- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:


Nov. 18

AL.com on Alabama’s Senate race:

This election is a turning point for women in Alabama. A chance to make their voices heard in a state that has silenced them for too long.

The accusations against Roy Moore have been horrifying, but not shocking.

Every day new allegations arise that illustrate a pattern of a man in his 30s strutting through town like the cock of the walk, courting and preying on young women and girls. And though Roy Moore has denied the accusations of these women, his own platform and record is hostile to so many Alabamians.

Unlike the national party, the Alabama Republican establishment has chosen to stand by him, attacking and belittling the brave women who have come forward.

As a news organization, we have independently investigated stories of several Alabama woman who have spoken to us and the Washington Post about the abuse they say they suffered at the hands of Roy Moore decades ago.

The seriousness of these incidents, including one involving a 14-year-old child, cannot be overstated. Nor can the growing number of accusations - from the women who were at the receiving end of unwanted adult male overtures as teens, to those who say they were physically assaulted - be parsed with talk of statutes of limitations or whether proof has been recorded on a stone tablet. In the American system, proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a consideration for the courtroom, not the ballot box. It is our job as voters to look closely at the candidates and make up our own minds.

Do not let this conversation be muddled. This election has become a referendum on whether we will accept this kind of behavior from our leaders.

Alabamians have never cared about what the rest of country thinks of them. And we do not expect all the handwringing from national pundits, conservative or liberal, to make much of a difference. This election isn’t about what a late-night comedian may think of Alabama or whether Sean Hannity can sell advertisements; it’s not about Saturday Night Live or Mitch McConnell. It’s not about Breitbart or National Democrats. It is about the moral values of the people of Alabama.

Do not make your voting decision based on who it will affect on a national stage. Vote based on who it will affect in your hometown.

We each know someone in our lives who is a survivor of sexual assault or child abuse. Many of us are still searching for the words needed to tell our own stories and some may never find that voice. This election is about them.

How can we look our neighbors, our parishioners, our colleagues, our partners, or our children in the eyes and tell them they are worth less than ensuring one political party keeps a Senate seat? How can we expect young Alabamians to have faith in their government or their church, when its leaders equivocate on matters as clear cut as sexual abuse?

A vote for Roy Moore sends the worst kind of message to Alabamians struggling with abuse: “if you ever do tell your story, Alabama won’t believe you.”

Or, worse, we’ll believe you but we just won’t care.

To be clear: it’s not only his record on women and children that disqualifies Moore. If we vote for Roy Moore, Alabama will also show that we don’t care about you if you’re gay or Muslim or Catholic. If you’re an atheist or an immigrant. We’ll show each other that we only care about Roy Moore’s definition of Alabama. And that there’s not room for the rest of us.

Roy Moore says he has faith in the Alabama voters. But apparently only a select few.

This utter disregard for people unlike himself, his pathological fixation on sex, and the steps he’s taken to actively diminish other people’s freedoms, is more than enough to have disqualified him from this office long before these women stepped into the public eye.

Alabamians opposed to Roy Moore have three options on election day: stay home, write in a candidate, or vote for Doug Jones.

As a news organization, we could never advise voters to stay home. Low turnout in the Republican primary contributed to Roy Moore winning a spot on the ballot. Elections matter. And from soldiers overseas to Civil Rights foot soldiers at home, too many people have risked their lives to secure that privilege for Alabamians. And given what’s at stake in this election, we urge you to register by November 27.

If your conscience tells you that you cannot vote for either man, write in a candidate that shares your convictions. While we believe that state Republicans response to the allegations brought against Roy Moore has cast a permanent shadow on many others - particularly GOP Chairwoman Terry Lathan who has threatened any Republican who speaks out - there are good options in the Republican Party.

Despite what you may have heard, Doug Jones is a moderate Democrat and a strong candidate for all Alabamians. As the son of a steel family, he understands the concerns facing working class families as factories close and jobs disappear. He’s been an active member of Canterbury United Methodist Church in Birmingham. He has built a platform around issues that will define Alabama: job creation, small business development, child healthcare, criminal justice reform and, perhaps most needed of all, compromise.

By bringing justice to four little girls killed at Birmingham’s 16th Baptist Church, Jones helped Alabama move forward from the sins of our past. But unlike some national Democrats, he isn’t interested in shaming Alabama voters because of their history. As a Red State Democrat, we expect Jones would have a larger seat at the table crafting policy in the Senate. Neither Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would be able to take Jones’ vote for granted (for relevant examples look to West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Montana’s Jon Tester or North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp). That would put Jones in a strong position to work with Sen. Shelby to secure policies that benefit Alabamians.

While Jones is a vocal Christian, despite Moore’s claims to be the sole Christian in politics, we know his pro-choice stance may be a deal breaker for some Alabamians, but his stance only advocates the law as it is currently written. After a year of complete control of the White House, the Senate and the House, we are skeptical that this Congress plans to pass any relevant legislation on abortion. Jones’ commitment to affordable healthcare for women and children will improve the lives of Alabama’s families, and, for us, his pro-choice stance is not disqualifying.

What is disqualifying is the conduct of Roy Moore against women and children. It was disqualifying for his party leaders. It was disqualifying for Alabama’s senior senator. And it should be disqualifying for his state party.

By the various misdeeds, miscalculations and mistakes of its voters and leaders, Alabama has left itself with few options. Alabamians must show themselves to be people of principle, reject Roy Moore and all that he stands for.

There is only one candidate left in this race who has proven worthy of the task of representing Alabama. He is Doug Jones.

The voters must make their voices heard.

Online: http://www.al.com/montgomery/


Nov. 22

Gadsden Times on holiday traveling:

In a couple of days, millions of Americans will be sitting down for Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, getting sufficient sustenance for a weekend of football and shopping (not necessarily in that order).

According to the American Automobile Association, about 51 million people, the most since 2005, will be on the roads and rails and in the sky, traveling 50 miles or more from home to see family and friends during the holiday weekend, which runs Wednesday through Sunday. That doesn’t include the folks who’ll be taking shorter trips, but still will be taking up space on the highways.

It means the airports and Amtrak terminals are going to be clogged with folks trying to get through security while keeping their blood pressure in check.

It means the roadways (even though gasoline prices are the highest they’ve been in three years at Thanksgiving) will be clogged with cars, often driven by distracted people tired of hearing “when are we going to get there” from the backseat and too willing to let their inner Martin Truex Jr. show when other drivers mess with them.

Our advice: Chill out and don’t let the stress get to you. This is supposed to be a pleasant time, not nerve wracking.

Both seasoned air travelers and those who haven’t flown much but keep up with the news should know by now to get to airports early, with your tickets in order and resigned to some hassle. It may be a holiday week to you; it’s just another collection of days on the job for TSA’s finest.

Try to time your car (or other vehicle) trips to avoid rush hour traffic, especially if you’re driving to or through places where that’s an issue. There’s also no reason these days for anyone to get lost because you’re afraid people will think you don’t have proper navigation skills. Embrace technology; use Google Maps or Waze, and don’t drive around in circles.

Make sure you have plenty of books, games and the like - old-school or electronic - to keep the backseat crew entertained and occupied.

Most of all, buckle up, try to keep at least close to the speed limit (we’re aware total compliance might be a tall order) and focus on getting there safely rather than quickly.

There were 22 traffic fatalities in Alabama during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, a 40 percent increase over the past two years, according to the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety, which says every 10 mph increase in speed doubles the chance of a crash producing fatalities.

The center offered some good news - traffic fatalities as a whole in the state are down 13 percent this year. Let’s continue that trend this week.

Online: http://www.gadsdentimes.com/


Nov. 17

Decatur Daily on privatizing prisons:

The solution to Alabama’s prison problems could involve the private sector.

Alabama Department of Corrections officials earlier this month announced plans to hire a management team to develop a master plan for the state’s prison infrastructure. The plan would address construction of new prisons, renovation of existing facilities, and improving the mental health treatment facilities in those prisons.

ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn said the goal is to develop a “blueprint for long-term fixes to this generational problem” of prison overcrowding.

The announcement, which marks a shift in the state’s ongoing attempts to address its prison problems, comes on the heels of Gov. Kay Ivey’s comments that her office was considering all options for building prisons.

Frustrations have mounted the past two legislative sessions as efforts to get lawmakers to borrow up to $800 million to build three new regional prisons failed. The megaprisons would have replaced 13 of the state’s smaller, older prisons.

ADOC’s new plan could allow private companies to build and own the prison facilities, and allow the state to lease the facilities from private operators. Ivey has said short-term lease agreements to operate prisons would not require legislative approval.

Last week, several area lawmakers acknowledged they expect Ivey and ADOC to include lease options in any prison proposals brought to the Legislature during the 2018 session. And while they may not have to sign off on any lease agreements, lawmakers do have final say on the overall funding of prisons.

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said lawmakers need to see the details of any building or lease plan involving prisons.

“Because we’re going to be funding prisons, I think there should be some involvement by the Legislature,” Orr said.

ADOC officials can’t be faulted for trying to be proactive when it comes to improving the prison system. Corrections leaders have supported the proposed prison construction plans of the past two sessions, but the inability to get legislative support suggests it’s time to consider a different approach. Injecting private-run prisons into the discussion should get the attention of lawmakers.

“It is clear that we have serious infrastructure needs within our prison system, and we need to make decisions on correcting these issues,” said Dunn.

Online: http://www.decaturdaily.com/

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