A roundup of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
Anniston Star – Quintard Mall’s tough future in Oxford
The Midas touch of retail development that often reigns in Oxford isn’t infallible, it just seems that way. In size and scope, Calhoun County’s top spot for shopping is unmatched by its local peers. But it’s surprising nonetheless when a prominent Oxford retailer closes because it happens so rarely.
Sears has long been one of the anchor stores at Quintard Mall. On its website, the company says the Oxford store will close in July. That will leave the mall with a gaping empty space and renew questions about its long-term viability in an ever-changing retail market.
Never far from conversations about Calhoun County’s only enclosed mall is what a spokesman at the mall’s Fort Worth, Texas-based owner called “the new thousand-pound gorilla in the market.” That gorilla — Oxford Exchange — is no longer new, but its lineup of stores, restaurants and services increases each year. Another expansion is underway this spring. The city of Oxford’s opening of Choccolocco Park near the Exchange has only heightened the allure that location has for people in Calhoun and surrounding counties.
Birmingham News – Alabama politicians: If it ain’t broke, break it
It’s like the state motto of Alabama has become…
If it’s broke, don’t fix it.
And if it ain’t broke, break it.
It’s hard, sometimes, to believe what they do to us in Montgomery is accidental. This kind of ridiculousness has to be on purpose.
Decatur Daily – Decatur needs candidates with ideas
Decatur would benefit if all incumbents faced challengers in the Aug. 23 election.
This is a truism that says nothing about the quality of representation the city receives from its mayor and councilmen. The incumbents have strengths and weaknesses, and it may be that no successful challengers would improve city government. But election campaigns improve government.
So far, few citizens have announced their willingness to enter the race. Three candidates have said they plan to qualify for the mayoral race, challenging incumbent Don Kyle. One challenger has emerged for the District 1 seat, held by Billy Jackson. Two candidates have announced their plans to run for the District 2 seat, which incumbent Roger Anders has said he will vacate.
There’s still time before the July 5-19 qualifying period, but serious candidates will need to announce soon.
Dothan Eagle – A proactive step for public safety
A small sign went up in the parking lot of the Dothan Police Department this week that will bring a tremendous sense of relief to those who look for a good deal.
“Internet Purchase Exchange Location,” reads the sign. Right in front of the police station.
It’s a brilliant move, and here’s why: You’re looking for a used item like a camera or musical instrument, and you search the online classifieds and find that someone in the area has just what you want at a price you’re willing to pay. You contact them through the site, and don’t know anything about them. You agree to purchase the item, and arrange for the exchange.
This is the tricky part. Buyers shouldn’t be so quick to go to a stranger’s home, or to invite the stranger to theirs. However, many have done so, or met in other out-of-the-way places, and found themselves in trouble.
Enterprise Ledger – Stop the madness now with tougher laws… now
Forget Take Back Enterprise, or whatever the group calls itself now. How about Take Cover Enterprise?
What is with all the shootings? This is not Kabul! This is not Chicago! This is not even Montgomery!
While our government in D.C. seems to be more concerned about men identifying as women getting to use the bathroom of their choice, the whole country is going mad. Enterprise, aka the City of Progress, has become progressively dangerous with misfits running amok in and around Boll Weevil Circle. And speaking of careless, some people have even blamed our police and city government for the latest outburst. I guess they are supposed to know when every citizen and visitor to Enterprise is going to snap. Shame on them for not having ESP.
The city of Florence has taken the first step toward the creation of a wellness clinic for its 815 city workers and their families.
City council members voted unanimously Wednesday to go ahead with the $235,000 purchase of a West College Street building to house the clinic. The purchase price is significantly higher than the $155,500 appraisal by the Lauderdale County Revenue Commissioner’s Office, but conveniently matched the city’s own $235,000 appraisal.
We have our reservations about the ability of the city to run a medical clinic better than the private sector can, and that makes us wonder if a partnership might have been the better option than another layer of government expansion.
City taxpayers can’t, however, fault their elected leaders for doing what they can to lower the ever-increasing health care costs that governments and individuals are facing. And that’s the real impetus behind this decision.
Gadsden Times – ETF budget a win; strife may not be over
We’ve documented — many times — the issues with Alabama’s General Fund budget.
It’s in place for the next fiscal year after the Legislature overrode Gov. Robert Bentley’s veto, although the governor is threatening to call a special session to deal with Medicaid funding.
So there’s the possibility of more strife, in between the latest revelations in the scandal surrounding Bentley. (We’re not going there again, except for a grimace and head shake at the governor’s choice of date for a White House banquet in February.).
However, it’s only fair that we acknowledge a rare peaceful moment in Montgomery — the unanimous approval of an Education Trust Fund budget that is going to benefit the state’s public schools, and the near-unanimous passage of a bill helping the personnel who make them function.
It’s been a wild week.
From controversial headlines about the governor to the death of rock-icon Prince, how closely have you been paying attention?
Can you get a higher score than our community manager, Edward Bowser? He only missed one. Post your score in the comments below. And, remember, no spoilers!
Press-Register – GOP Chair: Bentley and Hubbard don’t reflect the whole party
Remember that time the Republicans in the Alabama Legislature accomplished these reforms?
Saved $1 billion annually by slashing government employment, consolidating agencies and deleting duplicate services while also passing strong economic incentives
Implemented historic school choice and charter schools
Enacted a rolling reserve fund for education funding stability
Terminated private union dues being processed by government employees
Closed PAC to PAC transfers for a transparent political reporting process
Added a new photo voter ID law as well as supplying a free ID if needed
Intensified our pro-life laws ranking as one of the strongest ‘life’ states in the nation
Just to name a few. Not a bad start for just six legislative sessions.
Montgomery Advertiser – In praise of the Gump
Haters gonna hate but I submit that this here Gump (aka the City of Montgomery) is a slightly flawed and tarnished gem filled with basically nice, honest people. I have recent anecdotal proof to support my position. But first, imagine yourself at an Atlanta Braves or New York Yankees game where you enjoyed brats and beers but discovered the next morning your wallet was missing and the last time you had it was when you paid cash for that last brew (or soft drink if thinking of drinking beer at a baseball game offends). After regaining your composure would you first begin frantically canceling all of your credit cards or would you first try to contact “lost and found” at the Ted or Yankee Stadium? My guess is that you would first do the former. Calling lost and found at a “big city” stadium would probably result in derisive laughter adding nothing but insult to injury.
When the same scenario involved visiting Riverwalk Stadium for the opening night Biscuits game I have personal experience proving the answer here is: Relax and call up the Biscuits at 8:15 the next morning and arrange to get your wallet. In fact, not only did I retrieve my wallet complete with the replaceable and modest amount of cash and all credit cards undisturbed, but I also recovered a priceless and irreplaceable handwritten “marker” from an unrepentant reprobate who owes me X-dollars and who would deny the debt if I could not produce the ragged piece of paper bearing his oily signature. It would be hard to place a value upon the ability to hold that “marker” over that blowhard’s head.
Opelika-Auburn News – Medicaid dilemma is no easy fix, but lawmakers must address it
When you start talking about Medicaid and eliminating prescription drug coverage or telling patients they have to go to a single big-box pharmacy chain, you better have good answers for the questions sure to come.
Right now, the Alabama Legislature does not have those answers.
Call it politics or call it a long overdue attempt to control out-of-hand spending, but the problem facing Alabama’s Medicaid situation is the real deal.
The patients who depend on Medicaid for their very lives aren’t going to be content without clear direction on how to handle their health issues.
Nor should they be.
Tuscaloosa News – Collins’ resignation reveals dysfunction
Scott Collins resigned as city administrator of Northport this past Friday. After city leaders met Monday night to discuss his departure and how to move forward, we were left with more questions than answers.
In the last week, leading up to Collins’ resignation, it became apparent some members of the City Council wanted him gone. But Mayor Bobby Herndon said discussions about Collins’ fate occurred without his input.
In return for his resignation, Collins will receive pay for vacation time he’s accrued, the city’s portion of Collins’ family health insurance costs for one year and one year’s salary. The gross amount comes to $131,241.23. Oh, and, now that he’s out of a job, the city will ask him to serve as its representative for retail and economic development projects for the next year.