A roundup of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
The Anniston Star – Getting under Trump’s skin
For politicians, the press is an easy target because its defense is the truth and the First Amendment, not bluster and ego. That’s especially the case for aspiring politicians like Donald Trump, who’d rather rough up a reporter’s reputation than deal in facts.
As Trump marches toward the Republican presidential primary season, he’s repeatedly shown how he’d deal with people outside his control who don’t follow his script. The press — particularly national reporters covering his campaign — have only one job: fair political coverage. Portraying Trump as he’d prefer isn’t part of the deal.
On Friday, a reporter for the New York Times was kicked out of an Iowa campaign event for the New York billionaire and reality-TV star. The reporter, Trip Gabriel, was one of a number of reporters there. Gabriel, however, had written a story the day before that detailed the inner troubles of Trump’s Iowa team. The Times put it on the front page. Trump, apparently, didn’t like it.
Thus, Gabriel was shown the door. Gabriel was told it was a private, invitation-only event. The other journalists remained.
This is how Trump operates, which is fine; it’s his prerogative to act petulantly. It’s important to note, as well, that Friday wasn’t Trump’s first rodeo with a wayward media outlet during this campaign. Gabriel’s account of his trouble in Iowa included the fact that reporters from the Des Moines Register had been barred from Trump events after that newspaper’s editorial board called for Trump to suspend his campaign.
The Birmingham News – 100,000 reasons Mike Hubbard won’t resign as AL House Speaker
Mike Hubbard has at least 100,000 reasons not to step down as Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. With his every action and word scrutinized, Hubbard will use all available legal means to defend himself, and that likely requires him to remain in his powerful post.
Hubbard is entitled to his day in court to face the charges against him, and we all know that private legal defense is expensive. Under Alabama law, Hubbard is able to use his campaign funds to pay for legal expenses, and he’d have to be crazy—or independently wealthy—not to do exactly that.
The Speaker’s annual campaign finance report tells the story.
Hubbard’s largest 2015 campaign expenditures were paying off a $50,000 personal loan he made to the campaign and his legal expenses totaling almost $40,000.
More significantly, Speaker Hubbard raised almost $90,000 in a year where he’snot facing election after he was indicted. That was permissible because he had campaign debt (to himself) to repay after his reelection.
The Speaker of the House is, by many accounts, the most powerful political office in Alabama. Anyone who wants legislation to move is wise to stay on the Speaker’s good side. That’s a clear fundraising advantage unique to the office.
At the same time he made his annual campaign filing, Hubbard also submitted a “major contribution” report for a $100,000 loan he made to his campaign in January of 2016.
Think of it as a type of bridge loan.
The Decatur Daily – Hits and misses
Decatur police deserve credit
It’s a rough time to be a police officer. Around the nation, attention increasingly has focused on the use of force by policemen. Sometimes fairly and sometimes not, police have been called out for the use of excessive force.
In the midst of the resulting hostility, police still have to go about their jobs: protecting the public and solving crimes.
A recent Decatur Daily story profiled the two detectives who bore the brunt of handling Decatur’s five 2015 homicides. As Detective Mike Burleson pointed out, real life detective work bears little resemblance to the TV shows.
“There’s no supercomputer with everybody’s fingerprints, DNA, all the girlfriends a person’s ever had and their cellphone records,” Burleson said. “We rely mostly on witnesses and people telling us what they know or saw. It’s nothing like what you see on TV.”
It’s high-pressure work that is emotionally and physically draining, and even quick results usually are too slow for an anxious public used to an arrest in one hour, minus commercial breaks. And especially at the Decatur Police Department, it’s work that does not pay well.
Sgt. George Silvestri explained why it is worth the effort.
“The look on those families’ face and the light in their eyes when we tell them ‘We got ’em’ is why I do this job,” Silvestri said.
Staying focused on the job is tough when hostility toward police is running high and Monday morning quarterbacking of split-second decisions is the norm. Kudos to Burleson, Silvestri and their colleagues for their success.
Dothan Eagle – No. 16 and its big payoff for Alabama
If there’s anything to be said about the University of Alabama’s football team, it’s that the Crimson Tide is a winner. Even many dyed-in-the-wool Auburn fans will admit that there’s something about the team from the other side of the state that exudes success. Perhaps it’s the legacy of Bear Bryant, the iconic coach who led the team to the pinnacle time and again, or the uncanny ability of Nick Saban to set a trajectory that may ultimately set him above the Bear in the annals of the Capstone’s gridiron history.
Whatever the logic, it had many people in our state convinced that there was no way on earth that Alabama’s team, even with its loss to Ole Miss on its 2015 record, would travel to Glendale, Arizona, to face an undefeated Clemson team and return without a 16th national championship trophy.
They were right: the game was a nail-biter; the Alabama squad prevailed; and the people back home were frenzied.
Many would argue that college athletics are irrelevant to life, that academics get short shrift in the shadow of athletic powerhouse schools, and on and on. And while there may be some truth to those arguments, the game reverberates throughout the nation, and the beneficiaries extend far beyond the stands.
This week in Dothan, retailers handling University of Alabama athletic merchandise experienced a surge in sales following the Crimson Tide’s 16th national championship. “It’s a good bounce in sales,” one local retail manager told the Eagle.
The Enterprise Ledger – Good grief, will Hurricane Hubbard ever subside?
We get the great p.r. for the state with Alabama winning yet another national championship. The state is thriving in the automobile market from all tiers of the industry. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are arguably the cleanest and safest beaches on the Gulf Coast. Huntsville still has the coolest camp for kids.
Then there’s politics… and Montgomery. Kinda hard to tell which one is dirtier; or are they one in the same?
Aside from Gov. Robert Bentley doing his best Bill Clinton impersonation with his personal life, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard has been to Alabama politics sort of like Katrina was to New Orleans, both leaving a wretched path of raw sewage in their wake.
And here Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been serving up softballs for the Republicans to knock that Republicans out of the park, but they can’t seem to keep from tripping over their own shoelaces. That, or maybe the Republicans in Alabama just can’t hit a lick.
The puppets and apologists for Hubbard have become quite tiring. If anyone thinks this guy is clean, please stay away from my air space because I don’t want to catch whatever illness is you’ve contracted. Actually, I don’t believe even in the puppets’ heart of hearts they believe Hubbard is clean, but they’ll just fight till their last breath to try and maintain some semblance of dignity because, well, they just don’t want to look so foolish for originally backing and supporting this guy. Sorry, it’s way too late for that.
TimesDaily – Government scores a win for consumers
Have you noticed your cellphone plan costs less? That you no longer are stuck with two-year contracts? Are you enjoying unlimited texts and phone calls?
Thank big government and regulated capitalism for an increasingly consumer-friendly industry.
The cellphone industry is dominated by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. Until recently T-Mobile was the smallest of the three, and was particularly aggressive in its efforts to pry customers from its larger competitors.
In 2011, AT&T attempted to acquire the up-start from its owner, Deutsche Telekom. Despite expectations the $39 billion deal would go through, an expectation buttressed by AT&T’s formidable lobbying presence in Washington, the U.S. Justice Department blocked the sale. Sprint then attempted to buy T-Mobile, but Justice signaled it would not give antitrust approval to any deal that dropped the number of major players in the industry from four to three.
It was big government in action, intruding on the private sector. Shareholders for all the companies lost out. Big government won and free enterprise lost.
The story, though, was not over.
With a sale out of the question, T-Mobile took the next best route to profitability — competition.
In 2013, T-Mobile bowed to consumer wishes and ended the two-year contracts that had become the industry standard. Instead of charging extra for unlimited phone calls and texts, as the Big Four had done, it offered them as part of its standard package. In 2014 it began offering unlimited international texting and it has raised its data limits.
Since 2013, T-Mobile has added 20 million customers.
The Gadsden Times – Breweries, distilleries, wineries could get welcome break
Alabama’s legislators don’t always listen to advice. We hope that changes when they consider recommendations an advisory commission to loosen the reins on the state’s craft breweries, distilleries and wineries.
The state currently operates under an antiquated and unwieldy three-tier system that dates back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. Beer, liquor and wine must go from maker to distributor to licensed retailer before anyone can purchase it.
There are about three dozen craft brewers in Alabama, including Gadsden’s Back Forty Beer Company, who can’t sell beer to go. There are about a dozen wineries that can sell their products on site, but not at off-site tasting rooms or events.
Representatives of those burgeoning industries say those rules have kept them from improving on what already has been a significant economic impact in the state.
Enter the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Study Commission, created last year by the Legislature to address those concerns and try to come up with livable and workable solutions. Its recommendations:
Brewers that produce fewer than 60,000 barrels of beer annually should be allowed to directly sell 288 ounces daily to consumers in bottles, cans or growlers.
Wineries should be able to sell their wares at locations approved by the Alabama Beverage Control Board.
Alabamians should be able to buy one 750 milliliter bottle of liquor per year directly from a distributor.
The last recommendation is a bit chintzy — that’s a fifth of liquor in 365 days — but overall, these recommendations seem on target.
The Huntsville Times – Concussion science has changed how we think about football
I was a three sport athlete growing up. I played football, baseball and basketball through high school. I went on to play football at UAB as a quarterback for four years and moved to wide receiver my senior year. I never thought I’d continue my playing career after college, but as fate would have it I’d go on to play four years in the NFL, two years in NFL Europe and one year in the XFL.
I loved the game of football, and still do but the risk and dangers of playing the sport for 22 years of my life have started to catch up with me at the age of 41. Over that period I suffered more than 10 concussions and none of them were handled properly.
At 41, I live with chronic migraines, short-term memory loss, attention deficit disorder that I never had until now and mood disorders. The bright spot in my own story is that we know so much more now about brain injuries and how to care for them better now than we ever have before, but we still have so much to learn. I have the loving support of a wonderful wife that helps me manage my life day to day. Without her I could not do this on my own, and for that I am very grateful.
Three years ago my family and I started a public non-profit, called the Wise Up! Initiative, to help bring more awareness and education to concussions. As a society we know way too much now to continue to do things the way we’ve always done them. Education is the key to making the game of football safer for our athletes, especially for our youth.
There are laws in place now in every state that helps protect our kids from coaches, parents and themselves that will not allow an athlete to return to play without being cleared by a physician first. We have to make sure those laws are being followed, for the sake of the athlete.
Press-Register –If you want to know how Alabama will vote, look at Iowa
What do Alabama and Iowa have in common? Both states have voted the same way in presidential elections over the past twenty years.
This election season, the famed Iowa presidential caucus occurs February 1, followed by the New Hampshire primary February 9.
The Alabama primary this year is March 1.
Historical trends indicate that the winner of the Alabama primary is usually the same candidate who won earlier the same year in Iowa.
In 2012, Rick Santorum (R) won both states. In 2008, Mike Huckabee was the Republican winner in both iowa and Alabama.
By contrast, New Hampshire voters went for the more moderate Republicans John McCain (2008) and Mitt Romney (2012).
Barack Obama was the Democratic candidate to win both Iowa and Alabama in 2008 and 2012. Once again, New Hampshire went for another candidate — Hillary Clinton (D).
Indeed, Alabama and Iowa voted the same way in presidential primaries since 1996. Here’s a look back for politics wonks:
In 2004, John Kerry was the Democratic candidate to win during the primary season in both Iowa and Alabama. Incumbent President Bush did not have a serious Republican opponent in the 2004 election.
In 2000, George W. Bush (R) and Al Gore (D) were the winners for their respective parties in both the Iowa caucus and the Alabama primary election.
In 1996, Bob Dole (R) and incumbent President Bill Clinton (D) won both states.
Montgomery Advertiser – Obama’s gun action treads on citizens’ rights
My father taught me to shoot guns, the Army taught me to use weapons, and now, my son and I enjoy target shooting. Although I like to shoot, I do not hunt. I don’t need the meat, and I personally do not enjoy killing animals for sport. My aversion to killing animals, however, should never limit the freedoms enjoyed by others. That is not how liberty works.
For instance, I think it is treasonous for Americans to burn and desecrate our flag. It offends me, yet, I accept it on the grounds that this is their right under the First Amendment. Limiting constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, in my mind, is a greater offense.
President Obama appears to have woken up on New Year’s Day only to realize his temporary occupancy of the White House is rapidly coming to an end. Therefore, his first act of 2016 was to pronounce new Executive Actions on what he terms “gun control.” The president’s press conference, although well-staged; turned into Kabuki Theater. I wonder if President Obama shed a tear for Border Agent Brian Terry when the “Fast and Furious” operation went awry. I bet Russia’s shirtless, gun toting, horseback riding President, Vladimir Putin has a new-found respect for our sobbing president. The fact that nothing the president announced prevents criminals and crazies from obtaining firearms, and that his directive has little impact on legal-gun owners is but an aside.
Background checks, loopholes and online sales matter, but the heart of the issue concerning gun ownership is adherence to national principle and proclaimed values.
Our Constitution and our Bill of Rights are statements of what our nation values and holds dear. No president should have, or attempt to have, influence over the interpretation and execution of these stated liberties and guaranteed freedoms. The oft cited argument that the “Congress will not act” or that the President is “tired of mass shootings” might be true, but it is not a valid argument to do anything concerning the Bill of Rights or any other amendment to the Constitution.
Opelika-Auburn News –Uber may get a second chance, and likewise for local riders
The Auburn City Council plans to revisit its strict guidelines that helped drive a taxi-like company known as Uber out of town, and that’s good news for local residents.
It’s also a welcome endorsement of free enterprise.
Uber is considered in the business world as a tech company, because it relies almost entirely on the Internet for its customer base. Someone who needs a ride downloads the Uber application on their phone, and with a few simple clicks, they can obtain and provide a convenient array of information that meets the needs for both the passenger and the driver.
The drivers operate much like a taxi service, only on a more independent basis, and they use their own vehicles, which most often are the same as their personal vehicle.
Unfamiliarity and uncertainty with the fledgling company led Auburn officials to take action with consumer protection and fair business practices in mind.
The ride-share company suspended its business here in December 2014 as a result.
Auburn city officials at the time felt that Uber should operate under the same rules and regulations as any taxi service. That meant requiring city licensing fees, commercial insurance, identifying vehicles with appropriate signs, having drivers obtain background checks before being hired and other similar measures.
Local taxi companies cried foul when Uber wasn’t being held to the same standards, and so the city complied.
Uber called the regulations too burdensome for the type of independent drivers it uses, and that was that.
The Tuscaloosa News –Crimson Tide prevails in epic title showdown
What a game!
Two evenly matched teams — not just in talent but in desire and, yes, guts — played their hearts out Monday night on the biggest stage in college sports.
In retrospect, the non-stop hype over the preceding week was justified. The college football national championship game was riveting. From the moment Alabama running back Derrick Henry broke free on a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, one big play followed another – by both teams — building to a breathtaking crescendo in the final stanza. By the time it was over, the fans of both teams were exhausted, never mind the players.
Ultimately, the Crimson Tide refused to be beaten, prevailing over Clemson on the strength of several huge plays in that explosive fourth quarter, including a surprise – and gutsy — onside kick that will be mentioned whenever this game is talked about in the years to come. And it will be talked about. It was, quite simply, one of the best college football games of all time.
We shouldn’t be surprised. This Alabama team showed the character that has endeared it to coach Nick Saban like no other, and as we all know, he’s coached some doozies. And Clemson, led by head coach and University of Alabama alum Dabo Swinney, was a more than worthy opponent. The Tigers never quit and quarterback Deshaun Watson was spectacular. If he plays every game next season like he played Monday night, the Heisman Trust will have no need for a presentation ceremony. It can just ship him the trophy this December.