For the Dems, the pick could be worse



Art Parker,
Managing Editor

By Art Parker

Being Monday night, the eve of the Tuesday runoff election, I can’t comment on the outcome other than to say congratulations to the winners and condolences to the losers. However it takes little imagination to look down the road and see the next political battle that will generate the spewing of hate and meanness. It is the only time, other than a Presidential election, where the two wings of the political spectrum behave like untrained canines and treat their opponents like fire hydrants.     

    It is time for the vicious prelude and eventual nasty hearing of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that will take center stage when examining a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The forthcoming process holds all promise of being a Gunfight at The O.K. Corral.

   In my opinion the redundant viciousness began in earnest in July 1987 when President Ronald Reagan nominated former Solicitor General Robert Bork to replace Lewis Powell, who was then considered a moderate. If remember correctly, Bork was a founding father of what many constitutionalists call “original intent,”  an interpretation by judges to apply the Constitution as it was understood at the time it was drafted and ratified. 

   The original intent doctrine and his close ties to former President Richard Nixon made Bork an easier target than a three legged buck in a baited field. The Democrats controlled the Senate at the time and hence had control of the Judiciary Committee. By the time the committee was finished rejecting Bork he had more holes in him than a gangster at a Mafia execution. The full Senate rejected Bork and from then on a SCOTUS nomination has turned into a war zone.

   Probably what made sure there will never be a cease fire was the confirmation of Clarence Thomas in 1991. The Democrats were still in control of the Senate and the common thread between the Bork and Thomas hearings was the Committee Chairman, former VP Joe Biden. 

   George Bush (one) nominated Thomas, an African-American judge who had little experience on the bench. It was really a poor choice by Bush and, in my opinion, Thomas was nominated because he was replacing Thurgood Marshall, the first black to be a justice. It was a rough ride for Thomas and then it became almost impossible when a former employee of his accused him of sexual harassment. The final days of the Thomas hearing was like watching “Days of Our Lives,” or the Dallas’ episode of “Who shot J.R.” While the Democrats hammered and ambushed Thomas relentlessly, the great moral compass of their party Ted “Chappaquiddick” Kennedy stayed out of the sexual harassment discussion by throwing Thomas unrelated softball questions (I wonder why). This publicly televised charade caused a deep division in our country. Thomas, who I felt was very unqualified for the court, was confirmed by the entire Senate and remains on the court today. Thomas got the last laugh and became a puppet of the most conservative justice Antonin Scalia. Thomas pretty much did whatever Scalia did until Scalia’s death in 2016.

   So here we are. It is not going to get any better. The Democrats will go after this next nominee like there is no tomorrow. Brett Kavanaugh will soon face the Judiciary Committee. The difference is that the committee and the Senate is controlled by Republicans. The Democrats would probably be more open to Kavanaugh if he had been nominated by anyone except Donald Trump. While I am not Trump’s biggest fan it is clear to me that the Democrats will quit eating bacon and eggs if they think that Trump eats that for breakfast every morning. One of the Dems anti-Trump leaders is on the Judiciary Committee, Cory Booker from New Jersey. Booker is out of control and behaves like a cry baby who didn’t get to be in the sand box. I can’t imagine what we will see from Booker during the committee hearings. 

   I think the Democrats need to calm down about this nominee. Kavanaugh, while being labeled a conservative, appears to be in the same boat with the soon to be retired Anthony Kennedy. I think Kavanaugh will be an open minded justice like Kennedy and, once confirmed, may instantly become the swing vote on the court. In my book that is a good thing. 

   I believe Kavanaugh deserves a shot. I can promise my Democrat friends that Trump could have really given them something to scream about. He could have easily found another Antonin Scalia.

Montgomery Fire Department celebrates 120 years



As the parade passes the fountain on Dexter Avenue, many of the department’s high tech command and rescue vehicles could be seen.
Photos: Brian Hodge

  The Montgomery Fire Deparment celebrated their 120-year anniversary on Friday giving the general public an opportunity to see some of the department’s command and rescue vehicles up close. The festivities began at 10:30 a.m. with a parade down Dexter Avenue. The parade was led by an antique restored horse-drawn fire wagon. The smoke rising from the top of the wagon was simulated steam from the wagon’s pump. Following this vision of the technological past, many of the department’s state-of-the-art equipment followed inlcuding a rescue boat, command vehicles and fire engines. After the parade the public was invited to lunch and a short presentation at the department’s headquarters Downtown.

  The City of Montgomery has been recognized for ensuring that the Capital City’s Fire/Rescue Department receives the best equipment, expert training and the most highly qualified personnel to provide our citizens with the best fire service possible. 

    The department says it is committed to providing efficient, effective and professional public service to all residents and to those who work in and visit the Capital City.  The department has garnered the respect of the profession and continues to set the bar as a model agency. From it’s Top ISO Rating to it’s World Champion Combat Challenge Team, Montgomery Fire/Rescue strives to be the best.

Staff report

Alabama politicians are dumping on us



By Jeff Martin

Superfund is the common name given to a trust fund that provides the budget for the EPA to evaluate and cleanup the most polluted sites in the country. In Northern Birmingham such a site exists, caused by decades of pollution from industrial facilities some who have been named the responsible parties, including Drummond Company.

    Drummond didn’t want to pay for the cleanup, so they enlisted a who’s who of elected officials to send letters asking the EPA to back off. They also bribed a state legislator to help with their dirty deeds. They even convinced an Elementary school not to test for contamination.

     Forget, for a moment, the three men on trial and the countless others who probably should be. This conspiracy paints a much larger picture and an ugly one at that. One that depicts Alabama as a dump, because the large polluters of our state often don’t have to take responsibility for their mess because they are lining politicians’ pockets with bribes and hefty campaign contributions.

     If this trial has proven anything it’s that many of our elected officials and ADEM serve at the pleasure of the ‘Big Mules’ and not the citizens.

    Raw sewage, unsafe water, uneatable fish, coal ash and superfund sites. It’s all becoming too common an occurrence here in a state that is home to some of the most unique river basins in the world. 

    Who is protecting us? Apparently not the politicians elected to do so. If it wasn’t for the hard working, underpaid, non-profits playing the role of consumer watchdogs we’d all be clueless and dying from cancer, instead of just the poor black citizens.

     Last year, a visiting United Nations official who tours the globe investigating extreme poverty said that areas of Alabama’s Black Belt are suffering the most dire sewage disposal crisis of any place he has visited in a developed country.

     In neighboring Lowndes County almost half the residents have been exposed to raw sewage and more than 34 percent tested positive for hookworm, a parasite so rare in the US that doctors no longer test for it.  Sounds serious, but what’s being done about it?

    Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities are tremendous assets for Alabama’s economy, but needs clean air, water and land to thrive. In Alabama outdoor recreation is an $8 billion industry and creates the need for 86,000 direct jobs.

    Nowadays few waterways exist in Alabama where a fish can be caught for consumption and nearly every river has fish consumption advisories. To make matters worse, 85 percent of fishermen are unaware of the fish consumption advisories in the water they fish.   

     The Alabama Department of Public Health constantly issues updates where the fish are dangerous for people to eat. When excess levels of a contaminant are found in multiple fish species from a specific body of water, a ‘Do Not Eat Any’ advisory is issued, consumption of any fish may place the consumer at risk for harm from the contaminant.

    Some Alabama waterways include high enough levels of mercury, PCBs, chlordane and DDTs it isn’t even safe to swim.

     In the last decade a small, poor, black Alabama town has become a dumping ground for out-of-state coal ash, amounting to more than 4 million tons of the hazardous coal ash that contains toxins such as mercury and arsenic that can affect the nervous and reproductive systems and cause other health problems. According to the EPA, people living within a mile of unlined coal ash storage ponds have a one in 50 risk of developing cancer.

     Nelson Brooke with Alabama’s Black Warrior Riverkeeper recently said that despite the recent release of groundwater monitoring data, which demonstrates that toxic pollutants in coal ash are contaminating groundwater at power plants throughout Alabama, recent regulations drafted by ADEM would significantly undermine rules currently providing some protection to the citizens of Alabama from coal ash pollution.

     These are the reasons everyone should pay close attention to witness testimony in the federal trial currently taking place in a Birmingham courtroom.

     After four weeks, testimony has painted a clear picture as to who is really is in charge of the state and how often elected officials turn a blind eye. We now know the regular fella has never stood a chance in the fight for the right to clean air and water.