- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:


July 19

The Dothan Eagle on former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s sentencing:

Earlier this month, former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was sentenced to four years in prison followed by eight years’ probation after having been convicted earlier of 12 corruption charges related to the use of his office for personal gain.

The sentencing might have closed a recent chapter in the ongoing saga of shenanigans among Alabama’s elected officials. However, Hubbard maintains his innocence and has appealed the conviction, and wasted no time in filing a complaint of jury misconduct in the case.

Meanwhile, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore faces removal from office - again - for defying the federal judiciary, and Gov. Robert Bentley recently testified before a grand jury thought to be looking into possible misuse of state resources connected to the inappropriate relationship he had with a staffer that has led to impeachment proceedings against him.

Alabamians may have felt vindicated with the Hubbard conviction and sentencing. However, it’s a bittersweet, Pyrrhic victory in terms of what we’ve suffered before and after the prosecution at the top of our state’s legislative branch.

So how does our state recover? It begins with the people in which our government is rooted. No one serving in our representative offices in any of the three branches of government is able to do so without having been elected by the voters of our state. They are there because we put them there, and should they remain, they do so only with the consent of the electorate.

Voters have the responsibility of electing effective, trustworthy men and women to represent the people in the halls of government. Vote, and vote with great care, in every election.




July 19

The Selma Times-Journal on benefits of a school lunch program:

The 2016-2017 school year is within reach. Many schools will begin class on Monday, August 8.

Almost every school in Alabama serves healthy lunches to its students. Some schools also serve breakfast.

A student may be eligible to receive a free meal or a meal at a very low cost through the National School Lunch Program.

Research indicates that a book titled “Poverty,” published in 1904 by Robert Hunter had a strong influence upon the United States effort to feed hungry, needy children in schools. Some European nations fed needy students long before the effort in American was begun.

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the nation’s second largest food and nutrition assistance program. A review of information said that Congress created the NSLP after an investigation into the health of young men rejected in the World War II draft showed a connection between physical deficiencies and childhood malnutrition.

In response, Congress enacted the 1946 National Lunch Act as a “measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the nation’s children.” The act was signed by President Harry S. Truman.

Children who participate in NSLP receive one-third or more of their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for key nutrients. Some educators have observed an acceptable behavioral pattern among students who participate in the food program.

A huge number of Americans believe that hunger is a serious issue. The Food and Research and Action Center (FRAC) has conducted several polls to gather voters’ opinion on hunger and nutrition. The findings were:

45 percent of Americans say that hunger in the U.S. is a “serious program.” Just 15 percent do not believe hunger is a problem at all in the United States today.

More than two-thirds believe that children often eat less nutritious and cheap food so their parents can scrape together money to pay the rent, that seniors often choose whether to pay for prescriptions or food, that families could go a week without fresh produce and that many children are going hungry in the summer when school is out.

Many believe that hunger is more of an issue today than it was before the recession. This cuts across party lines with 56 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Independents echoing this statement.

Two out of five Americans have either experienced hunger in the past year or personally know someone who has - that includes nearly half of people aged 18 to 34.

Parents should apply their child’s school to participate in the National School Lunch Program.




July 13

The Gadsden Times on placing cameras on the “Stop” arms of school buses:

Displays of school supplies at area retailers are confirmation that we’re inside the one-month countdown to the resumption of classes.

We imagine area systems are getting their buses cleaned and serviced in preparation for hauling students. In some places around Alabama, however, there’s talk of doing a little extra work.

The Legislature in April passed a bill by Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Elba, allowing the state’s school systems to (a.) place cameras on the “Stop” arms of school buses to catch drivers who illegally pass the buses; and (b.) contract with a third-party company to install and maintain said cameras, and send citations to drivers who get caught.

The Tuscaloosa News reported on the issue last week, and noted that Jackson and Limestone counties already are looking at such a setup.

The Mobile County system launched one last year, authorized by local legislation, according to a report on the School Transportation News website.

We think all school systems with bus fleets - we’re of course focused on the ones in Northeast Alabama - should do the same, and work on finding a way to go from “looking at” to “making it happen.”

First, a review of state law: Drivers who are following school buses are required to stop when the bus driver puts out the “Stop” arm, and remain stopped until the arm is pulled back.

One would think sheer common sense and a hesitance to put a child getting on or off a bus in jeopardy would ensure compliance.

However, a state Department of Education official told the News that a survey showed 1,361 illegal passings during the last school year, one for every 280 miles traveled by school buses.

That’s just wrong. The only acceptable number for this scenario is zero - period.

Owners of vehicles that get caught will get stung should a school system install the cameras. Holley’s bill authorizes a $300 fine for anyone caught on video passing a school bus with its “Stop” arm extended.

The county or city and school system would each get 40 percent of the revenue, and the state Departments of Education and Public Safety would split the remaining 20 percent, earmarked for school bus safety initiatives and general highway safety enforcement, respectively.

Let the screeching begin: “This is just like those red-light cameras playing ‘Gotcha.’ … This is all about raising revenue. … Say ‘hello’ to ‘Big Brother’ and his eye in the sky.”

No it isn’t.

A close call on whether a traffic signal is green, red or yellow isn’t in the same solar system as a clear, blatant violation of the law that cannot be spun into anything save an inherently dangerous situation.

There is, however, a stipulation in the law that requires school systems to verify recorded violations with local law enforcements to ensure they are what they are before any citations are sent. Plus a vehicle owner can challenge the citation on its merits, or attempt to prove he or she wasn’t behind the wheel at the time of the violation. We think that’s adequate due process.

As far as revenue, we imagine school systems would rather not collect any cash, because that would mean no drivers are engaged in this dangerous behavior and putting kids at risk.

Maybe the threat of an “eye in the sky” is enough to ensure that.



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