- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

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July 19

The Tuscaloosa News on former governor Robert Bentley:

We thought Robert Bentley was in our past. Disgraced, divorced, forced from office, Bentley was defiant until the end, when in April he finally relented and resigned as governor of Alabama. The 74-year-old former Baptist deacon from Tuscaloosa quietly slid back into relative obscurity and we were set to move on with Kay Ivey at the helm. We were wrong. He’s back. And he still just doesn’t get it.

At the height of his power a few years ago, Bentley displayed an arrogance that belied his place in Montgomery. It was that arrogance that eventually led to his downfall. But even now, he refuses to accept that his tenure as governor was a disaster that never should have happened in the first place and should have ended long before it did.

We were hopeful once Bentley returned to Tuscaloosa to once again practice medicine, he could move on, in a positive direction for a change. Perhaps, like many disgraced politicians before him, he could begin to repair his public image and pick up the pieces of his personal life in relative obscurity. Nope. Bentley isn’t having any of that. Apparently, he still craves adulation so badly that he’s intent upon lavishing it upon himself.

“I’m the best governor Alabama’s ever had by far,” Bentley told WVTM-TV in an interview this week.

Just three months ago, Bentley got off lightly when he cut a deal with prosecutors that allowed him to escape jail time by resigning as governor and pleading guilty to misdemeanor campaign finance charges. His resignation came just as legislative impeachment hearings were beginning.

All of this followed a sex scandal, which included audio recordings of him making some incredibly awkward remarks to a much younger female aide who happened to be married to the director of his faith-based and community programs. That led to the end of his 50-year marriage. He was accused of coercing and bullying staff members to help hide the affair. There is ample evidence he at minimum tried to ruin the good name and career of the state’s top law enforcement officer in an effort to hide his wrongdoing.

In the interview, Bentley blamed politics and bad legal advice for his downfall.

“They took advantage of some personal things… and tried to get rid of me,” he said.

Bentley was a Republican governor. Both houses of the Legislature, the attorney general at the time and the Alabama Supreme Court were then and are now controlled by the GOP. He was replaced by a Republican lieutenant governor.

Bentley said Alabama is now run by special interests. But earlier this month, his replacement, Ivey, disbanded literally dozens of do-nothing state commissions that he created and has banned more than 100 lobbyists from serving on most of these boards in the executive branch.

“Had the people just left us alone Alabama would have been a lot better off,” Bentley said.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic.

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

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July 18

The Decatur Daily on Alabama’s attitude toward federal government:

Alabama’s animosity toward Washington predates the Civil War, but it returned to a fever pitch during former President Barack Obama’s two terms. With occasional awkward silences when federal assistance was needed to help fund recoveries from natural disasters, a vocal segment of Alabama’s population expressed resentment at all forms of federal intrusion. We resented their regulations and laws. We even resented their funding, convinced it was increasing our taxes.

“Don’t tread on us” was the rehashed Alabama mantra, and it was the federal government doing the treading.

This groundswell of anti-federal sentiment was not unique to Alabama, a fact that became especially clear in November 2016. Alabama, and the people of other states frustrated with all things federal, gave control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to Republicans, the party of states’ rights.

Some of the disdain for the federal government made sense. Federal bureaucracies that begin with the goal of protecting individuals too often implement rules that unnecessarily limit freedom and bog entrepreneurship in red tape. Good programs that help many tend to blossom into massive, inefficient programs that gobble up federal revenue and balloon federal debt.

Some states could point with pride to their own efficiency as a compelling justification for drastic federal downsizing. Some states have effective environmental management and well-run corrections facilities, excellent transportation systems and well-funded schools. These are states that have great potential if Republicans do as they promised and scale back the regulatory and financial reach of the federal government.

Sadly, Alabama is not one of these states. High poverty limits the resources available to state government and maximizes the demands on it. Resources available to state government are limited even more by a political culture that allows the greatest tax burden to fall not on the wealthy, but on those who can least afford it.

Limited revenue has not translated for Alabama into efficiency. Rather, we have become the homeowner who can’t afford to repair the leaking roof and consequently is faced with more expensive repairs every time it rains. The Department of Corrections, for example, can’t properly fund a program known to cut recidivism in half, even though it recognizes that failure to fund it will increase prison costs later.

Proposed federal cuts in Medicaid - immensely popular in Alabama over the last eight years, so much so that the state declined a Medicaid expansion that would have been footed by the federal government - will severely damage the state’s public schools. Local superintendents recognize, even if other voters don’t, that counting on the state government to wisely distribute block grants so that necessary funding makes it to students needing treatment for diabetes, mental conditions and other health issues is a disaster waiting to happen.

There is plenty of room for improvement in the federal government. Arbitrarily limiting its state-directed allocations and regulatory authority might benefit some states. For all the mistrust Alabamians have of the federal government, they should be leery of changes in Washington, D.C., that decrease funding available to cash-strapped Alabama or that increase the power of a perpetually inefficient state government.

Online: https://www.decaturdaily.com/

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July 22

The Dothan Eagle on a recent fatal church shooting:

Last week, a terribly tragic thing happened in one of Dothan’s houses of worship, resulting in the loss of one life and irreparable trauma to at least three others. There was a crime, a gunshot, and a death.

There’s been a lot said about the incident, and most of it overlooks the bigger picture.

It’s not about the Second Amendment. It’s not about the Castle Doctrine. It’s not even about blame.

It’s not about Republicans or Democrats or Libertarians. It’s neither Obama’s nor Trump’s fault.

What’s most troubling is that our world has become a place where a house of worship is not immune to the threats of the secular world and, more to the point, the sanctity of the sanctuary seems lost.

Houses of worship of every denomination and faith share the concept of lifting up those in need. Most have programs, institutional or informal, to provide for the needs of those who come to them for assistance.

Did the young man who entered the church to rob those inside consider that they’d have readily given what he needed had he simply asked? We’ll never know.

What we can know is that the overarching tragedy of the incident is lost on so many. It’s a close-to-home reflection of broader changes in which once-unthinkable actions and violence must be considered.

Clearly this tragedy was set in motion by one man’s decision to commit a crime. That decision led to his death, and concentric circles of grief to others involved and families and friends on both sides of the equation.

Violent, criminal acts don’t define the world, and while it’s wise to remain aware, we simply must not live in fear and expectation that we’re bound to be overrun by the lawless.

We determine the sort of community we live in through our actions, not our reactions.

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

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