Archive for September, 2008

And a Little Bit More on the City Council

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

UPDATE:  I don’t know what time the City Council returned from its junket to the digital hospital, but the meeting was still underway when I checked the video feed just before 2PM.    The Councilors appeared to be speaking to an empty chamber.  The Council website reports that the $500,000+ Malcolm Pirnie contract to design a storm water management plan (to replace the one that was working just fine) was approved on revote, but the link inviting us to watch the discussion and vote is not working.

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I made the mistake of listening in on today’s Birmingham City Council meeting.  It’s detrimental to my health.  After spending forty-five minutes covering preliminaries (like the lack of minutes from previous meetings mentioned below — I’m now hearing that the three-month lag is actually an improvement over past performance) and lauding an employee who is resigning to take care of an ill family member (which is important), the mayor called the Council into executive session to, apparently, announce the Trinity Medical Center deal and inform them that they were all invited to the 11:30 press conference at the old HealthSouth digital hospital site on Highway 280.  He even got a bus for them to ride.  Too bad he can’t do that for the citizens who depend on public transit for everyday needs.

The Council emerged from executive session around 10:45, and Council President Carole Smitherman informed the members of the public who had business before them today that they would be adjourning the meeting so they can go to their photo opp.  Councilor Roderick Royal strenuously, and rightly, objected to yet another last minute announcement from the mayor that disrupts the regular meeting of the Council.  He was voted down, of course, because after all this is big bucks for the city (the original site for the new Trinity Medical Center is in Irondale, while the digital hospital site is in Birmingham), and who wants to miss a chance to get in front of the TV cameras?

Probably the dumbest moments came when Carole Smitherman first proclaimed that the Council would be back downtown to resume the meeting at 12:30 and then a few minutes later cut off Councilor Royal’s objections by saying that the Council could have “been there and back by now”.  Councilor Witherspoon echoed her comment.  Excuse me?  Has either of them ever driven out 280 before?

Does anyone else think Larry might have been afraid he would lose on the Malcolm Pirnie re-vote?

I think my head may explode.  Time for some deep breathing exercises.

Speaking of the City Council…

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

I pulled up the live feed for today’s City Council meeting, and the agenda shows that minutes are not yet available for meetings June 24-September 23.  Exactly how long does it take to prepare minutes, and who is responsible?  This appears to go hand-in-hand with the lack of accurate and timely financial reports.

Oh well, why should anyone care what has gone on at past meetings?  Mayor Larry Langford will just change his mind based on the whim of the day.  Who needs an official record of the city government’s deliberations and decisions?

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Here’s a fine example of whim of the day: Trinity Medical Center has announced that it will buy the abandoned HealthSouth Digital Medical Center on Highway 280 and abandon plans to build a new facility in Irondale.  Larry is expected to proclaim today that the original Trinity site (formerly Baptist Montclair) will be home to a new five-star hotel.  I have no words.

City Council to Reconsider Vote on SWMA, Malcolm Pirnie

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

If you have followed this story at all, you know the Council voted to withdraw from the Storm Water Management Agency, pretty much tanking what has been an effective regional vehicle for monitoring storm water runoff into our waterways, and pay Malcolm Pirnie half a million to re-invent the wheel.  The Council approved the Malcolm Pirnie contract 4-2 two weeks ago, but it turns out the measure required five votes to pass.

The Council will reconsider a redrawn measure this morning, one that supposedly requires only a simple majority.  William Bell was out of town for the previous vote; we’ll see if the former Malcolm Pirnie employee recuses himself today.

If you can get to today’s City Council meeting, go and let your opinion be known.

Palin on Biden

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

From an AP story on the very back page of the ol’ Mullet-Wrapper:

“I’ve been hearing his speeches since I was in the second grade,” the 44-year-old Alaska governor said of her counterpart, who is 65 and a veteran of more than 35 years in the Senate.

Oooh, burn. Gosh hon, if you’d really been paying attention, you might have picked up on the name of, say, a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade.

Breaking: House Defeats Bailout Bill

Monday, September 29th, 2008

228-205.

ETA:  The U.S. House of Representatives vote page must be overwhelmed.  I’ve been trying to load it for ten minutes.  According to NPR, only 66 Republicans voted yes, while 94 Democrats voted no.  I’ll update when I can get to the numbers.

UPDATE:  Here’s the roll call vote, just in case you haven’t already seen it.  Turns out 65 Republicans voted yes and 95 Dems voted no.  In a rather amusing twist, commenters at al.com are calling for the ouster of Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-6th District), who voted yes, apparently unaware that he is, once again, running unopposed.

Coffee County Scandal

Monday, September 29th, 2008

That headline just does not compute for me.  My father grew up in Kinston, which to my amazement actually has its own Wikipedia entry, and it would be hard to find a quieter place. We visited my grandmother there until she moved to Dothan when she was 95. (She was 103 when she died, so if I got her genes I might be here for a while.)

Anyway, back to the, gulp, scandal.  It seems the DHR director for Coffee County, Brandon Hardin, wanted to get rid of the local DHR Board chair, Doug Donaldson, who wanted him fired, so Hardin threatened to fire a social worker with whom Donaldson was supposedly romantically involved.

Got all that?  It’s what is alleged in a lawsuit filed by Cheryl Hancock, the social worker whose job was on the line, and it looks like there are taped conversations to back up her allegations.  She has sued Hardin, former state DHR Commissioner Page Walley, and DHR General Counsel Sharon Ficquette.  Walley resigned effective September 1 to take a position as managing director with the Casey Family Programs.

The Eagle has obtained two audio conversations, one being a phone conversation between Donaldson and a man who identifies himself as State Deputy Finance Director Andy Hornsby. During the conversation, (Hornsby) says he is calling as a friend to Donaldson and as a favor to then-State DHR director Page Walley. Later in the conversation, Hornsby, who is a former DHR state commissioner, tells Donaldson that Hancock will not be fired if he resigns from the board.

I’m sure the defendants will use the Palin ExcuseTM that the Powers That Be had no idea what their minions were up to, at least until they’re forced to issue a Palin RetractionTM.

Partial transcript of the conversation after the jump:

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Palin-Couric Interview

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Well, sort of…

Tina Fey’s response to the bailout question is almost verbatim what Palin actually said.  Irony is on life support.

Brett Blackledge, Investigative Reporter

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

He’s dug up all kinds of goodies about La Palin.

Hmmm…Brett Blackledge. Where in the world have I heard that name before?

Sympathies to Loretta Nall

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Her brother passed away this morning.  He was only 42.  Too young.

Loretta, our thoughts are with you and your family.

“Do As I Say, Not As I Do”

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Sarah Palin has suddenly remembered that she accepted campaign contributions from a couple of Alaska politicians who have since been charged with corruption.  The corruption she pledged to fight when she was elected governor.  I guess it must have slipped her mind that Alaska state Senator John Cowdery (R) donated $1,000 to her gubernatorial campaign, even though she did remember to tell him he should “step down, for the good of the state” after his July indictment.  She also forgot about the check from former Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch (R), who is awaiting trial.  Now that the AP has pointed all this out to her, she is donating the money to charity.

You know what?  This is the focus of the headline and most of the linked article, but it’s not what really irks me.  This is:

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