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Chip Drago
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The Political Round-Up

Sessions feels like a million bucks; Local GOP
chairman hails the chief; Judge Rodney Dangerfield;
Pittman fast out of the gate; Nodine to replace Sam Jones; 'Clean up, company's coming'; Fred keeps the beat     
By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
When the last nickel finally rolled in, total contributions topped $1 million in the fundraiser that President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush headlined here Thursday for U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions' re-election bid in 2008, according to Sessions' campaign officials.

As of Friday morning, the total was $968,000, according to Sessions' state finance chairman Sandy Stimpson, but several pledges were outstanding and by Tuesday afternoon enough had trickled in to propel the event over the $1 million mark.

The take is believed to easily exceed any previous political fundraising effort in the Mobile area, eclipsing the likely former record which occurred about three years ago when Mrs. Bush visited Mobile for a fundraiser that netted $400,000-$500,000 for the president's 2004 re-election campaign.    

Sessions reportedly proclaimed the event "fabulous in every way," adding that Bush and his staffers thought the reception "ranked among the best" they had seen for a city of Mobile's size.

Local GOP chairman hails the chief
If a three-digit number pops up on your caller ID, you might want to take the call, advises Mobile County GOP Chairman Mark Erwin.

Receiving just such a call last week as he was entering the Mobile County Courthouse, the Mobile attorney learned it was the White House calling to confirm that he would be one of just eight persons, and the only Mobile resident, tapped to greet the president and his entourage when Air Force One touched down at Brookley Field Thursday for the Sessions' fundraiser.

Erwin said he was most struck with the enormity of the job in moving a president around.

"It's a monumental task getting him from and to a location," Erwin said. "No less than 75 people you could see all crammed around the downtown air center. The White House advance staff, uniformed military, obviously the Secret Service, local law enforcement. Just an amazing amount of manpower."

"All-in-all, it was pretty awe-inspiring," he said. "You walk out on the tarmac that close to Air Force One, an iconic symbol of the presidency, and have the opportunity for a unique experience."

Erwin said he was not certain how or why he was chosen for the honor, although he believes Sessions' office picked him.

"I'm very, very appreciative of the chance to do it," Erwin said.

Presidential adviser Karl Rove accompanied Bush, Sessions and Jo Bonner but endeavored to be inconspicuous in public, Erwin noted. While the elected officials disembarked the plane in some pomp and ceremony, Rove lingered in the plane until the initial splash of their arrival calmed and then he exited a rear door of the plane and slipped into the motorcade to the convention center largely unnoticed, Erwin said.        

'I'm tellin' ya, I don't get no respect'
Mobile County Circuit Judge John R. Lockett, one of four Democratic judges on the local bench, reports that his listing on the Mobile County Democratic Party website as a Republican was in error and not a harbinger of a shift in allegiances. Lockett said he would ask the webmaster to correct the boo-boo. And, when the judge slaps that gavel down, he apparently gets snappy results. Within minutes the 'R' vanished, replaced by a 'D' and Lockett was again saddled up on a donkey. Asked how it felt to be mistaken for a Republican, if only briefly, Lockett was dumbstruck. 

Pittman fast out of the gate
Political rookie Trip Pittman has flashed early speed in the race to succeed Bradley Byrne as Baldwin County's District 32 state senator, raising more than $55,000 in just three days earlier this month.

The Eastern Shore businessman's 45-day report to the Alabama Secretary of State's office showed 77 total contributors -- 56 individuals, 14 corporations and seven businesses. Contributions ranged from $20 to $2,500, for an average of $718.

Between June 20-22, Pittman raised $55,295, according to the filing.

Among his major backers were:

Other announced candidates include Baldwin County Commissioner David Ed Bishop, former state Sen. Albert Lipscomb, State School Board Member Randy McKinney and county GOP chairman Don McGriff. The seat became vacant when Byrne accepted Gov. Bob Riley's appointment as chancellor over the state's embattled two-year college system.

Lipscomb reported a balance of just over $3,000. His most recent contributions came in March, including $1,000 from Barry L. Booth, DMD. 

McKinney's filing reflected no activity as yet. No reports were posted for either McGriff or Bishop.

But Bishop's political/media consultant Jonathan Gray of Strategy Inc. supplied Bishop's report which apparently had not yet been uploaded on the Secretary of State's website.

Bishop's 45-day pre-election report showed contributions of $28,660.19 and an identical balance.

All of Bishop's contributions were raised between June 22-24.

Among the contributors were:

The qualifying deadline is Friday, June 29.

This & That
Mobile County Commission President Stephen Nodine will soon join the Alabama State Port Authority's board of directors, replacing Mobile Mayor Sam Jones whose term expires July 31. Tim Parker chairs the board. Mobile area directors include Gary Cooper, David Cooper and Sonny Callahan. The board's next meeting is Wednesday, July 25 at 11 a.m. in the board room at the International Trade Center here on Water St.

With the impending arrival of ThyssenKrupp and its $3.7 billion, 2,700-employee steel plant, an MBT caller suggests that Jones adopt for the city's anti-litter campaign the following slogan: "Clean up, company's coming."

Citizens are invited to join the mayor as he hosts the first ever Litter Summit Saturday, June 30 at the Z-Technology Center at Hank Aaron Stadium from 10 a.m. to noon. The summit will bring together community leaders to share their best practices for keeping the city clean.

Bob Haskins, director of Keep Mobile Beautiful, will moderate the panel of neighborhood leaders who have spearheaded successful litter campaigns. Topics include “Beauty is Good for Business,” “Litter League,” “District-wide Community Policing,” and “We Want Our Neighborhood Back!” A video from Keep America Beautiful called “How Did This Get Here?” that discusses the sources and dynamics of litter will be shown.

“We want to empower our citizens to take ownership of the image our city presents to the rest of the world,” said Jones. “Our goal is to never have to write another litter ticket.”

The summit represents Jones' latest action to fight litter in Mobile. Earlier this year, he worked with the Mobile City Council to make the litter ordinance stricter. This week, the first of 200 new litter containers will be placed throughout the city in high pedestrian traffic areas such as bus stops and busy intersection.

Citizens will also hear from the American Heart Association about incorporating cleaning up their neighborhood while exercising.  The event is free and open to everyone. Anyone who is interested in attending is asked to RSVP to the Office of Neighborhood and Community Services at (251) 470-7730.

Councilman Fred Richardson announced a District One, Beats 32 and 35 Community Meeting for Thursday, June 28 at the Mobile Infirmary Hearin-Chandler Auditorium starting at 7 p.m.

Several city department heads will be in attendance to discuss a variety of things going on in Mobile, according to Richardson. The meeting will also focus on the role Mobile 311 plays in the community, preparing for the hurricane season, and neighborhood issues. Area residents area invited to attend.

The City of Mobile Traffic Engineering Department will continue work through the end of next week on the pedestrian guard rail on the bridge located on McVay Drive between Dauphin Island Parkway and Navco Road, according to city spokesman Adam Buck. The road will be closed from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. each day until the work is finished.
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