Consider lieutenant governor's race carefully in 2018

Posted 4/5/18

Let's clean out the notebook: • Haleyville has now secured Lakeland Community Hospital. According to the Northwest Alabamian in Haleyville, the Haleyville City Council, acting somewhat on …

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Consider lieutenant governor's race carefully in 2018


Let's clean out the notebook: 

• Haleyville has now secured Lakeland Community Hospital. According to the Northwest Alabamian in Haleyville, the Haleyville City Council, acting somewhat on paper on behalf of the Haleyville/Winston County Healthcare Authority, has approved a $1.5 million loan to purchase the hospital, as well as a 1-cent sales tax and usage tax increase to pay back the loan and to use for industrial or economic development. The authority, which has formal ownership of the hospital as of April 1, is also authorized to issue revenue bonds to purchase the hospital. The revenue from the hospital and the funding agreement with the city will pay back the loan. Day-to-day management will be under Java Medical Group, with the idea the hospital will be an independent hospital. 

• By the way, as I like to say, the ticker is running behind at the Daily Mountain Eagle. Well, I know I am, anyway. Much has been going on, and we are trying to catch up with it all the developments. To show you what it has been like, we got word of the $100,000 secured for security at the Walker County Courthouse just before 4 p.m. I worked like a madman to write the story and the sidebar before 7 p.m., when I attended the Good Friday event at Jasper's First Baptist Church. They eventually ran in Sunday's paper, because there was already too much for Saturday. (In fact, usually write my volume by Wednesday at lunch. I'm writing this at 3 p.m. Wednesday because of the straight-line winds that hit the Parkland area of Jasper.) 

• Yellowhammer News noted that Gov. Kay Ivey is skipping a major debate that will be attended by other gubernatorial candidates. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, evangelist Scott Dawson, and Alabama Sen. Bill Hightower of Mobile, her major opponents, agreed to take part in the April 18 event in Birmingham. However, she said she is busy.

“It’s my understanding from the schedulers that we are committed, and I believe it’s in Mobile, working with the Restore Council and also the NRDA Council,” she told WHNT-TV. “Those combined $1.6 billion in means for our state, so my schedule is already filled, as I understand it for the date in mid-April that you’re talking about.”

Yellowhammer noted this: "Internal polling shows that Governor Kay Ivey is up above 50 percent with all of her rivals in the teens or below, if this is true, there will be no debates in this race."

• Steve Flowers, whose column appears in the Eagle, finally openly admitted what many of us had talked about locally when Ivey visited in Jasper last year. He noted in a recent column she was the front-runner.

"However, recently her demeanor and appearance belies the fact that she is only 73," he said of Ivey. "This premature aging becomes apparent when she gets out campaigning and speaking. This elderly resonance and cognizance will not detract from her being elected to a full term.  However, if I were running her campaign, I would limit her appearances. They should keep her in the Governor’s Office and use photos from a few years back and take credit for the upturn in the economy.  Her support is a mile wide and an inch deep. A slip and fall could derail her train."

There was a sense while she was in Jasper that she was being protected and allowed to rest. I wouldn't say she was completely frail, but I do think she was more frail than I had recalled her from days of old, when she seemed to have boundless energy. A number of people who have seen her in the past noticed this. Many have said that she might  be popular enough to be elected, but she probably needed to limit campaigning, claim that she is busy doing the state's business. 

Does this matter? Well, some of us recall the last time George Wallace ran for governor in 1982. I saw him in Fayette and he did a wonderful job speaking. The day after he won, the Birmingham News noted Wallace had been taking injections and such to essentially boost his energy or ease his pain, something like that. When you visited him at the Capitol in Montgomery, he was deaf and enjoyed talking about meeting dignitaries of the past. But I understood that his staff was running the show. He was constantly in pain or going to the hospital. Even he must have realized running again was a mistake, and he in time announced he wouldn't run for another term. 

Ivey talks about how she had only hours or whatever to take over as governor. (That is hooey. She said to in 2016, "When I first got elected lieutenant governor in 2010, I entrusted my transition team then to develop us a plan should the need arise, because one of the responsibilities of the lieutenant governor is to serve if and when there is a vacancy." In April 2017, she became governor.) 

At any rate, the lieutenant governor could become a factor. She turns 74 in October, so she would by 78 when she leaves office. Republicans running for lieutenant governor include Will Ainsworth, Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and Rusty Glover; Will Boyd is the lone Democrat. These people could very well be governor eventually, so I would consider this race carefully. 

• Do not forget that the next night meeting for the Walker County Commission is coming up on Monday, April 16, at 6 p.m. The public will be allowed to speak. 

• Before I was swamped this week, I was hoping to get together a feature on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to note the 50th anniversary of his death. I had hoped to ask community leaders of all races what they felt like he would be concerned about had he lived to today, but the news cycle overtook me. It is still an interesting question, with all the questions on race, economic parity,  law enforcement and the rollback of government regulations. I think he would be pleased at many things, but he would be sorrowful about many others. 

What should be remembered is the vision that he gave his generation and for the generations to follow, one that does not promote violence but does advance racial and economic equality, using education, spiritual maturity and courage to take the first step. 

Reports of King's last hours and moments before indicate he was in a good mood, actually happy after a very tiring struggle in Memphis. Where he is now, I know he is happy, free of all struggles. We are not left with the struggle; being the human race, we are the struggle. And we must work with each other, talk with each other to achieve not only the dream that King had, but the one that our founders had, that we are created equal and all enjoy the pursuit of happiness.

Sadly, 50 years later, we find it is just as challenging as King found it. But we still have a movement — one that King, I think, likely would say is not given to us by King or by man, but of God, to find peace with each other through the Holy Spirit. We live in a dark time, with dark hearts and quick-trigger tempers. That movement, involving all of us, of all races and creeds, is more important than ever before.

Against all odds, the movement still marches on — and we march with it. For that, I am sure King would be very happy, indeed. 

Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle's news editor.