Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: December 2010 Archives

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December 25, 2010

Dothan, AL: another legislator with a two-job problem

The Dothan Eagle reports: An attorney general?s opinion has raised some questions about Alabama Rep. Dexter Grimsley?s eligibility to serve in the Legislature, but Grimsley says it?s all smoke and no fire.

Grimsley, a newly-elected Democrat representing Alabama House District 85, also works in a state job as a juvenile probation officer.

An Aug. 18 attorney general?s opinion states that juvenile court intake officers must not serve in a separate appointive or elective office in the executive or legislative branch of government because of prohibitions contained in section 12-15-102 of the Code and Rule 8(B) of the Alabama Rules of Juvenile Procedure.

The opinion bars juvenile intake officers from serving as mayors, city commissioners, county commissioners, state legislators, etc.

Grimsley said he?s OK to serve in the Legislature and keep his job because he is a juvenile probation officer and not a juvenile intake officer. Grimsley said he has received a memo from Callie Dietz, administrative director of courts, to this effect. Dietz had requested the attorney general?s opinion. -- Read the whole story --> AG opinion raises question about local representative's eligibility | Dothan Eagle

December 22, 2010

R.I.P.: James A. Head

The Birmingham News reports: James A. Head, a prominent businessman and a key leader in pushing for racial progress in Birmingham, died Tuesday after a brief hospitalization. He was 106 years old.

From a hardscrabble childhood, Mr. Head, who never graduated from high school, launched an office and library supply business, James A. Head and Company, in 1926 at the age of 22. The business grew and went on to supply the vast majority of furniture to libraries in Birmingham and throughout Alabama.

In the meantime, Mr. Head acted on a basic aspect of his character: a respect for all people regardless of their race, creed or color. In 1932, he was among the founders of the Alabama Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, an organization that fought bias against Jews and Catholics.

As the crisis over civil rights brewed in the city, Mr. Head took on a central role in pushing for desegregation, mediating between black leaders and the white establishment.

"There was no other high-profile person in Birmingham who was as consistently outspoken as he was," said Ed LaMonte, recently retired history professor for Birmingham-Southern College. "I don't think there was anyone in the city that spoke as early, as consistently and as passionately as Jim did. He was really an extraordinary figure for any community, and for Birmingham he was super-extraordinary." -- Read the whole story --> James A. Head, businessman, advocate for racial equality, dies at 106 | al.com

December 8, 2010

Tuscaloosa businessman forgets about copyright law in his political message

The Tuscaloosa News reports: A Tuscaloosa businessman who put up billboards lauding the defeat of Democrats around the country in the Nov. 2 election ran afoul of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. after using the company's logo in the ads.

A spokeswoman for Goodyear said the corporation's legal department has contacted Ronnie Holmes, the Tuscaloosa businessman responsible for the signs. She said Holmes agreed to take them down. ...

Holmes is listed on the Alabama Secretary of State's website as the incorporating agent, president and secretary of Tuscaloosa Tire and Service Center Inc., which operates three Goodyear stores in Tuscaloosa and one in Northport. ...

The signs contain a caricature of a crying Obama and bear the message: "Minus 80 Democratic Congressman (sic), Senators & Governors ... Now That's a Goodyear!" with the company name spelled out in the familiar yellow font and the winged shoe. -- Read the whole article and see the sign --> Goodyear takes issue with anti-Democrat billboards | TuscaloosaNews.com

Alabama: the anti-stimulus bill?

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: A proposed ethics crackdown that would limit spending on public officials could have a huge impact on Montgomery restaurant owners, causing some to shutter their doors and costing the area hundreds of jobs, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said.

A special session to pass a package of ethics reform bills starts today, and one piece of legislation in that package would upend the current structure of what lobbyists can spend on gifts, including meals and entertainment for public officials.

The proposed bill would cap what public officials can accept from almost anyone, but particularly lobbyists, at $25 a day and $100 a year. Some, including Strange, said that could be bad news for Montgomery restaurants. -- Read the whole story --> Proposed ethics rules could hurt Montgomery-area eateries | montgomeryadvertiser.com | Montgomery Advertiser

December 7, 2010

Arab, AL: no more political sponorships of high school football; will anti-sign ordinance be enforced?

The Arab Tribune reports: Political candidates can no longer sponsor Arab High School football games, and Mayor Gary Beam will discuss with the council what to do about political signs at polling places on election day.

As it is, political signs are banned from city rights-of-way, according to Arab's sign ordinance. But over the years it really hasn't been enforced, especially on election day when candidates line the rights-of-way in front of the Arab Recreation Center and Arab Community Center polling places.

Because of a complaint on Nov. 2, however, Mayor Gary Beam says he will discuss the matter with the council. ...

At two football games this year, Wes Long and Clay Scofield, successful candidates for the Alabama House and Senate respectively, each sponsored a football game. They paid $1,000 each to the football program in exchange for being allowed to set up a table inside the stadium and get a public address announcement. -- Read the whole story --> Politics out at games; Beam to ask about signs

December 3, 2010

Jefferson Co, AL: Nell Hunter has retired after servicing 47 years as voter registrar

The Birmingham News reports: Nell Hunter has a cold, but the only reason she's home on this chilly December morning is that she retired last month from the Jefferson County Board of Registrars office after more than 40 years as its chairman.

The decision came three months shy of her 89th birthday, without any advance notice.

"I just decided that I'd had enough and I thought, 'Well, I'll just get out of here,'" Hunter said. "I don't want any fanfare and I don't want anybody acting like they're sorry I'm going."

Hunter is the only chairman the registrars office, created in 1967, has ever had. She served under 12 Alabama gubernatorial administrations, nine U.S. presidents and nearly three dozen county commissioners.

The Jefferson County Commission likely will select her replacement from a list of candidates provided by the Jefferson County Personnel Board. -- Read the whole story --> Nell Hunter, Jefferson County's first registrars chairman retires at 88 | al.com

Huntsville: proposal to confiscate illegal signs

The Huntsville Times reports: Huntsville City Councilman Bill Kling says he wants to invoke the "death penalty" on campaign signs placed too close to the street.

During this year's elections, city code enforcement officers confiscated hundreds of rogue political signs from road shoulders and medians.
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Kling said candidates know they can go to the Gates Avenue parking garage across from City Hall and retrieve their signs from a trash pile.

"It's kind of like a game," Kling said Wednesday. "They pick them up and they're on their way."

At tonight's council meeting, Kling said he will propose that the city destroy illegally placed campaign signs beginning with the 2012 election. -- Read the whole story --> Illegally placed campaign signs may get the "death penalty" in Huntsville | al.com

December 1, 2010

A report from Election Protection

Below is a rundown of some of the issues Election Protection volunteers dealt with on Election Day:

OHIO

Election Protection volunteers and legal experts on the ground in Cleveland reported massive crowds, long lines and improper enforcement of voting policies in the final hours of voting in Ohio. Even after being contacted by the Board of Elections, poll workers in Cuyahoga County precincts continued to feed voters misinformation about how to fill out their ballot. Additionally, voters reported they were not given enough time in the voting booth to complete their ballots.

ARIZONA

There were multiple reports of voter intimidation in Arizona. Election Protection volunteers reported that an assigned Republican poll watcher within the 75-foot polling place perimeter, who was also observed videotaping voters, became confrontational with both an Election Protection volunteer and a volunteer for the Raul Grijalva campaign waiting outside of the perimeter. Election Protection alerted the Tucson Police Department and the volunteer was removed by order of the Arizona Secretary of State. The first reports of the poll watcher came in at approximately 10:30am and he was removed at approximately 2:00pm PST.

CALIFORNIA

Californians reported major problems at poll locations across the state including registered voters not appearing on voter rosters, polls running out of ballots, polls running out of provisional ballots, polls opening late, polls closing early and many polls not opening at all. Election Protection legal volunteers worked to resolve these issues quickly to ensure that no one left their polling location without effectively casting a ballot.

ILLINOIS

Voters in Chicago precincts reported receiving misinformation from poll workers about casting provisional ballots. It was reported that Election judges were not properly trained on the voting process for individuals placed on the suspended voting list and therefore instructed poll workers to give these voters provisional ballots. In fact, under Chicago Election law, suspended voters are entitled to cast a regular ballot if able to provide two valid forms of identification. After receiving calls from legal experts on the ground in Chicago, Election Protection notified the proper election officials who followed up with the appropriate polling places to rectify the problem.

MARYLAND

Before polls closed, voters in Baltimore and Prince George’s County reported receiving robocalls stating, “Governor O’Malley and President Obama have been successful. Our goals have been met. The polls were correct…and we’re ok. Relax, everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch on TV tonight. Congratulations and thank you.” The calls were shared with Election Protection and were reported towards the end of the day.

MICHIGAN

In Ann Arbor, University of Michigan several students reported that they faced a problem with voting at their current residence. When they turned 21, the state automatically reverted their driver’s licenses to their original address as opposed to their current school addresses. They either had to vote at their parents’ residence or cast a provisional ballot.