Greene County Commission and Sheriff Benison reach temporary solution on support for 11 additional employees

The Greene County Commission and Sheriff Jonathan Benison have reached a temporary solution regarding the suspended pay for the 11 additional employees in the sheriff’s department.
Immediately following the Greene County Commission’s work session on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, Commission Chairperson Allen Turner, Jr. and Commissioner Roshanda Summerville met with Sheriff Benison to discuss the funds needed for the 11 employees from the Sheriff’s department and other requirements. Attorney Hank Sanders advised Chairperson Turner, mainly by telephone.
As the commissioners and the sheriff deliberated, the session did get heated. Emotions were high. They could be heard by those waiting outside the conference room.
According to an earlier signed agreement between the commission and the sheriff, additional bingo funds from the sheriff would be provided to the county to support the additional 11 employees the sheriff wanted for his department and other requirements. To that date, no additional funds from the sheriff for this purpose had been provided to the commission during this fiscal year which began Oct. 1, 2020.
For the first three months of the fiscal year, the commission transferred funds from other line items of the Sheriff’s department budget to support his additional employees. According to commission records, the sheriff’s county budget does not have funds for any additional transfers. Approximately $153,000 was necessary to meet the payroll of the 11 employees plus overtime and other requirements due for January.
According to the county commission’s records, at the Feb. 5 meeting, the sheriff offered the county a partial payment of $26,666. The commissioners responded that this was unacceptable and following more discussions, the Sheriff added another payment of $18,342 and assured the commission that the balance to make up the $153,000 would be given to the county by Friday, Feb. 7.
The commission, seemingly trusting the Sheriff, released the payroll to the 11 employees, many of whom had gathered awaiting the solution from this session. At the close of business day on Friday, Feb. 7, the county had not received any more bingo funds from the sheriff.
On Monday afternoon, Feb. 10, the county commission received two separate payments from the sheriff’s bingo funds, one for $43,042.56 and one for $32,832,18. Minutes before the commission’s monthly meeting was to begin that evening, the sheriff delivered the final payment of $32,333.26, satisfying the $153,215.44 needed for the suspended January payroll and other requirements. However, this will not cover payroll for the sheriff’s additional 11 employees for the month of February and beyond.
There remain concerns that this same situation is going to repeat itself.

Newswire : At African Union Summit, Ramaphosa announces end of colonialism

Incoming AU Pres. C. Ramaphosa (l) and Pres. A. Ahmed of Ethopia

Feb. 10, 2020 (GIN) – A stirring call to action was delivered this week in the august hall of the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, spoken by the incoming AU president Cyril Ramaphosa to distinguished members of the continental body representing over 40 countries.
In his presentation at the AU’s 33rd summit, the South African President wove history with commentary into a tapestry of hope for a continent, which has had its share of strife and downfalls.
“Your Excellencies,” he began, “we are mindful of our weighty mission, but also of the weight of history here in Ethiopia, a place with such deep and profound connections to Africa’s ancient past.
“Up in the highlands of the north of Ethiopia in the 1st century, our ancestors tamed the harsh terrain and established agriculture, herded livestock, minted their own coinage, created their own alphabetical script, built towering monuments that stand even to this day, and forged expansive trade routes across the region.
“Over the passage of and in the context of the time, our forebears understood that true progress and development could be advanced through trade and working together.”
From history to the present: “The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that we adopted last year will enable us to work together through intra-Africa trade, as it will reignite industrialization and pave the way for Africa’s integration into the global economy as a player of considerable scale.
“It is the realization of the dream of our forebears, to see the rich resources of Africa being marshalled for the collective benefit of Africans.
As Africans living in this new era, we shoulder the greatest of responsibilities, to ensure that Africa’s wealth does not become her poverty; that her blessing does not become her curse; and that our endowment does not become our downfall.”
“Our collective work to ensure political and economic unity, good governance and peace should be strengthened by supporting integration, industrialization, economic development, trade and investment.
“We must all ensure that the AfCFTA does not become a conduit for products with minimal African value addition to enter and penetrate our local markets under the guise of continental integration. There must be a reasonable standard set for what constitutes a product that is Proudly Made in Africa.”
He challenged summit members to propose “real actions” to end conflicts, to find African solutions for African problems and deal with acts of terrorism raging in many countries and regions such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and now spreading to other parts of Southern Africa as well.
“The era of colonialism and imperialism under which Africa is a pit stop in the global assembly line has passed,” he declared as he took over from Egypt’s Abdel Fatah El-Sisi for the one-year tenure on Sunday afternoon.
“In the words of the great son of the African soil, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o: “Today is tomorrow’s treasury. Tomorrow is the harvest of what we plant today.”

Newswire : Ethics charges against Judge Marvin Wiggins dismissed

On Feb. 3, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary issued an order of dismissal regarding ethics charges against Judge Marvin Wiggins. Wiggins, who has served for 20 years in Hale County as a Circuit Judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit, was charged with improperly communicating with the parties in a case before him outside of a court setting. Wiggins had spent nine months off the bench while the charges made their way through the system. In a statement released Monday, Wiggins said he was honored to return to the bench. “I have no ill feeling toward anyone,” he said. “I informed everyone I had not intentionally violated the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics and I am thankful the truth has been validated.” Wiggins noted the diversity of the circuit he serves. “This is the largest geographical Circuit in the State...we have some of the greatest, wealthiest and most powerful people and some of the meek and poorest people in the State. As a result, I strive to apply equal justice to everyone regardless of their economic status or political influence. In some instances, I have gone out of my way to be creative and provide alternatives within the law to provide peaceful resolutions. This approach has not always been acceptable with everyone and has, on occasions, resulted in public criticism.” Wiggins also thanked his supporters: “There have been so many people who have supported me morally and spiritually. I will always be grateful for the prayers, calls and support. More importantly, I am honored to return to the bench and continue dispensing justice with fairness and compassion. “ I am very appreciative for those who managed the dockets, maintained the integrity of our system, patiently waited on the resolution of their cases and those who have stood at the gate monitoring and defending the rights of the people. I am Blessed to be represented by one of the best legal teams in the country and a team of attorneys who are very skilled.” Wiggins also thanked his supporters: “There have been so many people who have supported me morally and spiritually. I will always be grateful for the prayers, calls and support. More importantly, I am honored to return to the bench and continue dispensing justice with fairness and compassion. I am very appreciative for those who managed the dockets, maintained the integrity of our system, patiently waited on the resolution of their cases and those who have stood at the gate monitoring and defending the rights of the people. I am Blessed to to be represented by one of the best legal Teams in the country and a Team of attorneys who is very skilled.”

Alabama New South Alliance endorses Biden for President, Billie Jean Young for State School Board (District 5) and many others

Ivan Peebles a Greene County High School student and ANSC Board Member gives greetings at ANSC Luncheon. Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, keynote speaker and Everett West of Birmingham, ANSC Vice President sit at front table.
Billie Jean Young, Candidate for State School Board District 5, speaks at ANSA screening on Saturday.

The ANSA delegates heard from four candidates running for the District 5 State School Board position, which represents 15 counties across the south central part of the state.
Candidates Billie Jean Young, Tanya Smith Chestnut, Joanne Shun and Woodie Pugh addressed the group and answered questions about closing the school achievement gap for Black children, infusing Black history into the school curriculum and increasing resources for public education. Billie Jean Young received the endorsement.
Laura Casey, a Montgomery attorney was endorsed for Chair of the Alabama Public Service Commission over Robert Martin. In her screening, she exhibited a firm grasp of the problem of wresting control of energy policy and pricing from the utility companies, which is the role of the Public Service Commission.
The ANSA also had a spirited screening of candidates for U. S. Congress from around the state and endorsed: District 1 – James Averhart, District 2 – Nathan Mathis, District 3 – Adia Winfrey, District 4 – Rick Neighbors, District 7 – Terri Sewell.
The ANSA also endorsed incumbent Doug Jones for U. S. Senate, although he is not opposed and will not appear on the March 3 primary ballot.
ANSA also urged a ‘No’ vote on Statewide Amendment No. 1 which provides for appointment of the State School Board by the Governor in place of the current system of election by districts.
ANSA chapters around the state will have screenings for county and local candidates over the next two weeks and submit these recommendations to the state office to be included on sample ballots together with the endorsed statewide candidates, to be distributed at the polls for the March 3 primary election.
The Greene County ANSA membership will hold screenings for local candidates running for Revenue Commissioner and School Board seats in Districts 3, 4 and 5, on Sunday, February 9, 2020 at 4:00 PM at the Eutaw Activity Center.
After the ANSA endorsement screenings, the group reconvened for a luncheon as the Alabama New South Coalition. The group heard a greeting from Ivan Peeples, a Greene County high school senior and ANSC youth 2nd Vice-President. There were also remarks from William Scott of the U. S. Census Bureau on the importance of a full count for the 2020 Census, which will be held on April 1, 2020.
Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham was the keynote luncheon speaker, who spoke on the importance of voting in the 2020n elections. He said, “We expect there will be disagreements in the March primary but we must come together and vote together in the November 3 General Election, to change the direction of this country.”
Woodfin stressed, “ The Democratic Party is the party of hope for people. The other side embraces fear and supports disunity. We must come together in November to use our ballots to change America and Alabama for the better.”
Persons interested in joining and leaning more about ANSC, may contact Shelley Fearson at the ANSC State Office in Montgomery at 334-262-0932; or Carol Zippert, Greene County ANSC at 205-372-0525.
Meeting in Montgomery on Saturday, February 1, more than 150 delegates to the Alabama New South Alliance (ANSA), a sister political organization of the Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC), made endorsements of candidates running in the March 3, 2020 primary.
ANSA members heard from candidates and asked them questions as part of the endorsement process.
Representatives of Presidential candidates: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Michael Bloomberg were present and participated in the screening. Former Vice President Joe Biden received the ANSA endorsement.

Commission holds public hearing on 5mil tax increase Greene County Commission suspends pay for 11 members of the Sheriff’s staff since he has not met agreement to cover additional salaries

A long simmering dispute between the Greene County Commission and Sheriff Jonathan Benison came to a boil this week.
The Greene County Commission budgeted $1,251,489 for the operation of the Sheriff’s Department and the Jail, for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2019. This is more than half of the County’s General Fund Budget and is in line with surrounding counties of similar size in the state.
The Sheriff in the past has chosen to supplement these budgetary funds, with funds paid to support the Sheriff’s Department by electronic bingo. The Sheriff has not paid any supplementary funds during this fiscal year since October 1, 2019, to help cover the salaries of his staff. The County Commission used contingency funds to cover the additional staff but the full annual contingency allocation for the County General Fund for all agencies was used by the end of December.
The Greene County Commission reached an agreement with the Sheriff at the end of December that he would pay $940,000 in annual supplementary funds, on a monthly basis, to cover his additional staff. The monthly base amount is $78,300, with a monthly increment to cover the three months ($240,000), which had not been paid to that point.
Allen Turner, County Commission Chairperson said, “ I have met with the Sheriff and his attorney numerous times, over the past four months and he knows the agreement. He agreed to make his initial payment by the end of January 2020. As of today – February 5 – he has not paid us anything. We had no choice but to suspend his staff until the Sheriff does what he agreed to do.”
The 11 staff members, 5 deputies, 5 jailers and an administrative staff member were selected based on senority.
Their end of the month payroll is being held pending resolution of this disagreement between the Sheriff and the Commission.
During this same time period (beginning with the month of September 2019), the Sheriff Benison has not paid to the Greene County Commission, the montly $72,000 in bingo license fees, that were previously paid to the County government and used as matching funds for Federal and state highway construction and repair.
At press time, the Democrat checked and there was no resolution of this budgetary and financial disagreement between Sheriff Benison and the County Commission.
Public Hearing held
On Wednesday, January 29, 2020, the Greene County Commission held a public hearing on its proposal to raise ad valorem property taxes by 5 mils for the Greene County Health System and other agencies.
The 5 mil increase would support six specific agencies and programs of Greene County and would be designated in the proposal, as follows:
• 3 mils for the Greene County Health System, for support of the hospital, emergency room, nursing home, physicians clinic and other health services
• 1 mil for the Greene County Commission General Fund
• .25 mil for Greene County Parks and Recreation Board
• .25 mil for Senior Citizens nutrition and other programs
• .25 mil for storm shelters
• .25 for Greene County Public Works Department
Currently a mil of additional property tax generates $160,000 additional revenues, from the appraised tax rolls of Greene County, for use by the agencies. Twenty Greene County residents attended the public hearing and some made comments.
Iris Sermon from E-911 urged the Commission to make sure all of the agencies to be supported by this tax increase are accountable and report their work regularly to the Commission.
Nick Wilson with the Greene County Ambulance Service asked why funding for EMS and the ambulance was not included in the tax increase proposal.
James E. Morrow of Boligee asked why the Greene County Golf Course was not included in the proposal.
Jane Mays of Jena said her taxes were regularly going up and did not see a need to pay new taxes.
Gilda Jowers suggested that the Commission consider an occupancy tax for people employed in Greene County and hire grant writers as an alternative to raising the property tax.
Commissioner Turner said that the Commission has been studying the finances for a while and this was their best proposal at this time. At the end of the hearing the Commission voted to formally approve the proposal for a 5 mil increase in the property taxes as proposed and send it on to the Greene County Legislative Delegation for approval.
The Commission proposal must be advertised in a local newspaper for four weeks, submitted to the Legislative Delegation, approved as local legislation and signed by the Governor.
After this process, the bill for a 5 mil increase in property tax, will be a local amendment subject to approval by a referendum of the voters in Greene County in the November 3, 2020 General Election.

Greene County bingo distributes $359,785 for December

Shown Above: Pastor Michael Barton, representing the City of Eutaw; Lavonda Blair CSFO Greene County Board of Education; Greene County Hospital Board CEO Dr. Marcia Pugh; Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison; Union City Councilwoman Helen Stanford; Forkland Mayor Charles McAlpine; Boligee City Councilwoman Ernestine Wade and Bingo Clerk Emma Jackson

The Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $359,785 for the month of December 2019 from four licensed bingo gaming operations in the county. The bingo distributions for December are contributed by Greenetrack, Inc., Frontier, River’s Edge and Palace. Green Bingo is no longer in operation, however, a bingo license was issued by Sheriff Jonathan Benison to a new entity, the Raymond Austin Memorial Foundation for Rural Advancement & Development, Inc. on August 8, 2019.
The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
The following distribution reports, excluding the Palace, also contain an additional $24,000 from each bingo operation but does not give the recipient of this total amount of $72,000.
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, (no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500 (+ $24,000 for undesignated recipient).
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, (no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500 (+ $24,000 for undesignated recipient).
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,425 to the following: Greene County Commission, (no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $13,425 ( + $24,000 for undesignated recipient).
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $151,360 to the following: Greene County Commission, (no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $80,960; City of Eutaw, $24,640; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $7,040; Greene County Board of Education, $7,040 and the Greene County Health System, $17,600.

Newswire : Black America’s Housing Crisis: More Renters Than Homeowners, Homeless Population Jumps 12%

By Charlene Crowell, NNPA Newswire Contributor


No matter who you are, or where you live, there’s a central concern that links consumers all over the country: the ever-rising cost of living. For many consumers, the combined costs of housing, transportation, food, and utilities leave room for little else from take-home pay.
From Boston west to Seattle, and from Chicago to Miami and parts in between, the rising cost of living is particularly challenging in one area: housing. Both homeowners and renters alike today cope as best they can just to have a roof over their families’ heads.
The nation’s median sales price of a new home last September in 2019 was $299,400, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Even for an existing home, the St. Louis Federal Reserve noted its median price in December was $274,500.
For renters, the cost of housing is also a serious challenge. Last June, the national average rent reached $1,405, an all-time high. But if one lives in a high-cost market like Manhattan, Boston, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, a realistic rental price is easily north of $3,000 each month.
Now a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) finds that the American Dream of homeownership is strained even among households with incomes most would think adequate to own a home. From 2010 to 2018, 3.2 million households with earnings higher than $75,000 represented more than three-quarters of the growth in renters in its report entitled, America’s Rental Housing 2020.
“[F]rom the homeownership peak in 2004 to 2018, the number of married couples with children that owned homes fell by 2.7 million, while the number renting rose by 680,000,” states the report. “These changes have meant that families with children now make up a larger share of renter house­holds (29%) than owner households (26%).”
To phrase it another way, America’s middle class is at risk. Consumer demographics that traditionally described homeowners, has shifted to that of renters. And in that process, the opportunity to build family wealth through homeownership has become more difficult for many — and financially out of reach for others.
“Rising rents are making it increasingly difficult for households to save for a down payment and become homeowners,” says Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, a JCHS Research Associate and lead author of the new report. “Young, college-educated households with high incomes are really driving current rental demand.”
Included among the report’s key findings:
· Rents in 2019 continued their seven-year climb, marking 21 consecutive quarters of increases above 3.0%;
· Despite the growth in high-income white renters, renter households overall have become more racially and ethnically diverse since 2004, with minority households accounting for 76 percent of renter household growth through 2018; and
· Income inequality among renter households has been growing. The average real income of the top fifth of renters rose more than 40 percent over the past 20 years, while that of the bottom fifth of renters fell by 6 percent;
·
“Despite the strong economy, the number and share of renters burdened by housing costs rose last year after a couple of years of modest improvement,” says Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “And while the poorest households are most likely to face this challenge, renters earning decent incomes have driven this recent deterioration in affordability.”
This trend of fewer homeowners has also impacted another disturbing development: the nation’s growing homeless population.
Citing that homelessness is again on the rise, the JCHS report noted that after falling for six straight years, the number of people experiencing homelessness nationwide grew from 2016–2018, to 552,830. In just one year, 2018 to 2019, the percentage of America’s Black homeless grew from 40% to more than half – 52%.
That independent finding supports the conclusion of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s report to Congress known as its Annual Homeless Assessment Report.
While some would presume that homelessness is an issue for high-cost states like California, and New York, the 2019 HUD report found significant growth in homeless residents in states like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, and Washington as well.
According to HUD, states with the highest rates of homelessness per 10,000 people were New York (46), Hawaii (45), California (38), Oregon (38), and Washington (29), each significantly higher than the national average of 17 persons per 10,000. The District of Columbia had a homelessness rate of 94 people per 10,000.
And like the JCHS report, HUD also found disturbing data on the disproportionate number of Black people who are now homeless.
For example, although the numbers of homeless veterans and homeless families with children declined over the past year, Blacks were 40% of all people experiencing homelessness in 2019, and 52% of people experiencing homelessness as members of families with children.
These racial disparities are even more alarming when overall, Blacks comprise 13% of the nation’s population.
When four of every 10 homeless people are Black, 225,735 consumers are impacted. Further, and again according to HUD, 56,381 Blacks (27%) are living on the nation’s streets, instead of in homeless shelters.
The bottom line on these research reports is that Black America’s finances are fragile. With nagging disparities in income, family wealth, unemployment and more – the millions of people working multiple jobs, and/or living paycheck to paycheck, are often just one paycheck away from financial disaster.
Add predatory lending on high-cost loans like payday or overdraft fees, or the weight of medical debt or student loans, when financial calamity arrives, it strikes these consumers harder and longer than others who have financial cushions.
And lest we forget, housing discrimination in home sales, rentals, insurance and more continue to disproportionately affect Black America despite the Fair Housing Act, and other federal laws intended to remove discrimination from the marketplace.
The real question in 2020 is, ‘What will communities and the nation do about it?’
For Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African-American studies at Princeton University and author of the new book, “Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership”, federal enforcement of its own laws addressing discrimination and acknowledging the inherent tug-of-war wrought from the tension of public service against the real estate industry’s goal of profit, there’s little wonder why so many public-private partnerships fail to serve both interests.
In a recent Chicago Tribune interview, Professor Taylor explained her view.
“You don’t need a total transformation of society to create equitable housing for people,” said Taylor. “We have come to believe that equitable housing is just some weird thing that can’t happen here, and the reality is that we have the resources to create the kinds of housing outcomes that we say we desire.”
“The way to get that has everything to do with connecting the energy on the ground to a different vision for our society — one that has housing justice, equity and housing security at the heart of it,’ Taylor continued. “The resources and the money are there, but there’s a lack of political will from the unfortunate millionaire class that dominates our politics… I think, given the persistence of the housing crisis in this country, we have to begin to think in different ways about producing housing that is equitable and actually affordable in the real-life, lived experiences of the people who need it.”
Amen, Professor Taylor.
Charlene Crowell is the Center for Responsible Lending’s communications deputy director. She can be reached at charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

Newswire : Let’s remember the heroes of the Greensboro Sit-ins on its 60th Anniversary

By Dr. Raquel Y. Wilson

Greensboro students sit-in at Greensboro lunch counter


On Feb 1, 1960, four African American college students from the North Carolina A&T State University quietly sat down at the whites-only Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina and ordered coffee. It was a planned move by the four students, designed to attract media attention to the issue of segregation. Denied service, as was the custom in those dark days, the four continued to peacefully occupy their seats and refused to leave until the store closed that night.
The peaceful protest inspired others to join in for daily protests. By Feb 5, 300 students were present at the store. On Saturday, February 6, over 1,400 North Carolina A&T students met in the Harrison Auditorium on campus. They voted to continue the protests and went to the Woolworth store, filling up the store.
During the sit-ins, white customers heckled the black students. North Carolina’s official chaplain of the Ku Klux Klan, George Dorsett, as well as other members of the Klan, were present.
The brave freshmen from NCA&T, who would later be adorned with the iconic label of the “Greensboro Four”, consisted of David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, and Ezell Blair Jr. (Jibreel Khazan).
The sit-ins soon spread to nearby towns and other Southern cities. Sales at the boycotted stores dropped by a third, leading Woolworth to abandon segregation policies; the dining area in most stores were desegregated after July 25, 1960.
The Greensboro sit-in was not the first such event, but it catalyzed a much larger nonviolent sit-in movement across the country, which played a definitive role in the fight for civil rights. In its wake, segregation of public places became illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Woolworth Department Store in Greensboro was subsequently converted into the International Civil Rights Center and Museum (Woolworth went out of business in 1997). The street south of the building is named February One Place.
Today, the site of the Woolworth store where the sit-in took place is now the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.

Absentee voting available now for March 3 Primary elections

Veronica Morton-Jones Circuit Clerk with Mary Snoddy shown with absentee ballot information.

Based on a press release from Veronica Morton-Jones, Circuit Clerk of Greene County, absentee ballots for the March 3, 2020 Presidential, State and Local primary elections are available now for Greene County and across the State of Alabama.
To apply for an absentee ballot, the voter must go to the Absentee Manager’s Office, the Circuit Clerk’s office in the Greene County Courthouse; or on line at the Alabama Secretary of State’s web page: http://www.alabamavotes.gov; or if serving in the U. S. Armed Forces, contact your commanding officer for an application and instructions. The last date to apply for an absentee ballot for the March 3rd primary is Thursday, February 27, 2020, which is five days before the election. All absentee ballots must be returned to the office or postmarked by March 2, 2020. When applying for a ballot, the voter must specify if they want a Democrat or Republican ballot.
To vote an absentee ballot, a voter must meet one of the following requirements:
• Expects to be absent from the county on election day;
• Is ill or has a physical disability that prevents a trip to the polling place;
• Is an Alabama Registered Voter living outside the county, such as a member of the armed forces, a voter employed outside the United States, a college student, or a spouse or child of such a person;
• Is an appointed election officer or poll watcher at a polling place other than his or her regular polling place;
• Expects to work a required shift, 10 hours or more, that coincides with polling hours;
• Is a caregiver for a family member to the second degree of kinship by affinity or consanguinity and the family member is confined to his or her home;
• Is currently incarcerated in prison or jail and has not been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude.
You can use absentee voting as a form of early voting, if you currently think you will be away from the county on election day, you may vote absentee by requesting a ballot by mail or going into the Circuit Clerk’s office and voting there. Then if your circumstances change and you are back in the county on Election Day, then just do not go to your regular voting poll and try to vote, because that will be considered as trying to vote twice, which is illegal.
Your absentee ballot application must be accompanied by a copy of current, valid photo identification – usually a driver’s license or photo voter ID card, issued by the county Registrar of Voter’s office.
Any completed application for an absentee ballot must be returned by the voter in person or sent by mail or commercial carrier. No one, not even a family member, can return another person’s application.
Each application must be mailed separately. Multiple applications cannot be mailed in the same envelope, even if voters live at the same address.
The absentee election manager may not give any person access to completed and filed applications for absentee ballots. This information is not a matter of public record. It should be considered privileged information just the same as voter registration applications.
The absentee election manager shall forward the absentee ballot by US mail to the applicant at their residence address.
Voters must complete all the information on the affidavit on the absentee ballot envelope. If the voter’s affidavit is not signed (or marked with an x), and if the affidavit is not witnessed by two witnesses (18 years old or older) or a notary public, prior to being delivered or mailed, in an outside envelop, to the Absentee Election Manager, the ballot will not be counted.
Based on poll watching during past elections, between 5 and 10 percent of the absentee ballots returned do not have the affidavit signed and filled out correctly and thus are not counted. If you take the time to request an absentee ballot make sure you follow the instructions to vote correctly or your absentee ballot will not be counted.

Alabama New South Coalition to hold Spring convention on Saturday in Montgomery

Mayor Randall Woodfin

Members of the Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) will meet on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at the RSA Activity Center, 201 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104 to make plans for involvement in the March 3rd Primary Election and the November 3rd General Election.
Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham will be the ANSC luncheon speaker. He will speak on the importance of citizen participation in the upcoming 2020 elections.
Mayor Woodfin has been a leader of younger progressive politics in the state.
For more information contact: Shelley Fearson, ANSC State Coordinator at 334/262-0932.