Saturday, October 31, 2009

Birmingham population problem and some possible solutions

In midst of all this controversy with the removal of the mayor Larry Langford and the speculation of who will be the next mayor, the U.S. Census' American Community Survey (ACS) division released their numbers for Birmingham this week.  According to the ACS, the 2008 numbers for the city of Birmingham has 209,639.  However, that greatly conflicts with the numbers that were released by the U.S. Census' 2008 population estimates of 228,196.  One says the city lost 14% of its population whereas the other says only 6% population loss compared to the 2000 numbers of 242,820 inhabitants. The only bright side to this is that population loss has slowed compared to other decades and Birmingham remains Alabama's largest municipality, but the gap between the 2nd largest, Montgomery, is now only about 10,000 to 20,000 depending on which numbers you use.

Regardless, the city is still hemorrhaging population and it's not just white flight as it used to be.  There are a number of black inhabitants that are leaving or bypassing the city although because of the leadership void, crime, and other urban issues that plagues Birmingham.  As usual, the ignorant posters of the Birmingham News website posted their comments talking about blacks being the blame to former mayor Langford and crime.  However one poster's comment stood out the most to me:
Posted by eleoh
October 31, 2009, 12:37PM
What I find so funny is that people want to blame political parties (which really have nothing to do with mayor/city council elections) on the downfall of this city. Quit trying to express your personal disdain! You have corrupt republicans (choose anyone of Bush's closest "friends) and you have corrupt democrats (like Blagojevich) It's politics! The real reason why Birmingham is in a decline is that whites moved away from the city in a mass exodus after Arrington was elected. A lot of these whites also relocated their businesses outside of town (some within a month afterward) and blacks kept in him in office for far too long. I actually had a guy complaining to me about not having a white mayor in the past 30 years! I can appreciate his honesty in him stating the fact that there are some people out there that are frustrated about that alone if nothing else. Yes this leadership could use a good overhaul (and it's coming), but the funny thing is for all of the crap that people talk about over the mountain and Huntsville, they sure love to come here on the weekends and act like imbeciles at these bars and nightclubs. If Birmingham is so dangerous and so bad and run down, why don't they stay where they are? Oh that's right beacuse it's boring as hell in those places that they live in so they have to talk their appeal up so that no visitors would want to hang themselves upon arriving at their bland little town! If these folks have such a haven, then don't further taint our city with your existence. Just stay out if it is that repulsive around here! We don't need the further negativity! Furthermore I am sick and tired of these "keyboard ronin" that talk trash that has either been fuelled by falsehoods or hearsay. If you have not experienced something then you should remain silent about it before you are called out on it. As for those thinking that Birmingham should be like Trashville (there's enough racism here. Why would we want to be like them?), Hot-lanta, or the "scenic" city (which I've been to all three in the past year and after a few hours I got pretty bored with them all) has it ever occured to you that this would be the problem with Birmingham. It's having a bloody identity crisis! Perhaps if this city could profit from it's own place in history (and yeah I'm including civil wars and civil right movements....we can all learn from those mistakes) then it could probably do a lot better than it has been doing. But people are too busy trying to perpetuate their b.s. superiority complexes, their unfounded angst, and their self serving agendas to do anything positive. Once again I'll say it:
"The Birmingham Pledge, as beautifully written as it is, is still b-llsh-t!"
The poster hit the nail on the head because none of these other Southern cities like Nashville or Atlanta can be used as models to fix Birmingham.  Nashville does have a huge racial issues, but that's whole 'nother entry and doesn't have as large black populous as Birmingham.  Then Atlanta sold its soul to the become the mammoth it is today, although it has demographic percentages similar to Birmingham, it would be damn near impossible for Birmingham to achieve the amount of investment as Atlanta in this day and age.  In other words, Birmingham has to find its own solutions to its population and image problem.

Honestly, I don't blame some because Langford was a beacon of controversy with his perverse use of religion to block some things that are vital to the city's revitalization such as allow LGBT groups hold their pride celebrations.  Let's be honest, along with young professional singles, LGBTs are the main individuals willing to locate into a urban core that has been abandoned by middle class families.  Also Birmingham has suffered greatly from a leadership void due to the continuous electing of individuals like Richard Arrington after he outstayed his usefulness/affectiveness as a leader then the de facto city manager Bernard Kincaid and finally the beacon of controversy now former mayor Larry Langford.  After the series of poor choices of mayors, the city as further suffered from business leaving, which were mostly white-owned or retailers too busy trying to chase the majority white households.  That can be overlooked and forgiven because those who left in that aforementioned groups, but none of the last 2 mayors really made it their mission to recruit out-of-state businesses that would have helped Birmingham grow.

In the numbers game, Birmingham for the sake of recognition should try to remain the state's largest city since it is by far the largest metropolitan area with 1.25 million inhabitants in 8 counties.  Only the Mobile-Daphne-Fairhope area is half the region's size with only 540,000 inhabitants, so there is no competition there.  However, in my opinion the city should remain the largest because Birmingham doesn't want to be like Cleveland in Ohio, where it has been dwarfed by Columbus, but still the largest metropolitan region in the state with 2.9 million inhabitants.  The backwards relationship between the 2 cities is interesting since Columbus has the third largest metropolitan area in the state with 1.9 million inhabitants, but is the largest municipality.  Honestly, Birmingham doesn't want wind up as 3rd or 4th in size in the state since 2 of the 'Big 4' in the state around 200,000 and Huntsville is 165,000 or 175,000 (depending on which set of numbers), so if Birmingham doesn't get control on this problem it could come to fruition.

As I see it right now, Birmingham is likely going to bottom out in population around 200,000 like Richmond, Virginia, but unlike Richmond, Birmingham doesn't have 9 Fortune 500 and 15 Fortune 1000 in their region.  Birmingham is only home to 1 Fortune 500, Regions Financial Corp. and 4 Fortune 1000 companies, so we are seriously lacking in the business incubator category.  However, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is located in Birmingham, which is the state's largest employer and is a major hub for medical care, HIV/AIDS and biotechnology research.  There has been some cooperation between Birmingham and UAB with the Innovation Depot located on the western portion of the City Center, but it will take years for it to take-off and create major business spin-offs.  If the city's leadership would work more cohesively with UAB then it could create a major point for research and knowledge-based businesses in Birmingham.  Luckily, there was a state law passed earlier this year that allows the Alabama Development Office (ADO) to recruit more white-collar and knowledge-based business to the state via tax incentives.  Also the recent merger of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce, Region 2020, and Metropolitan Development

The leadership should work more diligently towards getting a hold on its crimes, and once again I will used Richmond as a model.  I don't buy into the lists that rank violent crimes per city since, every city has a variety of factors that contribute to its ranking.  In Birmingham's case it's the balkanization of its governmental entities, so empirically speaking Birmingham is actually less dangerous statistically than Chicago, which there have been more cases of random violent crimes although it doesn't rank as high on list like Morgan Quitno. 

Birmingham can fix its problems, but it will take time, patience, diligence, effective business recruitment, fixing of infrastructure, and good leadership.  If we can achieve those things then Birmingham could greatly slow 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bernice King is now SCLC leader

The youngest of the children from Dr. Martin Luther and Corretta Scott King, Bernice, now is the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  The 46-year-old Bernice King is the first female president of the 52-year-old organization which her father was the founding president of during the Civil Rights Movement.

Last week she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"It is a destiny call.  It is part of my father and mother's legacy and a continuation of the legacy he started in the '50s and '60s through this organization. I believe that the hand of God is leading me."
However, until last month she was involved in a bitter legal battle with her sibling Dexter over the estate of her parents.  A judge ordered them to begin negotiations, and the three were able to reach a settlement.

Also she is the only King child that has protested against anything LGBT in particular same-sex unions.  In 2004, she was involved in a march along with her cousin, Alveda King, and other black evangelicals including Eddie Long against same-sex unions near the King Center in Atlanta.  So, you know what's going to happen with the stance on same-sex unions and the SCLC although the Southern California chapter leadership has diverged from the others by supporting it like follow civil rights org the NAACP SoCal chapter.

Oh Bernice, you will be a ball of fun watching and listening to...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

RANT: Birmingham, there is nothing to cheer about yesterday's verdict

I have to give it up to John Archibald, Birmingham News columnist, because he said it best, there is sadness.  I'm saddened that Birmingham has come to this point because there is so much anger, confusion, and sadness.
In 2007, the city had a chance to elect somebody different and that person was Patrick Cooper, but chose to elect somebody with name recognition and a group of attack dogs like Frank Matthews among others.  I know Langford, via my late paternal grandmother who was a major socialite in Birmingham, and he has always been a man that was troubled and a beacon of controversy even back then.  When he was elected Birmingham's mayor in 2007 I said these exact words, "Lord, this is going to be a circus", and low and behold it has been a circus for the past 2 years (to the day).  Langford was a leader of much promise and great ideas, but he let his own ego and greed get the best of him thus the verdict.  I'm the last person to cheer about that verdict because it says Langford and the citizens of Birmingham failed Birmingham by letting this happen again. 

Nobody in their right mind could speculate that Birmingham would be as lost as it is right now, where people like Carole Smitherman is interim mayor (only a month at the most because she can't be reappointed City Council President since she is now mayor and Council President becomes interim mayor).  Smitherman's platform is just as faulty as Langford's since she campaigned against her District 6 opponent with the same tactics that Langford via Matthews did by calling them "not black enough" or "friends with those over-the-mountain".  Those type of politics is what keeps Birmingham from moving forward on a social perspective where politics of divide and conquer rather than politics of ideas to fix the city is pushed forward aren't given a valid chance.  I don't like the most of the "over-the-mountain" elected officials anymore than most socially progressive citizen of these region, but you can't continuously push this divide because you think it's politically expedient to your election.

Black folks need to get it together in Birmingham, particularly those in the western portion where politicos like Arrington (who faced similar charges to Langford back in the 1990s but was acquitted), Langford, Smitherman, etc. have major traction because the color and demographic composition of the area (90% black, lower-income, low education attainment, and very alienated from the political process due to the history of Birmingham).  There you have so many people who are so angry at the system per say that they will vote for anybody that sounds like them rather than seeing that somebody doesn't have to talk or think like them to understand their issues and problems associate them.  The issues that have brought down Birmingham is more racial than anything else on all sides, so there is your problem.  However, unlike our peers in other Southern cities, Birmingham majority black electorate has made its decisions based on name recognition and "blackness" rather than platform and ideas.  This has to cease and desist immediately, and those who were Langford fans shouldn't use this anger to further divide the city by trying to work to elect another socially regressive black politician.

My description to those white folks that seem to hate everything black and Birmingham, screw you.  If you can't be open-minded and see that Birmingham is for everybody and that it matters to you just like those blacks then you are a part of the problem like them.  Too many white citizens want to either have a racially bias perspective on things then they would rather trash talk anybody that doesn't stand with them on their ideology.  Also the majority of them are the ones electing officials in suburban areas that have this "fiefdom" mentality where they have no foresight on how their decisions could affect all of the region if they don't try to work in united front.  You guys are just as guilty as the black folks when it comes to his screwed up political equation where you feel as those somebody disenfranchised you when you chose to run to the suburbs and let the city falter.  You have your chance to get involved by voting out of office idiots like Tony Petelos and replace them with more regionally minded officials that wants to see a united Birmingham.

Now I'm not giving Cooper a pass because he decided to purchase the $12,000 Rolex watch that Langford had received as a "gift", but quickly sold it.  Also Cooper is very buddy, buddy with a number of individuals in the business community that makes me give him the side-eye.  However, at least he would have been somebody that attempted to bridge the racial and ideological divide that has persisted in the city for decades.  The man tries to reach across the table to those other elected officials of the suburban and exurban municipal governments since we all need one another for Greater Birmingham or simply Birmingham to get somewhere.

Now if those officials don't want to work cohesively with the Birmingham mayor then call them out (like Obama said with health care reform) and show them how idiotic and shortsighted their stance to not work together.

OH YEAH, the swap by local NBC affiliate, WVTM "NBC 13", reporter John Paepcke is a textbook example of what I call the media bias of the area's media outlets.  That EXTRA garbage he thought was poignant just shows why I don't care for any of the area's media because too many want to be funny and push their agenda instead of being non-bias, objective journalists.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Larry Langford has been convicted of all 60 counts

The jury in Tuscaloosa ruled that after only 2 hours that Larry Langford was found guilty of all 60 counts against him.  Here's the list of the counts:

Count 1 Bribery Langford received $69,000 in cash from lobbyist Al LaPierre and Bill Blount of Blount Parrish & Co. that went into Langford's personal bank account.
Count 3 Money laundering Langford paid Likis Audio $12,000 for audio equipment with a check drawn from his personal Compass bank account into which money from a bribe had been deposited
Count 4 Money laundering Langford paid Shaia's $12,000 for clothing with a cashier's check purchased at a Compass Bank using funds paid to him as a bribe.
Count 5 Money laundering Langford deposited $40,589 paid to him as a bribe into his personal account at Compass Bank.
Count 6 Conspiracy Langford, investment banker Bill Blount and lobbyist Al LaPierre willfully conspired on multiple occasions to defraud Jefferson County of Langford's honest services when Blount and LaPierre gave Langford money, clothes and jewelry to influence him as a public official.

Count 7 Bribery Langford solicited and received $30,000 from Blount funneled through LaPierre.

Count 9 Money laundering Langford used $29,241 of the $30,000 to pay his personal taxes.
Count 10 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted a $1,110 cashmere cardigan purchased at Turnbull & Asser.

Count 11 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $3,290 in clothes purchased at Ermenegildo Zegna

Count 12 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $2,133 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 13 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $2,707.56 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 14 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted a $2,796 in clothes purchased at Salvatore Ferragamo

Count 15 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted a $1,854.96 in clothes purchased at Century 21

Count 16 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $3,450 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 17 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $4,050 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 18 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $4,250 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 19 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $895 in clothes purchased at Salvatore Ferragamo

Count 20 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted a $12,015 watch purchased at Tourneau

Count 21 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $1,662.60 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 22 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $11,750.40 in jewelry purchased at Bromberg's

Count 23 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $2,239.97 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 24 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $2,800 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 25 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $3,547 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 26 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $2,000 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 27 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $5,000 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 28 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $2,500 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 29 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $2,300 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 30 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $1,800 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 31 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $1,876 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 32 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $1,000 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 33 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $1,047.96 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 34 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $1,500 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 35 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $1,000 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 36 Bribery Langford corruptly accepted $7,536 in clothes purchased at Remon's

Count 64 Mail fraud Langford corruptly caused a package from Turnbull & Asser to be shipped to Langford's County Commission office.

Count 65 Mail fraud Langford corruptly caused a package from Ermengildo Zegna to be shipped to Langford's County Commission office.

Count 66 Mail fraud Langford corruptly caused a package from Salvatore Ferragamo to be shipped to Langford's County Commission office.

Count 67 Mail fraud Langford corruptly caused a package from Century 21 to be shipped to Langford's County Commission office.

Count 68 Mail fraud Langford corruptly caused a package from Tourneau to be shipped to Langford's County Commission office.

Count 69 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $2,133 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 70 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $4,050 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 71 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $11.750.40 in goods from Bromberg's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 72 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $3,547 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 73 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $2,000 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 74 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $2,500 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 75 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $2,300 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 76 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $1,876 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 77 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $1,000 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 78 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $1,047.96 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 79 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $1,500 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 80 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $7,536 in goods from Remon's paid for with Blount's credit card.

Count 81 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $2,707.56 in goods from Remon's paid for with LaPierre's credit card.

Count 82 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $4,250 in goods from Remon's paid for with LaPierre's credit card.

Count 83 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $1,662.60 in goods from Remon's paid for with LaPierre's credit card.

Count 85 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $5,000 in goods from Remon's paid for with LaPierre's credit card

Count 86 Wire fraud Langford corruptly accepted $1,000 in goods from Remon's paid for with LaPierre's credit card

Count 87 Filing a false tax return Langford failed to report as 2003 income $125, 356.73 he received from Blount and LaPierre.

Count 88 Filing a false tax return Langford failed to report as 2004 income $81,419. 52 he received from Blount and LaPierre.

Count 89 Filing a false tax return Langford filed to report as 2005 income $22,186.97 he received from Blount and LaPierre.

Count 99 Forfeiture Any of the property or proceeds from the crimes and any additional gains made from the proceeds are subject to forfeiture. The amount of the property subject to forfeiture includes, but is not necessarily limited to, $7.6 million and any interest and proceeds agains or earned on that amount.

He's now removed from the office of mayor of the City of Birmingham, and current City Council President Carole Smitherman is now interim mayor until another council president is elected on November 24.  Also in all likelihood she won't be interim mayor afterwards because she can't be reelected council president from the helm of mayor, but that's another post...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Atlanta's mayoral race has made a turn for the worst

I've been sleeping on the Atlanta mayoral race for the last few weeks because 1) it's Atlanta and I'm in Birmingham with so much activity going on that keeps my attention and 2) I've been doing my much need preparation for graduate school.  However, the race on race has turned out in the favor of Mary Norwood, the councilwoman who was the center of the majority of the contraversy because if elected she would the first white mayor of Atlanta in nearly 4 decades as the front-runner in the mayoral race on November 3rd.  Norwood is leading a poll released on Oct. 26 at 46% whereas her closet opponent is only at 26% and that is Kasim Reed.

However, last weekend during a speech before the Hungry Club, some organization like Rotary Club in Atlanta, current mayor Shirley Franklin, spoken of the weakenesses in a negative light. On Sunday, Franklin went into much more detail.    Apparently, in the Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a comment on the Political Insider blog, Franklin freely used Norwood’s name, questioning her competency and lack of experience under the name "Shirley".  Then Monday a spokesperson for the Atlanta mayor's office issued this:
I didn’t say I had any fear of white political leadership in Atlanta or anywhere. The vast majority of candidates I have voted for and supported with my time and money are white and I expect the same will be true into the future. 
I support candidates with vision, integrity and intelligence and I have voted for candidates with these 3 characteristics throughout my life. Mary Norwood has none of these. Therefore, I do not support her candidacy for mayor.
Should she win I will wish her well and continue my activism in politics and civic affairs. Race nor gender are the issues for me. Competency is. Norwood has not demonstrated vision, competence or integrity in her public life as an elected offical. Rather she has spent her time building a political network to run for mayor. It looks like she’ll be successful.

She’s provided no evidence in her service on the Council as to her competence to govern. She has not led on ethics or public policy. In fact she’s known for slips of the tongue about what she’ll do as mayor.
Norwood has run against me as if she’s been a force for good in public debate on the issues for the last 8 years. A few weeks ago on the floor of Council she proposed holding up contracts because the new mayor might not agree with them as if the nine month procurement process had not been open, fair, competitive and comprehensive.
Ultimately she voted for the contracts but after hours of debate because a new political leader might choose other firms. That is the type of decision making I’ve replaced having found subjective rather than objective and fair processes when I arrived at City Hall in 2002. I am astounded Norwood proposed returning to [politically] driven procurement of city services. If you don’t [believe] me check the City Council archives of recent Council meetings.
So Atlanta Mayor Franklin isn't feeling Norwood at all.  She admitted that she has supported mostly white candidates for political office, but doesn't feel Norwood is fit to be mayor.  She also made it known how presumptive Norwood has been for the last few weeks like she knows she will be Atlanta's next mayor.  Franklin does have a point since it is documented and proven...

However, I do feel there is still an element of 'racism' not so much from one side because I've seen first-hand that there a number of whites as well as blacks in power throwing around covert language.  Atlanta is just bubbling with issues because crime is up for sure in the "city too busy to hate", seen practically all major construction projects come to a halt, and now its racial issues coming to the surface in the mayoral race.

Now, it's come to my attention that Norwood is an Independent with former Republican affiliations.  Hmmm, sounds like she is another Michael Bloomberg (see Rod 2.0's blog on that because I don't do NYC politics).  However, her other two opponents Borders and Reed also had some Republican affiliations as well, but not as prominenent as Norwood, who has apparently been registered as one.  But she has received endorsements of key black leaders like SWATS (Southwest Atlanta) former Georgia state legislator Mable Thomas, so it's going to be very interesting how some feel about this.  (I smell trouble in the air, but that's just me).

Then the ads glore with Borders playing to the kitchen table side of politics whereas Kasim Reed playing to the helping the kids angle.  Meanwhile Norwood visits the crime scenes of high-profile murders including that of former heavyweight champion, Vernon Forrest, in SWATS in her latest ad

On Tuesday morning, leading Atlanta radio station (and my personal favorite station), V-103 (WVEE), and Atlanta NBC affiliate "11 Alive" WXIA-TV will be airing a live mayoral forum hosted by morning man Frank Ski.  All the candidates including Norwood, Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders, and former Georgia state senator Kasim Reed will all be in attendance.  I will be listening for sure to hear this for myself what's really good. 

I have no dog in this fight, but somebody get a bottle of champaign because Atlanta will likely get a mayor that some black folks may not even want...

Constitutional reform and the gubernatorial race

As mentioned last week, Congressman and Alabama Democratic gubernatorial candidate Artur Davis announced while in Huntsville his support for a full rewrite of Alabama's inadequate, racially-bias consitution.  It's obvious that his Democratic opponent and Alabama Agricultural Commissioner, Ron Sparks, wasn't down with that.  Sparks called Davis' announcement "smoke and mirrors".

Well, it became very obvious to me after listening to Sparks and his stance on the reform that all he really cares about is "doing as little as possible and not rocking the boat" of special interests like ALFA.  Also Sparks platform on economic develop is full of holes with the idea of placing casinos in urban centers across the state lik downtown Birmingham like that is cure-all to the economic ailments. 

Back to the constitutional reform, the Birmingham News printed an op-ed in its Sunday edition discussing how Davis' announcement may actually elevate the level of discussion.  Alabama Citizen for Constitutional Reform's chairwoman Lenora Pate said it best:

 "It's just amazing, isn't it, that (candidates) want to trust the people and ask them to vote for them, but they don't want to trust us to vote on this issue," she said. "Something is inherently inconsistent with that."
However, remember Sparks and all the 7 Republican gubernatorial contenders feels like Davis is just doing a irresponsible magical routine involving "smoke and mirrors".  Those in Montgomery thinks it A'OK because their complacency on this is over the power they have on our lives and basic things when it should be held in the hands of our local governments. Honestly, I believe a lot of the state's major economic developmental issues would be resolved with a home rule law that allows all county or municipal governmental entities decide for themselves on zoning and land-use issues. I guess us the voters are just wise enough to vote for them, but not wise enough to vote on the solution to the problem they created. 

The more I learn about the candidates, the more I do lean towards Davis' platform because I'm tired of complacency amongst our elected officials.

Herman Thomas found not guilty

The former Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Herman Thomas was found not guilty by the jury on 7 charges including 5 sexual abuse, sodomy, and sex assault charges.  Also Justice Claud Neilson dropped the other charges that the jury was deadlocked upon. 

Well, I felt that this was likely going to be the conclusion considering how over the past 2 weeks the charges when from the inital 60 to 40 then to 20 while the number of witnesses for the prosecution including those convicted by Herman while on the bench.  It was the inevitable.  Now, Thomas has been given the A'OK by the jury that his behavior and infractions, but that's how the cookie crumbles...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Honor student faces 15 years in prison for cutting line in Wal-Mart and her family is threatened by the KKK


Yeah, I was like WTF at this but apparently so. 

Kennett, MO. – Heather Ellis, a young college student out of Kennett, MO is now facing 15 years in prison if she is sentenced after being accused of cutting line at a local Walmart. Her case has gotten the attention of the nation, and has been the subject of extensive online protests.

Heather was in a Walmart store 3 years ago with her cousin. The two split up to find the shortest line. Since her cousin was in the shorter line, Heather joined him. That’s when the clerk accused Heather of cutting in front of the other customers. An argument ensued, leading to the manager and security guard being called, and finally the police.

The incident left Ellis, an honor student on her way to medical school, charged with disturbing the peace, trespassing and two counts of assaulting a police officer. After Heather refused to sign a plea agreement, Stephen Sokoloff, the town’s prosecutor, filed felony charges against Heather.

Ellis goes on trial on November 15th and faces 15 years in prison. The community has expressed its outrage with rallies and protests, which have led to threats from the Ku Klux Klan. A police officer delivered a card to the family from the Klan and Heather’s father believes that the officer’s delivery of the card was part of a broader plot to intimidate the family. He also argues that Walmart should release the surveillance tape to show that his daughter is innocent.

Dr. Boyce Watkins, a prominent black professor at Syracuse University, has stepped in to become involved in Heather’s case. Watkins, along with the Your Black World Coalition and National Action Network, have created a website, “,” and have generated thousands of signatures in support of her case. He has also called for the prosecutor in the case, Stephen Sokoloff, to be investigated by the Justice Department.

“I have spoken with the family and other residents of the Kennett community, and the truth is that there does not appear to be justice for African Americans in this town,” says Dr. Watkins, who appears weekly on the Al Sharpton Radio show. “This requires that the prosecutor be made to realize that his power is not omnipotent and that he cannot destroy lives at his own discretion.”

Watkins is planning to participate in a rally to be held in Kennett at the courthouse near the date of the November 18th trial. The date and location for the rally have not been set, as the family has received resistance when attempting to get permits to hold rallies. For more information, you can visit or you can join the Your Black World Coalition by visiting

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and Resident Scholar for AOL Black Voices. He is also the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. For interviews with Dr. Watkins or a family member of Heather Ellis, please call (901) 413-0203 or email ###
I commend Dr. Boyce Watkins for taking up this issue and bring it to the national forefront.  Maybe we'll see him on CNN Newsroom in the upcoming days so that everybody can be abreast on this case.  The prosecutor in this case is an asshat and he knows it and that police officer who delivered that card from the KKK needs to be fired ASAP.  This institutionalized racial bias of some governmental officials needs to cease and desist as it is more and more evident that the US is regressing rather than progressing on racial issues.

OH YEAH, once again it reaffirms that racism isn't something that is unique to only the South...

Hate Crimes Bill including sexual orienatation and gender identity approved by Senate

The expanded federal hate crimes law now goes to President Obama's desk. Obama has pledged to sign the measure, which was added to a $680 billion defense authorization bill.
The bill is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.
This is good news to finally see the hate crimes including sexual orientation and gender identity finally become law.  Now if the Employment Non-Decrimination Act (ENDA) can pass then we will be on to something serious for sure.

UAB extends benefits to same-sex partners

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is the first state university to offer health insurance to domestic partners of faulty and employees.  The new ordinance will go into affect as of January 1, 2010, but faculty and staff were able to enroll same-sex partners and their children in medical, dental and vision plans for the first time earlier this month, for coverage beginning in the new year.

This is amazing, yet not surprising considering it's the only university in the state that has a "non-discrimination policy" including sexual orientation and gender identity in the state dubbed "Safe Zone".  Although the officials at UAB denied the independent film by Birmingham filmmaker and UAB student's documentary "One Closed Door After Another" about the lack of benefits for employees this summer at the Birmingham SHOUT LGBT film festival. 

Here's an except of the film:

Well, Birmingham is trying to keep up with UAB allowing this, and it will help retain more top talent as a research university.

Update on the Langford Trial

Well, I was alert of what was going on although I've been under the weather with a sinus infection, but anyways.Yesterday, was a busy day for the prosecution with key witness and former co-defendant taking the stand. 

Wednesday morning was spent on former Jefferson County Finance Director and current Birmingham Finance Director, Steve Sayler, continuing his testimony on the stand about allegations created by federal prosecution that Langford "paid for play".  He says Blount's firm was added to bond work at the request of then Commission President Larry Langford. Sayler testifies Langford and the commission traveled to New York prior to those deals.  The prosecution guided jurors through complicated, often tedious, county bond swaps. The direct line of questioning came with repeated objections from the defense that were often sustained. Sayler has talked about many of those bond deals with banks that employed Blount's firm as a consultant were cut into deals without public knowledge.  During cross-examination, Langford defense attorney, Mike Rasmussen, questioned Sayler on sewer bond rates and what would have happened if Langford had not done anything. Sayler also told the court that fees on the bond deals did not come out of county funds. 

Also Terri Hatcher, Langford's longtime assistant from the days of him being mayor of Fairfield (a suburb of Birmingham) testified before the jury in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday.  She talked about how she had set up at least 4 trips annually to New York for Langford to travel with Blount and LaPierre to take care of business associated with the bond swaps with J.P. Morgan Chase.  Hatcher did discuss on the stand the one travel advance for a three-day New York trip included $900 for lodging, $700 for travel and $160 a day for expenses.  However, she didn't really deliver anything profound other than the number of trips he made while he was commissioner. 

Other witnesses that testified included James Lister, a financial analyst of Lehman Brothers, who testified about his conversations with Blount about Jefferson County's finances. Lister said he talked to Blount because, "he believed Blount had a relationship with Jefferson County." Lister said Blount told him Langford "controlled three votes on the county commission" and suggested Lister should visit Birmingham to see the Jefferson County folks.  Also Robert Taylor of Lehman Brothers testified saying he engineered the interest rate swaps with Jefferson County. Taylor said he came to Birmingham to meet with Langford, but said Langford became frustrated with him because he wouldn't do business with a middle man because of disclosure.  Taylor said he met with Sayler a week later and in October of that year they did a deal, which included $35,000 in payments to Blount.  Paolo Farina from Salvatore Ferragamo clothiers of New York City confirmed receipts for purchases for Langford and former Jefferson County Commissioner Mary Buckelew, including a $2,000 leather jacket and two pair of shoes for Langford. Farina said the purchases were sent to the commissioners at their Jefferson County courthouse office and were paid for by Blount.  The jury was also read the contents of a letter from J.P. Morgan Chase requested by Langford himself to pay Blount's investment firm $2.6 million.

The most pivotal portion of Wednesday was the testimony on the stand of William Blount, the Montgomery investment banker and former co-defendant.  Blount recounts selling bonds and buying a variety of things for Langford.  Blount tesified that they have known one another for 30 years and handled the majority of the bond deal in every public office Langford has held since the day of him being mayor of Fairfield.  He also told the jury about the letters that Langford recieved about the bond swaps that was bypassed fellow commissioners, finance director, and the public.

More to come as the reports of testimony Thursday come...

Update on Thomas Trial in Mobile: Kidnapping and Exhortion charges were dropped

According to the Mobile Press-Register, the counts of kidnapping and exhortion have been dropped as the Mobile County prosecution wrapped up their case against the former justice of the Alabama Circuit Court in Mobile.  However, Thomas has another 20 additional charges of assault, sex abuse, sodomy and attempted sodomy. he is facing and could be convicted of if found guilty by the jury.  Sodomy is the only class A felony among the charges, punishable by 10 years to life in prison according to Alabama state law. 

"I'm very happy with what is going to the jury," said Nicki Patterson, Mobile County chief assistant district attorney. "I'm ready to argue those to a jury."
The defense delivered this in their final statements:

"A person who has got a good reputation doesn't turn into some kind of sex predator at night," said attorney Jeff Deen.

The closing arguments of the trial against Herman Thomas begins today and most likely deliberation will began for the jury this weekend to determine whether he is found guilty or not guilty of the remaining 20 charges.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gubernatorial race drama

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current U.S. Congressman Artur Davis announced yesterday that he supports a rewrite of Alabama antiquated state constitution.  If elected in 2010, Davis said he would work to get potential delegates' names on the same ballot as the presidential primary in 2012. 

He said a new constitution would allow the legislature to vote on no longer charging sales tax on baby formula and prescription drugs, using transportation dollars for mass transit, and letting cities and counties decide on local economic development issues.  All of which impede any real growth or progression of Alabama on so many fronts from social issues to basic governmental functions.

Shortly after the press conference, fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidate/Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Sparks issued a press release about his stance to review the constitution article by article, rather than a wholesale change.
Sparks criticized Davis for highlighting the issue rather than the state's financial crisis.  Sparks said,

"How many jobs will a constitutional convention create?" "Will a constitutional convention keep Alabama families out of foreclosure or create new revenue streams to address massive budget shortfalls?
"This is simply more smoke and mirrors from the Davis campaign."
Oh Sparks, you can't think of a single original idea can you?  This is going to get very nasty before this is even over.

The state constitution still has segregationist-era laws written into 800 sections and amendments, but null and voided by federal precedents prohibiting segregation of public facilities, poll taxes, etc.  However, it still there and basically been amended to death with the title being the world's longest constitution (even bigger than the Iraqi constitution) with 800+ amendments.

IT GETS BETTER:  The "kiss of  political death" was given by former Birmingham mayor Richard Arrington to Ron Sparks.  It has been provened that everone endorsed by Arrington has lost their political campaign  Arrington formally endorsed Sparks in the Democratic nomination for Governor.

"I have spent most of my life making decisions based on race," Arrington said. "Now, as my political life is waning, I want to move away from doing that and reach out to blacks and whites in hopes that we can make good decisions together, and I think Ron Sparks will be a good governor."

"I think if we are ever to move forward, across racial lines in this state, we have got to begin to trust each other, work with each other, and I think Ron Sparks can be the kind of governor that helps to make that possible."

O'RLY Richard!  Yeah, I find your so-called stance as valid as anything that comes out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth about being non-racist.  You just wanted to diss Davis because didn't want to appoint your out-of-touch behind to his gubernatorial cabinet.  Don't hate, just congratulate on another black man trying to be the first black governor of Alabama.

Opening statements of the Langford federal corruption trial

Well, Monday was the day of jury selection for the trial in Tuscaloosa at its federal court building.  (The trial was moved to Tuscaloosa after Langford's defense team requested its change-of-venue from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa due it being so high-profile.  However, Tuscaloosa is STILL in the Birmingham television market, so his team aren't too bright because they know who he is just like those in Birmingham.)  

U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler, prosecutors and defense lawyers questioned a jury pool drawn from a 10-county area in western Alabama surrounding Tuscaloosa (3 white males, 8 white females, 1 black male, 3 black females).  By Monday afternoon, the final jury selection was made along with a list of potential high-profile witnesses that maybe called to the stand to testify during the trial.
Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins, Commissioner Shelia Smoot, and former county commissioners Gary White and Mary Buckelew.

Bill Blount and Al LaPierre, they were Langford's co-defendants, but have pleaded guilty and are expected to testify against Langford.

Charles Lecroy, Jefferson County's bond "idea guy" also surfaced, but was convicted in Philadelphia federal court on a pay-for-play scheme.
Terri Hatcher, Langford's longtime assistant while he was commissioner at Jefferson County.

Deborah Vance-Bowie, Langford's current chief-of-staff for his mayoral administration.

April Odom, an executive assistant of Langford in Birmingham City Hall.

Also word is that Alabama Power CEO and Langford's friend, Charles McCrary, is among those possible witnesses as well.

This morning the opening statements of Birmingham mayor Larry Langford's federal corruption and bribery trial began this morning.  Federal prosecutor George Martin describing Langford as "a wheeling, dealing politician" who was deceitful and enriched himself by taking bribes while as Jefferson County Commission President.  The prosecution didn't hold back as they have delineated Langford is the most negative light quite possibly considered with the intent of bribery and getting rich off taxpayers backs to the jury.  Prosecution painted the "clothes, watches, and other gifts were not loans." 

However, Langford's defense team was allowed by U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler to use a Birmingham News editorial cartoon as an exhibit. HUH? 

Langford's defense team describes this as "an attempt by (former defendant) Bill Blount to stabbed Langford in the back and schemed to entrap and manipulate Langford" and "he likes nice things and he was a big idea person who left details to others."  Langford's defense attorney Michael Rasmussen also exclaims that Langford is a "shopaholic" (I guess so considering he racked up nealy $236,000 worth of things).  Rasmussen said "Blount's guilty plea is not evidence of Langford's guilt".

However, federal prosecution pointed this out. Martin detailed several trips to New York City, where Langford would take Blount shopping.  Langford would pick out what he wanted and Blount would pay for it with his American Express card.  Also Martin described one instance where Blount purchased a $12,000 Rolex for Langford. 

Blount's former girlfriend was one of the two now-defunct Colonial Bank loan officers to testified about a $50,000 loan for Langford.  Yvette Campbell and Karyn Cope Hughes both were on the stand today discussing the details of the loan Blount issued to Langford.  Hughes was dating Blount at the time of the issuance of the loan.  Campbell said that lobbyist Al LaPierre later came in the branch to take out a $50,000 loan.  Hughes testified that she informed Campbell that the LaPierre would pay off Langford's loan with his loan.

Finally, Birmingham downtown clothier Remon Danforah testified this afternoon that Langford was a regular at his men's clothing store.   Danforah said the first time Langford visited Bill Blount and Al LaPierre were with him.  He informed the jury that Langford's bill got as high as $14,000 and finally pointed out that LaPierre and Blount paid off Langford bills for clothes and other items.  However, Rasmussen counterargued that Danforah "double billed" Langford. 

Current Birmingham Finance Director and former Jefferson County Finance Director Steve Saylers was on the stand before the trial wrapped today about the bond swaps.  However, Judge Coogler called it a day while Saylers was on the stand. 

If Langford is convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum of 804 years in prison and removal from helm as Birmingham mayor.

ALSO: Michael Rasmussen is a public appointed attorney after Langford said back in July that he couldn't afford his own defense council.  However, this is after Langford won nearly $55,000 in winnings at 2 different gambling facilities in Greene and Macon counties, Alabama.  This is a mess...

Hoover and Vestavia Hills did it! They have essentially killed any hope for regional transit...

Last night at after the special hearing of the Hoover City Council, they decided to vote to end funding mass transit service, which will end the Metro Area Express (MAX) U.S. Highway 31 (Montgomery Highway) route at the end of the month.  This is after the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) informed them last September that more funding was needed to maintain adequate access to the system due to the economic crunch..  Hoover decided to operate the majority of fiscal year 2009 without a budget and didn't pass one until July, but didn't allocate the full $110,000 needed to operate the system in the city.  Instead they only allocated a partial payment of $50,000, and the BJCTA was will to accept this and cover the other $60,000.  However, last night the Hoover City Council decides to just flat out reject the partial payments altogether with another resolution alluding to "low ridership" as the cause. 

City Council members voted Monday night based on Councilman Brian Skelton's motion to give Mayor Tony Petelos the authority to negotiate a final settlement with MAX and to terminate service.

This move will impact not only regular transit routes in Hoover, but also paratransit, which assists those with disabilities ability to be mobile throughout the area.  It's another sign why regional cooperation amongst the region's governments is so shitty and hasn't gone anywhere.  Also reaffirming why Tony Petelos isn't a "regional leader" as so many Hooverites want to proclaim he is because any true "leader" would realize that sticking it out through the tough times and funding a very much needed assess like mass transit will help the municipality in the long run.  As I reiterated a few weeks ago, it' obvious that Hoover is going broke and fast because their main revenue source is retail and due to the recession also that the place lack any original ideas to move their municipality forward

Vestavia Hills isn't too far behind since they have opted to have hearing calling for the reduction of service in their municipality as well.  They want to reduce the amount of payments for the bus service in the city. 
Also it goes to show those with a critical yet intuitive mentality that Hoover and Vestavia Hills doesn't give a damn about the lower-income residents of the region that can't afford private transportation.  I felt this one comment on the the blogs on the Birmingham News site: 

It is interesting to compare past comments and sentiments to this story.
All of them need to just get a job.

I started at the bottom and had to work my way up.

If it weren't for illegal immigrants Americans would have entry level jobs.

All they ever want is a handout.
And the list goes on. It's amazing to see the kinds of comments when there is an article that primary deals with the black or Hispanic/Latino population, whether it's the politicians, ministers, workers, criminals getting two, three, four, five, six plus pages of comments but when there is an article that solely deals with the white population dealing with the same subjects, for the most part, you get four to ten comments at the most.
Sometimes the bigger picture gives us more insight than the snap shot of a situation.
I try to stay as non-bias as possible when it comes to this, but this shows how classism, racial bias, and poor leadership all converge on one issue at hand as to why Greater Birmingham has so many issues.  It's embarrassing how prejudice and callous so many choose to be towards the working class who are better themselves. 

It's not entirely race-motivated, but it does color a lot of issues vis a vis Bham. It's also the reason why the Birmingham metro area will never progress to the level of Atlanta or any other major city of importance. At least not until the city and suburb governments and both white and black residents put an end to the low-level civil warfare.
Birmingham's weighed down with an unbelievable amount of racial baggage. Everything here as a racial undercurrent. Whites either stay cloistered in the trendy downtown areas or they book it OTM as fast as they can. Blacks feel content to run down their own areas out of sheer apathy and attack whites for attacking their governments and neighborhoods. Nearly all of the governing authorities display a requisite amount of incompetence and corruption in any title they hold. This area is just screwed any which way you look.
Now, I don't agree 100% of this quote because Atlanta is far from a racial harmonious oasis in the South, but this person who posted this comment has a valid point about Greater Birmingham's underlying "civil warfare" between the city and its suburbs.  That's why I believe racebaiting officials like Langford, Frank Matthews, Tony Petelos, Gene Melton, etc. need to be voted out of office because there is always this "us versus them" mentality that is impeding growth and progress of this region.
This why I hope Birmingham can land the TIGER grant so it can start the In-Town Transit Partnership (ITP), so it can start a citywide comprehensive mass transit system including an improved bus system, bus-rapid transit (BRT) for the City Center, and frequent connector routes.   It will show places like Hoover, Vestavia Hills, etc. that opting out of regional transportation infrastructure.  However, in the long run they will regret their shortsighted decision on this issue.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Let's be a little objective about the whole Langford federal trial and its coverage...

OK, it's time for another objective analysis of the situation involving Birmingham and some portions of its media convicting Birmingham mayor's Langford before the trial has even began.  After reading the so-called analysis of the "Life and Times of Larry Langford" by Birmingham Weekly editor and staff reporter, Kyle Whitmire.  Honestly, it left more of a bad taste in my mouth towards Whitmire more than Langford because he seems to lack the ability to do his job as a reporter objectively give a non-bias perspective of the story.

The line that clearly shows the bias in my opinion was this one:  "A series of scandals seemed to prove suburban suspicions about black control of government."  Uh, excuse me Mr. Whitmire, but the mayor of Trussville has been giving more paying the Trussville school district superintendent than the most supertintendents across the state has been receiving for districts nearly twice its size.  However, he is cutting back on everything else in the city's services?  Yeah, you should never write a line such in any publication (unless it is strictly funded by somebody or an organization with an agenda) because white suburban people elect corrupt white politicians that control government making non-whites suspicious of them as well...


I've personally known Langford's corrupt self since I was a child because my paternal grandmother was in the same social circle as Langford's wife, Melva.  Personally, I can't stand Langford as a politician because of the foolishness he peddled during the 2008 Central Alabama Pride controversy, and truly wished Patrick Cooper or even Carole Smitherman had won the mayoral election then.   However, he deserves a non-bias perspective on this trial.  That's the least Birmingham media could do on this rather than convicting the man before the trial has begin in the eyes of the public.  

I just wish the media outlets in this region would be more objective and fair along with stop being so damn racially bias at times.  At times they seem to ignore the corruption of Hoover, Trussville, etc. which are both cities with majority white populous, but always looking at the corruption of Birmingham which is "black power structure".  You should be fair and non-racialized in reporting, and nobody aside from the now-defunct Birmingham Post-Herald did that on the controversy and corruption.  There seems to be a message of catharsis of "let's makes sure all the black politicians that aren't on our side or handpicked by us are out of office".

I'm not down with that underhanded crap at all no matter how egalitarian or socially progressive I am personally.  There are some good, socially progressive and accountable,  black politicians in this region that are ignored or overlooked because of the ignorant, controversial, an corrupt ones.

After thinking about this crap it remains me why so few people without agendas doesn't get involved in civil activities in Birmingham because the obvious divides that exist in this region along racial, partisan, and geographical lines.  We are one city with 1.2 million inhabitants, but act as if we are 30+ municipal governments that have their own agendas and goals regardless of how it will affect this region.  Those who doesn't want to be told "choose a side" in the conflicts simply avoid the fray of foolishness. 

LMAO, now this is funny

A new advertisement narrated by Florida Congressman Alan Grayson comparing the Congressional Republicans to an application on the iPhone.


Grab a Mop? Hmm...

Well, I'm not a fan of social conservatives Republicans or Democrats, so I had to give it up to Obama for calling it like he see it.  There are a lot of social conservatives that love to throw dirt, but doesn't want to contribute to the clean-up.

This video sums it up pretty damn well:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It ain't nothing', but the Devil...

Frank Matthews, the co-director of the Mayor's Office of Citizens Assistance and a community activist, is planning a prayer vigil in Linn Park for Birmingham mayor Larry Langford this Sunday for the federal corruption and bribery trial in Tuscaloosa starting Monday.  Also members of the Birmingham chapter of the SCLC and NAACP will be assisting in the vigil.  He's also planning a caravan of supporters for Monday from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa for the trial and the plans will be finalized Sunday evening.  Langford's trial is on some 60 counts of bribery, tax evasion, and corruption while he was still Jefferson County Commissioner. 

Frank Matthew is a racebaiter and controversial.  He was the one of Langford's main supporters for his 2007 mayoral campaign in which he called runner-up Patrick Cooper a "honky" although Cooper is biracial.  Matthews was appointed by Langford to the Office of Community Assistance as co-director while the long-time director Don Lupo was basically pushed aside to be co-director with Matthews.  Matthews hosts a radio show on a local AM radio station where he gained notoriety for his opinions and views as a community activist (which are mostly backwards and borderline racist). 

It's ain't nothing' but the devil.  He is another faux Christian that says he follows in the word, but uses his position for more destruction than good.  I refused to have any involvement in this foolishness and destructive behavior enabling those who think keeping somebody that is symbol of what is wrong with society still in power.  It is embarrassing that members Birmingham chapters of the NAACP and SCLC are contributing to this foolishness, but was silent as church mice when Langford was standing in the way of socially progressive events like the Central Alabama Pride.  Langford and Matthews represents what is wrong with Birmingham and a number of black folks in the area.  I blame the leadership of either chapter giving the organizations a bad name and that's where the blame lies, but you know some people don't want to hear that at all.  However, that's the truth.

You gotta step up your A-game,  NAACP and SCLC Birmingham chapters because Presidents of other chapters are aiding in progress, but you guys are just there.  You're not helping your organizations by cosigning on bullcrap because "just because he's your skin folk doesn't make Langford your kinfolk".

UPDATE: Only 25 people showed up to the "prayer vigil" for the Mayor with SCLC Birmingham chapter President Calvin Woods screaming at the top of his lungs into a mega horn while praying for an acquittal.

Update on former Justice Thomas and his trial in Mobile

An alleged victims' mother said, "he was a father-figure to her son" as she testified on the stand.  However, was surprised by the allegations surrounding Thomas. 

On Thursday, testimony from a 27-year-old alleged victim who is now serving time in federal prison saying that he collapsed from the paddling of Thomas while in his custody.  The mother of the 27-year-old witness testified Thursday that during a 2004 phone conversation, Thomas asked her for permission to paddle her son.

Also another now 35-year-old victim who has known Thomas since he was 17 alleges that he was paddled in exchange of being let out of prison early.  He testified that he stopped the paddling and walked out exclaiming, "I'm a grown man."


Justice of the Peace blocking an interracial marriage

Keith Bardwell, a Justice of the Peace for Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana refused to issue an marriage license an interracial couple because he was concerned by the well-being of the children that could be produced by such union.  HUH?

"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."
That's so precious he allows blacks use his bathroom and are tolerated.  Bardwell is a borderline racist with a seperatist mentality.  Is the President a product of an interracial marriage?  Oh yeah, nevermind...

Now this isn't the first time Bardwell has done this because word is that he has done this 4 other occassions to other interracial couples.  However, Beth Humphrey, 30, and 32-year-old Terence McKay were the first to ring the alarm and garner some major attention to his foolishness.  They are going to issue formal complaint to the U.S. Justice Department to have this investigated. 

The ACLU sent a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee, the agency that oversees the state justices of the peace, asking them to investigate Bardwell.  They also recommend "the most severe sanctions available, because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice."

Also as of Friday, Oct. 16, the Lousisiana Governor "Bobby" Jindal and U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu has called for Bardwell being ousted from his judicial seat. 

OTHER TIDBITS: Oh yeah, the couple did get their marriage license from another Justice of the Peace in the parish anyways.  Bardwell is a Republican and has been a justice for 34 years.  His current term expires Dec. 31, 2014. 

Well, looks like Bardwell has done did it and he can kiss his job goodbye.  Yeah, yeah, I know racism isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but still.  However, little do most people know this occurs in a number of places and a number of counties across the nation (not just in the South) either.  However, for Bardwell the rooster has crowed 3 times...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Birmingham's "over-the-mountain" suburban areas are facing increased burglaries along with Hoover's copycat move of Birmingham

Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills, has seen an increase in residential burglaries and car break-ins. 

Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills are seeing similar numbers. Earlier this month, Mountain Brook police urged residents to be alert after eight break-ins were reported in a two-week span, and 14 since Sept. 1.

The increase began showing up last month (in Homewood), and Police Chief Dodd said the city has seen about 12 home burglaries in a two-week span. There have also been a higher number of car break-ins.

The residential burglaries have gone up even before the holiday season where these law enforcement agencies says the peak time of the year for such incidents. 

What ashame, but that's what happens when you believe your suburban community is immune to crime.  Birmingham isn't the only one that has this issue.


Hoover is copying Birmingham after it announced last week that there would be a dog park opening at George Ward Park.  Now Hoover wants to open a dog park at Loch Haven Park in the Loch Haven subdivision.  However, about 20 people attended the park board meeting, and most opposed putting the dog park there. Some of the residents said they wanted to leave the park as it is and that adding a dog park would disrupt the tranquil neighborhood feel of the park and bring too much traffic there.  There was zero opposition to the George Ward dog park...  LMAO

The Hoover municipal government is copying Birmingham, but obviously the C.A.V.E.-dwellers (citizens against virtually everything) in Hoover doesn't want anything in their part of the world because it would "change" everything.  Boy, some (white) people in the Greater Birmingham area are funnier than a sitcom at their whining.  They always try to compete with Birmingham, but never want to work with Birmingham hence why there is zero regional cooperation...

The lead architectural and design team has been revealed for the expansion at the BJCC has

Populous, formerly known as HOK, is the lead firm working on the expansion of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Convention Center (BJCC) which includes an $540 million multipurpose facility, announced their design team on the project.  The team includes a number of local black-owned design, contracting, and engineering firms including:


>> Charles Williams & Associates
>> Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds
>> Dorsey Architects & Associates
>> Formworks Architects
>> Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio
>> Hoskins Architecture
>> Margret D. Jones Interiors
>> NHB Group
>> TRI Architecture
>> Williams-Blackstock Architects

Engineers, consultants
>> Auditoria
>> BBG&S Engineering Consultants
>> BNI Structural Engineers
>> Code Consultants Inc.
>> CRS Engineering Inc.
>> Henderson Engineers
>> Hyde Engineering
>> Jackson Renfro and Associates
>> LBYD Civil and Structural Engineers
>> Lerch Bates
>> Macknally Ross Land Design
>> Saber Company
>> Schoel Consulting Engineers
>> MBA Structural Engineers
>> MW/Davis and Dumas & Associates
>> Robert A. Johnson & Associates
>> S2O Consultants Inc.
>> TALA Professional Services
>> WJHW Audiovisual

Alabama State Representative Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) said that she is satisfied with the 30% participation of minority firms in the project after giving the BJCC massive criticism for their lack of minority businesses involved in the inital plans of the project. 

The cost breakdown of the project is that Populous and 8 other national firms will handle 50 percent of the work, with the remaining half done by local firms, he said. The architects will split a fee amounting to about 8 percent of the $400 million cost of building the facility itself.

Also Birmingham mayor Larry Langford released a "progress report" saying all the things he's done while in office for the past 2 years.  Including the paving of downtwon streets, jumpstarting the expansion at the BJCC, the Fair Park project, neighborhood clean-ups, demolition of abandoned buildings, and the enforcement of penalties against absentee landowners of overgrown lots, etc. 

In other words, he's trying to cover his ass on the eve of his federal corruption and tax evasion trial in at the federal court house in Tuscaloosa. 

Nice progress and it's good to see this is moving forward.  I'm looking forward to this project coming together.  It would major accomplishment for Birmingham to finally have a major and modern convention and event facility that can handle major events.  I just wish the stupid ass Birmingham News stop calling the project a "dome" when it doesn't even have a domed-roof.  They need to stop appeasing the lowest commond denominator of "CAVE" dwellers, Citizens Against Virtually Everything.  That was quoted by Langford and I'm going to use it. 

One poster on the site summed it up best:

Funny about you saying how the Silverdome was built 35 miles outside the city center. No offense, but if this dome just happened to be located in, say, Hoover, then you wouldn't hear but a third of the criticism given period.

It seems as though some people have a vested interest in seeing the Magic City fail. They criticize and dogpile on Birmingham from the comfort of their homes over-the-mountain and outside the county. These are the same people who should really stick to talking about what they know -- the Alabama and Auburn scores.
And there it is.

Uh, ok...

Dutch model, Lara Stone, is the photographed on the cover and as the main spread of the Vogue Paris, the French-version the US-based fashion magazine Vogue in black face.  Well, it kind of reminds me of the incident that occurred in Australia last week on the "Hey, Hey, It's Saturday" show where there were some returning contestants from 25 years ago doing an act where they were "honoring" the Jackson 5 in blackface.

Bad timing and just tacky.  Sigh!  If you to pay a tribute to the black image, have the decency to just get a black model for this because blackface is offensive.  Why, why, why, some people don't get this is beyond me....

Well, why was there not many black males at the National Equality March in DC?

This post is piggybacking on what a post that Darian Aaron on Living out Loud with Darian blog discussing why no black same-gender loving (SGL) males were absent from the gay civil rights movement.

Well, in my opinion there are number of issues occurring with people of color, so ranging from economic issues, self-identity, self-esteem, and racial bias from the predominately white mainstream LGBTs fold.  It boils down to whether or not a person can identity themselves more as a black person than a LGBT person.  Honestly, I know for myself I do identify as a black person more than a bisexual person of color because I don't have a collective mindset about something as abstract as sexuality.  I'm more concerned about my economic well-being in the long-run than whether or not some things like same sex unions are passed when at the end of the day bills have to be paid.  Everyone does have the privilege of being in a place in their lives where they can forego everything to focus on something like rights and privileges aimed specifically towards their sexuality. 

Also the numbers don't lie, most black males tend to deal with more economic hardships than his female counterpart.  The same goes with education attainment, livelihood, health, life expectancy, etc., so there are a number of things affecting so many that when you throw sexuality it is just gets some cumbersome that many will ignore or place it at the bottom of priorities.

Also I've seen how insolent that many white and non-black LGBTs have been about the obvious racial issues that face LGBTs of color, but rather ignore it to worry about gay rights more than equality for all.  There also seems to be even a sift amongst black LGBTs themselves where some are more incline to identity themselves by their sexuality than their color.  That alone says a lot about black LGBTs.  

In summary, when you look at how much black people in general have to put up with (negative connotations about the black image) then add on the issues that anyone that is non-heterosexual in a heterosexualist society and finally the issues amongst LGBTs about blacks due to the aforementioned stereotypes then you would understand what, why, and how some black SGL males doesn't place emphasis on gay civil rights.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

State Representative John Rogers is contesting the validity of the Birmingham City Council District 6 race

John Rogers, House Representative and cousin of council contender Shelia Tyson, is contesting the results of the October 6th run-off between his cousin and Carole Smitherman.  He claims that there were 1,400 provisional ballots, ballots are given to voters when there are questions about their eligibility to vote, cast during the election last Tuesday.  He wants them to be counted in the final vote totals for District 6 race. 

Tyson said:
It's a civil right to be able to vote, and if they feel like someone was not given their right then they need to look into it.
Whereas Smitherman is rest assured that she is the winner saying:

"I haven't gotten any kind of notice about a contest, and until I receive notice, I'll just stand still as the winner in District 6... "I'm going to be reserved and cautious in my comments."
However, Birmingham City Clerk's office says there were only 73 cast during the election last Tuesday.  On the other hand the only people who can officiate the election results the Jefferson County Board of Registrars.

Rogers said even if he is unsuccessful in the recount he will write a bill mandating an automatic recount on all election results in which the winner wins by 1 percent or less, and banning split boxes in which a precinct is used for more than one district.

Well, do I blame him? no  On the other hand, he knows that is pointless because we all know some elections as close as this one is too close to call and will likely result in the same winner.  It's always that way when you have this slim margin victories where political agendas of the election officials comes into play and "lose" or allege there aren't such ballots.  Don't worry, Smitherman has slim chance in hell next election cycle unless she step up on her A-game on serving all of the district (half of the 15% of eligible voters voted against her and the rest didn't even feel like voting at all), which I doubt because she has become way too comfortable.

Georgia Restaurant & Bar owner decides to put up a derogatory sign up

"OBAMA'S PLAN FOR HEALTH CARE: NIGGER RIG IT" that is what the sign on Georgia Peach oyster bar and restaurant has on its front near in Paulding County near the Paulding-Haralson counties line.  He decided that this sign was alright to put since it is the first amendment for the right to free speech. The picture is from WGCL-TV Atlanta.

Interesting enough if you go inside the restaurant you will find mannequins of KKK, also "Whites only" signs from the segregation era along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pictures and items.  He also swears that he was once upon a time a member of the local chapter of the NAACP along with a marcher in a gay rights protest in Cobb County. 

"We're strictly about free speech," Lanzo says, "but we're labeled racist."  He says that the sign has been outside his business for 6 months. 

This is Lanzo's take on his sign from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Lanzo contends the word is only labeled "racist" when it's uttered by a white person. Similarly, he says white people referring to themselves as "crackers" aren't labeled racists.Racist or not, it's a word Lanzo uses often. Many of the statements on his signs have included the word.
"We're not at all racist," says his 19-year-old daughter, Brandi. "We have black people come here all the time. We're not ugly people."
The other side of the sign takes a shot at bank chain that Lanzo says gave his 8o-year-old mother a loan she isn't able to pay.
Well, well, well, Mr. Lanzo believes if you just throw around slurs that it's alright and doesn't connotation derogatory meaning because he said "the word is only label "racist" when its uttered by a white person".  Yes, 9 out of 10 times it is, so nope you can't use it no more than a black person.  Also you have a simpleton daughter cosigning on the fuckery like it's alright.  Boy, you two are STUPID & IGNORANT as hell.  

Yet, as I've said again this Georgia and the exburbs of Atlanta in West Georgia, but it's still Georgia where so many of its residents claim it is"beyond the problems the rest of the South".  Yeah right! 

Newly elected Jay Roberson has sworn in as District 7 Council Reprepresntative

It's official, Jay Roberson has been sworn in as the District 7 council member on the Birmingham City Council a month and a half before his fellow council-elects will take office. This is due to the passing of late council member Miriam Witherspoon back in April leaving District 7 without representation.  He fills the remainder of Witherspoon's term until the official swearing in ceremony in November. 

The Samford University associate athletic director at Samford University said that he want to work with neighborhood associations in the district to get a good idea of what needs to be done. He's a major proponent of the expanding the Birmingham-Jefferson County Convention Complex with the multi-purpose facility being constructed by the City of Birmingham as well as getting a number of other community projects across the city off the ground running like the Fair Park project.

I'll reserve judgment of him until I see what all he's doing and where he stands on other key issues in the city like getting mass transit off the ground via regional coordination, putting an effort in getting some domestic partnership benefits for city employees, etc.

Trey Songz & Necole Bitchie versus Sandra Rose, WOW, WOW, WOW

The always extra R&B singer/songwriter/performer, Trey Songz aka Tremaine Neverson, and the always extra bitchy blogger, Sandra Rose, is going at for sure.  The busted looking blogger Sandra Rose decided to write an long diatribe about the "suspect" R&B singer in retaliation to his Twitter assault on her after an allegedly misunderstanding.

The "misunderstanding" according to Sandra Rose is about an e-mail that she received alleging that Songz won a "BET Hip Hop Awards One-Hit Wonder Award", which doesn't even exist, LMAO!  So he decided to start a Twitter trend amongst thirsty followers about Roses' face.  In the words of Dwight Eubanks of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, is quite dreadful.

Anyways, Roses being the usual b*tch and part-time hater she responded by going in detail about how "suspect" Songz is (which I do agree 100%) and the allegations that he has sexual relations with "suspect" Dorian Standberry of the Atlanta season of the BET college reality show College Hill and up-in-coming rapper and former Degrassi star Aubrey "Drake" Graham.   Roses also published an e-mail that celeb gossip blogger and attention-whore Necole Bitchie (yeah, I know somebody is reading this saying, WTF @ these names) and how she was allegedly "paid" to be his "girlfriend" and butter up his image and name on her blog.  In the e-mail, she is said to have called Trey a "nobody".  This is too much, but it's better.

Now, Necole Bitchie has posted an audio of an allegedly phone call between Rose and some unknown gentleman that is also a "credible source".  The male calling her out and saying she is "actin' brand new", telling her that "he's not the one to be played with", etc. It's pretty funny, yet pathetic.

Apparently, Rose has posted on her blog again today how Necole "doesn't have a pot to piss in" among other things identifying the male in the audio as "Doctor Drew" of and calling Necole out.  One line sums up Roses' retaliation, “Why would I want to live “vicariously” through an ex-stripper groupie blogger who wears thirsty dime store weaves?”

LOL  I can't, I can't, I just can't. 

This is the reason why I don't do celebrity gossip on a regular basis because this is some funny yet pathetic high school crap that I moved past when I became an adult.  LMAO

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Former Judge Thomas is apparently bipolar or something...

The opening arguments of the trial of former judge Herman Thomas began Friday (unfortunately, I've been M.I.A., and missed it).  The 48-year-old husband and father faces more than 70 charges, including sex abuse, sodomy, assault, kidnapping and extortion in connection with 14 alleged victims who were criminal defendants or otherwise under his supervision as judge. Boy, was it DETAILED. 

The Mobile Press-Register covered the opening arguments of Mobile County chief assistant district attorney Nicki Patterson:
Thomas would pick men without fathers in their lives and who were in need of help, Patterson said, sometimes checking them out of jail.

Using the judges' secure elevator, he brought the men to an eighth-floor office with a glass panel that had been covered with paper, she said.
Inside, she said, Thomas told the young men to strip down and be paddled, or be sent back to jail. During the spankings, some of the men turned around to see Thomas masturbating or having an "obvious erection in his pants," Patterson said.
Patterson said Thomas also ordered men to masturbate or engage in oral sex with him.
Prosecution also accused Thomas of pulling certain inmates or defendants of that specified demographic from other judges' docket to handle and rule on the case himself.  They also called their first witness Circuit Judge Charles Gaddick, who was asked directly by Assistant District Attorney Martha Tierney if he would ever or had dinner with a defendant and Gaddick replied, "I've never been to dinner with a defendant, period."

According to the Thomas's lawyer, Jeff Deen, Thomas was the founder of the Mobile chapter of the 100 Black Men, and a "pillar of the community".  Deen also countered that the other judges asked Thomas personally to take these cases for a variety of reasons. 

This all went down while his wife was sitting there listening and watching the opening arguments by prosecution. 
After reading that about the details of that you can tell dude is a freaky ass clown and just nasty as hell.  Masturbating, paddling oral sex, and allegedly anal sex as well.  WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW!  You can't make this type of stuff up.  I'm going to stay on top of this for sure because this is only going to get more scandalous as it goes.  This along with Birmingham mayor's Larry Langford's trial will make this week VERY INTERESTING. 


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