Archive for June, 2007

I Hope the Place Is Still Standing…

Friday, June 29th, 2007

We’re off to pick up 9YOD from her first week at spend-the-night camp.  I expect her counselor will be ready for a long rest.

Alabama Democrats Can Do Better Than This

Friday, June 29th, 2007

An investigative report issued yesterday on the two-year college system shows that Shelton State Community College paid House Majority Leader Ken Guin (D-Tuscaloosa) almost $50,000 a year for services that he should have been providing to any constituent who asked for them.  He’s already resigned from Shelton, but he’s still feeding from the trough at Bevill State.  He’s an embarrassment to his constituents and to the Democratic party.

“A substantial part of the activities described fit squarely within the employee’s duties as a legislator in tracking legislation, and in providing customary constituent services,” the investigative report released Thursday states.

The report goes on to detail a long list of questionable activities in the two-year system.

Really, Mr. Guin, it’s time to take your marbles and go home.  People like Rep. Jeff McLaughlin (D-Guntersville) and Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) — who believe in honest government that serves all the people – don’t deserve to have their reputations besmirched by association with you.

ADDENDUM: In case anyone wonders, neither Patricia nor Jeff had anything to do with this post. They’re just two legislators whom I admire.

Cross-posted at Left In Alabama.

Breaking: Siegelman, Scrushy Sentenced

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Siegelman: 88 months (7 years, 4 months), $50,000 fine, $181,325 restitution, 500 community service hours and 3 years’ supervised release after completion of sentence

Scrushy: 82 months (6 years, 10 months), $150,000 fine, $267,000 restitution (all to United Way), 500 community service hours and 3 years’ supervised release after completion of sentence

No bond.  They will be taken into custody tonight.  Speculation — Scrushy ultimately to Talladega, Siegelman to minimum security facility outside the state, possibly outside the southeast.

Birmingham News story

Judge Ups Range for Siegelman’s Sentence

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

It’s been increased to “more than 15 years” rather than “more than 10 years”, because Judge Fuller has just now been persuaded that Siegelman damaged public confidence in state government by his actions.  Sorry, but something smells wrong here.  Seems to me that any public official convicted of taking a bribe inherently damages the public’s confidence in government and that the judge would have taken that into consideration in his initial findings.

I’ll just point out again that there’s no way Don Siegelman should serve more time than Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who got eight years and four months for a massive multi-million dollar corruption scheme from which he profited mightily.  And how is it again that Guy Hunt, who was convicted of stealing $200,000 for his own personal use while serving as governor, ended up with five years’ probation?

Yeah, That’ll Take Care Of It

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

We are officially living in La-La Land.  The governor of Alabama has issued a proclamation declaring June 28 through July 7 as “Days of Prayer for Rain”.

According to the statement: “Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady during times of difficulty. This drought is without question a time of great difficulty for our farmers and for communities across the state,” [Gov.] Riley said.

Yes, it is, and what is our constitutionally secular government doing about it?  Other than passing the buck to God, that is.

I’m Shocked, I Tell Ya — Shocked!

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I’m just stunned to read that the Bush administration is refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas for testimony and documents related to the US Attorney firings.  Flummoxed, flabbergasted, and gobsmacked.  I think I’m going to have to lie down with a cold cloth on my head.

“I write at the direction of the President to advise and inform you that the President has decided to assert executive privilege and therefore the White House will not be making any production in response to these subpoenas for documents,” [White House Counsel Fred] Fielding wrote in the letter to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

“With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation,” Fielding said. “We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion.”

“With respect, it is with much regret…,” my ass.

In response to today’s rebuff by the White House, [Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick] Leahy said: “Increasingly, the president and vice president feel they are above the law. In America no one is above law.”

He added in a statement that “this White House cannot have it both ways. They cannot stonewall congressional investigations by refusing to provide documents and witnesses, while claiming nothing improper occurred.”

[House Judiciary Committee Chair John] Conyers charged that the rejection showed “an appalling disregard” for the public, and vowed to press forward “to enforce the rule of law.”

…In his statement, Conyers said Bush’s “executive privilege assertion is unprecedented in its breadth and scope, and even includes documents that the administration previously offered to provide as part of their ‘take it or leave it’ proposal.”

“The charges alleged in this investigation are serious — including obstruction of justice and misleading Congress — and the White House should be as committed to this investigation as the Congress,” he added “At this point, I see only one choice in moving forward, and that is to enforce the rule of law set forth in these subpoenas.”

Alrighty then.  Let’s get on with it.

Never Mind

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Melissa McEwan has whiplash over the White House’s latest flip-flop re: Dick Cheney’s role in government.  Dick wanted to argue that his dual role as president of the Senate somehow exempts him from executive branch oversight — because he isn’t part of the executive branch.  Now White House officials are claiming that he’s exempt from executive branch oversight because he has executive privilege.

And, in an amazingly arrogant and illogical statement, White House spokesman Tony Fratto says, “It’s not appropriate for a subordinate office like that to investigate or require reporting from the enforcer of the executive order.”  Yeah, it’s just totally wrong for the public — Cheney’s collective employer — to expect his office to adhere to the same standards it demands of others.  Others including the National Security Council, which for some reason has had no problem complying with requests from the National Archives Information and Security Oversight Office.

It seems to me Mr. Secrecy would be all about guaranteeing that classified information is appropriately safeguarded, but it appears he thinks it’s more important to deliver a big ol’ “go fuck yourself” to anyone who dares to question him.

Not to worry, though.  The dispute has been referred to that bastion of legal excellence and objectivity, Alberto Gonzales.  Problem solved.  Aaaaaaarrrrrgh!

(Note: Melissa and her pals at Shakesville have been dealing with a Denial of Service attack for the past week.  While Shakesville is moving to a more secure server, the Shakers are posting at the old Shakespeare’s Sister site.  Head over and give them some love.  Sorry, trolls — you can’t keep good bloggers down.)

Siegelman-Scrushy Hearing Continues Today

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Helen Hammons is live-blogging for WSFA’s Courtroom Chronicles.  She expects a decision later today.

Two-Year College Presidents To Retire

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Yvonne Kennedy, President of Bishop State Community College, and Rick Rogers, President of Shelton State Community College, announced their upcoming retirement today.  Kennedy will leave office on July 31; Rogers is going on leave and will stay there till his retirement date of September 30.

Several state school board members started last fall calling for the firing of Kennedy after revelations about student aid fraud at the Mobile college.

More than two dozen people have been charged with theft and other crimes related to allegations of stolen aid money by Bishop State employees, their relatives and others.

Rogers also has been criticized since federal court filings claimed he benefited from schemes to steal state money at his Tuscaloosa campus. Three people have been convicted, and two others have pleaded guilty related to an investigation of the Alabama Fire College on Shelton’s campus.

Here’s something that struck me as weird: Kennedy asked, and Byrne recommended, that she be named President Emeritus of Bishop.  It’s a purely ceremonial, unpaid position, but I’m not sure she’s deserving of the honor, even though Byrne says she is.  IIRC, Kennedy (unlike Rogers) has not been accused of benefitting personally from the alleged fraud and theft at her school, but she didn’t cover herself with glory as a manager.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Officials at Alabama’s Noccalula State Park are working to save wildlife and plants from the ravages of drought.  Here’s a publicity shot of the falls from a Gadsden tourism site.  It looks a lot like most of the other pictures you can find at Google Images.

noccalula.jpg

This, OTOH, is a current picture published today on al.com:

drought.jpg

(credit: Joe Songer, Birmingham News)

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Meanwhile, in Texas:

texas-flood.jpg

(credit: AP Photo, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ron Jenkins)