, than there is today.
Christmas music, Christmas meals, giving and receiving gifts, and spending time with family and friends are the memories most of us have this time of year.
With more and more rural hospitals closing each year, and with Randolph County in a precarious position with its one remaining hospital, the future for quality healthcare here might seem bleak.
An advertisement in last week's Leader by the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce and Randolph County Economic Development Authority asked readers to shop locally first. Why shop at a locally owned business first? The following 10 reasons show how more money spent at local businesses is reinvested in our community.
Level the playing field on sales tax collections
Under our criminal justice system a person charged is presumed to be innocent until found guilty in the courts. Other aspects of living in a free society sometimes conflict with this presumption, however.
Christmas decorations were on store shelves before Halloween, and within days some radio stations already were playing non-stop Christmas music. Thanksgiving, lacking the commercial potential of Christmas, has become an afterthought.
Veterans Day is next Tuesday, which is when the post office, banks and government offices close in observance. It always is November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918.
Five proposed statewide amendments to the Alabama Constitution will be on next Tuesday’s ballot. The full text of each appears in the Public Notices section of this issue of The Leader. Here’s a summary and an analysis of each.
Monday's grand jury indictment of Alabama House Speaker and former Alabama Republican Party chairman Mike Hubbard on 23 felony ethics law violations is a pretty good indication little has changed in state-level politics.
Next Monday we'll have the opportunity to observe candidates for several offices respond to a series of prepared questions. The event at the Roanoke City Auditorium will be a chance to actually see and hear the candidates and should help us decide if this is the person we want representing us in the office for which he or she is running.
In addition to the offices up for grabs in November's general election, five amendments to Alabama's Constitution will be on the statewide ballot.
The top two stories on the front page are separate stories yet related to each other.
Code of Alabama 1975, § 36-12-40 provides that, "Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute."
Following up on last week's editorial about our dependence on technology to the point of having very little face-to-face interaction anymore.
Apple introduced its iPhone 6 yesterday, with a larger screen, upgraded software and a number of features to make the company's newest smart phone even more indispensable to users. Rather than being a cause for celebration, however, some of us see the accelerating personal technology race as cause for alarm.
We’ve always heard that the first minutes are critical for victims of cardiac arrest or trauma. The American Heart Association in fact has established a standard response time of four minutes for basic life support and eight minutes for advanced life support to begin for victims of cardiac arrest. Survival in any lifethreatening medical emergency is dependent on receiving an appropriate level of medical care as quickly as possible.
We'd like to believe that only the Alabama Legislature could come up with something as bad as the misnamed "Alabama Accountability Act," which takes funds from our already underfunded public schools to give to unaccountable private schools.
By getting body cameras for its officers, the Roanoke Police Department is way ahead of most other departments––of any size. We expect many more law enforcement organizations will follow suit in the coming years. The times demand it.