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Building Relationships
 The Political Round-Up

Judicial vacancy; Elephant envy;

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
​This and that collected along the political trail of late ...

"With your help in asking others to sign this petition, maybe, just maybe I’ll be home before Christmas," so says Don Siegelman in a bid to convince President Barack Obama that the former governor of Alabama deserves a pardon. Siegelman was recently ordered to begin serving a 6-1/2 year prison sentence for public corruption. 

Former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas this week was disbarred in Florida. Thomas was disbarred in Alabama in the wake of sensational charges alleging that he paddled young inmates in a spare courthouse office for his sexual gratification. He was acquitted of criminal charges but lost his judgeship through state judicial disciplinary proceedings.  

... Roy Moore, GOP nominee for chief justice of the state Supreme Court, will be the guest speaker at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20 at the August meeting of the Escambia County GOP. Candidates for mayor and city council for all cities and towns in Escambia County are also expected to attend. The event will be held at The Hourglass, 220 St. Joseph Avenue in Brewton.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance is the front-runner to oppose Moore on the Democratic side of the ballot. Vance would replace Harry Lyon, who won the Democratic primary, but was booted off by party officials who declared him bizarre.

Vance qualified on Monday. Qualifying closes mid-day Wednesday.

Vance issued the following statement to his Facebook friends:

"To my Facebook friends, I have just qualified to serve as the Democratic nominee for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. It was not a decision made lightly, but I feel compelled to provide a choice to the people of Alabama.

The deadline for qualifying ends Wednesday. If no one else qualifies, I would expect to be named as the nominee immediately thereafter.

Your support and prayers are most welcome!"

"It is the decision of the State Democratic Executive Committee that Mr. Lyon clearly violated the state party's by-laws and this, along with his increasingly erratic behavior, have undermined his ability to stand as a candidate for the Democratic Party."

A week ago, the State Democratic Party sent Lyon a letter outlining a series of increasingly disturbing behavior that violated the Party's bylaws and the Canons of Judicial Ethics including an apparent inability to conduct himself in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and an apparent inability to maintain the decorum and temperance befitting the office of Chief Justice.

Party Chairman Mark Kennedy called for a meeting of the State Executive Board to take up the matter and Friday afternoon a five-member subcommittee of the Board met and voted to disqualify Lyon. The Board then set next steps to ensure the Party would be represented in this race in November.

The Party opened a qualifying period for potential replacement candidates. The qualifying period opened Monday, Aug. 20 at 8 a.m. and will close Wednesday, Aug. 22 at noon. If no candidate qualifies during the qualifying period, there will be no Democratic nominee for Chief Justice. If only one candidate qualifies, that candidate will become the Democratic nominee. If more than one candidate qualifies, ballots will be mailed on Wednesday, Aug. 22 to the full membership of the State Democratic Executive Committee. Ballots will be due on Monday, Aug. 27 by 5 p.m. to the Democratic Party Headquarters.

Moore justice appears poised to regain the post after defeating GOP primary foes incumbent Chief Justice Chuck Malone and Mobile County Circuit Judge Charlie Graddick.

The Alabama Republican Party responded to Lyon's ouster with a statement from party Chairman Bill Armistead.

“Judge Mark Kennedy and the Alabama Democratic Party have been trying to find a path to relevance in Alabama. Today they decided to remove Democratic Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee Harry Lyon from the ballot, thinking that would help their cause. Unfortunately for them, it will not work. It will only show Alabama voters what a farce the once powerful Alabama Democratic Party has become.

 “First they tried to remove Mr. Lyon with a trumped up charge that he was in violation of the Fair Campaign Practice Act. That charge was completely bogus and thus Judge Kennedy had to find an alternate excuse.

“The second attempt to remove Mr. Lyon shows that Democrats are truly liberal and out of touch with Alabama values. In a 16-page document that was used as ‘evidence’ to remove Mr. Lyon from the ballot, the Alabama Democratic Party provided copies of 28 separate Facebook postings by Mr. Lyon. In 15 of these postings, Mr. Lyon expresses his disagreement with President Obama’s position on same sex marriage and he continually asks Judge Mark Kennedy and Lucy Baxley their position on the issue. 

“Let me be clear, the Alabama Republican Party affirms its support of traditional marriage and stands in opposition to President Barack Obama's order to the Department of Justice to ignore the 'Defense of Marriage Act' and the Democratic Party's position in support of gay marriage. However the Alabama Republican Party encourages all individuals engaged in this discussion to enter into it respectfully. We do not condone hateful speech by anyone engaged in this debate.

“Democrat support of gay marriage became a national issue when President Obama came out in support of gay marriage. That was followed by the announcement by the Democratic Party that they were going to endorse same sex marriage in their platform. Since then numerous Alabama media outlets have attempted to get a reaction from Judge Kennedy and the Alabama Democratic Party, to no avail. With the removal of Harry Lyon as the Democratic nominee because of his opposition to the Democratic position in favor of gay marriage, it should be clear to every Alabamian just how liberal the Democratic Party has become.

“It should be obvious, now more than ever, that the Alabama Democratic Party has wholeheartedly embraced the extreme leftist views of President Barack Obama and other national Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank. They no longer represent the conservative, traditional views that most Alabamians hold. It is time for all conservatives to unite behind the only conservative Party in Alabama, the Alabama Republican Party.

“I would also like to offer a warning to any candidate that considers qualifying with the Alabama Democratic Party to fill this vacancy. Do so and know that you are joining the election as a member of the Party that supports same-sex marriage and that the Alabama Republican Party will stand shoulder to shoulder with Judge Roy Moore to defeat you and support conservative Alabama values.”

... veteran Mobile County District Judge Mike McMaken will retire Oct. 1. Who will succeed him? Among the possible contenders drawing mention are Walter Honeycutt, Jean Powers, Matt Green, Jay Ross, Jill Phillips, Jay York, Stuart Luckie, Grady Edmondson, Randy Crane, Barney March, Vaughn Drinkard, Cindy Powell, Jennifer Wright, Barbara Brown, Ed Blount and Ken Nixon.

A five-member judicial selection committee, headed by presiding Circuit Judge Charlie Graddick, will interview applicants and recommend three candidates for the governor's consideration. 

A second opening may follow upon the heels of McMaken's retirement, according to courthouse buzz. District Judge Charlie McKnight will be eligible to retire early next year and may choose to step down two years before his term in office expires.  

"Don't know," McKnight replied when asked if he planned to retire after Jan. 1. 

... Matt Simpson, Chairman of the Baldwin County Republican Party, called on Daphne City Councilman Gus Palumbo to remove the GOP elephant logo from his campaign material. Palumbo has declined.

According to Simpson, it is "disingenous and misleading" for Palumbo to use the logo because he isn't and never has been a dues-paying member of the Republican Party. Palumbo called the request "desperate politics" in an attempt to breathe life into the campaign of his council opponent, Dane Haygood, a member of the Baldwin County Republican Executive Committee.

Municipal elections in Daphne are set for Tuesday, Aug. 28. The elections are non-partisan. A Candidate Forum
is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 21 in the Daphne Civic Center, 2603 U.S. 98. Doors will open to the public at 5:30 p.m. The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. Daphne has 20 local candidates vying for municipal office. For more information visit or call 251-626-7808.

... according to city officials in Spanish Fort, the razing of Causeway eyesores, including the old Ramada Inn and Woody's Motel, will begin soon and continue through the spring of 2013.

... Michael Lee, convicted for the shocking Macy Place home invasion and murder of Kyser Miree, was criticized for remaining silent at his sentencing and not expressing contrition. His attorney, Art Powell, pointed out that Lee did not speak on the advice of counsel because he will appeal the conviction and also not to taint the pending defense of his mother who is accused of threatening a witness in the case.

Road work
Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson's 2012 "Pay As You Go" road paving program totals $7 million including almost $3 million inside the city of Mobile.

Big winners were Mobile City Council Districts 6 and 7. District 6 Council got $872,750 for 33 different projects. District 7 was awarded more than 1.4 million, almost half of which will be spent installing a "roundabout" at the intersection of Museum Drive and McGregor Avenue. District 5 got $160,000 and District 4 received $125,000.

Click here to see the complete list.

GOP HQ opening
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley will be the special guest when the Mobile County Republican Party stages the grand opening of its campaign headquarters at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6 in the Yester Oaks Shopping Center on Airport Blvd. A light dinner will be available. The event is open to the public.

The HQ will informally open Aug. 21 and hours will be 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays. Romney/Ryan items will be available. Volunteers may sign up at

Rooting for Ryan
Although she ran as a Gingrich delegate, Mobile County Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan is solidly in the Romney camp and enthusiastic about the addition of Congressman Paul Ryan to the GOP presidential ticket, calling him the "perfect complementary pick."

"His knowledge of the budget situation will be an excellent conversation with America," she said. "Young, energetic, smart, conservative, policy wonk, listens to Zeppelin, and sleeps on his couch in his D.C. office. Powerful team with a powerful message. Leadership is back."

Her Baldwin County counterpart, Matt Simpson, was pleased as well.

"​I like him," said Simpson. "He is a serious candidate that will honestly and knowledgeably talk about the issues. He won't paint a picture of lollipops and rainbows. Everyone knows the entitlement programs have to be addressed. Simply passing the headaches down the road to someone else is not Ryan's style. He will fire up the base."

Bienville Square facelift unveiled
Bienville Square - the center of recreational and civic activities in the heart of downtown Mobile, will be getting a facelift.

Mayor Sam Jones unveiled several changes to the historic Square, which dates back to 1824.

"First impressions are important. Bienville Square is the first public venue that most folks see when they come into downtown Mobile. We want it to friendly and inviting," the mayor said. "Another great thing about the changes we are announcing today is that the work was done solely by city departments."

The changes include:

Bright Lights On Bienville
Instead of the normal yellowish halo of lights, city crews have installed bright white lights on poles throughout the Square and lining the walkway to the restrooms.

"It is our goal to restore the Square back to a point where citizens and tourists will feel safe, be comfortable and enjoy the beauty of one of Mobile's historic jewels," the mayor said.

The Square's Focal Point: The Fountain  
The iconic fountain in Bienville was cleaned, repainted and city crews installed new bubblers in the structure - which allows the fountain's beautiful water display. The fountain has not been fully operational for nearly a year.

City Departments That Performed The Work:
Architectural/Engineering, Public Buildings, Mechanical Systems,Electrical, Parks/Recreational, Municipal Information Technology.

The rift between former Democratic Congressman Artur Davis, who also bid to be the party's gubernatorial nominee in 2010, and the state party continues to widen and deepen in the wake of his switch to the GOP and now his invitation to speak at the Republican National Convention.

In a statement, Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy said:

“In a press release from the RNC today, Chairman Reince Priebus stated that Artur Davis will give voice to ‘frustration and disappointment’ at the Republican Convention in Tampa. Actually, his disappointment has nothing to do with the job President Obama has done and everything to do with Artur simply being a sore loser.

The only part of the electorate Artur Davis is giving a voice to are former candidates who lost their races and then go on to blame it on everyone but themselves.

With that said, between his penchant for changing his Party and positions regularly, and for not taking responsibility for his own actions, Artur Davis seems a great addition to the Romney campaign.”

Armistead Mobile bound
State GOP Chairman Bill Armistead will be the special guest at the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee's fall meeting Monday, Oct. 1. A 6:30 p.m. reception will precede a 7 p.m. meeting. The place is to be determined.

Mobile Democrats to meet
The Mobile County Democratic Executive Committee will meet Thursday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. at the party headquarters, 918 Government Street in Mobile. Party officials are recruiting volunteers to work in the campaigns of local Democratic nominees Christian Smith who is running for Mobile County Treasurer, and Herndon Inge who is running for State Board of Education.

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