Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Larry Stutts Wants Every Medical Law Reviewed?

From the Alabama Political Reporter: Now, as a legislator, he (Larry Stutts) says he wants to review every health law in the State, in the same way he has the two he hopes to repeal.

Regular readers know we think much legislation in this state is unneeded. Just look at our take on mandatory football at UAB. When our state legislators introduce such bills we usually think "What a maroon!"

We have no idea how many medically inspired laws are on the books in this state, but Larry Stutts wants to review all of them? He thinks he's qualified? At a banquet, we once heard a woman ask a shrink a heart-related question. The good doc just laughed and asked her if she knew how long it had been since he was in medical school and studied any cardiology. Yet, an OB/GYN is qualified to review all our medical laws?

Why doesn't Larry Stutts start with the repeal of the certificate of need law? Perhaps because for many years he was head of Labor & Delivery at Keller, that wonderful entity so intent on refusing Lauderdale citizens a new hospital?

We have no doubt that for every former patient of Dr. Stutts who despises the man, there are an equal number who just love him to death. That's the way life works. Our concerns about Stutts are centered on his ability to legislate needed laws in Alabama. There is also such a thing as avoiding the appearance of evil or impropriety. Stutts failed to do that when he did not relate the origins of the bill he sought to have repealed.


So, how about it Dr. Stutts? Repeal our certificate of need law. Tell us how you think the citizens of Lauderdale County have been treated by Keller. We're waiting...


Monday, March 30, 2015

Readers' Thoughts...Especially on Larry Stutts

* How many times does the RR crossing on Montgomery Ave in Sheffield have to be redone before it's done correctly? I know of at least 3 times that it has been torn up/redone over the past 8 years.

* Between the Alabama A&M house party shoot out and the latest round of University of Alabama football player arrests I'm so embarrassed that I'm wondering if we can rename the state to East Mississippi.

*"Extremely classy lounge" - Does that mean the shooters only use chrome or nickel plated weapons?

*This man (Larry Stutts) delivered my granddaughter 21 years ago....I thought at the time he needed to go back to delivering cows. And I still think that......

* "However, Stutts did not make his Senate colleagues aware of Church's death while under his care or her relationship to the bill he is trying to eliminate." -- I think the correct sentence should've said, "This guy is making Bedford look even better."

* I believe I helped elect another IDIOT! ‪#‎drlarrystutts‬


We will admit we came extremely close to endorsing Roger Bedford over Larry Stutts, but we thought it was pretty much a toss up. Now we're sorry we didn't give our endorsement. We believe, unlike some, that it is always better to vote for the lesser of two evils than to abstain from voting at all.


Larry Stutts reportedly says he wants to revise every health care law in the state. In other words, Stutts knows best. We've been told this is called paternalism. Want Larry Stutts for your father/big brother figure?

He has also said in relation to the appeal he's supporting:  “I am proud to say that I am hard at work removing one-size-fits-all Obamacare-style laws from the books in Alabama.” In 1999, when "Rose's Bill" was passed, Bill Clinton was the prexy. We assume Stutts is using "Obamacare" as a catch all phrase for any laws he doesn't support. Perhaps we can us the term "quack" in reference to Stutts from now on?

What do most political pundits say? Let's just say that some are using language to describe Stutts that is better left to a George Carlin routine.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mandatory Football in Alabama?!!!

Pictured is state representative Jack Williams from Vestavia. This legislative session he is introducing three bills intended to revamp the University of Alabama football system. This system not only includes the university in Tuscaloosa, but Birmingham and Huntsville as well. Williams wants to make a football team mandatory for UAB.

Okay, so what about UAH? If you can say UAB has to have one simply because the university in Tuscaloosa has one, why not add UAH as well? While we're at it, how about Auburn in Montgomery; we bet they could field some kind of team.

Alabama has troubled schools, troubled prisons, troubled health care, but Rep. Williams want to legislate football. Williams is a Republican. He says he has many other reps on his side. Wanna bet Phillip Pettus is one of them?


We've had a lot of comments about DreamVision. We don't believe the park is coming, but if it did, where would it go? How about Cotton Flats just south of Tuscumbia? If any such endeavor wanted to locate here, a U.S. highway with little development is the ideal place.

Welcome to "Zombie Land?"


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Return to DreamVision & Its Sensual Masseur

We're sure our readers are thinking that while they'd heard DreamVision had a cornucopia of family inspired offerings, they weren't aware of a sensual masseur. We can't blame you; there's been so much confetti strewn around the DreamVision guys that it's difficult to see behind it. Yet some have.

We've mentioned some of the key players before, but many have not been on radar until now. No, we didn't sniff them out ourselves. Thanks to WestCoaster for its continuing followups on this fairy tale not to come true story.

Randy Dyar, DreamVision VP
First, let's look at Randy Dyar, Vice President of Production Development...not that's he or DreamVision have ever actually produced anything themselves. Randy seems to be going great guns to already be a veep--he's only been in film production since 2011. Before that?

Randy was a "sensual personal masseur" in St. Petersburg, Florida. How personal did Randy get? He advertises full body deep massage and he doesn't leave out the glutes. We don't wanna even think about it.

Now we know that most of us have had some odd jobs while in school, or in between real work. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just that most of us didn't go from being a cashier to vice president of a large company.

Next we come to DreamVision's head of Information Technology. DreamVision tells us they have 25 years of experience in IT, but Bruce LeBrun has just turned 30. No other IT specialists are listed.

And prexy Rick Silanskas? He's blanked out his LinkedIn profile. Sensitive, isn't he?

Local investment guy Bryan Robinson? He and one of his companies made the March 19, 2015, Lauderdale delinquent property tax list. No, it's not super unusual to be on the list, but neither is it good publicity, especially right now.


Friday, March 27, 2015

The Role of Off-Duty Police?

We've received several comments concerning police officers working in a private setting while wearing their uniforms. For those who can not only read, but read with some degree of comprehension and understanding, you will note that we asked in a previous blog if the Muscle Shoals Police who patrol the Highland Park Baptist Church area could be such hired guns. Those who have contacted us say this is the case.

We're pretty sure this is also the case with other events in the area pertaining to sports, the university, etc. It does raise some questions of liability; however, we hope none of the officers will ever feel the need to shoot anyone while patrolling a church service or similar event. The following is an interesting read:


We see Alabama's latest redistricting has come under review by a higher court. We don't envy those who must decide new lines of demarcation, but certainly Lauderdale County has suffered under this latest plan. It's sad when the most competent representative for District I is Marcel Black.


This blog is always happy to post guest editorials. Some we edit slightly, as we did one which we posted yesterday. Some we agree with totally; some we disagree with totally; some we have no opinion on or publicly question.

If you disagree with one of our guest editorials, feel free to offer a rebuttal in any way you wish. Do not feel free to criticize us for posting it or to misstate publicly we wrote the said guest blog. Yes, we're sure this little statement will do a lot of good. Sighhhhh.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Update on HPBC/City of Muscle Shoals

Joe Pampinto, Neal Willis, Jim Holland, Mike Lockhart, Allen Noles, Mayor David Bradford

The reader (a citizen of Muscle Shoals) who originally broached this subject with us has sent an update. We have edited to remove any possible libelous comments:

Forgot to mention that Mayor “Donnatello” Bradford is also a member of HPBC - the Highly Political Baptist Church. According to a member at HPBC, the following statement was made from the pulpit on the opening Sunday by the Pastor Bret Pitman,

“We’d like to offer special thanks to Councilman Joe Pampinto for his help in handling all the city affairs related to the construction of this new building. Since the other 4 councilmen and Mayor are members here, they felt in order to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest, that Mr. Pampinto, who is not a member here, would be the City representative for this project. Joe couldn’t be with us today because he had a previous engagement out of town”.

The HPBC Security, aka MSC citizen paid police, are in full uniform and taxpayer vehicles on any given day as they direct traffic for the mayor, city councilmen, family and friends as they leave the political rally at HPBC.

Maybe Grace Life Church is no longer favored now that HPBC has a large arena for use (once again, school superintendent and anyone wanting to climb the ladder attends HPBC as well).

Note: HPBC "rented" MS high school auditorium for special occasions and during the final stages of construction of their new concert hall. In addition to the agreement to "Pay Rent", there was to be a new sound system installed at the H.S. Auditorium at HPBC expense. Sources inside MSCS question if the good church fulfilled all - OR ANY - of the Board approved contract. (we highly doubt it, given the Rubber Stamping Board)

Another fine example of separation of church and state? Or, in MSC, a fine example of separation of government jobs and family?


Only one comment here: The church has a concert hall? Really, a concert hall? We Googled this phenomenon, but couldn't seem to pin down anything relevant to a new building hosting concerts. We're going to refrain from any more comments here, but would like to hear a rationale for this. Also any updates on the gift to Muscle Shoals High School? Surely the HPBC would keep its word...


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sheffield Police Department Update

Chief Greg Ray
We recently blogged on Sheffield police officers leaving the department like fleas evacuating a dead coyote. At that time we mentioned how incomprehensible it was that anyone in city government would appoint/promote an individual in the force without first consulting Chief Greg Ray. We've been sent a very interesting communication from someone we trust; however, we are offering this strictly in the FWIW department. Do we believe every word? Yes, we do.

From an informed source:

Per a confidential source inside the Sheffield PD: 8 more Sheffield police officers are leaving the department in the near future. This is allegedly in response to a 'secret deal' made between the Mayor, city council and former interim police chief and current Public Safety Director, Dewey King, and current Police Chief Greg Ray.

Several months ago Chief Ray was unceremoniously terminated, apparently without the benefit of due process. During Chief Ray's short-lived termination, Sheffield Fire Chief, Dewey King, was appointed Interim Police Chief. This appointment was made in spite of King's lack of law enforcement training and experience. In the following months, Chief Ray appealed his termination and won his position back....but at a 'cost'.

This 'cost' was Chief Ray being reappointed as 'Chief' in name only. Chief Ray retains his badge, car, and title, but that is all. According to sources inside Sheffield's police department, Chief Ray has ZERO 'say' in any decisions affecting the department, such as budget, training, purchases and promotions. All such decisions formerly made by Chief Ray are now made by Dewey King.


According to a TimesDaily report, there are seven officers involved in an action against the Sheffield Civil Service Board. If eight are leaving, we assume most are part of this current action. The citizens of Sheffield are the ones to suffer.


For quite some time, we have published comments from a friend in an area adjoining the Shoals. We asked him to pick a blogging moniker so we could give him proper credit, but he has not yet chosen one. He has sent us a very interesting take on this situation in Sheffield (or similar ones); since he hasn't selected a name, we're going to dub him "L. Stone." His first official post:

One sign of trouble in a police department is when new officers leave as soon as their period of service related to going to the police academy end. Police departments generally pay officers to go to the police academy, but in exchange they agree to serve a certain period before leaving. If they leave early they have to pay back some or all of what they received to go to the academy.

Someone once joked about a department over here that all of the officers were either there for less than three or more than fifteen years, meaning that it had got so bad that nobody that didn't already have a well established position stayed any longer than necessary.

This is often the way police departments with restricted budgets keep officers. They recruit new people and send them to the academy, knowing they will have them for a few years. For someone wanting to be a policeman it's analogous to joining the Army to get a college education. A sign of a good department is when they send people to the academy and they stay on years after their obligation is over.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Is Highly Political Baptist Church Highly Favored?

Old Highland Park Church Building

Today we bring you two or three tidbits about the City of Muscle Shoals and its ongoing affiliation with Highland Park Baptist Church. Some months ago, when the Highland Park congregation moved to its new home, a reader sent us photos of the Muscle Shoals Fire Department hosing the mud off the recently completed parking lot. We chose not to address it since we felt fairly sure the city would claim that it was a fire-fighting exercise.

However, this week we've been asked about a zoning hearing that is about to take place. The Muscle Shoals City Council is voting on changing the planning designation of the former building from R-3 to B-2. Obviously, much business has sprung up around the building since its construction and rezoning may be indicated. It would certainly make the site easier to market...and bring in much more revenue.

The problem pointed out to us by a reader is that of the five council members who will be voting, all but one are members of the Highland Park congregation--hence, its often being referred to as the "Highly Political Baptist Church." How can the church members abstain? Joe Pampinto does not in himself constitute a quorum.


A second message from a reader has asked us:

Have you ever tried to go north on Wilson Dam Road on Sunday morning when the MSC Police are stopping traffic to let the councilmen and their families, Praise and Worship performers, and fellow bench warmers are leaving church? Do they provide police traffic control for all the other churches?

That's certainly an interesting question. Perhaps the church pays for off-duty officers? We know that Woodmont Baptist in Florence uses members to direct traffic, and the practice has been criticized as being unofficial and possibly the grounds for a lawsuit if anyone is injured due to this practice.

Could Woodmont build an overhead walkway ala Park Place? We have no idea of the legalities involved.

In other words, welcome to the clash of small town politics and big town traffic.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Four Officers Desert Sheffield Police for Colbert County

We almost headed today's blog "Just How Many Lieutenants Does Your Police Force Have," but decided our current title better served the purpose. We know that the City of Russellville has a problem keeping officers, but apparently Sheffield isn't far behind. Four officers have recently left Sheffield to work for Colbert Sheriff Frank Williamson. Why?

People usually change jobs for better pay or better treatment or both. We're pretty sure in Russellville the answer is "both." Now Sheffield has joined the ranks of forces where employees are deserting rapidly. Sources within the department say that low pay isn't the only factor. Some are privately blaming the relatively new public safety director Dewey King for the decrease in morale.

For those who came in late, Dewey King was the Sheffield fire chief who assumed the position of acting police chief when Greg Ray was on leave due to problems with the city council. When Ray returned, King was appointed public safety director.

In late February, approximately seven officers under the umbrella of Rodney Rippey filed a grievance against the department; the grievance was based mainly on the non-advertisement of new job openings. When Huntsville television station WAFF contacted King, he offered an interesting comment.

From WAFF: We also talked to the Director of Public Safety, Dewey King, on the phone, who said he was too busy Monday to discuss the matter.

We're going to add that no matter how well deserved a promotion/job change may be, it is incomprehensible that the Sheffield City Council announced the promotion of a city code enforcement officer to a position within the department before they informed Chief Ray.


So what about the lieutenants in the Sheffield force? Apparently, a promotion is currently the only way to bring about a raise in pay. Well, it does look good on a resume'.


If you love interesting comments, we have a second one to offer you. From Athens State political science professor Jess Brown: When I talk to Democratic activists today, they believe they still have a message; they just don’t have the money to get it out. I believe they are delusional.


In the same ol' same ol' department, we just noticed the TimesDaily's online state news section today. It seems we're still living in Alaskabama:

Does anyone at the TD pay attention? If you don't subscribe, do you really want to use up one of your ten free articles clicking on Alaska news by mistake?


Sunday, March 22, 2015

John Clark Burns Jr. Faces April 28th Court Date

Lauderdale County Mug Shot
From the Wayne County News:

On Tuesday, February 27, 2015 John Clark Burns, Jr. 26 of Florence, AL was booked into Wayne County Jail when he turned himself in on a warrant issued for his arrest. He has bonded out on a $10,000.00 bond. Burns has been charged with vehicular homicide in connection with an accident in the early hours of September 9, 2013 when, according to a THP report, he was traveling too fast to safely maneuver a sharp curve and traveled up an embankment and into the Old Darby Store in Cypress Inn. His girlfriend, Brittany M. Underwood of Tuscumbia died in the crash and subsequent fire that ignited after the impact. Burns was injured and air flighted to Vanderbilt Medical Center. According to an article in the Times Daily, Brittany’s family has filed a $5,000,000.00 law suit against a Florence nightclub for serving a visibly intoxicated person and letting him leave without offering alternative transportation. The outcome of the case is still pending. Before the fatal accident, Burns had been arrested for DUI. The preliminary hearing for Burns is scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, 2015 in General Sessions Court at the Wayne County Criminal Justice Center.


In Tennessee, Vehicular Homicide is codified as: 

(a)  Vehicular homicide is the reckless killing of another by the operation of an automobile, airplane, motorboat or other motor vehicle, as the proximate result of:
     (1)  Conduct creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person;
     (2)  The driver's intoxication, as set forth in § 55-10-401. For the purposes of this section, “intoxication” includes alcohol intoxication as defined by § 55-10-408, drug intoxication, or both; or
     (3)  As the proximate result of conduct constituting the offense of drag racing as prohibited by title 55, chapter 10, part 5.
(b)  (1)  Vehicular homicide under subsection (a)(1) or (a)(3) is a Class C felony.
     (2)  Vehicular homicide under subsection (a)(2) is a Class B felony.
If convicted, the sentence may range from eight to 60 years, depending upon the defendant's previous record.


We've been asked if we have an update on the Underwoods' lawsuit against On the Rocks, the Court Street bar where Burns was alleged to be drinking immediately preceding the accident.  We do not.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

David Walter Shipper

Palau is a former U.S. Territory with only 20,000 inhabitants. The small island in Micronesia is loosely connected with the U.S., but is self-governing. We mentioned at the time of the Paris attacks that we had a daily reader in the South Pacific, but we had no clue as to the reader's identity.

Unfortunately, now we do. David Walter Shipper, 45, was a Florence native and Coffee High School graduate currently living in Palau where he both worked for the country's president and had a private practice. Last Sunday, David complained of chest pains after a game of football (soccer). He was rushed to a hospital, but had passed away.

Everything we have read about David has been positive. It's our loss that we never had the opportunity to meet David. We know his family and friends are hurting. All our sympathies to those who feel his passsing so greatly.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Sex, Lies, Pat Downs, & Death Row?

Most readers vividly remember convicted killer Christie Michelle Bray Scott. If any need their memories refreshed:

At the time of Scott's trial, we spoke with a cousin of Jeremy Scott, Christie's husband:

Not all of the cousin's comments were memorialized in our blog. We briefly discussed Jeremy and Christie's marriage. The cousin believed without a doubt that Jeremy would always remain faithful to Christie--there would never be a divorce. While such things are unusual, they aren't unheard of, but our money was on Jeremy ditching his errant wife after he had sufficient time to put things in perspective...and it seems our take was the correct one.

Flash forward to 2011 and the plot steams up. There was a great deal of he said/she said. There were also a lot of alleged threats from prison officials. It's anyone's guess what the truth may be, but we will attempt to present the alleged affair as the State of Alabama did in it's case against a Department of Corrections employee.

Picture Christie alone most of the day in a 6' x 9' cell. She has a television set, a microwave, and an ice bucket. She probably had some books also, but these aren't mentioned in trial accounts. Someone like Christie must have been sorely in need of someone to care...or someone to manipulate. Enter the night shift supervisor Matthew Hall.

Christie Scott & Matthew Hall

Hall was 31 and in an unhappy second marriage when he delivered Jeremy's divorce petition to Christie in March 2011. She broke down; he consoled. Fill in the blanks.

Christie claims that encounter produced their first kiss. Over the course of the next weeks, more kisses brought the two unhappy individuals together. Christie states they never had sex, but mainly discussed Hall's unhappy marriage in which his wife "made" him strip for her friends. Hall also made the routine pat downs interesting enough that Christie was brought to new heights in friendship and the sergeant openly spoke of buying her a home when she eventually won her release.

How long this relationship would have gone on is open to speculation, but apparently another death row prisoner became aware of the interaction. Did Christie just have to brag or were the pat downs that scream-inspiring? No matter how she knew, the inmate sent word to the warden, a warden who was not above threatening Christie to confess, at least according to her.

She may have loved Hall, but she obviously valued the ice bucket, microwave, and television more. Christie made a full confession. So did Hall. The confessions (Scott's was 11 pages long) were reported to match; however, at his trial in June 2014, Hall recanted and stated he had been coerced. The warden who had initiated the probe had retired, and the prosecution stated the jury apparently had issues with Scott's credibility. The jury took half an hour to find Hall not guilty, and his wife stood by him.

The trial was nine months ago. The story was not locally reported. Go figure...


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Who the Heck Knows Where Michael Prater Is?

Michael Stacey Prater walked out of the Lauderdale County Detention Center a free man and is gone, gone, gone. The detention center said he was released on probation. Very odd term there. Probation is usually for those who don't go to prison in the first place. The DOC says he ended his sentence on March 19th.

Click to Enlarge

The DOC also says there was no hold placed on Prater by Lauderdale County or anyone else and it also denies sending any paperwork to the detention center. We have no idea how many male prisoners are currently in the detention center, but we would imagine at least some employees were familiar with Prater. They knew he went to court and was sentenced...didn't they?

However, we feel there has to be some kind of paperwork somewhere, doesn't there? We look forward to more on this story.

More about Michael Stacey Prater: Wanted!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Repeal Alabama's Certificate of Need Laws?

We've blogged before on our state's certificate of need laws:

How many states now have a CON law?

What does Alabama's law cover?

So many states do without the CON, either employing no regulation or utilizing a less strenuous agency to control new medical facilities. If any area has suffered due to Alabama's CON law, it's Lauderdale County.

What will it take to negate/repeal the law?

We're waiting. Does a second look at CON come in second to a raffle?


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Phillip Pettus Marches On!

In today's TimesDaily Phillip Pettus says he still believes in disenfranchising Florence voters in the Lauderdale school superintendent's race. Really? We certainly support every attempt to get Pettus out of office. He was elected to serve a certain district--not just the few farms around his home in Greenhill.

Notice how no one has come forward to support Pettus? No one in support of Pettus even came to the area meeting on the bill.

Looking at Pettus' other wonderful ideas since being elected a state representative, we find he also is planning on introducing a bill that would drive a further wedge between Lauderdale and Colbert Counties. Area Rotary Clubs from these two counties have been working together to fund Scholar Dollars, but now Pettus wants to single out Lauderdale students for special treatment.

If politicians are generally expected to schmooze up to all voters, Pettus didn't get that memo.


We have received this communication from Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan concerning a sign for a bail bonding company that appeared to be on city property:

The Stonecipher Bonding Company in question according to a post this weekend is not on City property but is on property owned by Robbins Properties.  The Robbins own all of the property from Dickson Street to South Main and into Spring Park.  The Robbins allow the fire department and Police to park vehicles on there from time to time but the property is private owned solely by the Robbins.

Chief Logan is also continuing to work on the Elbert Farley Davis Jr. murder case and we plan to discuss this more in a few days.


Yesterday we published a link on Facebook concerning the arrest of the the son of Chief Justice Roy Moore. Out take on it was surprise that it was getting the coverage it had generated. One reader replied thusly:

To even justify this lie by printing this so-called "response" is an insult to the many citizens who after an arrest were tarred and feathered by Shoalanda and "crew" before a day of trial began. Yet they gladly print this response as what, a show of support? Everyone knows the hypocrisy and lies and this twist is laughable!

First, we didn't publish the link as a show of support; we shared it because it was interesting. No, we don't think he was framed. Yes, we do feel Caleb Moore is entitled to answer news reports on the arrest. We always publish rebuttals to any of our blogs unless the replies are libelous or contain vulgar language, and feel that even the likes of Tommy Arthur is entitled to his say--he is not entitled to feel we will believe him.

As for our reports on crimes of individuals, we have never in six years published any comments on simple marijuana arrests or DUI unless the arrestee was a celebrity. We can recall one instance of that, and if our very talented friend ever gets another DUI in Sheffield, we will probably again mention it here. Neither do we report on the arrests of family of elected officials.

Now if our very misguided reader would care to elucidate us on any lies? Please...just one...that's all...just show us one lie. (We've asked readers before to do that, and no one has ever answered us. Hmmmm.)


Monday, March 16, 2015

How Goes the Search for a New Tourism Director?

A Special Guest Editorial:

The Florence Lauderdale Tourism Board has made the keen (?) decision to hire a search firm to find a new director of tourism. Well its obvious that this search is not for a director who will lead the tourism department into growth and prosperity since the director that they ran off was already doing an exceptional job.

It's a search for a director who they can "Man Handle" into doing exactly what they say do and when they say do it, even though, none of the existing board members have any experience what so ever in the field of tourism. Yes the "Tourism Three" certainly have made it clear that they are not interested in promoting from within, although there are at least 2 qualified people already in that department who could step into the role of director without any hesitation.

In this search for a new director, I doubt they will have many "good" takers since everyone associated with the tourism industry has watched in and utter amazement at the YouTube video from the now infamous December 11, 2014 Board Meeting that has now been seen around 7,000 times. Its still hard to believe that Alex Nelson, the worst of the 3 bullies, has not been reprimanded and forced to resign from the board from the Lauderdale County Commission.

Even if you were unaware of how ridiculous you looked and sounded at a board meeting, after watching this fiasco, most "normal" people would have resigned themselves and offered up an apology. Not BIG ALEX. The other 2 questionable board member bullies still have a little money in the bank so no one will dare ask them to resign.

This brings me to question the spending of $50,000 (minus the $17,000 rebate or some shady business) to fill a position that only pays $75,000. Perhaps the search firm will be kind enough to take any money left over from the $50,000 and find us some NEW BOARD MEMBERS.


Quad-Cities Cuisine published a review of Ami's Restaurant yesterday. We've had some comments which we cannot approve due to legal issues. Our main question is does anyone like Ami's?


Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Let's Put on a Raffle!" Said Pettus & Greer

The State of Alabama may not participate in any lotteries to aid in education, but two local state representatives are seeking a way around that. Phillip Pettus and Lynn Greer, who both serve as Republican reps for Lauderdale, want the state to authorize a raffle to fund Shoals Scholar Dollars (only for Lauderdale students).

Let's see...

Raffle - A means of raising money by selling numbered tickets, one or some of which are subsequently drawn at random, the holder or holders of such tickets winning a prize.

Lottery - A means of raising money by selling numbered tickets and giving prizes to the holders of numbers drawn at random.

Not much difference, is there? We'll say that the word "lottery" does conjure up images of something on a much larger scale than a raffle. Pettus and Greer have said local Rotary Clubs will administer the raffle...Wonder if they checked with them first? There's also no word on why these two reps didn't try to partner with their Colbert counterparts on this bill.


Want to contribute to Shoals Scholar Dollars? Here's the link:


Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Tuc" Montgomery Closer to Winning Lawsuit?

We've heard the state board of education has found no basis for any of Anthony Olivis' charges against Robert (Tuc) Montgomery, former principal at Colbert Heights Elementary School. Be sure to remember that when Olivis again asks for more money.


Well, well, the TimesDaily has said we don't need the student religious freedom of expression bill. We certainly have grave reservations about it since it could condone some very odd symbols.

However, in 1999 a Biloxi, Mississippi, area school banned the Star of David. Obviously the bill did have purpose, but was it a worthwhile one?


Republicans who became Democrats? Parker Griffith and Billy Jackson come to mind. Anyone else our readers can think of?


We've been asked why a sign for Stonecipher Bail Bonding is allowed on City of Tuscumbia property (across from jail/fire station). We have no idea. Any readers have an inkling?


Friday, March 13, 2015

Local Obits? Try the Quad-Cities Daily

The TimesDaily obituary policy has changed. From a very disgruntled reader:

Now, if I want to view an obituary in the freaking Times Daily online, each obit. counts as ONE of the NINE articles I am allowed to read per month!!! Is this fair? I have no interest in subscribing to their newspaper, but a lot of people I know in the Shoals and really care about deeply have died, are dying, and will die, conjugate away. IF the family pays for an obit., why does the website penalize me for reading it? I am beyond aghast at this extremely punitive new policy, if it is not just a site glitch ( what are the chances?) I just thought you should know about this new form of oozing slime. All for the money, honey.

We suggest the Quad-Cities Daily for obits and birth announcements. BTW, Shoalanda just found out via the local gossip hags that she's married to Steven Wiggins...not sure how to break it to Sheri.


DreamVision? From a reader:

From what I have been told by 'insiders' on the project, the 'funding' IS there, with several U.S. billionaires purportedly backing the project. AS for 'support': This could be a reference to convincing area residents that the proposed park is a GOOD thing, rather than to allow nay-sayers to continue to bad mouth something that could bring renewed prosperity and opportunities to the area. Far too many area residents view ANY change as negative.

We await DV's next move.


This blog has two sets of stats. Statcounter which measures both our page hits and unique hits was implemented about eight months after we began publishing. Google Blogger provides numbers of page hit since our inception in October 2008.

Earlier this week we passed two million page hits according to Blogger. Thanks to everyone for reading!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Return to (Pipe) DreamVision?

DreamVision? Anyone have an update? No? Then let's recap:

1. The DreamVision company originally incorporated in Florida--no theme park announcements that we know of. The company removed to Texas in 2009 after a financial judgment.

2. Announced theme park for Dallas (at a Christian Media conference) in 2011.

3. Announced theme park for Ft. Worth in 2013.

4. Announced theme park for Cape Town, South Africa, in 2013 (partnered with the animation company Character Matters).

5. Announced theme park in Israel in 2013 (partnered with Roni Wexler, owner of Sea of Galilee amusement company).

6. Announced (again) theme park for Ft. Worth in 2015.

7. Announced theme park for Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in 2015.


So the "Sea of Galilee, Inc." is award winning? Uh, not that we can tell. Just try to Google this company to personally view all their (0) awards?

We don't want to sound all Muslim terrorist here and have no desire to shove our religious beliefs down anyone's throat, but somehow we don't associate the Sea of Galilee with an amusement park...


While we're on the subject, a reader asked us some time ago if we attended the news conference DreamVision held at the Marriott. We did not. He then pointed out something very interesting to us.

It seems when funding was discussed, Bryan Robinson of Killen uttered two very conflicting statements:

1. We're good. (That's pretty straight forward--the funding is there.)

2. We'll get the support. (That's not quite the same thing as statement number one.)

We notice that no news outlets noted that discrepancy, but if  you look at the YouTube video, you can confirm the above statements.


What does DreamVision get out of these nebulous and unlikely theme park plans? Remember that old pop psych catch phrase of Dr. Fraser Crane? See it; Be it.

If only it worked that way.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Murder? Yes! It's Nothing But Murder!

Regular Readers know that our primary concentration is on the Shoals and northwest Alabama, with a heaping of state news thrown in. We rarely comment on national issues, and remember commenting on international incidents only twice. Today we again make an exception and wish to address an unspeakable incident from the U.K.

How do you define "Murder?" We define it as the senseless taking of an innocent life. We've commented in the past on frequent felony flyer Roger Keith Pitts murdering Bucky Taylor. Nothing wrong with commenting on it since Pitts is never out of the local judicial system due to his many illicit activities. Now there has been at least two such crimes at the Crufts dog show. If you'e not familiar with Crufts, it's the equivalent of the Westminister in the U.S.

Jagger, a prize-winning Irish Setter was fed steak cubes laced with three kinds of poison. He died the day after the show. Now a second dog has died. Reportedly a shih tzu also fell ill from the same set of toxins and died the next day.

There's controversy over the exact location of these dogs at the time they were fed the poisons. No matter where, it was still murder...plain and simple. Unfortunately, if the culprit is found, he will serve only 51 weeks in jail. That's probably still much better than what a similar poisoner would face in Alabama.


We had questions from some readers about the unnamed Lauderdale County accident which we mentioned yesterday. Often we report on certain incidents and crimes at the request of family, as we did in the death of Heath Atkisson; however, not all grieving families want the guilty party prosecuted. We are assuming this is the case in this particular death. When, and if, the driver is indicted, we will publish what information we've gathered.

Does anyone ever listen when they hear the words "Don't drink and drive?"


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Manslaughter Charges in Two Local Accidents?

Johnathon Heath Atkisson was 29 when he died in frigid Cypress Creek waters last Friday. A family member has told us that authorities intend to issue manslaughter charges against the driver of the vehicle in which Heath died. We're sure authorities have quite a bit of evidence in this case, but we have been told by several sources that the driver's statements to police were continually changing.

Our sympathies to the family of Heath. He had attended Central High School and Northwest-Shoals Community College. He most recently had been residing in Double Springs.


We've been told for some time that there will be manslaughter charges filed in a 2014 accident in rural eastern Lauderdale County which claimed one life. Why is there usually such a delay?

In some cases, the driver is charged immediately then indicted, as we assume will be the case in the accident that claimed Heath's life. In other cases, the evidence is first presented to a grand jury with an arrest following. This would appear to be the case with the 2014 accident.


Know this gentleman? He can be yours for just 15.00:


Monday, March 9, 2015

Alabama Legislature Says Okay to Swastikas in Schools?

Today's TD opined about the state legislature wanting to control local schools--mainly in connection with charter schools. Yet there is another bill in consideration which bans local school boards from quashing signs of religious expression.

That may sound well and good, but wait... Gangs have appropriated the Celtic cross and the Star of David to the extent they're no longer permitted in some California schools. You may say it hasn't happened here yet. Right you are, but what if it should?

Most students are out of public schools by the age of 18. Such a ban, although we don't agree with it, is not a life changing event. Suppose this religious freedom act does become law. From Wiki:

Because of its use in Nazism, in many Western countries the swastika is stigmatized,[4] while it remains commonly used as a religious symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism.[3]

Yes, any student of the Hindu or Buddhist faith would be allowed to wear a swastika. It's sad that forces of evil appropriate symbols of hope and good, but they do and the innocent suffer.


From a reader: Just an odd question, but in the history of Alabama, has there ever been a Republican to flip over and become a Democrat? I can probably think of twenty to thirty Democrats who just felt the sudden urge to get 'right' and become a Republican. But I just can't think of anyone doing the other thing.

We know of some who been appointed as Republicans, were defeated in the regular election, then ran the next time as Dems. We'll see if we can find a few examples.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Those Sheffield Railroad Track Blues

Having lived over 97 and one half years, we've found some things never change, particularly if change is needed. The Sheffield railroad crossing is one of them. From a reader:

I sat at the Montgomery Ave crossing for OVER 30 minutes yesterday while a train sat STOPPED on the tracks, just shy of allowing the gates' sensor to trip and allow them to raise. At least 30 vehicles opted to drive around the downed gates. I called Colbert E911 regarding the dangerous (an illegal) activity and requested an officer. One lone Sheffield police car drove by, but didn't stop. I called Colbert E911 again, once again requesting an officer. I was informed that 'Sheffield PD was aware of the situation', and was also told that 'there is nothing we (Colbert E911) can do.' That's a load of horse manure. As a former LEO,I know for a fact that all E911s have the contact numbers for rail services operating within their jurisdictions. BTDT shortly after '9/11' when a train hauling tanker cars inexplicably stopped in my town, blocking all of the rail crossings. My dispatch center called CRX and made an inquiry. In less than 5 minutes, the train was moving. Why didn't Colbert E911 THINK to call the rail line and inquire as to WHY the train was stopped?


Another unchanging activity is driving with no signals. From the same reader:

Having been an LEO for a number of years, one of my BIGGEST 'pet peeves' are LEOs and other municipal employees that are seemingly ignorant of traffic laws. Examples: Yesterday I witnessed a Sheffield police officer and one Florence/Lauderdale Co. EMA employee failing to signal their turns, lane changes, etc. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for such, EXCEPT when responding to (with lights and/or lights and siren) an emergency call. The Sheffield officer was returning to the Police Department and the EMA worker to the Lauderdale Co. courthouse.


Finally from the same reader:

WITHOUT the 2nd Amendment, and law-abiding gun owners like me, there would be NO 1st Amendment. I'll be glad to debate it with any dissenter.

For those who missed our comment yesterday, Lauderdale County commissioner Fay Parker mentioned abortion and gun ownership in the same breath; we've simply always found this an odd combination....


Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Shoals Gains Three New Republicans?

Lauderdale County district attorney Chris Connolly, commissioner Fay Parker, and circuit court clerk Missy Hibbett are changing parties. Bippity, boppity, boo--they're now Republicans.

We have no problem with that...if they really mean it. Parker says he has problems with the Democratic positions on abortion and gun control. First we're pretty sure the Lauderdale County Commission will never be called upon to vote on either. Second we have to wonder if Parker wants more babies to grow up to be either shooters or shot at?


And what of that infamous Dem Roger Bedford? You rarely saw an ad for Bedford that didn't focus on guns, hunting, etc. Should we expect him to join the Republican ranks in order to again "serve the people?" How about Billy Underwood? He's going to feel lonely.


Have you ever looked at candidate comparison charts? These usually ask candidates their views on ten or so hot button issues. It usually boils down to the individual voter being unable to find the perfect candidate who agrees with him/her completely. The voter is then forced to decide which issues are really important.

The wise voter votes for the candidate--not the party.


A new head of Florence-Lauderdale tourism by Thursday? We eagerly await the name...and the salary.


Friday, March 6, 2015

The "Heroin 22"

Last June, 22 Shoals citizens were arrested in a massive heroin sweep conducted by combined local authorities and federal agents. We continue to get questions about the arrests and are offering a partial clarification of these charges since many of these major players were indicted in January.

The eight names in dark red face both local and federal charges. Bold italics indicate actual state indictment charges that are usually stiffer than original arrest charges. Eight were indicted in January and more indictments are anticipated later.

Jasmond Dewand “Jazz” Foster, 26, 420 Hensley St., Florence; trafficking heroin.

William Earl “Buck” Foster Jr., 33, 420 Hensley Court, Florence; unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. - Trafficking heroin.

Shawna Caroline Foster, 36, 420 Hensley Court, Florence; conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Jerry Ray “J-Ray” Cochran, 40, 326 N. Franklin St., Florence; conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Thomas Rashawn “Ham” Barnett, 27, Florence; five counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.

William Earl “Lil Beck” Coffey, 27, 1605 E. 26th St., Sheffield; conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Wallace Earl “Duke” Beckwith, 47, 3016 Woodward St., Florence; conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Ashley Lauren King, 26, 1605 E. 26th St., Sheffield; conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Kasey Lynn Yarbrough, 26, 430 N. Cedar St., Florence; conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Jerry Lee Keeton Jr., 28, 5521 Lauderdale 34, Killen; attempting to commit a controlled substance crime.

Candace Carol Irons, 48, 200 Garfield Ave., Florence; conspiracy to distribute heroin. - Conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime and two counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.

William H. “Trey” Kimbrough III, 37, Ricks Lane, Leighton; conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Lindsay Arlene James, 30, 127 Gilbert Court, Apartment A, Florence; conspiracy to distribute heroin. - Indicted: Conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime.

Charles Devell Richardson, 39, 127 Gilbert Court, Apartment A, Florence; conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Chad Brian Balentine, 35, 420 Hensley Court, Florence; conspiracy to distribute heroin. Indicted: Conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime.

Vanna Leann Denson, 27, Muscle Shoals; conspiracy to distribute heroin. - Indicted: Conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime.

Jason Daniel Austin, 33, 235 Minnehaha St., Florence; conspiracy to distribute heroin.

John Wesley Akin, 26, 521 Collier St., Florence; two counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. - Indicted: Unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, trafficking heroin, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

Brady Ann Irons, 29, 521 Collier St., Florence; two counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. - Indicted: Unlawful possession of a controlled substance, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, trafficking synthetic drugs and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

Aundrey Barnard Brown, 44, Florence; unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.

Jeremy Desmond “Toot” Wells, 28, 2255 Randolph St., Florence; seven counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. - Indicted: Unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.

Colos Santious Vaughn, 30, 502 Short St., Florence; two counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.


Trey Kimbrough, Wes Akin, Brady Irons, Candace Irons

For whom should we feel sympathy? Those who died from these drugs, but took them willingly...or those who knowingly sold them for profit...or no one at all?

We know that at least one who died was taking the drug for pain resulting from injuries due to military service. Was it that smart? Perhaps not, but we haven't walked that mile in his shoes.

We're going to offer our sympathy to those who died or were otherwise hurt by these dealers/traffickers. Each and everyone knew exactly what he/she was doing when they sold these drugs, sometimes to teenagers.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Anthony Olivis Seeks New Tax?

The Colbert County School System is sure to be another hotly contested election venue. The most recently elected superintendent Anthony Olivis has been nothing if not controversial. Now he wants a new three mill tax to aid the flagging school system. Really?

Yes, the system is over 500k in the red. Why? Doesn't Olivis think the law suits brought against him have helped deplete the coffers just a bit?

However, the Colbert County Commission is going to hold an election on the new tax. From the TimesDaily:

Commission Chairman Rex Burleson said the standalone election would cost the county $30,000-$40,000 that has not been budgeted. He asked that the next time such a referendum is held that it be during a primary or general election.

How will the people vote?


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Are Rogersville & St. Florian Selling Alcohol Illeally?

Since the courts ruled the law under which these cities went wet was improperly worded, they could be. Sen. Paul Sanford of Huntsville has just introduced a bill to re-legalize these sales in which the wording is not suspect. No word on whether new wet/dry elections will be held, but most legal eagles are saying that will be a necessity to restore these sales legally.


What happens the first Wednesday in November in even numbered years? New political campaigns begin to ramp up. We've begun to receive e-mails from some proposed 2016 candidates. We suggest the Lauderdale school board race will be one to watch locally.


Our photo yesterday? Yes, it was John Dillenger acting palsy walsy with the Indiana district attorney who was about to prosecute him. The DA was not re-elected.

Yep, 2016 will be very interesting.


Hershel Graham, convicted killer of David Andrasik, has been moved to the Kilby Infirmary. Guess there's no one around to take pics of him shopping at Walmart. So basically Graham may lie in bed all day--nice work if you can get it.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Is "Training" a Bad Word?

A fellow blogger asked us to look closely at the filling of new position in the Florence School Board. The blogger felt there was a 99% chance the job would go to a woman. The position has been filled...and it went to a man. After reading the TD article on the new position, we have some questions, but not that many. Education today is not the one-room school house of 1915.

What we did notice was the rescheduling of "Professional Development" days. Unless we're very mistaken, these days were called "In-Service Training" days until a relatively short time ago. Does renaming them make them more important?

Let's not forget the Kilby Laboratory School; it was once known universally as the Kilby Training School. We don't know about others, but we would much prefer to attend a school that trained teachers than one which used children as a type of laboratory rat.

Oh, well, our theory is that if you can't actually improve something, just rename it...


Convicted killer Hershel Dale Graham has arrived at another Kilby...Kilby Prison. We know he and his attorneys are intent on having him serve his sentence at the Hamilton facility for the aged and infirm. It will be very interesting to see where he winds up...and if he can stay out of trouble.


A quick show of hands: How many know who this gentleman is? Can most of you tell us what about this photo ruined the career of the gentleman in the double-breasted suit? It's a cautionary tale for some pols, but we're afraid too late for at least a few locals.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Who Wants Jennifer Gray Out?

Jennifer Gray is the current Lauderdale County school superintendent. She won a three-way race in 2012 with 49% of the votes. Yep--49% in a three-way race is pretty good.

Now our District 1 state representative says the number one concern of Lauderdale County voters, according to his unofficial pre-election poll, is the city of Florence controlling the vote. Really?

Of those who attended last week's  meeting on Pettus' proposed bill, not one of them was in favor of disenfranchising city voters. If these citizens Pettus supposedly spoke with cared so much, why wasn't at least one of them present?


So...are you too fat to work in a restaurant? A reader sent us a short synopsis of a telling event during his days working in the business. We're removed any names:

When I was a manager at XXXXX Cafe, XXXX asked another manager and I, "Who hired the fat b@&$)h"? XXXXX (then) said, "it does not matter, just make sure I do not see her working here again". After many objections I was told, "needs to be done, do you want your job as well". This behavior does not surprise me at all.


And just what will our wonderful legislature be up to this session? From the TD:

... further consolidation of state government, prison reform, charter schools and economic development incentives.

Cam Ward has promised to introduce a bill to improve our state prisons. Wonder is he's including gasoline and matches in his proposals?


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Update on Jason Dewayne Green Sentencing

Looking at two domestic violence deaths today, let's start with Jason Dewayne Green. His sentencing is to be April 7th. Green, by reason of his plea, cannot be sentenced to more than 19 years and 364 days--in other words, just one day short of 20 years. Green anticipates more correctional incentive time, we're told; however, all laws we've found indicate that 15 years is the plateau that excludes CIT.

Judge Terry Dempsey may offer Green a much shorter sentence; his track record is certainly sketchy in such cases. Green may also hope for early parole. Remember, just signing a deal for a sentence doesn't mean he cannot ask for parole or other considerations.


James Travis Murks
We understand that Kimberly Johnson had three sons (we had reported two yesterday). Our sincere sympathies to all her family.

We have always been told that the State of Tennessee is much sterner on murder cases than Alabama. If James Travis Murks had been arrested in Alabama, he would have been charged with Felony Murder. In Tennessee, he's charged with First Degree Murder and eligible for the death penalty or Life Without. Let's hope prosecutors can make this charge stick.


Wes Akin
We recently asked a legal eagle friend of ours to clarify the drug trafficking laws in Alabama concerning synthetic drugs which were not originally addressed in the Alabama Code. Since this question was asked specifically about the major drug bust which included John Wesley Akin, our friend inferred he was convicted under the "Trafficking Enterprise" act. A reader has questioned this since Akin received a 17 year sentence rather than 25 for his Morgan County trafficking charge.

It will be extremely interesting to see the results of his Lauderdale County case. Was he a "kingpin?" This appellation was given him by the Morgan County authorities who initially arrested him. Our personal take would be more middle management, but we're sure the Morgan cops got a thrill out of using the term kingpin.