Thursday, March 31, 2016

Two Questions on John Pilati's Status/Killen Police

The Franklin County Times ran an article yesterday on John Pilati's quest to regain a license to practice law. Before anyone misunderstands the thrust of this post, let us state that we have no opposition to Pilati regaining his law license. His quest may not have a favorable outcome, but we certainly don't oppose it. What do we oppose? Pilati, or anyone, circumventing the law. There have been many opinions, etc, sent to this blog, and facts have been hard to cull from all the fiction.

Here are the facts:

1. John Pilati has six federal misdemeanor convictions for which he served two prison sentences.

2. A federal judge ordered Pilati to register as a sex offender upon his five convictions related to drug testing young men who were in the Franklin County judicial system.

3. Federally ordered listings on the sex offender registry usually last at least 15 years, but can be shortened for "good behavior."

4. In December 2015, Pilati received a pardon from the state board of pardons, and the state then removed the former district attorney from the offender list.

Now here are our two questions (we're awaiting an answer from the Northern Alabama District of the federal court system):

1. Do federal misdemeanor convictions automatically bar political and gun rights?

2. How can the State of Alabama pardon anyone for a federal crime, be it misdemeanor or felony?

At this point, we have only one comment: While John Pilati may be a former registered sex offender, it does not look seemly for the Franklin County Board of Education to nominate him for any office, even if those in the equalization board do not come into contact with minors.


From a reader:

Why is it that every time I drive by Walton’s Auto Shop in Killen, there is a Killen Police car being repaired? I understand routine wear & tear, but there are major issues with their patrol cars. All of their cars, with the exception of the newest Chevy Tahoe, have over 250,000 miles on them. Now, to the normal person 200,000 miles may not be a big deal. But, these cars are used by officers and put them at grave danger considering, fuel pumps have gone out, transmissions have been blown, motor overhauls, etc…

Right now, there are officers that have to use older vehicles (that are worse than what they have), as substitute cars while their cars are constantly in the shop. It’s a major safety hazard. One day, an officer is going to have a very serious accident and kill himself or someone else. The money they’re saving by not purchasing new vehicles that are safer, will end up costing more in the long run when they are sued by a family member whose spouse is killed.

Tim Tubbs is only about saving money, and Bryan Hammond, the Chief of Police, only wants to keep peace with the mayor and council. SOMETHING has to be done!! These officers and all officers risk their lives daily, and their worst issue shouldn't be their patrol car.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Tribute to Leanna Reed Clemmons

We've known Leanna Reed Clemmons for several years, albeit online. Her humorous posts to us have always brought us joy, but we know we're not the only ones for whom Leanna has expended an extra effort to make laugh, to think, to love.

For those who don't know Leanna, she has a wonderful husband and son. We've always been amazed at the care her husband Mitch has demonstrated for Leanna, but it's nothing less than she deserves.

Leanna also has something else: Cancer. Leanna has fought breast cancer for many years. Recently it metastasized to her brain. While everyone was hoping for the best, her physicians told her earlier this month that nothing more could be done.

No one ever has an exact date for meeting that final appointment--the one that we each must keep, but it would appear that Leanna's time is near. We understand that yesterday was very difficult for her.

While there's nothing we can do to hold back the enevitable, there is one positive thing that we hope everyone will do. Leanna has a GoFundMe page set up for final expenses:

The costs associated with the end of life today are astronomical. We hope that everyone Leanna has touched in some way will contribute to this fund.

Leanna, we love you!


I am standing on the sea shore,
A ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says:
"She is gone."

Gone! Where?
Gone from my sight, that is all.
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me,
not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
"She is gone",
There are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:
"There she comes"

- and that is dying. A horizon and just the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, Oh Lord, that we may see further.

Bishop Brent
1862 - 1926

All of Us at Shoalanda

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ignorance, Stupidity, & Plain Ol'...

In conversation over dinner the other evening, a friend of mine brought up the topic of 'behavioral observations and intelligence'. He stated that he was '...amazed by the apparent decline of intelligence in America'. He even offered up examples, along with 'explanations', supporting his assertions.

First, he stated the obvious: There is a difference between ignorance and stupidity. 'Ignorance' results from the lack of education and can be 'cured'. Example: People that rely on their 'automatic' automobile lights to also turn on their tail lights are ignorant. In most cases, the 'auto lights' feature ONLY turns on their headlights. This ignorance can be 'cured' by reading their car's Owner's Manual.

We next discussed stupidity. 'Stupidity' is a state of 'lacking good sense or judgment'. As an example, he brought up the steady flow of semi-trucks that continue to cross O'Neal Bridge IN SPITE of the act being ILLEGAL. With warning signs in place FOR MILES on Highways 20, 72 and 43, there is no possible explanation for these acts other than sheer STUPIDITY. He further stated that drivers of such rigs should have their CDLs suspended for such acts, since, in his eyes, '....stupidity cannot be cured, and such reckless behavior endangers others.'

Finally, we discussed a 'third' behavioral observance. As most educated drivers know, most states' laws require that '....headlights MUST be used 30 minutes BEFORE dusk, 30 minutes AFTER dawn, when it is RAINING, and when OTHER WEATHER conditions (fog, etc) dictate.' As an example of this 'third behavioral observance', he cited a friend's encounter of a driver that should have had their headlights on due to fog, but didn't. This friend 'flashed' their headlights, and to their surprise, the driver of the approaching vehicle '....turned their headlights ON....then immediately TURNED THEM BACK OFF!'

I waited a few minutes before asking if this 'third' example had a name. He replied, 'Of course! They're known as dumba^^es!'


From William Smith:

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama is seeking to establish an Alabama specialty license plate. In order for the plate to go into production, they must receive 1,000 commitments to purchase by May 31, 2016. They are less than 200 away. The first 1,000 who sign up for the car tag will receive the tag for free.

I am writing to you about the Ronald McDonald House because it is near and dear to my heart. In 2013 when my daughter was born two months premature and hospitalized in the NICU at UAB Hospital, my family was able to stay in the Ronald McDonald House for six weeks until our daughter was released. My family is one of thousands across the South who have benefited from the Ronald McDonald House. In 2014, four Lauderdale County families stayed in the Ronald McDonald House while their child received care in a Birmingham hospital.

Sign up at

I am attaching information about the Ronald McDonald House car tag. Attached is a press release, a public service announcement for radio, a public service announcement for TV and a flyer that can be printed. I appreciate any help you can provide in reach their destination. The Ronald McDonald House is less than 200 tags away from reaching the 1,000 needed to go into production.


From one of our faithful friends/readers Joseph Chase Wright:

So I told MY Representative in the Alabama State House that he needed to spend more time focusing on Alabama's problems and less time peddling garbage about Ted Cruz. I also told him that voting for him once was a mistake and that I wouldn't make the same mistake twice and for that he blocks me?! That's all I said to him! I guess he would rather block and ignore HIS constituents and than to engage in meaningful dialogue so if any of you know Phillip Pettus be sure to let him know that ignoring voters isn't a very wise thing to do. Hopefully he will be a one term and done politician!

We're sure Jospeh's opinion is not the first thing Pettus has tried to drown. Yet, we think most representatives have more tact than this. A case of not being able to take Cowpen out of the boy?



Monday, March 28, 2016

Propinquity/What is the County's Liability?'s a word not often used in everyday conversation. From Wiki:

In social psychology, propinquity (/prəˈpɪŋkwᵻtiː/; from Latin propinquitas, "nearness") is one of the main factors leading to interpersonal attraction.

In short, propinquity (close proximity) is what turned a church friendship into a blazing affair between our governor and his now chief adviser. Perhaps Robert Bentley felt he couldn't just show Rebekah Mason the door when he first noticed his attraction to her, but he should have. Just FYI, that goes for any of you out there reading this who may be in a similar situation.

Sources in Montgomery are laying odds that Bentley will resign shortly. While it's no given, don't be surprised to find Kaye Ivey is your next governor.


Last week we received a communication from a local corrections officer about Andrew Scott. According to our source, Scott was arrested on March 1st and March 9th in Limestone County on three misdemeanor traffic charges and was released on his signature. Our source further informed us that this makes five traffic arrests this year and one in 2015, four of them moving violations, meaning that Scott is two points short of losing his license and presumably his community corrections job.

Our main concern is that Scott, currently (and ostensibly) serving a ten year state sentence for a laundry list of property and drug crimes, could cause harm to an innocent individual--one of his January charges involved driving almost 80 mph near Clements School. If the worst should occur, would Lauderdale County Community Corrections be liable? Before you say that a county entity can't be sued, think back to the county's previous sheriff and the number of suits filed against him and his department. We understand these were settled out of court, but the taxpayer ultimately suffered.

Whether this young man's actions ever impact the taxpaying citizens of Lauderdale County of not, they are certainly draining his pocketbook. These five charges will result in over $1,000.00 in fines and court costs. That means his victims' restitution will be further delayed unless his family again steps in. It's sad this man, who during his heyday of crime was deemed a sociopath, chooses to live this way, but our sympathy is with Scott's many victims, some of whom have contacted us asking about his status. We're not holding out hope that they will ever be fully repaid.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter 2016

Today is Easter, and we have only to look out our windows to see that Spring is upon us again--a time of renewal, or change. Many honor Christ's death, burial, and resurrection only this one day of the year, but for those who seek to do so every day, we have a challenge.

"I was naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me."

Most of us visit the sick, most of us give to charities that help provide clothing to those who need it, but how many of us give a second thought to those in prison? Yet, almost everyone knows someone who's incarcerated for whatever reason. Today we're asking you to consider whom you know in prison, to pick someone you think has a chance of living a productive life once released, and to pray for this person. We're asking you to go beyond praying and to write to this person. No, we don't want you to send funds to this person, but to encourage him or her.

Renewal should be for everyone; we know that Christ's love is.

Happy Easter from all of us at Shoalanda Speaks

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bentley Is Hands On Governor

Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse in our legislature, the governor's sex scandal blossomed. Now our representatives are too busy chastising...or accomplish what they're supposed to. Are we looking at two special sessions again this year?


From L. Stone:

Tuscumbia should shut down their sidewalks. Can you imagine the liability if someone tripped on a muskrat?

What if Tuscumbia moved maintenance of the lights for the fountain at the park from the park department to the department that maintains the traffic lights (with a commensurate budget change for each department)?


Look for our first article from Jasper Black next week, as well as a Quad-Cities Cuisine critique on Logan's Roadhouse from a new reviewer we hope to see more of.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter: Shoalanda


Friday, March 25, 2016

Works Both Ways, Coach/Capella?

With all the public awareness on fitness, people in Muscle Shoals need to go to Florence or Tuscumbia if you want a secure facility or area to walk on. While you are there, be sure shop a little to give them the taxes you would have paid to Muscle Shoals but were locked out of the Muscle Shoals School track that you are already paying for.

If Coach Lindsey was quoted correctly in the Times Daily news article, he stated the track is locked because of the "liability" if someone is hurt on school property outside of a sponsored event. With that as the case, why aren't the playgrounds with the jungle gyms and other equipment at the elementary schools fenced, chained and locked?

It appears if those wretched parents can't be trusted on the track that they are paying for, they could easily sue the school system if their child got hurt while swinging from the jungle gyms. After all, Coach Lindsey clearly stated that the school is liable for your safety on school property at any given time.

Someone needs to advise UNA's Mark Linder and the other school systems to chain and lock all their facilities before one of those taxpayers gets a blister while walking on their tracks and decides to sue for pain and anguish.

Coach Lindsey, don't you feel just a little foolish asking the public for money and more taxes and then snubbing and biting the hand that feeds you? The public isn't to fear, the devil walks among your midst.

Open the track. It's the right thing to do. Otherwise, lock down everything, because after all, you can't trust the public.

Works both ways Coach.

Leslie M. Shoals


From a reader:

So the parent company of ECM, RegionCare, has been sold, again. This time to Capella Health.

One would think that this affiliation would be beneficial to ECM in the long run, but Capella sold Parkway Hospital in 2011 to Huntsville Hospital while shutting down their hospital in Hartselle, AL. They did this using the rational that hospitals in Alabama must be of considerable size, like Huntsville Hospital, to survive.

From this:

The announcement comes during a complex and transformative time in the healthcare industry, where the impact of national healthcare reform is driving hospitals and other healthcare providers to consolidate resources. Under reform, close collaborations will be rewarded, and every hospital will be challenged to do more with less.

Add to this that Alabama is one of the toughest reimbursement environments in the nation. In fact, effective January 1, Morgan County, Alabama will have the lowest Medicare wage index in the country. This means that hospitals in Morgan County will be paid the lowest in the nation to treat Medicare patients. It is clear that in the near future, healthcare providers must have considerable size – such as the network of hospitals and providers created by Huntsville Hospital – to survive and thrive in this state.


Another child murdered by a mother's boyfriend! 

And the mother is quite probably still with this lovely piece of scum. Love is said to make people blind...not deaf, dumb, and imbecilic.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Franklin & Marion DHR

Keith & Hailey Renfroe
We've had some readers to report their opinions concerning the ability of DHR in Franklin and Marion Counties to protect children. None of the communications was favorable.

Another reader has reported that Hailey Rose Renfroe refused to let family members see Serenity after she left her husband. Allegedly, a physician who had seen Serenity reported his suspicions to DHR, but nothing was done for whatever reason. Perhaps lack of personnel and time?

We don't know why Renfroe left her husband. Keith Renfroe did have some recent arrests, but there are no reports of his abusing Serenity. Why did she move in with someone like Shannon Dale Gargis? Why did she stay with him?

Gargis certainly doesn't look like anyone's prize. What was she thinking? With her previous arrests, we predict she'll go south for at least a year. After that she'll come back home and make more babies. Forced sterilization isn't such a bad thing.



Special: The Muskrat on Latest at Spring Park

Fool me once shame on you, Fool me twice … or more, if I live in Tuscumbia. The Tuscumbia City Council voted on Monday night to dedicate $220,000 to renovate the Spring Park Fountain Show. Woo-hoo! That’s great news for Spring Park! Now guys, let’s not start jumping on the City Council’s band wagon. They certainly do not deserve all the praise.

The real heroes are the group of concerned citizens who called out our city leaders for idly sitting on their hands as the park slowly deteriorated. After many months of receiving citizen complaints, the City Council’s arm was twisted and thus they finally submitted to cleaning up their damage. Now who’s going to ensure that the park property and the attractions are properly maintained and kept in a reasonably safe condition? Oh no! Please say it isn’t so! 

Surely the City of Tuscumbia isn’t foolish enough to clean up their mess only to hand it back over to the same Park Director. If Joel Kendrick continues to have control he will steer the park right back into its current state of disorder. If they were wise then they would know that we study our history so that we may learn from our past mistakes. Have the Mayor and City Council Members been fooled or are they just fools?

Tuscumbia Muskrat


Check out Quad-Cities Cuisine; we have a new review on 306 BBQ posted and a review on Logan's Roadhouse is coming shortly!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Two Important Questions About Serenity's Death

Shannon Dale Gargis
The beating death of 22 month-old Serenity Irene Renfroe begs two questions, one involving DHR. Nothing can change Serenity's fate, but if enough citizens demand DHR reform, perhaps at least one child can be saved.

Question one involves the October 2013 arrest of Serenity's parents, Keith and Hailey Renfroe. Both were released from the Marion County Jail on bond; Keith's bail was 35,500.00 and Hailey's was 32,500.00 for a whopping total of 68K. The question is who bailed them out? Whether it was by bondsman or property bond, someone cared enough to make sure they were released from jail. Why didn't these same people care enough about their child to investigate her situation? We don't know how long Keith and Hailey had been separated or if Hailey allowed any of Keith's family access to the child, but surely a suspicious family member would have told DHR when Hailey's new lover moved in. Wouldn't they?

Question two involves DHR itself. Hailey would have been two months pregnant at the time of her arrest in 2013. Did DHR know? A TimesDaily article has stated Hailey's arrest for child abuse stemmed from her pregnancy and not from the two children who lived in the home with her at the time of the arrest. We don't know which is correct, but it's quite possible that Hailey did tell authorities she was pregnant in order to gain special considerations in jail. That's when DHR would have stepped in.

Since Hailey's Marion County legal charges have not yet been adjudicated, DHR was certainly still least on paper. Were social workers aware that she had moved in a new lover? Had they visited in the two months Shannon Dale Gargis had lived with Hailey? Why had neighbors, friends, or relatives not told DHR of any suspicious activity at the home. These people either saw a bruised toddler or they were aware of one who was suddenly being hidden away.

Yet no one came to Serenity's aid. She died virtually alone while her mother worked a shift at McDonald's. It's a sad epitaph, but perhaps still much better than what she may have endured if she had grown up in such a home.


We have a new restaurant review posted by Cherry Pitts. Check it out in the left sidebar.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Would New Meth Laws Have Saved Serenity?

We recently blogged about a new law being considered in the state legislature which would cause children of meth manufacturers to be taken away from their families immediately and placed for adoption without any legal recourse for the parents. We asked how this would work if only one parent was indeed guilty of the crime.

Early this morning 22 month-old Serenity Irene Renfroe died at the hands of her mother's boyfriend. Both Serenity's parents are currently out on bail for drug manufacture in Marion County. While Keith Renfroe's sister's children were presumably removed from the home at the time of the arrest, Serenity had yet to be born. Did DHR even know of her existence?

Serenity's killer Shannon Gargis has two children from a previous relationship who are alive and presumably well. What did Serenity do to deserve her fate? Sheriff Shannon Oliver is calling it the "worst murder ever." We're not sure what that actually means, but we are sure that whatever Sheriff Oliver saw this morning should never have happened.

Serenity Irene Renfroe would have been two years old on May 24th. Her killer is now charged with a capital crime. If a Franklin County jury once found Jodey Waldop guilty of Capital Murder in the shaking death of his child, we have no trouble predicting Shannon Dale Gargis will be found guilty of the "worst murder ever."

We also predict that 20 year-old Hailey Rose Renfroe and 30 year-old Keith Renfroe will have more children, either together or separately. Will DHR monitor these future children? In a state that's having to legislate a ban on teacher-student sex, we doubt it.


So let's talk about teachers who have sex with their students. It was happening when Shoalanda was in high school about two centuries ago. It was primarily coaches, but some male instructors as well. Any female teachers? We pretty much knew what cooked and we feel reasonably sure that most of the female teachers wanted to have sex with teenage boys (or girls) just slightly less than they wanted to die in a medieval torture chamber. Why has this changed? Why should teachers have to undergo specific training to understand this is wrong? If our legislators have to concern themselves with such laws, no wonder we can't get a budget passed.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Leslie Shoals Reports...You Decide

It appears there is a wide gap between the legal system and enforcement of rules in government offices concerning employees arrested or convicted for crimes against another person.

Take for instance, in Limestone County, the Limestone County School Board has taken steps under the Alabama Education laws to immediately remove employees for acts such as stealing, sexual encounters with employees and students, cheating on their time cards and other such immoral and illegal acts. Limestone County School Board should be commended for taking immediate steps when they become aware of issues instead of being forced into action by public disclosure through media sources.

Move to the Shoals where there are reported such acts in the Lauderdale County System. It seems there are numerous reports of inappropriate relations between employees and even a Board member.

Given the problems in Muscle Shoals since Coach Lindsey has taken his position as superintendent, there is growing distrust from the citizens. It appears the various problems scattered throughout other schools has all manifested in the Muscle Shoals City School system with a recent arrest of a coach for domestic violence, resulting in court mandated intervention for drinking and abuse (which is not the first MSHS coach to be arrested for domestic violence). MSCS has hired several people from neighboring systems that have a faMily link to the powers to be and had left their previous employ under a cloud - or without a job while on administrative leave.

Students are now becoming more aware of the sordid affairs in the schools and are voicing their views and personal stories to parents and the community. Should these people be fired? ABSOLUTELY.

HOWEVER, one has to remember, If these people are fired, who appoints their replacements? The SAME PEOPLE that did background checks, verified letters of recommendations and determined them to be fine, moral, educated people to serve as role models for your children.

Now, if their judgment was so badly flawed with these current employees and the ones they have been promoted through the ranks, will their judgment prove to be any better when replacing these immoral and unethical people?

There is talk that some will be relieved of their duties, but does this really change the hierarchy?

The problem is not just the employees and their hanky panky. The lions' share of these issues lie with those who are hiring and NOT holding people accountable. Hard to do in the faMily when it's all about relationships.

MSCS has a board meeting on Tuesday and some think is will be another dog and pony show. As the school churns.

Leslie M. Shoals


Thanks to two readers. One reminded us that federal law does not rescind political rights after a sentence is served. The second who inquired of several sources and determined that the subject of a recent blog has been pardoned in this state and now also has gun rights restored.

Alabama is one of only a handful of states that does not automatically restore political rights after a sentence is served. That doesn't mean we don't have crooks serving in office...just that they haven't been convicted yet.


Two friends have new blogs which we've added to our sidebar. Enjoy!


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Federal Sex Offenders (& Have We Learned Something!)

We love learning new things, but we're not so sure about this one. Indeed, sex offenders never come off the registry in the state of Alabama; however, John Pilati was not convicted in a state court, but a federal court. His conviction as a Tier One felon required him to register as a sex offender for 15 years. It would seem that even this short 15 year period can be reduced for an offender who doesn't repeat...and with the right attorney. The former district attorney remained on the registry for approximately five years.

Now the question remains if John Pilati will become the Franklin County School Board's appointee to the Board of Equalization...


This brings up a question about those convicted of a federal crime. Since convicted sex offenders may come off the list, is there a similar time limit for the removal of political rights? In other words, after a set amount of time, may a convicted federal felon be allowed to vote, run for office, and carry a firearm?

As for any attorney wishing to resume a practice of law, we understand that is totally up to the bar association, at least in Alabama. We can recall one such attorney who was not readmitted after serving a state prison sentence. Others we can recall have been readmitted.


Since just this past week produced shocking news about a Corinth daycare, now's a good time to remind parents that sexual abusers carry on under various guises. Don't hesitate to question any of your child's relationships...and don't hesitate to report your findings to authorities.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Do You Know What a Lane Cake Is?

Neither does anyone here, but the Alabama legislature is contemplating making it the state's official dessert. Yes, you can depend on our elected officials to take on pressing matters that others would simply pass by.

There are also 120 "commendations" under consideration. Commendations for what? Well, let's see: Girl Scouts turning 100, the usual sports commendations for high schools, and of course commending the University of Alabama for winning the national championship. That last one is certainly needed, since no one in Alabama has yet to commend the team. In all fairness, some of these commendations are House and Senate duplications...if that makes you feel any better.

There are also at least 45 proclamations mourning the death of certain individuals and around five birthday wish proclamations. In case you think the latter were for those well advanced in age, one was for someone turning 70. Then there are the usual anti-abortion bills from Rep. Ed Henry--none of which can be legally defended.

Finally, here's an interesting one: Make meth, get arrested, lose your kids permanently. That means there's no placing in temporary foster care or with relatives; they go up for adoption immediately. So how does this work if only the husband has this quirky little hobby? Before you say that doesn't happen, we've seen it. A couple who worked completely different shifts owned a home with a large garage and attached workshop. You can guess what was being manufactured in the workshop. When discovered, the state took the children, giving them to the man's mother. The man's wife had to work to get them back, but at least it was an option. Opinions?



Friday, March 18, 2016

Why is John Pilati No Longer on the Sex Offender Registry?

In case you're not familiar with John Pilati, a Franklin county lawyer who once served as district attorney, but who eventually served two separate sentences in federal prison for various crimes, here's a news snip from a 2011 article:

LIARFormer Franklin County DA John Pilati in 2004
A federal appeals court today ordered that a former Alabama district attorney will have to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison next month.

Former Franklin County District Attorney John Pilati was sentenced in March 2008 to serve 42 months in prison for fondling five men -- ages 17 to 20 years old -- during searches while he was serving as prosecutor in that northwest Alabama county. He was convicted on five misdemeanor civil rights counts.
Recently a reader asked why his name was omitted from the Franklin County sheriff's website. We looked into it and were told it was an accident. Now the Franklin County School Board has nominated Pilati for a public position--albeit one which should entail no contact with children/teenagers. When we mentioned this in a casual FB remark yesterday, we were told that he had been removed from the registry. Upon checking, this proved to be true.

So just how was Pilati, who as far as we know has still to regain his license to practice law, removed from the registry? We know some businesses who won't advertise in his publication due to his status as a sex offender. Over the years, we've been told that Pilati came from a moneyed family, made a good salary as DA, and now owns a small Franklin County newspaper--so he has money to spend on legal battles.

We're sure there are many on the registry who would like to be removed. We have always had sympathy for the 18 year old man who is charmed by a 15 year old wearing enough slap to pass for 30. Yet second degree offenders are made to register for life. We have no sympathy for Pilati who took teenagers into his home, teenagers who were vulnerable due to their legal status.

Now we hope the citizens of Franklin County and the rest of northwest Alabama will demand some answers.


We constantly acquire new readers, so we feel the need to reiterate this. It is our policy that once anyone serves their sentence we do not mention their crime unless they re-offend or place the public in some type of danger. Sex offenders, as far as we have known, remain on the registry for life and are therefore subject to any public scrutiny at any time.

This is the first instance of an offender being removed from the registry in Alabama that we know of. We hope soon to have some answers for those who have inquired about this.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Alabama Prisoners Can Make 2K a Day?!!!!

A recent article from the Alabama Political Reporter has offered some insight into life in an Alabama maximum security prison. Crooked guards who also abuse inmates—we’re not surprised. A unique trade/barter system—we’re not surprised. Prisoners making 2K a day—oh, yeah, were we surprised.

It appears that via the use of prepaid debit cards, inmates can buy a great deal…and amass a small personal fortune. How? It seems there are two schemes/scams at work here. The first takes only a smart phone they can use to access FB. They make friends…female friends…and then request money. What these inmates promise in return is anyone’s guess.

Yet, this scam is small potatoes compared to the one that involves selling their phone minutes to fellow inmates eager to call home/whoever when they have no phone privileges or they’re calling someone not on their approved phone list. Inmates selling minutes can make hundreds if not thousands of dollars a day. Inmates using inmates: not a pretty picture, is it?

This is not going to stop, even with new prisons, until the guards who facilitate this are weeded out. We’re not holding our breath.


A word to the ladies who send inmates money: Do you think you’re the only one? Think about it. Why should you be the only one? He probably has girlfriends back home; why has he gone out of his way to befriend you?

And a note to a few local young ladies: No, he is NOT the exception to the rule. Just wait until he’s free and living with you. Then he loses his job because he’s too strung out to show up for work. You can’t trust him to take care of your child/children from other relationships. You can’t trust him…period. We know you’re not listening, but when it all goes down, don’t expect us not to say “we told you so.”


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Oops--Limestone County Coaches at It Again!

Last week, a Limestone County coach was arrested:

Our friend Leslie M. Shoals feels that Limestone's loss could be Muscle Shoals' gain.


Coach Trey Stinson

Limestone County Superintendent Tom Sisk told that the school district learned of the alleged relationship Friday and responded immediately. "(Human Resources) was on campus dealing with the matter within 30 minutes," Sisk said. He also issued this statement:

"The Limestone County Board of Education has placed an employee at East Limestone High School on administrative leave with pay until further notice pending an investigation. It is the practice of the Limestone County Board of Education to remove any employee that has been accused of wrong doing in order to complete this investigation. This is to protect both the employee and any other individual(s) that may be involved. We are working diligently to handle this matter in a thorough yet timely manner as we work toward a resolution."

Superintendent Tom Sisk handled the matter quickly and took control of the situation as evidence in the statement "...LIMESTONE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION has placed an employee on leave..."
The superintendent in Limestone County should share his guide to leadership with MSCS superintendent, Coach Lindsey. Coach Lindsey only need ask the athletic director what to do in a similar situation, not the Muscle Shoals City School Board.

Perhaps with the recent news that Coach Basden is losing his offense coordinator Coach Smothers to Athens City, Coach Stinson might want to apply at MSHS. Muscle Shoals doesn't have a filter on hiring as long as you are a coach, mean, tough and know how to man handle women.

I would not suggest Coach Stinson apply for the defensive coordinator position as the infamous wife beater and adulterer, Coach Balentine has not been fired, but insiders say he is sitting in an office and gym while he collects his pay. Way to go MSCS. Taxpayers on the hook again. Wonder if his pay was reduced to an aide's pay scale or whatever his walking around papers say he is capable of doing.

Coach Lindsey may want to step back and assess the personal interactions inside the faMily, given more insider reports of inappropriate relationships between employees. There appears to be a huge lack of institutional control with no unified effort to demand high morals, integrity, leadership and educational opportunities for the students.

Is this the kind of role models you want for your child? Would you want YOUR son to aspire to be Chris Balentine, or your daughter to be the "other woman" or the victim of abuse because they see teachers and guidance counselors doing it?

It would be nice to have transparency concerning pay, teaching & coaching assignments, and the resolution of Balentine's court appointed pre-trial diversion program. Did Balentine get help with his drinking problem and the physical abuse conviction? Has that case been resolved?

Moral Turpitude is a grave offense, punishable in several ways, including loss of job and certifications in the Alabama Education system.

Why is Balentine still on the MSCS payroll?

Leslie M. Shoals

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why Your Son/Brother/Husband is a Criminal

We assume most of our readers have heard the old joke with the punch line "Everyone was out of step but Jim." This seems to be the mantra of many families with sons, brothers, or husbands accused of major crimes. They're all innocent, as they have been every day of their lives, and it's law enforcement or news outlets or (gasp!) bloggers who have conspired to ruin someone's life.

Just how would that work? Do we all get together on a regular basis, including judges and grand juries who issue warrants, to pick some innocent person to persecute? Or is it that criminals have enabling families whose members all wear aluminum foil hats?

Earlier this month, a local online news outlet posted an article on the arrest of Christopher Allen Speegle, a 27 year-old house painter from Tuscumbia. After the story appeared, we received some reader requests to look into this article, which they all assured us wasn't true. We were happy to check out what we could concerning Speegle's two charges. We found this and published it directly to our FB page:

Now we've been contacted by an aunt of Speegle who claims we've made up the charges, Yes, of course, it makes perfect sense that we have access to the Colbert County Sheriff Department's records. Uh, no, not quite. We're trying to ruin the man's life? No. We think he's already done a good job of that.

Apparently now the TimesDaily has joined the plot to besmirch this fine young man's name:

Yes, obviously this man comes from fine upstanding stock; his aunt has taught us some new words. No wonder some universities no longer teach Western Civilization--there's no such thing in 2016.

And Christopher? As of this moment he remains in the Colbert County jail...


Here's a song about another innocent man. We would dedicate the tune to someone in Limestone Prison, but alas, there's no Internet in that secure facility. Interesting note: When the recording was first released, most radio stations refused to play it:


Monday, March 14, 2016

Sheffield and Muscle Shoals Tackle Speeders

In an effort to control speeders, and since some of the local LEOs continue to show total disdain for conducting proper and effective traffic patrol, Sheffield and Muscle Shoals have chosen to take a 'novel' approach to the problem. Their approach was to simply destroy all of the railroad crossings within their respective municipalities. The long-term 'cost effectiveness' of this 'solution' may be problematic, as I am sure more than a few lawsuits will ensue over unnecessary, and utterly preventable, vehicular damage.


We love to learn new things and we’ve just learned that the north end of the UNA campus is the terminus of Court Street and the southern end extends to Mattielou Street. At least that’s what Jennifer Edwards told her readers in the Sunday TD. Perhaps next week we’ll be introduced to new designations for right and left.


It seems that Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire may soon be petitioning the US Congress to move from the Eastern Time Zone to the Atlantic. A large part of Tennessee is located in the Eastern Zone as is all of Georgia, and there have always been rumblings that Alabama should join them and share a timetable with that economic hub New York City.

Perhaps now it will be doable, but would it be a boon to the economy as some predict? Would anyone notice the difference locally? After all, most residents are firmly ensconced at home by eight o’clock at night anyway.


While we don’t have a firm date, we understand that the demolition of the old Coffee High School buildings may begin at any time. If anyone wants photos of the mortar and brick that housed that venerable institution, now’s the time to take them.


We see that Florence Mayor Mickey Haddock’s latest newsletter has placed more emphasis on the status of capital projects. (Thank you, Mayor Haddock.) We also see that many are lamenting the scaled back project to repave Wood Avenue. We agree that any new paving will indeed become patched within a few months time if water/utility lines are not replaced and brought up to date, but at least the thoroughfare will present a new array of potholes for drivers who are tired of the current ones.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Our "Hometown" Newspaper/Probate Judges

Did you read the article in Saturday’s TimesDaily about young Muslims growing up outside Chicago? Opinion is fine—it’s what we dispense here, but facts should be just that, not concocted anecdotes to prove some kind of point.

The article referred to a Muslim mother who was accosted in the grocery store check out line. It seems a woman approached the mother from behind and pulled her head scarf. The article goes on to relate that the woman was later charged with a hate crime.

Really? First, while we don’t have firm data on Illinois laws, if this incident had happened in Alabama, it would have been Third Degree Assault—a misdemeanor. The designation “hate crime” is added at sentencing and doesn’t come into play in misdemeanor cases.

So did this incident happen in the way it was portrayed? We doubt it.


While on the subject of this Saturday article, the TD used to publish inspirational stories from around the area in this weekly space. For some time now, the articles have had a social activism slant and most originate in the Chicago area. Perhaps this is a result of the TD’s cost cutting measures that have recently substituted comic strips and advice columns without even a word of introduction or explanation.

There's been quite a bit of discussion concerning a bill being considered in the legislature allowing anyone the freedom to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony. One comment from stated that most probate judges in the state weren't juris doctors. 

In this area we are extremely fortunate to have Will Motlow and Daniel Rosser. Both these gentlemen are extremely qualified attorneys and underpaid. We know Daniel much better than Will, but we're greatly impressed by both gentlemen. Props to Daniel and Will!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Drag Racing Redux

We had planned to begin a short series on the new hospital, but apparently what we considered a minor issue is a major problem in this area--and many are condoning it. Let's look at some salient points concerning drag racing:

1. It's illegal. What do parents not understand about that? If you say to your child that you can break some laws, where do you draw the line?

2. It's not just teens, but adults including police who are engaging in this illegal activity.

3. How would you feel if you had small children and you suddenly found your quiet county road tuned into an illegal drag strip?

4. To say that drag racing prevents pregnancy is comparable to saying it prevents these teen/adults from robbing mini-marts.

5. The Shoals has nothing to do? Just drive to Lawrenceburg and ask some teens about what they do on weekends. Almost universally, they will tell you that they have to come to the Shoals to find anything to do. You see how that works? Everything is relative.

6. Remember, we're happy to publish your comments, but not when it contains vulgarities and derogatory references to the mentally impaired.


So how widespread is illegal drag racing? (This one may have a permit, but just that it existed, surprised us.):

We'd say that's pretty widespread. Now for any parents who encourage this or any young people who participate in this, we have one suggestion: Ask any successful person you may know if he/she ever participated in illegal drag racing. We're not shy to predict that not one would say yes.

Let's teach our children to strive to do better, not to live by the "If it feels good, do it" philosophy.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Illegal Lauderdale Racing/Byron Wilkes

Is there illegal drag racing in parts of Lauderdale County? According to one reader there is. We have edited to remove the name of a Muscle Shoals police officer:

...XXX II, the Muscle Shoals cop. He said that he goes street racing with them on the weekends on some county rd in the Oakland community. He also said that there was a Florence cop, a deputy or 2 and a wayne county deputy that participates in these illegal street races. He said they would carry there radio's with them and that's how they would avoid getting caught. These races still go on because I saw a comment on the Lauderale county sheriff's dept Facebook page a couple of months ago complaining about it.


There will be an exhibition of our late friend Byron Wilkes' works:

If you're not familiar with Byron, we use one of his paintings in the sidebar of our blog. Byron was always a fan of our blog and expressed how delighted he was with our using his work. We miss him...


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Death for the Three Tuscumbia Shooters?

A few years ago, a local woman was charged with abusing her lover’s young son. The woman persisted in claiming her innocence, but her attorney realized that with her butch looks and alternative lifestyle, a jury would most likely convict her. The lawyer advised the woman to take an Alford plea.

Now we have the three Tuscumbia shooters—one from Florence and two not long out of a Chicago suburb. Benjamin Owen Young of Florence was on the area’s most wanted list and has a long rap sheet. The pair from Illinois are reported to be no strangers to law enforcement. Looks? We wouldn’t want to meet any of them in a dark alley. In other words, the murderer’s usual hope of a jury trial is probably no hope at all for these three killers. From their photos, we don’t think even the best defense attorney can turn any of them into Clark Kent. (Remember Ronald Weems’ trial photos?)

Since their victim was shot while in a vehicle, there’s no question it was a Capital crime. Nor should there be a question as to what a jury will recommend when these men are found guilty; if by any chance a jury did recommend Life Without Parole, no judge would honor that recommendation. Would Bryce Graham offer them a plea? We sincerely doubt it.

The death sentence in this state usually means years in solitary confinement while waiting for an execution date. Perhaps the federal government should take a cue from a Kurt Russell movie and establish a controlled area for all such prisoners in the U.S. We suggest Flynt, Michigan.

Colbert County cracks down on drugs: We notice that Colbert County has recently apprehended several drug manufacturers and traffickers. We also notice that many of them have no previous records. Is the job situation in North Alabama so bad that middle age men have to turn to hawking heroin and meth in order to make a living? A word of advice: We’re pretty sure the Colbert County Jail makes food stamps look good.


A reader has asked us if Phillip Pettus (R-Greenhill) is attempting to drown the public in misinformation about Ted Cruz's citizenship status. While Cruz is a citizen, the Supreme Court has never ruled on the eligibility of anyone not born inside the borders of the United States. We hope it will soon do so.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Muddy Museum/Chris Martin

For the taxpayers’ sake, let’s hope the new Indian Mound Museum is not another tourism building site in the making. The architect states the foundation of the building is being built up in order to keep flood waters out, but that still leaves parking in question during extreme wet weather. Perhaps we should be glad this isn’t Georgia where “lowlands” means “swamp with a chance of alligator.”


It would appear that after four plus months, Arby’s on Florence Boulevard is finally being restored after a fire damaged the newly remodeled eatery.


We recently published information on how to write the parole board in connection with Chris Martin. The AIS number published was incorrect; here is the correct info to ensure your letters reach Chris’ file:

Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles
301 South Ripley Street
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
Re: James Christopher Martin, AIS #298356


Our ratings? A few readers recently asked about hits to this blog each day. We use three different counters if one includes the FB counter. While we have 4K to 6K hits on an average day, it’s almost impossible to pin down a correct number.

The term “unique hits” refers to hits from one IP addy; however, a large employer (UNA or ECM) might have several individuals who accessed the site, while the counter toted up just one hit. Conversely, the term “page hits” refers to all hits on the site, and one individual might open several different blogs during a 24 hour time period.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Death Penalty Ruling?/Heath Haddock

According to legal eagles,the recent ruling by a Jefferson County judge on Alabama's sentencing structure concerning Capital crimes is not binding on other courts. How long until defense attorneys across the state uinvoke this ruling to appeal sentences handed down by other judges, but not approved by a jury...and just how much will it cost the state?


From Heath Haddock:

My statement concerning my mission and vision for the License Commissioner's office... Feel free to share this message, and thank you for all the hard work keeping the Shoals informed:

"As your License Commissioner, I pledge that my priority will be to serve as a good and honest steward of your tax dollars. I will work hard to protect your money by careful analysis of budgeting and thoughtful consideration of all financial decisions. Having examined the trends of the license commissioner’s office, I understand that peak transaction times are the beginning and ending of each month. As a graduate of UNA, I hope to work with the UNA Marketing Department to develop and implement a campaign to help inform all citizens of the ways to better utilize existing services of the license commissioner’s office. There are currently 7 different ways to renew your tag, including one of the only drive through windows in the state. An effective marketing plan will increase awareness of these services and effectively create a more efficient and productive office.

Updated technology is a necessary tool to complete the tasks required of the License Commissioner’s office. After several conversations with the outgoing License Commissioner and the current staff, I understand that the Lauderdale County License Commissioner’s office is currently a state of the art office with recent computer upgrades necessary to run the software mandated by the state. As new software becomes available I want to work with the Department of Revenue to be a pilot county. As a pilot county we can continue to set the standard and be a part of the solution that will ensure the latest technological tools exist for staff to continue effective services to the residents of Lauderdale County.

As a former business owner and current business manager, I understand the necessity of having a competent and prepared staff. I also realize the need to have the proper number of staff present throughout the day. I believe that looking at expanding with satellite offices is counterproductive as the cost of brick and mortar expansion, as well as the cost of additional staff, is an unnecessary drain of our tax dollars and on the county budget; and if we were to relocate exiting staff, it would create a shortage at the current office. I understand the feasibility of a satellite office has been examined recently and it was determined unnecessary at this time. As our area grows and if expansion is necessary, I will work diligently with the Department of Revenue and the County Commission at that time to determine the most appropriate action.

Finally, as your License Commissioner, I understand that my job is not limited to an 8-5 day, as I will be a constant representative of the citizens of Lauderdale County. I have the professional experience and the commitment to our area to be a representative you can be proud of and you can trust. As your License Commissioner, I will be a good steward of your tax dollars and will utilize my professional experiences to manage the office and increase access to services, while avoiding additional costs to the residents of Lauderdale County." 


The runoff is slightly more than four weeks away. Prepare to vote and to vote with knowledge of the candidates.


Special: Don Quixote and the Fantasy of Spring Park

I love the story of Don Quixote. It is a fictional tale about a man who became obsessed with books about chivalrous adventures. He believed every word he read to be 100% true, despite the fact that much of the events in the stories were clearly impossible. So are Times Daily readers as gullible and naïve as Don Quixote? This has to explain why we are subjected to the same ‘ole Times Daily public relations, fluff story about Tuscumbia’s Spring Park. The TD would have us to prefer the glory of a fantasy park over the truth of the real park.

Their latest article really captured the park manager’s condescending satire of the facts, with his quote: “The rides are in good shape.” (3/7/16 Times Daily – “Park rides open for season, fountain still down”)

In good shape, huh? Well, let’s compare his statement with the real world.

The rides at Spring Park DO NOT receive the same maintenance that was REQUIRED under the operations of Mr. Harvey Robbins and the nonprofit Tuscumbia Railway Company. For example when was the last time that you’ve seen the park’s roller coaster disassembled and reassembled for maintenance? This maintenance procedure use to begin in the late fall or early part of winter. The maintenance workers would disassembled and reassembled the coaster, while painstakingly inspecting each part; properly greasing joints, ball bearings, etc.; and replacing any worn out parts.

And let’s discuss the train. So the article says it is operating … but not with all its passenger carts. So why aren’t all the passenger carts in operation? Apparently some of the passenger carts now exist as "donor” carts. Basically that means that parts are taken off of the donor carts to keep the “working” carts patched up. This maintenance method is sometimes referred to as: “Robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Can you remember how many carts were originally on the train? How about 6!!! Only 4 were running this past weekend. All 6 were in operation when the nonprofit Tuscumbia Railway Company handled the train maintenance. Each year they would disassemble the truck (wheels) to grease and perform proper maintenance. They also daily inspected the railroad tracks. Cold and hot weather causes the tracks to contract and expand. They must be checked often in order to avoid derailment. Is this being done?

And what about the carousel? The seahorse has been missing from the carousel after I posted pictures comparing the 2013 seahorse with the badly peeling 2016 seahorse. I hope this means that the seahorse is finally being restored. I noticed that one of the pictures in the Times Daily article was a close up of a carousel horse with a peeling face. Will it be missing next? Why is it that things have to go bad (with picture proof) before Kendrick does anything about it?

Kendrick's standard of park ride maintenance is to doctor everything up ONLY A FEW WEEKS BEFORE OPERATION. Do a little pressure washing, splash on some paint, and maybe use a bit of WD40. It is frightening to think about all the “temporary fix” experimentations that are occurring, especially when majority of the rides are for our CHILDREN.

I'm tired of half truths. I'm tired of excuses. I'm ready for change.


Tuscumbia Muskrat

Monday, March 7, 2016

Who Knows What Really Happened in Sheffield?

Sheffield City Hall/Police Department

Our favorite computer guru instructs to just “get over” our personal lack of privacy. He’s totally right, but how about local governments? Isn’t a wrecked city squad car news? From a reader:

Do you know anything about a Sheffield PD-involved traffic accident near O'Neal Bridge Wednesday night? There's nothing in the TD (Surprising, huh?) Supposedly a Sheffield PD officer was trying to stop a semi-truck attempting to cross the bridge and struck an oncoming car. Allegedly, the officer didn't have his overhead emergency lights on at the time of the accident. There is 'evidence' of a 'severe impact event' on Old Jackson Highway (sic), halfway between Cajun's and O'Neal Bridge. A friend's mom was working at ECM the night when the victims of the accident were allegedly brought in.

We'll add that this stretch of highway is actually Nathan Boulevard, opened around 1948 with O'Neal Bridge. Its Lauderdale counterpart is Mitchell Boulevard.


Will you be voting in the runoff? It’s less than four weeks until two Republican candidates face each other in a Lauderdale runoff to become the nominee for their party in the license commissioner race. Rodney Pettus, the front runner, will face Heath Haddock in the April mini-election. The winner of the runoff will face Tony Cox, the Democratic nominee, in November.

While this might not seem like a pivotal election to many, any government office is important. We should demand both efficiency and accountability. We’ll be comparing the two candidates in the next week or so. Any candidate or reader input is requested and appreciated.


From Rodney Pettus:

“Back to Basics” is about Honesty, Integrity, and Hard Work. Remember when a person’s word actually meant something? When a deal was sealed with a handshake? This is how I was raised and I still believe in these values today. I believe in doing the right thing even when know one is watching. I was taught through out life that hard work and dedication was the key to being successful in life. I will roll up my sleeves, give 100%, and be there full time on the job. 

I want to shorten wait times and make services more accessible. I will work with the county commission to create satellite offices or kiosks in order to bring public service directly to the communities. I want to add a feature to social media and to the website to show approximate wait times at the License Commissioners Office. Installing updated computer equipment will help to expedite office procedures. Back to basics is not about technology. It is about who I am, what I believe in, and how I will perform as your License Commissioner.

We look forward to Heath Haddock sending us his mission statement for publication.