A round-up of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
The Anniston Star – Boehner, Rogers and earmarks
In recent years, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers has done good work in urging his congressional colleagues to lift the ban on earmarks, the method by which lawmakers once could direct federal dollars into local projects.
Had Rogers been successful, it’s quite likely Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, wouldn’t be clearing his things out of the House Speaker’s office this weekend.
Boehner announced Friday he was leaving Congress and ending his speakership at the end of next month. After almost five years of trying to lead the Republican caucus, Boehner has had enough. It seems from his remarks that he is willing to let someone else take on the job of trying to save extremist Republican lawmakers from themselves.
To be clear, it’s not the entire Republican House caucus that is Boehner’s problem. It’s the small band of tea party-fueled representatives who prefer destruction over legislation. They’d just as soon burn down the house and worry about the casualties later. For Boehner’s efforts to avoid self-inflicted pain, this experienced Republican lawmaker became the enemy, despised by conservatives almost as much as the speaker he replaced, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The power of the pursestrings once brought order to even the most unruly of politicians. After all, each of the House’s 435 districts needs federal funding for something or, more likely, several somethings. Even the most cantankerous and extreme lawmaker represents a district in need of a highway or a bridge or a water-treatment system. When the horse-trading concludes, a speaker gets the votes he needs to pass tough-but-important legislation and a representative can brag to the folks back home that he delivered enough bacon to build that road.
The Birmingham News – Boehner’s exit separates the conservative show ponies from the workhorses.
At the end of October, Speaker of the House John Boehner will resign.
To be clear, the Tea Party contingent of the Republican Party couldn’t stand Boehner—so much so that many actively campaigned on the prospect of voting against him.
His task, the same facing his successor, has been unimaginably difficult: Build consensus in a House of Representatives where rock-ribbed conservatives and Republican moderates rail against each other more often than they push back against the Democratic President.
In the hours after his announcement, Boehner’s opponents applauded his departure and aspired to “more conservative leadership.”
But let’s look at the situation on the ground.
By most counts, there are about 50 Republicans that represent the conservative core of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. They don’t like taxes at all, loathe bureaucracy, and they’re ardently pro-life.
Here’s the problem. Their 50-or-so votes aren’t even close to the majority required to elect the Speaker of the House.
Their lack of voting clout also highlights an important distinction between the political left and the right. Recently, Democrats have tended to pull leadership from their liberal core like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Republicans have elected leadership with a more pragmatic approach.
That trend won’t change.
The Decatur Daily – Lesson to city: Protect schools, improve efficiency
Common sense and representative democracy merged this week when Mayor Don Kyle and the City Council backed off a proposal to cap local funding of Decatur City Schools.
Kyle’s short-lived proposal was a bad idea. He would have diverted to the city proceeds from a 1-cent sales tax that for 35 consecutive years has gone to DCS. If implemented, the plan would have prevented DCS’ local revenue from growing with the economy or even keeping up with inflation.
Kyle’s trial balloon deflated quickly, but it served a useful purpose. Decatur residents did not take kindly to their school system being threatened. They participated in the plan to build two new high schools, and they recognize the expense DCS faces as it tries to reverse the effects of growing poverty. They see the large population of children who live in homes where English is not spoken — a population that for the good of the city needs to be educated and prepared to join the workforce — and appreciate the enormous challenge faced by DCS.
Residents understand that broken families and lengthening work hours have placed on DCS a burden that goes beyond traditional education. Now more than ever, our city’s future is shaped by what happens in the classroom.
And Decatur residents have watched as the high value they place on public education has been rejected by their elected state legislators. Every legislative session since 2011 has devolved into increasingly brazen attacks on public schools and the funding upon which those schools rely.
Residents’ support for public schools is not a free pass for school administration. DCS enjoys strong local financial support, and that comes with an obligation to be transparent and aggressive in improving opportunities for students. Residents want to see improvements in student test scores, and DCS needs to figure out a way to deliver.
But clearly the public’s desire for improved schools is not seen as a justification for reducing financial support. Kyle’s trial balloon did not just lose air; it was pummeled. Decatur’s rich and poor, its employers and employees, gave a resounding response: “Leave our schools alone.”
Kyle’s proposal may have been misguided, but it had value. It served to demonstrate residents’ loyalty to their schools. It also was a reminder to those same residents that Kyle and the City Council are faced with difficult decisions.
Dothan Eagle – Drugs wanted, no questions asked
Anytime someone feels the need to have their hair stand on end, they need only talk to medical personnel – doctors, nurses and other staff – about the sort of frightening cases that wind up in their emergency rooms because of accidental ingestion of drugs.
Such episodes rarely make headlines, but they certainly occur. Children get their hands on pill bottles and take what is inside, perhaps because they see their parents taking them. Something like heart medication can wreak havoc on the healthy organs of a youngster.
Of course, parents of young children should ensure that medications are kept out of reach. But often that’s not enough, particularly when it comes to medication that’s been discarded.
Often people will flush unwanted medication down the toilet thinking they’ve safely discarded the drugs. However, the drugs can remain in the water supply and, combined with untold other chemicals being introduced, can possibly find their way back.
On Saturday, communities throughout the Wiregrass area will be participating in the Annual National Drug Take Back Day, during which residents are provided with pick-up points to safely dispose of expired or unused medication.
The sites will be available from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. In Dothan, a site will be available in the front parking lot of the police station on North St. Andrews Street, and another operated by the Houston County Sheriff’s Office will be set up at Walgreens at 3574 Montgomery Highway.
In surrounding communities, drop-off points will be open at the Grocery Outlet parking lot in Daleville, the Newton Senior Center in Newton, and Fort Rucker Post Exchange at Fort Rucker.
The Enterprise Ledger – Games are games, but keep them in perspective
I had watched Auburn get pummeled by LSU earlier in the day, then watched in person as Alabama had more turnovers than Betty Crocker in falling to Ole Miss in a game that ended well past my bedtime and had many people turning back into pumpkins early in the fourth quarter.
Enterprise lost at Auburn High School Friday night thanks in large to what at least a trio of fans described was one of the worst non-calls they had ever seen as Auburn scooped up an incomplete forward pass and returned it for a touchdown. Everyone I’ve talked to said even Auburn seemed somewhat stunned that no official whistled the play dead. I wasn’t there, so all I can do is take their word on it.
Over at Eufaula, I’ve followed much closer the Baltimore Ravens and St. Louis Rams. That town’s sons – Baltimore defensive beast Courtney Upshaw and St. Louis General Manager Les Snead – both lost Sunday.
Elba continued to roll, but it was at the expense of New Brockton, so that’s a wash on the Coffee County front.
Basically, it was a weekend to forget as far as football goes, making for lots of moaning and groaning around this state.
I guess, after seeing my mother pull through what seemed like her darkest hour in a hospital bed, the losses didn’t sting as much as usual.
TimesDaily – Polarized Congress will ignore pope’s plea
In a more generous political climate, an adorable little girl who gave a letter and a hug to Pope Francis could make a difference. In an era with a more pragmatic Congress and a less Balkanized electorate, Sophie Cruz, 5, could break through the gridlock around immigration reform.
But we are living through a deeply polarized era in which compromise is a dirty word, listening to those with whom we disagree is seen as weakness and respect for different opinions regarded as betrayal. Pope Francis’ gracious address to Congress, in which he urged compassion toward “foreigners,” won’t change that. Neither will a cute little girl.
The pope’s embrace of young Sophie has flashed around the world, carried at the supersonic speed of social media. As he made his way down the National Mall in the Popemobile on Wednesday, he spotted her trying to break through his firewall of security guards and beckoned for her.
She handed him a letter — accompanied by a delightful drawing of the pope with children of different races — pleading for a comprehensive immigration reform that might save her parents from deportation. Though she is a citizen (so far, at least, since Donald Trump has not yet had his way on birthright citizenship), her parents crossed the border from Mexico illegally.
The Gadsden Times – Fleet feet, furry friends, hale heroes
The summer of 2015 has ushered in a whole new era of heroes, beginning with track and field events. Alabama athletes did very well in mid-July the USATF Junior Olympics in Middleboro, Tennessee. Twenty-two boys and eight girls of the Gadsden Burners Track Club qualified for nationals, the biggest roster of participants in the state! Jhedreion Rigby is so proud of his team. Thanks to eclectic, nonprofit groups like these young people, our city will always be the City of Champions — champions who grow up to be heroes.
The Gadsden Public Library recently had a “Pet Adoption Day” in conjunction with the Humane Society Pet Rescue and Adoption Center. Animals “visited” the library and were available for adoption. As an additional perk, author (and my “little sister”) Becky Jones was on hand to sign copies of her book, “Poochie,” the story of Becky’s lifelong love for animals. Christie Brown of the Humane Society, and a regular visitor at our home on Ridgeway Avenue when she was best friends with my daughter, Christie, was shocked she had not met “Aunt Becky” and wanted to know why she had not been introduced! It was a delightful day; a serendipity meeting for Becky and Christie and a chance for the message to pet owners to spay or neuter pets and to adopt from the local shelter instead of buying a pet from a breeder. Sorry it took so long to bring that important message to this column. Our brother, Mike Goodson, has a plethora of “rescued” cats, and my constant companion, Molly B, is a rescue as well.
The Huntsville Times –In grief, high school athletes show us the healing power of sportsmanship
I am writing this letter in hopes you will spotlight the coaching staff, administration, students, teachers, and football players at Davidson High School. As of late, there has not been too many true bright spots in high school athletics in regards to class and sportsmanship…until last night September 24, 2015, at 7:00 p.m.
For those that are unaware, last year’s game between Davidson High School and Charles Henderson High School was marred by the death of a Charles Henderson High School student – Demario Harris. Demario died after sustaining an injury during the game between the two schools.
The funeral for Demario was held a short time later and this is when you can begin to see the kind of class that Coach Fred Riley and Davidson High School possess. Coach Riley and his staff brought the senior football players, wearing their jerseys, to Demario’s funeral. An act in which is not out of the ordinary in the sporting world. Had this been the only act of paying tribute to Demario, most would have agreed that it would have sufficed and been appropriate.
This brings us to this week and the events that took place. Throughout the week the students at Davidson High School have been selling orange shirts with the number 10 and Demario Harris’ name on it – which all of the band had on underneath their uniforms. The school purchased a plaque to present to Coach Brad McCoy and the players of Charles Henderson High School. There was a moment of silence for Demario and prayer for his family and community that are still grieving. None of which was expected of Davidson to do, nor were they obligated to do. Not to mention, it was homecoming week and the homecoming game.
As the teams ran out of their respective banners on to the field, both teams displayed what sports are supposed to be about. Each team ran to their sidelines and then lined up and walked out to the middle of the fields and began to shake hands, hug, and have fellowship with one another.
A drug credited with saving the lives of people who have overdosed on certain types of narcotics will now be available without a prescription at CVS stores in 12 states.
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, treats overdoses from opioids like heroin, morphine and prescription pain medications. It was previously only available over the counter to customers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Now customers in Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin will be able to purchase the medication without a prescription.
“Over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States and most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled substance pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin. Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives,” said Tom Davis, RPh, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS/pharmacy.
The drug, which comes in injectable form and a nasal spray, works by blocking opioids from bonding to receptors in the brain. It typically it purchased by family members and friends of those who are dealing with an addiction and can resuscitate an overdose victim within minutes.
Price for the drug varies by state and type, ranging from $40 – $55.
Montgomery Advertiser – Leave it to conservatives to criticize the pope
Pope Francis seems like a good man.
In his short time as pope, he has washed the feet of the poor, he has dined with the homeless, he has shunned finer clothes and a finer apartment for himself in order to live more humbly among the people and he has been far more approachable for the common Catholic than any pope possibly ever.
But Pope Francis, who, in case you’ve been under a rock the last few days, visited the U.S. last week, has lost favor with many of America’s conservative Christians. Which would seem odd, given that they’re all reading from the same book, so to speak.
Some of Pope Francis’ statements haven’t been exactly in line with the type of Christianity practiced by the right-wingers in America – particularly those in American politics who consistently twist the Bible into a mess in order to justify their actions.
Where they have consistently extolled the virtues of capitalism and the pursuit of the almighty dollar, Pope Francis has explained that an economic model based only on obtaining wealth and that lacks a loftier, more virtuous goal is wrong. He has also attempted to shift the focus from dogma to love, believing that the constant rhetoric about abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception is preventing many from becoming believers.
So, it is no surprise that America’s conservative Christians, especially those in Alabama – where we’ve never seen a dogma we didn’t want to adopt and take home to love forever – have taken issue with the man.
Opelika-Auburn News – Making Auburn better
On May 5, 1998, the Auburn City Council adopted a long-range plan for the city called Auburn 2020.
“Seven committees consisting of approximately 200 citizen volunteers, elected officials, and city staff spent much time and effort toward creating comprehensive reports that address the areas of education, growth and development, intergovernmental relations, transportation, utilities and technology, family and community, and public safety,” a city resolution signed by then-Mayor Jan Dempsey said. “These seven reports outline detailed strategies and goals to guide the decisions of the City Council aimed at making Auburn a better community through citizen involvement.”
Auburn has accomplished many of the “22 Goals for 2020,” which are listed on the city’s website along with the plan. Some of the goals include:
Continue strong community financial support of the Auburn City Schools with the goal of retaining the reputation as one of the outstanding public school systems in the Southeast.
Establish a community network of sidewalks and bicycle trails that will allow all citizens to use alternative modes of transportation.
Construct a senior citizens center to house expanded programs for Auburn’s seniors and a teen center for afternoon and evening recreation for Auburn teenagers.
Auburn 2020 has served the city well, and CompPlan 2030, adopted by the City Council in October 2011, provides goals, objectives and policies on areas such as future land use, natural systems, transportation, parks and recreation, public safety and historic preservation, through 2030.
That plan is designed to be evaluated and updated every five years.
The Tuscaloosa News – Credit card reasonable requirement
Anywhere there is private parking, there will be issues with towing. It is very difficult to get drivers to respect private property without the threat of adverse consequences.
But, non-consensual towing takes on a new dimension in Tuscaloosa. It is a city of about 100,000 residents that, on seven or eight Saturdays of the year, has nearly that many more visitors, most of whom arrive in an automobile. Moreover, the vast majority of these visitors are headed for one small area of town — the area within walking distance of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
It is one of the older sections of town and already densely populated with students. Naturally, it’s among the most difficult places in the city to find a parking space. That means, whether accidentally or on purpose, some people wind up parking on private property where they aren’t welcome.
Folks who come here from Atlanta, Birmingham, Mobile and other cities probably understand well that parking is at a premium and can have adverse consequences when on private property. But, not everyone who visits Tuscaloosa is from a major metropolitan area.
The folks who come to football games from places like Luverne, Haleyville, Butler and Albertville don’t necessarily deal with traffic and parking issues daily. At home, when they park somewhere they shouldn’t, someone will politely ask them to move.
Other visitors have been coming here for years and don’t realize that things aren’t quite as relaxed with regard to parking as they once were.