Politician Changes His Mind. Good For Him.

Earlier this week the Montgomery city council voted as to whether or not all citizens should wear a face mask during the pandemic.  The vote tied 4-4 and therefore failed.

The following morning Mayor Stephen Reed used an executive order to make masks mandatory.

Council member Glen Pruitt joined Reed at the press conference announcing the executive order to say that he made a mistake in voting against the measure the night before.

Unfortunately, Pruitt’s 19-year-old daughter, Courtney, died of cancer last year.  After the vote, Pruitt asked his wife how he should have voted and she told him, “If Courtney was still alive, you would have supported the vote.”  Pruitt agreed with his wife and changed his mind.

His display of courage and conviction is all too rare these days.

Instead we have people like one of Pruitt’s fellow council members who opposed the mask ordnance and spewed the all-too common malarkey about “constitutional rights.”  Which is basically an admission of how little someone understands about our form of government and how it is supposed to work.

“ANARCHY” is a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority.  And invoking constitutional rights in the matter of face masks basically means you favor anarchy.  So the speed limit on the interstate is 70, why should that apply to you?  Slow down when you pass a school?  Hell no, tell the kids to get out of the way.  That stop sign?  Says who?

It doesn’t work that way in our form of government.  We can’t pick and choose what rules we obey and the ones we don’t.  (Though there seem to be plenty of folks around today who don’t understand this.)

We are all in this together.  At least we are supposed to be.

Glen Pruitt recognizes this.  Good for him.

 

 

 

Coming To The End Of The Road

How do you figure out when your fastball ain’t as fast as it once was?  Or that it takes you longer to run from home plate to first base than a few years ago?

In other words, what makes you face the reality that you have far more yesterdays than tomorrows and that your usefulness or inspiration just comes in occasional spurts, certainly not every day.

I started this blog in the spring of 2015.  I was 72 years old.  Hardly the season of life to start climbing another mountain

It’s been quite a trip.  Filled with encounters of far more wonderful people than I can recall.  People who have truly demonstrated the best of mankind in their service to others.  People who have shown undying love.to the children of strangers.  People who honestly and truly believe that every life, regardless the circumstances of its birth or home or family is deserving of every chance and opportunity the surrounding world has to offer.  People who are overworked and underappreciated and are driven by a deep calling to leave this world better than they found it.

I have tried to recognize these largely unsung heroes and to give voice to sentiments that they are unable to be speak.

Gratefully, I have been joined by hundreds and hundreds of others on this lone journey.  People who have been so kind to constantly offer a pat on the back, whether deserved or not,  Every word of encouragement and appreciation has been noted.  And will not be forgotten.

But my fastball has lost some of its zip, my stride has shortened and frustrations have too often weighed too heavy.

And without doubt, some priorities have been re-arranged, especially impacted by these very perilous times we find ourselves in.

Regular readers have certainly noticed that posts in the last three months have been less frequent.  Just as they will continue to be.  I plan to still write from time to time but I also hope to set aside more time for myself and explore some worlds I have yet to see.

Thanks for all you have meant.  For your friendship, for your kind words and for your steadfast devotion to making this a better world.

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder (Or Reporter)

The first time I remember seeing my name in print was 55 years ago this summer.  I was sports editor of The Auburn Plainsman that summer and each week had my name and photo attached to a column I wrote.  Which is just another way of saying I have been around a long time and have read the work of many reporters.

During all this observation, I have always been amazed at how two journalists can work with the same info and impart two totally different views on something that occurred.

The June 9, 2020 decision by the state charter school commission to revoke the charter of Woodland Prep in Washington County being a prime example.  Within a few hours, both AL.com and the Alabama Political Reporter had articles on-line about what happened.  You can read the AL.com article here and the APR one here.

While the APR article is labeled as “opinion,” this is not the case with the AL.com piece.  And you only have to get to the third paragraph to get a strong whiff of which way the wind is blowing.

That paragraph says: Woodland Prep attorney Nash Campbell said, “It’s just a little disturbing that a large group of people that threaten businesses, threaten people–and also essentially used religious and racial elements–caused this school to never get off the ground.”

The reporter than proceeded to relate several paragraphs to talking points of the charter supporters, most of which were never substantiated or verified and were questioned by legal action of the Alabama Education Association.  There are no quotes or comments from anyone in Washington County who opposed the charter.

On the other hand, APR reporter Josh Moon largely related how Washington County residents, lead by Betty Brackin, were relentless for two years in expressing their opposition, doing their homework and simply refusing to stop standing their ground.

Washington County has been around longer than Alabama has.  Alabama became a state in 1819.  Before that, Washington County was the first territorial capital, it became the first state county in June, 1800.  It had the first bank in the county.

Point being that folks in this southwest corner of the state have been running their own affairs for a very long time.  And when folks from Texas and Utah showed up two years ago to tell them they knew more about schools than the locals folks did, their racket fell on deaf ears.

And had the “outsiders” been nearly as smart as they wanted folks to think they were, they would have figured this out and kept on going.

Woodland Prep Charter Gets Revoked

After a two-year battle that seemed to have more lives than a houseful of cats, the state charter school commission voted today (June 9) to revoke the charter granted in 2018 to Woodland Prep charter school in Washington County.

How many articles have I written about this?  At least 50.  And to be honest, I got to the point where I began to doubt that I would ever have the chance to write a headline like the one above.

In the end, it was as much a story about a very rural community that simply refused to quit fighting and standing up for what it believed in strongly.  It was about a community that takes pride in its public schools and refused to be bulldozed by a group of education “experts” from out-of-state who were far more intent on making money than helping children.

It was about doing what is right and honest and not falling victim to those who would twist the truth to suit their own purposes.  And at this especially troublesome time when good intentions seem thrown to the wind, this action sends a message all of Alabama can take heart in.  An action that awards steadfast faith and gives more meaning to what good neighbors are supposed to represent.

No doubt there are right now many smiles in Washington County, but equally as important are all the prayers of thanks that steadfast conviction and loyalty to one another will be rewarded.

 

Auburn Mourns Pat Dye

Ardent Auburn University supporters, like me. are prone from time to time to refer to someone as “an Auburn man.”  In a way, it’s a rather mystical description, like beauty, in the eyes of the beholder.  And while there may be some disagreement as to what it is, there is less disagreement about who it is.

And so it is that this week, thousands of people who bleed orange and blue, came to pause and remember the life of perhaps the ultimate Auburn man, former football coach Pat Dye who passed away at age 80.  Not lost on any of them was the fact that Dye grew up in Georgia and never attended Auburn.

In a sense, it was Auburn who decided Dye should become one of their own.  Dye was hired in early 1981, coached Auburn to four SEC championships in the next 12 years and never left.  Along the way he learned that the things Auburn stood for and the things he stood for were one and the same and the relationship only got stronger for the next 38 years.

Dye was the youngest of three boys born into a prominent farming family in Blythe, GA, about 20 miles from Augusta.  His mother grew up in Athens, GA, the daughter of a dentist  She graduated from the University of Georgia and moved to Blythe to teach school.  His father never finished high school.  Life on the farm toughened him and competing with two older brothers sharpened his will to win.

Sixty years ago southern college football was a far cry from what it is today.  All the players were white, many came from farms and most were not big.  Dye was a 200-pound All-American guard and linebacker coached by Wally Butts.  After two years of playing in the Canadian football league and two years in the military, Dye was hired by University of Alabama football coach “Bear” Bryant and was on his staff for nine years.

The two men were kindred spirits, both greatly influenced by growling up in the country and being accountable for their own actions.  Obviously Bryant was very fond of Dye, no doubt seeing someone who was largely forged by the same forces as he had been growing up in Arkansas..

Dye spent his time well in Tuscaloosa, learning how to manage people, how to motivate players and how to develop a winning culture.  All he needed was the right opportunity to make his own mark.  He found it in Auburn.

It was no surprise that Auburn and Dye fit each other.  At their core. both are country.  Auburn became a land-grant institution in 1872, a place devoted to coaxing life from the earth so that people can prosper.  And this was Dye, never straying from his roots.in Richmond County, GA.

Probably nothing makes this statement more than Dye’s final wishes.  He died on Monday, June 1 and late in the afternoon of Tuesday, June 2 he was laid to rest at the base of an oak on his Macon County farm.  He had nurtured the oak from a cutting of one of Auburn’s famous Toomer Corner oaks.  He was wrapped in a shroud and placed in the hole.  He told friends that his body would fertilize the tree and his spirit would live on.

Like many, I have my own memories of the coach.  While living in Opelika 15-20 years ago, I was invited to join a handful of people one morning to have breakfast at Dye’s farm near Notasulga.  The specialty that morning was quail.  To be honest, I am not overly fond of quail.  But being a good guest, I ate one.  When Dye asked if I wanted another one I deferred, but did mention that I sure would like some more of the fig preserves he had with the biscuits.

In just a moment he gave me a pint jar of homemade preserves, saying they came from his brother.  They were delicious.

We probably too often hear someone say, “They don’t make ’em like that any more.”  In Pat Dye’s case, they are correct.