The first full hearing in Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion will be February 27, 2012, according to paperwork on file with the Federal Court hearing the case. The February proceeding is supposed to decide who is responsible with a second hearing in July will decide how much and to whom. Any relief looks a long time coming.
The proceedings over of wiretap evidence against Milton McGregor and Ronnie Gilley in the votes for cash corruption case show what “… we’ve come to expect from years of government training” as prosecutors and the FBI seem intent on proving the point. For those with the curiosity, Moritz School of Law has an archive of the case documents as part of their Election Law web pages.
Greenetrack, as expected, has reopened and from press reports, I wonder if machines similar to these are being used. The Greene County amendment appears unique in that it mentions “electronic marking machine”.
Lastly, one of the truisms of Alabama legislating is never give up, never surrender, so once again there is a plan to spend a 100 million per year from the Alabama Trust Fund for road work. Last year, when 57% of us voted no.
or hoisted by his own petard?
In todays Press Register, Senator’s company awarded $639,000 while he supervised grants for boom work, is the big deadline. In short, a company owned by Sen. Tripp Pttiman (R-Fairhope) was paid to deploy (and later pickup) oil booms. Sen. Pittman is in the heavy equipment sales and service business and at the time held a contract for disaster clean up with Baldwin County. At question appears to be two different documents submitted thru the local EMA for payment, one naming Pittman’s company, the other the name of an apparently unrelated company. A complaint has been filed with the State Ethics Commission which will hopefully resolve this matter.
In the FWIW category, a link to the City of Fairhope’s Council Minutes (pdf) when the contract was awarded to Pittman, and a letter to the editor of June 28, 2010 from former Daphne Mayor, Harry Brown Jr, questioning Pittman’s contract (among other matters) note Mr Brown’s comment about a lack of response from either the AG or DA.
So, what we got so far? Something that needs some looking into, those with relevant information are encouraged to contact the appropriate authorities and yet another reason why tax payers should be vigilant. Let’s also remember the innocent before proven guilty idea even though that is reversed for partisan politics.
From looking over the latest news on the proposed special session on ethics, no one appears to suggest a flat ban on profiting from public office other than Riley’s proposed ban on double dipping. Maybe this will get addressed in the possible special session, maybe not. However, it should not be unaddressed because those to whom it is important sat on their hands
Our Attorney General and four municipalities (Greenville, Evergreen, Georgiana, and McKenize) have opted to pursue a civil suit against British Petroleum and the other companies involved. The Federal Courts have decided (pdf) all oil spill cases will be heard in Louisiana by the same judge at one time. According to the Times Picayune, fault for the disaster will be divvied up at court hearing on October 1, 2011, then proceedings to decide how much and to whom. So, it looks like this will be a matter for the next Attorney General and Governor (and maybe successors) to handle. There will no immediate relief for the state budget and our state government will face pleasant task of parcelling out the proceeds at some unknown future date after the crisis has passed.
Individual claims (a FAQ about what is covered) are being processed though controversy exists about payment amounts and other matters. A progress report from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility shows about 15,000 claims have been filed with 4900 approved for payment.
BP is handling claims from governments directly and has a very detailed, fiddly protocol for claims, which local governments have to cope with to solve their financial strains.
So, at best, full financial recovery is still around the bend for some and around the bend and over the rise and around the bend again then ask for directions for others.
Following up on this post…
Here are examples of TV and radio spots that Matrix has put together encouraging those with financial losses related to the oil spill to file claims. More are expected.
Click the play arrow to hear below to hear the radio spot.
Lets us begin with a something of slightly more importance, the oil spill. PoliFact’s latest roundup and FactCheck.org‘s. Regrettably, we’ve heard little from our current crop of state wide candidates and nationally, seem more interested in the blame game than the immediate problems of fix, repair and clean up.
Next up, (hat tip to Zossy) is FactCheck.org’s, Mystery, Drama, Deception in Alabama, which attempts to address some of the mud slinging in the GOP primary. While unconvincing to some, convincing to others and to the fellow who decides who to vote for by voting against who ever his brother-in-law votes for, meaningless.
Another one of the mysteries is why although both parties speak of reform of our largely unenforced and weak financial disclosure laws, the matter generally dies a slow death in the legislature. Maybe its too useful as cudgel against each other?
Moving on, the Demopolis Times, has published two articles which conflict with an earlier Birmingham News report. While the News cites “Republican officials” to say that Andy Renner the local party chairman was forced out for creating a front group used by the AEA to attack Bradley Byrne, Renner tells the Times, he resigned without pressure. Again, this will not be convincing to some, etc.
I wonder if the zeal for ideological purity will back fire, a boat moves in circles when the rudder is held over hard too long.
Looking back over the news the past week or so, a few things caught my eye.
Rep. James Thomas is continuing to appeal his electoral loss in HD-69 alleging 300 votes should be his since the right ballots were not at one box and the large number of absentee ballots.
The State’s medicaid and education budgets and unemployed take a pounding as income tax revenue falls and the Congress fails to past the stimulus funds included in what some called a smoke and mirrors budget. Restive, hungry folks tend to throw if not defenestrate incumbents.
In Gaylesville, 400 people lost telephone and data service because of copper thieves. One day this will happen while some one’s implanted medical device is being re-programed ….
The price Alabamians pay to maintain state employee retirement pensions has gone up, which will cause even more pressure on the budget. though, the Affordable Healthcare early retirement reassurance program might provide some budget relief.
Welcome, sorta welcome every where but here and Mississippi and most probably unwelcome help for the oil spill.
Funds whose dispersal need watching as BP gives $5 Million for job retraining and such.
Also something that needs watching are the plans of two firms that guarantee utility bill savings if the Prison system installs their energy saving fixtures and appliances. The phrase “tood good to be tru” may hold here.
The EPA criminal division has seized records and email between specific employees while it investigates sewage overflows in Jefferson County rivers.
As summer vacation reaches its midpoint, the cry of the LetsBegintheSchoolYearLater have been heard. In the past, tourism interests have fed it and probably are again.
The town of New Brockton and Coosa County Schools are dealing with severe financial crunches due to decreased tax revenue. New Brockton may survive after vigorous budget cutting while Coosa County finds their local bank can not make a loan large enough to act as a bridge.
Finally, if you ever wondered why the Dell Optiflex boxes at the office keeps getting slower and slower if not die all at the same time, this article from the Register might come in handy.
Any other non-campaign news of interest?
I have been hearing the rumors, and I know at least some of you have also, that in the aftermath of the oil spill BP hired the Matrix group to help with “crisis communications” and the like.
Matrix LLC is a subcontractor hired to facilitate the claims process. Matrix founder Joe Perkins tells the Political Parlor, “I was contacted several weeks ago by a firm we’ve worked with out of Birmingham, indicating that BP needed help with communications with local government entities, understanding how things worked in south Alabama, and facilitating accessibility to the claims process. That’s what we have been working on.”
“We don’t get a BP check. We’re not working for BP. A company that works for BP hired us. The important thing is the purpose, facilitating claims. We are not contracted to make BP look good. All kinds of people are being subcontracted to clean up or fix different parts of this crisis, and we’re one of them.”
“To help us, we employed people who are representatives of the local governments down there in Montgomery. We are helping cities get their claims fulfilled and getting claim sites open. We have brainstormed ways to shorten the claims process for small and large claims beneficiaries.”
Perkins explained that Matrix had hired lobbyists who represent south Alabama municipalities in Montgomery to help with the task. “Our estimation was that if we wanted to understand what was happening in the cities, this is who we needed.”
Perkins added that two weeks ago owners of only seven boats out of 70 boats sitting idle in Zeke’s Marina had filed claims, and he was pleased that Matrix was able to help others file claims. “I’m proud of the work we’re doing helping these people. People have money in their pocket that wouldn’t otherwise.”
This post has been edited for clarity.
At a Congressional hearing Thursday, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R – Texas) apologizes to BP Ceo Tony Heyward for the “Chicago-style shakedown” of the oil industry giant to the tune of $20 billion. Now U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner (R – Mobile) calls on U.S. Rep. Joe Barton to step down as the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for apologizing to BP.
From a Friday release from Rep. Bonner:
There is no other way to say it… Joe’s comments were stupid and extremely insensitive to the hundreds of thousands of people who live along the Gulf Coast – many in my district – who are literally watching their way of life be destroyed by this catastrophe. While, admittedly, the people in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi could probably care less about what some congressman is saying at a hearing in Washington, D.C., I am confident no one along the Gulf Coast believes BP is due an apology for their role in this disaster.
Bonner is the second Gulf Coast Congressman to call for Barton to step down from the committee post, joining Florida Republican Jeff Miller.
Barton retracted his apology to BP and had called Bonner to apologize for any harm caused by his remarks, but Bonner ‘cannot walk away’:
“When a member of Congress is apologizing to a company that is raping the Gulf Coast of America, I cannot walk away from that comment easily,” Bonner told POLITICO in an interview Friday afternoon. “It is, to me, more than a 24-hour-news-cycle comment. It has consequences.”
Clearing out some book marks, what nots and diversions from the neener-neener phase of primary season.
First of, there is the Stephen Nodine situation in Mobile County. Impeachment proceedings have begun over his misuse of county property, funds, drug abuse and moral turpitude. He has also been indicted for possession of marijuana and considered the prime suspect in the death of his mistress, Angel Downs. Courtesy of the Press Register, a link to the impeachment paperwork. Karma has many turns.
In trying to keep up with the what and where of the gulf oil spill, I’ve found NOAA’s pages much more informative and less prone to bureaucratic overload than the Joint Information Center.
The Mississippi Casino Operators Association released their 2009 State of the State Gaming report during this week’s Souterhn Gaming Summit in Biloxi. Courtesy of the Mississippi Gaming Law blawg, a copy is available (1.7 MiB pdf). Both sides of the gambling debate will find the information useful. Important take aways, gambling revenue will only increase when unemployment decreases and expansion is blocked by a tight capital market. The American Gaming Association has released its 2010 State of the States gaming report (2.7MiB pdf) which includes some numbers (revenue, taxation, attendance, employment) that should be handy.
The war of words in Cullman County over the County Commission’s decision to create a separate water commission and develop its own sources of water continues. Its beginning to look like the wheels are falling off the plan but lwe’ll see this come up again in other places as water demands increase.
49 County News has an interesting question. While Hamilton’s National Guard members were in Iraq, a wet/dry vote failed by 67 votes. Should the election be re-held now that everyone’s home?
Lastly, the town of Vida hosted its first political forum and had the essential element, an Elvis impersonator.
So, any other in state political developments, pointers etc?
edit: 5/17 – fix first paragraph so more or less intelligible.