Archive for the ‘Ron Sparks’ Category

>Dr. Robert Bentley and taxes

September 17, 2010

>Has Robert Bentley read the Alabama constitution? Has he even looked at how money is generated for the state?

When asked if the burden of taxation unfairly targets the poor last night, he said “No.”

This is not new. In 2008 when the Alabama legislature was considering removing sales tax from groceries, Bentley defended Alabama’s regressive taxes.

“They (the people of Alabama) have a right to pay the taxes they will pay.”

That is his explanation?

Alabama boasts the lowest taxes in the nation.

Trouble is, the poor shoulder the burden.

The 1901 Alabama Constitution was written with that in mind, and no one has been willing to do anything about it in the 109 years since. What this means is that people don’t care. Or not enough people.

If they cared, something would have been done. But the Robert Bentley’s of the state enjoy low taxation, heck I think Ron Sparks pointed out that Bentley himself only paid $4000 in income tax on an income of $200,000 of income. Sparks paid almost $12,000 on an income of $79,000.

Bentley was also trying to scare people into voting for him, claiming that under Health Care Reform there would be no physicians in the state in 10 years. What a crock. Sparks pointed out that Bentley, like so many others, has not read the bill, and its obvious. Here’s a challenge. Before voting for Bentley because he says he will fight the federal government, based on the 10th amendment and that tired old state’s rights (Jim Crow, Slavery) argument, read the bill. Educate yourselves about it. And quit telling, and believing, lies.

Here’s the deal in a broader sense about teabaggers like Bentley. They cannot tell the truth. They make stuff up, like Bentley’s comment about healthcare. Take teabggin’ darlin’ Christine O’Donnell, winner of the Delaware GOP primary, on stem-cell research.

“They are — they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific
companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with
fully functioning human brains. So they’re already into this experiment.”

Actually she may have something there.

Summer’s about over and that means the dog days are about over.

Florence and the Machine: Dog Days are Over.

>Ron Sparks on today’s election

July 13, 2010

>This is a first. I am blogging from my cell phone, at Thompson Manor in Bessemer, where crossover voting is not occuring. Democrat ballots are running 5 to 1 Republican as of 2:00 this afternoon.

I just received an email from Ron Sparks about today’s election. Here it is, in part:

Today the Republican Party will choose its nominee to oppose us this fall.  I want you to know where I stand in that race and on the issues.  No matter who wins the Republican primary, Alabamians will have a clear choice in the governor’s race.  Both Republican candidates could not be more different from me.

I am the candidate who has created the most jobs for Alabama.  As a direct result of my leadership at the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, Alabama is the leading exporter of timber and poultry to Cuba which alone added $350 million into the pockets of Alabamians.  I also opened the first Alabama trade office in India, led the first Alabama economic trade delegation to Africa, and led a delegation to South America to study their great success at generating and utilizing alternative fuels.I am convinced that if every single person in Alabama learns of the success we’ve had growing jobs in agriculture, our state’s biggest industry, I’ll be elected Governor!

I am convinced that if every single person in Alabama learns of the success we’ve had growing jobs in agriculture, our state’s biggest industry, I’ll be elected Governor!

I am also the only person in this race who supports an education lottery that will send our kids to college, will keep them from moving to other states, and will pay for pre-k for our four year olds. Both Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley oppose a lottery and would ban all gaming in Alabama — further weakening our economy.

>Ron Sparks showing leadership on the oil spill

June 18, 2010

>After Ron Sparks trounced Artur Davis I wrote a column outlining what the candidate needs to do to win the election in November. I made sure the campaign was aware of my suggestions.

One of my suggestions was about the oil spill:

He needs to develop a consistent and sound policy about the disaster on the
Gulf Coast. This will be a major focus of the next governor’s term, and Sparks
can tie his plan for saving the coast with his successful promotion of
international trade, particularly with Cuba, without “politicizing” the

Sparks listened. Or maybe he’s just already on top of things. As Agriculture Commissioner, he has an interest and a responsibility in dealing with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its effect on Alabama.

He wrote a letter to President Obama before the president’s latest visit to our state, outlining the devastation that is taking place on our coast and the ways Alabama workers and families are being affected. He also pointed out several of BP’s inadequacies in their response, and he listed several items that would enhance BP’s payments of claims. Finally he recommended the appointment of Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy and former governor of Mississippi, to head a task force in the region.

He got tough with the President:

Mr. President, with the economic livelihood and emotional well-being of
thousands of Alabamians already being affected – and with more devastation
to come — we have no choice but to demand that you take clear and concrete
action to address BP’s ineffectual and deficient response to the Deepwater
Horizon Oil Spill.

Then the President visited. And later gave his first Oval Office Speech.

Sparks responded to that as well:

I am heartened by President Obama’s remarks tonight, particularly the
appointment of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to head up an unprecedented
program for the recovery of the Gulf Coast states. Yesterday, I met with
President Obama and I handed him a letter requesting greater speed and
efficiency for paying claims to Gulf Coast residents and asking for the
appointment of Secretary of the Navy Mabus to oversee clean-up operations. I
want to thank President Obama for his leadership in coming down to the Gulf
Coast and listening to state and local officials and the people on the ground.
There’s no doubt in my mind that by the President coming down to the Gulf Coast
and seeing the hurt and the pain of the people here that I feel confident help
is on the way.

Sparks had already shown his concern and his resolve in dealing with the tragedy, having said this when the oil first began reaching Alabama shores:

“The catastrophe has begun. Photos of oil on Gulf Shores’ beaches
make me sick and I fear this is the beginning destruction of a way of life in
south Alabama. I pledge with every ounce of the fight in me, I will make
BP pay for all damage they do to our state. And they will not stop paying
until our state, our beaches, our wildlife and our seafood industry are made
whole again.”

We need a governor who is on top of things, who knows the industries (remember, Ron Sparks, as Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, has his name on every gas pump in our state), and who can work with the President and federal authorities and not against them in the recovery effort.

We need Ron Sparks as governor.

So, what’s going on at the beach?

Everyday, Bruce at the Beach posts a video from Orange Beach. Yesterday he posted this one about a sea turtle who laid her eggs and what was done so save them from the beach activity. Notice, though, that the sands are still sugar white and the water that inviting pale green color. Who’s up for a visit to the Gulf Coast?

>How Ron Sparks will win in November

June 7, 2010

>People aren’t giving Democratic nominee Ron Sparks much of a chance to win in November, regardless of who his opponent is.

I disagree. Not that it’s going to be easy. But there are things Sparks can do, and there are factors that people aren’t considering.

First of all, why believe the polls?

They were wrong, oh, so wrong, about the primary election with their predictions of a Davis win and a poor Sparks showing. Ron Sparks proved them wrong.

Or, should I say, the voters proved them wrong.

So, ignore all future polling data on this race.

Of course, we don’t know who the Republican candidate will be.

We don’t know how much crossing over will take place in the runoff.

We don’t know if the Republican Party will accept the results. They could screw up like the Democrats did in 1986 (Graddick/Baxley).

Now, consider a few things.

Republicans love to gamble. They bet on the Alabama/Auburn game. They buy lottery tickets in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and other states. They travel to Silverstar in Philadelphia, Mississippi and to Biloxi to the Casinos there.

They might not be crazy about Milton McGregor, but they love to gamble.

Trouble is, many are in the closet. They don’t want the people who sit on their pew at the Baptist Church to know they play the slots. Or the tables.

So they gamble on the downlow.

And put a Byrne or James or Bentley sign in their front yard.

But when they go into that voting booth, they could easily fill in the Ron Sparks oval rather than the Bradley Byrne/Robert Bentley/Tim James choice. The voter knows that their ballot is secret. They can vote to allow the regulation of gambling in this state, to allow the state to reap the benefits of gambling rather than sending all those dollars to Mississippi and Florida.

Conventional wisdom (and a lot of people) tells us that Alabama Black voters wanted Artur Davis to learn a lesson. That you don’t take them for granted. Conventional wisdom might also tell us that the voters feel they have done just that, and that they won’t be excited to come back out in November to vote for Sparks.

But I’ve spoken with a number of Blacks in the Bessemer area and not one has led me to believe that they will sit at home in November. Sparks will hold on to that support.

Ron Sparks needs to do three things. Everyone now knows that he is the only pro-gambling candidate.

1. He needs to stress his views on ethics reform. Summarized at Left in Alabama is this editorial Sparks wrote last year about ethics and restoring trust in state government. The highlights:

  • Ban PAC-to-PAC transfers
  • Campaign contributions will be transparent, clearly identifying the individual contributor
  • Federal “office holder” fund transfers to State campaigns will have the same transparency
  • Lobbyists will report “every penny”
  • Lobbying the Executive Branch will have the same transparency, and lobbyists will be required to register

Please read the entire editorial.

2. He needs to develop a consistent and sound policy about the disaster on the Gulf Coast. This will be a major focus of the next governor’s term, and Sparks can tie his plan for saving the coast with his successful promotion of international trade, particularly with Cuba, without “politicizing” the disaster.

3. Every other word out of his mouth should be “jobs”. He has worked in a factory. He has promoted jobs in agriculture during his two statewide elected terms as Agriculture Commissioner. The Democrats brought in the automakers. Yes they did. Autoworkers know that the Democratic governors have been pro – their industry. Teachers should know that the Democrats support them (and that the Democrats in Washington are saving their jobs).

Ron Sparks can win in November. The issues that Alabama cares about are not how strongly a candidate believes in science, or in God, or in both, or how many guns a Governor totes. But even for the gun toting, beer drinking, hunting and fishing voters of the state, Sparks is their buddy.

With Ron Sparks’ Black support and pro-ethics reform and gambling and good ole boy identity and union/workers support we can look forward to taking the Governor’s mansion in November.

But we won’t take anything or anyone for granted. Artur Davis taught us that.

>What we learned yesterday

June 2, 2010

>Where to start after yesterday’s primary election?

I’ve not spent 13 hours at a polling place since my own campaign on election day 4 years ago. Those of us making a last minute effort to influence voters had a good day at Thompson Manor in Bessemer.

Do we do any good by handing out ballots or candidate info to people on their way in to vote?

Who knows, But in a close race, when there are many races on the ballot, a voter might be coming to the poll in strong support of only one candidate in a single race, and really not decided on the other races, so we pass out our literature in hopes of gaining a vote or two.

At any rate, I think the voters of Alabama proved one thing yesterday. We are not a teabagger state.

Xenophobe Tim James seems destined to be left out of the runoff. He’s currently in third place.

Theocrat Roy Moore can ride off into the sunset on that horse he’s pictured on in today’s Birmingham News.

Racial profiler wanna-be Steve French lost. (The victor of this primary may well be a teabagger).

Laughingstock Dale Peterson lost his youtube based campaign of threat to a couple of more sensible Republicans that will face each other in a runoff.

Teabagger-come-lately Parker Griffith lost his Republican bid for the seat that Democrats gave him 4 years ago. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, and it’s not nice to fool Democrats either, Griffith. (His replacement leans teabag).

As for the Governor’s race, the only surprise on the Democrat side was the margin of the Ron Sparks win over “throw ’em (both gays and blacks, other wise known as “your base”) under the bus” Artur Davis.

Davis’ vote against the health care bill has to go down down as one of the biggest political errors in Alabama history. Pundits are downplaying it, while every single black person I spoke with, and there were many, said that vote sealed the deal against him. Whoever advised him to vote that way (surely he didn’t come up with that himself, heck, he’s got a Harvard education! after all), should be fired. Oh wait, they don’t have a job now anyway, do they?

On the Republican side, it is truly a gift from God if in fact it turns out that Tim James can join Roy Moore at Buck’s Pocket (many of you younger readers might not know, but Buck’s Pocket is “where all the defeated public officials go to lick their wounds after an unsuccessful election.”

In the race to replace Davis in AL-07, Terri Sewell led the pack with 31,489 votes over Sheila Smoot with 24,376 votes. Earl Hilliard, Jr. came in third with 22,939 votes. Sewell and Smoot will face each other in a runoff.

Six weeks of campaigning to go for those in runoffs. I will investigate some numbers and comment more on these and other races later.

>As Ugly As It Gets

March 22, 2010

>At least one TV in our home was on C-Span all day yesterday. That doesn’t mean I was parked in front of it all day, but I did see the good parts.

All the rhetoric that we have heard over the last 427 days (that this legislation has been worked on) will soon be forgotten. Health Care Reform will be seen to be a benefit to society and America will be a better place.

Republicans seem to think this gives them momentum, but I believe just the opposite. I am a typical Democrat, in that I support most of the policies of the party and usually vote for Democrats. And my elation this morning is profound. If I use the feeling after Barack Obama was elected as a baseline of 100, then today I am feeling a 93.

And if all Democrats in America are feeling a 93, then we will do well in November. A fringe benefit from this vote will be about 32 million votes. Democrat poll number should go up this week and continue to rise in the run up to the 2010 election.

Nancy Pelosi ended the night with her remarks on the floor of the House by smiling and giving examples of the positive ways this reform will benefit women in particular and Americans in general. Every woman in America should vote for Democrats this year after what Pelosi has done and after what Lilly Ledbetter did to advance equality. Being female is no longer a pre-existing condition.

Minority leader John Boehner screamed “Hell, no,” several times in a fit of rage.

An unidentified Republican called out “baby killer” as Bart Stupak was speaking.

(Update: I just read this tweet: “Dear Congress: Before you shout “baby killer”, remember that 5,378 babies have been killed fighting in Afghanistan/Iraq.”)

John Lewis was unfazed as Republican supporters chanted “ni**er” at him as he approached the Capitol on Saturday.

John Lewis and me at last year’s Weekend of Equality.

Let’s just say that Democrats and progressives were on the high road over the weekend, while Republicans and teabaggers were on the low road.

Shamefully, as has been the case throughout history, Alabama’s congressional delegation stood firm in their attempt to deny insurance to 32 million Americans and to prevent the Medicare donut hole from closing.

Artur Davis will be left behind as he will no longer be in office in Washington to see this reform implemented. Terri Sewell, who is seeking to replace Davis in AL-07, had this to say.

“Today’s vote brings this country a step closer to ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable quality coverage. It is important that health care reform does not end here, but that we continue to press for a public option that will ensure coverage of 100% of Americans. In Congress, I will work with President Obama to make sure that this is done,” said Sewell.

Sewell hopes to be the first black women elected to congress from Alabama. We need a woman representing Alabama. Our seven congressmen, including Davis, voted against the interests of women in the area of health care last night.

Ron Sparks wants to be governor, and said this.

“I have been on record supporting affordable health care,” said Commissioner Ron Sparks. “I am happy for the 7th District, which will finally get the assistance they desperately need and want. I have never seen a Representative so blatantly ignore the will of the people in his district like Artur Davis has done. He was elected to represent the 7th District, not the special interests, but he chose to return to Washington to vote against his constituents.”

Read what some other locals said at Left in Alabama.

>Bama – National Champs, Ron Sparks moving up

January 8, 2010

>My friend Neal made an interesting observation.

The Crimson Tide is the National Champion-but keep in mind that the Tide defeated Texas by 16 points and Florida by 19 but Auburn by a mere 5! War Damn Eagle!

Congratulations to Alabama. Many of us Auburn fans pulled for Alabama in last night’s BCS championship. Let’s see how many Alabama fans will pull for Auburn next year when we are in that game.

So Tuscaloosa developer and Bessemer developer Stan Pate paid for the banner that flew around the Rose Bowl urging impeachment of Governor Bob Riley.

Picture credit Mark Almond

While Pate’s explanation certainly holds water, his action shows a complete lack of class.

“Look, this guy is trying to shut down businesses that employ thousands of hard-working Alabamians while he’s out there for a football game on the taxpayer dollar. I think what this guy tried to do in Dothan Wednesday was an act aimed at putting Alabamians out of work, and somebody has to hold him accountable and that’s what the banner is doing.”

“Impeach corrupt Alabama Governor Bob Riley,” the banner read.

Regardless of who the governor is, when they are trying to promote our state, we should not detract from that. This was a celebratory event, even before the kickoff, and flying a banner around just seemed childish.

Oh, yeah. It was Stan Pate.

Riley will be gone soon enough. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that he will be removed from office before the regularly scheduled departure following the election this year.

The only question is, which democrat candidate will be replacing him?

Artur Davis’ popularity is falling, and Ron Sparks’ is rising. That’s not based on polling, it’s just based on listening.

Ron Sparks had the following to say about Governor Riley’s failed plan to raid Country Crossings in Dothan.

“Governor Riley’s latest attempt to shut down gaming operations at Country Crossings in Dothan, Alabama is just one more example of why the State of Alabama needs to once and for all address gaming in Alabama and pass comprehensive legislation that regulates it, controls it and taxes it.

“Bob Riley’s campaign against an industry that employs thousand of working people across the State, has already cost the Alabama taxpayers in the millions.

“Country Crossings, in the short time that it has been open, has already generated over a million dollars in revenue for Houston County as well as employing some 2,000 workers.

“Regulated and taxed gaming will create jobs and jobs will create economic prosperity in our State. This is the right path for Alabama on the gaming issue and one that I will take as Governor.”


October 21, 2009

>My Western Tribune column (same-sex marriage) follows this post.

You can waste your day but have fun keeping up with LaLa’s trial, with live continuous updates by Kyle Whitmire (Birmingham Weekly) here.

Terri Sewell, running to replace Artur Davis in AL-07, has recieved the endorsement of the National Organization for Women PAC.

This is her first national endorsement, and it highlights her support from women.

Sewell would be the first woman elected to congress from our state.

“NOW PAC is proud to endorse Terri Sewell in her groundbreaking campaign. We are confident she will be a strong leader in Congress for full equality for women and girls,” said NOW PAC Chair Terry O’Neill.

In the governor’s race, former Birmingham mayor Richard Arrington has endorsed Ron Sparks. This is surprising considering that Arrington, in his own words, “I have spent most of my life making decisons based on race.”

He says his endorsement is not anti-Davis, rather it is pro-Sparks. But he also has questions about the effect Davis at the top of the ticket might have on democrats chances down the ticket and on the control of the House and state Senate.

I giggled a little bit reading that the Davis camp said voters “will also make their own independent judgements” about who to vote for, while promoting the endorsement of their candidate by Judge U. W. Clemon. Should we make up our minds independent of his opinion, too?

Certainly, we all make independent decisions about who to vote for, I hope, after learning about the candidates and seeing if they share values and have a plan for whatever office they are running for.

>Ron Sparks video from DFA

July 23, 2009

>Left in Alabama posted a video of Ron Spark’s remarks at the DFA Social last week. Keep in mind that we were in a noisy hotel lobby next to a bar, so the sound is not perfect. Transcript follows.

Here is a transcript of the video. Emphasis is mine.

I want to be your governor. I want to be your governor because I want to lead Alabama in the right direction. I’ve laid out a plan. You know, we’ve got some tough decisions to make in Alabama.

And I can tell you right now, when I become the governor of Alabama, the first day I’m in office we’re going to start appraising your property every four years instead of every year. We’re going to take the tax off of food. And those who are making their living in gambling in the state of Alabama, we’re going to tax it. We’re going to tax it, control it and we’re going to regulate it.

And I can tell you we’re going to use that money for Medicaid, the special Education Trust Fund — put some relief on the General Fund. We’ve got some tough decisions to make in Alabama.

And I’m also going to put forth a LifeStart Education Lottery. Folks, people all around us are educating their children. We need to be educating our children, in Alabama, with Alabama dollars. And with your help, we’re going to move Alabama to the highest level it’s ever been.

I’ve won two state races. 62 out of 67 counties I’ve won in Alabama, tied two and lost three.

It’s not about me. It’s about you. It’s about the courthouses. It’s about local races. It’s about winning.

Thank y’all very much.

This is not an endorsement of Ron Sparks, by the way. It’s way too early for that.

More Support for Clinton, and a Busy December Day

December 13, 2007

I should have remembered, because I wrote these predictions in September:

Prediction # 2. Alan Keyes has filed papers and announced he is running for President.

Remember Alan, he’s the guy who called Mary Cheney a selfish hodonist.

Actually he didn’t say that, he just agreed when asked the question by Michelangelo Signorile.

Mike Signorile: “So Mary Cheney is a selfish hedonist, is that it?”

Alan Keyes: “Of course she is. That goes by definition. Of course she is.”

Anyway, back to the prediction. Alan Keyes will not win the presidency.

But I was sure surprised to hear Keyes’ voice during the republican debate yesterday. I admit, I didn’t listen to more than 15 minutes of it while driving home and then fixing my lunch, but I did see Keyes standing up on the stage with the rest of the stooges.

I still stand by that prediction: Alan Keyes will not win the presidency.

ButI learned long ago not to make bold predictions on politics or Auburn football, because one can never be sure how an election or a game against Georgia (or Mississippi State) will turn out.

But the article in the Birmingham News by Phillip Rawls today (for which there is no link at this moment) about Ron Sparks joining the Hillary Campaign makes me think that Clinton could do much better in the south, including Alabama, than people think.

While Lucy Baxley had her comments about Hillary used against her as being “too liberal for Alabama,” Sparks is being pragmatic in endorsing Clinton with the hopes that after she is elected she will work with him (as commissioner of Agriculture) and the people of Alabama. He says he feels a connection with Senator Clinton, but has had the opposite reaction from the president and his agriculture secretary. “I’ve seen no respect,” Sparks says.

There is no question that Sparks has been one of the most effective and most influential commissioners of agriculture our state has had, and this carries over to national recognition as he will become president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in June 2008.

Maybe I will meet Ron Sparks this weekend, as we will be attending a private reception with Ann Lewis (former White House Communications Director and Senior Advisor to Hillary Clinton for President), in support of Hillary. Ann Lewis has a long list of credentials and accomplishements, summed up here (wiki). She also happens to be the sister of U. S. Congressman Barney Frank. It promises to be an interesting afternoon.

Hillary could surprise a lot of people in this state, because as it becomes more apparent that her leadership, experience and knowledge are what is needed to return America to it’s position of leadership in the world, and to move our country forward on the issues that are important to us, then more Alabamians will fill in the little circle by her name (and in District 7, by my name as well, as a delegate to the convention) in February…and again in November.

Saturday will be a busy day, though, as we have three more events that evening: a Christmas Around the World party, a party congratulating a friend who is receiving his PhD from UAB in Public Health, and the Bessemer Historical Homeowner’s Association Christmas Party at Hillcrest Manor. Here is more about the home from the BHHA site.

And for today…my last final exam for this semester!!!