Alabama’s Silver Haired legislature



By Steve Flowers

With all the changes and uncertainty surrounding Alabama government in recent months, including political appointments, high level resignations, special elections, runoff elections and a host of new candidates tossing their names into the 2018 election circus, Alabamians might be relieved to know one thing remains steady and solid and many may never have heard of it – Alabama’s Silver Haired Legislature is one of Alabama’s crown jewels.
This illustrious and distinguished array of Alabama’s senior leaders will convene in Montgomery next week. This elected body of 105 members will meet to discuss issues related to seniors but in some cases, they may have positive impacts on the State in general.
Alabama’s Silver Haired Legislature has met now for 24-years. They have had a significant impact on Alabama Public Policy.
The idea of a body to represent seniors has been around the nation since 1973. Most states now have a Silver Haired Legislature. The idea of a senior legislative institution was created to educate older Americans about issues of local, state, and national concern.
The purpose is to insure that all 105 legislative districts have a senior legislator to mirror and provide some liaison with our 105 regular state legislators, assist them, and keep them apprised of senior issues that affect their constituents.
The Silver legislators serve as conduits between the state’s area agencies on aging, Senior Centers, nutritional centers and generally being the eyes and ears of seniors related to finances, education, recreation, health and wellness.
Unlike the regular legislature, the Silver Hairs body is unicameral and nonpartisan. They are from all parts of the state. The age requirement is that one must be over age 60.
They pass resolutions, not bills. Their nonpartisanship makes for a much more effective and harmonious legislative session than our regular legislature.
Many of these senior legislators have historically been an extremely experienced collection of retired state employees, educators, business people, judges, former legislators, mayors, and public servants. Many have been involved with governance at all levels.
Alabama is an aging state. By 2030 those age 60 and above will represent 27 percent of Alabama’s population. It is often overlooked, but this age shift is evolving. Currently it is estimated that nearly 20 percent of Alabama’s population is over 60. The fastest growing segment of our state’s population is our folks 70-85. Projections are at the next census one of every five Alabamians will be over 65. Therefore, it is apropos that we have a senior legislature of over 60 year olds looking after their interests.
They were at the forefront and subsequently were the reason that an Elder Abuse Statue was passed in the state. They were the first to address the issue of texting and driving. Legislation came out of that resolution. They have impacted the Medicaid budgeting problems and nursing home enhancements and regulations. They were the first to bring attention to the predatory payday lending business. They brought about public transportation for senior citizens who live in rural areas and small municipalities. They have sought assistance to better fund all Department of Senior Services.
Their current leadership is stellar. The Speaker of the House is Steve Griffin of Tuscaloosa. Winston Griggs of Headland is Speaker Pro Tem. George Boswell of Wetumpka is Secretary. Sandra Harris of Alexander City is treasurer. Other leaders who serve on the board and are legislative leaders are Mary Jo Martin of Demopolis, Dean McCormack of Tuscumbia, Warner Floyd of Montgomery, Homer Homan of Brundidge, Selena Daniel of Opelika, Carol Oden of Vinemont and Ann Holman of Dothan.

While much of the focus is on the younger generation, it will be those that have helped build the state who are quietly listening to the issues and helping plan the trajectory of state programs and politics who may actually have the loudest input at the ballot box and in helping shape the legislation that insures that Alabama remembers the needs of its seniors along with all of its citizens.

The Heart of Dixie political pot is boiling

Steve Flowers

By Steve Flowers

There have been quite a few political happenings in the Heart of Dixie during October. Birmingham has elected a new mayor.  Thirty six year old Randall Woodfin defeated two-term mayor William Bell.
   I never got to know Bell that well; however, the few times I visited with him he seemed to be an affable fellow.  He surely looked like a mayor.  His distinguished demeanor and exquisite diction and appearance gave an elegant impression for Birmingham.  He looked like he came out of Hollywood central casting.
   Woodfin beat Bell the old-fashioned way.  He went door-to-door with shoe leather and diligence.  He met most of Birmingham’s voters one-on-one and it paid off.  He beat Bell convincingly, 58 to 41. At age 36 Woodfin will be the youngest Birmingham mayor in modern history.
   In addition to changing mayors, Birmingham voters also ousted two longtime city council leaders, Johnathan Austin and Kim Rafferty.  Austin was City Council President.
   Alabama State University did a good days work when they selected State Senator Quinton Ross as their new president.  Senator Ross is a gentleman of impeccable character and ability. Ross has served 15-years in the Alabama Senate with distinction.  He is very well respected among his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
   Even though being in the Democratic minority in the Senate, he has been able to work with the Republican majority to get an immense amount of things accomplished for his Montgomery district. His legislative and governmental experience will be invaluable in unlocking fundraising doors for the university.
   Quinton Ross is an educator by profession with undergraduate and graduate degrees from his beloved Alabama State.  He grew up in Montgomery, went to public schools and then continued his education degrees in his hometown. He is only 48-years old.  He can build quite a legacy at Alabama State.  He has the proper pedigree and love for his alma mater to make his tenure special.
   The legendary coach, Pat Dye, worked diligently on behalf of Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate race.  It did not hurt Moore any.  Coach Dye is an icon in Alabama.  He is a man’s man.  I love to visit with him.
   Even though he grew up on a farm in Georgia, he is a true Alabamian through and through.  He reminds me some of our great folksy senator, Howell Heflin.  Heflin was a true Alabamian. However, his daddy was a Methodist minister.  As you may know, Methodist ministers are moved often.  His daddy was serving a stint in Georgia when Heflin was born.  Judge Heflin was always a little embarrassed by this fact being as he was a U.S. Senator from Alabama.  He would often say that his daddy was doing missionary work among the heathen.
   Pat Dye grew up in Georgia and was an All American guard for the University of Georgia Bulldogs.  He became a coach for Bear Bryant 45 years ago.  He became Bryant’s most renowned recruiter.  He was the mainstay of Bryant’s last decade.  His recruiting was relentless.  He learned every corner of the state.  When Alabama took the field for the national championship game against Notre Dame in 1973, 24 of the 72 players were signed by Dye.
  He went on to become one of Auburn’s greatest coaches.  His decade at the helm was some of Auburn’s glory years.
   He enjoys his life on his magnificent farm in East Alabama.  He spends most of his time on his land hunting and fishing.  However, he has gotten riled up about the fact that Alabama is losing an immense amount of money to our neighboring states of Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee because the powers that be will not let Alabamians vote on a lottery.
   Those powers that be are the Indian/Las Vegas gambling interests that want to continue to buy control of certain political offices that will allow them to continue their monopoly.
   Our interim acting Attorney General, Steve Marshall, has shown his hand.  Marshall, even though totally unknown, is running for a full term.  The Indian gambling interests have put their money on him.  He has done their bidding and has filed suit against the Alabama owned casinos to allow his new bosses, the Indian gambling casinos, a monopoly.
   You will be able to follow the money in the AG race.  You can bet your bottom dollar that Pat Dye will be against Marshall. The Indian Gambling syndicate needs to hedge their bet.  Marshall will not win that race. Alabamians will know that the gambling syndicate backs this unknown charlatan and his claim to the office was that he was Robert Bentley’s appointee.

Politics and the judicial system


Jefferson County is transitioning from a Republican to a Democratic county.  In the process, they are having an interesting array of intriguing political happenings. You may recall that a few months back I wrote about the indictment of the newly elected Jefferson County District Attorney, Charles Todd Henderson, on perjury charges.  To say a lot has happened since then would be an understatement.
   Dr. Robert Bentley has vacated the governor’s office under a scandalous cloud.  Lt. Governor Kay Ivey has ascended to governor, and appears to be the favorite to win election to a four-year term of her own in next year’s upcoming elections.  We have had a Special Election to fill the remaining three years of Jeff Sessions’s six-year Senate term.  Former Governor Bentley’s appointee, former state Attorney General Luther Strange, was overwhelmingly defeated by former state Chief Justice Roy Moore, and the Ten Commandments Judge is poised to become our junior U.S. Senator. Therefore, that brings me back to Henderson.
   There is a trial beginning next week regarding the Democrat Henderson. Todd Henderson was a police officer and a youth sports coach that put himself through law school later in life and, ultimately, became a lawyer.  He is also a lifelong Democrat.  Therefore, when he challenged two-term Republican Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls in the 2016 Election, Henderson won.
    It was simply another referendum on the party power struggle in our most populous county.  The District Attorney race, similarly to all of the judicial races, has become a simple partisan straight ticket voting pattern in imperial Jefferson.  Henderson won election in a fair and square unquestionable election.  The reason Henderson won was because he was a Democrat and Falls was a Republican.
   Luther Strange being the Republican Attorney General of course took the Republican mantle and began investigating Henderson to find a way to thwart the Democratic takeover of this powerful post of Jefferson County District Attorney.  Strange’s office began investigating Henderson on perjury charges only after he was elected the Democratic nominee.  Had Henderson lost to Falls that might have een the end of it.  Based on research there has never been anyone in Jefferson County indicted, much less convicted of perjury in a divorce case.  But Henderson won.  So, on January 13, 2017, just three days before Henderson was supposed to take office, Strange indicted him.
   When a District Attorney gets indicted, he is immediately suspended from office and the presiding local judge gets to pick who’ll replace him while the indictment is pending.  Most folks do not know this, but the recently defeated Falls was well aware of this fact.  That is why, according to some, Falls showed up at the judge’s office right after the indictment and made a pitch that he be appointed to fill the position.  Just think about that.  The voters in Jefferson County had rejected him as their DA with their votes, and he is trying to sneak in the back door as soon as he gets the chance.  Fortunately for the voters, the judge was having none of it and appointed Henderson’s chief deputy instead.
    Now the case is headed to trial and the only way Falls or any Republican can get into the DA office is if Henderson gets convicted.  That is because a conviction will remove both Henderson and the judge’s appointment from office, giving Governor Ivey, a Republican, the power to appoint whomever she wants and you can bet it will not be a Democrat.
    The whole mess stinks to high heaven of political motivation and vindictiveness.  Our new Attorney General Steve Marshall, who was not a party to the Strange/Bentley scheme, has the chance to end this chicanery now before the trial starts and restore some faith in the office of Attorney General.  The clock is ticking.
    Marshall, who was appointed by Bentley to fill out the remainder of Luther Strange’s term, is running for a full term.  The former Marshall County District Attorney is essentially unknown statewide.
   Currently, former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and Birmingham lawyer Chess Bedsole are the frontrunners to win next year’s race for Attorney General.  However, if former Attorney General Troy King enters the race, he will win in a cakewalk.