Oh My Goodness. Another Birthday.

Ain’t no way.  Impossible.  Simply can not be.  The calendar must be messed up.

I mean, I just had a birthday a couple of months ago didn’t I?  Right before Thanksgiving?  Or was it just before football season maybe?
Remember it well.  Was the 36th anniversary of my 39th birthday.  Got two cards, four emails and one telephone call.  Some folks even mentioned it on Facebook.

So I have double-checked.  And then double-checked my double-checking.  And much as I would like to deny it, it really is true that on Monday, Jan. 21 I will have my 76th birthday.  And to make me feel even older, that means I have lived for 76 years and now start on number 77.

Apparently the news got out somehow because Monday has been declared a NATIONAL HOLIDAY.  How many of my friends can say that happened on their birthday?  Not many, if any.

Of course I know that most think Monday is a holiday because of Martin Luther King, Jr.  And some in the Deep South think it is because of Robert E. Lee.  But that is not he case at all.  You see, King was born on Jan. 15, 1929 and uncle Robert was born on Jan. 19, 1807.

So while we may have the day off on Monday because of them, it’s really MY birthday–not theirs.

I am glad to still be kicking.  Though hardly as high as I once did.  I’m not so steady when I stand up these days and to put on my pants I have to sit on the edge of the bed.  No more balancing on one foot while doing so.  And the memory is definitely not what it used to me.  Coming out of a restaurant today a gentleman spoke to me as if he knew me.  I had no clue who he was.

Here’s hoping that as you enjoy your holiday Monday, you remember why you got it.

Governor Ivey Names Jo Bonner Chief Of Staff

A few week ago we told you that former Congressman Joe Bonner had joned the staff of Governor Kay Ivey as Senior Advisor.  She has now made Bonner Chief of Staff.  He replaces Steve Pelham who is going to Auburn University as Chief of Staff for President Steve Leath.

Bonner is a native of Camden, in Wilcox County, as is Governor Ivey.  His father was probate judge.  He is a graduate of the University of Alabama and went to Washington, D.C. in 1984 as press secretary to Congressman Sonny Callahan.  He became Callahan’s Chief of Staff in 1989.  When Callahan retired in 2002, Bonner ran for his seat and defeated six other candidates in the Republican primary.

He was elected to six more terms before stepping down in 2013 to join the staff of the University of Alabama system as vice chancellor.

With his experience in politics and vast network of associates, Bonner should be a great asset to Governor Ivey  He is 60 years old.


Survey Says Time For Accountability Act To Go

More that 600 people have responded so far to our recent survey about the Alabama Accountability Act.  They are loud and clear as to how they view AAA.  Seventy-six percent say it should be repealed.  Another 17 percent say it should be modified and only one percent say it should be left as is.

This is not surprising since 78 percent of respondents are either currently working in public education, or are retired educators.  They also have a vested interested as 58 percent either have children or grand children now in a public school.. More than 51 percent are in the age range of 46 to 65.  Sixty-eight percent of all respondents are female.

And 46 percent identify themselves as Republicans, 32 percent are Independents and 23 percent are Democrats.

Editor’s note: SurveyMonkey was the instrument used to get responses.  This methodology is used by more then 4,000 companies worldwide In market research.  Unlike traditional political polling, SurveyMonkey does not control responses according to demographics.  However, the number of responses is so large that info is very valid in measuring attitudes and trend lines.

We probed a number of education issues and AAA issues.

For instance, while those supporting the accountability act imply that public schools should not miss the $100 million now diverted from the Education Trust Fund by this legislation, 95.5 percent of survey takers do not believe Alabama schools are adequately funded.  Only four percent say they know someone who has contributed to a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) and seven percent say they know a student who has received a scholarship with this program.

This law creates a double standard for charitable contributions.  While the state allows an income tax DEDUCTION for traditional contributions based on the contributor’s income tax bracket; donors to an SGO get a dollar for dollar TAX CREDIT on their taxes.  Say you are in the 35 percent tax bracket and give $1,000 to the Boy Scouts, you get a $350 (35% X $1,000) tax deduction.  However, if you give $1,000 to a SGO, the state allows you to take this amount off your tax liability owed the state.  In other words, you are reimbursed $1,000.

Some 56 percent of those who answered the survey say both regular charitable contributions and SGO contributions should be treated equally.

There is concern these scholarships are sometimes used to recruit athletes to private schools.  Some 77 percent think a school getting AAA scholarships should not be allowed to compete in athletics with public schools.  They also have strong feelings about scholarships being given to non-accredited private schools as is presently allowed.  Eighty-three percent oppose this.

The survey also shows intense feelings about the State Board of Education and their unwillingness to take a stand on AAA.  Some 88 percent say the board should take a public position on AAA and 90 percent say the board should be actively involved in making legislative changes in the law.

While this law requires that the state identify the bottom six percent of all public schools and label them as “failing,” 78 percent say the same bottom six percent standard should be applied to private schools.  In other words, apply the same logic to both public and private schools.

Once identified as a “failing” school, AAA does not stipulate that any resources or help be given to these schools to help them improve.  Eighty-three percent of responses say this is wrong.

So far, school boards in Baldwin, Mobile, Montgomery, Randolph and Tallapoosa counties have passed resolutions calling for the repeal of AAA.  Some 87 percent agree with school boards taking such action.

We also wanted to know how respondents feel about the overall state of public education in Alabama.  Unfortunately, 45 percent believe it will be worse in the future than it now is.

Might it be that after six years of the accountability act and little to show for it, plus the fact that the state school board is apparently content to give up $100 million in funding without saying a word, there is ample reason for general pessimism?

I don’t know that answer.  But I do know that the good folks who took this survey have spoken loudly that they do not believe the accountably act works and they are calling for action.


55 Years Ago Today

It was a Saturday.  I was at the Mobile Infirmary in a waiting room studying German, having just begun my 4th quarter at Auburn.  I was waiting on my son Kevin to make his first appearance in this world.

The doctor had predicted that he would be born in late December, but sometimes doctors and Mother Nature don’t read from the same play book. I well remember being taken to the nursery to see him for the first time.  He was there among eight or ten other newborns.  Others were also looking at what the stork had just delivered and I heard plenty of, “why he has his daddies nose” or “she looks just like her mother.”

Kevin just looked like a brand new baby to me, all red and puffy with no resemblance to anyone I knew.

It is hard to believe that has now been 55 years ago.  But indeed it has.

He was a smart little fellow.  Attended a school for gifted in Birmingham and later was invited to attend the new Alabama School for Fine Arts.  He has always read about anything he could get his hands on.  I have often said that he is far more well-read than I will ever be.  And my sister just says, “Don’t ever play Trivial Pursuit with Kevin.”

He is an excellent writer and I’m proud to occasionally share some of his words on this blog site.  Unfortunately, we had no clue 55 years ago that his body harbored a genetic defect that would cause severe respiratory issues as he aged.

I enjoy conversations with him.  Politically we think very much alike.  And we certainly share the same allegiance to any athletic team that wears orange and blue.

But mostly I am just proud to be his father.  Even if his turning 55 does mean I am about to be 76.

I love you Kevin.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!.

Time To Let Us Hear From You

We put up a brand new survey 36 hours ago to get feedback concerning the Alabama Accountability Act.  This law was passed in 2013 and, to say the least, has been rather controversial because it diverts money from the state Education Trust Fund to be used to provide scholarships to private schools.

With a new session of the Legislature convening In March and with a large number of new House and Senate members, now is the right time to see how people across the state view the Accountability Act.

Response has been great.  Well more than 400 people have weighed in.

But the more, the merrier.

Remember, all respondents are anonymous and the program is set up so that there can only be one response per email address.

Go here to fill out your survey form.