Let's clean out the notebook ...
• The local school enrollment figures are interesting for revealing how Hispanic enrollment has surged. Up to 1999, there were virtually no Hispanic students. In 2013-14, over 100 Hispanic students enrolled in Jasper City Schools. Four years later, it had leaped to 309. The county system has 213 Hispanic students enrolled in the school system.
This is going to be a wake-up call that our society is changing. We are possibly going to need more help with English language skills - and students native to the county are going to have to take more studies to learn Hispanic languages and culture. Certainly, Christian ministries and businesses need to factor more outreach to that culture.
The president can weep and wail about migrants and beg and plead for a wall that, frankly, if it happens, is going to be a lot less than he envisions. I think the immigration matter has become a red herring that will soon enough fade from view once Trump leaves office. Society is changing, and I think we need to learn to embrace the changes in our culture.
By the way, I don't look for a lame duck Congress to throw itself at funding Trump's wall when they are having enough problems just funding the government. I think we are facing the prospect of a government shutdown that is very real, and, worse for Republicans, polling shows the majority of Americans will blame Trump for a shutdown, and are not counting the wall as being a priority. It is a priority with Trump's base, but that is not a majority of people.
• While speaking on funding, the National Parks Conservation Association points out a startling statistic: The national parks have a $12 billion backlog of infrastructure repairs. A new bill called the Restore Our Parks Act would call for $6.5 billion of that to be caught up. Sadly, media reports indicate even that bill may not get final passage in the Congress, although some efforts are still being made to include it in final spending packages. I always thought the national parks were one of our crown jewels, but it has not being treated that way. It is a disgrace, and I can only hope wiser heads prevail.
• We might as well address the other elephant in the room. The filings in the Mueller probe have been interesting, and it certainly seems like the president of the United States has very likely committed a felony (and while trying to cover up an affair with a porn star at that). The new New York attorney general is opening her own series of Trump-related probes. People are going to jail. Media reports indicate behind the scenes Republicans are getting nervous, and Trump is beginning to realize impeachment in the House is a possibility, if not a certainty.
I don't think anyone should jump on impeachment until the federal probe is over. It appears Trump may have committed a felony, but are campaign misdeeds enough for impeachment? That is something he may have to face if he loses the 2020 election, as he could be indicted once he leaves office. Technically, the charge is enough for impeachment; politically, I am not sure. In any case, we need to wait for the full results of the probe.
Although the powerful U.S. Rep. Wilber Mills had shame after a sex scandal in late 1974, he was still re-elected that November. A few weeks later, public drunken behavior (on stage where his love, stripper Fanne Foxe, was performing) led the powerful Mills to step down as the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, although he still kept his seat and didn't run for re-election in 1976. In short, he didn't go quickly.
Donald Trump should resign and save us much time and effort, and allow the country to move on. But he won't budge any faster that Wilber did. And Wilber was 100 times smarter than Trump on their best days.
• The inauguration date for Lee Tucker as the new probate judge is not certain, but the current one, Rick Allison, told me this week his last day will be Jan. 14, the same day Nick Smith plans to be sworn in as sheriff. So we can look around about that time for a swearing in ceremony. Allison, on his part, gave a great interview for a feature we will have coming up.
• I also did a feature interview with David Jones, who leads the Capstone Rural Health Center and told me more about the center and himself. But in talking and hearing from others it is clear David is quite respected for his leadership, as I have heard glowing remarks. Hopefully that story will turn out well.
• One couldn't help but to note Smith's address this week to the Walker County Civil Service Board stressed cooperation and respect for the board and the Walker County Commission, with the chairman of the commission, Jerry Bishop, sitting in. Officials seem to be waiting for one more month for peace to break out between the Sheriff's Office/county jail and the commission. Honeymoon periods never last forever, but it is off to a good start. (By the way, it was great to see board chairwoman Linda Ensor at the meeting, as she was finally released from the hospital after a long stay.)
• Saturday is going to be busy in the area. The Kids Loving Kids distribution will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Townley's Christmas parade is set for 1 p.m., while the Bankhead House will hold its open house from 2-4 p.m. The delayed Carbon Hill Christmas parade will be held at 6 p.m.
• Well, to update on the House races, media reports indicate that a total of 39 seats have been flipped to the benefit of Democrats. That figure is mind boggling, considering they gained 49 seats in the Watergate year of 1974.
NBC News analysis shows Democrats led Republicans in vote totals by 8.6 million votes in the midterm House races, the largest margin that Democrats have defeated the GOP in House midterm races since 1974, when it was 8.7 million. USA TODAY says at least 80 women have been elected to the House, 69 of them Democrats, including 27 of 28 newcomers.
In case you wondered, Democrats gained four Senate seats in 1974, while this year Republicans gained two seats this year, to 53 in the majority. However, experts said the map favored the GOP from the start in this chamber — and remember some of those margins were fairly close. And the House loss means both chambers' work could be moot for two years. (That little debate between Trump and Democrats in the Oval Office this week seems to show outright political nuclear winter may be at hand.)