A roundup of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers

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A roundup of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:

Anniston Star – Planning for the new Anniston

Nearly 50 years ago, Chattanooga’s outlook lay — figuratively, if not literally — in ruins. Pollution was out of control. The city’s air quality was horrendous. City officials seemed wholly unprepared to offer solutions.

It got so bad that in 1969 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named Chattanooga the most polluted city in America.

But look at Chattanooga today.

That city on the Tennessee River is now hailed as a one of the nation’s top civic reclamation projects. Pollutants no longer foul Chattanooga’s air and water at record levels. Economic development there is the envy of other like-sized Southern cities. The decisions Chattanooga’s civic leaders made after the EPA’s announcement turned a disaster into one of the South’s more attractive destinations.

In a sense, that is Anniston’s path today.

Birmingham News – Implore our legislature to stop cuts to Alabama Medicaid

If we expect our state to cultivate a legacy of goodwill, care for those most in need, and protect economic growth, we owe it to ourselves to implore our legislature to stop cuts to Alabama Medicaid.

We Alabamians have a proud heritage of expressing goodwill.  We were the first state to extend married property acts to women, and we were the birthplace of Helen Keller, who cultivated minds and hearts through kind instruction and advocacy.  We contributed to trips to the moon and birthed playwrights and songwriters the world over.  Our history is littered with examples of such generousness and good intention.

If our recent history has revealed anything, however, it is that our government is acting to disavow this heritage entirely by proposing draconian cuts to one of the few services that actually benefits working-class Alabamians, Alabama Medicaid.   In a perversity of epidemic proportions, our legislature, and now our governor,  are mulling cuts to Medicaid that are both fiscally and pragmatically unsound while they pass bills to pay millions for new prisons.  As a perverse corollary, it may be that some of them hope to kill two birds with one stone since under their leadership many within our intellectually disabled population have been erroneously sent to those locations anyway.  Erin Edgemon, As Alabama psychiatric hospitals close, county jails struggle to house mentally ill, disabled inmates, AL.com, July 30, 2014, http://www.al.com/news/montgomery/index.ssf/2014/07/as_alabama_psychiatric_hospita.html .

These proposed cuts fail economic common sense too.  Studies have repeatedly shown that Medicaid benefits actually stimulate economic growth.  If Medicaid were revoked, the families of the disabled, seniors, and children receiving benefits (and the businesses that employ these families) would be on the hook, then, for the $6.4 billion in medical care that these persons currently require.  Additionally, the loss of even a portion of this money can also affect the availability of medical care to all Alabamians since rural healthcare providers depend on Medicaid funding for a good portion of their revenue, making the economic impact of their cuts even worse for the vast majority of Alabamians.

Decatur Daily – Be cautious driving in work zones

A accident Thursday that resulted in the death of one Alabama Department of Transportation worker and injuries to another should come as a grim reminder to area drivers.

The accident occurred in a work zone on the Interstate 65 bridge near Priceville. Two northbound vehicles collided, slamming into a parked ALDOT vehicle and the workers, both pedestrians.

While details are sketchy, it’s an accident that should not have happened. Orange cones, construction signs and ALDOT trucks made it abundantly clear workers were in the area.

The Decatur area is overwhelmed with such work zones. They’re on Wilson Street Northeast, the U.S. 31 bridge, all over downtown and on many other streets. Drivers tend to curse them as they desperately seek to make it to work or the next appointment. The frustration too often contributes to aggressive driving.

But as Thursday’s accident made clear, no appointment is so urgent it justifies driving recklessly through work zones.

Dothan Eagle – Teachers deserve a vote of confidence

In an April 14 Eagle article, Montana Magnet School teacher Dawn Davis spoke about how she enjoys teaching math, and how her students respond to her methods of making instruction come alive. Recently, she gave the students a math problem dealing with area and perimeter around their homes.

“I love bringing the real world into math,” she said.

Marsh is a contender for Alabama Teacher of the Year, the third consecutive Dothan educator to vie for the state’s top teaching honor. It’s a validation of her abilities, and the consistent placement of Dothan teachers in the competition over the years speaks volumes about the dedication and invention of our entire local cadre of educators.

Teacher of the Year competition aside, it’s embarrassing that such dedication isn’t adequately rewarded. Neither Davis nor any other public school teacher in Alabama has seen a real pay raise in eight years; a 2 percent pay hike in 2013 came with an increase in benefit costs.

Enterprise Ledger – Continuous train wreck leads to inevitable

It was bound to happen sooner than later. Thanks to continuous errors in judgment by the Alabama Republican Party, it has now become a national joke (see HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver).

Gov. Robert Bentley’s inappropriate behavior has led to talks of possible impeachment proceedings, which must be presented by the Speaker of the House, who is none other than the same guy, Mike Hubbard, who is facing 23 felony counts and has destroyed careers of some (among those are former Representative Greg Wren) with ties to him and almost did likewise to others, including this area’s Representative, Barry Moore. If an impeachment trial begins it will be presided over, as Oliver notes, by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was once removed from office for ethics violations. Moore is the cleanest of this trio, which shows just how bad things are in Alabama politics at the moment.

And Oliver didn’t even touch on the fact that Attorney General Luther Strange’s office was infiltrated by dirty deeds such as the leaking of information to Hubbard’s attorneys as he awaits his trial, you know, the one that will seemingly never happen for one reason or another. And when it does, it will be in Lee County, where a road was named after the guy that has brought more shame on the state than anyone this side of Harvey Updyke. So, the guess here is Hubbard will walk, which will bring more HBO-like commentaries on the sad state of affairs in Alabama.

We should all just buy some popcorn and sit back and laugh at this B Movie playing out right before us. Hubbard’s minions want to slam Bentley because they want Hubbard to be the next governor, a scenario as frightening as a third term of Barack Obama. Bentley supporters want Hubbard, once his greatest threat, out of the picture.

TimesDaily – Medicaid arguments omit the poor

There are many things that are sad about the Legislature’s decision to underfund the state Medicaid agency.

It is sad that, by underfunding Medicaid in the General Fund budget, the Legislature is wasting $7 million already spent to convert Medicaid into a managed care system. That is money down the drain.

It is sad Gov. Robert Bentley, who could have been a voice of reason in the Medicaid debate and who said he would call a special session if the Legislature ignored the health needs of the poorest Alabamians, now is anxious to avoid any battle.

It is sad that, because of the Legislature’s decision, adults on Medicaid no longer will be able to get prescription medications. Adults can no longer receive eyeglasses. Outpatient dialysis will no longer be an option. Some people will die as a result of the Legislature’s decision. For many others, the quality of life will deteriorate.

But maybe saddest of all: The immense suffering the Legislature’s decision will cause is recognized by stakeholders as being an argument not worth making.

Gadsden Times – GPL makes the impossible possible with convention

For the past several years, we’ve regularly sung the praises of the staff of the Gadsden Public Library and its director, Amanda Jackson. Get ready for another chorus.

For the past several years, we’ve regularly sung the praises of the staff of the Gadsden Public Library and its director, Amanda Jackson. Get ready for another chorus.

Landing a statewide convention is quite a coup for any city. When that city is Gadsden, and that convention could bring 300 to 500 people to town for four days, some might scratch their heads and wonder how this is going to be accomplished.

In an interview with The Times, Jackson explained it this way:

“People tend to discount Gadsden as a site for conventions because we don’t have the typical convention hotel setup that other, larger cities have,” she said. “But we are proving that you don’t have to have a convention center to bring people to your area.”

Huntsville Times – A more humane, effective method of execution?

There has to be a better way to perform death row executions. And there is according to my fellow Honor Guard member, Colonel Mike Vacarro (Ret.) USAF and veteran NASA engineer and astronaut trainer, and he knows what it is; the Altitude Chamber.  Also known as a Hypobaric Chamber, it is used for simulating conditions of atmospheric pressure and temperature of a given altitude in order to condition and test the behavior of flight personnel and equipment in a rarefied environment.

Used by the military and private industry to train pilots for upper altitude flight, Altitude Chambers (ACs) are also employed by professional athletes, health clubs and fitness trainers.  During the checkout procedure, test participants keep oxygen masks at hand inside the chamber.  While flying in unpressurized military aircraft wearing an oxygen mask is required at 10,000 feet or above.  Without the mask a person’s performance effectiveness begins to degrade at those levels.  As altitude increases an individual’s performance becomes progressively worse and in the AC, as the altitude is artificially increased, atmospheric pressure decreases.  Without the protection of the oxygen mask, the chamber that is rising in altitude reaches a point where the subject cannot even perform trivial tasks.  As the vacuum increases due to higher altitude the subject experiences a feeling of euphoria (equivalent to three martinis) and if the mask is not applied, soon loses consciousness followed by a peaceful death.

A veteran of many such tests in maintaining his flight certification, Colonel Vacarro points out that unlike the numerous botched executions referenced in an al.com guest column by Stephen Cooper, it would seem that oxygen deprivation is a simpler, more humane way to execute a person than electrocution or lethal injection while at the same time eliminating the cries of cruel and unusual punishment.  He goes on to say that the sheer anticipation of execution by the present systems, with their unpredictable results impose unnecessary pain and suffering on the families viewing the executions.

We would like to see the state of Alabama take the lead in instituting the Altitude Chamber to carry out the death penalty.  With 181 men and 5 women awaiting execution, the AC does indeed appear to be a more humane and consistently reliable method than what many people believe are practices bordering on torture that should be discontinued as quickly as possible.

Press-Register – With dangerous day care, there’s a difference between faith and fraud

Apparently, Alabama needs to legally explain the difference between “religious” and “ridiculous.”

We sadly have a precedent for this sort of thing in our state. The Alabama Supreme Court has literally issued an opinion defining “bingo.” Apparently we’re not capable of differentiating between a slot machine and a game that includes — as a critical element — being the first to stand and yell “bingo!”

When it comes to license-exempt day cares, state regulators and law enforcement should be able to sort out the difference between faith and fraud without too much help.

In a story from Reveal by the Center for Investigative Reporting, Amy Julia Harris highlights the horrors of day care operators like Deborah Stokes who skirt regulatory oversight by claiming Alabama’s religious exemption for day care operators. According to Harris, “All [Stokes] needs is a building with a roof, desperate parents and a piece of paper saying she runs a church.”

It shouldn’t be quite as simple as that.

Montgomery Advertiser – Josh Moon: Racism alive and well in Alabama

If you live around the Montgomery area and spent more than a few minutes on social media over the past week, you undoubtedly viewed a rather disturbing video.

The scene was filmed on a cell phone camera and began in the midst of a confrontation. A black woman was standing at a walk-up, Regions Bank ATM in Montgomery. Behind her, an older, gray-haired white man was screaming.

Apparently upset that the woman didn’t realize he was waiting in his car – instead of in line like everyone else – the guy was having a straight-up, old fashioned conniption fit. He was cursing and calling the woman horrible names.

Those horrible names, of course, included the n-word.

Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn-UAB game would be fun, smart and perhaps a good bit more

Auburn University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham, more commonly referred to as UAB, are flirting with the idea of playing each other in football. They should.

Sports programs – with football in the South being especially noteworthy – are a mainstay of campus entertainment, social networking, name promotion, and certainly a way to gather students and supporters in unity around the school flag in ways that the academic spirit don’t quite match.

Campus academics should always rule; sports should always be a matter of fun and entertainment.

However, we all know it doesn’t always work that way, not even strictly within the politics of the sports world itself. Money, for example, means just as much to many program boosters as does winning.

An Auburn-UAB matchup on the grid iron no doubt would be one in which Auburn would be thinking of a home-game victory while UAB would be thinking of a payout in the $1.5 million range.

Tuscaloosa News – Organ donors give gift of life

Way back in 1982, legendary newspaper columnist Lewis Grizzard, had his first of many heart surgeries. People thought it was just another joke when he told them the surgeons would replace a leaking heart valve with a valve from a pig.

True to form, Grizzard, got a lot of mileage from jokes about the pig valve and how he feared it would disrupt his love of Southern barbecue. But he did, in fact, have the surgery and was back home in six days.

Grizzard went on to have a few more heart surgeries and eventually, in 1994, he died as a result of complications from his fourth heart valve replacement surgery.

But time, and science, is marching on. Today, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is partnering with a private biotech company to being a program with the goal of developing organs from genetically-modified pigs in an effort to close a shortfall in the number of humans waiting on organ transplants.

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