Archive for the ‘Western Tribune’ Category

>Ding Dong

October 23, 2008

>I tell you what. I will be Dorothy. We will let Dale Jones of The Western Star be the Wicked Witch of the West (ern Star). Now I realize the song is about the death of the Wicked Witch of the East…but… after the Wicked Witch of the West was killed later in the movie, there was supposed to be a reprise of the song sung by the Winkies (beginning with Hail Hail the Witch is Dead). But this scene was cut from the film, and the film footage of it was lost. Yada yada… Anyway, let’s pretend!

“It really was no miracle what happened was just this
The wind began to switch, the house to hitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch
Just then the witch, to satisfy an itch, went flying on his broomstick thumbing for a hitch
And oh, what happened then was rich…

Let the joyous news be spread, the wicked old witch at last is dead
Ding dong the witch is dead (Which old witch) the wicked witch.”

Of course Dale Jones is not dead, and I wouldn’t wish that on him. But, as he announced in this week’s Western Star, he is moving into another chapter in his life. And his policies, which I list below, are dead. Maybe.

He also writes about having brought the newspaper “back to the basics.” I guess going back to the basics includes cutting out such things as…news…because the paper went from a 24 page weekly to a 16 page weekly. Basics also included plagiarism, printing inaccuracies about homosexuality and printing inaccuracies about the War in Iraq. Oh and don’t forget unethical printing of letters.

So being relieved of Dale Jones helps the city of Bessemer by raising our standards. Well, I guess that depends on who replaces him.

Let’s see, the editor leaves? A reporter in handcuffs? Front page “In the News” that is “old news” and was reported in last weeks Western Tribune?

Just stick to The Western Tribune for up to date stories about local news, and the best in local columnists…including Sandy Miranda, Hank Tyler, Chuck Rackley, Nancy Hartzog and Chef Francois Buffon and Pastor Doug O’Brien as well as yours truly. Gee, we have more local columnists, local ownership. It’s like…we are… The Local Paper!!!

>Western Tribune Column October 15 2008

October 16, 2008

>My Western Tribune column from October 15, 2008

McCain’s ace in hole turns out a joker

The John McCain campaign was a hand of cards just waiting to fold under the up swell of support that Barack Obama expected after his acceptance speech in Denver. But McCain chose Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, in hopes that her experience in the Governor’s office and her fundamental Christian beliefs would excite Republicans as well as attract independents.

That strategy worked, as long as American voters were kept uninformed about her. Over time, we have learned a lot, and I could produce a long list of misstatements and missteps that she made, but the ethics violation announced on Friday trumps them all.

A bipartisan Alaska legislative panel found Palin in violation of the state ethics law. The statute says that holding office is a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal interest is a violation of that trust. In common language, she abused her power as an executive officer of the state.

Sarah Palin has been hammering the voters with questions about Barack Obama in an attempt to cast doubts on his trustworthiness. Now that she has been shown to have violated the public trust, should she be casting stones at Obama?

In past weeks Palin has claimed that her executive experience has prepared her to lead the country. Now, when we think about her executive experience, we are reminded of her abuse of power. Do we really want to send someone to Washington with that record after enduring eight years of Dick Cheney?

Moving up the ticket to John McCain, questions have been raised about his judgment. Barack Obama highlighted this argument effectively during the second debate when he questioned McCain’s judgment in voting for the war in Iraq.

Now we can really question his judgment in choosing his vice presidential pick. The investigation was authorized in July, well before he announced his choice. He or his staff had to know that the investigation was underway.

McCain is known to be a gambler, but why would a candidate take a risk with the most important decision he makes during his campaign? What does it tell us about the kind of forethought that might go into his selections for cabinet members?

McCain’s ace in the hole has turned out to be a joker, and it’s time for the voters to call his hand.

>Sandy Miranda

October 8, 2008

>I want to welcome Sandy Miranda to The Western Tribune. Her first column was in this week’s paper. Will she be “a progressive” and earn a spot on Bessemer Opinions as well? Time will tell, but for now, here is her first column. Why don’t you email her and let her know your opinions? She’s asking.

For women only: Well, men can take a look

Hello ladies! And welcome to my world. Our world, lives and problems are probably very similar no matter your race, religion, income, age or whether you worship Alabama or Auburn.

It just so happens I live in your neighborhood and have for more than 23 years.

We’ve probably passed one another at the supermarket, cheered together at the ballpark, or shared the same pew at church.

Hopefully, God willing and planets aligned, I will be writing about issues we care about and understand, explaining issues we care about but don’t understand.

Things like the job, the home, child care, teenagers, elder care, friendships, relationships, marriage, divorce, our bodies, our looks, our mental and emotional as well as physical health.

And of course, every column will include the fun stuff – fashion, home and garden, make-up, hair, travel and so on…just not all at the same time.

The thing I look forward to the most however, is interacting with you, the reader.
Your questions and opinions are the inspiration for columns like this one.

I’m sure sometimes we will agree and sometimes disagree but boy, wouldn’t it be a boring world if everyone always thought and supported the exact same things?

Through this column I hope to expand your view of the world, inspire you to bigger and better things, give you tips to make your life easier and healthier, make you laugh, and occasionally make you cry.

So this is for you, my sisters.

But also, encourage your man to read it. There are going to be things guys should know. It might even make their lives a tiny bit easier.

I’m sure we are going to be great friends, girls. Maybe not after you read this first column, but in truth, I hope you do come back and keep coming and keep coming. Because I hope my column not only entertains you, but educates you, infuriates you and makes you laugh, not always in that order, of course.

The column is about women, women’s issues, mom’s issues, career women’s issues, any issues involving the female sex. It is about young and old, teen and middle age, every religion and every race.
Conservative? Liberal? Yep, you are welcome here as well.

Through the next few months we will agree and disagree. I can promise you that.
I can also promise if you are the type of person who spouts opinions without facts, or if you make racist, cultural, catty, mean-spirited remarks, they too will be addressed.

But you probably will not like my response to such remarks.

There’s no room in my column for mudslinging over gossipy, unproven fairy tales.

But there is ENDLESS room for heartfelt, intelligent, opinions and stories.

So to get the ball rolling, I say let’s start out with the biggest ball we can find. I’m talking about the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin. And I would like for you to provide some answers to the following questions and submit your responses on this hotter-than-fire topic:

1. Do you believe Sarah Palin was the correct choice as John McCain’s running mate?

2. Are you familiar with Sarah Palin’s family background?

3. Are you familiar with her political qualifications for the job?

4. Do you think that if should something happen to McCain, Palin could step into his shoes and become president of the United States of America?

5. In your opinion, compare Sarah Palin with Hillary Clinton.

6. Most important, did you watch the debate?

Whew. I can feel the heat already. Let’s get started ladies.

You may address your letter or emails to or

>Western Tribune Column October 8 2008

October 8, 2008

>Welcome to Banking’s Musical Chairs

It makes you wonder: Who’s buying Wachovia? Maybe by the time this is printed we will know in this dizzying version of musical chairs.

First it was a solid bank. But it seems it was just waiting in line, as if only one financial institution per day could announce trouble. By the time Wachovia’s turn came around, they already had a suitor. They even had the help of the Feds, as the FDIC supposedly brokered the deal.

I didn’t think much about it at the time, but I thought the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was in the business of insuring our deposits. Who knew they were brokers as well?

So the first deal was with Citigroup. Now Wells Fargo says they are buying Wachovia. Or part of it, who knows?

Wells Fargo? Do they transport their money in stagecoaches? In competition with the Pony Express?

Regardless of what my bank is called next week, or next month, I have a suggestion. I see that the Wachovia branch near UAB West on 9th Avenue is scheduled to close in November. The next day, the branch at Colonial Promenade Tannehill is opening.

What makes them think that the people who live near the Bessemer Super Highway will drive all the way to McCalla to cash a check? And do the many businesses near Academy Drive want to send employees that far to make their daily deposits?

Bessemer is large enough to have three branches of the bank with the largest presence in the city. I can just see the little stagecoaches triangulating the city.

One thing I feel sure about. The money we have in banks here in Alabama is safe. State banking officials have said so, and I believe them. And congress and the president are enacting the largest rescue in history. No need to run to the ATM machine.

Opinions vary on the rescue, and no one offering an opinion, including myself, has all the information they would need to predict whether the bailout will really stop the bleeding or prevent it from happening again.

But most people do believe that without it, things might get worse as far as credit and financing goes. And with a little luck, the bailout will turn into a profitable gamble, making us taxpayers some money.

Not that we would see any of it, but that’s no surprise, is it?

>Western Tribune Column September 17 2008

September 17, 2008

>What an odd day September 11 turned out to be. Of course the anniversary (for lack of a better word) of the 2001 terrorist attacks brought memories of where we were when the attacks occurred and replays of television footage of the World Trade Center being hit.

We were later reminded that President Bush’s advice to the American people following 9/11 was to go shopping, by presidential candidates who say we should have been called to service instead. But wait, that’s a little too close to being a community organizer, so we see why the Republican president wouldn’t recommend that.

After the attacks Americans were brought together for a brief period and we were reminded of this by Senators McCain and Obama coming together at ground zero in New York to honor the dead by talking with their families and tossing flowers into a reflecting pool.

Maybe just slightly less significant was the coming together of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, who met outside Clinton’s Harlem office, spoke with reporters, then went inside for a two hour lunch meeting.

Clinton said he would do “whatever I’m asked to do” to help Obama get elected, then predicted the Democrat “will win and win handily.”

Meanwhile John McCain is hoping the current president will not do anything to help him, since he is trying to deny he is running for Bush’s third term, in spite of agreeing with current president 90% of the time. As Al Gore said, “Hey, I believe in recycling, but this is ridiculous.”

The alignment of the stars that produced this temporary truce in campaigning also allowed Sarah Palin to be interviewed by the media. She showed herself more than ready to continue the policies of war hungry Bush, in spite of a complete lack of understanding of the Bush Doctrine which she equated to his world view.

Her answers did nothing to assure America that she could be commander in chief.

For instance, when asked “What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state (Alaska) give you?” her reply was “They’re our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.”

I feel safer already.

>Home from Denver: Fired up, ready to go

September 17, 2008

>My friend and representative in Montgomery, Priscilla Dunn, wrote this column which appeared in The Western Tribune Wednesday. This is the best account of Denver that I have read. Thanks, Priscilla.

Home from Denver: Fired up, ready to go

“A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama.”

When Sen. Hillary Clinton opened her remarks at the Democratic Convention with these words, she was speaking for me and perhaps you, too. I traveled to Denver as one of those honored to serve as a delegate for this great lady. I’m just as honored to return home to Alabama convinced that, for our families and our future, Barack Obama and Joe Biden represent the best hope for a better tomorrow.

For those of you who know little about how political conventions work, it is fair to say there is a big celebration at the central convention hall surrounded by a constellation of constant food, policy discussions, and entertainment in every corner of the host city. Delegates learn and laugh together, and I for one came home fired up and ready to go.

But I must admit, while the cuisine and panel discussions were all great fun, I’m always more impressed by what goes on at the convention itself. One thing is abundantly clear every time I attend these extended “family reunions” — the Democratic Party truly looks and sounds like the America I see each day in Alabama.

I think of the values of our nominee for vice-president, Sen. Joe Biden. Here’s a man who lost his daughter and wife to tragedy days after being elected to office. For decades, he traveled home from Washington, D.C., to Delaware every single night to be with his sons and, later when he remarried, his wife and daughter. In his father’s advice, “Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up.”

I hear the echoes of my own parents telling me that success comes from facing adversity head on.

I think of how Michelle Obama, who spoke with such clarity and conviction, reminds me of the strong, self-assured women I see every day at my church and in my neighborhood. When she said, “I come here as a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world … their future and all our children’s future is my stake in this election,” my mind turned to my own family, and why I am so committed to staying involved in the political process.

I think of the surprising support that was on display there on stage even from Republicans.
Former GOP congressman Jim Leach described Obama as, “an individual whom I am convinced will recapture the American dream and be a truly great president.” And I will never forget the average citizen and self-described life-long Republican Barney Smith who spoke to the perils of corporate excess that leaves workers behind, saying, “We need a president who puts the Barney Smiths before the Smith Barneys.”

I think about the discussion of issues that impact real people, and proposals to address the challenges head on. One after another, speakers talked about things that matter — fixing an economy that is clearly in a recession, addressing our dependence of foreign oil, providing health care for all Americans, and bringing our brave troops home safely from harm’s way.

I think about the charge our nominee handed us at the end of his remarks, saying, “America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend.”

That is his vision for the future, and it is mine as well. No cheap shots and lies. No hokey smoke screens or cynical decision making. No political posturing to divert attention from a bankrupt agenda that looks exactly like the last eight years.

Democrats see work to be done, and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves, accept a call for shared sacrifice, and move this nation forward together.

So, I remain a proud mother, a proud Democrat, a proud American, and a proud supporter of Barack Obama.

>Western Tribune Column September 10…Community Organizers

September 11, 2008

>Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin made sarcastic, demeaning remarks about community organizers last week at their party’s national convention, and the Republican crowd loved it, cheering for several minutes as they realized a new way to belittle Barack Obama, because of work he did soon after college.

The Republicans ‘comments inaccurately portray the work done by legions of volunteers and paid organizers who work to improve the lives of others in their communities.

People like Elvira Kidd. Elvira has been involved in community activities for decades, and is an advocate for education. Most recently she is leading the Bessemer Neighborhood Association whose latest project involves getting dangerous trucks off of Dartmouth Avenue.

Or Erica Young. Erica has led a successful effort to transform an abandoned school yard into a community garden by bringing individuals, civic groups, institutions and corporations together. Jonesboro Community Garden can be used as a site for education as well as a place for a relaxing stroll.

And a local woman who shall remain nameless who helps find housing for abused or other women (and men) who need shelter and a little time to get back on their feet.

There’s Isabelle Rubio, who works with the Hispanic community and who, because of the trust she has gained, was able to work as a liaison between cautious Hispanics and law enforcement officials in the investigation of a gruesome murder scene recently in which five men were tortured and murdered.

And David Nicholls who is trying his best to save Arlington School in Bessemer, and is assembling a team of people to complete a project started a decade ago; the designation of Bessemer’s south side as a historic district.

These are the people who, in most cases without government assistance, make our communities a better place to live. None of these people hold the title of community organizer, yet that is the role they are playing.

To listen to the Republicans, the services these people provide are worthless. But as citizens of this and surrounding communities know, they are priceless. And while no one says their experiences alone would qualify them to be president, the organizational skills and compassion required are qualities that we need to see in our leaders.

What we don’t need is a president and vice president who offer little help and even less support to those who are less fortunate than themselves.

>Western Tribune Column September 3, 2008

September 3, 2008

>An American flag flies in front of my house. At times over the last eight years, I have contemplated taking it down or even flying it upside down because in truth, our country is in a state of emergency under the Bush presidency.

But the flag has flown because like Barack Obama, I will not allow Republicans to lay claim to patriotism, and the historic event of Obama’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination for president shows us that Democrats in general feel that way as well.

Martin Luther King’s Dream is shared by all Americans, although there are still those who want nothing of it. But the days of division are ending. Hateful, divisive politics will not be part of his campaign.

In fact Democrats have fully embraced diversity and now have a candidate that represents a minority that was legally discriminated against a generation ago. This is remarkable.

Inspired by Barack Obama, millions of Americans, young and old, black, brown and white, gay and straight, have joined or returned to the political process, because they have found a leader who believes in the American Dream. The Dream, which has all but been destroyed by the Republican Party, will once again be within reach with a leader who believes in that dream.
But the Dream, or the prospect of it, means nothing without economic security, energy independence, national security and national pride.

With the latest Gallup poll showing that 81% of us believe the country is on the wrong track, it is clear that changes in those areas are a must. And with John McCain embracing the policies of the Bush years and voting along those lines 90% of the time, we cannot expect change from him.

Obama outlined the changes that would be seen during his administration in his address last week. They are significant and address all of the issues mentioned above and more.

McCain’s pick of a likeminded woman , Alaska governor Sarah Palin, as his running mate does nothing to indicate he embraces change of any type. It does, however, insult millions of Hillary Clinton supporters who knew that their candidate stood with them on the issues and was ready to assume the role of commander in chief.

Conclusion: With Obama’s acceptance of the nomination new realizations are sweeping across America.

You can be a Democrat and love this country.

You can be gay and be a part of the American Dream.

You can be African American and be President of the United States.

>Western Tribune Column and Olympics

August 20, 2008

>Be sure to read the post below this one about Henry Cejudo, winner of Gold.

Everyone in the world must be happy for Shawn Johnson after her performance on the balance beam. Wow. She has been a delight to watch throughout the Olympics, her ever present smile (except those rare instances when she is wondering what she could have done differently to get a gold instead of a silver).

I mention her and Nastia Liukin, along with swimmers Michael Phelps and Kirsti Coventry, in this column which was written before the four athletes had completed their events, and I am just as impressed with all of them as I thought I would be.

How about Kirsty Coventry, winning 3 silvers and a gold, representing her native Zimbabwe. Coventry is one of many swimmers who attend or attended Auburn University, and in fact, said her decision to attend Auburn was the best decision of her life. Read about the Auburn swimmers here, in the B’ham News. And here, on Auburn’s Olympian’s page. Auburn’s 2008 Olympians represent Australia, Bahamas, Croatia, Brazil, Jamaica, Hungary, Trinidad and Tobago, Zimbabwe, France and United States.

What a boost for the Auburn swimming program.

I have inserted a video about John Stephen Ahkwari, which, of course, was not in the paper.

Western Tribune Column

Since childhood I have been a huge fan of the Olympics. I remember as a teenager donating money to the U.S. Olympic team and receiving Olympic belt buckles in return.

Olympic athletes were my role models. Athletes such as Tanzania’s John Stephen Ahkwari, who, after finishing the marathon in 1968 an hour and a half behind the winner, bloodied and bandaged, explained why he kept going, saying, “You don’t understand. My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start a race; they sent me to finish it.”

And Mark Spitz, who though disappointed in his 1968 performance (two team golds, a silver and a bronze), returned to the Olympics in 1972 and won 7 gold medals.

Now we have new stars to watch. And for young people, athletes such as gymnasts Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson, and swimmers such as Michael Phelps and Kirsty Coventry, show what determination and perseverance can lead to.

There are news reports of how kids (and adults) are responding with increased interest in swimming and gymnastics. While this is good, and may actually do something to get kids away from the video games and allow for some physical activity, the story as reported is not complete.
Children watching in Bessemer may want to swim or tumble, but without the facilities to do such, they are left behind. While we do have a YMCA with a pool and gym most families in Bessemer cannot afford to be members. Kids might have a dream, but they have to wake up and face their own reality long before that dream is realized.

The Olympics also remind us of the differences in cultures, and none are more striking than those between the United States and the host country, China. Our society has an individualist mentality and theirs has a collective mentality. In their society, if you have talent, and are chosen, you will be set on the path to a gold medal. And you learn to accept your role because it is what is best for society.

In our country, in spite of our individualist leanings, it really does “take a village” to raise a child. But the villagers in Bessemer decided years ago to fill in the public pool here to avoid integration. Because of past racism, local kids have not had the opportunities that others might have.

It’s time for a change. It’s time for the villagers in Bessemer to find a way to provide a recreation center and swimming pool for our children.

>Western Tribune column August 13

August 13, 2008

>This column from today’s paper is about the sewer crisis. FYI, today there will be a “public hearing” in Bessemer about the status of the sewer deal. This ought to be interesting.

Hosted by
Commissioners Bobby Humphreys & Jim Carnes

A public hearing will be held on
Wednesday, August 13
7 p.m
Bessemer Civic Center

The reference to “encyclopedia” in the column refers to a letter printed in last week’s Tribune from Dr. Doug Smith of Bessemer, who recommended an encyclopedia to check my facts regarding drilling for oil. Of course he offered no facts of his on. This is the same right winger who compared me to Neville Chamberlain, and to which I defended my opinions here.

Western Tribune column

I sometimes comment on Larry Langford even though he is not my mayor because he is so funny.

For instance, asking for the price of a Cadillac Escalade and then throwing a two year old hissy fit when questioned about it. “I resent how we focus on the mundane and the stupid…” he said. Like Olympics in Birmingham, perhaps?

And now that Langford is no longer on the Jefferson County Commission, I rarely comment about them either, other than Bettye Fine Collins. She sometimes deserves special attention. Like when she commented on our new courthouse, “Why in the world are we building a $100 million deal in Bessemer?”

But this commission is costing me, and you, a lot of money.

Things may change before this is printed, but as it stands now the commission wants Governor Riley to call a special session so legislators could enact their latest scheme that would raise taxes and extend them for a long, long time. I think the three commissioners who favor this plan are hoping the increased taxes will be blamed on the legislature and voters and not themselves. Sly.

Bankruptcy is the other option. Alabama pension fund chief David Bronner has proposed the county file bankruptcy on the system, and let Retirement Systems of Alabama (or another entity) buy it for a couple of billion dollars. Creditors would still be in the hole for over one billion dollars, but could pursue money from the bond insurers.

But, no new taxes for residents.

The commission has been dodging payments for months and has dangled gambling (which, if you think about it, is what got the county into this mess) and pilfering (the school tax) as a solution, but those did not fly.

I sure don’t have a solution but there is one plan they haven’t considered yet. Develop a “sewage to bio-diesel” program, modify county vehicles to run on it, and use the money saved to pay down the debt.

According to an “Encyclopedia” (which apparently is the only source of information some people understand), I have learned that the Department of Energy says algae grown on sewage retention ponds yields 30 times more energy per acre than soybeans. And next month’s Popular Mechanics magazine, while not mentioning sewage, has an article that says several “algae to fuel” facilities are scheduled to come on line by 2012.

Now if we can just do something about that exhaust.