Archive for July, 2009

Collins, Smoot Off Attending to Other Business as 900 Face Layoffs

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Jefferson County Commissioners Bettye Fine Collins and Shelia Smoot chose to leave the state this week “tending to other groups they represent”, even as 900+ county employees got the news that they would lose their paychecks effective today.

Both commissioners’ staff members refused to disclose their whereabouts.  What is it with that?  They’re public officials, accountable to the public.  They have no business instructing their staff people to withhold that information.

Not to be deterred, Birmingham News reporters tracked down Collins in San Diego, registered under her maiden name, where she was attending a Republican National Committee meeting.  When contacted, her first question was, “How did you find me?”

Smoot was in Nashville to attend a National Association of Counties convention.  I sure hope other attendees were able to give her some pointers on good governance.  She returned to town on Wednesday, and, according to a very persistent commenter at al.com, intercepted the layoff letters that were to be delivered to the Information and Technology Department, one of her fiefdoms.  No idea why; perhaps she hopes to keep all of the staff to maintain the county’s new website.

Both Smoot and Collins are being excoriated in comments at al.com (not a place you want to visit unless you’re planning to shower immediately thereafter).  Me?  I don’t  care that they left town to attend events that were planned months ago, although the appearance is terrible.  [ETA:  Yeah, I do care, based on Bill's comment below.  It's just shitty for the bosses to go out of town and leave everyone else to deal with the fallout.  Smoot got back in town on Wednesday, so she's at least in the county.]  I do care very much that they told their staffs to withhold that information from the press and public.

And I’m still waiting to hear that they and their fellow commissioners will take steep pay cuts in solidarity with the employees who are losing their jobs and livelihoods.  Any suggestions on how long I should hold my breath?

Youth Pastor Sentenced on Teen Sex Charges, Wife Brags that Victim “Apologized” to Her

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

WTF?  Former Word of Life youth minister William David Webb, 36-year-old son of Senior Pastor Scott Webb, was sentenced today for transporting a 15-year-old girl across state lines for sex.  He pleaded guilty back in May in exchange for a five-year sentence.  He’s a child molester (and statutory rapist, although it appears he was never charged with that rape charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal), and his wife is batshit-crazy:

The defendant’s wife of nearly 13 years, Tara Webb, submitted a letter to the court saying she became aware of her husband’s relationship with the victim in August 2007. “He immediately repented and asked my forgiveness,” her letter said. Mrs. Webb said she went to the victim, who worked for her as a volunteer in the church audio department. “She apologized to me and I forgave her,” Mrs. Webb wrote. “I encouraged her and told her to not let it hold her back but to pursue her dreams.” [emphasis mine]

I bet he repented — after he got caught.  And she had the gall to go to the VICTIM, who worked for her, for an apology?  Those two deserve each other.

I hope the VICTIM is able to move on with her life.  I wonder if she’ll ever get an apology — from her molester or his enabler wife.

Really?

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

I get some funny ads that pop up on my AT&T home page.  Today’s is just too much:

Birmingham MOMS: Follow 1 Rule, Lose Weight!
I Lost 47 lbs of Belly Fat In A Month By Following This 1 Old Rule…

followed of course by a link to…something.  I didn’t bother to find out.  I’m too busy trying to figure out how one weighs belly fat.  And how much weight one would have to lose overall in order to lose 47 lbs of Belly Fat.  And how one could do that in one month short of dying and decomposing to nothing but skeletal remains.  Not to mention why anyone would fall for such an obvious scam.

Clearly I need to find something else to do.  :)

Langford Says LaPierre Testimony “Should Be a Help”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Can you say “delusional”?

According to the plea agreement filed today in federal court, LaPierre acknowledged that he was the go-between, giving Langford cash he received from Blount in exchange for Langford using his power as president of the Jefferson County Commission to steer business to Blount’s firm, Blount Parrish & Co.

According to LaPierre’s plea agreement he:

• Took out a $50,000 loan to pay off an unsecured loan for Langford. Blount reimbursed LaPierre.

• Took $69,000 from Blount and funneled it to Langford at Langford’s request.

• Took $3,500 from Blount and funneled it to Langford — again, at Langford’s request — to pay for a trip to Mississippi with John Katopodis.

Within weeks of those transactions, Langford “used his power and authority to include William B. Blount and his company in a Jefferson County financial transaction, for which Blount received approximately $2.6 million,” the plea agreement says.

LaPierre was paid $100,000 in connection with those transactions, it says.
The plea agreement also says that Blount and LaPierre on several occasions paid for clothing Langford purchased on an account at Remon’s.

Yeah, Larry, that should be a big help…

****

See also:  LaPierre Cops Plea, Agrees to Testify against Larry Langford

LaPierre Cops Plea, Agrees to Testify against Larry Langford

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

UPDATE: Kyle at the Birmingham Weekly has more details, including this:

In exchange for LaPierre’s testimony in this case and possibly others, the government agrees to ask for a sentence of 48 months in prison. In addition, LaPierre will pay the government restitution of $371,932, in addition to unpaid taxes.

So it looks like LaPierre will do jail time.

****

The shit has officially hit the fan.

al-lapierreLobbyist Al LaPierre today has agreed to plead guilty and testify in the federal criminal case against Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford. In a deal struck this morning, LaPierre will plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy and one count of filing a false tax return, said his lawyer Tommy Spina.

The deal requires LaPierre to testify in the Aug. 31 case against Langford and Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount.

“He felt this was the right thing to do. He know he has to pay a consequence. He accepts that and will hold his head up,” Spina said.

LaPierre has agreed to forfeit $371,932 and pay all taxes due from 2003 to 2006. LaPierre is expected to formally enter the plea Thursday before U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler.

“He felt this was the right thing to do.”  I’ll just bet he did.  Looks like he will avoid jail time with this deal.

Mayor Langford had been pushing for a third delay of his trial for mail fraud, bribery, money laundering and conspiracy charges, but Judge Scott Coogler turned him down yesterday.  Barring divine intervention, or more legal maneuvering, the trial is on for August 31, six days after the Birmingham City Council election.

Who’da thought Birmingham politics could get more interesting?

Today in Duh: Sessions Will Vote No on Sotomayor

Monday, July 27th, 2009

I hope no one is surprised.  He basically calls her a liar in a USA Today op-ed:

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions will vote against Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court during Tuesday’s committee vote, calling her recent pledge of fidelity to the law a disingenuous attempt to mask a judicial philosophy that would push the court to the political left.

“I don’t believe that Judge Sotomayor has the deep-rooted convictions necessary to resist the siren call of judicial activism,” Sessions, R-Ala., wrote for an op-ed scheduled to appear today in USA Today. “She has evoked its mantra too often. As someone who cares deeply about our great heritage of law, I must withhold my consent.”

Apparently he’s found three decisions (out of hundreds, if not thousands, that she’s issued in her 17 years on the bench) that he doesn’t like.  The article doesn’t specify, mentioning only that they involved property rights, racial discrimination and gun control.  I don’t know which property rights case got his undies in a bunch, but I assume the discrimination one is Ricci, in which a three-judge panel upheld a lower court ruling – the definition of judicial conservatism, unless one doesn’t like the outcome.  The gun control case is probably the nunchuck ruling in which the court upheld states’ rights and Supreme Court precedent, which again is the definition of judicial conservativism, unless…well, you get my drift.  Anyway, aren’t southern lawmakers all about states’ rights?

Not that his vote will make any difference.  Sotomayor will be confirmed, he’ll get to grandstand for his winger base, and most of the country will read this:

Sotomayor was twice nominated for federal judgeships, once by a Republican and once by a Democrat, and she’s been on the bench for 17 years, most recently the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. She received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association.

and think, “Sessions is a moron.  Well, he’s from Alabama; what did you expect?”  Gee thanks, Jeff.

J. D. Crowe on Nekkid Wine

Monday, July 27th, 2009

large_7-26-09nekkidwine

h/t, Del

Alabama ABC Board Censoring Wine Labels

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Apparently a wine label based on an 1895 bicycle advertisement is just too risqué for the delicate sensibilities of Alabama residents.  Or so says the ABC Board, which has deemed it “immodest” and demanded that the wine bottles be removed from bars and grocery stores.

Bob Martin, staff attorney with the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, said the ABC’s licensing bureau deemed the label inappropriate last year.

The French painter G. Massias produced this bicycle advertising poster in 1895. A wine with a label featuring the poster has been banned from sale in the state of Alabama because it features a person “posed in an immodest or sensuous manner.”

“It was submitted twice last year, and it was rejected both times,” Martin said. Early this month, however, a citizen sent a bottle of the wine to the ABC board to show it was still being sold in stores, he said. So, the board’s enforcement bureau sent a letter to stores and restaurants statewide, reminding them that its sale was prohibited, Martin said.

Oh, good grief — somebody tattled?  When are we going to grow up in this state?  It’s already illegal to sell sex toys; now we’re banning wine labels with what I’d venture to call tasteful depictions of nudity?  All for the sake of the children, I guess.  Hey, maybe we should ban field trips to art museums too.  Or take away their mirrors when they reach puberty.

And just to add to the creepy:

Several restaurant owners, retailers and distributors declined comment when contacted Thursday by the Press-Register. Licenses to sell or serve alcoholic beverages are renewed yearly, with applications due by Aug. 1.

Gee, I wonder why they were afraid to declined to comment.

Happy Moon Landing Day!

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Forty years ago, the first human walked on the moon.  I was nine years old at the time, too young to recognize what a remarkable achievement that was — hey, anything’s possible when you’re nine — but old enough to think it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.

I was in junior high when I met my first moon landing deniers, 7th grade boys who were convinced that the whole thing had been faked somewhere in the desert.  (Wow, did it ever disturb me to find the linked story when I googled the term.  Who’da thunk they’d still be around?)  Having cut my teeth – or at least some of my molars – on Star Trek, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to deny that milestone on the road to exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, and going boldly where no human has gone before.

Enjoy the celebration, everyone, and if you happen to run across a denier…well, don’t punch him in the face or kick him in the rear, à la Buzz Aldrin or Ed Mitchell, just shake your head in sadness that anyone would want to miss out on the wonder and joy of such a feat.  And then go back to the chillbump-inducing footage of one small step…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Friday, July 17th, 2009

We already knew that vaunted family-values fiscal conservative Gov. Mark Sanford doesn’t really value his family that much.  Now it turns out his version of fiscal conservatism only applies to other people.

While running for governor in 2002, Sanford zeroed in on travel spending, criticizing Democratic incumbent Gov. Jim Hodges for “lavish spending” on airfare and hotel rooms.

“If I become your governor,” he asserted in a radio ad, “I’ll fix that problem in Columbia.”

…Later, he called out an unnamed state employee for staying in a New York hotel for $269 per night — which he pointed out at the time was $61 above the federal rate — and a state consultant for billing the state $375 a night for a three-night stay in a Phoenix hotel to attend a conference.

So far, so good.  State guidelines were in place that specified “travel by commercial airlines will be accomplished in coach or tourist class, except where exigencies require otherwise.”

Apparently some exigencies arose when Sanford jetted off to South America on a trade mission — with a side trip to visit his mistress:

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