Archive for the ‘Bingo’ Category

>Standing in the school house door

July 22, 2010


One hundred and three students will be denied their scholarships as a result of Governor Bob Riley’s raid on Greentrack earlier this month.

This information comes from The Tuscaloosa News.

The scholarships provided between $500 and $900 each semester to the students.

“This governor, in 2010, is standing in the schoolhouse door,” Rev. John Kennard said. “He is standing in the schoolhouse door to prevent 103 of our children from furthering their education, and we’re not going to take it.”

Kennard is vice president of the group, Clergy Who Care.

Several students attended a rally organized by Kennard. They seem determined, in spite of the governor’s action.

Governor Riley’s office issued a statement yesterday about the VictoryLand profits that actually reflect his beliefs about bingo in general, thus, also about this issue in Green County.

“The casinos mislead people into believing they’re helping charities. But the reality is, the only people who actually benefit from it are the casino bosses and their cronies.”

So, the governor does not consider these students as “people,” I guess.

Governor Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door on June 11, 1963. He thought he was big stuff, but that attempt to preserve his way of life looks pretty foolish now, doesn’t it.

And remember, Republican candidate for Governor Dr. Robert Bentley wants to do away with electronic Bingo too. So he would leave these students out in the cold as well.

This is not about looking for other sources of funds for each student to continue his or her education. The students are doing that, and let’s hope they are successful.

No, it’s about stripping away a source of college education funds that the students already had secured and on which they were depending.

It’s about making things more difficult for students of color.

It plays right along with this undercurrent of racism that has swollen into a torrent over the last two days following the release of an edited video by a right wing blogger meant to further divide our nation and remind white people that they are supposed to be afraid of black people.

Rachel Maddow tells how white voters are being targeted to be afraid of black people.

Part 1, where she talks about George Wallace, and shows a comic book he used during a campaign to promote his views, and the “southern strategy” for winning political races by making white people be afraid of black people. Wallace used it in the 60’s, and it is still being used today.

Here’s part 2 of Rachel’s segment.

How long will the real racists, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Andrew Breitbart, Fox News, who are among us be allowed to control the news in this way? How long will we (the big we…the media, the White House, the bloggers) continue to be fooled in this way?

>Bessemer News and the Great Backyard Bird Count

February 9, 2010

>Congratulations to The Bright Star, which received the prestigious “America’s Classics” award from the James Beard Foundation. The Bright Star in Bessemer is the first Alabama restaurant to earn what is considered the Oscar for eating establishments.


In other Bessemer News, Councilwoman Louise Alexander was found not guilty on all counts yesterday. She had been accused of solicitation and using her office for personal gain.

Rarely does an election pass where Alexander’s name is not on the ballot, and rumor has it that the mayor’s race this summer is the prize she will next seek. If so, that would mean her council seat is open.

If ever there was a time when a clean sweep was warranted, this is it. And a clean sweep can not involve putting a council person in the mayor’s office. I’m just sayin’.


While Bessemer’s Bingo halls sit shuttered and darkened, in nearby Greene County the machines are humming as usual. Greenetrack pays you money, the slogan says. The sheriff is standing by to thwart any effort by the anti-gambling, anti-employment task force. It will be interesting to see the sheriff standing in the bettinghouse door to prevent governor’s men from entering. That’s a switch for Alabama.


In the meantime, I’m gearing up for the Winter Olympics. Opening ceremonies are Friday, and we may be getting some snow that day to get us in the mood.

Great Backyard Bird Count

And this weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, Friday through Monday.

Remember this guy who perched on my thumb? Not during the bird count, but it was in the backyard.

Last year in Bessemer only 8 checklists were submitted and 28 species were reported. That was way down from 2008 when 48 species were reported from 22 checklists.

Details on how to participate are on the web site, but basically you just have to agree to sit quietly and identify and count birds for at least 15 minutes a day on one or all of the days and report them online. It’s simple. Take part.

>Tyson’s appointment is illegal, it seems

February 5, 2010

>I’m wondering how much longer Mobile District Attorney John Tyson will be allowed to continue to break the law. Or did Governor Riley break the law in appointing him as commander of the Anti-Gambling Task Force?

Code of Alabama, Section 12-17-184 (11) All district attorneys and all full-time assistant district attorneys shall devote their entire time to the discharge of the duties of their respective offices, and each and every one of the officers are prohibited from practicing law, directly or indirectly, in any court of this state or of the United States, or in any other manner or form whatsoever, except in the discharge of the official duties of their offices.

Bob Martin (The Alabama Scene) says “the words ‘their entire time’ is not ambiguous.”

He also points out that the Alabama Constitution states, “No person may hold two offices of profit at one and the same time except justices of the peace, constables, notaries public, and commissioner of deeds.”

In the meantime, Greentrack owners have surrendered their liquor license
because the brief filed in Macon County by the Task force referred to a law that allows warrantless searches for anyone that holds an Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board license.

Over 2000 people have been put out of work because of Riley’s raids, and this is adding to the cost to Alabama taxpayers. There is also a personal cost to the individuals involved, some of whom are the sole breadwinners for their families.

Then there is the foolishness factor. But in Alabama we should be used to that.

>Western Tribune column February 3, 2010 Bingo Raids

February 4, 2010

>Here is my Western Tribune column from February 3, 2010.

The pictures of the pre-dawn raid were sent to me, with permission from VictoryLand to use them. Plus, we now know the raids cost the taxpayers over one million dollars.

Bob Riley’s bingo raids are insane

Tensions were probably high among the employees of Country Crossings in Houston County when told they had to leave work last week in anticipation of Governor Riley’s raid on the facility. The building was subsequently darkened and padlocked when 135 state troopers arrived in a caravan of headlights that stretched as far as the eyes could see in the pre-dawn darkness.

One would think that the hideout of Osama bin Laden had been discovered, when in reality, little old ladies and some country music fans were just plunking nickels and dimes into bingo machines.

A similar raid was attempted at VictoryLand in Macon County, but the raiders were also turned away there. Former state Senator Fred Clay said that the raid reminded him of Governor George Wallace’s attempt to prevent desegregation by sending state troopers into Macon County fifty years ago.

Troopers arriving without a search warrant

Task force leader John Tyson reading document from attorney Fred Gray

It is estimated that the raids cost the Alabama taxpayer over $130,000 as the number of state troopers on duty for that time of the night jumped from 8 to possibly 240 for both raids. That, when state agencies are facing budget cut, does not seem a wise use of our limited resources.

And how many drunk drivers went unnoticed and truckloads of cocaine and marijuana slipped by while the enforcers were standing by doing nothing for hours outside of the entertainment facilities?

Troopers lined up outside of Victoryland

Bingo in Bessemer is just as contentious although the venues are not as grand and the opposing authorities not as powerful as those in the big time operations.
However, seeing a ticket for $400 come out of a bingo machine in Bessemer is just as rewarding as retrieving one in Dothan.

What is really amusing about the controversy on both the local and state level is that in an economy where revenues are down and employment is historically low we have elected officials who want to let large amounts of potential tax money and licensing fees go uncollected.

They also have no qualms about putting people out of work. The facilities in Macon County and Dothan employ thousands and the small bingo parlors in Bessemer together probably employ one hundred or so.

Ron Sparks, candidate for governor, released a statement after the raids in which he said, “Instead of spending money to take jobs away we need to tax gaming to educate our children.”

Commissioner Sparks is right. He called the raids “insane.” Maybe after November sanity will return to the governor’s mansion.

Troopers arriving at entrance being greeted by attorney Fred Gray.

>Western Tribune column, July 22 2009, Bingo!

July 22, 2009

>It seems that some things are coming whether we like them or not. Some call it progress, some call it, well, other things.

Take bingo, for instance. Both Birmingham and Bessemer are on the path to allow electronic bingo in their cities (as if gambling is not already present).

Bessemer’s Mayor Ed May said, “I do believe that having such facilities will erode the morals of the people on the western side of Jefferson County…because they have to deal with this foolishness.”

Undoubtedly his views are based at least somewhat on his biblical interpretations and religious views.

And I think his denial of crime in our city is religion based also, or at least the solution is, as he once said we could just tell the bad folks about Jesus and the problem would be solved.

In Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford can’t wait to hear the bells ringing as he asked for larger bingo halls (rather than many small ones) and is hoping the city can sue itself to determine whether the machines are legal or not. Now that’s a novel idea.

But wait. Langford put his religious views on display when he appeared in sackcloth, ashes and Rolex to champion the plight of the poor. Or the watch-less, I can’t remember which.

And he used religion to deny Central Alabama Pride their rainbow flags before gay pride last year. When faced with a federal lawsuit over the matter he responded “If I had issued such a proclamation, I would in essence be saying that God’s position is wrong and I wouldn’t dare take a position against God. So as opposed to suing me, they need to be suing God, and the last time I checked, he can defend himself.”

“I wouldn’t dare take a position against God.” So which part of Jesus’ teachings does Langford take his position on gambling from?

Well, it doesn’t really matter. What’s going to happen is going to happen and the two mayors will just keep on entertaining us.

So I’ll just go collect my quarters and play some bingo while I wait for the bingo halls to open. Hey, something doesn’t sound right there. Oh well. In these two screwed up cities in this screwed up county, what does it matter?

You will either love or hate this video by MIA. Bingo

>Dunn "wins" again and Bingo does as well

July 21, 2009

>If you are at all interested in what’s going on in the gay community or in the Episcopal Church or in what Artur Davis and Ron Sparks said, click on over to my page on and read some of my writings. Day after day, even though I have only been reporting for a week, I am the most popular examiner and I get 5-10 times the number of hits that the average Birmingham examiners are getting. On Examiner, you can click on “subscribe to email” and you will get an email whenever I post. I do not know who my followers are on Examiner, so you can subscribe and I won’t even know about it. Be sure your GLBT friends know about the site, too.

Priscilla Dunn

Priscilla Dunn had been scheduled to run again on August 18 against no one. There is no Republican in the race, however, so that allows Secretary of State Beth Chapman to cancel the election and issue a certificate of election (remember, the race between Dunn and Merika Coleman was a Democratic primary runoff). Dunn could be sworn in by August.

Story on

This will save the county $100,000, by not having to fund another election. A drop in the bucket of good news for Jefferson County, but a drop, nevertheless.

This creates an unwelcome (for Democrats) temporary power shift, however. During the probable upcoming special session which would deal with the Jefferson County occupational tax, the county House delegation will have a Republican one seat majority, because Dunn’s seat will not be filled by that time. The House delegation currently is evenly split with nine Democrats and nine Republicans.

However, it may allow the County delegation to actually get something done. I mean, whether we agree with whatever action the County delegation recommends, and the special session takes up, something needs to be done.

And the governor needs to call a special election soon. We will need a representative in the House next year.


The Bessemer Council approved the Bingo ordinance this morning, as expected, and mayor Ed May has reaffirmed that he will veto it.

article on

Voting for it were council members Louise Alexander, Sarah Belcher, Dorothy Davidson, Jesse Matthews and council President Earl Cochran.

Opposed were council members Jimmy Stephens and Albert Soles.

If May carries out his veto, the council can vote to override him at a subsequent meeting. An override would require votes from five of the seven council members.

This is interesting.

Asked how the post (VFW Post 1762) was able to operate the machines without an electronic bingo ordinance, Calhoun (Paul Calhoun, commander of the Post) said the city had not bothered the operation (which has been operating electronic bingo machines for about a month in the shadow of City Hall).

Be sure to read my Western Tribune column tomorrow. It’s about Bingo, mostly. And mayors.

>Heads in the sand

July 17, 2009

>Check out Bessemer Science for a report on hurricane killers.

Check out The Examiner for my report on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

The Western Tribune has a front page article this week “Bessemer caught by surprise on crime stats.”

Are we surprised? Take the poll on the Tribune site.

This blog and The Western Tribune have had no problem learning about crime rates and clearance rates in the city.

Have heads been stuck in the sand?

Maybe this is a better picture.

From the Western Tribune:

“Councilwoman Dorothy Davidson has been depending on (Mayor Ed) May for her news about criminal activity in town, saying that she was shocked at the news.

“No, I had no idea,” Davidson said.

Council President Earl Cochran said he didn’t know anything about it until he read the story in the Tribune.

“The mayor always wants to bring off how good we are and trying to say we don’t have a problem,” Cochran said….

(Councilman Albert Soles says), “There is a large sector of the people who don’t read and are not informed but the ones who read know.”

As for the mayor, Soles says he figures that if he doesn’t say anything the people will forget.”

I think the people of Bessemer will be more informed than ever before when election time comes next year.

Charity begins at home.

“What they’re talking about and wanting to dub as charitable bingo is backed by organized gambling, and it has nothing to do with charity other than charity begins at home.”

That’s what Mayor May said as he promised to veto the Bessemer bingo ordinance if passed.

“Foolishness,” was the word he used to describe it.

Comments run in favor of electronic Bingo, or at least in favor of allowing people to determine how to spend their own money, on