Let’s clean out the notebook...
• The calendar says the municipal elections are on Aug. 25, but these days all elections start early and raise funds early, so nothing surprises me now. And if you are the incumbent, you want to give people time to know you are running. That said, Jasper Mayor David O’Mary plans to announce his plan to run for re-election at 10 a.m. today (Thursday) at Pinnacle Bank. He then holds a meet-and-greet reception tonight at 5:30 p.m. at Five Loaves Bakery. I am not hearing rumors of any opposition, but it is still early.
• With the March 3 primaries not but less than a month away, we are hearing of political events. I know the Walker County Republican Party will have what I think will be its last meeting before the primaries tonight at 6 at Bevill State Community College. Friday, Senate Republican candidate Tommy Tuberville is scheduled to hold a meet-and-greet at Los Reyes Restaurant at 11:45 a.m., with a $12 buffet available.
Meanwhile, Carbon Hill Boosters Club will hold a political rally on Feb. 22 at the Eldridge Community Center, featuring a spaghetti supper at 5 and speaking at 6 p.m. Pineywoods Volunteer Fire Department is hosting a political rally on Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. I haven’t been to any rallies this year, but I know there really hasn’t been that much political talk going on. I think football, Christmas and then impeachment sucked all the oxygen in the room.
• If one saw the State of the State Address Tuesday night from Montgomery, you saw Walker County scored well. Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, and state Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper, both flanked the Gov. Kay Ivey as she spoke, standing and sitting as needed. I thought to get two from the same county was amazing, but Rowe apparently connects well with the governor and also serves on the legislative prison commission Ivey appointed to look at the correction problems.
By the way, I don’t recall ever having to deal with a State of the State and a State of the Union on the same night. I think the governor went 45 minutes and with formalities included the State of the Union was like 90 minutes, with only 45 minutes rest before President Trump started. I hung in there, but even for someone like me who studies politics, it was rough. Ronald Reagan’s invention of recognizing people in the gallery is now starting to be overdone everywhere, while the political grandstanding with applause is also getting a little old to me. We could chop these speeches down tremendously if we didn’t have the theatrics.
I did think the governor had a good speech (and, on television, looked as good as I’ve seen her in a while, even with one arm in a sling, thanks to tripping over her pet dog recently). I was not surprised by a lot of it, although the $1 billion fund for school capital improvements took my breath away a little. (As someone said, there were a lot of details on ideas left out of the speech, and that is where the devil is sometimes.) The most interesting thing was how the glowing, uplifting tone stopped dead cold when she got to the lottery, talking about how she didn’t want gaming to fund essential services and how she would form a study group to look at the numbers. I have a feeling those who profiled bills may not want to hold their breath for action this session, but you never know. But it did sound positive for a number of issues, such as the prisons, teacher and employee raises, and rural health (unless you wanted to expand Medicaid).
• As for the State of the Union, well, that was interesting. I’m not sure either side came across all the time as the adult in the room. What was on full display was the hardened positions and harder feelings on both parties, neither of which feel they have anything to apologize for. It is sad how a constitutionally required report has turned into a circus of applause (or non-applause, or even chanting) commentary and theatrics, and laden with grab bag proposals that will mostly fail in the finger-pointing. It is now an anything-goes, in-your-face presentation that is amped up to score political points.
(By the way, there was a report on AL.com that Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama and President Trump have suggested maybe bringing back earmarks as a way to return to a standard of negotiations between members of Congress. Some may say that is crazy, but I think it might restore a balance and incentive to be able for the two sides to negotiate again. I think it is worth looking at.)
• And now let’s hear it for Iowa for maybe the most stubborn, stupid neglect and mismanagement of an election we’ve seen in some time. The Iowa Democratic Party, bedazzled with its own idea of an app to report the results, ignored all warnings and suggestions, neglected to test it properly and have it vetted by federal officials. This is clearly a textbook case in failure to lead, plan, communicate and finally adapt in the face of crisis. Resignations should be demanded. Besides the “who-won-who-lost” factor of the race itself, and the political image that is better for one or worse for another, what gets me is that this was the first decision in this presidential race - and the world was watching our democracy. Not this party’s democratic process or that party’s - to the world, it is our process. And we failed the image of democracy worldwide. That should be of great concern, as this is damage that will take longer to mend in comparison to reading paper ballots over several days. (And yes, thank Heaven there were paper ballots or it would have been hopeless.)
• Any non-profits out there wanting to improve, I would strongly urge you to consider that Walker County Nonprofit Training Academy at Bevill State Community College on Feb. 21, with the fee only $25. It sounded like a top flight set of people who are going to speak; I can tell you from personal experience that Nathan Willingham of the University of North Alabama is well worth listening to and asking questions. He will speak on evaluation in grant activities; I knew him when he was at the Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments and was very helpful with Hamilton’s downtown revitalization effort. He is very respected, and I am sure many of the other speakers are, too.
Ed Howell is the news editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.