JAMES MADISON QUOTE - 1822

"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."

SCOTTSBORO WEATHER

Thursday, September 30, 2010

TVA Office of the Inspector General Report regarding the Scottsboro Electric Power Board--Discriminatory Acts of Utilities and TVA's Responsibility


The following release was forwarded to area media agencies.

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TVA Office of the Inspector General Report Concerning the Scottsboro Electric Power Board (OIG):

The OIG performed a review of the City of Scottsboro Electric Power Board (Scottsboro) which is a distributor for TVA power based in Scottsboro, Alabama. Scottsboro also operates a telecommunications department that offers cable, internet, and telephone services. Also, Scottsboro is one of four distributors to which TVA granted retail rate setting authority. In 2002, TVA Board of Directors approved and made available to distributors six wholesale power contract flexibility options. One of these available options terminated TVA's contract authority and obligations regarding retail rates. Four distributors (Scottsboro, Knoxville Utilities Board, Memphis Light, Gas and Water, and Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative) were granted this authority. As a result, these distributors have the authority to determine the retail rates charged to its customers with no or limited oversight by TVA. The TVA Board, however, did not relinquish the responsibility to ensure the power purchased is sold and distributed to the ultimate consumer without discrimination among consumers of the same class, and no discriminatory rate, rebate, or other special concession will be made or given to any consumer. According to agreements with three distributors, the options were provided (1) because the electric utility industry was undergoing changes and restructuring, and (2) to prepare for the prospect of legislation further altering the industry and the relationship between TVA and its distributors. The decision previously made by the TVA Board of Directors to allow the four distributors to regulate their own retail rates significantly increases the reputational risk to TVA surrounding their role as a regulator. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will address this issue separately after additional reviews are undertaken.
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Our review of Scottsboro found issues involving customer classification and metering that could impact (1) the proper reporting of electric sales and/or (2) nondiscrimination in providing power to members of the same rate class. We also identified two other potential power discrimination issues related to Scottsboro (1) providing a specialized industrial rate to only one customer and (2) not passing wholesale fuel cost adjustments and wholesale rate increases/decreases to all customers. We were unable to estimate the monetary effect of all the classification and metering issues because in some instances information was not available; however, for the one instance where information was available, we estimated Scottsboro owed TVA approximately $88,000 in wholesale demand charges. (end report) http://oig.tva.gov/reports/audit-inpsections.html
(Note at the end of the official OIG report concerning the Scottsboro Electrical Power Board the PDF entry. This entry contains the Executive Summary of the Inspector General. It reflects the fact that all customers of the Scottsboro Electric Power Board were required to pay in excess of $1.1 million dollars for internet, and phone services for a select few customers. Not all customers of the Scottsboro Electric Power Board have telecommunications services available. Why should customers pay for a service they do not receive? The PDF report also includes the City of Scottsboro Electric Power Board reply.)
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Other words the Scottsboro Electric Power Board overcharged their customers. There is also a question concerning the equal payment of rates of the Power Boards residential customers.
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SCOTTSBORO UTILITIES DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES:
The Scottsboro Electric Power Board discriminates against poor, retired and disabled customers due to their billing practices. The Power Board refuses to move the bill due date of financially disadvantaged customers who are on fixed income, customers which receive Social Security retirement, disability, military retirement checks or VA disability checks on the 1st or the 3rd of each month. The Electric Power Board's practices cause the previously mentioned classes of people to suffer finacial loss due to penalties assessed to the poor, disabled or retired because they may not be able to pay their bill on the date due.
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WATER SEWER AND GAS BOARD:
Unfair treatment of the poor and disadvantaged has extended to the Scottsboro Water Sewer and Gas Board (WSG). When complaints were filed with the local WSG Board concerning broken pipes and filthy water, instead of helping to resolve problems, the WSG ceased service to the problem area forcing the economically disadvantaged and minority residents of the area to suffer higher water rates from an unlicensed, private water distribution provider/landlord. The WSG does not treat all users of product or services fairly.
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NO PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION OVERSIGHT CONTRIBUTES TO PROBLEM IN TVA AREA:
The resulting discriminatory practice of the of Scottsboro Water authority as a result of its managers decision making is enabled by no State Public Utility Commission oversight in the TVA operating area. Thus, because of a lack of oversight, it has become possible  the poor and disabled may suffer at the hands of unwavering Utility Boards who are concerned with their financial bottom lines and not the health and welfare of citizens.
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QUESTION TO TVA--WITH NO STATE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OVERSIGHT TO ASSIST IN PREVENTION OF LOCAL PUBLIC UTILITIES DISCRIMINATION. WHAT ROLE WILL THE TVA PLAY IN PREVENTION AND INTERDICTION INTO ALLEGATIONS AND EXAMPLES OF SOCIAL, DISADVANTAGED, DISABLED AND MINORITY CLASS DISCRIMINATION IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW?
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First Monday Weekend


Most First Monday vendors and patrons are from out of town. This means they spend money in Scottsboro when they visit our city.
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Labor Day, if each vendor and patron spent $20.00 per day in our local businesses, not an unreasonable amount considering gas and food would be purchased and many stayed in our local motels; we had 4000 visitors Saturday, 7500 Sunday and 5000 Monday along with 200 vendors for each day equals $342,000 in local revenue. Lodging tax and total sales tax equates to more than $34,000.
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There is a great potential for First Monday, if only our local government leaders and our local news media would get behind this monthly event.
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First Monday was started officially by our local newspapers, The Scottsboro Citizen, then The Progressive Age, both early 20th Century newspapers strongly supported and were responsible for organizing the early First Monday events.
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City of Scottsboro officials told the First Monday vendors Committee they would take the increase in revenue of First Monday vendor spots and advertise the event, the city has done nothing to date.
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The county commission and the city council have had a recent squabble over the event concerning cleaning the rest rooms. The city nor the county steps forward to clean the rest room facilities. I, as spokesperson of the First Monday Committee, will step forward to clean the rest rooms since the local politicians only consider themselves and not the health and welfare of the public.
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A rest room facility with hand washing is necessary to prevent the spread of disease, I have also requested of the city council that sanitizing stations be added to the portable restroom facilities.
The City of Scottsboro controls the event and has established 12 ordinances controlling the event in the past 40 years. City of Scottsboro's "out of date" First Monday Link: http://www.cityofscottsboro.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=134&Itemid=227
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Such is government today, what other messes will local citizens be required to cleanup after government officials failures?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jackson County Commission Special Called Meeting, Proposed 2010-2011 Budget

UPDATE: Chamber of Commerce Budget slashed, article from The Daily Sentinel. http://thedailysentinel.com/news/article_f73aecde-c70e-11df-b378-001cc4c03286.html

The Jackson County Commission held a Special Called meeting at 4PM today in the Commission Board Room. The purpose of the meeting was to approve the proposed 2010-2011 Budget, the budget was approved.
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The Jackson County Commission's total General Fund Budget Revenue is listed at $6,169,197.73, Expenditures are listed at $7,609,455.61, this reflects a $1,440,257.88 deficit.
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Total proposed Expenditures for the 2010-2011 Budget are $17,021,893--Total proposed Revenue $15,259,540 (Figures rounded down, cent amounts dropped.) Deficit of $1,762,353.

Scottsboro City Council--Audit Briefing--Attack on the Local Press

Political Campaign ad which I ran during the election which reflects deficits in the 2009 budget year. (Click on the photo for an expanded view.) UPDATE from The Daily Sentinel: http://thedailysentinel.com/news/article_cd083a12-c70d-11df-b3f7-001cc4c03286.html Quote from city Finance Director in the Daily Sentinel article, "Last year, there were large expenditures reported for the police building and animal control building," said Wheeler. "The city paid for those buildings out of reserves built up. That's why the audit shows more expenditures than income."
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Where did the reserves come from and where is it in the audit report, why is it a secret of which the public should not be informed? Shhh, don't tell folks the reserve fund is actually the 1/2cent school tax money used to build the high school still being collected and utilized for government expansion.

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2009 City Audit Briefing Slides. Read-bottom to top.
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Not explained and an error, page 4 of the audit states:
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"CITY OF SCOTTSBORO, ALABAMA Management’s Discussion and Analysis
Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2009 4"
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"Fund Level:
· Total Governmental Fund Balance decreased $2,729,919 in fiscal 2009 to $13,954,399. Governmental Fund revenue totaled $22,251,751, with total expenditures of $25,114,895. General Fund revenue totaled $19,003,710, with total expenditures of $19,830,554, for an excess of revenue over expenditures of $826,844. Total Other Financing Sources and Uses was $(2,273,878). The decrease in the General Fund Balance was $3,100,722 for Fiscal 2009."
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During the election I reported this deficit spending via a 1/8th page political advertisement in the Scottsboro Daily Sentinel. The above financial statement also reflects an error, "General Fund revenue totaled $19,003,710, with total expenditures of $19,830,554, for an excess of revenue over expenditures of $826,844."
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The above statement is not a true statement, there is not an excess of revenue over expenditures, it reflects an excess of expenditures over revenue, a deficit of $826,844.
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The Government Fund Revenue reflects the following deficit as stated in the audit but not explained in last nights Audit Briefing: "Governmental Fund revenue totaled $22,251,751, with total expenditures of $25,114,895." This reflects a deficit of $2,863,144."
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An attack on the local newspaper, The Daily Sentinel, and its reporting was made during last nights council meeting. Council Member Terry Thomas stated concerning an article in last weeks Daily Sentinel, "people should not believe everything they read in the newspaper, they should come to the council meeting. "
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Mr. Thomas was refering to a story in the Daily Sentinel about the Jackson County Courthouse restroom facilities being an issue during First Monday weekends.
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Mr. Thomas, there is nothing inaccurate in the article as you allege! However, there is an inaccuracy in the 2009 Scottsboro Audit which you express no concern. Citizens most certainly should attend City Council Meetings. However, your statement is like the audit statement, inaccurate and not fully reported.
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First Monday has been treated as a "political football" by local politicians. Yes, there was a "squabble" about the restrooms but more reasonable citizens will resolve the "squabble." Since the politicians can not resolve their problems, the First Monday vendors will do it for you. The spokesperson for the First Monday Vendors committee will make a presentation to the County Commission in Thursday's work session suggesting a resolution to the rest room clean up issue.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Scottsboro City Council


Councilman Keith Smith, left and newly elected School Board member Daryl Eustace.

Mayor Potter presents Certificate of Election to Keith Smith and Daryl Eustace.
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There were two sessions in tonights City Council meeting, a work session and a regular meeting afterwords. I will list if the work session item was approved during the regular council meeting.
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1) County Commissioner Horrace Clemmons appeared before the City Council to request that the City of Scottsboro pay for the cleanup of the rest room at First Monday. He stated he had received several complaints that the rest room was dirty and created a bad image for the county and city. Clemmons stated if the city will not clean up the rest room the commission will close the facility. Council President Matthew Hodges stated the Administrative Committee will take the issue under advisement. Daily Sentinel article: http://www.thedailysentinel.com/story.lasso?ewcd=b48a4c03807f9c58
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My Comments: First Monday has been a 100 year plus tradition in Jackson County. The current political administration of the City and County have utilized First Monday as a political football. The city has refused to provide advertising for the event except on their web site which contains inaccurate information. Now the county comes forth after spending near $500,000 dollars in pay increases over and beyond any reasonability and refuses to clean that which is their responsibility to clean. It is the county commissions responsibility to serve the people not themselves.
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The First Monday event brings visitors to our town which produces tax revenue. Scottsboro and Jackson County are known for the traditional First Monday event. First Monday has become a political football for local politicians. Local politicians have turned a positive event which represents Scottsboro and Jackson County into just another place in which politicians ruin tradition and tourism opportunities. The County Commissioners have a responsibility to keep the rest rooms open and clean them. A rest room with running water must be made available in order that people may wash their hands. For County Commissioner Horrace Clemmons to say it is the city's responsibility to clean county property is beyond ridiculous, it is just plain stupid. Hand washing prevents disease, porta-toilets do not have hand washing facilities.
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Hopefully, the Scottsboro City Council will demonstrate better sense than the self serving, irresponsible Jackson County Commission.
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2) Sheila Shepard from the Jackson County Economic Development Authority, EDA, made a presentation concerning an Enterprise Zone designation to provide Tax Free incentives to business and industry locating in Jackson County and Scottsboro. The designation of an Enterprise Zone was approved by the City Council. EDA site describes the various incentives. http://www.jacksoncountyeda.org/incentives.html 3) The City Finance Director, Rick Wheeler, made a presentation concerning changing the City Business License. There will be 5 additional business classifications added to the city business license. 4)Charles King, City Engineer, discussed zoning change request for a parcel of land located on Hwy 35 in Larkinsville. The City Council approved a Public Hearing date of October 11, 2010 for the rezoning issue. 5) Police Chief Dawe made presentation concerning the annual closing of Micah Way for the Scottsboro Track and Field Event on Sep. 18 2010. The portion of Micah Way from the Wal-Mart Shopping Center Northeast entrance to the high school entrance will be closed from 8AM to 6PM on Saturday Sep 18th. The City Council approved the closing at the regular session. 6) Fuel Supply bids were opened, JAT Oil & Supply of Chattanooga, Tn. was the lowest bidder. The council approved the bid. 7) Bid opening for oil & lubricant supplies was awarded to PARMA Energy Corporation of Chattanooga, Tn. as being the lowest bidder. 8) Mr. David Long made presentation concerning Chevy Lane paving. Chevy Lane is located between Long Hollow Rd and Hwy. 35. Mr. Long stated the city had been paving this road and making repairs for many years but has stopped. Apparently there is a question of whether the road is in the city inventory of roads or is a private roadway. The city attorney will be looking into this matter. 9) Certificate of Election was presented to winners of the recent city election. Council Member Keith Smith was present as was newly elected School Board member David Eustace. (Photo's above)
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Reports: 1) Mayor stated That there will be an observance of National Constitution Week, Friday September 17, 2010 is Constitution Day. http://www.constitutionday.com/ 2) Discusion of Flood issue on Maples Street. FEMA Grant money available, cost share, city will provide 25% and FEMA will provide 75%.. This concerns the purchasing of property in the flood area. Previous articles on the issue. The Flood-- http://arklite.blogspot.com/2010/08/scottsboro-residents-upset-over-long.html and A Helping Hand--http://arklite.blogspot.com/2010/08/city-council-meeting-monday-august-23.html 3) Mayor Potter discussed the Planning Project related to frontage roads along U.S. Hwy 72. Mayor Potter stated their are $6 million dollars in Recovery Zone Funds available in Alabama. These are reduced interest Bond Loans, the Fed will pay for 45% of the loan interest. The Mayor took a bold step to recommend that the $6 million dollars be utilized to complete the planning of service roads along Hwy 72 and for the city to build the service roads with the Recovery Zone Act bonds. My comments: Bravo Mayor, absolutely, this is a bold but necessary move to provide infra-structure improvements. Part of the money should be utilized to fund improvements relative to the flooding on the North Side of the Tracks along Maple Street and other needed projects in the orginal, historical part of town. Pevious articles related to planning along Hwy. 72. June 22, 2010-- http://arklite.blogspot.com/2010/06/scottsboro-city-council-work-session.html July 20, 2010-- http://arklite.blogspot.com/2010/07/scottsboro-city-council-what-is-cda.html

Jackson County Commission Meeting--More Dog & Pony Show Politics

More Dog and Pony Show politics at the County Commission.



Click on Image to see an expanded view.
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Note item -W- on the agenda. "Motion to approve a $.89 (89cents) per hour cost of living increase for all county employees including elected officials." The motion carried and was approved. Daily Sentinel Article: http://www.thedailysentinel.com/story.lasso?ewcd=04c39fb548ec8965 kudos to Commissioner Clemmons for voting NO on this issue. This will cost the citizens $450K plus.
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The Code of Alabama Section 11-2A-4 states the following in regard to "Compensation of Increases."(a) " Beginning with the fiscal year commencing on October 1, 2001, the local officials covered by this chapter shall be entitled to the same uniform increases in compensation, including cost-of-living increases, longevity increases, merit raises, and bonuses that are granted to county employees by the county commission at the time of the approval of the county budget. The increases shall be in the same amount or percentage, as the case may be, as that amount or percentage increase provided to the county's employees; provided, however, no tax assessor, tax collector, revenue commissioner, license commissioner, elected assistant tax assessor, or elected assistant tax collector shall receive an expense allowance as provided in subdivision (3) of Section 11-2A-2 and an increase under this subsection in the same fiscal year."
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89 cents per hour for each county hourly wage employee equates to how much money for the elected and appointed officials? I could understand a 2-3% percentage increase, but a 89 cents per hour raise for elected officials? Exactly how much money are the commissioners hiding in their personal cost of living increase? Could this equate to an excessive 6%-9% cost of living increase?
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Ken Bonner, Managing Editor of The Daily Sentinel, in an OpEd article on September the 14th raises important points. http://thedailysentinel.com/story.lasso?ewcd=098ada9d52c9c80e "The proposal, by Jack Allen, is to give every employee (and there are approximately 245 of them) an 89 cent an hour raise...in today’s economy many people in Jackson County and across the country have gone without raises for some time. ...My point — before using local tax dollars when revenue is down — think long and hard. ...Under Allen’s proposal the county would be out slightly over $453,000 to fund the raises. That’s not chump change and it can’t be taken away." In closing Ken says, "I’m just trying to make sense of it. Help me if you can. "
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Ken, there is no sense in it, it is another example of another irresponsible management decision on the part of the current Jackson County Commission. One exception, District 4 Commissioner Horrace Clemmons voted NO on the issue.
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Item X on the agenda, the Jackson County Commission voted to close the South entrance to the Court House. Sheriff Miller stated that he would have to terminate 2 employees as the county Commission will not fund the security position. http://thedailysentinel.com/story.lasso?ewcd=3a198db43d5d87c0

Monday, September 13, 2010

Election to Watch, Senate District 8




The Barron(D)--McGill(R) election for District 8 Alabama Senate will be the election to watch come November. Will the Tea Party organization and Jackson County Patriots, both Republican organized, make a difference in the upcoming November election?
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Jackson County has been a traditional ultraconservative Democrat bastion. The political attacks pointed at President Obama via Fox News and other Republican Party mouthpieces are effective. The Democrats have done a terrible job countering the attacks of the Tea Party/ Republican Party propaganda mouthpieces. The Democrat counter arguments have been fractionalized and noneffective. The Democrats lack luster counter arguments concerning protecting the conservative wing, Blue Dogs, (Senator Barron) will be costly this November. I think the District 8 election will be separated by less than 500 votes.
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The Ballotpedia site lists stats on past elections and other info on Senator Barron. http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Lowell_Barron
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What is interesting to note is the necessary numbers to win an election. The magic figure is 17,400, less than 2500 votes separated Barron and Stout in the last election. With less than 60 days out from the election I've seen Shad McGill ads on TV, his wife and children made a showing at the Labor Day First Monday event, not much visibility from Senator Barron at this point.
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Senator Lowell Barron's Site: http://senatorbarron.org/
Mr. Shadrick McGill's Site: http://www.shadrack2010.com/

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Scottsboro, Alabama, Labor Day First Monday, 2010

Saturday
Sunday
Monday

With very little traditional media advertising, i.e. print, TV and radio media advertising, this Labor Day First Monday had large crowds.
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The City of Scottsboro does have an excellent web site. The site information needs updating. http://www.cityofscottsboro.org/index.phpoption=com_content&task=view&id=134&Itemid=227
First Monday History:
The Chamber of Commerce also has excellent basic information concerning First Monday.
Saturday started out slow but crowds picked up about 10AM and maintained a steady pace until 1PM when they began to thin. Art Sunday's crowds were strong after 10AM on the square. Many patrons told me that Art in the Park was going strong and large crowds were present.
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Mondays showing was the strongest with over 7500 estimated at 11AM till 1PM. I always ask visitors where they are from, the distance winner was a lady visiting us from France. Patrons were present from across the nation including California and Vermont, many from across the Southeastern U.S., including towns and cities across Alabama.
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Trading saw decreased numbers, down by 50% from 2008 and 40% from 2009. Most patrons were curiosity visitors. Many folks appear to be hoarding cash instead of spending it on collectible items. However, rare historical curiosities and numismatic gold/silver trades were to be found.
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The fact trading occurred in decreased numbers does not mean customers were not buying, it does mean First Monday is reflective of our economy. If jobs are plenty and the economy is doing well First Monday has an excellent turn out with lots of trades. When "money is tight," customers are reluctant to make purchases.
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First Monday is reflective of our economic times.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Alabama's Republican Candidate for Governor, Robert Bentley's Weak Point




Does the Republican candidate for governor, Robert Bentley, support antiquated Separate but Equal, does he support abolishing the Civil Rights Act? I have asked him and his campaign, he refuses an answer.
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"State Rights" Bentley's position on seperate but equal. 1) "...state governments are free to make their own laws and exercise their own discretion." 2) "I believe the Tenth Amendment establishes limits on the federal government, which have not been enforced. As Governor, I will defend the sovereignty of the State of Alabama, and I will support our right govern ourselves under our own laws and to make our own decisions without federal interference." http://www.robertbentley2010.com/index.php?page=protecting-our-constitutional-rights (The link listed was the link of Robert Bentley's political platform. It has been removed and replaced with "RB 2010 - Random Banter" How convenient considering the legal actions being taken against Alabama due to Bentley's racist policies based on state rights.)
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"Without Federal interference," does this "without Federal interference" concern the enforcement of the Civil Rights Act? The U.S. Government abolished Jim Crow laws in Alabama through the Civil Rights Act. Vestiges of Jim Crow still remain in Alabama's Constitution.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Scottsboro City Council Meeting




August 31, 2010 Regular City Council Meeting 1) City Clerk approved to issue certificate of election to wining candidates. 2) 2 provisional ballots were received however they were not approved as it was stated they were not residents of Scottsboro. 3) City Alcohol Sales Ordinace was amended and approved to sell draft beer. This amendment will become effective after the new law is published in the Daily Sentinel. http://www.thedailysentinel.com/story.lasso?ewcd=fee429122d51e810