- Associated Press - Thursday, August 10, 2017

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

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Aug. 4

Montgomery Advertiser on politicians and corruption in Alabama’s capital:

Every word matters.

No one should be surprised that a newspaper editorial is saying this.

While two words might seem interchangeable, really the definition and/or interpretation is in the eye of the beholder.

So excuse us for our annoyance with U.S. Sen. Luther Strange’s use of Montgomery in his latest ad in his Republican primary run to maintain his position in Washington.

The Republican candidates in the Senate primary are saying plenty to prop up their chances and diminish their opponents. In a crowded field, we get it, it’s hard to separate when everyone is so right from center.

Strange is desperately trying to look like Mr. Cleanup when it comes to crooked politics. There’s plenty you can question about his claims, but what chapped our proverbial behind was a small but significant reference to our city.

“I made powerful enemies fighting Montgomery corruption .” Strange says in a recent 30-second television spot.

No, no, no. Nope.

This is a classic case of what he said, and what he means. What he said is Montgomery is corrupt. What he means is some people in the Legislature and running state government are corrupt.

This is when - right here and now - the state of Alabama’s residents need to stop using the city of Montgomery’s name as something synonymous with the low-down, dirty politics inside the white buildings on Dexter Avenue and Union Street.

Sen. Strange, last time we checked, voters in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, Mobile and every place in between sent us the greasy pork sandwich served on a dirty ashtray that sometimes is our Legislature. Those are homegrown rotten potatoes delivered to us. We’d be glad to regift some of them and return to sender.

We aren’t the first to point out this slight of the city.

Part of Montgomery’s image problem is we are associated by proximity to the state government. The top leader of every branch of our government - Gov. Robert Bentley, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and Chief Justice Roy Moore - was removed from office or stepped down on the verge of their ouster.

That’s not a good look. But that’s the state, not the city. We aren’t corrupt.

We’re not bad actually. We have a lot to do here. It’s worth a visit. There’s a bunch of history to explore. Last week there were ballgames and ballet performances on the riverfront. We are getting more and more food festivals such as Taco Libre and the upcoming Burger Bash that are worth checking out.

We have a clean, inviting downtown with plenty of restaurants and other entertainment. If we could just get the rest of the state to stop dumping off their trash at the Capitol, we’d be even better.

Online: https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/

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Aug. 6

The Tuscaloosa News on criticism Alabama coach Nick Saban has received over football player Da’Shawn Hand’s arrest for DUI:

Nick Saban has taken some heat this summer for what some commentators have deemed a soft stance on discipline. Some have gone so far as to suggest that Saban is all too willing to look the other way when star players get in trouble, because winning trumps all else.

Because this is a family newspaper and the word that immediately comes to mind to address those concerns would not be appropriate, we’ll call it baloney, even though that doesn’t seem strong enough to convey our sentiments on the matter.

It is almost as if these critics can’t take issue with him on much else, so they grasp at what they can when they can; opposing fan bases, apparently, cherish the opportunity to take any shot available at a coach who has caused them so much frustration on the field of play.

The latest issue came up when University of Alabama player Da’Shawn Hand was arrested by Tuscaloosa Police for DUI. Many pundits quickly called for a stiff penalty for the star defensive lineman. Saban put out a statement that he was aware of the situation, looking into it, and that driving while intoxicated is an issue his program takes seriously. There have been previous instances where players were arrested and each one was handled differently.

Now, part of the problem is that Saban likes to hold his cards close to the vest. He doesn’t like to publicize the exact punishment handed out in each instance and instead prefers to handle the situations as “internal matters.” Many would say that’s his prerogative and that these are, after all, college kids. Of course, as a media outlet, we don’t always agree with that approach, but that’s another matter for another day.

In the instance of Hand, just a day after the initial criticism and calls for a stiff punishment, we discovered, as is often the case when all the details aren’t public, that things were not quite as they seemed. Hand, we learned, was charged under Alabama law with driving under the influence, even though he was not driving. Hand did the right thing. He had been drinking, but he decided to stay in his parked car with the keys in the ignition and sleep it off.

“It is not OK that he’s drinking, with me, and that’s a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed and we will address it,” Saban said. “But the fact that he didn’t drive the car and wasn’t driving the car, he didn’t put other people at risk, which to me is the most significant thing when you drive under the influence.”

Hand is still subject to a disciplinary program that includes evaluation by professionals to determine if he has a problem and needs help.

To us, it looks like the criticism directed at Saban should be directed at the Legislature. The law is flawed and neither a football coach nor the state should punish a young man who made the right decision not to drive impaired.

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

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Aug. 3

The Dothan Eagle on Alabama’s oldest continuously existing town:

In the almost 200 years since it was settled, southeast Alabama’s oldest continuously existing town - Columbia, on the Chattahoochee River — has had its share of challenges and controversies. Once the county seat of Henry County, it was the central settlement in the largest county of Alabama, and was a vibrant port city with three steamboat landings. Its most significant challenge followed a decision by the railroad to choose Dothan over Columbia, when the town saw its star begin to wane.

And yet, Columbia survived.

One January morning in 1958, three brothers from Donalsonville, Georgia, walked into the Bank of Columbia and robbed the establishment of about $19,000. They were caught, tried, convicted and sent to prison in less than a month. And in 1962, two of the brothers and a third man escaped from Alcatraz prison, thought to be America’s most secure lock-up.

A 1963 book and 1979 movie of the same name, “Escape from Alcatraz,” added to Columbia’s storied history.

The town’s most recent controversy won’t rise to those heights. Earlier this year, a representative from Southeast Alabama Regional Commission on Aging visited the Columbia Senior Center to look into irregularities concerning a government-funded food program. More meals were going to the center than there were seniors to eat them, and a closer look revealed what SARCOA officials say were forged names on the enrollment. The center director, whose husband was the mayor, resigned. This week, the mayor, Lanny Lancaster, also resigned.

And yet, we expect Columbia will survive. On Tuesday, former mayor pro tem Rhonda Freeman became acting mayor, and in 60 days could be approved by the council to complete Lancaster’s term.

We wish Mayor Freeman well in her interim term, and urge her and her fellow elected officials to first take steps to make the necessary amends to continue the food service program for the elderly residents of Columbia for whom it is intended, and then work toward better serving the people of our part of the state’s oldest continuously existing town.

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

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