Kyle Whitmire of the Birmingham Weekly has been following the District 54 saga for quite a while. I’d love to see him in print every day (or maybe he could start a blog), but writing one article or editorial a week does give one the opportunity to do background research and gain the perspective that comes with time and distance. He’s done an excellent job. Check out his latest article here and past columns here.
Archive for August, 2006
Danny at Doc’s Political Parlor was kind enough to talk to Frank Matthews about this, so the rest of us wouldn’t have to. Frank’s the Birmingham talk radio host and perennial candidate who came out of Saturday’s State Democratic Executive Committee meeting hollering about “n*ggers and gays” because the committee actually voted to give the District 54 nomination to Patricia Todd, the person who won the runoff election (and received the majority of votes in the primary).
From Danny’s post:
…”We are absolutely going to have a write-in candidate,” [Matthews] said. He was “85% sure” that Gaynelle Hendricks would be the candidate. She hasn’t agreed to it, but he thinks she will. “That’s the great part about a write-in candidate. They don’t have to agree to it.” But if she is not the candidate, “we will have another strong candidate.”
They are “going to do it right” and are “talking to some people in New Jersey who have won a write-in campaign.” He said he knew they would have to lean on some Republican support. He also knows that only one candidate has ever won a seat in the Alabama legislature as a write-in candidate: Sen. Lowell Barron in 1983.
“I knew that letter [from Joe Reed] was a bad idea because it polarized the district racially. I saw a first draft and knew it was a bad idea.” It allowed Todd to “hide the gay issue in the race issue.”
So then I may say that there will definitely be a write-in campaign?
“Definitely. Absolutely. Get the word out.”
A couple of observations are in order. One, Frank doesn’t sound completely sure that Gaynell will participate in a write-in campaign. If she doesn’t, who is he planning to strong-arm, I mean recruit, to run? I feel quite sure he’d do it himself if he lived in the district. Two, he’s clearly planning to play the homophobia card, which may further polarize a district that doesn’t need to be divided further. Third, he says he’ll have to draw on Republican support, but I can’t see much coming from inside District 54. If Republicans were strong there, they’d have fielded a candidate for the seat.
Now a question: what does Frank Matthews hope to achieve by doing this?
Dan’s also covering the story at Between the Links.
Crooks and Liars has the video and a transcript. Thank you, Mr. Olbermann.
Robin DeMonia of the Birmingham News has a good column today about Rep. Alvin Holmes and his impassioned defense of Patricia Todd and the voters who elected her to the state house. Here are some excerpts, but be sure to read the whole thing.
Alvin Holmes has fought as hard as anyone to open doors for blacks in Alabama.
As the longest-serving black legislator in the state, and one of the most outspoken representatives of any color, Holmes marches headlong into battle more often than most people walk to the mailbox….
…Yet Saturday, Holmes fought just as passionately on behalf of a white candidate.
Holmes urged the Democratic Party to reinstate Patricia Todd, who defeated Gaynell Hendricks in a Jefferson County legislative race but was disqualified (as was Hendricks) for violating a long-ignored party rule.
The problem, Holmes said, wasn’t that Todd didn’t file her campaign finance reports with the party. That rule hasn’t been enforced since 1988. The real problem was Todd is white, and House District 54 is predominantly black….
…”I’ve been arrested 27 times for standing up for people’s rights,” Holmes said. “It’s too late in the evening for me to start standing up and taking people’s rights from them.”…
…Some dismiss Holmes’ antics as good theater. But more often than not, there’s substance and integrity in what Holmes says. As he showed again Saturday, there’s a difference between grandstanding and taking a grand stand.
Rep. Holmes has no problem standing up to the power structure in the state and the party. He deserves lots of credit for his courage. “It’s too late in the evening for me to start standing up and taking people’s rights from them.” Words to live by.
Bill Frist may not have completed the continuing education required to keep his medical license, even though he filed papers with the state of Tennessee saying he did. He “may not have”? Either he did or he didn’t. There’s not a lot of wiggle room there.
The state of Tennessee requires its licensed physicians to complete 40 hours of continuing medical education every two years. Frist, a heart-lung surgeon who is considering a 2008 presidential run, submitted a license renewal with the Tennessee Health Department stating he has fulfilled that requirement.
Responding Tuesday to repeated requests from The Associated Press, a Frist spokesman said the Republican senator may not have done his continuing education after all [emphasis mine], and had contacted the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners to see if corrective steps were necessary.
Frist is quite proud of his medical credentials, and according to his spokesperson, he “independently” keeps himself up to date on new developments and research. Too bad he didn’t keep himself up to date on the rule change regarding continuing education, which was adopted in 2002.
Frist recently took blood-pressure tests on Iowans during a visit to the state that holds the first presidential caucuses. He also keeps the letters “MD” next to his name on his Senate office door and has been known to keep a doctor’s bag and lab coat on hand on the campaign trail or in his Capitol Hill office.
Frist is retiring from the Senate at the end of his term this year, and he’s thinking about running for president in 2008. I’m hoping he’ll be forced back into the private sector, although given his highly publicized diagnostic failure in the Terri Schiavo case, he might have trouble attracting new patients. After this little screwup, he might not have a license either.
Tennessee law states that doctors who fail to do their continuing medical education “will be subject to disciplinary action.”
Dan Warlick, a Nashville lawyer who represents doctors in trouble with the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, said a case such as Frist’s would likely be taken seriously.
“They have been routinely revoking licenses for physicians who have misrepresented to the board what they have done,” Warlick said.
“Medicine changes,” Warlick added. “If you’re telling them you’re keeping up, and you’re not, that would be a very significant problem for the board to have to deal with.”
Of course, given that he’s Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader, he’ll probably find a way to weasel out of any disciplinary action. We all know the rules are only for the little people.
Good. What in the hell, and I do mean hell, would make Fred Phelps and his family think it’s appropriate or effective to protest at soldiers’ funerals? They had distributed fliers saying they were coming to Birmingham to picket the funeral of Army Sergeant Marquees Quick, but — as frequently happens — they didn’t show. I’m glad for Sgt. Quick’s family that they didn’t have to see these sickos, but the Southern country girl in me kinda wishes that the Patriot Guard Riders had had a chance to kick Fred’s evil ass. Metaphorically, of course.
I’m thinking, though, that God is getting a bit tired of taking the blame for the deaths of US soldiers, those killed on 9/11, and AIDS victims (Fred’s websites are Godhatesfags dot com and Godhatesamerica dot com — and, no, I’m not linking to them). So when Fred does get his eventual, and inevitable, ass-kicking, it just might dwarf anything the Patriot Guard Riders could do.
ADDENDUM: Mac has a good point.
Today, remember those who lost their lives; those who lost family, friends, neighbors, colleagues. Remember those who were injured and are still recovering. Remember those who lost homes, treasured possessions, livelihoods. Remember those who lost faith in the government that failed them. Remember the government officials, those who have learned from this horrible disaster and those who remain clueless. Remember those who are struggling to rebuild the Gulf Coast, who have overcome the loss and grief and disappointment to move forward and make new lives. Remember those who can’t.
Hold them all in your hearts today.