Alabama Governor Robert Bentley Turns Away 30,000 New Jobs

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Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on a jobs excursion to Japan proclaims that his top priority is to bring jobs to Alabama. Photo courtesy of Made In Alabama.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has said that he will fight the implantation of the Affordable Care Act, but his latest act may be pushing the envelope.

In a story posted on AL.com, Birmingham News columnist John Archibald takes Bentley out for a spin due to the governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid in the state. By not allowing the federal health program to expand in Alabama, Bentley is effectively refusing to accept over 30,000 new jobs.

Well, at least according to Archibald.

In the article, the columnist accuses the governor of placing politics over people and not caring enough about those in the state the he governs to offer a medical program that some of them so desperately need.

It’s a refreshing column because it provides studies and statistics on why the expansion of Medicaid is good for Alabama’s residents and for the state’s economic health.

But what’s troubling about this political act, and so many preceding it, is that Republican politicians have become emboldened to commit acts of political violence all in the name of conservatism.

Take this stat for example: According to advisory.com, not a single southern state has committed to expanding Medicaid.

For those barking at the screen that Arkansas has expanded, it is with a caveat. Former President Bill Clinton’s home state will use federal money to purchase private insurance plans by Medicaid participants through the state’s insurance exchange.

Instead of acquiescing to the Affordable Care Act, the state has almost weaseled its way out of fully committing to what the president wanted to do.

Back to Alabama.

By refusing federal funds for Medicaid, does this mean that traditional conservatism is dying or that these governors, Bentley specifically, are just fighting against what some call a bad law?

That answer depends on what side of the political fence one plays, but according to the statistical evidence, and political language, these governors aren’t doing what’s needed for their states.

In Archibald’s column, he points to Alabama’s gift of almost $1 billion in incentives to attract new business to the state that have resulted in 6,000 jobs. He didn’t say, nor am I, that the investment wasn’t worth the payoff.

But the milk has been spoiled if Bentley and his Republican Governors Association members fail to provide healthcare for the poor and gift their states with economic growth.

Logic, at least for me, does not seem to have a place with this train of thought.

-JH

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Rep. Jimmie T. Smith: “Stand your ground is core to the American way of life.”

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Photo courtesy of http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Rep. Jimmie T. Smith

Last week, the Dream Defenders and a number of Floridians against the state’s self-defense law commonly known as “stand your ground” fled to Tallahassee to fight for repealing SYG or at least changing it.

A House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice voted against repealing or changing the law all together, opting instead to expand the scope of it.

Once the hearing was over, Florida Representative Jimmie T. Smith talked about why the law was so important and why it’s still needed.

“Stand your ground is core to the American way of life.”

For Smith, and those who believe in SYG, his comments encapsulate an antiquated political way of thinking.

What exactly is the American way of life and where is the core? Let’s try this on as an example.

On November 1st, many Floridians who rely on food stamps were impacted by a cut to the program aimed at reigning in America’s spiraling debt. The cut will impact over one million children and about 700,000 elderly and disabled.

To combat an economic problem in America, many politicians in Washington D.C., Democrats and Republicans, decided to cut a food program that serves the poor, the elderly, and America’s children. Doesn’t that sound backwards?

So for many who are against SYG and saw the case of George Zimmerman as one reason why the law needs adjusting, hearing Smith make such a statement may sound callous.

Since 2005, justifiable homicides are up by 200 percent in Florida and due to the convoluted language included in SYG, the Sanford police department decided against arresting Zimmerman and it altered the jury instructions when Zimmerman went to trial.

Coupling the two, doubling down on cuts to social programs to reign in debt when America’s economy is still bad for many, and expanding, at least on the surface, a law that has aided in the increase of justifiable homicides seems backwards.

Is that what Smith means when he references America’s core? A law that only furthers America’s gun culture or the idea that Americans have the right to self-defense?

At time of publish, Rep. Smith had not responded to my request for clarification on his statements.

For me, his comments seem outdated; almost a representation of why the Republican Party is dying a slow and painful death. It’s a failure to embrace change or progress, just like those who believe that cutting food stamps for the poor punishes those who abuse the system or will save America’s dying economy.

Is this the core that we are protecting?

-JH

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What’s Next For Eatonville After Residents Reject Proposed New Charter?

Eatonville,_Florida_Town_Hall_sign_marker_The historic Town of Eatonville will not move to a new strong-mayor form of government after voters rejected to accept a new town charter. The amendment was rejected as 60 percent of those voting circled ‘no.’

If passed, Eatonville Mayor Bruce Mount would have been given full administrative control. One of Mount’s chief complaints, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel, is that the town’s council made changes to his salary and staff, and the current charter does not allow him to oppose such a move.

By moving to this new format, not only would Mount have received increased political power, his pay would have bumped by a full 400 percent. Before the council decreased the mayor’s pay, Mount’s salary was a modest $21,000. But due to budget shortfalls, the council decided to cut Mount’s pay down to just $12,000.

The town’s council and the city’s mayor are at odds, and apparently are locked in a political fight. This new charter would have shifted the political pendulum away from the council, which some believe is a reason why the four person panel fought against the amendment.

The new charter would have imposed term limits on the council and altered how they are elected. Currently members of the city council are elected town wide and the new charter would have moved them to single member districts.

Outside of this rejected amendment and the political attention on the city, Eatonville’s political authority has a lot of work ahead of them. The mayor is upset that he’s handcuffed politically, the council would like to move the city forward without ceding total control to the mayor according to recent news stories, and it leaves the city influx.

What’s next for America’s first incorporated all-black town after Tuesday night’s vote? Hopefully, it’s progress.

-JH

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Is House Minority Leader Perry Thurston Another Black, Political Sacrificial Lamb?

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House Minority Leader Perry Thurston/Photo courtesy of mediatrackers.org

House Minority Leader Perry Thurston announced a couple of weeks ago that he will run to unseat Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Thurston is term limited in 2014 and many believed that he would either slide back to the private sector or take some time off to explore future political options.

Not many received the impression that Thurston would run for attorney general in 2014.

Thurston has been decently effective as House minority leader for the Democratic Party. There’s not much one can do when the GOP had a super majority in Tallahassee but make noise, try to develop strategy that will have an impact and aid in building a strong bench.

Without going into grand detail about the party’s failure to develop a political bench, I’ll move to Thurston’s choice to fight the GOP and AG Pam Bondi.

So far this year, Bondi has raised over $600,000 for her re-election campaign and has over $800,000 in a separate PAC. No matter who the individual from the other side turns out to be, they will have to raise a hefty amount of money just to compete with Bondi.

For Mr. Thurston, when he made his announcement to run, he stated that he has a proven track record of raising money and winning. In looking at some of Thurston’s campaign fund raising history, his healthiest year came in 2006 when he was able to raise over $140,000.

No diss to Thurston, but that’s probably how much Bondi makes in one fund raiser.

But is the Florida Democratic Party using Thurston to drive turnout for former Governor Charlie Crist in next year’s race for the governor’s mansion?

Crist is due to formally make an announcement on Monday morning that he will, again, run for governor of Florida. In a bid to unseat incumbent Rick Scott, Crist has aligned himself with the Democratic Party, a group of individuals he once despised politically.

Now that FDP has its sights set on reclaiming what was once theirs some years ago, they are hoping that pushing Crist as its main candidate will snatch away some of the GOP’s political stronghold on the state.

The hope in running Thurston against Bondi is that enough black people will turn out to vote for him in Broward that it will help in pushing Crist over the top of Scott. Privately, there’s not much hope that Thurston can win but that his presence on a potential ticket will push the party toward a much needed political victory.

If this is the case, should more minority political minds be upset over this decision? If Thurston actually wins the primary and beats Bondi, then that’s great news for FDP and minorities across the state. But if he doesn’t and ends up being throttled by the GOP, what good did it serve besides the best interest of a political party?

If Crist is able to win a primary against the Democratic Party’s other contender for governor, Nan Rich, the strategy is still missing. Crist is a force on his own without FDP. What if he decided to sit on the sidelines and remain independent? Who would the party turn to for governor?

For black people statewide, this should serve as another reminder that an allegiance to a political party equals political irrelevance.

I just hope that Thurston’s bid for attorney general turns out to be more than a back scratch or a lamb being led to slaughter for the so-called greater political good.

-JH

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