Archive for the ‘Election’ Category

>Two polls (that don’t have anything to do with politics)

November 2, 2010

>The Election

If you are like many Americans and many in Alabama and even in Bessemer, in spite of all the hype and crazy people running for office you don’t know much about this (here) election they are putting on today.

All you know is what you see on the political ads that run during the news, during the World Series (congrats to San Francisco!!! and (hot) bearded Brian Wilson), and during every television show it seems.

So you may or may not vote. I mean, OFA and other groups are doing all they can to Get Out The Vote. Democrats are trying to remind voters who first voted in 2008 that it is still important to vote. Republicans are screaming, “Fire!,” in an effort to motivate their voters.

Some of you might even respond to this: here is your voter guideor here.

And still, only 55% of voters are expected to turn out in Alabama, according to Beth Chapman, Alabama’s Secretary of State.

Almost half of the people in this state don’t care. So if somebody wins, say, the governorship, with just a little over half the vote, what it really means is that only a quarter of the people (or a little more) in the state want that person to be governor.

One person who doesn’t want Robert Bentley to be governor is Jimmy Blake, who says he will contest the election if Bentley wins the election today, based on Bentley’s reporting of campaign fund raising.


We’ve seen polls and polls and polls and polls and surveys. We even had a poller call at 7:10 yesterday evening. What good is that going to do?

Poll 1

Here are some of the results of the reader’s survey I posted on Bessemer Opinions a few weeks ago.

23% of the respondents are straight and 19% are LGBT. That means that 52% of you are either unsure of your sexuality or so deep in the closet and so paranoid about being discovered that you were afraid to answer even on an anonymous poll.

61% of you are white, and only 6% are black. That leaves a lot of people of other colors. Or not.

See that’s the problems with surveys where you can choose multiple answers. Some people didn’t know that, so they didn’t answer the race or sexual orientation questions. Or they are paranoid and they probably didn’t complete their census form either.

The highest number of you, 31%, like the mix of subjects and the unexpected that you find on Bessemer Opinions. 16% want more Bessemer news and less gay news, 7% wanted more gay news and less Bessemer. You are still going to get the mix.

What this tells me is that Bessemer Opinions is popular among a wide variety of people with a variety of interests, and that I should keep reporting as I do on a number of subjects.

Poll 2

Yesterday I wrote this column for Daily Kos that compares the two Georgia megachurch pastors and the churches that have been in the news recently regarding gay issues. At the end of that column there was a poll asking “Which church offers the truer message of Christianity regarding gay issues?” The choices are New Birth Missionary Baptist Church led by Pastor Eddie Long or Church in the Now led by Pastor Jim Swilley, or neither.

Of the 42 people who have responded, 78% think Church in the Now, with the pastor who has been inclusive and accepting and recently came out as gay, is offering the truer message, and only 2% believe New Birth led by the pastor who was accused of having sexual relations with some of his male followers while preaching an anti-gay message is offering the truer Christian message. 19% say neither, and I assume those are people without faith, or people who have been driven away from the church.

Swilley and his supporters are hoping they can change the world. I think all, or most, Christian churches believe that, but let’s hope he is right.

The Challenger

Some of you know that there is now a blog that has been created to stand up against my militancy.

From their “Welcome” page:

This blog exists to spend a little time answering the radical homosexual propaganda of Joe Openshaw, a gay organizer in Bessemer, Alabama. It is also a place for conservative Christians to have their say regarding the militant homosexual agenda in Bessemer.

Radical? One of my straight friends responded to that saying she thinks I am pretty moderate.

Militant? Militant? I can’t even respond to that. Militant?

Anyway, for those of you who are keeping score.

1. There was a newspaper editor in town that threatened to file a lawsuit against me to force me to quit revealing the truth. He’s gone. Fired.

2. There was another blogger, the “Bessemer conservative” I called him in a newspaper column. He’s pretty much given up, but was real good at copying and pasting from those anti-Obama emails that used to circulate with so much mis-information.

3. And then there was Snuffy, who in a letter to the newspaper called me a communist and worse, and compared my loving relationship with my partner to screwing a horse. Anyone heard from him lately?

So I don’t feel threatened by this newcomer, who so far has chosen not to reveal his whole identity. I know this is just a tease, but I am not going to post a link to his blog, yet, because he has already posted some statements which could be damaging to young gay kids. Here I am trying to prevent kids from killing themselves and this “conservative Christian” is destroying their self esteem and possibly contributing to their harmful actions.

If you want a link to the page, email me.

>Choosing to be straight

October 25, 2010

>Here are the sample ballots for Jefferson County for the November 2, 2010 election. There are several ballots there, because there are County Commission races and state legislator races and such where everyone does not have the same choices so they will receive different ballots.

The ballot is continued on the back.

There are 44 races on the ballot, if I counted correctly. If not, it’s close. There are a lot of candidates to become familiar with in order to make a decision as to who to vote for.

There are a few races that you might be familiar with: Governor, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, but how about State Board of Education District 4? Quick, tell me the candidates.

But there is a solution. Use this quick guide to voting provided by Bessemer Opinions.

Make one mark on the ballot.

Straight Party Voting.

Mark “Alabama Democratic Party” on your ballot.

Remember, if you are voting for Republicans you are supporting a party whose members want to do away with Social Security, wants to take health care away from those who now have it, want to increase unemployment in our state, want to do away with the 14th Amendment, want to re-criminalize homosexuality, want to take away a woman’s right to choose even in the case of rape or incest, want to allow Wall Street to run rampant, who don’t believe the part of the 1st Amendment about not establishing a religion, who want students to carry guns to class, who want to censor books like mine, that have gay characters or are written by gay authors, who want to demonize immigrants, who want to remain in Afghanistan for 1000 years, who disagree with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (If you aren’t familiar with these issues and the Republicans that support these positions, ask me in the comments section).

This picture is actually a message to those 19th century holdovers that believe one’s sexual orientation is a choice.

This is one time that flaunting your straightness is allowed.

I decided I will be straight, on November 2. A Straight Democratic Party voter, that is.

Won’t you be Straight with me?

>A Bessemer welcome and upcoming elections

January 27, 2010

>A big Bessemer welcome to Matt Moore, who along with his sister Kim Vann and father Bud Moore, purchased the former Dixie Nissan, now named Moore Nissan.

He is optimistic that 2010 will be a good year for the auto industry and for his dealership.

Here is what their web site says about the community.

From the employment opportunities that we provide for individuals to the tax revenues we generate for our City; from giving to local organizations and schools to participating in and promoting local events, you will find that Moore Nissan is a positive force in the Bessemer community and the surrounding vicinity.

In Bessemer and around we have a boatload of elections coming up. Who’s getting election fatigue?

Several candidates for these various offices have contacted me. I’m not naming any yet, some have announced and some have not.

On June 1, the state primaries will take place. There are a lot of state offices on the ballot, but I am more interested right now in those candidates who will actually represent and be in touch with the people. You know, representatives and commissioners and such.

So, here in Bessemer and near, we will elect new county commissioners. Bobby Humphryes indicates he will run again, but none of the other commissioners are. Celebrate.

If you live in William Bell’s former district, you will vote twice, once for a replacement to finish his term, and again for someone to represent the district beginning in November when the other commissioners begin their terms.

Recently elected state legislators will have to run again.

Lawrence McAdory will have to run again for the seat that he just won in the special election for Alabama House -56. People are lining up to challenge him.

Merika Coleman in nearby district 57 will have competition from at least one strong contender.

State Senator (District 19) Priscilla Dunn will be up for re-election. Remember, she just won the seat in another special election, and formerly held the seat the McAdory now holds.

By the time that election and the runoffs, if needed (on June 22), are over, the Bessemer city elections will be well underway.

The mayor and council elections will take place in the late summer/early fall, assuming Bessemer can legally hold an election.

Several announced and unannounced candidates want to replace Ed May, who despite telling supporters in my living room in 2006 that he would only serve one term, would be seeking his third.

And there will be at least one open council seat, as one current council member is running for mayor. Another incumbent, who I am not sure if is running (but really I am), told me the people of Bessemer should elect a whole new council. We should be so lucky.

After all, it is a bad year to be an incumbent, and this holds true from the U.S. Senate down to dogcatcher, so watch out.

In the meantime, we have the President’s State of the Union Address to look forward to, James OKeefe’s arrest to gloat over, and the knowledge that Riley Anti-Gambling Task Force head John Tyson got $100,000 of his 2006 campaign funds from gambling interest PACS to stew over.

Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris performed this song during the Hope for Haiti Now Telethon. Not the best version ever, but nice, still. Hallelujah.

>Last night’s victories

November 4, 2009

>One might expect me to be down this morning, with equality voted down in Maine yesterday. But I’m not. One thing you learn when fighting for equality, is to look ahead, not behind.

There were certainly victories yesterday that progressives and democrats and GLBT can celebrate. Chapel Hill, NC has a gay mayor. Houston, Texas has a popular lesbian in the runoff for mayor. Atlanta has a gay friendly woman, Mary Norwood, in their runoff for mayor. Washington State approved “everything but marriage” partnerships. Kalamazoo voters pass equality. Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh got whipped in NY-23. Dems hold CA-10. Dems now have 258 seats in the house, up from 257. The CA winner is more progressive than the democrat he replaces. These two will be sworn in before the House votes on Health Care Reform.

In Alabama a special election saw Democrat Elaine Beech elected to the House District 65, retaining that Democrat seat.

And not an election, but Decatur democrat Bill Dukes decided to run for re-election after all, so the Dems should have no problem retaining that seat in the house.

But back to the Maine results. Every person of color in America should just be glad that their civil rights were never put to a vote of the people after laws were passed granting those rights. It’s a little disheartening to realize that 53 percent (or 80%) of your neighbors don’t look at you as equal.

And listen, 47% of the people in Maine believe in equality! They understand the constitution. they understand equality. If I remember right, only about 20% of Alabamians believed in equality a few years ago when the voters in our state jumped on the bigotry bandwagon.

Last night I was keeping up with results with Adam Bink on Open Left. He gave periodic updates from various towns and cities and boxes in Maine. From the University of Maine Orono campus he posted 81% No, 19% Yes. 81% voted to preserve marriage equality. As Bill in Portland posted on Daily Kos, “That’s the future of gay rights in America. It’s coming. It’s on our doorstep. It’s just a matter of time.”

The fight for equality is a battle every day. And there are victories every day.

There is a battle going on right here in Birmingham. Focus on the Family (a dying breed, if you value them according to their finances) is bringing their final edition of their Road Show to Bimingham. Tomorrow night (Thursday) Wayne Besen will be at UAB Hill Center to present the truth about the ex-gay industry. The event is at 7:00, is free and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend. Kathy presents it well, here.

>Western Tribune column September 2, 2009; Candidates and Education

September 3, 2009

>This is my Western Tribune column from this week’s paper.

I might be stepping on some toes here, but with elections in Bessemer coming up next year, and the very entertaining Birmingham elections just past, it’s time for people to begin considering running for mayor, city council, and school board.

No one would dream of a school board member being elected who does not have a college education, but in Birmingham a candidate lied about both his college degree and his high school education, believing that these embellishments to his resume would increase his standing with voters.

I spoke with that candidate by phone and communicated via Facebook because I was in charge of arranging for a candidate screening for endorsement s by the Alabama Stonewall Democrats. I had no idea at the time that he was a liar.

Then when the candidate profiles for all of the Birmingham races were printed on Sunday before the election I thought looking at the educational qualifications of each candidate would be interesting.

It seems to me that that a college educated candidate would be better prepared to deal with issues facing a city or a school system than one who had less education. That’s not to say that other life experiences are not important or that good ideas can’t come from everyone.

All the school board candidates, other than the liar, had degrees of varying sorts.

But city council candidates were a different story. Based on their candidate profiles, thirteen out of 43 candidates did not have a college degree, including some incumbents and some in runoffs.
Many jobs require a certain degree of education as qualification before one should even apply.

No one would deny that serving as an elected official is an important job. Running a city involves budgeting skills and decision making and working together; qualities that most graduates will say they developed while a student in college. Especially, I might add, if a master’s level is achieved.

I have no idea of the educational level of any Bessemer elected official. I don’t know if any incumbents will be running or who the challengers might be, so I am not picking on anyone when I say that we need candidates who have completed a college education.

And when the various political groups begin to endorse candidates, let’s hope that they also realize the value that a college education adds to a candidate’s qualifications.

We can do better than Birmingham.

>House 56 candidates growing in number

August 13, 2009

>Be sure to check out Bessemer Science because this is really weird.

Qualifying to finish the term for Alabama House district 56 (Priscilla Dunn’s former seat) is open until August 14. So far 4 people have qualified, and all I have to say is: boring!

The candidates are Clare Mitchell, wife of former mayor Quitman Mitchell, Lawrence McAdory, Louise Alexander, and LaBrenda Marshall Jones.

Other than Mitchell, haven’t we just seen these names in election after election?

There are sure to be others to qualify.

Now I know these candidates and I like them all, but I don’t know what they bring to a house seat. Well, McAdory, maybe, because he’s been there.

We need a young person, or at least a progressive middle aged person. Are any of these candidates what you would consider “progressive?”

Let’s see what they say.

>Norfolk Southern, bus transit and elections

July 30, 2009

>Be sure to read my Western Tribune column which follows this post.

The former president of the Metropolitan Development Board, Ted vonCannon, is now a paid consultant for Norfolk Southern. He spoke at the 2oth annual Bessemer Business Awards held at Lawson State Community College. story at

He told the group that he believes that the McCalla residents will eventually see he intermodal project as a positive development.

“It’s a project I believe has great merit,” vonCannon said. “Is everybody going to be happy? of course not. but I believe there can be a greater understanding.”

Monday the No Hub 4 McCalla folks had a meeting and one of their speakers told the group “Norfolk Southern doesn’t care about your kids. Norfolk Southern is looking out for Norfolk Southern. It’s up to us to look out for ourselves.”

Just for the record, Norfolk Southern does care about kids. In 1984 they established a foundation to direct their charitable giving.

From their web site:

The Foundation’s intent is to help ensure that:

  • Our region’s children are provided with first-class educational opportunities that make them productive and valued employees in the future;
  • Our communities can offer their citizens access to cultural opportunities that make life more enjoyable; and
  • Our communities can provide residential and work environments that are safe, attractive and desirable.

While most of their charitable giving (which is in the millions) toward education is for post secondary scholarships and such, young children benefit from their giving to United Way and other community and cultural recipients.

Larry Langford and upcoming elections

What can I say. I wrote about Al LaPierre’s plea agreement yesterday on Examiner. Langford’s spin is that this will help him, so it’s business as usual for him.

He says the city needs to fix the bus system, or start over.

Here is the future of the Birmingham bus system, as envisioned by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (h/t to Jay). No mention of this by Langford in the article, by the way. Of course, it wasn’t one of his grandiose ideas.

After watching that I wonder (?) why don’t we have people with an eye on the future in our city government? Why do we elect people who are tied to the past? I love what my friend said the other day, that the past should be a light post, not a hitching post.

I hate that Birmingham is about to get another black eye when the mayor goes on trial. I hate that this is tied to the troubles of Jefferson County, which is sinking faster than the Titanic. What business in their right mind would want to locate in the city or county with what is going on? What family would want to move here?

There is a great opportunity in Birmingham for a new kind of leadership, and city elections are coming up next month. Let’s hope that the voters of Birmingham look for young leaders or at least leaders with young ideas that can change the vision from looking backward to looking forward.

The same holds true for Bessemer. Next year we have city elections and will elect a council and mayor. We need new people on our council and a new mayor to project our city into the future. The people of Bessemer and surrounding communities are so disgruntled that only 8 percent voted in the recent special election. We need candidates that excite us.

Oh, and aren’t County Commission elections next year also. Please, please, voters, replace them all. I don’t care if your favorite commissioner has been on the right side of the bankruptcy argument or the McCalla controversy or what. They are all tainted.

>Western Tribune Column November 19 2008

November 19, 2008

>This is my column from today’s Western Tribune.

What a mixed bag of emotions the gay community is feeling after the election. A president-elect who believes in equality, and the negating of established marriage rights in California, often thought to be the most liberal state in the nation.

Civil rights did not come easy for African Americans, and this setback will not stop the progression toward equality for gays.

For starters, the Democratic National Platform calls for passage of the employment non-discrimination act, which will prevent employees from losing their jobs because of their sexual orientation, as well as inclusion of sexual identity in hate crimes legislation.

We will also see the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell,” the exclusionary policy that prevents gay and lesbian servicepersons from serving openly, in spite of the fact that they have served in our armed forces since day one, probably by your side or in your foxhole if you are a veteran.

But full equality will not be recognized until same sex couples can receive the same benefits that married heterosexuals do. There are over 1000 rights that come with civil marriage.

Since the passage of Prop 8 in California, huge protests have occurred across the nation. This repeal of established rights has left many wondering who is next. Will they try to take away the right of interracial couples to marry? Apparently all it takes is a vote to remove people’s rights. What about the right of Jews to worship? That could be gone with a vote in California. What a dangerous precedent for that state and our nation.

But the one positive thing that has happened as a result is the mobilization of the gay community across the nation. Our country will not be at full strength until we recognize the value and equality of all of our citizens. Fortunately, this mobilization comes as we are looking forward to working with a President who believes in equality.

Barack Obama may not immediately grant all of our wishes, but I would be willing to bet that the first legislation that mentions sexual orientation to be passed and signed by a president will occur within the first year of his administration.

And then we will be on the way to a nation that values each of its citizens.

>Western Tribune Column November12 2008

November 12, 2008

>Here is my column from today’s Western Star. After this was written, and after I posted this, I heard from others who were not treated right by Obama supporters. But in no way is this critical of the Obama and his team, rather it is critical of local supporters who seemed to forget why we have elections and have no idea what Obama’s call for unity means.


Approximately 53 % of Americans voted for Barack Obama for president, but an even greater number have expressed confidence that race relations will improve as a result of his election. Sixty seven per cent described their reaction to his election as optimistic, and 59% as proud, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll.

Some Obama supporters in Bessemer must not have gotten the memo.

At Obama’s headquarters in Bessemer, and at locations across the nation, volunteers worked day and night to organize, register new voters and get the vote out on Election Day.

On Election Day, when everyone is encouraged to vote, Obama volunteers treated white voters with disrespect at the Thompson Manor polling place. One person I know was called a “white devil” and a “honkey” as he was leaving the polling place by a volunteer who was passing out Obama flyers. And my own daughter, a strong Obama supporter who was among the first to vote that morning, faced angry stares and words from Obama supporters as well.

Of course there are bad apples in every bunch. But those who would verbally attack people at the voting booth obviously are not interested in building coalitions and working in a united way to solve the problems of our community and our nation. I advise them to listen to the president-elect’s victory speech, in which he urged us to “resist the temptation to fall back on the same pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.” He quoted Lincoln, who told a divided nation that “we are not enemies, but friends.” And he called for the support of those who did not vote for him.

The unity our next president seeks may be difficult to achieve when some who support him treat those who they assume oppose him with contempt.

Before the election I called for support for whoever the next president would be because the problems of our country are so great. An African American supporter of Obama in Nevada told me “in unity there is power.” And it will take a powerful president to lead this country out of the mess we are in.

If the angry Obama supporters who targeted white voters want our president to be successful, they need to be working to bring people together rather than pulling people apart. Healing our nation begins in our own community.

>One More Day

November 3, 2008

>Today is a busy day. More about that tomorrow.

Here’s something from the Barack Obama campaign staff.

Le MizBarack

And here is another Les Miz song for Barack.

And finally, here’s an unlikely endorsement of Barack Obama.

Call your friends today and tomorrow and remind them to vote.