The Political Round-Up
Galanos joins Atchison firm;
Mayor Bonner done?;
Small looms at large
By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
This and that along the political trail of late ...
Ex-District Attorney and former Circuit Judge Chris Galanos has joined The Atchison Firm, led by Jim Atchison. Galanos and Atchison had been fierce political adversaries earlier in their careers.
Spanish Fort Mayor Joe Bonner is not expected to seek re-election in municipal elections later this year.
Ex-Daphne Mayor Fred Small, who resigned the post last year before completing his term in office, is reportedly mulling a run for a seat on the Daphne City Council in elections later this summer.
Emile Mark Pelow, 66, will be sentenced in Bay Minette at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday following a blind plea of guilty to 65 counts of child pornography. Each count is a Class C felony carrying a possible sentence of one to 10 years in prison. A “blind plea” is one in which the prosecution has made no offers in exchange for the guilty plea, explained Baldwin County District Attorney Hallie Dixon. Baldwin County Circuit Court Judge James Reid will impose sentence on Pelow.
Robertsdale police arrested Pelow in January 2011 after police received a report from computer technicians who found hundreds of pornographic images and a number of videos on a computer Pelow had brought in for repair, according to Dixon. The Merritt Park, Fla., man was nabbed at an RV park in Summerdale.
Pelow subsequently was charged in federal court and pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and transporting child pornography across state lines. Indicted by a Baldwin County grand jury in April 2011, Pelow was set for an August trial.
Pittman tops CSC card
State Sen. Trip Pittman of Baldwin County will headline a Common Sense Campaign Town Hall meeting
Wednesday, June 6 from 7-9 p.m. at Homestead Village, 924 Plantation Blvd. in Fairhope. The District 32 solon will report on the work done by the Alabama legislature this past session and answer questions from constituents. The event is open to the public.
Swim guide application for smartphones
A new smart phone app helps beachgoers find the closest, cleanest beach, with information on more than 1,000 beaches across North America.
The Swim Guide is an app for iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch® and Android (2.1 or higher) that makes it easy to explore and enjoy the waterways and beaches in Mobile and Baldwin counties, as well as hundreds of beaches in Florida, California, and the Great Lakes.
Finding and enjoying that perfect stretch of sand and water has just become a whole lot easier with the launch of the Swim Guide, a new, free, smart phone app (available from App Store, Google Play, or www.theswimguide.org). Provided and managed by member groups within Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of 200 water protection groups worldwide, the Swim Guide helps the user locate the closest, cleanest beach, get directions, view photos, and determine if the water is safe for swimming. The Swim Guide also allows the user to share the whole adventure with their friends and family on social networks.
The Swim Guide utilizes water quality monitoring data from government authorities (ADEM/ADPH in Alabama) to determine water quality at 18 beaches in Alabama and is updated as frequently as water quality information is gathered. Beaches in Florida, California, and the Great Lakes are updated by local Waterkeeper member organizations.
Swim Guide includes descriptions and photographs of nearly 1,300 beaches in California and across North America, including Miami, FL, Mobile, AL, the Great Lakes, British Columbia and Alberta. Swim Guide will continue to expand until it covers beaches in every major beach community in North America.
The next regular monthly meeting of the Mobile County Democratic Executive Committee will be Thursday, June 21 at 6 p.m. at Mobile Democratic Headquarters, 918 Government Street.
Local economic analysis
In its latest analysis, Garner Economics' research economist Tom Tveidt reports that in February 2012, 344 of 372 U.S. metropolitan areas added employment over last year. The numbers provide convincing evidence of widespread post-recession growth. While trends in employment are the typical gauge of economic wellbeing; earnings can provide a deeper measure of the value of economic change. See how the Mobile metro area did in earnings and wage growth by clicking here.
Market in the Park
With the arrival of summer, Market in the Park returns every Thursday from 3-6 p.m. the Mobile Museum of Art. Local vendors will have the freshest fruits, vegetables, arts & crafts and more. Admission to the museum is free during market hours.
Every Wednesday, enjoy a special program about Bellingrath Gardens and Home, gardening, local history and nature. Wonderful Wednesdays at Bellingrath is the perfect place to bring a friend and spend time among 65 acres of blooms. Gardens Admission ($12 for adults and $ 6.50 for children 5-12) is charged for non-members attending programs unless otherwise listed. There are additional charges to tour the Home and/or to take the River Cruise. Call 251.973.2217 X 111 for reservations.
2012 Schedule of Programs
June 6 - Summer Garden Walk With Barbara Smith
Bellingrath's Display Manager, Barbara Smith will lead a tour throughout the Gardens and answer your questions about her selection of plants for the floral borders and containers. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Reservations Requested.
June 13 - From the Furnace to the Gardens: A Look at Antique Cast Iron in Bellingrath Gardens with Tom McGehee. Learn about the beautiful antique cast iron ornaments throughout the Gardens with Bellingrath's Curator, Tom McGehee. 10:30- 11:30 a.m. Reservations Requested.
June 20 - Kids' Gulf Discovery Day and Kids' Kruise.
Learn about the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico and Fowl River from area experts. Lot of activities and displays for kids. Two Kids' Kruises with Casi Callaway and Dauphin Island Sea Lab staff - 11 a.m. cruise and a lunch cruise at noon. 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. Reservations Required for Lunch Kruise.
June 27 - Hibiscus with Dr. Bill Barrick. Dr. Barrick has declared this the year of the Hibiscus at Bellingrath Gardens. Learn more about these beautiful plants and how we have used them in the Gardens. Sales of Hibiscus plants in the Gift Shop, too! 10:30-11:30 a.m.Reservations Requested. Plant Sale in Gift Shop.
July 4 - No program.
July 11 - Herbs 101 with Annette Daugherty from The Gulf Coast Herb Society. If you want to learn more about growing, preserving and cooking with herbs, this is the program for you. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Reservations Requested.
July 18 - Growing Citrus on the Gulf Coast with John Olive, Auburn University Ornamental Horticulture Research Center. Olive talk about growing citrus and how to protect our citrus from pests and disease. 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. Reservations Requested.
July 25 - Plants & Gardens of China, Thailand and Vietnam with Dr. Brenda Litchfield. Dr. Litchfield has recently returned from a six-month teaching assignment in China. She will share information about plants and gardens she found on her travels in China, Thailand and Vietnam. 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. Reservations Requested.
The new meth
Count Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran among the cynical over recent legislation to further deter the production of meth amphetamine in Alabama.
While there were some worthy aspects to the bill, it represented as much a tactical retreat by the pharmaceutical industry which will continue to reap huge profits as long as drug stores can carry products containing pseudoephedrine, according to Cochran.
Cochran calls the new meth legislation "a last ditch effort by the pharmaceutical manufacturers to continue to make their nearly $1 billion dollar a year profits."
Cochran saluted two aspects of the new law -- the barring of Mississippi residents from coming into Alabama without a prescription to obtain products containing pseudoephedrine and conforming state law with federal law on amounts.
"The reporting system was already in effect, and already allowed us to target" people who were buying pseudoephedrine for the purpose of making meth, said Cocharn.
But such measures fall far short of effective law enforcement, said Cochran, essentially rounding up the drug addicts who are also the meth cooks for the most part.
Left unaddressed are vulnerable children and other innocent people, as well as the environment that is harmed by the dumping of dangerous chemicals, said Cochran.
The problem could be solved "... if we took the one ingredient away from them that they must have" -- pseudoephedrine, Cochran said.
Cochran also praised the "smurfing" clause that targets the go-betweens who acquire pseudoephedrine from retailers on behalf of meth cooks.
"... but again, it creates a new class of criminals, i.e., teenagers and other people who wouldn’t be solicited to make the smurf purchases were it not for the easy bucks to be lured to do so for the meth cooks," said Cochran.
"We wouldn’t be bothered by meth manufacturing were it not for pseudoephedrine sales," he said. "I believe it may be a matter of time before the manufacturers are forced by the feds to sell only products that can’t be tampered with or converted. But until then, they’re going to profit as much as they can."
According to Cochran, the pharmaceutical industry spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying in Alabama and other states to ensure that pseudoephedrine remain as readily available as possible for the law-abiding and law-breaking public.
Young Boozer in Mobile June 9
State Treasurer Young Boozer will be the featured speaker at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 9 for the South Alabama Republican Men’s Club Breakfast at John Word's Captain’s Table Restaurant near USS Alabama Battleship Park on the Causeway.
The State Treasury is responsible for multiple state financial interests, including unclaimed property, cash management, bonds, the Alabama Trust Fund and more.
According to Boozer, he is guided by a lifelong principle: Do the right thing, do it the right way, and do it right away.
Women are welcome to attend, noted George E. Williams, Senior Vice Chairman, Alabama Republican Party.
Mobile City Council President Reggie Copeland Sr. has tapped Page Stalcup, an experienced local CPA, to serve on the city's standing Budget and Finance Advisory Committee.
Stalcup's selection would appear to close out the committee with six members. They include financial advisor John Thompson, auditor Ken Germany, attorney and real estate executive Paul Wesch, City Councilman Fred Richardson.
District Judge Jody Bishop named
Alabama’s 'Judge of the Year'
The Alabama Forest Owners Association and the Alabama Forestry Commission today awarded Baldwin County District Judge Jody Bishop as “Judge of the Year” for the entire state of Alabama.
He was selected over judges who were nominated throughout the state.
AFC Forestry Investigators in Southwest Alabama nominated Bishop for the award. The AFOA reviewed all nominations and made the final selection based on votes and a written recommendation letter.
Bishop was selected to win because of his “exemplary commitment to the apprehension/prosecution of individuals who steal, burn or otherwise destroy the forest resources of this state,” according to Forestry Commission officials.
“I am honored to be selected for this award,” said Bishop, who will take office as a Baldwin County circuit judge in January. “Our forests have always been a key component of Baldwin County’s history and economy, and I am committed to enforcing the laws that protect them.”
The award was presented during a meeting of Forestry Investigators at the Stockton Community Center at the Old Stockton School Yard Park in Stockton.
The Alabama Forestry Commission is a state agency tasked with protecting forests, serving landowners in an effort to foster responsible forest management, and educating the public about the value of Alabama forests to the state’s economy and environment. The Alabama Forest Owners' Association has more than 6,500 members throughout Alabama and elsewhere in the United States.
Alabama Humanities Foundation hires
Armand DeKeyser as new executive director
The Alabama Humanities Foundation (http://ahf.net) has hired Armand DeKeyser as its new executive director. DeKeyser assumed his new duties June 1.
A native of Mobile and a graduate of Auburn University, DeKeyser returns to his home state after a number of years working in Washington, DC, most notably as Chief of Staff to Sen. Jeff Sessions.
“I am excited to be a part of an organization that does such vital work throughout Alabama,” said DeKeyser, who will be based out of AHF’s headquarters in Birmingham. “Working with Sen. Sessions took me all over this great state, and I saw firsthand how important the humanities are for the health of all of our communities, big and small.”
As the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the AHF creates and fosters opportunities, through grants and AHF-conducted programs, for scholars and the public to interact with and explore human values and meanings through the humanities.
In addition to his more than 30 years of leadership experience in government and private business, DeKeyser is a 28-year veteran of Army active and reserve military duty.
Sen. Jeff Sessions said DeKeyser’s experience as a public servant will help the AHF operate well around the state.
“He is a positive and energetic leader with outstanding organizational skills, and he will do a great job for this important cultural institution," said Sessions.
DeKeyser replaces Judge John E. Rochester, of Ashland, who stepped in as interim executive director in February after the retirement of AHF’s long-time executive director Bob Stewart.
In November 2013, the AHF will host representatives from the around the country when the Federation of State Humanities Councils holds its annual conference in Birmingham.