A roundup of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
Anniston Star – Keeping track of our data online
In the summer of 2013, a statement from an associate dean at the University of Wisconsin highlighted the epidemic of cyber attacks at U.S. colleges and universities.
“We get 90,000 to 100,000 attempts per day, from China alone, to penetrate our system,” Wisconsin’s Bill Mellon told The New York Times.
Three years later, reports of nearly 100,000 attempts per day — at a single university — remain an unimaginable statistic. They also make this week’s breach of Jacksonville State University’s computer system seem small in comparison. But make no mistake: the theft of student and faculty information from JSU computers is no small-time crime. The university, local law enforcement and the FBI are right to treat this case with the seriousness it deserves.
The situation at Jacksonville brings home a terrible lesson about the depths computer hosts — businesses, schools, government agencies, banks, hospitals, etc. — must endure to ward off hackers. A 17-year-old student has been arrested for the JSU hack, and from the hacker’s apparent online postings, the intent seems to be more about proving the weakness of JSU’s network security than anything else. If that proves to be the case, JSU and its students are truly fortunate.
Birmingham News – Rep. Mo Brooks: Ted Cruz has the best plan for economic growth
Many candidates have made their mark focusing on the Obama administration’s past mistakes, and there are a lot of them. But now it’s time to look to the future. As this campaign goes on, voters will begin to focus on who has the best plan for dramatic economic growth. It’s clear that Ted Cruz’s pro-growth policies are the best to increase employment and wages for Americans.
The Obama administration likes to tout an unemployment rate hovering above 5 percent, but this ignores the startling 94 million Americans who are out of the workforce. People in this group who have stopped looking for work don’t get counted by the government as “unemployed,” so the very real peril of unemployment gets ignored. This only hurts regular Americans.
But better paying jobs don’t just appear because a billionaire commands them to. They’re created when the economy grows. And the economy grows when the government stops overtaxing individuals and businesses, overregulating industry, and stops enabling foreign labor to take American jobs.
Out of all the candidates, Ted Cruz solves every side of this problem.
Decatur Daily – Shelby, Crumpton best options for US Senate
The Issue Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby’s clout in Congress often has helped Alabama, and losing his seniority would be a blow to the state. Neither Democratic candidate has the experience needed to be an effective senator, but Ron Crumpton has at least dabbled in state legislative issues.
The rhetoric of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, the 81-year-old incumbent fending off several Republican challengers in Tuesday’s primary, often is disturbing. In his ubiquitous campaign ads, he panders to our least-rational fears. He recognizes our trepidation about people who look or sound different than us, and he plays it to maximum political advantage.
The Republican from Tuscaloosa fights President Barack Obama — who has been made the icon of our xenophobia — “every hour of every day,” according to a commercial he is running with some of his millions in campaign contributions. And there’s some truth to that. On issues where the Obama administration has stated a position, according to a recent study by Congressional Quarterly, Shelby voted against the White House 63.9 percent of the time. He leads the Senate in that statistic.
His opposition to a U.S. Supreme Court nominee that Obama has not even selected is a recent example of his blind opposition to the president. It may be a politically savvy strategy, but it interferes with the efficient workings of government.
Dothan Eagle – Hug a utility worker
Stormy weather that rolled through the Wiregrass area late Tuesday and early Wednesday left scattered damage affecting several homes and knocked down many trees, utility poles and signs. There were fatalities in other parts of the South, but in our corner of the world, the storm brought some structural damage and a whole lot of inconvenience.
In Dothan, about 3,000 utility customers lost power, and it wasn’t until Thursday afternoon that electricity was restored everywhere. While it surely caused problems for those left in the dark for more than 24 hours, something unexpected happened on social media, where people are often quick to complain about virtually anything. Instead of diatribes, posts about the power outage took a more insightful view, as commenters – plugged in via smart phone, apparently, at least as long as the batteries hold – spoke of the unexpected value of blackout with regard to quality time with the family.
That’s refreshing, particularly considering the plight of scores of utility workers, who have put in long hours in adverse conditions for the last couple of days to ensure that customers’ utility service was restored as quickly as possible.
As we enjoy our restored electricity, along with our televisions, refrigerators and freezers, and heating and cooling (and we need both this time of year), it’s important that we remember that the service didn’t magically heal itself.
Enterprise Ledger – Betters ways people could have passed the time
My good friend and scribe associate, Ricky Adams, called last week all distraught over what was taking up all of the once precious airspace on his television set. It was not over a political agenda, he quickly noted, rather the agenda all of the talking heads/pundits were discussing.
“I’ll leave the political writing to you,” Adams said, wisely choosing to stay out of that crossfire. “But, what gets me is what would these people be doing if Justice (Antonin) Scalia hadn’t died? What would they be talking about? And, couldn’t they wait until the coroner has pronounced him dead before making his death such a talking point. I just hope all of his family has been notified. Good grief.”
After Ricky’s rant, I could only add, “I concur.”
Between the two of us, we came up with some other things people on both sides of the aisle could have done while wasting everyone’s time with the “what ifs” between Scalia’s death and his actual funeral. I won’t credit any of the following responses to Ricky because, you know, he doesn’t want to get too political. Therefore, I’ll take all the credit, er, heat for the following ideas:
TimesDaily – Aderholt is best choice in congressional race
The Issue: U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt is facing opposition in Tuesday’s Republican primary. We believe Aderholt is the best choice for representing much of north Alabama in Congress.
One of the hallmarks of good congressional representation is constituent service, and by most accounts, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt earns good marks in that category.
Aderholt was first elected in 1996, and presently serves on the House Appropriations Committee, which bodes well for his Fourth Congressional District.
Elected officials have found Aderholt, of Haleyville, is quietly effective helping deliver federal assistance for state and local projects. That is one of the reasons we can recommend him to voters.
Though very conservative, Aderholt rarely espouses his views in big media forums, and that shows some restraint others should adopt.
Having served in Congress for nearly 20 years, Aderholt is versed in Washington’s ways, and is well known by his colleagues. He represents a steady presence that tells Washington he has the trust of his constituents.
Gadsden Times – Gadsden’s prudent financial management pays off again
We’ve often praised the management of Gadsden’s finances during Mayor Sherman Guyton’s administration, which has kept the city in much better shape than a lot of others during troublesome economic times. To be fair, we’ve also said there might be instances where, for valid and constructive reasons, the city ought to untie its purse strings a notch.
That happened the other day when the City Council authorized taking $1,073,074 out of unassigned funds to cover expenses that certainly merit the valid and constructive label.
The biggest chunk — $829,007, plus another $31,527 to clean up loose ends with a previous service contract — will be used to upgrade the city’s communication system for its first responders, which Fire Chief Stephen Carroll told the council will be out of date by the end of 2016.
Gadsden will be switching to the Motorola ASTRO P25 system, which has become the industry standard for public safety communications and is used by other cities in Alabama as part of a burgeoning statewide communication system.
Huntsville Times – Why we passed the bill regarding Birmingham’s minimum wage
As many of you are aware, the Birmingham City Council recently passed a disastrous ordinance establishing a minimum wage of $10.10. This was a catastrophic blow for businesses and workers in the Birmingham area. If you don’t agree, keep reading.
So I am pleased to report that last week, the State Senate gave final passage to the Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage and Right to Work Act. This legislation will once again establish the federal minimum wage requirement as the standard Alabama’s businesses must follow.
When local governments – without warning – raise the minimum wage, employers hire fewer workers, meaning fewer jobs available for young people looking to start a career.
Think about it: according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 6.8% of hourly workers in Alabama earned the minimum wage in 2013. Most of these workers are students or part-time workers with few marketable skills. The last thing we should do is make it less attractive for employers to bring on an employee who needs skills training. That person, who will hopefully make higher wages as they learn new skills and progress in their career, just needs an initial job – a first chance.
Press-Register –Trump: I’ll sue if you talk about me (but you are ugly and fat)
Donald Trump wants to make it easier to sue people who say things he doesn’t like.
He was talking mostly about newspapers, like the New York Times and Washington Post, that have had the audacity to question him.
“We are going to open up libel laws, folks, and we are going to have people sue you like you have never been sued before,” he said Friday.
Talk about the pol pot calling the kettle libelous.
This is the guy who stays famous by calling people stupid and ugly and fat, worthless and weak and dumb. He’s the guy who climbed the ladder to GOP frontrunner by saying whatever he wants to say about … anyone.
He’s the one who just called Charles Krauthammer “totally dishonest.”
Montgomery Advertiser – Police, Greg Gunn and the search for facts
After a Montgomery police officer shot and killed Greg Gunn, tensions understandably rose across Montgomery.
A 58-year-old man was killed steps from his home on McElvy Street in the west Montgomery neighborhood of Mobile Heights after spending the night playing cards down the street.
His neighbors heard him screaming for help before they heard the gunshots. Some heard four shots, some heard five. Some watched the officer shoot Gunn. Between accounts from eyewitnesses and those who heard the screams and gunshots, a lot of information has been reported from McElvy Street.
But that’s only one side of the story. MPD Chief Ernest Finley held a news conference hours after the shooting and revealed the facts as he knew them at the time. The officer saw Gunn holding a pole or stick, deemed Gunn a “suspicious person,” confronted him, struggled for about a block, and killed him.
Opelika-Auburn News –Spring Break is going to look much different on this beach
One beach town has finally said enough is enough.
Panama City Beach, Florida, is a favorite destination spot for thousands of Alabamians each year. Likewise, thousands of college students flock to it and other popular Florida beaches for the annual rite of passage known as Spring Break.
You don’t have to be a college student’s broke parents or a student on the Dean’s List to know about Spring Break. It has a reputation all of its own.
The celebrated party time rolls around during the month of March on most campuses, giving students a week off from studies. Many of them take advantage of the time to visit family, travel or just relax.
Many others use it as an excuse to escape reality and, basically, spend the entire week in a carefree and often wild party mode, giving no thought to the consequences when doing so. That can be a lot of fun, or a lot of trouble.
Tuscaloosa News –Chamber contract requires answers
The Tuscaloosa City Council will likely vote next week to decide if the city should renew a $175,000 contract with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama for economic development and recruitment efforts.
It isn’t certain that the arrangement will continue. Councilman Kip Tyner doesn’t think the city is getting its money’s worth in the deal. Tuesday night, the City Council’s finance committee reviewed the contract and voted 2-1 to recommend that the full council renew the contract. Tyner cast the lone vote against the measure.
The city began paying the chamber for its economic development efforts in 2013. The annual contract was supposed to expire at the end of 2014, but the council decided to give the matter a two-month continuation so that Tyner’s criticisms of the deal could be addressed. Obviously, they were not answered to Tyner’s satisfaction.
Tyner is right to question the arrangement. Economic development and business recruitment is serious business, particularly in this area, with this economy. Jobs and increases in the tax base are hard to come by. The competition is tough and wins and losses can have impacts that last for generations.