Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Judicial Follies?/Martha Norton

We've been made aware that the father of Shannon Johnson was allowed into proceedings today. According to reports, and they vary, the bottom line is that it was all a mix-up yesterday. The younger Johnson was found guilty.

That brings us to several reports we have on the innocence of the Johnson brothers in the death of Keith Barnett. We haven't either the legal or investigative abilities to know the truth of the situation. If guilty, both brothers are where they belong. If innocent, we hope they soon prove it.

Due to several factors in these two cases, there are undoubtedly several appeals in the works. No judge is perfect, but we do greatly respect all our local sitting jurists.


Is the judicial system perfect? Hardly. If you've had a warrant out for you, you should check to be sure it's canceled. We linked some warrant information on Martha Dyer Norton yesterday. Apparently Ms. Norton thought it had been cleared up when the charges were still listed as active in Colbert County. Her "most wanted" information still shows up, but as of today is listed as "called back to court."

We understand Ms. Norton wants to sue Colbert County. News flash; she can't win. Accidents happen. That's why everyone should be vigilant in making sure their legal matters are indeed cleared up. On that note, if your attorney doesn't do what he/she says will be done, you should report the matter to both the judge and the state bar ethics committee.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Civil Rights Infringement in Johnson Trial

The perjury trial of Shannon Johnson began this morning. We've been informed that while members of Keith Barnett's family were allowed in the courtroom, the father of Johnson, a man in his 70s, was not allowed to enter.

While we have the greatest sympathy for the Barnett family, there is no need to abuse an older man in some misguided effort at revenge. We feel sure the deputies assigned to the court room could have handled Mr. Johnson if he had decided to show off any of his ninja moves.


Body? What body? Apparently the only body found in Colbert County on Saturday night/Sunday morning was in Leighton, and the deceased had passed away from natural causes. We're guessing someone had simply partied a little too much, and the rumor mill went into overdrive.


Thanks to L. Stone for this idea. From the "Lone Harranger" (Feel free to share):


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Where's the Gym?

If you’re a regular reader of Rheta Johnson’s weekly column, you know she lives just outside Iuka, Mississippi—not quite the Big Apple, but bigger than Rascaltown. In her most recent column, she discussed her new gym membership and not with any great favor. She commented that it was painted purple and gold inside; here’s a snippet:

The club is scab ugly. Let me begin there. Health, in my opinion, should include an emotional component, and who can be mentally disposed to become fit if the place you’re exercising is garish, a love child of Chuck E. Cheese and the ER?
If you have the sensibilities of a colorblind goat, you’ll gag at bright purple and gold as a backdrop for sweating people. I suspected that a health club would not look like the inside of Sainte-Chapelle, but this is beyond the pale.
There’s an off chance that the gym in question isn’t in the Shoals, but we’re betting it’s in Florence. Does the description give anyone a clue?


Anyone out there like the proposed legislative bill to allow representations of the Ten Commandments in our government buildings? If you said yes, we’re sure you’ll like the similar new monuments to the words of Mohammad and in praise of Satan, because that’s what you’ll get. Of course, you could be lucky and just get a lawsuit that takes money away from schools, streets, etc.


We've been sent reports of a woman's body having been found late last night in an area of Sheffield commonly called Baptist Bottom. We've not been able to verify that rumor.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Omitting Jerry Don/Angel Again

A reader asked us why we didn’t include Jerry Don Crowden and John Wesley Akin in our list of five local bad boys that haven’t left the system in over six or more years. The same of Crowden can be said, but since he’s doing a 20 year sentence in the state prison system, he’s had no new arrests. We doubt he’ll make parole; his current end of sentence date is May 2033.

Akin? He certainly did his criminal career up right, but in a very short period of time. In other words, he was no shoe-in for a career criminal, just someone who made some very bad choices concerning drugs and paid the highest possible punishment for it. Will he make parole? It’s certainly a possibility, and we would think few would oppose it when the time comes.


So how about all those crimes you committed 30 years ago? We were a little taken aback yesterday to see a crane operator vilified for three DUIs from the 1980s after a fatal accident in NYC. News media knew that his initial tests for alcohol were negative (something could show up in blood tests later), but they still published his arrest record from 30 years ago.

This blog does not do that, even though we have frequent requests concerning political candidates, business people, etc. Commit a new crime? Then yes, any old mistakes are fair game.


Change Court Street in Florence from four to two lanes in order to increase parking? That was suggested at a recent planning meeting. How much of Court Street currently has parallel parking? Not that much we can recall off hand. We’re at a loss as to how the town’s high street could handle truck deliveries and similar vehicle stops if actual driving space were narrowed. We’re also at a loss as to why anyone would want to detract from the main street’s beauty In order to obtain a few more parking spaces.

Apparently no one at the meeting questioned the underuse of the Pine Street Parking deck. Certainly no one suggested curtailing new eateries that contribute to the 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. dearth of spaces. Everything in life is a trade off. Let’s not trade Court Street’s beauty for three hours of convenience a day.


It seems Angel Gieske’s charges in Colbert County relate to her fraudulent counseling services. Colbert is the only one that has specifically charged her with the possession of a fraudulent instrument. Walker and Lauderdale have charged the Rascaltown, Tennessee, woman with only Theft.

Yes, Angel is from that tres metropolitan community of Rascaltown, but we see where some are now referring to it as “North Lexington.” Wonder how actual residents of Lexington feel about that?


Friday, February 5, 2016

Rape?/Florence Animal Shelter

We’ve received several communications about the alleged rape that recently resulted in the arrest of a local attorney and our blog concerning the case. First, we’ve published statements from Mr. Underwood before and at times did not agree totally with his opinions on the matter. We’re sure we will do so in the future. Our publishing anyone’s statement on any issue does not constitute absolute agreement with it, but it’s our right to publish what we wish.

Do we agree with Billy Underwood’s take on the “rape” case? Yes, we do. As for those who have said it probably wasn’t rape but just a business transaction to pay a fee, there was no fee owned, at least to the attorney. He had been court appointed, and the court system would pay him. The female client, if convicted of the charges against her, would have then owed the court system and such fees would have become part of her restitution. So that would leave what? Spontaneous lust that sprang up between an attorney and his client in the middle of a work afternoon with others milling about just outside the door. No, that last scenario certainly didn’t happen outside a Viagra commercial.

While we do have sympathy for anyone falsely accused, our main problem with the situation is that it reflects badly on women who have legitimate complaints against men who have committed sexual abuse and rape for years and gotten away with it…even facing a jury and being found not guilty.


It seems the state is about to get four new prisons…maybe. Perhaps we need Gov. Bentley in Lauderdale County to get things started with our new animal shelter. It’s looking like we’ll get the prisons first.

A friend once told us that the 1970s renovation of Wilson Park was at least partly simultaneous with the private construction of the Florence Clinic addition. The park renovations began first, then immediately across the street a drug store and Victorian home were demolished, a full basement dug, and finally a two-story office building constructed. At the end of the construction, the park renovations were still not completed.

We have to ask if anyone is holding the city’s feet to the fire over finding a location for the new shelter? During the last municipal elections, the possible construction of the Cloverdale Road Walmart was a hot topic; in 2016 it would appear the shelter may be a deciding factor on how some vote, particularly in District One.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Trials?/Justin Green

If there were no more delays or a plea deal put in place, the Theft by Deception trial of Angel Gieske in Walker County and the Drug Distribution trial of Brady Ann Irons in Lauderdale County were to have begun today. Both trials were long overdue, but obviously the wheels of justice will eventually grind, slowly or not.


Mary Anne Rippey, a strong VOCAL advocate, has been published as endorsing Will Powell for Circuit Judge in Lauderdale County. We would like to hear from both Mr. Powell and his opponent James Irby before our endorsement is made here.

Ms. Rippey is the sister of Danny Sledge, a Florence restaurant owner who was murdered during a robbery in the early 1990s. We were looking at a DOC photo of convicted killer Nathan Boyd earlier this week and couldn’t help but notice that the former Florence man, now doing Life Without in Donaldson Prison, was sporting quite a bleached quiff.

We assume either Boyd or someone close to him works in the infirmary and has access to the hydrogen peroxide—our tax dollars at work. Donaldson is a maximum security prison and supposedly the inmates’ actions are highly monitored. Perhaps one doing Life Without has no fear of any disciplinary actions?


Any readers out there watching An American Crime Story? There is a moral here, young ladies. If he’s married or in prison/on probation when you meet him, run. Oh, but you say he’s different. Let us ask you this: Just how many times does he have to be arrested before you realize that no, he’s really not the exception to the rule after all?


Justin Green is supposedly now serving time in Lauderdale Community Corrections for his involvement in the death of his 14 month old daughter, yet photos of him posing with his newest addition by still another woman have surfaced on social media. The latest child’s mother is no longer claiming him on Facebook. Trouble in paradise or merely a belated attempt at discretion?


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Florence v. St. Florian Redux

It hasn’t been that long ago that the town of St. Florian lamented how unfair it was of Florence to suggest the cessation of a defective sewer line service to a mobile home park located in that small northern Lauderdale community. Now it seems both Florence and St. Florian are claiming planning jurisdiction on a proposed subdivision. The subdivision may never materialize, but if it does, it will be interesting to see if sparks again fly between the two towns.


If any of our readers felt a disturbance in the force yesterday, remember it was the first day of a new legislative session in Montgomery, or what many in the state consider Alabama’s answer to Comedy Central. After all, we don’t want to be outdone by Donald and Hillary. The new session is also playing havoc with weather forecasting in south Alabama since Montgomery ground hogs were afraid to exit their dens.


We don’t usually comment on national news, but most of our readers are aware of last month’s helicopter crash in Hawaii which claimed the lives of twelve US Marines, one of them a Florence native. Now it’s been revealed that Lt. Col. Edward Pavelka was relieved from his duty as leader of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 on January 11 because Brig. Gen. Russell Sanborn had lost confidence in his ability. The official inquiries into the crash should be extremely interesting. Unfortunately, if blame for the crash can be placed at shoddy practices initiated by higher ups, it will hardly mitigate the grief of the 12 affected families.