Show up and open up



Art Parker,
Managing Editor

By Art Parker

Governor Kay Ivey is not a hot prospect to pitch for my beloved New York Yankees this season after failing to find the strike zone when throwing out the first pitch at the Birmingham Barons baseball game last Thursday night. However, in baseball terms whenever a pitcher throws at least one pitch from the mound it is officially recorded as an “appearance.”

     The Governor can be proud of her professional baseball career and making an appearance. Too bad she failed to make an appearance at the same time for a gubernatorial debate held at a Birmingham TV station. Since Ivey didn’t even start   the debate; the bullpen was called upon for relief appearances by all the other GOP candidates.

     It is a shame. It is spitting in the eyes of the electorate. It is cowardly. I personally equate this action by Ivey to be similar to public officials who do just about anything to avoid releasing public records. The only way a politician can be trusted is to show up and always open up. Too bad the CEO of the State of Alabama is too much of a chicken to stand up with her challengers and answer the questions important to the people.

     ‘The people be damned, I got other things to do.’ That’s what I took from her absence.

     It is true that one old and often used political rule is that the incumbent doesn’t have to debate. It looks like Ivey, or her handlers, decided that was the thing to do.

    Much has been said about the way she played her debate cards and much has been said about Ivey having a clear lead in the polls. So, she is playing “catch me if you can.”

     I hope they all catch her.

    Ivey is an incumbent only because she was at the right place at the right time and her predecessor was a blithering idiot that couldn‘t keep his hands to himself. She wasn’t elected to be Governor. She was elected to Lieutenant Governor. Of course, that played well for her because of Robert Bentley and our state constitution.

    That brings to the thought of who does she think she is? It seems to me that Ivey would want to debate and show she is tough and can lead. Instead she is doing what Gerald Ford tried to do when challenged by Jimmy Carter in 1976. Ford stayed in the White Rose Garden and signed legislation and a mountain of other things to look Presidential. It didn’t work. Carter whipped his butt. And like Ivey, Ford became a chief executive because the other guy had to resign.

    By the way, there are a couple of more debates scheduled and Ivey is apparently going to stay away and play the incumbent card of not debating.

     One of the things that really bothers me is that I have heard nothing from the Republican Party on Ivey’s failure to appear. The GOP will try to disqualify a candidate for ridiculous things like not being Republican enough or because you accepted money from AEA, etc. But I don’t see the party pressuring Ivey to participate. This is illustrative of why I think  political parties are the worst thing for this country and are our biggest problem. Truthfully, like the Democrats, the GOP doesn’t care about anything except winning. If Ivey refuses to talk or show respect for the citizens of this state the GOP does not care as long as she wins.         

    If the GOP wanted the citizens of Alabama to trust it (the party) and if it truly wanted to give Alabama the very best Governor, then the party would be standing on Ivey’s desk demanding that she show leadership and participate in debates. But that’s not going to happen. The GOP sees Ivey as its best chance of winning. 

    One thing for sure. I will not vote for Ivey. I’m not going to support anyone who lacks the leadership to debate. I want answers and I do not wish to be ignored.

    Not as long as I’m paying the bills.


Alabama is low on the ladder



Art Parker,
Managing Editor

By Art Parker

The legislators may be gone from Union Street but we will  continue to hear their voices tell us how much good they do us and how honest they are. This is an election year and we will surely not shut them up.

   With that in mind let’s see how Alabama is doing. I took the time to look “us” up and get an analytical measurement on our state compared to others. Before we look at the results let me brace you for what is dismal news.

   Here is our overall rank of the fifty states in various categories.

Health Care – we rank 46th, even though we have one of the nation’s medical gems in the University of Alabama – Birmingham.

Education – you know this was coming, we rank 47th.

Overall Economy – Much of this is because of our poor education, we rank 38th.

Overall Quality of Life – One can only imagine the long list of factors that rank us 35th. Truthfully, I’m surprised it is that high.

Overall Opportunity – talk about depressing, we rank 48th.

Infrastructure – Much better than I thought it would be, we rank 32nd but see more details on this important later. 

Crime and Corrections – no surprise with our rank of 43rd

Overall poverty – again, no surprise, we rank 48th 

   After more research I found our grades in several infrastructure categories. Let’s look at these: Aviation, ports, energy and rail we score at either a B or B-. Drinking water we get a C+. We get a C- on bridges and waste/storm water. We get a D+ in roads and inland waterways. Worst of all, we get a D in transit.

   I got most of this information from U.S. News and World Report and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).  

   I mention all of this less than entertaining data to simply say that our state government plays a major role in most if not all of these categories. Armed with this information you can ask very specific questions and demand very specific answers during this election season. I’m planning to go to all of the candidates in my House District, hand them this list and ask “Specifically, what are you going to do about this?” I will cut them off quickly when they talk in past tense, such as, “I have worked with others in the past…” Remember, when you ask the phrase is what WILL you do (future tense).

    One of the things that bothers me about the electorate is the reluctance to confront, question and interrogate an elected official. We should not fear these guys, after all, they work for us we do not work for them. Here in Alabama our legislators do not dedicate themselves to solving the important problems. They are more concerned with self-interests such as the recent passing of HB 317, which will make it easier for these guys to lobby while being paid by outside interests, and never fear ethical violations. That’s what they are good at doing.

   It is our job to harass, hound, bother, interrogate, inquire and demand that they answer for all of their actions, especially when we lag behind other states in America.

The best way I can say this is never cease to ask questions and make these guys squirm and feel damned uncomfortable. Believe me, we will be better served the harder we make it on them.     

   But before I forget, we did lead the nation in one category. That category was the state having the highest paid public employee in the nation. That’s us. Alabama wins the prize. Coach Nick Saban is the highest paid public employee in this great country with an annual compensation exceeding $11 million. Just as a comparison the median income for an entire household in Alabama is $44,765. That means, in case you don’t know, that one-half of the households have income higher than $44,765 and the other half is below that number.

   By the way, I didn’t find a category for football but I’m sure we rank number one in that category too, if not, then Nick needs to give some of that money back. 

My favorite time of the year

Art Parker,
Managing Editor

No doubt about it. This is my favorite time of year. Spring is here and summer is on the way.

This week it’s the Masters Tournament. I may not watch many golf tournaments but I always watch the Masters. I’ve been to the Masters Tournament a couple of times and Augusta National is a beautiful, special place.

Last week Major League Baseball season started and my beloved Yankees look to be a major American League contender. I try to keep up with the Yankees best I can but rest assured I will be glued to some electronic media when they play the disgusting Red Sox on April 10, 11 and 12. Sorry Boston fans, but I’m sure you feel the same about my team.

One month from today is the Kentucky Derby, a big day for me since I’ve been playing the horses for forty years and been a student of racing history and the business side of the sport.

Oh, before I forget. Mrs. Parker and I planted our tomatoes for the year. There is nothing that equals a home grown southern summer tomato. Nothing. Last year we had six plants plus one of those grape tomato plants and the harvest on the Parker farm was exceptional and lasted a long time. My mouth is watering thinking about that first tomato and bacon sandwich, which is not on the diet, but I really don’t care.

There has got to be another reason I love this time of year. Oh yes. It is the time for the Alabama Legislature to call it quits and leave town, which they did last Thursday. They didn’t use all of the constitutional days allocated for the session but it’s an election year and what is more important than the people’s business…getting re-elected.

The Legislature declared sine die, which means to adjourn proceedings with no appointed date for resumption. If the Legislature comes back this year it will have to be in a special session, which I do not anticipate.

It may not reflect well upon lawmakers that they cut the session short, but we can always be appreciative that they did. After all, if those clowns are not in session then they can do less harm, and that is something I like almost as much as my homegrown tomatoes.

Many lawmakers believe they deserve high marks for their efforts this year. I think they are full of you know what.

Besides failing to do several critical things the lawmakers saw fit to protect themselves from the law. By now you have heard about the bill that originated in the House of Representatives known as HB 317. If there was ever a time that elected officials spit in our face and trampled sound ethics this is it. In fact, I cannot think of anything Congress has ever done on the federal level to match this.

HB 317 exempts professional economic development people from having to register as lobbyists. This first gives them what I call stay out of jail liberties. Elected officials can now declare themselves as economic developers and basically act as lobbyists while in office.

Let’s don’t kid ourselves. We know what is going here. It was eight years ago when Republicans were going to clean up Montgomery and pass all those tough ethics laws. Former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard led the Republican charge to clean things up and he was then convicted on felony ethics charges.

Hubbard, who is still out on appeal after being conviction a couple of years ago, would have never been in trouble had HB 317 been enacted before he started his monkey business. What I found amazing was some of the public statements made by Republican Legislators stating that Hubbard would not be in jail had this been done years earlier.

Well, well. We can’t have this happening again can we? This is kind of like a legislator being convicted of murdering someone with a gun, and then the Legislature passes a law that would exclude murder charges for a legislator, if a gun was used.

HB 317 is a perfect example of how these guys will fix things, while we are looking, so that they can pad their own wallets.

Thank God  they are gone fore this year.