Meeting the financial obligations of other states

One morning last week I read a news report that said the Alabama Legislature is looking at the State’s budget process to  “make data-driven decisions on how best to address the reoccurring fiscal challenges facing our State.” Interesting. I don’t know how one could make a sound financial decision without focusing on data.

Apparently the Joint Task Force on Budget Reform (JTF) released information a few weeks ago hoping to shed some light on why the State always has financial woes. The task force study required about ten percent of those serving in the Legislature to come up with solutions. I didn’t see any solutions from this august assembly but I understand the focus was centered upon the following: Budget process; agency review; earmarking; tax credits, exemptions, deductions; tax fairness.

It seemed like the JTF uncovered nothing that should have been hiding from elected officials. All of the problems exposed in this report have been well known by the Legislature while being under the control of Republicans and Democrats alike.

The report also said the JTF will offer further findings to the Legislature on the fifth Legislative Day of the 2018 Regular Session. Of course, that will have to be studied by the ninety percent that did not participate in the JTF, and the lobbyists that own them all.

A few minutes after reading the JTF’s Einstein-like discoveries I read another piece of news that led me into an angered state. The headline read…”Water park fans rejoice.”

An organization in the Midwest, coupled with those of reasonable intelligence in Georgia, has decided to create what was called, “A massive indoor water park and resort.” Great Wolf Lodge announced the opening would be in the spring of 2018, the same time the Alabama Legislature assembles with its collective tortured logic wondering how to pay the state’s bills. Of course the water park will be placed near the Alabama border. Wonder why?

According to the report I read the development will include a 93,000-square foot indoor water park featuring water slides, a giant tipping bucket, wave pool, lazy river and zero-depth entry water play area. There will also be a ropes course and climbing wall, family-sized bowling lanes and an arcade. The development will also include 456 themed hotel suites. In other words there will be signs everywhere that convey a simple idea: Hey Alabama, come spend your money in Georgia and help us pay our bills.

Now just how did these two pieces of news tie together in the mind of this rapidly aging Auburn graduate? I did learn a little about budgets with my finance degree, not much but enough to say that a budget involves money in and money out. One cannot pay what goes out the door if at least the same is not coming in the door. If not enough money is coming in the door then you must reduce the amount of money going out the door. Of course the JTF didn’t ask me for the nearly brainless advice I have to offer.

With all of that in mind the moronic mental state of our leaders is amplified when one considers the ongoing debate surrounding gambling. Not all of our problems can be solved with gambling revenue but it sure will put a dent in any budget shortfall we have.

The state is in dire need of revenue and no task force can make an assertion to the contrary. We have legal gambling now, in various forms. We have gambling on properties that bring in tons of money but pay no taxes. And then we fail to offer gambling in other forms. This makes no sense at all, especially when it is sinful for the current legislature to even contemplate raising taxes.

Alabama citizens go across our four borders daily to gamble and pay the bills of other states. And our citizens will go across the Georgia border to the water park to spend money in Georgia. Our neighbors know they can count on us to help them while we hurt ourselves.

My question to legislators is simple: Is this so difficult to understand? Do what we need to do and stop the bleeding or else nothing will get better no matter how many task forces we create.

Once again, we hear the ‘I’ word

Art Parker

The word impeachment continues to be thrown about in Washington every five minutes or so. President Trump’s favorability ratings continue to plummet and it seems like scandal looks him in the face every morning. I wish for our president to succeed so I can see America succeed. But let’s face it. The guy creates a ton of problems for himself.

Before going further I must tell you that the first paragraph is what I wrote about Obama years ago. Today, I just changed the name. I’ll save this column because years from now (If I am still living) the next president will probably be hated by many people just like the last two, and we will hear that “go to” word called impeachment.

I have found, especially as I grow older, that few people really know how government works and they know damn little about our constitution. With that in mind, let’s go through the procedure in case you lack knowledge of this topic.

The most important thing one can remember about the removal of a President is that impeachment is basically an indictment, and if impeached, the President will face a trial in the Senate. It reminds us of the process in our courts, which is to have a Grand Jury return an indictment for a crime(s) and then a determination of guilt, if any, is then found by way of a trial by jury.

What does it take to get rid of a President? First the House of Representatives must impeach the President and that requires a majority vote. Then the Senate has a trial to determine if the President should be removed from office. Removal from office is the only question the Senate answers. Removal requires a 2/3 vote and that means 67 Senators – if all are present to vote.

Only two Presidents have been impeached by the House of Representatives. The first was Andrew Johnson, who inherited the White House after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the last was Bill Clinton. Neither was removed from office because the Senate failed to convict either of them. Contrary to popular belief Richard Nixon was not impeached but chose to resign after the House Judiciary Committee voted for impeachment. Basically, Nixon got the hell out of Dodge before the whole House voted to impeach and hence, he avoided a trial.

The Republicans have a majority in the House and Senate. Instantly, President Trump has an advantage since his party controls the big building on the hill.

The talk of impeachment is continuing to escalate among the Trump haters and Democrats. This will not cease. It will continue just like it did when Obama was in office and the opponents wanted him gone. As of this moment the screaming is just that – screaming.

It’s a good thing to review Section Four of Article Three of the Constitution, which states, “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Yes, there has been a special counsel appointed to investigate the “Russian deal(s)” and Trump’s former Security Advisor Mike Flynn is in hot water. Yes, all of that is true. But, no one is even close to pinning a crime on Trump, and that is what it takes to have any real chances at impeachment, especially when the President’s party is in power. Furthermore, any President, before and after taking office, is surrounded by a battalion of people. As we learned with Nixon, the lieutenants are usually the real culprits. What the President does about the culprits, if and when he knows what they did, is what can make or break him.

So before we scream about impeachment let’s see if the President has committed a real crime. In the meantime, we can stand firmly upon the belief that all of Trump’s guilt comes in the form of “bad politics,” and other senseless, often real stupid, bordering on insane actions and verbalization.

I think Trump is as nutty as a fruitcake, but I do not want to see him impeached and removed from office. As far as entertainment is concerned, he is the best thing going.

The electorate’s dilemma

  All of the recent hullabaloo surrounding elections has placed the United States Senate race in August into the forefront followed by the upcoming 2018 governor’s race. Little has been said about another development that has a direct impact on many of us in the Montgomery area. A couple of weeks ago state house Representative Barry Moore filed papers with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for Alabama’s second congressional district seat currently occupied by Montgomery’s Martha Roby. Moore is from Enterprise and represents Coffee County.

I find it a little hard to believe that Moore would want to go to Washington when he has it made down here. Moore had never held a state contract for his business until he was elected. That changed rather quickly when Moore received a contract with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). Moore received more payments in 2011 and 2012 from state business. In 2013 Moore’s company got another contract with ADEM.

Moore may think he can go to Washington and get some big federal contracts. Who knows? In addition to garnering state business, which I still cannot believe he got by with, Moore is another Bob Riley soldier. Supporting that, a recent news report revealed that in 2014, before Moore’s perjury trial, former Governor Bob Riley’s Alabama 2014 PAC gave $12,500 to the indicted lawmaker, which appeared to be for legal defense purposes.

Moore was as snug as a bug in a rug with convicted former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, which is probably how his business got the state contracts.

When I look at the company Moore has kept I get fearful. I can’t help but view Moore as an accident waiting to happen.

And then we have the incumbent, Martha Roby. I’ve been a tough critic of Roby in the past so I will try and refrain from too many more nasty remarks about her.

I know  the only reason Roby defeated Bobby Bright years ago is because Bright was a Democrat and he could not avoid the party association with President Barack Obama. Roby is the perfect example of what you get when you vote for a party. Roby’s efforts are generally closely associated with the party line. Like so many others in D.C., Roby does as she is told. We cannot depend upon her for anything more. Whenever she strays from the party, which can be very good for the people, she creates a mess and I believe she cannot handle things.

I’m praying that someone else, that is electable, will enter the race. It will be very sad to know that our choices are limited to Roby and Moore. Deciding between these two is like choosing between UMASS or Fresno State as your final bowl invitee.

What if there is no other choice? Despite my belief that Roby is about as sharp as a bowl of jello, I will have to go with her simply because of the Bob Riley and Mike Hubbard relationship with Barry Moore – something I deem unforgivable.

Whenever I think of the Alabama congressional delegation I remember something Mark Twain said. “Suppose you are a member of Congress. Now suppose you are an idiot, but I repeat myself.” So when I think of the gems in the delegation other names quickly pop up in addition to Roby, such as Terri Sewell and Mo Brooks.

Brooks is in the race for U.S. Senate and he represents the fifth congressional district. That district is basically the northern shelf of the state from Mississippi to Georgia with all of it bordering Tennessee. Personally, I think Brooks is crazy. To hear him say some things he does I can’t help but fear he possesses a depraved mind.

I cannot bear the thought of Brooks in the Senate but he will play a role in the race. He will get good support from his congressional district in north Alabama and it will only hurt Luther Strange. Roy Moore will get his percentage because he will pull in a certain demographic no matter where he goes. I see Moore losing little support in the north to Brooks, whereas Strange may take it on the chin.