A round-up of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers

Newspaper editorials

A round-up of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:

The Anniston StarSheriff Amerson’s views on gun laws

In this era of hyperbole and panic over the Second Amendment in America, calm is rare whenever gun rights are mentioned. It’s Pavlovian: mention firearms and gun owners fear the worst.

That’s been the case this week after President Barack Obama issued his executive order that, among other things, called for stronger background checks on gun sales. Obama has been pilloried by Republicans. His plan has been scoffed at by the National Rifle Association. Obama’s supporters — those in the Democratic Party and those who back stronger gun laws, regardless of politics — have had a hard time keeping up.

Nevertheless, this was said Thursday night in Anniston:

“The good news is, I didn’t see anything that keeps people from access to guns. We have a lot of freedom and still do.”

Those two sentences belong to Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson, who this week held another of his popular gun-safety classes at the Anniston City Meeting Center. (An overflow crowd attended.) It may sound odd — a conservative, Southern sheriff skipping an opportunity to bash the president’s efforts to strengthen America’s gun laws.

But, really, it isn’t.

The Birmingham News – Let’s move New Year’s Day to March 1

Now that Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day are safely behind us and life is beginning to return to normal, it’s time to think about which of those two holidays needs to be moved. I vote for New Year. 

 It’s always puzzled me why we should cram two of our major raucously celebratory holidays so close together, particularly since both of them unlike, say, July 4, are on arbitrarily-chosen days.

Their proximity during the darkest days of what used to be winter not only leads to Zombie week, the week between the holidays when you pretend to be alive at work, it also wastes a major celebration when you have barely recovered from the previous one.  If we spread them out a bit, there would be one fewer large gaps between our raucously celebratory holidays.

No one knows on what day or month or, for that matter, year, Jesus was born.

We celebrate Christmas on December 25th because the Roman Emperor Constantine decided nearly 1700 years ago that a time near the winter solstice, when the days are just beginning to lengthen once again, was appropriate.

Besides, he thought he might also be able to co-opt for Christianity a couple of pre-existing Roman feast days honoring other gods which were celebrated around that date. 

The Decatur Daily – Roy Moore brings disgrace, again

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore on Wednesday issued an administrative order prohibiting probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He did not issue the order as part of a pending case — a single justice lacks such power — but pursuant to his duty as administrative head of the Unified Judicial System of Alabama to “alleviate any condition or situation adversely affecting the administration of justice.”

Alabama’s judicial system is adversely affected, he explained, because of “confusion and uncertainty” stemming from a conflict between two court decisions. One of those decisions, issued in March, was by the Alabama Supreme Court. In that case, the court upheld two Alabama laws banning same-sex marriage. The other decision, rendered in June, was by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Based on this conflict, Moore concluded probate judges in Alabama had no clear direction. That direction could only come when the Alabama Supreme Court again weighs in on the issue, he said, and his administrative order was to clarify the duties of probate courts during the interim.

“Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders … that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect,” Moore wrote.

Moore’s administrative order is a farce. There is no confusion whatsoever about the obligations of Alabama’s probate courts.

Lawyers not positioning themselves for future elections or speaker fees get this.

Dothan Eagle – The invisible homeless

Almost a decade ago, a man was found badly beaten near a vacant building downtown, and he died later from his injuries. The victim lived on the streets – homeless, some would say, although the man’s family members said he lived the way he wanted.

The tragedy was an epiphany for many local residents, people who, if asked, might have said there were few homeless people in our city.

They’d be wrong, as volunteers with several local organizations could tell them. There are more people living on the streets of Dothan than one might guess, although it’s difficult to know an exact number, as many homeless people are transient.

Local groups that offer support and assistance hope to get a better idea of the scope of homelessness in our area by conducting a headcount later this month.

Those who are interested in doing something now have an opportunity. Volunteers are needed to carry out the initiative, Point in Time Count, conducted by the Southeast Coalition for the Homeless. The study is part of a national effort by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and will provide valuable data to homeless service groups in efforts to secure funding.

The Enterprise Ledger – Just a few of my preferences I’d like to share

Please refrain from using your cell phone at a movie theater. I think you should be escorted from the premises if you choose to text and perhaps even shoved out if you choose to talk on one during the movie… or even during the previews for that matter.

Please drive the speed limit if you’re in the left lane or move over to the right lane. Some people need to get from Point A to Point B in a timely manner.

Remember, if you take a shot at one university because of their athletic prowess or political views, it only permits negative reactions to your school. Unless it’s Colorado, then it’s fair game.

Do not tell me I shouldn’t eat after 7 p.m. Often, I don’t get home until late and, well, I’m not keeping this frame satisfied through the night on whatever I had several hours earlier at lunch.

If you have to explain to someone why you’re worth their time, chances are they’re not worth your time.

Don’t be that “parent” that makes a scene at their son’s or daughter’s game by yelling at the officials, or, even worse, at their child, or much worse, at someone else’s child, from beginning to end of said game. If you want a reputation, a bad one at that, that’s a sure-fire a way to obtain one.

TimesDaily – Gun restrictions are modest, reasonable

Trashing President Barack Obama appears to be one of the favorite pastimes of many Alabamians, but it still is hard to understand the complaints about his recent executive actions regarding guns.

To quickly dispense with the most common refrain, Obama’s executive actions take guns away from no one. If they are effective — and because he took great pains to avoid exceeding his authority, that’s questionable — the executive actions may prevent some people from buying guns.

So is he preventing you from buying guns?

The answer is “yes.” He is indeed depriving you of the ability to purchase guns from some sellers if any of the following apply:

You have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution;

You have been convicted of, or are under indictment for, a felony;

You are a fugitive from justice;

You have been found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity;

You are an unlawful user of controlled substances;

You have been convicted of domestic violence; or

You are an undocumented immigrant.

If indeed you fall into one of these categories, existing law already prevented you from purchasing a gun from a licensed dealer. This is because licensed dealers are required to run you through a background check. So if you are a convicted felon, or if you have been involuntarily committed for a severe mental condition, you have some reason to be angry at Obama’s executive orders.

The Gadsden Times – Bama, JSU in football spotlight

There has been much talk about the historical record — the who, what and when. The facts:

  • Jacksonville State’s Gamecocks won the 1992 NCAA Division II football championship, defeating Pittsburg State of Kansas 17-13 in the title game Dec. 12 at Braly Stadium in Florence.
  • The ’92 Alabama Crimson Tide wrapped up a perfect 13-0 season and claimed the Division I national championship (then determined via polls) by whipping the Miami Hurricanes 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1, 1993.
  • JSU and Alabama have a chance to repeat that double national championship feat. The Gamecocks face North Dakota State Saturday in Frisco, Texas, for the Football Championship Series crown, and the Crimson Tide will meet Clemson Monday in Glendale, Ariz., for the College Football Playoff Championship.
  • Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern claimed national titles in 1989, back in the Division I and I-AA days, the only time one state has produced champions at those levels. So the Tide and Gamecocks can accomplish something that has been done just once before.

That’s enough dry statistics to placate the bean-counting types who obsess about such things.

We’re sure Alabama and JSU fans — those who have headed west to see the games in person and those who’ll be watching or listening at home — are concerned about these particular moments, not what happened a generation ago, before most of the current teams’ players were born.

Still, it’s hard not to see this as confirmation of something we’ve noted before — football is a big deal in Alabama, and we do it very well.

The Huntsville Times – Conservatives could knock Robert Aderholt out in 2018 primary

Once upon a time in a capitol not so far away, Republican lawmakers were rarely held accountable for supporting bills that wasted tax dollars, increased debt, or made a general mess of our country.

Folks back home would regularly hear their congressmen and senators talk tough, but at the eleventh hour their votes often fell into the “yea” column of whatever bloated, big-government bill the establishment put forward. There wasn’t much blow-back because many voters either didn’t understand the bills, didn’t care, weren’t paying attention, or were just happy to get their share of pork when the slaughter was finished.

That’s how it use to be, but conservatives in Alabama’s fourth congressional district ought to remind U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, that the political landscape has drastically changed.

Aderholt was the only Republican member of Alabama’s congressional delegation to vote last month in favor of a $1.8 trillion budget that was backed by the White House and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate.

The budget’s ever-growing list of faults are outrageous. For starters, it adds $2 trillion to our national debt over the next 20-years, and in a staggering affront, it continues sending millions of our tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood after its criminal abuses were exposed.

It also pays for the president’s plan to resettle thousands of Syrians in our communities, despite a clear threat that Islamic extremists will infiltrate the refugee population. It expands a program allowing foreign workers into the nation at a time when a record number of Americans have quit looking for jobs. It permits federal funding for “sanctuary cities” which shelter illegal aliens and refuse to cooperate with federal immigration laws. The budget also failed to defund the president’s unconstitutional executive amnesty efforts.

Press-Register –How much does a Powerball ticket cost? It depends on how far you have to drive

How much are you spending on lottery tickets this weekend? Is it two dollars for one ticket? Ten dollars for five?

If you ask an economist, the answer might be a lot more than what you paid out of your pocket.

Powerball charges $2 per ticket. However, there’s also the time it takes you to play.

To an economist, time isn’t exactly the same as money, but anything you do with your time has what’s called an opportunity cost — the alternative things you could have done with it.

That $2 you spend on the lottery ticket might have been enough to buy you a Coke at a burger joint, or a thimble full of Coke at a movie theater, and that probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

But again, this isn’t just about money, this is about time, and the time you spend has an opportunity cost, too.

If you live in Alabama or one of the five other states that don’t take part in the Powerball, playing that lottery this weekend will probably take you some time. I live in Birmingham, where the nearest place to buy a ticket is about 90 minutes away. That’s three hours round trip.

And this weekend, a lot of people are making that trip.

Montgomery Advertiser – Moore’s unlawful conduct warrants removal

Somehow, some way, Roy Moore passed his constitutional law class and graduated from law school. Based upon his conduct as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, his success in both endeavors remains a mystery.

In 2003, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed Moore from the bench for refusing to obey a federal district court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building. Moore was re-elected as Chief Justice, and his removal is again warranted, this time for disobeying – and encouraging other judges to disobey – a ruling of the United States Supreme Court.

A complaint against Moore for violating federal court orders on same-sex marriage has been pending with the Judicial Inquiry Commission (known as JIC) for an entire year. Because Moore’s most recent conduct once again offends Alabama’s Canons of Judicial Ethics, several compelling reasons support JIC’s recommendation to the Court of the Judiciary that the office of Chief Justice be vacated. Any further delay by JIC in making such a recommendation is arguable neglect of its duty.

Herewith is a lawyer’s brief for laymen in addressing the fiasco that is Alabama’s Chief Justice:

Opelika-Auburn News –Auburn grapples with parking needs and looks to new project for relief

The idea of more people walking to the grocery store instead of driving and creating more traffic congestion sounds appealing, especially for a busy downtown area.

So does the thought of creating a parking facility and surrounding landscape that can provide 1,145 parking spaces instead of the current 738 total, something any frustrated driver can relate to when on the hunt during a home game day or bustling shopping season.

Those are but two of the reasons that make a proposed new parking deck/hotel/urban grocery store/office and commercial space project a worthwhile consideration for downtown Auburn.

The City Council put its first stamp of forward progress on it Tuesday night when it approved in a 7-1 vote a so-called “term sheet” that spells out the details for the proposed project. Much more consideration will come between now and future meetings in April and May to discuss it and decide further action.

The current parking deck at the downtown site on Gay Street was built in 1986 but, interestingly, is due for replacement in the next 8-10 years, according to city officials, and was not made to be expanded. That seems like a short life for such a multi-million-dollar project, but growth often dictates change sooner than originally planned, and properly managing that growth is a smart move.

Downtown Auburn already has needs for additional parking no matter what limits or invitations come regarding future growth, and if a public-private partnership can be made to work on a fiscal level to pay for such a new development, making it a first-class endeavor with new urban features that appeal is a reasonable move.

The Tuscaloosa News –First votes about to be cast, finally

Don’t look now, but four weeks from tomorrow voters in Iowa will go to their caucuses to make their presidential preferences known. That’s right, on Feb. 1 the first votes will finally be cast in this monumental election year.

Then, eight days later, New Hampshire will hold the first-in-the-nation primaries, which will be followed by an avalanche of caucuses and primaries, including the March 1 “SEC primaries” in a number of southern and border states, including Alabama.

Including us in a regional primary was a good move since for once we won’t be ignored in the process by which the nation selects its Republican and Democratic nominees for president. In recent election cycles, Alabama had a stand-alone primary, which made it convenient for candidates to ignore us in pursuit of support in states with more consequential influence in the process.

But no more, and you can expect to see both the many Republican and three Democratic candidates include Alabama on their schedules. In fact, with frequent visits from Republicans like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders already, the process is well under way.

The voting in Iowa is already shaping up as intriguing, especially on the Republican side, where the polls show that Cruz has a slight edge over Donald Trump, leading one to wonder if Trump loses this first showdown, will he label himself a “loser” — the term of derision he throws around so freely at the hapless band of opponents he has attracted.