Qualifying ends Friday at 5 p.m.

Posted 2/8/18

Let’s clean out the notebook ...

• Qualifying is winding up tomorrow, at long last, at 5 p.m. statewide. The two party chairmen will be at the Walker County Probate Judge’s Office at the end of the day Friday to help with qualifying. Walker County Republican Chairwoman Linda Ensor specified Wednesday she would be at that office from 2-5 p.m. for qualifying.

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Qualifying ends Friday at 5 p.m.


Let’s clean out the notebook ...

• Qualifying is winding up tomorrow, at long last, at 5 p.m. statewide. The two party chairmen will be at the Walker County Probate Judge’s Office at the end of the day Friday to help with qualifying. Walker County Republican Chairwoman Linda Ensor specified Wednesday she would be at that office from 2-5 p.m. for qualifying.

Ensor said two local candidates qualified Monday: For Superintendent of Education, Jason Adkins (I), 349 Highland Ave., Cordova, AL 35550; and for Walker County Board of Education, District 3, Vonda Pate Beaty, 117 Pate Hill Road, Cordova, AL 35550. In addition, one more qualified late Tuesday: Walker County Probate Judge, Dayron Bridges, 1302 Pineywoods Sipsey Rd., Jasper, AL 35504.

We have not heard any more news from the Walker County Democratic Party. We are very close, it seems, to having no local Democrats to qualify for office. The lowest Democrat I had on the ballot as of Wednesday at 2 p.m. is one for state auditor, meaning even the Republican nominees for the local state legislator seats would not be challenged. Of course, last-minute decisions could be made, but this has been odd to go this way for the entire qualifying period. If no Democrat qualified for local races, Republican nominees would probably have nothing but write-ins to deal with, which is tantamount to being elected. That would leave them to save money and concentrate on state races.

• Needless to say, Jasper city officials have been busy; I wrote stories throughout the weekend to catch up from what was basically a packed Jasper City Council work session on Feb. 2. Certainly the big headline was about the police cameras. I understand the arguments on both sides, and I think a lot of people thought it might be rushed and had questions over the weekend; as I understood it, there were more assurances on Tuesday that the council can make a final decision after a local bill is passed. That can be seen as the cart before the horse, but technically that could work. If I were council members, I would be doing my own research to see about the merits and concerns, and then we must wait on the outcome of House Bill 365, which would prohibit cities from using any systems to record or take photos of a license plate at a traffic light. (Good luck with that when they are rushing to pass the budgets and leave, but anything can happen in Montgomery.)

Then there was the proposal to make Second and Third Avenues one-way streets. If it will gain more spaces and improve safety, it might be a good idea, but the businesses in the area may have something to say about that; it would certainly take some getting used to. But it would likely be safer and easier than those parallel spaces I detest.

One expenditure I would certainly think is worthwhile is to increase the entertainment budget for the Foothills Festival from $45,000 to $60,000. I walked the festival extensively last year, and I can tell you people came from outside the county for the quality entertainment, which was free. It was a smashing success and helped the reputation of the city. Culture is something you, as a city, have to contribute to sometimes to improve your standing — which also helps in attracting industry. It is far more than a matter of getting more people in town to spend money, although that is exactly a major part of it. It is also about getting jobs here. Judging from the reactions and the results from last year, I am telling you in no uncertain terms that we have to be identified with this and provide us a positive spotlight to counter all those Walker County image issues that people joke about.

• One thing that was passed in Tuesday’s Jasper City Council meeting was discussed more in the Feb. 2 work session. The council wanted to express support in the Legislature for Alabama League of Municipalities-backed amendments to HB110 and SB130, which would prevent Amazon from paying less sales tax to cities. According to al.com, Amazon voluntarily collects the state's Simplified Sellers Use Tax (SSUT), a flat rate of 8 percent, as it has had no brick-and-mortar stores. However, with its acquisition of Whole Foods, which does have stores, the company would not be in the program. The legislation would allow it to come back under the program, but some cities are concerned the bills would allow others with brick-and-mortar stores, such as Walmart, to collect the 8 percent tax online, which is lower than what some cities charge. Jasper currently charges as total of 9 percent in combined sales tax. Officials were able to obtain a sample resolution to express concern.

• I mentioned the other day about how U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt could be in line to head the House Appropriations Committee due to the retirement coming for its chairman. Yellowhammer News notes Aderholt is facing competition from others, such as Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), but they all acknowledge their bids against Aderholt are longshots. The decision will be made by the House Republican Steering Committee after the 2018 midterm elections.

Yellowhammer also noted a report from Bloomberg that pointed out U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby is in line to chair the Senate Appropriations Committees because term-limit rules will require the current chairman, Sen. Thad Cochran from Mississippi, to surrender the gavel after this year. (The term limit rule is also another reason why all those chairmen are retiring after this year, as it doesn’t encourage you to stay in power too long.) 

Getting Aderholt and Shelby at the top of both of the Appropriations committees would be considered tantamount to getting three lemons in a Las Vegas slot machine. I can’t see either man going into their happy dance, but, inside their hearts, trust me, they would be dancing.

Mind you, I imagine there are more limits these days on what you can grab for your state with a position like that — pork and earmarks are not necessarily as easy as it was in Tom Bevill’s day, although nothing is impossible in Congress. But it is still a powerful position. With Shelby in the driver’s seat, and working with Aderholt on the other side of the dome, I can imagine officials in Alabama are salivating at the prospect. But these are crazy days in Trumpland anyway, so stay tuned.

Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle news editor.