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Chip Drago
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The Political Round-Up

To skin a cat; Ticket to ride;
Nan Seas no more; Kaboom!; Two for the show; Prichard's days numbered? Jones AWOL?

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Some south Alabama supporters of Jim Folsom Jr. are encouraging the potential 2010 prospect for governor to consider campaigning as an independent rather than take on Artur Davis in the Democratic primary where the congressman's base may prove overwhelming.

Whether or not the overture intrigues Folsom and his advisers enough that they seriously entertain it remains uncertain at this point.

An independent candidate of Folsom's caliber would virtually guarantee that Alabama's next governor would be elected by a plurality rather than a majority. There is no provision for a runoff following a general election if no candidate gets a majority of the vote.

The strategy met skepticism in some quarters.

"I would think that scenario favors (the Republican nominee) pretty clearly," said one Democratic politico, "unless I'm looking at it too simplistically or am not giving Folsom enough credit?"

Folsom is caught between a political rock and an electoral hard place, according to another observer of state politics. Davis's corralling of the African-American vote in the primary could well be more than Folsom could overcome. However, in a three-legged stool of a governor's race, Folsom as an independent would likely finish third, he said. He's in a trick bag of the Democratic Party's making. Its reliance on the black vote can cripple a white candidate facing a legitimate black opponent in the primary, especially if a competitive GOP primary on the same day draws less party-aligned voters to the Republican side of the ballot.  

"Jim can't win without black votes," he said. "He wouldn't even be the second leading vote-getter."

"It seems to me he wouldn't gobble up enough of the white vote to elect Artur," he added. "What white vote he got would come more from Artur than the Republican nominee."

Ticket to ride
A printing expense of $17,223 for last fall's Gulf Coast Classic football game between Alabama State and Southern was a particularly eye-catching entry in an audit of the contest.

It far exceeded the expense incurred for tickets by the GMAC Bowl, the Senior Bowl and Bayfest.

GCC organizers suggested a misunderstanding had given rise to a misleading impression of exorbitant spending for printing tickets.

Ticket printing was actually less than $7,000, according to Taylor Hodge, Jr., president of the Gulf Coast Scholar and Sports Foundation which now manages the game. The other $10,000-plus in printing took care of programs, arm bands, media credentials, rack cards and miscellaneous other printing, Hodge noted. 

Ladd-Peebles Stadium seats about 40,000. Attendance has been pegged variously at figures between 10,700 and 26,000.

BayFest, a city music festival staged downtown every October, printed 75,000 "high end" tickets for $4,203.15, according to officials.

Because BayFest is an outdoor event over three days without reserve seating, security measures to thwart counterfeiting have to be taken in printing tickets, said BayFest executive director Bobby Bostwick.

Among the precautions are a foil wrap and hologram embossing which boost the cost of BayFest tickets over the expense of printing basic football game tickets. BayFest weekend passes also include three perforations.

"I'm pretty sure ours are more sophisticated than a standard ticket to a football game," said Bostwick, adding that he had not seen the GCC ticket and his remarks related strictly to BayFest.

BayFest printing was handled locally by Printed Impressions.

Promoted for the first time by the Gulf Coast Scholar and Sports Foundation, the 35th annual GCC received public financing in 2008 totaling at least $355,000 -- $275,000 from the city in a compromise after an initially proposed $450,000; $50,000 from Mobile County; and $30,000 from a state tourism fund.

An audit of the game reflected a deficit of more than $188,000. The schools themselves are owed about that amount under the contract.

City officials are scheduled to meet March 18 with GCSSF representatives to review the event's performance in advance of preparing a budget for 2009-2010.
 
Nan Seas no more
"We are closed. As of March the 2 we are no longer in business," says a female voice on an answering machine at Nan Seas Restaurant on Cody Road south of Airport. The popular eatery had relocated from the Dauphin Island Parkway area in south Mobile after Hurricane Katrina. Owner Willis Robinson could not be reached immediately for comment.  

Kaboom!
The camp of ex-Judge Herman Thomas, the much-harried subject last week of sensational allegations in a bombshell story by Lagniappe's Rob Holbert, says to expect a response in coming weeks.

"Think Enewetok," said an ally of Thomas referring to the atoll in the Pacific Ocean used in testing the hydrogen bomb.

Carroll sets Leinkauf community meeting
Mobile City Councilman William Carroll has set a
District Two Leinkauf Community Meeting Thursday, March 5 at Leinkauf Elementary School (1410 Monroe Street), starting at 6:30 p.m. Key City department heads will attend, said Carroll.

Prichard's days numbered?
Prichard as a municipal entity may be nearing an end. Buzz in political/governmental circles has it that financial missteps when financial twinkle toes were needed have just about choked the life out of the once-proud city. Odds are better than even that the city will dissolve with the state stepping in to pick up the pieces, insiders say. While Prichard may be short of fiscal acumen, it has more than ample call for law enforcement, a situation which would seriously strain the resources of both the Mobile Police Department, since much of an unincorporated Prichard would be in Mobile's police jurisdiction, and the Mobile County Sheriff's Department. 

Jones AWOL?
Mayor Sam Jones' scarcity around City Hall over the past few weeks is beginning to raise eyebrows. Jones' allies say the mayor chose the Mardi Gras period to take an extended vacation. Those stories did little to staunch rumors of an unscheduled departure. The chatter is beginning to reach a level that an official statement explaining the situation should be forthcoming.
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