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The Code & the Naked Truth

According to an article by AL.com’s Jonece Starr Dunigan about a documentary by Fusion TV “The Naked Truth: Frat Power”, the University of Alabama has amended its code of conduct.

Now it’s a campus offense to interfere with “any election.”

The Code of Conduct now lists as one of the “Offenses against the University Community”:

(1) Acts of dishonesty, including, but not limited to, the following:
c. Tampering or interfering with campus, local, state, or federal elections or an individual’s right to  vote in the same, including, but not limited to, requiring someone to provide evidence of voting for a particular candidate or issue, coercing or using valuable incentives to induce an individual to vote for a particular candidate or issue, or taking detrimental actions against an individual who refuses to vote for a particular candidate or issue.

The University’s amending of its code was apparently not considered newsworthy enough to get coverage in the local media. Did it not want to acknowledge the transgressions of members of its student body?

Dunigan wrote about the Fusion TV documentary’s coverage of the alleged support by the Machine of  Cason Kirby in the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education election in August 2013. :

Kirby using incentives like limo rides to the polls and free drinks at the bars. But in order to vote, the students had to change their residency. Nerz said students did that by registering addresses of houses they didn’t live in. Kirby denied the claims during the documentary.

The losing candidate, Kelly Horowitz, accused Kirby’s campaign of voter fraud and filed a lawsuit. Nerz said the court found that 159 votes were invalid due to faulty registration. Kirby won the case because there wasn’t enough testimony from sorority members to prove Horowitz’s claims.

Horowitz said the loss taught young people how to navigate the field of politics the wrong way.

“We are educating a generation of college students, the people who should be the most idealistic about their democracy, we are instilling (incentives) and dirty tactics into their view of politics from a young, impressionable age,” Horowitz said.

UA didn’t discipline students for the alleged faulty voter registration that year, but Nerz said it did amend its code of conduct to make interfering with any election a campus offense.

Now thanks to a  documentary that was streamed on the internet people have been made aware of a hopefully successful attempt by the University to rein in its Machine.

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So it’s all come down to this?

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The situation when votes for a school board municipal election were solicited with limo rides and booze may never be reprized by the University of Alabama’s “Machine.” The University students that turned out in droves to vote in the last municipal school board election may have lost interest.

This year’s school board election, according to a well placed source, has no Machine candidates running for either the the Chair or any board member position. Cason Kirby, who defeated District Four’s Kelly Horwitz four years ago won’t run for reelection. Neither will School Board Chair Lee Garrison.

For that matter Kelly Horwitz, after a three year legal struggle to challenge the last election, will not run. Apparently the legal battle has caused both Horwitz and Kirby to lose interest.

In a  Tuscaloosa News story by Drew Taylor, Horwitz is quoted as having said, “Between putting in four years on the school board and three years in the legal battle of the election, I need to put some time and energy into my job and into my family.”

Taylor’s story gave this history of the legal battle:

After the 2013 election, questions arose regarding the legitimacy of a number of ballots that were cast. Kirby had 416 votes to 329 for Horwitz, but Horwitz claimed voter fraud occurred to get Kirby elected. She said that free drinks, concert tickets and other inducements were promised in exchange for votes. She also said that some voters falsified their residency information.

On Sept. 6, 2013, Circuit Judge Jim Roberts dismissed the case on grounds of limited evidence of Horwitz’s claims. After an appeal, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the decision, ruling that 159 ballots cast during the election should have been thrown out and that the case should receive another hearing.

On Sept. 27, Roberts dismissed the case again because Horwitz’ legal team was unable to subpoena the 159 people who cast invalid votes and question them in court. Only 40 voters testified, all of whom were students.

School Board Chair Lee Garrison, who pioneered the ploy to make the student vote instrumental in Tuscaloosa’s municipal elections, also has decided not to run for reelection. He had previously served four terms as the Council member for District Four. It is widely believed that his political success had depended on getting out the University’s Machine vote. Garrison’s political career began when he unseated Don Brown as District Four’s Council Member in 1997.

An article in the Tuscaloosa News by Stephanie Taylor explained why a law was passed Alabama Legislature in 2015 to help avoid some of the problems associated with the student vote:

The Alabama Legislature, at the request of the Tuscaloosa City Council, last year passed a law moving municipal elections from August to March, to avoid problems of residency requirements of students who move to Tuscaloosa during the summer before the academic school year.

The change followed Horwitz’s election challenge and the 1997 election challenge of City Council candidate Don Brown.

Brown was defeated by former Tuscaloosa City Councilman Lee Garrison, then 22 and a UA senior, 857 to 773.

Brown filed a challenge in Circuit Court claiming that as many as 265 illegal votes were cast for Garrison.

In the end, former Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge Robert B. Harwood ruled that 81 votes cast largely by UA sorority and fraternity members were subject to possible disqualification. But, because 84 votes were needed to overturn and nullify the election, Garrison remained council member for District 4, where he served for 16 years.

In the article by Taylor, Horwitz summed up the dilemma of the University’s Machine’s interference in local elections:

“For too long, the adults in our community have been willing to turn a blind eye to The Machine, treating it as child’s play,” Horwitz said. “They dismiss it as an entity that plays games with student elections and homecoming queen. But it is past time to acknowledge that this secret organization is a training ground for behavior that brings disrepute to the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa and our state.”

After years of a legal struggle, and apparent inaction by the University of Alabama’s administration, it’s all come down to this.

The University’s Machine is out. Yes. But some of the current school board candidates have ties to the Chamber of Commerce, which was indirectly involved in the attempt by a PAC to unseat School Board incumbents in the last election. One theory about the Chamber’s interest in the School Board involved a real estate deal.

A post in the blog “Read Think Listen” read:

It has been documented that the campaigns of the board of education challengers last year were largely funded by donations from businesses and individuals who were connected to the construction, real estate and banking industries. Why were these folks so motivated to change the board? Based on the acrimony surrounding the choice of location for Tuscaloosa’s new technical school and the fact that many of the individuals and entities from that battle contributed to challengers in this one, I propose that they did not trust that school board to do their bidding. There are a number of businesses and individuals, many of whom donated to challengers’ campaign funds either directly or through Mike Echols’ PACs, which stand to profit from school construction. Could it be that this land deal was always planned to be held secret pending the outcome of the school board elections?

Is this all a confirmation of the epigram by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr?  Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose ( The more things change, the more they stay the same )?

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“Amazing” & “Terrific”

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With the Don about to enter the Oval Office there will undoubtedly be a lot of “amazing” and “terrific” things going on in the land of the free.

Alabama should be thanked for its role in bringing Trump to the White House. After all Trump’s 2015 rally in Roll Tide Country really got the ball rolling for the Don.

Jordan LaPorta in Yellowhammer News wrote that Trump will make a triumphant return to to the Heart of Dixie:

In what one attendee referred to as ‘something between a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert and the Daytona 500,’ tens of thousands of Donald J. Trump supporters flocked to Ladd-Peebles Stadium in August of 2015 for the largest event of the Republican presidential primary. Fifteen months later, President-elect Trump is set to return to the exact same venue as part of his ‘USA Thank You Tour 2016.’

Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg Politics reported on MSNBC’s “’With All Day Respect’ that Trump’s tour, which kicks off Thursday evening in Ohio, will be going ‘to places that mean something to Donald Trump and to his campaign.’

One place they’re going to go is Mobile, Alabama, which is a place that is really special for Trump and his campaign. They attracted 30,000 people there last summer. It was a symbolic moment for them when they really realized they had a movement going on and could take this somewhere.”

The date for the event has not been confirmed, but it is expected to come in the next couple of weeks.

Trump’s last trip to Mobile was a stunning show of populist might at a time when prevailing wisdom was that he would be a political shooting star, shining brightly before quickly burning out.

At an early stage of the campaign, while most candidates were flying commercial and traversing the country on buses, the first sign of Trump’s presence in The Port City was the silhouette of ‘Trump Force One,’ the billionaire real estate mogul’s private Boeing 757.

Ever the showman, Mr. Trump directed the jet’s pilot to perform a flyover of the stadium before landing at the nearby airport. Every major media outlet in the country was there to capture the mayhem.

Trump was preceded on stage by a host of local and state elected officials who endorsed him before an anxious crowd. Then with anticipation reaching a fevered pitch, the man himself emerged, backed by ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ blaring over the PA system.

 

Who knows? Maybe Alabama will be thanked in another way?  The state could sure use some help. Alabama ranked number 46 of all of the  states in terms of having the best quality of life. Leada Gore reported that the typical household in Alabama earns only $44,765 a year, roughly $11,000 less than the national median income.

Come on, President Trump, Alabama needs more than a thank you rally. Maybe Alabama could benefit from any Federal projects designed to lock up and deport illegals or something?

 

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Activists? Get Real, New Yorker!

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In the November 25, 2016 New Yorker, Christian N. Kerr’s article The Activists of Crimson Tide Country actually compared the 50 or so students who protested Trump’s election to the civil rights activists of the sixties. Kerr also attempted to make it seem that the anti-Trump protest after a football game was a continuation of the action by the #Bamasits students who sat during the national anthem at a few games.

After the Tide’s win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs, about fifty protesters assembled at the north entrance of Bryant-Denny Stadium before marching to the Tuscaloosa Federal Building and Courthouse, where they planned to hold a rally. Some held signs that read “#OurVoicesMatter” and “White Silence is Violence.” As the group trudged down University Boulevard, a popular postgame hangout for football fans, hecklers taunted them with Trump campaign colloquialisms like “Losers!” and the localized “Roll, Trump, Roll!”

When the group arrived at the courthouse, members gave themselves a round of applause for doing what was impossible in 1964. Standing under the building’s tall Athenian columns, they took to voicing fears about the hatred and racism in their community and across the country. Counter-protesters soon arrived, carrying Trump/Pence paraphernalia, before they were ushered away by police.

The anti-Trump protest at the Iron Bowl ( the match up of traditional football rivals, Auburn and the University of Alabama )  which will take place on November 26 will also doubtlessly provoke some fans. A few of the protestors who have  read the New Yorker may somehow conflate their activity with that of the the civil rights era activists who actually risked their lives. The police didn’t escort KKK affiliated  men away from the sixties civil rights demonstrators. Probably some who were in the police force were fellow Klansmen. The state National Guard was even nationalized by President John F. Kennedy when George Wallace made his “stand in  the school house door” to protect the two black  students who were enrolling.

The Iron Bowl anti-Trump protest will not likely be followed by another counter-productive appearance by the disgruntled Clinton supporters. There are certainly enough issues for students to pursue that involve injustice in our society. But chances are the thrill will soon be gone. About the only thing that a significant number of students at the University in recent years were involved in protesting concerned the sale of beer.

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No Surprise Here

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-10-01-37-amMeredith Cumming’s article Houndstooth and crimson-cloaked hate: Tuscaloosa protest turns ugly described the lack of tolerance of many football fans towards anti-Trump protestors after the November 12th, 2016 football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium:

As I marched with my daughter from Bryant-Denny Stadium, down University Boulevard with about 50 other protestors toward Government Plaza people spewed hatred and slurs our way. I expected that.

What I didn’t expect was the depth of their hatred for people simply practicing their American rights. We were young and old, students and grandparents, babies and children. It was a vulnerable feeling, given that we were outnumbered by tens of thousands.

I love my country. But the people of America have let me down with their lack of tolerance, just as Alabama fans did as they poured out of the stadium, or stumbled drunk out of bars to degrade people of a different color, religion, or opinion, and anything else they didn’t understand. Just minutes before that we had sat alongside one another, united by our favorite team, their hatred cloaked in houndstooth and crimson.

Now at every turn I will wonder. When I get on an elevator I will wonder. When I attend a public event, such as a lecture or basketball game I will wonder. When I meet a new business associate for the first time I will wonder:

Does this person hate me too?

Cummings somehow doesn’t get it. The Bama Football crowd is largely composed of Trump Republicans. Before Trump became the GOP’s front runner, Republican Ted Cruz was hosted at the stadium. University of Alabama students are mostly Republicans and Trump supporters. That’s just the way it is. Before the election there was a Trump for President tent right outside the stadium with a life size cardboard cutout of Donald Trump where fans were lining up to have selfies taken next to it.

Challenging Trump and, for that matter, whites in general at a protest after a football game will provoke a lot of hostility. Could the protestors have not been aware of this?

Too often idealistic students seem surprised that their freedom of speech is not respected. In this case, the outcome of a national election was to some extent being protested. If Hillary Clinton had won, how would the protestors react to Trump supporters staging a protest? Many would laugh at the disappointed Trump backers I suspect although perhaps they would’ve been less hostile.

It was opportunistic to say the least for the protestors to stage their action to coincide with a football game when there would be a huge crowd. The coaches and football players certainly seem to have no racial animosity even if some of their fans are prejudiced.

Some fans may just have resented the fact that there was a political protest at a game. But when there are over one hundred thousand fans, there are bound to be some of them who show less restraint when the candidate that they supported is attacked.

If I were one of the protestors however I wouldn’t be worried about everybody hating me. Most fans didn’t give the protest a second thought.

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You can’t f@#k with the Machine.

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The smirk on School Board member Cason Kirby’s face said it all.

The latest development in the Kelly Horowitz challenge to the 2013 Tuscaloosa school board election has been that Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge Jim Roberts has dismissed the case. Horowitz failed in an  attempt to prove that students voted fraudulently.

Tuscaloosa News reporter Stephanie Taylor has done an outstanding job in covering the case. Her latest article Judge dismisses contest of school board election is no exception:

Former Tuscaloosa City Board of Education member Kelly Horwitz has lost her court battle contesting the 2013 election results.

Horwitz claimed that opponent Cason Kirby was unfairly elected by members of the University of Alabama’s Greek organizations that practice bloc voting in campus and local elections.

Kirby won the election 416-329. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that 159 of the 745 total votes were illegally cast by people who didn’t meet the city’s residency requirements to vote in District 4.

Taylor wrote:

Some of the people who cast illegal votes and didn’t testify could face felony charges, he said. Of the dozens of people that her legal team subpoenaed to appear in court Tuesday, 41 showed up to testify. Twenty-two testified that they voted for Kirby and six testified that they probably did, saying that they were “85 or 90 percent sure.” A few said they didn’t remember at all, and some invoked their Fifth Amendment right to not provide incriminating testimony.

The judge did allow Horwitz to offer sworn depositions from eight voters who said they voted for Kirby, and subtracted those votes from his total. However, he wouldn’t allow her attorney to offer affidavits into evidence submitted by students in 2013 who voluntarily said they voted for Kirby.

Taylor quoted attorney Joel Sogol who represented Horowitz:

“It’s the principled thing. Here you have The Machine (a secretive confederation of some white fraternities and sororities) on the University of Alabama campus getting involved in a municipal election, and based on all the material I’ve seen, offering all kinds of rewards like drinks and concert tickets to vote. None of them, at least 159, could not vote here, but they came and they registered anyway. I think if there’s not some consequence to that, then it happens again and again.

“I think the judge is wrong. I think those affidavits are admissible, but he thought differently. It will be up to Kelly if she wants to appeal.”

In another Tuscaloosa News article Kelly Horwitz says legal fight targeted secretive group, Taylor reported on a statement made by Horowitz:

“We often mouth the platitude that the younger generation is our future,” Horwitz said in a statement issued Wednesday. “It is time for us to decide which of these competing versions of the future we are we going to nurture: the one that operates in secret through coercion to win at any cost, or the one that operates in the light to encourage free debate and the competition of ideas.”

“People who live in Tuscaloosa have not forgotten the scene and emotions of election day in August 2013,” Horwitz said in the statement. “They won’t forget the scene of stretch limousines bringing students two or three blocks from their residences to vote, like people attending a fancy-dress party. Poll watchers recall students panicking as they filled out their forms, because they knew their real address was in some other district, or city, or state.

“On that day voters — some total strangers — approached me in anger or nearly in tears. They weren’t upset that I might lose; that’s how elections go. They were upset because they felt their own fate as parents of local schoolchildren, and their sense of belonging and ownership in their own district, had been stripped from them.

“For too long, the adults in our community have been willing to turn a blind eye to The Machine, treating it as child’s play,” Horwitz said. “They dismiss it as an entity that plays games with student elections and homecoming queen. But it is past time to acknowledge that this secret organization is a training ground for behavior that brings disrepute to the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa and our state.”

In the Pre-Council meeting that took place before the 2013 election Tuscaloosa City Council member Lee Garrison, who was running for the Chair of the Tuscaloosa City School Board, arrived fifteen minutes late. The first thing he did was to ask the City Clerk if she could take extraordinary measures to insure that students who were voting at the wrong place could be directed to the proper polling place. Garrison pioneered the use of students who were told by the Machine who to vote for in municipal elections.

A December 28, 1997 Tuscaloosa News article “Election Contested” described an earlier election challenge that also failed:

What is a resident? That has become the central issue that could decide whether Councilman Lee Garrison retains the Tuscaloosa City Council District 4 seat he won by 84 votes in the August election. Opponent Don Brown contested the election claiming Garrison benefited from the illegal votes, largely cast by students who don’t need residency requirements.

A University of Alabama senior and former Inter-fraternity Council President, Garrison and his forces registered hundreds of college students to vote. One of the issues became whether students or permanent residents could control the district election. 

While Brown’s forces did not challenge enough votes to make up the difference in Garrison’s margin of victory, his attorneys have been successful in putting voters, mostly students, on the witness stand. They were questioned about where they consider their primary residence and some were required to reveal who they voted for.  

Virtually nonexistent residency requirements leave the outcome completely in doubt. Should circuit Judge Bernard Harwood overturn Garrisons victory, a lengthy appeal is expected.

Garrison won the School Board race in 2013, along with Cason Kirby. Both depended on the votes of University students to win.

 

Voters who have no children in school have a right to vote in school board elections. If they are permanent residents of the community the quality of its schools should be a legitimate concern. Whether students, who are only in town for a few years and whose motive for voting is to elect one of their own, should vote in a local school board election  is another matter. Yes. They have a right to vote. But as Kelly Horowitz said:

It is time for us to decide which of these competing versions of the future we are we going to nurture: the one that operates in secret through coercion to win at any cost, or the one that operates in the light to encourage free debate and the competition of ideas.”

 

 

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Too Much Monkey Business?

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Did three Council Members  decide on their own that Northport, Alabama, would be better off without its City Administrator? Does it matter that the former City Administrator Scott Collins rode off into the sunset to work as a City Manager in a small Tennessee town in his new Audi? After all, four of Northport’s Council Members voted to award  him with a generous severance package and health insurance.

Council Member Judy Hayes, who was the lone voice of dissent in approving the severance package,  ran a campaign ad in the Northport Gazette saying:

See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. There’s been too much “monkey business” going on in Northport! Northport should show that it’s ready for business. Perhaps the best way that it can do that is to run a business-like city government.

There has been too much controversy in Northport. Overcoming this bad image will require leadership. Unfortunately too much of what has gone on in the past involved special interests.

The abrupt resignation of our City Administrator, the firing of our new Finance Director, the sewage spill, the arrest of a citizen for going to a Council meeting and other such controversial things have painted an unflattering picture of Northport. How can Northport be attractive to new business with this cloud of controversy hanging over it? Steps must be taken to change the way things are being run.

Angel Coker reported  in an article that appeared on the front page of the April 16th, 2016, edition of the Tuscaloosa News, in the aftermath of Collins resignation, that it was all a “backroom”deal.

Mayor Bobby Herndon said that the City Council will propose that state Rep. Alan Harper, R-Northport, fill the city administrator position temporarily.

“I was not involved in any of the discussions. It was all done backroom,” Herndon said Friday.

Alan Harper is the brother of Northport City Councilman Bart Harper.

Bill Britt’s “Representative Harper in the Midst of City Controversy” in the Alabama Political Reporter maintained that the purpose of Collins’ resignation was “to create a job opening for Representative Alan Harper.”

Mayor Bobby Herndon told the Alabama Political Reporter that council members Jay Logan, Bart Harper and Rodney Sullivan met privately outside of the presence of the Council, where they decided to eliminate City Administrator, Scott Collins, and give the job to Rep. Alan Harper (R-Northport). Bart Harper is Alan Harper’s brother.

Collins confirmed to APR that the three councilmen approached him and eventually agreed to pay him a years salary plus benefits if he would resign immediately, without the advice or consent of the Mayor or other council members.

An email from Northport City Attorney, Ronald L. Davis, dated April 15, 2016, to the City’s Benefits Administrator, Carrie Cameron, deals with the payments to be made to Collins, and who gave the orders to write the checks. The email reads, “Per my instructions by three City Council members, please cut the three checks to Scott Collins we discussed this morning… For his salary for one year, April 15, 2016 to April 15, 2017, to be paid in one lump sum today.” On that same day, Cameron produced three checks totaling $131,241 to Collins signed by Council President Logan and Collins.

Alan Harper’s brother read a statement at the April 18th Council Meeting that challenged the APR account. It was reported by Stephen Dethrage in a July 19th Tuscaloosa News article “Bart Harper defends Northport City Council’s action”:

“I’m tired of reading and hearing lies about myself, my brother and other council members,” Harper said.

In response to the article, Harper read aloud his timeline of the week surrounding Collins’ April 15 resignation. He said he called Herndon on April 11, met with him on the 12th and called him on the 16th trying to explain why he and other council members believed Collins’ resignation was necessary.

Each time, Harper said, Herndon declined to discuss the matter, ultimately sending a text message that read “Bart, I see you have tried to call me. It would be better if we didn’t talk.”

“There’s three times I reached out to try to get everybody on the same page,” Harper said. “Bobby didn’t want to be involved, but this was a council decision, not a backroom deal.”

In a followup story in APR “Harper Brother’s Controversy Continues to Grow” Bill Britt published a letter signed by Interim City Administrator Charles Swann and Alan Harper.

The letter, signed by interim City Administrator, Charles Swann, states that Harper is an unpaid volunteer. But, insiders at City Hall say this is a fallback position, after a failed attempt by three council members to install Harper as City Administrator, without the full council’s consent.

Britt also wrote:

At the City Council meeting following this publication’s report, Bart Harper gave a 26-minute diatribe in which he claimed the Mayor was lying, and all the council members were aware of the decision to negotiate Collin’s departure. “The Mayor and all Council members were aware and involved in the entire process,” said Harper. Further stating, “I called Council members Logan, Simms, and Rodney Sullivan during this process. President Logan called Judy Hayes.” Harper said he couldn’t remember why he didn’t call Councilwoman Hayes.

Hayes told the Alabama Political Reporter in July that she was unaware of the move to replace Collins and that she believed actions taken by the trio Logan, Harper and Sullivan, violated the open meetings act. Mayor Herndon also denied prior knowledge of plans to remove Collins and replace him with Harper.

Harper, near the end of his rant said, “Do you think I wanted all of this? Wanted to stir up all this mess and get the Harpers in charge of the city of Northport? I’m going off the Council and as soon as I get off, I don’t want to have anything to do with politics anymore.”

Representative Alan Harper has claimed that he “told everyone at city hall some time ago that I have no interest in the CA job. Would not do it for anything. I retired from Northport and plan to keep it that way!”

The full truth about the resignation of Collins may never be known. Many people in Northport just wanted Collins out of the way. They didn’t care how it happened and just wanted to avoid any more bad publicity. In one sense they didn’t want to hear, see or speak any more evil.

A Tuscaloosa News editor once, when information on unaccounted for taxpayer money in Northport was given to him, said that he was very familiar with politics in Alabama. Claims about corruption weren’t anything new. They were rampant in small towns all across Alabama. Northport wasn’t all that exceptional.

The August 23rd Municipal Elections in Northport may be a water shed moment for truth. Many candidates for Mayor and the Council are calling for the forensic audit that Council Member Judy Hayes has repeatedly unsuccessfully called for at Council meetings.

Current Mayor Bobby Herndon has always said that Northport is the envy of other cities in Alabama because of its financial condition. In June 2013, Lydia Seabol-Avant reported in the Tuscaloosa News that “Northport’s bond rating has been increased from ‘A+’ to ‘AA-‘ with a financial outlook that has changed from ‘stable’ to ‘positive.'” At the time refinancing the city’s bond debt was discussed, but it was not until this year that the improved rating was used to justify doing so.

In 2015 Seabol Avant reported a vote on Northport’s budget had a lone dissenting voice.

The budget had majority support during Northport’s council meeting Monday with a vote of 4-1. The sole desenting vote was Councilwoman Judy Hayes, who said she could not approve a budget that the public had very little input or insight on. Unlike previous budgets, which usually are not voted on until December, the 2016 budget was discussed briefly during a work session after District 4 council candidate interviews on Sept. 10, with no other budget work session to discuss proposed expenditures.

“This (budget) process should have happened over several months,” Hayes said. “I cannot in good conscience vote on the budget tonight.”

It is widely known that Northport met its last payroll by drawing money from the Water and Sewer Fund. It might be thought that, if good budgeting practices were followed, the payroll would paid from the General Fund.

The recent refinancing of its bond debt was predicated on its Standard and Poors AA- rating. Why a city that has to resort to meeting its payroll by using Water and Sewer funds would be so highly rated could be questioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

One of the Mayoral candidates has said that Northport is $60 million in debt. The exact nature of Northport’s finances may never be ascertained unless the Municipal Election produces enough new blood in Northport’s leadership and a forensic audit is made.

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