Archive for October, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

jackolantern-happyWe’re hoping the rain stops in time for the trick-or-treaters to make their rounds.  The house is decorated, the jack o’lantern is a work in progress, and I still have to buy candy.  Didn’t want to do that too early. :)

I’m planning an evening of handing out candy and watching a marathon of Buffy and Angel Halloween episodes (Halloween, Fear Itself, All the Way, and Life of the Party, if you’re interested).  And maybe a rewatch of the Castle Halloween episode Vampire Weekend.  (Hulu has it here.)

What are you doing tonight?

The Langford Verdict

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

John Archibald has a lovely meditation on the Langford verdict that expresses very well what I’m feeling right now.

The evidence was overwhelming. The verdict irrefutable. Justice was done.

For that we can all be grateful.

But that’s not what I thought as I watched the man who once seemed so limitless sit stricken in his chair. It was not what crossed my mind as his wife, Melva, slipped away to compose herself.

what I felt as Langford asked for his wife, as he kissed her on the cheek and said, ever so quietly, “It’s going to be ok.”

All I saw and felt in that moment was sadness.

Sadness for a man shattered by his obsessions, for the woman who must pay the debt of his mistakes.

Sadness, really, for a community that has endured far too much graft and bribery and corruption.

I believe Langford is guilty.  I was disappointed when the voters of Birmingham elected him mayor in the face of his long track record of fiscal irresponsibility, not to mention the basic disregard for honesty and truthfulness that let him claim to live in the city while he maintained his residence in Fairfield.

I’m glad he’s out of office.  I’m glad he didn’t walk away unscathed.  But I can’t celebrate the idea that he will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison.  I certainly can’t celebrate the near-certainty that his sentence will be longer than that imposed on Bill Blount, who profited so much more from the corruption.  Yes, I know Langford could have taken a deal, and it’s testimony to his near-delusional arrogance that he didn’t.

We’re no nearer to cleaning up the mess that is Jefferson County than we were yesterday.  Or any of the other yesterdays when a long line of public officials either were convicted or pleaded guilty.  Sending them to prison is supposed to make a statement that we as a society reject the endemic, almost casual corruption that apparently persuaded Larry Langford it was just fine to take cash and suits and dress shirts from people who wanted his ear.

But it’s only the first step, and we can’t afford to stop there.  We have to elect people who see government service as a selfless act, who believe that government can operate efficiently and effectively on behalf of the governed — all the governed, not just those with a check in hand.    It’s going to take a long time to restore trust.  I don’t know if we can.

No, I’m not celebrating today.

Langford Convicted on All Counts

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford was found guilty on all 60 counts of bribery, money laundering and conspiracy.  Wow!  I never expected a verdict that quickly.  He and his wife are on the local TV news right now trashing the media and claiming innocence.

Langford and Work and Plays, Oh My!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Sticking my head above water for a few minutes.  Work has been very busy these last two weeks, and most of my contact with the outside world has consisted of reading tweets from the Langford trial.  Can you believe Larry didn’t testify?  I’m sure his attorneys did everything short of duct-taping him to the chair to keep him off the witness stand.

Great trial coverage at the Birmingham Weekly, archiblog, WBHM, and of course real-time updates on Twitter @BhamWeekly and @JohnArchibald.

I’ll be back soon, and Del is around.  Our family is in theatre mode right now, so look forward to updates on Schoolhouse Rock Jr.A Christmas Story and A South City Christmas.

What are you up to these days?  Let us know in the comments.

Ouch!

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Courtney Haden of the Birmingham Weekly addresses the pitiful turnout for the Langford prayer vigil on Sunday.  Frank Matthews will not be happy.

I knew Larry Langford was in trouble after the prayer vigil. Not that our mayor, innocent until tweeted guilty, hasn’t faced adversity on a fairly regular basis, but I hadn’t had any real sense of foreshadowing until I learned that the downtown prayer vigil scheduled for the night before his departure for Litigation Land attracted only 55 of the faithful.

And I thought the city runoff election stats were pitiful…

…You see, the vigil was organized by Frank Matthews, noted gadfly, talk show host and currently co-director of the Birmingham Office of Citizen Assistance. (Thank you, Charles J. Dean, for the published reminder.) That means Frank Matthews, who got his cushy political job from Larry Langford, couldn’t turn out 60 people to pray publicly for Larry Langford. [I’m glad for the published reminder too, as the News initially identified Matthews as a “community activist” in its blog post until I provided a link to the city web page in comments.]

…Frank Matthews knows better than to make his boss look pitiful at a prayer rally. He dropped the ball, when he should have been dropping some cash into the outstretched palms of “neighborhood activists” to guarantee a respectable showing for the Sunday night TV cameras. If Frank had been making some rain, instead of excuses, he could have conjured a massive throng as ready to pray for Jon Gosselin as for Larry Langford. As a result of the spiritual snafu, Frank’s next public action may well be a rally to pray for the survival of his paycheck.

Go read the whole thing.  The snark is delicious.

The Weekly has posted a link on Facebook.  I look forward to a profane, poorly spelled response from Frank.  His favorite swear word appears to be “dam”.

How Would You Feel…

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

…if you had to ask 260 million people for the right to marry?

(There’s a better quality version of this going around Facebook, but I haven’t figured out a non-Facebook way to link to it.)

Back in April, Matt Hooper of the Birmingham Weekly posted about Rep. Jay Love’s (R-Montgomery) time-wasting resolution in support of “opposite marriage” Carrie Prejean. That post has remained on the Weekly‘s most popular list ever since, despite all the intervening coverage of Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s trials (and trial), and yesterday someone named work30 showed up to share his/her wisdom. I reproduce our exchange below:

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Opening Arguments

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Kyle has a summary here. I’m blogging by Blackberry from the health care reform rally, so no highlights. He didn’t mention that Larry’s lawyer referred to the owner of Remon’s as a “Palestinian” who double-billed for Larry’s clothes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Jury

Monday, October 19th, 2009

That was fast.  The jury is seated, and opening statements begin in the morning.  John Archibald tweets:

Jury looks favorable for LL.  Diverse, low education level.  Some run-ins with cops.

The big surprise: camo dude is on the jury.

If you’ve been following the tweets today, you’ll recognize camo dude as the guy who apparently fell asleep during voir dire. I hope the actual testimony can hold his interest.

Demonstrate Your Support for Health Care Reform

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Join me and (I hope) a bunch of others TOMORROW (Tuesday 10/20)for a demonstration in support of health care reform.

  • When: tomorrow, October 20, noon to 1:30 PM
  • Where: in front of the Federal Building on 5th Avenue North between 18th and 19th Streets
  • Who: sponsored by Greater Birmingham Ministries and open to anyone who supports health care reform
  • What: bring yourself, your sign, and comfortable shoes :)

See you there!

(Full disclosure: yes, I’m shilling for my employer.  We’re the good guys.)

Langford Trial Begins Today

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Larry Langford goes on trial today in Tuscaloosa, barring any last minute legal maneuvering.  Kyle Whitmire and Madison Underwood of the Birmingham Weekly will be live-blogging beginning at 9 AM.  Langford’s attorneys asked that the trial be moved out of Birmingham because of fears that pre-trial publicity would taint the jury pool, which will now come from ten counties in the Northern Division’s western district.  The trial is expected to last two weeks.

My prediction?  It will be interesting.