A roundup of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
The Star’s Sunday front page offered an editorial that encouraged Anniston residents to begin thinking about the 2016 election for city school board. Election day is Aug. 23.
“Now — about seven months before Election Day — is the time to begin thinking about the priorities for the next Anniston city school board and who should serve on it,” the editorial began.
“The upcoming four years are some of the most challenging Anniston’s schools will face in their history.”
On Aug. 21, 2014, we offered a similar front-page editorial encouragement ahead of the 2016 school board election. “Anniston’s future, as well as the future of its students, depends on quality public schools that produce an attractive workforce and lure businesses to the city,” it read.
The point is that the people best positioned to create change in our community are those who call it home. In a busy election year where the race for president will draw more attention than it deserves, it falls to this newspaper to shine a light on an election that will set the course for public schooling in our region.
Birmingham News – What exactly is a pro-life Democrat?
Recently, I offered a harsh critique of GOP leadership in Alabama and made a plea to the Alabama Democratic Party to open their doors and acknowledge the pro-life movement.
The comments were none too pleasant, to say the least. And though I didn’t anticipate an outpouring of support, I did see a significant lack of understanding about what constitutes a “Pro-Life Democrat”.
So let me explain.
First and foremost, though we don’t hold the majority, we are actually significant in number. In a 2011 Gallup poll, 31% of people surveyed identified as both pro-life and Democrat.
Secondly, though many make the opposite assumption, we differ significantly from our GOP counterparts.
As pro-life Democrats, we are governed by the Whole Life Ethic, which states that human life, at every stage, is precious and sacred and worthy of protection and sustainment.
So while we are actively anti-abortion, we are also fervently opposed to anything that does not sustain life.
Decatur Daily – Lawmakers can heal an unhealthy state
Interstate signs welcoming people to Alabama should have a warning attached: “Living in Alabama can be hazardous to your health.”
The residents of only two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, have lower life expectancies than in Alabama. Stated differently, the average Alabamian, with a life expectancy of 75.4, is deprived of more than three years of life compared to the U.S. average. The average black Alabamian lives to 72.9, almost six fewer years than the national average.
Black Alabamians have a life expectancy about the same as that in Cambodia, and shorter than the life expectancy in Iran.
And it’s no wonder.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, 35 of 55 rural Alabama counties lack labor and delivery services, and eight do not have hospitals. In the rural counties that do have hospitals, there are roughly 25 beds for every 10,000 residents, compared to 45 beds per 10,000 residents in urban communities. Getting sick or having an accident in rural Alabama can be a death sentence.
Alabama’s infant mortality rate is 8.7 per 1,000 live births, worse than every state but Mississippi. Alabama’s infant mortality rate almost is twice that of most developed nations with universal healthcare. The infant mortality for black Alabamians is 14.6 per 1,000 live births, about the same as Syria and Colombia.
About 11 percent of Alabamians have diabetes, second only to Mississippi.
Dothan Eagle – A new approach to teaching in Webb
Administrators and teachers at Webb Elementary School have made some changes in how students are taught in the county school east of Dothan. And in a time when many schools are struggling to meet the academic needs of students, the youngsters at Webb Elementary seem to be thriving under the changes. School officials report gains in student achievement and better performance on standardized tests.
Recently, Webb Elementary was named as a CLAS Banner School in recognition of its academic performance – one of only 14 chosen from among 178 Alabama schools.
The changes include a move to standards-based curriculum, establishing specific teachers for reading and math, and using tutors, all of which helps identify students who are having trouble before further academic difficulties take hold.
While there is plenty of controversy in education circles surrounding the differences between curriculum-based instruction and standards-based instruction – and who sets those standards – there’s little doubt that the changes set in place at Webb Elementary have produced positive results.
Enterprise Ledger – Shall I point out towns where gripes are merited?
I know it’s the nature of the beast. Being a politician sprouts gripes from the public regardless of whether it’s justified or not.
Depending on what biased cable channel you choose, Barack Obama is either a villain or a hero, Hillary Clinton is either a pathological liar or just being picked on because she’s a woman (hello, Mrs. Palin), and Donald Trump is either a nut or a…, well, from Fox News to the Peacock network, most agree he’s a nut, even those who would rather he be moving to the Oval Office next year.
In Alabama, there are actually those that still support Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, despite evidence that shows he has used, or at least tried to use his position for personal gain. He has more ethics violations charges than you can count using all of your fingers and toes. People’s pride in refusing to admit they’ve been a sucker for believing in a political misfit is tough, and until that situation is resolved, Alabama and its Republican Party will continue to suffer.
But I digress…
TimesDaily – For leaders, we need pragmatists, not ideologues
It would be convenient if all of our problems could be solved by a single ideology.
On the right, politicians are exclaiming the virtues of conservatism. Give the free market reign, and all our problems will be solved. An unrestricted market may benefit the wealthy more, but it will lift all boats. Government intrusion in the marketplace is the cause of all of our problems.
On the left, some politicians are touting socialism as a cure to our ills. If the wealthy who currently control the nation’s capital are replaced or severely restricted by elected representatives answerable to the people, the democratic socialists suggest, we will live in a utopia.
To be sure, a single template for national progress would be convenient. If the magic bullet that would take down our problems were conservatism or liberalism or socialism, our choices as voters would be simple.
Unfortunately, self-governance is not so easy.
Despising immigrants fits in nicely with the ideology of nationalism. Unfortunately, we depend heavily on immigrants to sustain a vibrant economy.
The panacea of socialism might work great in the short term, giving financial security to struggling low- and middle-income citizens, but it would squelch needed entrepreneurs and likely would discourage domestic investment.
The empathy of liberalism might be most consistent with our religious values, but as social policy it can create economic dependency, and it manifests itself as weakness when our nation confronts real enemies.
Gadsden Times – Boys & Girls Club closer to new home
There’s always an element clinging to an “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude when it comes to governmental plans being discussed.
We’re happy to say that attitude was dismissed by the Gadsden City Council, which is moving forward on its previously announced intention to house the Boys & Girls Club of Gadsden/Etowah County in the old General Forrest Middle School on Meighan Boulevard.
The council approved a bid of $1,212,500 by Hudak Construction Company — keeping the cash in the city with a local firm — to do the required renovation work.
About 40,000 square feet of the old school was demolished several years ago. Left intact were the gymnasium, lunchroom, kitchen, library, a hallway and several classrooms.
City officials had discussed setting up a community recreation center at the site or moving city court there, but in September announced it would be the Boys & Girls Club’s new home.
We supported the move then and reiterate that support now.
Huntsville Times – Bear Bryant’s resting place gets makeover; Tide fans cheer
I wrote last week about the grave site of legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Tide fan John Bryan of Helena had gone to pay respects at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham and found dirty markers and patchy grass. He wondered aloud how Alabama fans could have forgotten the man who made the Crimson Tide a national power for decades.
It was like starting the wave at Bryant-Denny. Because Tide took to Elmwood to see what they could do.
Tommy Hill said he read the column and decided to go the the grave site and clean it up.
But he was too late.
Press-Register –Open letter to the Mobile City Council and Mobile Taxpayers
Dear Mobile City Council,
From the richest to the poorest of us I would venture to say that money is important to us. I am writing this letter out of sincere concern for our communities and our city, Mobile, Alabama. Recently a 6-0 decision was upheld by our City Council, not to allow the building of a small Buddhist mediation center in the Riverside Community along Dog River here in Mobile. The nearly unanimous decision was 6-0 because Council member, Bess Rich, chose to abstain.
The proposed Meditation Center would be located on seven acres of Dr. & Mrs. Nimityongskul’s private property adjacent to their home. There are only 13 homes on the street, Eloong Drive, where the center is being proposed and where Mrs. Nimityongskul and her family live. In fact, her driveway is the first on the street, and people attending the center would never need to pass the remaining 12 homes on Eloong Drive. The modest cottage style meditation hall (2400sq.ft), and parsonage (for hosting transient teaching monks) being proposed, would be virtually invisible from the community.
Engineers from the city and those hired by Mrs. Nimityongskul have determined that the possible 18 – 30 additional cars attending the center a week would have a negligible traffic impact. The location falls into district 3, Councilman C.J. Small’s district.
Traffic and “Incompatibility with the surrounding area,” have been cited as the major reasons for denying the Meditation Center of Alabama’s application.
Montgomery Advertiser – What’s the measure of a good man’s life?
A friend of mine was killed last week in a tragic workplace accident. He was only 35 years old, and yet he touched so many lives during that short time. He was not a wealthy man, but he had wealth most of us only dream about. He did not have a doctorate from a fancy university, but he knew more about life and people than anyone I know. His passing caused me, and I think many others, to stop and reevaluate our own lives. I found myself asking questions that were difficult to answer: How am I living this precious thing we call life, what do I really value, and what will I leave behind when my time comes?
Bobby lived Big. He put his whole being into his work, his family and his friends. He was my friend, and I don’t make friends easily. His death caused me to consider the finite days that I have left on this earth, and like many others, I have wasted too much of my time chasing material possessions and wealth. Sadly, I once calculated my value, as a human being, by solving equations that usually include dollar signs. In contrast, Bobby’s wealth was gauged by love and relationship. His death snapped me out of my life’s trance and forced a reassessment of what really matters.
Our ability to think past the “here and now” and to contemplate our own fate separates us from other species. When my mind turns to these matters, I recount the “regrets” of an unthoughtful life. If honest with myself, I say that I am remorseful for: spending too much time at work and away from my family, not seeking-out the inherent worth of people, and chasing temporal wealth. By contrast, I don’t think that Bobby had regrets; if he did, he certainly did not allow them to affect how he lived his life or how he treated other people.
Opelika-Auburn News –United Way volunteers earn their special pat on the back
The United Way of Lee County hosted a luncheon last Friday to say a special thanks to its many contributing volunteers, and it was a well-deserved pat on the back.
We echo the sentiments of appreciation to all of those in our community who lend the United Way help in its mission of providing support to dozens of important non-profits and service agencies in our community.
Some give of their money, others give of their time. A few give both.
Volunteers who invest their time and energy in programs such as the United Way and the agencies it represents deserve the special recognition.
There are several time-consuming committees, for example, with important responsibilities that only can be fulfilled if volunteers step up to the plate. Committees such as the allocation committee, which requires careful thought and consideration on where the money raised by United Way should best be used and by what agencies.
Committees such as the campaign committee responsible for leadership in the annual fund-raising drive, and even committees who plan campaign kick-off events and similar activities. Others coordinate volunteer work days or perhaps marketing and publicity efforts.
Along with the non-board members who volunteer to serve the United Way are countless volunteers on the workplace level who take a leadership role in urging fellow employees and employers to share.
Given the make-up of what drives the engine for United Way, it’s easy to see why the word “united” is part of the name.
Tuscaloosa News –Of hot rods, youth and close calls
My father was smart enough not to buy me a hot rod when I was in high school.
While all my friends were tooling around the Dairy Twist in Scottsboro in GTOs, 442s and Super Sports, my father was wise enough to settle on a pedestrian Plymouth Valiant, powered by the venerable Slant Six engine. So while everybody else was hot-rodding around in muscle cars, I found myself confined to a car that would go only 105 miles an hour, tops.
I know, because that’s how fast I would drive every chance I got: 105 miles an hour on any long straightaway I encountered.
I was lucky that my best friend, Rep, had a nice new brown 1965 Mustang with the 289 V-8. We would meet at the Dairy Twist most every summer night, where I would ditch the Valiant in the most inconspicuous spot I could find and hop in the shotgun seat next to Rep. From there we would roam around the eastern Tennessee Valley.
Often we would range to Guntersville, some 30 miles to the southwest. From there it was a short hop to Albertville and Boaz. On occasion we would even venture to Huntsville, 50 or so miles to the west.
On rare occasions we would make a whole 200 mile-plus lap — Scottsboro-to-Guntersville-to-Huntsville and back to Scottsboro. I know the distance, because that is the elapsed distance my father discovered on the odometer on a rare occasion when he tried to deny me the keys one night.