Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: August 2009 Archives

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August 31, 2009

Alabama: Birmingham candidates think outside the box to get inside the tube

The Birmingham News reports: With six weeks before the Birmingham City Council runoff, two of the four candidates seeking to unseat incumbents say televised council meetings are tantamount to free campaign advertising, giving their opponents an unfair advantage.

Kim Rafferty and Elias Hendricks have asked Bright House Networks for free air time to present their platforms on the public access channel because their competitors are on television each Tuesday.

Two other candidates, Sheila Tyson and Leroy Bandy, said they support the request. ...

"We all know that City Council broadcasts are not to show the business of the city, but to show who is the best actor or actress in a comedy or drama series," Rafferty said. "Whether the incumbent is good or bad on TV, they still have that exposure. We need to level the playing field for everyone." -- Read the whole story at --> Birmingham City Council hopefuls want free TV air time too -

August 30, 2009

Barney Frank, "Bull Durham," and the First Amendment

Jonathan Allen at CQ Politics ties together three of my favorites: Remember when Rep. Barney Frank asked a town hall meeting participant what planet she most frequented before telling her he felt like he was arguing with a dining room table?

The exchange is reminiscent of a scene in the movie Bull Durham, where veteran minor league catcher Crash Davis, played by Kevin Costner, tells Annie Savoy -- Hollywood's archetypal "baseball Annie," played by Susan Sarandon -- just what an argument with her feels like.

The banter's more balanced in the Bull Durham clip, but the similarities are fun, nonetheless. -- Read the whole article and watch the clips Allen has gathered --> CQ Politics | Notepad - Did Barney Frank Channel Crash Davis?

August 29, 2009

Alabama: elected, but not sworn in

The Mobile Press-Register reports: Four days after a special judge ruled that Mayor Larry Fluker had lost his runoff last October, Fluker remained in office Friday conducting duties as usual, while the declared winner couldn't find a local judge to swear him in.

"We are still trying to work our way around this legal maze," said Pete Wolff III, who won the hotly contested Evergreen runoff by five votes according to Monday's ruling.

But Fluker said, "I am still the mayor, and I'm acting as mayor." He said Friday, "I'm just taking care of business. I have 14 days to file an appeal, and it will be public record when I do. ... There will be a public announcement."

Specially appointed retired Circuit Judge Edward McDermott issued the ruling that declared Wolff the winner, effectively ending Fluker's term as the town's first black mayor. -- Read the whole article --> Wolff unable to take Evergreen mayor's office despite judge's ruling -

August 26, 2009

RIP: Sen. Edward Kennedy; "the dream lives on"

The New York Times reports: Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew triumph and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77. ...

In the years after his failed White House bid, Mr. Kennedy also established himself as someone who made “lawmaker” mean more than a word used in headlines to describe any member of Congress. Though his personal life was a mess until his remarriage in the early 1990s, he never failed to show up prepared for a committee hearing or a floor debate.

His most notable focus was civil rights, “still the unfinished business of America,” he often said. In 1982, he led a successful fight to defeat the Reagan administration’s effort to weaken the Voting Rights Act. -- Read the whole, long story --> Edward Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Dies - Obituary (Obit) -

August 25, 2009

Alabama: Evergreen election contest over; Wolff defeats Fluker

The Mobile Press-Register reports: A judge Monday overturned last year's Evergreen mayoral election results and declared challenger Pete Wolff III winner over incumbent Larry Fluker.

"Mr. Wolff is the winner, and is mayor as we speak," said James Anderson, the attorney representing the challenger. "Mr. Fluker will have 14 days to appeal the ruling" and that appeal could delay Wolff's taking office.

"In that case, Fluker could remain in office pending the appeal," Anderson said.

Perry Roquemore, an attorney and executive director of the Alabama League of Municipalities, said Wolff is due to be sworn in immediately, and "unless and until some other court ruling says different, he is the mayor."

Officials were still trying to determine late Monday what the next step would be. -- Read the whole story --> Judge declares Wolff mayor of Evergreen; Fluker vows appeal -

Disclosure: I served as trial counsel to Mayor Fluker.

August 13, 2009

UK: will "American style" primaries catch on in Britain?

The Herald reports: The prospect of the next Labour or Conservative leader being chosen by ordinary voters across the entire UK has been raised by a former government minister.

Following the selection last week of the Tories' candidate for Totnes in Devon by a so-called US-style "open primary" process, Tom Harris, the Labour MP for Glasgow South, has suggested that the day when a party leader is chosen in this way might not be far off.

The former Transport Minister's point was made as Progress, the Labour pressure group, launched a campaign, calling on Labour's ruling national executive to introduce primaries to "help re-engage with the electorate".

Yesterday, Mr Harris said he suspected the momentum behind primary selections was now "unstoppable - for good or ill". -- Read the whole story --> Labour MP Backs USstyle Vote To Select Party Leaders (from The Herald )