Warm Southern Breeze

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Alabama State Legislature Could Undo DOJ-ADOC Tutwiler Agreement & Force Federal Takover

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, May 29, 2015

From Day One of his first term in office (January 17, 2010) Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s administration has been pockmarked with allegations of corruption, wrong-doing, violations of Federal Law, incompetence, lies, thefts, and deceptions.

Examples include:
23-Felony Ethics Count indicted Rep. Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) re-elected GOP Speaker of the House
Rep. Greg Wren (R-Montgomery) plead guilty to misdemeanor Hubbard-related ethics charge and resigned his House seat
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) charged with perjury and false statements related to Lee County grand jury in January in Hubbard case
Moles in GOP Attorney General Luther Strange’s office attempting to corrupt Hubbard’s prosecution
Prison rapes & long-term cover-up of criminal wrongdoing at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, and Alabama Department Of Corrections (ADOC)
ADOC purchased medicines on the black market for execution, which the FDA seized
ADOC neglected prisoners’ minor healthcare problems, leading to their death
Legislature reneged repayment on money “borrowed” from Alabama Trust Fund

Facing an immediate General Fund Budget shortfall of $250 Million, and a projected $750 Million long-term deficit, shortly after re-election to a second term, Governor Bentley reneged on a campaign promise to not raise taxes. The most fearfully pressing of the concerns remains the prospects of a Federal take-over of the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC). At 200% capacity, and grossly understaffed, the ADOC is still teetering upon the precipice of a Federal take-over by the Department of Justice. The DOJ took over California’s Prison System with with much less overcrowding, approximately 140%.

The DOJ sent Governor Bentley a 36-page “love letter” dated January 17, 2014 which was entitled Investigation of the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women and Notice of Expanded Investigation in which they detailed numerous counts of prisoner abuse, sexual abuse of prisoners, criminal activity by guards upon inmates, and other horrific crimes against humanity.

USDOJ Tutwiler ADOC Findings 1-17-14

Only today, Governor Bentley crowed about reaching a 65+ page Settlement Agreement with the DOJ in which ADOC promised to “implement all policies and procedures required by the agreement within nine months of the effective date of the Agreement,” and “will terminate when Defendants have achieved substantial compliance with each provision of the Agreement, and have maintained substantial compliance for three consecutive Court-filed compliance reports.”

ADOC-DOJ-Settlement-Package-05-28-15

While there is a nine month implementation time line, there is a possibility of a one-time extension of three months, which could effectively give a deadline of 12 months. “Unless otherwise specified in this Agreement, ADOC and Tutwiler shall have fully implemented, including the training of staff, all policies and procedures required under this Agreement within nine months of the Effective Date. The Monitor may grant ADOC an extension of time to meet a particular deadline, not to exceed three additional months.”

Jennie Lancaster, Monitor for Julia Tutwiler Women's Prison

Jennie L. Lancaster, Monitor for Julia Tutwiler Women’s Prison

Jennie Lancaster has been jointly appointed by DOJ, ADOC & the State of Alabama to be the Monitor “to assess and report whether the provisions of this Agreement have been implemented, and whether this implementation is resulting in a reduction of incidents of sexual abuse and sexual harassment and professional treatment of inmates.”

Jennie L. Lancaster is the retired Chief Operations Officer for North Carolina Department of Corrections and served from 2012 – 2013 as Chief Deputy Secretary – Adult Correction.

The “Monitor’s fees and expenses will be borne by ADOC and Alabama,” and “will provide the Monitor a budget sufficient to carry out the responsibilities” described in the agreement, and may “contract or consult with other persons or entities to assist in the evaluation of compliance.”

The Monitor is wholly independent of USDOJ, ADOC or the State of Alabama, and “neither ADOC, Tutwiler, DOJ, nor any of their staff or agents shall have any supervisory authority over the Monitor’s activities, reports, findings, or recommendations.”

The strange, sad irony with the bitter sting of truth, is that the Alabama Legislature has NOT struck a budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2016, and if the Legislature does not provide enough money to perform EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY ITEM to the ‘T’ in the Settlement Agreement, the USDOJ will come in and place the entire ADOC into receivership (aka “Federal Takeover”) and then, they won’t give two hoots in Hell about where the money comes from to do what must be done to correct any problem – only that it shall be done, no questions asked, no permissions requested – it SHALL BE DONE.

California’s Prison System was placed into Federal Receivership with 140% capacity, and the United States Supreme Court upheld lower courts’ rulings that California MUST reduce their prison population, because it violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Alabama’s Prison System is at 200% capacity.

The reforms in Alabama are estimated to cost $26 Million annually.

Governor Bentley has briefly outlined the negative prospects of a bad budget (i.e., not just any old budget will do) by in a letter to the Legislature dated April 21, 2015.

Alabama Bentley Memo Legislature-RE-Budgets

Now, the reason this matters, and the problem(s) facing Alabama are myriad – and EVERY problem known and identified has been well-known, and expertly identified by the Legislature, news outlets, elected officials and citizens statewide. It’s not new, it didn’t happen overnight, last week, last month, or even last year. It has been an ongoing bugaboo of significant duration – meaning since 1901, which is the date of the Alabama State Constitution.

Before Governor Bentley was elected in his first term, he was an ineffectual, mamby-pamby milquetoast sop of a State Representative from Tuscaloosa, and as a member of the Legislature was certainly keenly aware of the budgetary and fiscal problems facing Alabama… as was every other Legislator, Representative or Senator. As Governor, he has been that in droves, and more. And yet, since he was elected to his first term, he and the GOP-dominated Legislature have steadfastly refused to come clean with the people about the dire fiscal straits in which the state finds itself, have similarly steadfastly refused to acknowledge the problem exists, and thereby have refused to imagine any potential solution to remedy the situation.

At the risk of boring you, the reader, here is a somewhat simplified overview of Alabama’s complex budgeting scenario.

The state has more than one budget. Again, that is a throw-back (translation: REQUIREMENT of) to the state’s 1901 Constitution which requires separate budgeting.

There is an Education Budget, which funds education.

Then, there’s a General Fund Budget, which funds everything else – including the ADOC, Medicaid, ALDOT, and every other state-funded government operation.

The state’s Education Budget for 2016 is $5.9 Billion, was unanimously supported by Legislators, with Educators’ support, and will be signed by Governor Bentley.

The state’s General Fund Budget has not been passed, although there has been a ‘stripped down, bare-bones, austerity’ version passed which will guarantee cuts to every state agency, including the entire Alabama Court System, National Guard, State Parks, Child Abuse & Domestic Violence Prevention, Department of Transportation (road construction & maintenance), ADOC, Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), State Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (State Troopers, Driver Licensing, Criminal Investigation, Waterway Safety, etc.), Department of Agriculture & Industries (diagnostic labs for animal husbandry/farming food safety), Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (effective closure of state park system), State Emergency Management Agency, Department of Forensic Sciences, Department of Human Resources, Department of Labor, Department of Mental Health, Office of Prosecution Services/District Attorneys, Board of Pardons & Parole, Department of Public Health, Senior Services, Youth Services, Economic and Community Affairs, Department of Insurance, Finance Department, etc.

In short, every state agency would be negatively affected.

The ‘stripped-down’ version of the General Fund budget would be $1.64 billion from the General Fund, which would represent a reduction of $204 million, or 11%  from the 2015 Fiscal Year.

Recently, the idea was proposed before the Senate to transfer nearly $100 Million from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund. The idea was never voted upon in the Senate. However, even if it had been, it would have been fraught with even more complexities, because by State Constitutional law, the majority of Alabama’s taxes (90%+) are ear-marked for specific purposes, and to “undo” any provision contained in the State Constitution would require state-wide voter approval of another State Constitutional Amendment to undo a previous State Constitutional Amendment. With 800+ amendments, Alabama’s 1901 State Constitution is the lengthiest of ANY constitution the world over – bar none.

Are you beginning to see the myriad complexities and ludicrousness of the scenario?

It would be far easier for the legislature to approve an increase in taxes to cover all expenses, i.e., grant Governor Bentley’s budget request in full (many of which are reasonable, such as Corporate income tax: Require combined income reporting for corporations that do business in other states, Insurance premium tax: Remove several credits for insurance companies, Public utilities license tax: Remove the exemption that applies to municipal utilities, Increase rates upon Automobile Rental now 1.5%, to 4%, Increase State Sales Tax upon Automobile Sales now 2%, to 4%, Increase State Tobacco Tax upon cigarettes by 82.5¢ per pack, etc.), then later, rework the entire budget process along with necessary Constitutional processes, and then rescind (lower) certain taxes previously approved. The Legislature could crow that they lowered taxes (albeit briefly raised them to avert disaster), which has – according to Republican ideology – proven popular in years past.

While that’s a politically risky idea (translate: unpopular), Alabama’s taxation system is similarly inherently pervertedly warped, and grossly inequitable (e.g., regressive – taxing the impoverished at a higher rate than the wealthy, and multi-billion dollar international corporate timber interests pay a lower property tax rate upon their vast timberland holdings than do homeowners), which further perpetuates injustices inherent in the system.

So, this is not merely a patch, upon a patch, upon a patch, upon a patch. And while for years, the State Legislators have proverbially “kicked the budget can down the road,” it is – quite frankly – do, or die time because of the external pressure from the very real prospects of a Federal Take-Over of the ADOC.

Opining, I predict a Federal Take-Over of ADOC because the Republican-dominated Legislature (House & Senate) will fail to approve new, additional funding to comply with the agreed-to provisions of the legal agreement to which the State of Alabama is a party.

In other words, Alabama will violate the terms of the agreement, which will force the Fed’s hands.

If there’s a moral to the story, it would be this:

Don’t hold your breath… we’ve always done it this way.

Posted in - Did they REALLY say that?, - My Hometown is the sweetest place I know, - Politics... that "dirty" little "game" that first begins in the home. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Alabama Politics: Just Another Day In Paradise

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Opining upon the notion of Alabama State Senator Del Marsh’s casino gambling plan to fund Medicaid, someone wrote, “[It’s] The only voluntary tax I know of. If you don’t want to play don’t pay.”

The retort was, “I’m finding myself more open to this lately however; once someone loses their house, job, family etc., don’t come crying for taxpayers to take care of you.”

To which came this reply, “Those people are already finding ways to gamble their lives away. They don’t need a lottery.”

My response follows.

“Those people,” are the Legislators.

In this one thing, I share the Governor’s sentiment – which he ineffectually (no surprise there) communicates:

Lottery will NEVER remedy poor fiscal policy, with which Alabama is replete.

In almost every lottery situation, law demands that the proceeds from lottery are to be used to supplement – not supplant – existing revenue. And in this single instance authored by Senator Del Marsh (R, Anniston) it is being used to supplant – to replace – existing sources of revenue. And that is Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in - Did they REALLY say that?, - My Hometown is the sweetest place I know, - Politics... that "dirty" little "game" that first begins in the home., - Read 'em and weep: The Daily News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Is God an Abortionist?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, May 1, 2015

The Bible never mentions abortion.

It doesn’t suggest it, nor does it even hint at it.

The Bible doesn’t forbid prostitution.

In fact, there are many things the Bible doesn’t even mention.

But it does forbid eating pork, shrimp, oysters, mussels, clams, cheeseburgers, wearing clothing made with cotton/polyester blended  fabric, that a man should marry his brother’s wife if the brother dies before impregnating her, and several hundred other nonsensical rules, regulations and laws – almost all of which were religiously based upon ignorance.

At the time the Bible was written (approximately 4000 BC/BCE), there was no understanding of Germ Theory (1864). No one understood Bernoulli’s Principle (1783). In fact Bernoulli wasn’t even born then. No one understood the physics and principles of lift, low pressure, high pressure, or how weather systems occurred. Even the beer and wine that was made then was thought to have been made magically – as if it were some kind of mystical gift from the gods, a god, or the God. They had no idea – were literally clueless – that it was through fermentation, because Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in - Even MORE Uncategorized!, - Faith, Religion, Goodness - What is the Soul of a man? | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Sweet Salvation That A Little Old Knife Can Bring

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 22, 2015

I don’t recollect exactly what year it was when I first heard the song “Woman Child” by the late singer/songwriter artist/musician Harry Chapin. I do recollect, however, that a young lady then near my age, was a fan of his, and it was through hearing some of his music she was playing that I learned of him.

It was perhaps his 1978 album “Living Room Suite” which I had seen her playing, but it was his second album “Sniper and Other Love Songs,” released in October 1972, which I subsequently purchased, which so powerfully affected me.

Chapin died tragically in July 1981, aged 38, and though the exact cause of his death was undetermined, he was thought to have suffered cardiac arrest while driving, which was explained as the likely cause of his wreck. The truck driver into whose path he swerved, along with the assistance of a passer-by, rescued him from his burning 1975-model Volkswagen Rabbit, and he was subsequently flown to a nearby hospital where a team of perhaps 10 or more worked fruitlessly for nearly a half-hour to save his life.

Chapin’s artistic creative style might be considered similar, somewhat, to that of a troubadour or wandering minstrel, because each and every song on that album – and indeed, every song of his – was a well-crafted, and expertly told story. The stories weren’t from a fantastic, idealistic fantasy life, but were from everyone’s work-a-day life. The struggles, trials, tribulations, joys, victories and crushing blows of unjust defeats in life were all subjects in his songs. From “W – O – L – D,” to one of his best-known “Cat’s In The Cradle,” Chapin’s gift of lyric and music made each song a veritable raconteur’s masterpiece.

As many older older teens are, at that time Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in - Faith, Religion, Goodness - What is the Soul of a man?, - Round, round, get around, I get around., - Uncategorized II | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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