Governor Bentley tells Alabamians that the state is broke

Talking prisons, education and taxes, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley got real with Alabamians on Tuesday night. During his annual State of the State address, Bentley said that the state must increase revenues to pull itself out of debt.

Now, as we look to the future, we must take the steps necessary to help get our state out of debt and find secure financial footing. Revenue must increase. There must be growth money in the State’s General Fund.”

120313_robert_bentley_ap_605One of the ways Bentley plans to ease the debt is by closing a tax loophole that allows nearly 60 percent of Alabama Fortune 500 companies to bypass paying income tax.

That sounds like a line pulled directly from President Obama. Continue reading

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice back for ‘Moore?’

A bill that would increase the “maximum age for election or appointment to judicial office increased to 75” will be introduced when the 2015 Alabama Legislative Session begins on March 3.

In short, the bill would allow for current Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to run for re-election. As dictated by the state’s constitution, the current age limit for election to a judicial office is 70 years old.

Moore is 68 and was re-elected to the bench in 2012 to a six-year term, almost a full decade after he was removed from office for defying a federal court order.

That order stated that Moore had to remove a two-and-a-half ton Ten Commandments monument that he installed soon after his first election. He defied the order and was promptly removed from office.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Moore went nine years without the title of chief justice but assumed the high office again in 2013. Continue reading

While Attention Is Cast on Race For District 5, Trouble Abounds at the Top

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel / Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum

Orlando isn’t necessarily considered a hot bed for political stories, so anytime something alters the status quo in the city, it makes headlines.

Last week, Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum abruptly retired from the seat that she’s held for the last 16 years. She was fighting for her political life as two opponents, Regina Hill and Cynthia Harris, were contesting to take over the role of commissioner for District Five.

In an effort to “continue the legacy of leadership” that Ms. Lynum has constructed over the last decade and a half, her son Juan entered the race this past Friday to try to take her place.

Mr. Lynum noted that he’s running “to sustain the programs and initiatives that Commissioner Daisy Lynum established and for us to build on that foundation.”

While some may disagree with his reasoning for wanting to run, his challengers included, there are issues facing the district that aren’t necessarily the fault of Commissioner Lynum.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was elected back in 2003 and said in his inaugural address that he wants his success as mayor to be measured by his ability to rebuild the community of Parramore; a community represented on the city commission by Ms. Lynum.

Since that speech, Dyer has intently worked to transform Parramore into a contemporary utopia. From the destruction of the old Amway Arena to the recent soccer stadium deal, Parramore is being reconstructed through Dyers vision.

It may not be the Parramore that many who value the history and legacy of the community want, but it surely fits the eye of Mayor Dyer. There hasn’t been a concerted effort put forth by the mayor to preserve Parramore’s history, or the city of Orlando’s history for that matter.

Dyers vision is fixated toward growth without regard to the tattered trail he leaves behind.

In his inaugural speech, Dyer talked about the working poor and a robust living wage. In his latest State of the City speech from February 2013, Dyer didn’t mention the poor. He didn’t talk about attempting to fix Orlando’s ranking as the lowest-paying major metropolitan area in the nation.

Instead he mentioned Sun Rail, building a new soccer stadium, renovating the Citrus Bowl and lowering property crime. Dyer seemed progressive in his first speech, since then, he hasn’t shown much progress toward improving the lives of the working class and working poor.

Commissioner Lynum has been criticized for not voicing enough of an opposition to Dyer’s agenda , failing to create more employment and economic opportunities for the residents of Parramore and not offering respect to her constituents.

That may all be up for debate, but what Dyer has done to the community of Parramore and the city of Orlando seems to be much worse.

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel / Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

According to a recent column by Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel, Dyer wants to give the Orlando Solar Bears, the city’s minor league hockey team, almost $400,000 in fees and revenues; all money the city currently receives.

The team will also receive a $100,000 “advertising payment” from Orlando for at least the next two years.

Maxwell also notes that these deals weren’t confirmed by the city commission.

The latest round of bad news for Mayor Dyer is that he wants to tear down historic Tinker Field to make way for the reconstruction of the Citrus Bowl. The only problem with that is he didn’t warn or tell the commission that he planned to tear it down. In talking about the expected demolition of the field, Commissioner Sam Ings called Dyer’s blatant disregard for the field as “malfeasance.”

Where is the outrage over Dyer’s behavior compared to that of Commissioner Lynum?

Understandably, there is anger at Commissioner Lynum. She’s the proxy for the voters of district five and many believe that the voters of that district deserve someone better. Parramore seems to be dying a slow death and many of the residents are considered working poor or just poor.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Parramore won’t be fixed in one. While Commissioner Lynum shoulders some of the blame for what’s happened in her district, Dyers takes the king’s ransom.

Orlando may look good on the outside because of its tall buildings, new venues, shiny sports teams and progressive tint. On the inside it has a deep void; a legacy of gating residents off from city commissioned events, a sinking working class, a rising rate of disgruntled voters, and a mayor with a history of being politically nonchalant to the voters who matter the least.

For the voters of District Five, choose the candidate who will best represent the interests of the community at City Hall. Once that is done, turn your ire toward the politician who is tearing a part the community and changing it into something unrecognizable.

Until some of the anger and outrage is focused and pointed, everything that’s being fought over right now is for naught.

-JH

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The Congressional Millionaires Club

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Photo courtesy of lovemmclub.com

Political season has officially arrived. That cold weather that dipped into Florida earlier this week that forced you to cover your plants with those old colored fitted sheets, that brisk puff of cold air was actually the emptied souls left behind from political seasons past.

It had nothing to do with the so-called “polar vortex,” so don’t believe the weatherman.

Tis the season to go knocking, right? When those politicians, and want-to-be politicians, come knocking at your door asking for your vote, and they tell you that D.C. is broken, tell them to kick rocks.

According to a new report issued by the Center for Responsive Politics, just about half of all members of Congress are millionaires. Those same lawmakers who claim to represent the least of the; those same men and women who either want less government for the good of the country or a little more for the good of the country are delivering that message from an ivory tower.

Take the sometimes pompous chair of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa. He recently said that the testimony that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave to the committee was false. That has little to do with his ability to connect with voters and more to do with his disdain for the Affordable Care Act, but I digress.

Superficially, wouldn’t Issa’s words sound better if his political affiliation was different and he wasn’t reportedly worth almost $600 million?

For any member of Congress, that’s a lot of dough. Doesn’t take away from Issa’s ability to govern or look after his constituents, just shows that there may be a disconnect.

“Washington D.C. is broken” is the narrative that we’ve heard for a long time now. President Barack Obama was swept into office promising to change the culture in D.C. because the politicians there were so out-of-touch.

So what does this financial report prove?

I’ll give you a hint. Last year, Speaker of the House John Boehner said that “when you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it.”

Translation is that he and the majority of his Republican colleagues do not support an increase.

Now I understand that the argument against or for an increase in the minimum wage isn’t simple, but hearing that those who oppose it make at least $900,000 a year is a little sickening.

This all just means that the gap between the haves and the have nots has turned into a gulf.

Oh, and one of the richest members of Congress resides in Florida. Vernon Buchanan is a Republican who represents Florida’s 16th is potentially worth a cool $235 million.

Good luck finding him at the local Winn-Dixie picking through the good grapes.

-JH

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Why Santa’s Color Matters to Fox News

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Photo courtesy of Foxnewsinsider.com/Anchor Megyn Kelly

The legend of Fox News grew a little more today after a video clip surfaced of host Megyn Kelly claiming that both Santa and Jesus are white men. Kelly underlined her point about Jesus by claiming that his hue is a “verifiable fact” and that Santa “just is white.”

In a pseudo-intellectual manner, Kelly dryly talks about the story and said that she’s only debating this “because someone wrote about it, kids.”

Without debating the invalid historical context of Kelly’s assertion about Jesus and Santa, I simply want to discuss her dismissal of the original debate, which is simply skin color.

By the way, this story of Kelly talking about Santa and Jesus being white men started when Kelly mentioned Aisha Harris’s article on Slate.com about changing the perception of Santa Claus.

How this turned into an idea of dogma is a little perplexing, but we’ve arrived here, so no turning back now.

Harris slightly defends her article in another piece on Slate.com titled “What Fox News Doesn’t Understand About Santa Claus” where she basically says what most, at least I hope most, people are thinking: Santa isn’t real; therefore our perception of him isn’t either.

But this argument about Jesus and Santa is the step-child of the “race themed” movie discussion from a few weeks ago. When the movie “Best Man Holiday” was released and it performed better than expectations, USA Today promptly called it a race themed movie. That moniker means that when movies with an all-black cast do well at the box office, it’s because they are only themed toward the color of the folks who star in the movie.

I guess it’s the same for Santa and Jesus, no? Santa only gives good gifts to white kids and the colored babies are left with the throw-a-ways. And Jesus will only turn water into wine for grown white people. For the rest of us, we’ll just get a few shock bottles of Fireball whiskey and Thunderbird.

For people of Megyn Kelly’s ilk, certain things are just as they are and need not be changed. James Bond, as noted by Ms. Harris, has to be a white man because he’s, well because he’s always been a white man.

The host of Jeopardy? Well it’s been hosted by a white man for my entire life, why change now?

This frame of mind speaks to the lack of Caucasian imagination. The first 43 presidents where white men and the head of Yale’s famed  “Skull and Bones” is probably still a white man. Power in this country has always been wielded by white men, and to imagine a world ruled by anyone other than a Caucasian is scary for some.

For little minority babies, seeing people in power who look like them is vastly important.

Maybe for Megyn Kelly, her fear isn’t that of a black Santa crawling down her chimney covered in soot or an olive-skinned Jesus with wide-lens sunglasses and leather jogging pants. It’s the loss of power associated with the change in demographics in America.

-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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Take A Listen to the Latest Jason Henry Project Podcast

TJHP logo ROUND TWO - 1Morning! The Project may be a little late this week, but its always on time.

Check out the latest edition of the Jason Henry Project podcast for news and commentary on Florida Governor Rick Scott and his chances for re-election, an adjustment to Social Security that may impact the amount of money you receive on your checks next year, a recap of all NFL action from Sunday, a new poll that should give Congress a wake-up call, and so much more.

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