Revenue figures mean good news for legislators

Ed Howell
Posted 1/11/18

Let’s clean out the notebook ...

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Revenue figures mean good news for legislators

Posted

Let’s clean out the notebook ...

• With the Legislature back in session, I’m sure legislators would harken back to the radio commentator Gabriel Heatter if they knew to, as he would begin some broadcasts, “Ah, there’s good news tonight.” Legislators up for re-election are crowing about the record low state unemployment rates and the almost unbelievable scenario that state budgets are in the black, with even Medicaid carrying over funds from the previous year. Some federal funding issues could cause a hiccup, but basically, right when legislators politically need it, everything is coming up roses. And despite probably every legislator in the state claiming it makes no difference to them, legislators as a whole can possibly get the budgets done early with no major state scandals and a good economy, and get to campaigning. If they can pull it off, they will. And the local legislative delegation looks to be in good shape, as I’ve only heard of one opposition candidate among the three of them.

• It has been a weird start to the qualifying season. I’m used to political parties having an opening event where several candidates show up, make speeches and race to be among the first to sign up. The Republicans here sat at the Jasper Public Library all afternoon Monday and got a couple of local candidates, and they didn’t show up until later in the day when I had left. Of the three GOP candidates for sheriff, none showed up that day, for example, although I heard Nick Smith was to qualify for sheriff late Wednesday; Coroner Joey Vick was also supposed to be signing up for re-election at that time. Smith noted on Facebook he had received a letter from the Walker County Republican Party saying he had been admitted into the party.

I also have not heard from the county Democratic chairman, Tim Bowen, although I will likely go to the Thursday meeting. (I will catch up with Carbon Hill Council later. My apologies, but I can’t be cloned.) Also, the state Republican website has been slow to update some of the judicial candidates, which has hampered me. But we have a ways to go, as some will wait out to see who qualifies first before it all ends on Feb. 9.

• By the way, state Rep. Tim Wadsworth has also qualified for re-election, and has stated he wants to change the address we list on the Opinion page. His address is 1175 Helicon Road, Arley, AL 35541. He was also excited about the Toyota-Mazda plant announcement expected for Limestone County, claiming its 4,000 jobs were 45 to 60 minutes away from Winston County.

• The proposal to have a referendum to transfer the Eldridge exit land to the Walker County Board of Education for development appears to have everyone lined up. I must say it sounds like a great idea, although before my story was completed I was tired of hearing the term, “It is a win-win situation.” Of course, that is because it is a win-win situation, as it will allow local control of development and local schools can benefit financially from any development, as well as Eldridge. Town leaders are excited, obviously. No one so far can think of a reason not to approve it in a referendum.

• I told you last week about getting the clothes dryer. Well, I hadn’t tried it out yet at that time. The first time out, it quit like the old one did. That’s when I realized it was an electrical problem, and I had to call for maintenance at the apartment. Of course, if I didn’t have the new dryer, we would have probably thought for a week or two it was the old dryer doing this. And after 15 years it was time to change for safety and energy efficiency anyway.

• As for the College National Championship game, well, I went home thinking I would watch it. But my job can be a little stressful, and some nights I don’t want to yell my head off and have more stress. In fact, I was getting stressed watching beforehand how ESPN was making this into another overproduced Super Bowl. So I finally gave up before the game began and I had the most pleasant evening reading, watching TV and doing a few other little things. I checked the score from time to time, and saw Alabama was not having as good a time. Then came the halftime show, and no one had a good time.

Finally, after reading a long article, I looked at my phone to email someone about it, and I saw a bulletin that had just been released: Alabama had won. I couldn’t believe it. How did that happen? And that meant only one thing: My relaxing evening was over, because I live a short distance from Hibbett Sports. I knew people would be lined up, and, yes, at midnight you had half of town waiting in line for T-shirts, caps and I don’t know what else. I guess it is a kind of energy release; you never saw so many people having as good a time, high fiving and saying “Roll Tide.” (I don’t know how anybody worked Tuesday. I found out last minute they could use the photos that night, so I raced to the office. I think many of us got to bed at 1 a.m.) 

Even Gov. Kay Ivey got into the act. Her opening line of the State of the State address on Tuesday night was something to the effect of “What a game!” That caused legislators to erupt in applause.

I will say this: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa may now have more of a chance to be a starting quarterback next fall, although I would not count Jalen Hurts out yet (who also got good marks for how he handled his reaction). But I have to wonder if this game had been earlier in the season if Tagovailoa would have been an instant candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Oddly enough, I read because Hurts played the first half, the win will be credited to him as a victory in the record books.

• Well, Jerry Bishop has made clear he is not resigning as Walker County Commission chairman. I didn’t realize how wild the rumor had rampaged in county quarters, but it was. I think some were maneuvering to try to even be appointed in his place. But as long as the financial situation is still unsettled, I doubt he will leave, as long as his health stays stable. (Some of us were concerned for him at one point last year.) And he might even then wait until the end of the term if the finances were settled. I think the only long-range thing to predict with 90 percent accuracy is he would not run again for re-election — and even then, things change.

• Our understanding is the first hearing on Sheriff Jim Underwood’s concerns over responsibility over food service at the Walker County Jail will be Friday and that it is not expected to be a long event that day.

• Here is to someone I can’t recall meeting, but we noted George Carlton Betenbaugh died on Dec. 23 in South Carolina at age 83. According to his obit, he was an editor at the Daily Mountain Eagle in the 1960s and long-time staff member to U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill and U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin. I know some people will know him more from that era, and I am sure he must have made quite an impression to be included on congressional staffs. It is never easy being an editor, no matter what era you were in. Let me express my condolences and our thanks for his service to this community.