- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

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April 17

The Dothan Eagle on bingo in the state:

This week, the Alabama Senate rejected a bill to create a constitutional amendment referendum that, if approved by voters, would have allowed a Greene County bingo casino to operate the same sort of electronic bingo games used by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in three casinos on tribal land in Alabama.

The bill is now where it belongs - relegated to the trash heap of failed legislative ideas. There are several non-tribal bingo casinos in Alabama that have been crippled by the years-long legal battle over electronic bingo. If there were to be a constitutional amendment to address the dilemma, it shouldn’t be for one particular bingo operator.

Before you give the Senate credit for a sense of fair play, keep in mind that a constitutional amendment measure requires 21 votes in the 35-member Senate, and this measure failed by four votes. That means roughly half of Alabama’s sitting senators favored sending this unfair measure to the voters.

The idea itself may have merit, as the courts have failed to resolve the bingo question so far. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bobby Singleton, said that Greene County needed the jobs that an operating bingo casino would provide, comparing it to auto plants in other parts of the state. While that’s a questionable comparison, the same could also be said about Macon County, where VictoryLand’s bingo operation is not operating, and Houston County, where Center Stage Alabama’s electronic bingo casino has been reduced to running a smaller, non-electronic bingo operation.

Before Alabama lawmakers commit to pursuing the expansion of gambling, a questionable mechanism to shore up the state’s economy, they should ensure that it’s done in a way that doesn’t favor the few before presenting it to the voters.

Online: https://www.dothaneagle.com/

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April 17

The Times Daily on concealed firearms:

This country has begun to live in fear of gun violence in public places, from movie theaters to schools. It’s a sad commentary that the wealthiest country in the world, which is awash in guns, has a problem with random violence.

Or rather, it should come as no surprise this country has a reputation for violence. Access to firearms, though regulated at the retail level, is alarmingly easy. Background checks often fail to turn up records for people who have been treated for mental illnesses that could signal a propensity for violence. Private sales, between individuals, are not regulated at all in most states.

Some states, including Alabama, allow open carry of weapons in public. This sidesteps the state’s concealed carry rules, under which a local sheriff conducts a background check of an applicant before a permit is issued.

Now, the Alabama Legislature, in an incredibly ill-advised move, is considering allowing concealed weapons to be carried on college campuses. College administrators are, not surprisingly, opposed to the bill.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mack Butler is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow those with concealed carry permits to bring their handguns on campuses. Butler contends an armed society is a safer society. Maybe, but encouraging more people to go armed is a recipe for disaster.

Armed civilians wandering city streets and college campuses could make an active shooting scene even worse, especially for police and innocent bystanders. There seems to be a belief that armed amateurs can stop a gunman. If they’re lucky, maybe they can.

In truth, police go through continuous training for these situations, in part because knowing when not to shoot is just as important as knowing when to shoot. The danger to bystanders and those seeking to escape from an armed civilian that returns fire could be just as great as that posed by the shooter. The vast majority of civilians have no training for these situations, and could shoot an innocent person in the excitement and confusion of a chaotic scene.

Defending yourself is easy when no one is shooting at you. Being in an active shooting is an entirely different matter. The chaos of civilians firing in a crowd at someone who may or may not be a perpetrator could make the shootout at the O.K. Corral look like a Bolshoi Ballet production of Swan Lake.

If the Legislature really wants to address the kind of violence that is perpetrated by lone shooters, it would pump more money into mental health treatment programs. Many of the shooters in these incidents have been in need to treatment and have not received it. That would be a better solution to violence than adding more guns in our society.

Online: https://www.timesdaily.com/

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April 17

The Tuscaloosa News on leadership in Alabama politics:

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is in a federal prison. He was convicted in 2006 on charges that he sold a seat on the state’s regulatory board to Richard Scrushy, the founder of HealthSouth, in exchange for a $500,000 donation to Siegelman’s campaign to bring a state-run lottery to Alabama. He was also convicted on an obstruction of justice charge.

The 70-year-old Democrat’s best hope for an early release is a presidential pardon.

In the wake of Siegelman’s fall from grace, current Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard led the Republican takeover of Alabama. As chairman of the state GOP, he led the party to a sweeping victory in the 2010 general election - Republicans won every statewide office up for grabs and gained control of both the House and the Senate, the first time in 136 years the party had control of either chamber.

Hubbard is scheduled to go on trial next month. He was indicted on 23 felony counts in 2014, but has refused to resign his position. Leading up to the trial, his attorneys have claimed prosecutorial misconduct.

The investigation into Hubbard led to charges against two other Republican lawmakers. Greg Wren of Montgomery pleaded guilty to a charge of using his office for personal gain and resigned his seat. Barry Moore of Enterprise was tried on perjury charges and was acquitted.

And now we have current Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican from Tuscaloosa. With each passing day, the scandals involving him keep grabbing new headlines at the state and national level, but he has also refused to resign.

There is an effort afoot to impeach Bentley, and it is increasingly likely that either a state or federal investigation is going to be launched.

If the effort to impeach Bentley gets that far, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore would preside over the hearing. In 2003, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary unanimously removed Moore as chief justice after he refused a federal judge’s order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments he had installed in the Alabama Judicial Building. After a couple of failed campaigns for governor and toying with a presidential run, Moore ran for chief justice again in 2012 and was re-elected.

Is it any wonder our education system and roadways remain among the worst in the nation, our jails are at double their capacity, and our economy is still struggling to get up off the mat?

It has been said that the two most popular pastimes in Alabama are football and politics. If you’ve been to a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, you’ve heard the stadium speakers boom “This is Alabama football!” Perhaps at the opening of each trial, the bailiff could loudly proclaim “This is Alabama politics!”

The difference between the two pastimes is that we demand a standard of excellence on the football field, yet we continue to elect people who keep telling us what good Christians they are only to have them disappoint. Promises are poor qualifications for leadership.

Online: https://www.tuscaloosanews.com/

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