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The Political Round-Up

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Retired grocery chain executive John Holland will seek in elections this year to reclaim the Mobile County School Board seat that he surrendered one year ago after an ethics complaint was lodged against him.

Holland will challenge incumbent District 2 School Board Member Judy Stout in the Republican primary June 6. Stout was picked to replace Holland on the board after his resignation April 7, 2005. She has announced her plans to run for the post. There are no other announced District 2 candidates, either Republican or Democrat.

The state ethics commission had cited Holland for twice voting in favor of contracts involving Volkert and Associates where his son-in-law was employed. 

Between 1996 and 2003, Volkert supervised school construction projects totaling about $250 million.

“One of the key things I understand about that: It was certainly a mistake to vote,” Holland said. “I know that now. But both times my vote didn’t make a hill of beans.”

The outcome would have been identical if he had abstained, he noted.

Holland said he did not even know the Volkert employee who hired his son-in-law. Volkert has about 600 employees and a number of divisions, said Holland.

The Ethics Commission found on June 1, 2005 that Holland “committed two minor violations of the Alabama Ethics Law, and assesses an administrative penalty in the amount of $1,000 …”

Holland characterized the episode as “an expensive speeding ticket that didn’t get expunged.”

Holland said he now wishes he had allowed the matter to run its legal course, believing the issue would have expired and left his record unmarked.

Holland held the District 2 school board seat from 1994-2005. He served as board president and vice president, as well as chairing committees on finance, personnel, facilities and land and community affairs.

According to Holland, he would again stress public accountability in all areas, including annual financial reports that detail the system’s complete financial condition. His goals for the system include a reduction in waste and overhead in programs while also providing improved working conditions for classroom teachers, he said.

Holland retired from Delchamps Inc. as the grocery chain’s chief financial officer. He first joined the company as a bag boy.

According to Holland, his financial experience was and can be an invaluable asset to a school system that has over $600 million in annual expenditures. During his previous service on the board, Holland, 70, said he helped the system secure construction bonds that have resulted in more than $350 million in new construction, additions and capital repairs during the past 10 years.

Holland and his wife of more than 40 years, the former Carol Rodgers, have three grown children, all graduates of Mobile County public schools, and three grandchildren.

Ms. Stout retired last summer from the University of South Alabama where she was associate vice president for academic affairs, interim dean of the graduate school, director of the honors program and a professor.

"… I definitely want to continue doing it," Ms. Stout said. "It is difficult but important work. I really and truly enjoy it."

District 2 includes parts of Mobile west of I-65, south of Old Shell Road, and east of Sollie and Cody Roads, and areas of Mobile County south of the city limits including Tillman’s Corner, Belle Fountaine and other Fowl River communities.

School board members serve six-year terms, are paid $12,000 annually and are elected on a rotating basis.

Now you see it, now you don’t, now you do
The expunged case list with a caveat from the city's legal department:

("The file is neither reliable nor complete. The public records are
documents in the files maintained in the Municipal Court offices and not these computer printouts. Any suggestion that this list includes all the expunged files and/or that it includes nothing but expunged files would not be reliable based on what we know at this time.")

Be prepared to fire up your printer in order to view the list.

Tha, tha, that's all, folks
In scheduling a fundraiser, a candidate and his advisers consider the angles that will maximize the chances for a successful event. One of those factors is the venue, the idea being that the location should have some quality about it to attract a larger crowd than might otherwise attend. In the case of state Senate, District 34 GOP hopeful Chris Pringle, his campaign concluded that the extremely spacious Spring Hill home of Mr. and Mrs. Dan Elcan would accommodate supporters as well as attract those who wished to see the house from the inside. But Pringle backer Scotty Waters was unable to persuade the Elcan’s despite repeated attempts. He called on Mobile attorney Richard Wilkins to give it a try.

So Wilkins made
a last gasp, e-mail
appeal to Mrs. Elcan.
He signed the request
“Porky,” his nickname
back in his and Jamie’s
high school days,
assigned because
of his striking
resemblance to the
cartoon character
Porky Pig.
Apparently, the
recollection of
that bygone time melted
Mrs. Elcan’s resolve
against hosting the
reception and she
relented.

Last week, Pringle’s fundraiser drew a crowd that exhausted the supply of name tags. The Pringle campaign has topped $150,000, with a fundraising goal of $250,000, according to his campaign.

Other GOP candidates in the Senate 34 race are City Councilwoman Connie Hudson, state Rep. Rusty Glover, music industry executive Todd Burkhalter and local CPA Keith Graham.

Sonny Side Up
The Mobile Lions Club will roast former U.S. Congressman H.L. “Sonny” Callahan Thursday, April 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom on the campus of Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 6300 McKenna Drive off of Hillcrest Road near Airport Blvd.

Among the roasters lined up to date are: Bob Dawson; Colton Coile; Bill Yeager, longtime media consultant to Callahan; David Holloway, Press-Register Doctor of Cuisine and Tony Chachere’s Christmas card recipient; and Pearl Stringer or a less sophisticated relative. 

The event will mark the Lions Club's third annual celebrity roast. Previous headliners included then-Mayor Mike Dow and the late Joel Swanson.

Lion and longtime Mobile restaurateur Filippo Milone, formerly of The Pillars, will oversee the menu.

Tickets are $80 per person until April 7 ($85 thereafter) or $800 for a table for 10. Proceeds will benefit the Lions’ Charity Foundation.

Seating is limited. For more information contact Melisa Yeend at 786-2179 or 607-9527.

The colorful language of fire hydrants
With the flowers of spring brightening the land and streetscape, the city’s fire hydrants seem also to be in bloom, freshly painted in many hues, some wearing bonnets of blue, others green or orange, their bases yellow or red. Surely, some meaning hides among those colors.

And so one does, says Steve Huffman of the Mobile Fire Department.

Huffman reports: “The hydrants are color coded based on the size of the water main, the amount of water it will supply/discharge and the pressure to which it is discharged.

“Primarily, we need to know how much water is available from the closest hydrant so that we may select the appropriate size hose lines for the size and complexity of the fire, but not select lines which would exceed the capacity of the hydrant and thus be ineffective. This information is known as "available flow."

“We also need to know the water pressure in each hydrant so that we can immediately implement the correct pumping operation at the supply hydrant.

“Water pressure is effected by elevation. The communities that we serve are spread over many elevations so pressures found in hydrants vary greatly. By knowing the pressure range in advance of connecting our hoses, we can implement the proper pumping operation and compensate for nearly every low pressure situation using the pumps in our fire engines.

“It has also been found that the most efficient means to convey this important information to firefighters is to paint the hydrant tops and caps using standardized color codes. These colors give us a reasonably accurate picture as to how the hydrant should perform. They are easy to recognize and as fire crews travel the streets performing their various duties, they see these hydrants and get a feel for where the problem areas exist well in advance of a fire alarm being called in.

“We use four standardized colors -- blue, green, orange and red -- in that order, blue being the best. Therefore when firefighters are looking for a water supply they know where they will get the best resource for water based on the color of the hydrant.

Top Colors
NFPA 291

BLUE..........1500 GPM or more......Very good flows
GREEN......1000-1499 GPM..........Good for residential areas
ORANGE....500-999 GPM..............Marginally adequate
RED............Below 500 GPM...........Inadequate

“Typically only the bonnet (top) and caps will be color coded. The base of the hydrant could be white, yellow, red or violet in some areas of the country but in Mobile you will see yellow and red a majority of the time.

“It's the basic colors of the caps etc. that matter most.

This is in the International Fire Code and National Fire Protection Association Code and is recognized nationwide.  That's not to say all cities will use it but a firefighter could go to any city that does and know its meaning.”
Richard Wilkins
Porky Pig